Rome & Julius Caesar


In the history of civilizations, few have had the lasting impact of the Roman Empire. And no Roman leader had more of an impact than Julius Caesar. Join Active Minds as we visit the city, the empire, the life (and the death) of Julius Caesar.

Key Lecture Points

  • Julius Caesar’s rise and fall, both militarily and politically, is a complicated story of power and influence, with many pivotal players who altered the course of history. Parallels can be drawn between Caesar’s story and other historical figures, such as Alexander the Great, Napoelon, and even modern-day states, such as the United States and Britain, as beneficial but often aggressive, and egotistical leaders.
  • Caesar spent many years away from Rome, initiating, participating, and often winning wars in foreign countries, such as Egypt (during which he met Cleopatra), Africa, Spain, and Greece. His time in Gaul, during which he would conquer most of what is now central Europe, opened up these lands to Mediterranean civilization—a decisive act in world history. These acts would expand the world’s knowledge of Rome and would add to Caesar’s popularity, as well as Rome’s influence.
  • Caesar implemented many social and political reforms, some of which strongly echo today’s social issues and reforms in America. This includes issues of the morality of marriage and family, the responsibility of the rich to help care for the poor, the creation and establishment of new public buildings and facilities, and creation of new jobs and social welfare programs for those in need.
  • The history of Rome, and of modern history as we know it, was largely shaped and changed by Caesar and his influence over political, economic, and social restructuring and concepts. This extended from the idea of the place of democracy in the political system to the idea that all citizens, both wealthy and poor, had a right to be valued and their voices heard. These same principles can be heard in many of America’s ideologies, as well as other nations around the world.

Exploration Questions

  • Do you think Caesar’s rise and fall are similar to the rise and fall of other political figures throughout history? Are these figures historical (i.e., Napoleon) or current (i.e., President W. Bush)?
  • Can you compare some of Caesar’s social and economic reforms to the current reforms being proposed by (soon-to-be) President Obama?

Reflective Questions

  • What do you think of Caesar? Do you think he was a good person or a bad person, based on his history?
  • Do you think it was possible for Caesar to prevent his own murder? If so, how?

More to Explore

Books for Further Reading

  • Freeman, Philip. Julius Caesar. Simon and Schuster, 2008. 405 pages. In this biography, Freeman presents Caesar in all his dimensions and contradictions. With remarkable clarity and brevity, Freeman shows how Caesar dominated a newly powerful Rome and shaped its destiny. This book will captivate readers discovering Caesar and ancient Rome for the first time as well as those who have a deep interest in the classical world.
    Click here to order
  • Parenti, Michael. The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome. New Press, 2003. 160 pages. An overview of the history of Ancient Rome and how it shaped the modern-day world.
    Click here to order