Julius Caesar Part One: Early Life and Career

The first of a three-part biographical course on Julius Caesar, covering his birth and his climb to power.
3 reviews
  • Chris Halsted Student and Amateur Historian

    I am a Senior at Oberlin College in Ohio, double majoring in History and Latin with a minor in Mathematics. My favorite periods of history are the European Middle Ages and Roman Antiquity. I've been obsessed with history since middle school, and have always read whatever books I could get my hands on – my favorite was a history cataloguing the entire course of the Byzantine Empire. Both my parents are academics and have PhDs in History from the University of Michigan, so I grew up in an atmosphere suffused with history. I collaborate with my parents to create my courses, and teach them alongside my father, David Halsted. In the coming year, I'll be working on an honors project on the development of the German kingdom in the tenth century and how it progressed from a Frankish state tied in with the fates of East Francia, Lotharingia and Italy to a more centralized German state.

  • David Halsted is a teacher and technologist with 20 years of experience in the private and public sectors. HIs research interest is in the intellectual and cultural history of early modern Europe, but he has also been a software entrepreneur and architect. Halsted has taught at leading universities, including Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and he has worked with private sector companies ranging from small startups to some of the largest corporations on the planet.

  • Lifetime access to 19 lectures and 1 quizzes

Julius Caesar Part One: Early Life and Career

The first of a three-part biographical course on Julius Caesar, covering his birth and his climb to power.
3 reviews


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Understanding the Roman Empire is the key to understanding the early history of Europe – the middle ages, the Renaissance, and the early modern period owe a huge debt to Rome, from the Carolingian successor state to the shattered Spanish kingdoms left in the wake of Rome's receding power. But to understand the Roman Empire, you have to understand the man who made it possible. Julius Caesar was born in a time when the Roman Republic was barely hanging together, and he lives a singularly extraordinary life. Caesar conquered Gaul, the territory that today is known as France, then returned to Rome to take absolute control of the largest nation in the western world and finally died in betrayal on the very floor of the Senate.

But this was all at the end of Caesar's life, the culmination of his 55 years. What happened before? Caesar was 40 when he set off for Gaul, and he'd already done more than most Roman politicians did in their entire lives. He'd been captured by pirates, struck alliances with the largest names in Rome, and already been a wildly successful military leader. Understanding this part of Caesar's life is key to understanding the rest of it, as this is when Caesar becomes the man who is able to do such great things later. This is Caesar's prologue, his origin story, and it's a fascinating tale.

This course is the first of what will be a three-part series covering the entire life of one of the greatest men in history. It is an exhaustive overview of Caesar's early life with about 1.5 hours of video content. In addition, purchasing this course will get you 66% discounts on the next two chapters of Caesar's life (coming soon!).

    • A healthy appetite for knowledge!
    • Over 19 lectures and 1.5 hours of content!
    • Understand the political background in Rome and why Caesar could come to power at this time in Roman history.
    • Learn how Caesar became the household name that he is.
    • Enjoy some awesome stories from a fascinating period of history!
    • Anyone with an interest in history!


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  • SECTION 1:
    Introduction and Supplementary Materials
  • 1
    Course Introduction

    An overview of why Caesar is such a major historical figure: not only was he was one of the most capable rulers in human history, but he also lived at a major turning point in Roman history and kind of exemplifies that period of time. In addition, his writings have survived to the present day, and are both the best primary source on the Gallic Wars and an excellent source of Latin from a literature point of view.

  • 2
    Contact Info
  • 3
    Timeline of Caesar's Life
    1 page

    Refer back to this as a reference for the sequence of events!

  • 4
    List of Characters
    5 pages

    A list of characters to refer back to as they come up in the course.

