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Julius CaesarThe People's Dictator$
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Luciano Canfora

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748619368

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748619368.001.0001

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In Flight from Sulla: First Experiences of an Aristocratic Youth

In Flight from Sulla: First Experiences of an Aristocratic Youth

(p.3) Chapter 1 In Flight from Sulla: First Experiences of an Aristocratic Youth
Julius Caesar
Luciano Canfora, Julian Stringer
Edinburgh University Press

The early life of Caesar may be seen as the story of a young man being hunted, but possessed of an indomitable spirit and a fierce determination to defend the honour of the defeated party of the populares. He incurred the enmity of the dictator Sulla, who sought to eliminate the nephew of Gaius Marius. But Caesar was also the scion of one of the most venerable patrician families, the gens Julia, which boasted a mythical descent from Julus, the son of Aeneas. Any overt action against the young son of Gaius Julius Caesar the Elder would have been fraught with difficulty. Instead Sulla preferred to attempt to humiliate him, trying among other things to make him leave his wife Cornelia, the daughter of Cinna, the other leader of the populares, whom Sulla had defeated when he marched on Rome. For Caesar the defining experience was perhaps his first few years of ‘conscious’ life, under the dictatorship of Sulla. That was when he learned what it meant to stake all while facing the overwhelming power of political adversaries. He learned what the unlimited control of the factio paucorum could mean.

Keywords:   Julius Caesar, populares, Sulla, dictatorship, factio paucorum

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