Below are some reflections on why Caesar is only regarded as a general and a dictator.
Plus a test to determine your own mental picture of Caesar.
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Caesar, do we know him?
The mental block which prevents us from entertaining the thought that Jesus could be Divus Julius, the deified Caesar, is not only due to the image we have of Jesus, but also due to the one we carry around of Caesar. When we hear the name Caesar, we think of the general and dictator, and if we think of him as a writer at all, we only think of him as a reporter of his own military and political activities. Other aspects - especially the Clementia Caesaris, Caesar as Pontifex Maximus and Divus Julius - are indeed known to the specialists, but are repressed in the collective mind.
I will spare you the quotes from contemporary literature wherein you would see that this is the case. (We will take an example as representative of this genre: In the preface to Caesar, D. Rasmussen ed., Darmstadt 1967, the editor lists: Caesar was politician and statesman, conqueror, discoverer and general at the same time and last but not least orator and writer of some standing . Caesar as Pontifex Maximus, son of Venus and God of the empire is not even mentioned, even though this was a book to mark the 2000th anniversary of Caesars death, a collection of essays by the current creme de la creme of Caesar researchers.)
The reason for this is not only that Roman history is hardly taught at school anymore, and that the information gleaned from cinema, TV and comics tends to be distorted by bias. There are also reasons that have to do with considerations of translational technicalities, politico-cultural matters and journalistic stereotyping.
Because practically only his Commentarii on his own campaigns have been handed down to posterity (his love-poems, tragedies, travel-reports, etc. were not well regarded by his puritanical adopted son Octavian Augustus too dissolute? and the monks in the Middle Ages considered it more important to copy volumes and volumes of the church fathers than to pass on Caesars scripts) even his identity as a writer has been subsumed by his identity as a general and dictator.
As we are only just getting over the dictators who arose in the first half of the last century, the Dictator par excellence is implicitly held responsible for them. Caesar is blamed for Caesarism, after all, the words are so similar, and because Mussolini stems from the same country geographically, then he must have been his spiritual grandfather. Who cares that Mussolini regarded Augustus as his mentor and not Caesar? It is just a petty detail that we need not bother about. Especially as this allows us the opportunity to discard the progressive Caesar and retain the conservative, well-nigh reactionary Octavian Augustus and moreover to sell this as politically correct!
In the West, at least since the time of the dissension of Erasmus and Luther, there has been a separation of the religious from the secular, of Church from state, a condition that was not the case with the Romans, nor indeed with the ancient peoples generally. The political and religious order were two aspects of the same salus civium, the welfare of the citizen. Outside of their more worldly official positions, all Roman politicians held religious titles as well. Not only were they Quaestors, Aediles, Praetors, Consuls, Tribunes of the people, Imperators, etc., they were also Augurs, Pontifices, Flamens et. Caesar was no exception, only that he attained the highest titles and combined them all in himself: Consul, Dictator, Imperator and Pontifex Maximus.
This has not gone the rounds of the editorial departments of our popular-scientific publishing houses, and even less is it to be seen in newspaper and magazine articles. Publications about the Caesar-cult are rare, about the deified Caesar almost non-existent. (Stefan Weinstock had to emigrate to Oxford, in order to realize his Divus Julius which was finally published in English.)
As examples of this rare literature we will here mention:
All titles are of course out of print and can only be found in universities and libraries, if at all.
Now that you have been given an idea of how far removed the traditional view of Caesar is from reality, we now offer you the opportunity to test yourself and your friends.
Do we really know Caesar?
Shall we put it to the test? Which of the alternative answers proffered below is correct?
If you knew the correct answers i.e. in all cases (b) - or if you can at least entertain the idea that these are the correct ones and not obdurately maintain that Caesar is the spiritual grandfather of Mussolini, the tyrant of Asterix and the persecutor of the early Christians, if you have studied history not (only) in Hollywood (Quo Vadis, Ben Hur, Spartacus, etc.), if you are perhaps not so certain that Rome really was the ancient empire of evil (O-Ton Spiegel-TV, and others), then you are prepared for the Crash of History that you will experience whilst reading this texts, or at least, partially prepared.
SOURCES: That the answers are always (b) is substantiated by the entirety of ancient historiography, not only the Corpus Caesarianum, but also the historians of the civil war and Caesars biographers (Suetonius, Velleius Paterculus, Appian, Plutarch, Dio Cassius, etc. passim). Hence there is no point in providing all the specific sources here.
However, questions 3 and 4 are very specific, so here are the specific quotations:
Apropos Question 3
Apropos Question 4