Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar
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满腹才华和勃勃野心注定了凯撒终将是个成大事者。

Julius Caesar

Educated at the great school of rhetoric at Rhodes, Caius Julius Caesar was one of the most widely cultivated men of his day, a brilliant conversationalist and superb orator.

These talents and a relentless ambition drove Caesar plunging into public life. He made a name for himself when on behalf of some Greek cities he persecuted their Roman governor for corruption.

Caesar, the elegant Roman aristocrat, was a shrewd politician, and one office after another fell to him. To give the splendid entertainments befitting them, Caesar recklessly plunged into monstrous debts which he paid off only by borrowing from a millionaire friend, Crassus. He became a fop and sensualist. He divorced his second wife, Pompeia, because "Caesar's wife must be above suspicion," and she was not. Yet he was unfaithful to her with women of all classes, including the mother of Brutus.

And then, after dissipating 18 years, Caesar suddenly stripped of his vices like dirty garments. Accepting appointment as governor in western Spain, he there hardened himself the days and nights in the saddle. He shared with his legions all their fatigue and hunger. Relentlessly through heat and dust, wind and snow, Caesar pressed after the brigands who infested this country he had come to govern. Chasing them, he reached the shores of the Atlantic (now Portugal), adding this to the Roman domain.

When he returned to Rome, Caesar was unanimously elected a Consul of the state, he drafted a law to give free land to the veterans of foreign wars. Up to this time the discharged serviceman had found himself lucky if he so much as collected his back pay; and lands coming into the public domain were snapped up by the senatorial class for speculation.

When his term of office ended in 59 B.C., the Senate promptly made him governor of Roman Gaul (now Mediterranean France), a distant province under constant threat by barbarian tribes.

The great chapter of his life that followed Julius Caesar wrote himself. Caesar's Gallic War is the most widely read of all military classics; for boys and girls in many lands study it. But dusty Latin grammar obscures the excitements of the tale.

Caesar was the kind of commander soldiers idolize, forever thinking of rations and pay for the troops. He went to meet danger ahead of all the rest, sword flashing high and scarlet cloak fluttering in the wind of battle. Caesar successively fought against and defeated the Swiss, Germans, Belgians, and Britons. His great success brought consternation to the party called the Optimates, which represented aristocratic privilege. Pompey, their leader, was bitterly jealous of Caesar's new laurels. The Senate finally ordered Caesar to disband his army and present himself in Rome for trial.

Caesar saw clearly the Senate had usurped the executive power and Pompey was its tool. On August 9, 48 B.C., the two military geniuses of the age, Caesar and Pompey, with their armies matched wits at Pharsalus. By the end of the day, Caesar was master of his world, Pompey a fugitive.

Pompey fled to Egypt, and Caesar pursued him. But there the young king Ptolemy had Pompey murdered. It did not please Caesar.

Ptolemy had driven his sister, Cleopatra, off the throne, though by their father's will the two were to rule together; the girl queen now welcomed Caesar as her champion. According to tradition, she contrived to get into his presence by having herself rolled up in a costly carpet offered for sale to the Roman; when it was spread out, there stood before him a 17-year old blonde (she was not Egyptian in blood but a Macedonian Greek), with a voice like seductive music, a body with a dancing girl's grace, a brilliant mind, a cold heart, hot blood, and a head for politics.

For her, and for Rome, Caesar conquered king Ptolemy. Cleopatra was restored to the throne under a Roman protectorate, and Caesar added the richest kingdom in the world to Rome's domain.

Rome celebrated the victorious return of Cesar with a great triumph. Now the Senate outdid itself in servility to Caesar. It bestowed upon him for life the title Imperator. He began to reform Rome's government by cracking open that aristocratic club, the Senate, adding 300 members, mostly from the hitherto despised business and professional classes, together with representatives from conquered countries. He granted Roman citizenship to the freed sons of slaves. He gave freedom of worship to the persecuted Jews. He stopped the profiteering of tax collectors. He stabilized the currency by putting it back on the gold standard.

Even the calendar called for reform. The old Roman month was a lunar one of 28 days. Calling in an Egyptian astronomer from Alexandria, Caesar by his advice reformed the calendar into a year of 365 days, with a leap year every fourth year. July is the month named for the great Julius.

But time was running out for Julius Caesar, for now drew near the 15th of March of 44 B.C. Shakespeare's great play, Julius Caesar, based upon the lives of Plutarch, has the essential facts right, but misconstrued the actions. The truth is that the conspirators, most of whom owed not only their fortunes but their very lives to Cesar, struck not in defence of the people's liberties but of the crumbling privileges of their own class. The attack took place in the presence of the entire Senate. The conspirators rained 23 blows upon their victim. Cassius stabbed his dagger into Caesar's face, and Brutus, who might have been his son, plunged a sword into his loins. Then he fell dead.

All beholders now fled though the conspirators shouted about "liberty". They roused not cheers but panic. Amid public grief wrought to high pitch by the funeral oration of Marc Antony, the bloody corpse was burned on a pyre in the Forum.

Caesar had founded the Roman empire, upon whose lasting stones grew up the Western civilization.

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  • 来源:外教社 2016-06-28