I agree with many historians that Julius Caesar is perhaps one of the most wise leaders of antiquity. Certainly his life was filled with major events. He found himself in many dangerous situations that he managed to escape. Living such a full, vital life is bound to give one much knowledge and wisdom, if you pay attention. Julius Caesar did just that, he paid rapt attention and passed along much of his wisdom.
Caesar was the last of the great patriotic reformers of Rome. He traced his lineage from one of the most noble families of Latium. He was said to have ancestry among the early Roman kings. Legend has it that his family roots could be found among the heroes of the Iliad.
His lifestyle was that of elite society. He knew the fine details of fashion and style. He not only recited verse, but composed it as well. But he was not physically inept. As a horseman and fencer, he could match the skills of his most ardent soldiers. He was an expert swimmer. His aquatic skills saved his life at Alexandria.
Like his physical prowess, his mind was robust with practical knowledge, excellent memory and, in today’s lingo, he could multitask with the best. His mental abilities were enhanced by his warmth of spirit. He expressed sincere affection and devotion to his mother, wives and his daughter. His ethics were beyond reproach.
“Fortune, which has a great deal of power in other matters but especially in war, can bring about great changes in a situation through very slight forces.”–Julius Caesar
Early in his political career, Julius was elected quaestor and had a Senate seat. He spent a small fortune in his successful bid for election as pontifex maximus (the head priest). He was sent to the province of Spain as propraetor. “I have lived long enough both in years and in accomplishments.”–Julius Caesar The leader served in Asia as a soldier. His oratory was demonstrated as he spoke out against the greed of a governor. His speeches were a match to one of history’s greatest orators, Cicero.
“I love the name of honor, more than I fear death.” One of the Caesarean stories I remember best is that of his kidnapping by Cilician pirates as he was sailing to Greece for his studies. The pirates informed Julius that they intended to request twenty Talents for his return. He enjoyed a friendly, cordial relationship with his captors. He supposedly suggested that he was worth at least fifty Talents ransom. In spite of his upbeat relationship with the pirates, he promised that he would have them crucified when he was released. Later, Julius Caesar and his volunteers followed through on that promise. But because the pirates treated him so well, he had their throats cut to minimize their suffering.
Eventually Caesar appointed himself the first dictator of the Roman-Greek world. During the feast of Lupercalia on the 15th of Februarius, Caesar donned his purple cape in public. He was offered the Hellenist Royal Diadem. Partly to end speculation that he wished to be a king, Caesar refused the offer, telling the assembly that Jupiter alone is the king of all the Romans.
Soon thereafter in 44 BCE during the Ides of Martius (March) the 60 conspirators met with Julius Caesar at the temporary Senate headquarters and struck the leader at least 23 times. The legend says that Caesar told Brutus, in Greek, “You, too, my child?”.
One of Caesar’s most famous quotes was said after a mob attacked him in Egypt and the Great Library of Alexandria was burned. He sent his report to the senators, “Veni, Vidi, Vici”. (I came, I saw, I conquered.) Such is part of the legacy of the greatest soldier who ever lived.
“Which death is preferable to every other? The unexpected.”–Julius Caesar
The Blue Jay of Happiness enjoys this quote from Caesar: “Men in general are quick to believe that which they wish to be true.”