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1001 deeds, sayings, curiosities and anecdotes of the ancient world

Was the dominating Julius Caesar dominated by their women?

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In the Julius Caesar’s life, many women played a very important role. But historians do not judge in the same way their influence.

Julius Caesar played a key role in the History of Rome and, therefore, throughout all Western History. This is the reason why thousands and thousands of pages have been written about this complex character.

In Caesar’s life many women played a major role; the women who had a relationship with him for one reason or another. The famous historian and Nobel Prize (1902) Theodor Momsen (1817-1903), author of more than 1500 titles including the famous “History of Rome”, thought that these women dominated Caesar at will.

Julius Caesar probably had an active sex life since he was young, given the special attraction that seems to have had for women. He met a few ladies of particular relevance, which demonstrate the importance of political expediency when building relationships with families more than love. Suetonius summarizes this feature reminding the verses that his soldiers sang with little regard in the day of his triumphal parade in Rome (that day they were allowed): "Citizens, keep your wives, we bring a bald adulterer with us."

Caesar’s mother, Aurelia, had special importance for him, since his father died soon, as well as her sisters, especially Julia Major. In 83 B.C. he married Cornelia, Cinna’s daughter, thanks to the influence of his aunt Julia, wife of Mario, after breaking the commitment made by his father with Cosucia, of an aristocratic family. In this marriage with Cornelia, Julia was born, his only legitimate child. He must have felt true love for his wife, because when the dictator Sulla demanded him to divorce, he refused and had to flee Rome for his life.

His daughter Julia, engaged to Caepio, the uncle of Brutus, married Pompey for political reasons once he got a divorce from Mucia, who Julius Caesar himself courted (Caesar wanted to ensure relations with the powerful Gens Pompeii). Julia died in childbirth in 54 B.C., as often happened then. It must had been a tough year for Julius, because his mother Aurelia also died, who had considerable influence on him, as we said.

In 68 B.C. Caesar married Pompeii, granddaughter of Sulla, for obvious reasons of political expediency. He separated from her in 63 B.C. because she was adulterous with the violent and conflict Publius Clodius during the women-only parties dedicated to Bona Dea. Clodius disguised as women to have access to Pompeii. This is the episode that led to the famous phrase: "Caesar's wife must not only be honest, but to seem"  based on  Plutarch, Cic. 29.7  y Plutarch, Caes. 10.6.

In 59 B.C. he married Calpurnia, twenty years younger, looking for descendants and good relations with Lucius Calpurnius Piso, influential popular leader who with his help was appointed consul in 58 B.C. He had no descendants.

Calpurnia was the wife who the day before the murder of her husband had a prophetic and horrible dream of the death of her husband. But this marriage could not have lasted this long if Pompey had agreed to marry Octavia, Caesar's niece, and grant himself the hand of his daughter.

A person so powerful, attractive (known is the erotic force of power) and as sexual, in an environment so favorable as that of Rome at the dawn of the Empire, had, naturally, numerous lovers. One of the most important was Servilia, sister of Marcus Porcius Cato and mother of Marcus Junius Brutus, one Caesar’s assassins. Servilia was undoubtedly the dearest and most beloved. There is even the possibility that the real father of Brutus was Caesar, but there isn’t any proof, although at the very moment of Caesar's assassination he pronounced the famous phrase "You too, my son?", ?”, en latín “Tu quoque fili mi?” , r Suetonius says that he said on greec ” Καὶ σὺ τέκνον, kai sy teknon” (Suetonius, Iul, 82,2) . The relationship lasted from 63 B.C. to 44 B.C., year of Caesar’s death, and it seems that love was underlay.

It is particularly interesting that several of Caesar’s lovers were the wives of political opponents. It seems as if Caesar enjoyed especially these loves because they added the superiority as a lover to the political superiority. Hence he had sex with Postumia, the wife of Sulpicius Rufus, with Lollia, the wife of Aulus Gabinius, with Mucia, second wife of Pompey who divorced from her because of this relationship, with Tertulla, wife of Crassus, the third member, along with Pompey, of the triumvirate that divided the power at the end of the Roman Republic.

His relations with foreign women were very famous as well. For example with Eunoe, Bogud wife, king of Mauritania, of extraordinary beauty.

But the most famous relationship was with the Egyptian queen Cleopatra VII Philopator. Along with the physical attraction there were undoubtedly political interests moved to control the rich Egyptian lands, granary of Rome. Cleopatra remained in Rome, in the gardens of Caesar, from September 46 to April 44 B.C. after Caesar's death. Julius Caesar wasn’t sure that he was the father of Ptolemy Caesar, known as Caesarion, but he allowed the child to carry his name. Caesarion was later murdered by order of Octavius.

Finally, it seems clear that women from Rome and even from abroad, either by sexual or political reasons, could not reject the proposals of Caesar, so powerful; and the same happened with men, according to some authors. But it is difficult to know precisely how much is fact and how much is fiction in the biography of the character. This will be discussed in another time.

   
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