The Ides of March have come but not gone…
Gaius Julius Caesar July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC
I have long loved Caesar. I know, I know, the Celtic lady loves Caesar? He who conquered Gaul? I am at the core a conflicted soul.
Because I can stand in awe of the prowess, strategy and shear genius that Rome wrought upon the globe. AND still feel a rebellious urge to burn it all down. Even in the pagan community Rome gets a bad reputation for it’s conquering ways. I can’t hold that against them. That was the way of things. The Celts were no different in that, just less successful in the long run. So Rome will always have a soft spot in my heart.
It was my father that introduced me to Caesar. As long as I can remember he had this book, The Emperors of Rome or the 12 Emperors of Rome? I can’t remember the title now, tho I would know the cover anywhere. The main portion of the book was about Caesar, and then Augustus, Claudius, some Marcus Aurelius, and others. I’m fairly certain they skipped over Caligula, Nero and that lot lol.
My dad was always watching the History channel, and Caesar just sort of became one of the symbols that immediately brought my dad to mind. Caesar and the Ode to the Common Man. My dad was a Marine, and still spends a good portion of his free time in the philosophical and tangible pursuit of leadership. So he like many other leaders before him and still do, turned to the words and deeds of Caesar to learn what he could. It is unsurprising that I did the same.
Caesar and his heroic model of leadership, a General who took to the battle field on foot with his men. Ready to die by their sides. Caesar’s army loved him. They didn’t just fight for him for the money (tho Caesar was no fool and knew to keep his men well paid and well fed), but because they respected him. He broke with the conventions of war, offering pardons to any enemy soldiers in exchange for service. This was unheard of. Surviving enemy soldiers of the time were uniformly slaughtered. But not with Caesar.
He cared about what the common man thought of him. He knew that the strength of leadership lay not in the hands of the elite but in the hands of the people. He imposed heavy taxes on the rich and made huge social strides for the betterment of life of the poor.
Was the man a tyrant and a conqueror? Sure. A single point of power is not the model of government that I stand by. But the qualities of leadership that he brought to the world, are qualities that are missing in a lot of leadership today. The Stewardship of the People, the Shared Burden of Danger, the intelligence.
Caesar is one of my personal ancestors, for a laundry list of reasons. Many of which I cannot even fully articulate. Every time that I go back to his life, his works, and read a little more, I walk away knowing more of the responsibility that is mine to command. My standards rise higher for those who seek to garner my favor for leadership in the government and elsewhere. For all of that I am grateful.
Tonight I raise a glass to Gaius Julius Caesar.