6 Ways Julius Caesar Changed Rome and the World

Colin Ricketts

3 mins

24 Jul 2018

Perhaps more significant than Julius Caesar‘s own achievements are what he left behind. His actions transformed not only Rome, but arguably the influenced the future of much or all of the world — at least in some manner.

What follows are 6 ways the legacy of Julius Caesar continued after his death, leaving an indelible mark on world history and political culture.

1. Caesar’s rule helped turn Rome from a republic into an empire

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Sulla before him had also had strong individual powers, but Caesar’s appointment as Dictator for life made him an emperor in all but name. His own chosen successor, Octavian, his great nephew, was to become Augustus, the first Roman Emperor.

2. Caesar expanded Rome’s territories

Map of Ancient Rome at the end of Caesar's reign

The rich lands of Gaul were a huge and valuable asset for the Empire. By stabilising the territories under imperial control and giving rights to new Romans he set the conditions for later expansion that would make Rome one of history’s great empires.

3. Emperors were to become god-like figures

Temple of Caesar

Temple of Caesar.

Caesar was the first Roman to be granted divine status by the state. This honour was to be granted to many Roman Emperors, who could be proclaimed gods on their death and did what they could to link themselves to their great predecessors in life. This personal cult made the power of institutions like the Senate much less important – if a man could win public popularity and demand the loyalty of the military he could become Emperor.

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4. He introduced Britain to the world and to history

Caesar never achieved a full invasion of Britain, but his two expeditions to the islands mark an important turning point. His writings on Britain and the Britons are among the very first and provide a wide-ranging view of the islands. Recorded British history is reckoned to start with the successful Roman takeover in 43 AD, something Caesar set the grounds for.

5. Caesar’s historical influence is greatly increased by his own writings

Commentarii de Bello Gallico by Julius Caesar

To the Romans Caesar was undoubtedly a figure of great importance. The fact that he wrote so well about his own life, particularly in his Commentarii de Bello Gallico, a history of the Gallic Wars, has meant that his story was easily passed on in his own words.

6. Caesar’s example has inspired leaders to try to emulate him

Benito Mussolini

Even the terms Tzar and Kaiser derive from his name. Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini consciously echoed Rome, seeing himself as a new Caesar, whose murder he called a ‘disgrace for humanity.’ The word fascist is derived from fasces, symbolic Roman bunches of sticks – together we are stronger.

Caesarism is a recognised form of government behind a powerful, usually military leader – Napoleon was arguably a Caesarist and Benjamin Disraeli was accused of it.