Julius Caesar

General, politician, consul & dictator whose death sparked the formation of the Roman Empire.

Why would the Elizabethans be interested in seeing a play about Caesar?

Greek & Roman history held great appeal to them, as they tended to see their own age mirrored in those great ancient civilizations.

Roman Generals

Roman Generals had great individual power.After they seized the weaker countries, these territories were placed under the rule of Roman governors who exacted high taxes from the conquered people.

Often,soldiers were more loyal to their generals than to their government, for they spent much more time with their generals, and their generals allowed them to share in the riches of the conquered territories.

Often, military power led to political power.

Pompey & Crassus

Caesar worked under Pompey, who eventually helped him get elected as consul, a position similar to the President.

At the same time, Caesar formed an alliance with Crassus, a fellow Roman general and politician. Despite Pompey and Crassus' differences, Caesar convinced them to become allies and the three formed the First Triumvirate (unofficial three-man government).

After Caesar conquered Gaul, Pompey became envious of Caesar's growing prestige.

Crassus was killed in battle in Syria.

Pompey voices his concern over Caesar's ambition to the Senate, who tells Caesar to give up his army and return to Rome. Instead, Caesar marches with his army to Rome and begins a civil war.

He chases Pompey to Egypt, where he dies, leaving Caesar the sole ruler of Rome.

Caesar is declared dictator for life.

Why was having a dictator such a big deal?

The Romans were used to having a Republic, which is one of the types of government on which our American government is founded.

This government consists of a consul (like the President) and the Senate.

The Romans expelled the last king many years before Caesar and set up this government. Clearly, they had had sole rulers before and did not want that for themselves.

The Senate did not want Caesar to be sole ruler because it took away their power.

Having decided they had had enough of Caesar's ambitions, multiple senators stabbed and killed Caesar.

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is about the conspiracy and assassination of Julius Caesar and its aftermath.

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