Julius Caesar

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Veni, vidi, vici.

Gaius Julius Caesar (Classical Latin: GAIVS IVLIVS CÆSAR) (12 July 100 BC15 March 44 BC) was a Roman religious, military, and political leader. He played an important part in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. His conquest of Gaul extended the Roman world all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, with the first Roman invasion of Britainia in 55 BC. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest military geniuses of all time, as well as a brilliant politician and one of the ancient world's strongest leaders.

For the famous play by William Shakespeare, see Julius Caesar.


Men willingly believe what they wish.
The die is cast.
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.
  • Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.
    • All Gaul is divided into three parts
      • De Bello Gallico, Book I, Ch. 1; these are the first words of De Bello Gallico, the whole sentence is "All Gaul is divided into three parts, one of which the Belgae inhabit, the Aquitani another, those who in their own language are called Celts, in ours Gauls, the third."
  • Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae.
    • Of all these, the Belgae are the bravest/strongest .
      • De Bello Gallico, Book I, Ch. 1
  • Consuesse enim deos immortales, quo gravius homines ex commutatione rerum doleant, quos pro scelere eorum ulcisci velint, his secundiores interdum res et diuturniorem impunitatem concedere.
    • The immortal gods are wont to allow those persons whom they wish to punish for their guilt sometimes a greater prosperity and longer impunity, in order that they may suffer the more severely from a reverse of circumstances.
      • De Bello Gallico, Book I, Ch. 14, translated by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn.
  • Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.
    • Men willingly believe what they wish.
      • De Bello Gallico, Book III, Ch. 18, as translated in Great Thoughts from Classic Authors (1891) by Craufurd Tait Ramage, p. 442
    • Variant translations:
    • Men willingly believe what they wish to be true.
      • As quoted in The Adventurer No. 69 (3 July 1753) in The Works of Samuel Johnson (1837) edited by Arthur Murphy, p. 32
    • Men are nearly always willing to believe what they wish.
    • Nearly always people believe willingly that which they wish.
  • Sunt item, quae appellantur alces. Harum est consimilis capris figura et varietas pellium, sed magnitudine paulo antecedunt mutilaeque sunt cornibus et crura sine nodis articulisque habent neque quietis causa procumbunt neque, si quo adflictae casu conciderunt, erigere sese aut sublevare possunt. His sunt arbores pro cubilibus: ad eas se applicant atque ita paulum modo reclinatae quietem capiunt. Quarum ex vestigiis cum est animadversum a venatoribus, quo se recipere consuerint, omnes eo loco aut ab radicibus subruunt aut accidunt arbores, tantum ut summa species earum stantium relinquatur. Huc cum se consuetudine reclinaverunt, infirmas arbores pondere adfligunt atque una ipsae concidunt.
    • There are also animals which are called elks [alces "moose" in Am. Engl.; elk "wapiti"]. The shape of these, and the varied colour of their skins, is much like roes, but in size they surpass them a little and are destitute of horns, and have legs without joints and ligatures; nor do they lie down for the purpose of rest, nor, if they have been thrown down by any accident, can they raise or lift themselves up. Trees serve as beds to them; they lean themselves against them, and thus reclining only slightly, they take their rest; when the huntsmen have discovered from the footsteps of these animals whither they are accustomed to betake themselves, they either undermine all the trees at the roots, or cut into them so far that the upper part of the trees may appear to be left standing. When they have leant upon them, according to their habit, they knock down by their weight the unsupported trees, and fall down themselves along with them.
      • De Bello Gallico, Book VI
  • Alea iacta est.
    • The die is cast.
      • As quoted in Vita Divi Iuli [The Life of the deified Julius] (121 CE) by Suetonius, paragraph 33 (Caesar: … "Iacta alea est", inquit.Caesar said … "the die is cast".)
    • Said when crossing the river Rubicon with his legions on 10 January, 49 BC, thus beginning the civil war with the forces of Pompey. The Rubicon river was the boundary of Gaul, the province Caesar had the authority to keep his army in. By crossing the river, he had committed an invasion of Italy.
    • The Latin is a translation; Caesar actually spoke this in Greek, as reported by Plutarch,Plutarch, Life of Pompey, 60.2.9:
Ἑλληνιστὶ πρὸς τοὺς παρόντας ἐκβοήσας, «Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος», [anerriphtho kybos] διεβίβαζε τὸν στρατόν.
He [Caesar] declared in Greek with loud voice to those who were present ‘Let the die be cast’ and led the army across.
He was reportedly quoting the playwright Menander, specifically “Ἀρρηφόρῳ” (Arrephoria, or “The Flute-Girl”), according to Deipnosophistae, Book 13, paragraph 8, saying «Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος» (anerriphtho kybos). The Greek translates rather as “let the die be cast!”, or “Let the game be ventured!”, which would instead translate in Latin as Jacta Alea Est. According to Lewis and Short (Online Dictionary: alea, Lewis and Short at the Perseus Project. See bottom of section I.), the phrase used was a future active imperative, “let the die be cast!”, or “Let the game be ventured!”, which would instead translate in Latin as iacta alea est.
  • Galia est pacata.
    • Gaul is subdued.
      • Written in a letter with which Caesar informed the Roman Senate of his victory over Vercingetorix in 52 BC
  • Sed fortuna, quae plurimum potest cum in reliquis rebus tum praecipue in bello, parvis momentis magnas rerum commutationes efficit; ut tum accidit.
    • 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.
      • The Civil War, Book III, 68. Variant translation: "In war, events of importance are the result of trivial causes."

