Julius Caesar as a general.

Essay by KevvyHigh School, 12th gradeA+, July 2003

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Essay Two - Caesar

Julius Caesar is perhaps the most well known of ancient historical figures. In his life he gained recognition as a general, a politician and a reformer. Both ancient and modern historians have written widely on Caesar's achievements. Whilst there remains a constant in these works that attests to Caesar's ability as a general, it is his career as a politician that has been vigorously debated. Although Plutarch believed that Caesar "was admirably fitted by nature to make a great statesman and orator , others deem him to be "a monster of crime, with hardly a redeeming quality, deliberately sacrificing the liberties of his country to an inordinate ambition." The numerous reforms instituted by Caesar while he held positions such as dictator and consul helped establish the belief that, "As a reformer, Caesar, even among those whose acts have changed the world, stands out as one of the great men of all time."

It is a widespread belief held by both modern and ancient historians that Caesar was "the greatest general Rome produced" . The ancient writer Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, in his work The Twelve Caesars, in which he allocates 18 chapters to Caesar's military career, describes him "as a most skilful swordsman and horseman" . Suetonius praises Caesar's "leadership from the front" stating, "He always led his army, more often on foot than in the saddle, went bareheaded in sun and rain alike" . Suetonius does also acknowledge both Caesar's vigilance and audaciousness, writing that it was "disputable" which feature was more extraordinary when Caesar rode to war, "his caution or his daring" . Indeed, Suetonius attributes Caesar's success to his "careful reconnaissances" . However, Suetonius seems critical that, "Religious scruples never deterred him for a moment" , citing a situation where before a battle...