  • SECTION 2:
    Caesar's Early Life
  • 5
    Birth and Early Life

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. Caesar's family
    2. The conflict between Marius and Sulla
    3. The Marian regime in Rome
    4. Sulla's return and Caesar's subsequent flight
  • 6
    (OPTIONAL) Caesar's Name

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. Roman male first names, or praenomina
    2. Roman family names
    3. The twin origin myths of Rome
    4. Roman cognomina
    5. Theories on the cognomen "Caesar"
  • 7
    Exile and Early Career

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. The dictatorship of Sulla
    2. Caesar's return to Rome
    3. An attempted coup by Aemelius Lepidus
    4. Ways to get into Roman politics
  • 8
    The Story With the Pirates

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. The story of Cicero
    2. Caesar's capture and ransom by pirates
    3. A little historiography
  • SECTION 3:
    Caesar's Early Political Career
  • 9
    Caesar Enters Politics

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. The cursus honorem
    2. Military tribunes and Plebeian tribunes
    3. Caesar's election as Military Tribune then Quaestor

    CORRECTION: In this Module I mention that Caesar's wife, a granddaughter of Cinna, dies. His wife was actually a daughter of Cinna.

  • 10
    (OPTIONAL) Pompey and Crassus

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. Pompey's origins and the source of his nickname
    2. How Crassus made his money
    3. The political paths they both take after fighting with Sulla against Marius
  • 11
    Caesar as Quaestor and Aedile

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. Caesar's Quaestorship
    2. Caesar becoming caretaker of the Appian Way
    3. A few rumors of attempted coups
    4. Caesar's Aedileship
    5. An attempt to conquer Egypt
  • 12
    (OPTIONAL) Hispania

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. Pre-Roman Hispania
    2. Why Hispania was useful to Rome
    3. A brief overview of post-Roman Spain
  • 13
    The Year 63 BC

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. Caesar's show-trial prosecution of Gaius Rabirius
    2. Caesar's bribery-laden run for pontifex maximus and his run for Praetor
    3. The Catilinarian Conspiracy
    4. Cato the Younger
  • 14
    Praetor and Propraetor

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. Caesar causes a riot
    2. A man dressed as a woman attempts to seduce Caesar's wife
    3. Caesar's governorship in Further Spain
    4. Cato's attempts to rob Caesar of his Consulship
  • SECTION 4:
    Caesar's Consulship and Conclusion
  • 15
    The Election and the State of Rome

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. The election of Caesar and his co-Consul, Bibulus
    2. Cato and the optimates
    3. Cicero's moderates
    4. The populares
    5. Where exactly Crassus, Pompey, and Pulcher fall in all this
  • 16
    Caesar's Consulship, Part 1

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. The forming of the First Triumvirate
    2. Caesar forces through a Land Reform bill
    3. Bibulus is defeated
    4. The Triumvirate's agenda

    CORRECTION: In this Module I mention that Romans would have referred to the year 59 BC as "The Year of the Consulship of Julius and Bibulus." In actuality, they would have referred to it as "The Year of the Consulship of Caesar and Bibulus."

  • 17
    Caesar's Consulship, Part 2

    Covered in this lecture:

    1. Caesar binds the Triumvirate more closely together
    2. Clodius Pulcher becomes a Plebeian
    3. Caesar manages to get a governorship of three provinces for after his Consulship
    4. Caesar leaves for Gaul
  • 18
    Conclusion to Section 1

    General themes from this course:

    1. The general mistrust of Caesar
    2. Caesar's willingness to take audacious risks
    3. Caesar's skill at cleaning up his own messes
    4. Caesar's oratory capability
    5. Caesar's ego
  • 19
    Section 1 Quiz
    12 questions
  • 20
    2 pages


Hours of video content
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  • Tom
    Political History Masterpiece

    I can only recommend this course, the passion for the subject was in the instructor and I now have found a new area to develop my understanding of. I can only hope there is a part two

  • Matthew Kendrick
    Interesting and informative, yet casual

    Chris progresses at a good clip through most of Caesar's life, and was very helpful in answering questions. I also did not feel pressured to memorize everything, and was able to enjoy the course without stress.

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