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Caesar, Pliny the Elder and Seneca the Younger
by 'Euterpe'

Caesar Pliny the Elder Seneca the Younger

Gaius Julius Caesar

Ancient Rome is far from being forgotten by this world. You have probably heard of Gaius Julius Caesar, a famous person in the ancient world of the Romans. His death has become a famous Shakespearean play, but have you heard of his accomplishments?
Gaius Julius Caesar, commonly known as Julius Caesar, had many accomplishments as a military leader, politician, and dictator.
Julius Caesar made his way up the politician ladder and the accomplishments there starting young. One of his political actions was helping to support the Gabinian Law in 67 B.C. In 59 B.C. Julius Caesar was elected as a member of the Roman Consul. Making an alliance with Pompey and Crassus, two powerful military leaders, was also a smart move; it was soon to be known as the "First Triumvirate." He was given military procouncilship of Gaul after his year in office and soon made a brilliant conquest there. Julius Caesar had many great military accomplishments. In 80 B.C. he was honored for bravery at the siege of Mytilene. He was studying in Rhodes when war broke out with Mithradates VI of Pontus in 74 B.C.; he took a break from his studies to gather a force and participate in it. In the Gallic wars, he subdued many wild Gallic tribes in 58 B.C. to 51 B.C., bringing back 53,000 slaves from one town alone. Julius Caesar made the first crossing of the channel in 55 B.C., to prevent the Britons from assisting the Gallic rebellion. After crossing the Rubicon River, Caesar became in charge of all of Rome's military, signaling the end of the Republic.
With the republic ended, Caesar was appointed dictator in 49 B.C. In 48 he was appointed dictator for two years, in 46 for 10 years, and then in 44 he was appointed for life. Unfortunately, Gaius Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44.
Gaius Julius Caesar, this name brings thoughts of good and bad into the minds of many. Was he a brilliant leader or an oppressive dictator? A statue of Julius Caesar now stands guard over the modern road; a laurel wreath is laid at its feet every year on the ides of March, the day of Caesar's assassination. Was he loved and great or not?

Pliny the Elder

Gaius Plinius Secundus, known as Pliny the elder, was born in Como, in the Po Valley, on the Italian-Swiss border in A.D. 23. Pliny led a well-rounded life and was known as an energetic, rigid, multi-talented man of letters, interested in military history, biology, geography, rhetoric, and oratory. When he was in teens he immigrated to Rome to study rhetoric. From A.D. 47-57 Pliny served as military cavalry prefect in Germany and practiced law before establishing a literary career. He was an expert on deployment of cavalry and became confidant and trusted advisor of emperors Vespasian and Titus.
Pliny's encyclopedic knowledge and command of language made him a perfect surrogate father for his nephew Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, Pliny the younger. Pliny the younger described his father as a insatiable reader who made use of every book he read and let nothing stand in the way of his studies. Even during his five-year-term as governor in Spain, Gaul and Africa, and while he was prefect of the Roman navy at Naples during the last five years of his life, he was not deterred from daily observation, meditation, research, and note-taking. Pliny died in A.D. 79, on August 24th, of asphyxiation while viewing at close range the eruption of Vesuvius for humanitarian and academic reasons. He left 160 papyri crammed with notes on both sides.
Gaius Plinius Secundus was a creative writer with various interests. His many writing include a weapons manual on the javelin, a biography of a poet, Rome's wars with the Germans, training of orators, ambiguous language, and the history of Rome. In A.D. 77, he produced the first Roman encyclopedia covering 35,000 topics and collected from over 4,000 writers. The topics covered the universe, geography, astronomy, meteorology, ethnology, anthropology, physiology, psychology, zoology, botany, pharmacology, mineralogy, and metallurgy. His enjoyment of curiosities made him a favorite of readers well into the Middle Ages.

Seneca the Younger

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Roman philosopher, dramatist, and statesman, was born around 3-4 B.C. in Cordoba, Spain. Being born into an upper-class family of means and influence, he was sent to Rome in infancy to be educated for a career in law and the military. As expected because of his ease with public speaking and debate, Seneca rose through the ranks to senator and quaestor. In A.D. 41 he was exiled to Corsica for alleged adultery with Julia Livilla, Caligula's daughter; in reality it had more to do with Caligula's jealousy of his ability. While he was in his eight-year-exile he wrote Consolation to his mother. The empress Agrippina, had Seneca recalled in A.D. 49 to tutor and advise her eleven-year-old son, the young Nero. During his years under Claudius ,the emperor, confusing inconsistencies appeared between his beliefs and practices. This was probably because of tensions, jealousies, and power struggles existing in the royal family. Seneca was able to turn his era to his own benefit and became one of the wealthiest men in the Mediterranean world. He was also virtual ruler of the Roman Empire with Afranius Burrus, as they were able to influence the emperor Nero greatly.
When Nero turned to Poppea for guidance and she had Agrippina and Burrus killed, Seneca decided to retire to the country with the emperor's blessing. Three years later he was ordered to kill himself, so he slit his wrists and awaited for death. He dictated a lengthy deathbed article on morality to his slaves, while suffering long-drawn-out agony and eventually dying by suffocation in the bath. The death of Lucius Annaeus Seneca was considered remarkably noble by Romans.
Seneca was undoubtedly the most brilliant thinker of his day. His philosophy was grounded in stoicism and his writings show high, unselfish nobility which clashed with his own life of greed, expediency and connivance at murder. Seneca's greatest strength was in the revival of philosophy in Roman literature; the humanization and vitalization of his stoic writings go against the gladitorial contests, slavery, and cruelty for which the Roman empire was notorious. His broad learning and short, concise style served as a model to later generations. Seneca's tragedies were the most influential of his work; no one else had a stronger influence on Renaissance tragedy.