Why Was Julius Caesar So Important?

Important Accomplishments of the Roman Emperor

Julius Caesar changed Rome forever. He dodged proscription and pirates, changed the calendar and the army. Admittedly a womanizer himself, he dismissed his wife for suspicious behavior, wrote (bad) poetry and a third person account of the wars he waged, started a civil war, conquered the area of modern France, and made a stab at Britain.

He was instrumental in the change from a Republican form of government to one where an individual (in Rome's case, an emperor or "caesar") ruled for life. Julius Caesar also accomplished several important things in his very active fifty-six years that impacted the world for centuries after his death.

Caesar. Caesar from PD edition of Cassells History of England

Julius Caesar (born July 12/13, 100 BCE–March 15, 44 BCE) may have been the greatest man of all times. By the age of 40, Caesar had been a widower, divorcé, governor (propraetor) of Further Spain, captured by pirates, hailed imperator by adoring troops, quaestor, aedile, consul, and elected pontifex maximus.

What was left for his remaining years? The famous events for which Julius Caesar is most well-known include the Triumvirate, military victories in Gaul, the dictatorship, civil war, and, finally, assassination at the hands of his political enemies. More »

fasti
Fasti. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

At the time of his rule, the Roman calendar tracking days and months of the year was a confused mess, exploited by politicians who added days and months at will. And no wonder: the calendar was based on an unreliable lunar system that superstitiously avoided even numbers. By the first century BCE, the months of the calendar no longer even matched the seasons they were named for.

To create a new calendar for Rome, Caesar used the Egyptian system of chronological time keeping. The Egyptian and new Roman calendars each had 365.25 days, closely approximating the earth's spin. Caesar set alternating months of 30 and 31 days with February at 29 days and adding an extra day every four years. The Julian calendar remained in place until it too had grown out of step with reality, replaced by the Gregorian calendar in the 16th century CE. More »

Old newspapers
Hachephotography / Getty Images

The Acta Diurna ("Daily Gazette" in Latin), also known as the Acta Diurna Populi Romani ("Daily Acts of the Roman People"), was a daily report of the ongoings of the Roman senate. The small daily bulletin aimed to give to the citizens the news of the empire, especially the happenings around Rome. The ​Acta included the actions and speeches of prominent Romans, gave accounts of the progress of trials, judgments of the court, public decrees, proclamations, resolutions, and catastrophic events.

First published in 59 BCE, the Acta was circulated to the rich and powerful in the empire, and each issue was also posted in public places for citizens to read. Written on papyri, few fragments of the Acta exist, but the Roman historian Tacitus used them as a source for his histories. It finally ceased publication two centuries later.

Sources:

  • Gifford, C.A. 1975. Ancient Rome's Daily Gazette. Journalism History 2:4):106.
  • Luthra R (ed). 2009. Journalism And Mass Communication—Volume I. Oxford, England: Eolss Publishers Co Ltd.
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Writing the First Long-Lived Extortion Law

The Areopagus Engraving
bauhaus1000 / Getty Images

Caesar's Lex Iulia De Repetundis (The Extortion Law of the Julians) was not the first law against extortion: that is generally cited as the Lex Bembina Repetundarum, and usually attributed to Gaius Gracchus in 95 BCE. Caesar's extortion law remained a fundamental guide for the conduct of Roman magistrates for at least the next five centuries.

Written in 59 BCE, the law restricted the number of gifts that a magistrate could receive during his term in a province and ensured that governors had their accounts balanced when they left.

Sources:

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Gill, N.S. "Why Was Julius Caesar So Important?" ThoughtCo, Dec. 17, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-did-julius-caesar-do-117566. Gill, N.S. (2017, December 17). Why Was Julius Caesar So Important? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-did-julius-caesar-do-117566 Gill, N.S. "Why Was Julius Caesar So Important?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-did-julius-caesar-do-117566 (accessed December 17, 2017).