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Julius Caesar General in GaulJulius Gaius Caesar was a great Roman general and statesman who laid the foundations of the Roman imperial system Born in Rome on July 12 or 13 100 bc Caesar belonged to the prestigious Julia clan yet from early childhood his life was plagued with controversy His uncle by marriage was Gaius Marius leader of the Populares This party supported agrarian reform and was opposed by a reactionary senatorial faction known as the Optimates Marius was seven times consul chief magistrate and the last year he held office just before his death in 86 bc he exacted a terrifying toll on the Optimates At the same time he saw to it that young Caesar was appointed flamen dialis one of their archaic priesthood with no power This identified him with his uncles extremist politics and his marriage in 84 by to Cornelia who died in 68 by the daughter of Mariuss associate Cinna further confirmed him as a radical When Lucius Cornelius Sulla Mariuss arch-enemy and leader of the Optimates was made dictator in 82 bc he issued a list of enemies to be executed Although Caesar was not harmed he was ordered by Sulla to divorce Cornelia Refusing that order he found it prudent to leave Rome He did not return to the city until 78 bc after Sullas resignation Caesar who was now 22 years old was unable to gain office He left Rome again and went to Rhodes where he studied rhetoric he returned to Rome in 73 bc a very persuasive speaker The year before while still absent he had been elected the the pontificate an important college of Roman priests At that time Celtic Gaul to the north was still independent but the Aedui a tribe of Roman allies appealed to Caesar for help against another Gallic people the Helvetii during the first year of his governorship Caesar marched into Celtic Gaul with six legions defeated
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