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Julius Caesar
Rome was a huge and very rich empire after the second Punic War, but the Senate did a poor
job of running the republic. The senate was designed to govern a city, not a growing empire.
The senators often took bribes or were not
careful about how they voted in the forum.
Many Romans wanted a strong leader, and the
ambitious Julius Caesar was an obvious choice.
While serving as the governor of Gaul, he led
an army that captured most of Western Europe.
Caesar's successes on the battlefield made him
the most popular man in Rome. In 49BC, the
Senate ordered Caesar to return to Rome, but to
leave his army behind. The senate was afraid of
the power and popularity Caesar had acquired
through his battles. Caesar ignored the senate’s orders and marched his army back to Rome.
Caesar's orders clearly told him not to bring his army across the Rubicon River. When he
marched the army across the river, he knew he faced an important decision. Caesar knew that if
he obeyed the senate and disbanded his army, his career would be over; but if he marched his
troops across the river, the Senate would order Pompey and his army to retaliate. Today when
people say they are "crossing the Rubicon," they refer to a very significant decision that cannot
be undone. Caesar's army seized control of Italy while Pompey and his army fled to Greece.
The Roman people admired Caesar as a war hero and a strong leader. In 46 BC, they elected
him emperor of Rome. An emperor is a ruler with complete control. Caesar used his power to
make many changes in Rome, often without approval from the Senate. He instituted the Julian
calendar of 365¼ days. Caesar's calendar is closely related to the calendar we use today. The
month of July is named in honor of Caesar.
On March 15, 44 BC, only two years after his election Caesar was met by a mob of sixty
senators who stabbed the emperor to death. The Roman senators were scared of the tremendous
power and popularity Caesar was receiving. The assassins were led by Caesar’s best friend
Brutus who was tricked into killing him by other conspirators.
1. The first paragraph is mostly about…
a) how Rome became wealthy after the Punic War
b) qualities Caesar possessed that would make him a good emperor
c) reasons why the senate system was not the best choice for Rome
d) how Caesar became emperor of Rome
2. Read paragraph two and make an inference, why would the senate want Caesar to leave his
armies behind…
a) they were afraid the armies would kill the people
b) they needed the armies in the battlefield to protect Rome’s borders
c) they were worried the armies would come a kill them
d) they thought with the support of the army, Caesar could become emperor
3. Which of the following situations best describes an instance when the phrase “crossing the
Rubicon” could be used…
a) fixing a problem that exists
b) breaking something beyond repair
c) making a hurtful comment
d) dropping out of school
4. An emperor is most like a…
a) king
b) president
c) principal
d) man with a lot of money
5. In the final paragraph, the author writes “The assassins were led by Caesar’s best friend
Brutus who was tricked into killing him by other conspirators.” In this sentence the word
assassins most likely means…
a) armies
b) wealthy men
c) murderers
d) senators
6. In the space below, answer the following question. Do you think the author presents Julius
Caesar positively or negatively? Give evidence from the text to support.