Caesar, Gaius Julius (102?–44 B.C.), a Roman statesman and general. At the time he was assassinated by Brutus and other conspirators, Caesar was master of the Roman world. With his death the Roman Republic came to an end. His name survives in the month of July (from Julius), and in the titles “kaiser” and “czar” (from Caesar). He was also an orator and author. His Commentaries on the Gallic War—an account of his conquest of Gaul (France and Belgium)—is familiar to every student of Latin.

Although he was of aristocratic birth, Caesar's sympathies were with the popular (antiaristocratic) party led by the general Gaius Marius, his uncle, and by Lucius Cornelius Cinna. In 83 B.C. Caesar married Cornelia, Cinna's daughter. The next year Lucius Cornelius Sulla, the leader of the aristocratic party, came into power and ordered Caesar to cut his ties with the popular party and divorce his wife. Caesar refused, and was deprived of his property. He then left Rome and served with the army in western Asia until the death of Sulla in 78 B.C.

In 76 B.C. Caesar set out for Rhodes to study oratory. On his way there, his vessel was captured by pirates. He was held prisoner until he raised from among his friends a very large ransom. When he was set free, he manned some ships, attacked the pirates' stronghold, and crucified his former captors.