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 (play).

Quotes[edit]

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.
  • 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.
  • Gallia 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."
  • I assure you I had rather be the first man here than the second man in Rome.
    • On passing through a village in the Alps, as attributed in Parallel Lives , by Plutarch, as translated by John Langhorne and William Langhorne (1836), p. 499
    • Variant: First in a village rather than second in Rome.
  • I will not … that my wife be so much as suspected.
    • 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 Plutarch's Lives of Coriolanus, Caesar, Brutus, and Antonius by Plutarch, as translated by Thomas North, p. 53
    • Variant translations:
    • Caesar's wife must be above suspicion.
  • It is not the well-fed long-haired man I fear, but the pale and the hungry looking.
    • As reported in Plutarch's Anthony'; William Shakespeare adapted this in having Caesar declare Cassius as having "a lean and hungry look."

De Bello Gallico[edit]

He seated himself at the head of the lines in front of the camp, the Gallic chieftains are brought before him. They surrender Vercingetorix, and lay down their arms.
Commentarii de Bello Gallico [Commentaries on the Gallic War]
  • Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres.
    • All Gaul is divided into three parts
      • 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." [1]
  • Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae.
    • Of all these, the Belgae are the bravest/strongest .
      • 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.
      • Book I, Ch. 14, translated by W. A. McDevitte and W. S. Bohn
  • Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt.
    • In most cases men willingly believe what they wish.
      • Book III, Chapter 18
    • Variant translation: 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
    • Compare: "What each man wishes, that he also believes to be true" Demosthenes, Olynthiac 3.19
  • 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.
      • Book VI
  • Vercingetorix, having convened a council the following day, declares, "That he had undertaken that war, not on account of his own exigencies, but on account of the general freedom; and since he must yield to fortune, he offered himself to them for either purpose, whether they should wish to atone to the Romans by his death, or surrender him alive." Ambassadors are sent to Caesar on this subject. He orders their arms to be surrendered, and their chieftains delivered up. He seated himself at the head of the lines in front of the camp, the Gallic chieftains are brought before him. They surrender Vercingetorix, and lay down their arms.
    • Book VII


Disputed[edit]

  • 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


Misattributed[edit]

  • 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]

  • Caesar overtook his advanced guard at the river Rubicon, which formed the frontier between Gaul and Italy. Well aware how critical a decision confronted him, he turned to his staff, remarking:
"We may still draw back but, once across that little bridge, we shall have to fight it out"
As he stood, in two minds, an apparition of superhuman size and beauty was seen sitting on the river bank playing a reed pipe. A party of shepherds gathered around to listen and, when some of Caesar's men broke ranks to do the same, the apparition snatched a trumpet from one of them, ran down to the river, blew a thunderous blast, and crossed over. Caesar exclaimed:
"Let us accept this as a sign from the Gods, and follow where they beckon, in vengeance on our double-dealing enemies. The die is cast."
He led his army to the farther bank, where he welcomed the tribunes of the people who had fled to him from Rome. Then he tearfully addressed the troops and, ripping open his tunic to expose his breast, begged them to stand faithfully by him.
  • Suetonius, in The Twelve Caesars, as translated by Robert Graves (1957), ¶ 31-33
  • Variant translations:
  • He caught up with his cohorts at the River Rubicon, which was the boundary of his province, where he paused for a while, thinking over the magnitude of what he was planning, then, turning to his closest companions, he said: "Even now we can still turn back. But once we have crossed that little bridge, everything must be decided by arms." As he paused, the following portent occurred. A being of splendid size and beauty suddenly appeared, sitting close by, and playing music on a reed. A large number of shepherds hurried to listen to him and even some of the soldiers left their posts to come, trumpeters among them. From one of these, the apparition seized a trumpet, leapt down to the river, and with a huge blast sounded the call to arms and crossed over to the other bank. Then said Caesar: "Let us go where the gods have shown us the way and the injustice of our enemies calls us. The die is cast." And so the army crossed over and welcomed the tribunes of the plebs who had come over to them, having been expelled from Rome. Caesar addressed the sol- diers, appealing to their loyalty, with tears, and ripping the garments from his breast.
    • As translated by Catherine Edwards (2000)
  • 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, as reported in Suetonius, in The Twelve Caesars, as translated by Robert Graves (1957), Divus Iulius ¶ 80
  • In that man 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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