Gaius Julius and the Fall of the Roman Republic
After the death of Marcus Crassus in 53 B.C., Pompey and Caesar were in open conflict. While Caesar, as proconsul in Gaul, was adding to his political stature with military success, Pompey was consolidating power in Rome. In 49 B.C. Pompey the Great made a decisive move: he persuaded the Senate to order Caesar to disband his army. Instead Caesar crossed the Rubicon, the southern limit of his military command.
They still loved Pompey in Egypt
With his Army and most of the Senate, Pompey withdrew to Greece. From there he planned to mount a campaign against Caesar, using control of his fleet to envelop Italy, But Caesar moved first. He attacked Pompey’s adherents in Spain, and then in Greece, routing Pompey at Pharsalus in 48 B.C. Again Pompey fled, but this time to a place where he would be safe. For he was still Pompey the Great in Egypt.
The First Man in Rome
So Caesar returned to Rome more secure in his power than any Roman every had been before. In defeating Pompey, whose support came from the Senate, Caesar had surpassed the Senate’s authority and became sole ruler of Rome. On the whole he used his powers well. He pardoned many of his enemies, including Cicero, and reinstated them in the government. He worked out the mechanics for a stronger more efficient administrative system, undertook extensive colonization projects, provided work for the poor, and tightened the laws against crime and usury. He planned a vast highway across Italy and gave Rome and Western Civilization, the Julian calendar.
The Ides have come, but they have not gone
Despite these good works and acts of clemency, many Romans were filled with foreboding. It was clear Caesar meant to make his rule absolute, and a conspiracy formed. On the Ides of March, 44 B.C., Caesar was murdered in the Senate by the conspirators.
From Republic to Empire
After Caesar’s death, Rome lived through the turmoil of another struggle for power. This time the combatants were the Senate and two of Caesar’s heirs: Mark Antony and this mysterious boy, Octavian.