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Caesar… Hero or Villain?

(the evolution of my novel)

Julius Caesar is to this day still an enigma. A Patrician Roman who traced his roots back to the Gods themselves; a scholar and intellectual; a man of action… perhaps one of the greatest field commanders of all times; a soldier-statesman who conquered and pacified a third of the continent of Europe in ten years 1 ; a politician who contended with and overcame some of the slickest and most treacherous adversaries of all time 2 ; a dictator who perpetrated and won a civil war against the nation he loved; he was all of this. And yet he was also a man who defied his own class; risked annihilation rather then betray the woman he loved; became a mouthpiece for the lowly, in both Rome and the provinces; as advocate he tried members of his own class for crimes against provincials; helped to restore the powers of the Tribunes of the Plebs and the popular assembly; began a series of moves that would disenfranchise the Aristocracy and give local representation to all peoples throughout the state; refused the offer of Kingship; magnanimously forgave all those who fought against him; but what were his true aims, his real motives?

These and many other questions about Caesar had bothered me for a long time. I asked myself where do you look to find answers to these kinds of questions?

There was a time before Caesar had acquired his notoriety, a time, when he was still a young man, which would be a place to start the search for the signs of his true nature. Even more: what had happened, and who were the people involved in this early and formative time. A man’s upbringing is what truly forms his character, and the motivations of his later actions.

The information I found was scant, but weighty. The solution I found seemed to fit all the unanswered questions, and show that there was indeed a method in his alleged madness.

But I knew that my answer, as good as it was for me, could never be accepted as anything more than mere speculation. So how could I present it in the best way to underline what I perceived as the man behind the mask that history had painted?

I decided to present my solution as a romantic adventure drama. The facts would be there guiding everything else, but the details I would invent to display and emphasize the character I had found buried in the faint trivia of history. Thus “Caius, the making of the Hero” was born.

But after all of this I must emphasize that the Caesar I present did not seek a violent solution because it was right; or that such solutions are ever the right ones at any time. The conquests were preordained by the greed and viciousness of the society, which had marked them out for the auction block. They would be attempted, regardless of the perpetrator; Caesar merely took advantage of the opportunity and the side effect, which would give him a way to benefit the victims, and topple the forces motivating such actions. In the end he found that the corruption causing the problem went much deeper and was refractory to any physical solution. So faced with such a dilemma he took the only way out for an honorable man.

The hero I named the book for, is found not in his solutions, which in fact failed, but in the character of the man who would risk the loss of everything he loved, in the performance of a duty he felt he had to his nation and humanity. This was what indeed inspired his soldiers to the same heights of heroism that inspired their leader. This was the code of the true warrior who acted as a warrior even off the battlefield, in the battle of life.

This is the same heroism, which spurs on many of our soldiers today to fight and die, for leaders they may not respect and wars they may not agree with. 3

In the final analysis Julius Caesar has become the stuff of Legend. No one will ever know for sure what his real motives were; whether you agree with me or not about him is immaterial; the real message I am trying to convey is this: Never again should humanity allow greed and power to grow to the extent it reached in the Late Roman Republic. We must at all cost allow the Good to once again become the foundation of our societies.


FOOTNOTES

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1 This was no mean feat considering all the tribes and nations involved.



2 Roman politics at that time was probably the most vicious and treacherous politics known to man.



3 These soldiers are patriots, they fight for the country and society they feel they have a duty to serve, even if they do not believe entirely in its present course of action.



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Rostra
Rostra

Originally Published:

October 11, 2007

Revised:

June 24, 2014