Attributed to Caesar by others[edit]

  • Caesar's wife must be above suspicion.
    • His declaration as to why he had divorced his wife Pompeia, when questioned in the trial against Publius Clodius Pulcher for sacrilege against Bona Dea festivities (from which men were excluded), in entering Caesar's home disguised as a lute-girl apparently with intentions of a seducing Caesar's wife; as reported in Parallel Lives by Plutarch, p. 467
  • It is not the well-fed long-haired man I fear, but the pale and the hungry looking.
    • Found in Plutarch's Anthony. Famously Cassius was noted in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as having "a lean and hungry look."


  • It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience.
    • Quoted in many works without citation


  • Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.
    • This statement by an unknown author has also been wrongly attributed to William Shakespeare, but there are no records of it prior to late 2001. It has been debunked at Snopes.com

Quotes about Caesar[edit]

  • Brutus, quia reges eiecit, consul primus factus est; Hic, quia consules eiecit, rex postremo factus est.
    • Brutus was elected consul, when he sent the kings away; Caesar sent the consuls packing, Caesar is our king today.
    • Note left on a statue of Caesar in Rome, prior to the Ides of March.
    • Suetonius, Divus Iulius, paragraph 80. Translation: Robert Graves, 1957.
  • In that man [Caesar] were combined genius, method, memory, literature, prudence, deliberation, and industry. He had performed exploits in war which, though calamitous for the republic, were nevertheless mighty deeds. Having for many years aimed at being a king, he had with great labor, and much personal danger, accomplished what he intended. He had conciliated the ignorant multitude by presents, by monuments, by largesses of food, and by banquets; he had bound his own party to him by rewards, his adversaries by the appearances of clemency. Why need I say much on such a subject? He had already brought a free city, partly by fear, partly by patience, into a habit of slavery. With him I can, indeed, compare you [Mark Antony] as to your desire to reign; but in all other respects you are in no degree to be compared to him.
  • ...the rule of Caesar, although during its establishment it gave no little trouble to its opponents, still, after they had been overpowered and had accepted it, they saw that it was a tyranny only in name and appearance, and no cruel or tyrannical act was authorized by it; nay, it was plain that the ills of the state required a monarchy, and that Caesar, like a most gentle physician, had been assigned to them by Heaven itself. Therefore the Roman people felt at once a yearning for Caesar, and in consequence became harsh and implacable towards his murders...
  • In his campaigns I find more restraint and reflection than in those of Alexander, who seems to go looking for dangers and charging at them like a rushing torrent which indiscriminately batters and unselectively attacks anything it meets.

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Caesar's own writings[edit]

Ancient historians on Caesar[edit]

Secondary sources[edit]