Commentarii de Bello Gallico
Commentāriī dē Bellō Gallicō Bellum Gallicum, is Julius Caesar's firsthand account of the Gallic Wars, written as a third-person narrative. In it Caesar describes the battles and intrigues that took place in the nine years he spent fighting the Germanic peoples and Celtic peoples in Gaul that opposed Roman conquest; the "Gaul" that Caesar refers to is ambiguous, as the term had various connotations in Roman writing and discourse during Caesar's time. Gaul included all of the regions that Romans had not conquered or administered or which were inhabited by Celts; as the Roman Republic made inroads deeper into Celtic territory and conquered more land, the definition of "Gaul" shifted. Concurrently, "Gaul" was used in common parlance as a synonym for "uncouth" or "unsophisticated" as Romans saw Celtic peoples as uncivilized compared with Rome; the work has been a mainstay in Latin instruction because of its direct prose. It begins with the quoted phrase "Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres", meaning "Gaul is a whole divided into three parts".
The full work is split into eight sections, Book 1 to Book 8, varying in size from 5,000 to 15,000 words. Book 8 was written after Caesar's death; the Latin title, Commentaries on the Gallic War, is retained in English translations of the book, the title is translated to About the Gallic War, Of the Gallic War, On the Gallic War, The Conquest of Gaul, The Gallic War. The victories in Gaul won by Caesar had increased the alarm and hostility of his enemies at Rome, his aristocratic enemies, the boni, were spreading rumors about his intentions once he returned from Gaul; the boni intended to prosecute Caesar for abuse of his authority upon his return, when he would lay down his imperium. Such prosecution would not only see Caesar stripped of his wealth and citizenship, but negate all of the laws he enacted during his term as Consul and his dispositions as pro-consul of Gaul. To defend himself against these threats, Caesar knew he needed the support of the plebeians the Tribunes of the Plebs, on whom he chiefly relied for help in carrying out his agenda.
The Commentaries were an effort by Caesar to directly communicate with the plebeians – thereby circumventing the usual channels of communication that passed through the Senate – to propagandize his activities as efforts to increase the glory and influence of Rome. By winning the support of the people, Caesar sought to make himself unassailable from the boni. In the Commentarii de Bello Gallico Caesar mentions several leaders of the Gallic tribes. Among these and Vercingetorix are notable for their contributions to the Gauls during war. Book 1 and Book 6 detail the importance of Diviciacus, a leader of the Haedui, which lies in the friendly relationship between Caesar and Diviciacus quod ex Gallis ei maximam fidem habebat, his brother, Dumnorix had committed several acts against the Romans because he wanted to become king quod eorum adventu potentia eius deminuta et Diviciacus frater in antiquum locum gratiae atque honoris sit restitutus and summam in spem per Helvetios regni obtinendi venire.
Diviciacus had, in tears, begged Caesar to spare the life of his brother, Caesar saw an opportunity to not only fix his major problem with Dumnorix, but to strengthen the relationship between Rome and one of its small allies. Another major action taken by Diviciacus was his imploring of Caesar to take action against the Germans and their leader, Ariovistus, his fear of Ariovistus and the general outcry from the Gallic people led Caesar to launch a campaign against the Germans though they had been considered friends of the Republic. Vercingetorix, leader of the Arverni, united the Gallic tribes against Caesar during the winter of 53–52 BC; this appears in Book VII, chapters 1–13. Vercingetorix's father, was killed after attempting to seize power amongst the Arverni; when it was clear that Caesar had defeated the Gallic rebellion, Vercingetorix offered to sacrifice himself, put himself at the mercy of Caesar, in order to ensure that his kinsmen were spared. After the defeat, Vercingetorix was brought to Rome and imprisoned for six years before being brought out to adorn Caesar's triumph over Gaul and publicly executed.
Today, Vercingetorix is seen in the same light as others. In De Bello Gallico 6.21–28, Julius Caesar provides his audience with a picture of Germanic lifestyle and culture. He depicts the Germans as primitive hunter gatherers with diets consisting of meat and dairy products who only celebrate earthly gods such as the sun and the moon. German women wear small cloaks of deer hides and bathe in the river naked with their fellow men, yet their culture celebrates men who abstain from sex for as long as possible. Caesar concludes in chapters 25–28 by describing the Germans living in the almost-mythological Hercynian forest full of ox with horns in the middle of their foreheads, elks without joints or ligatures, uri who kill every man they come across. However, the distinguishing char
Caesar's invasions of Britain
In the course of his Gallic Wars, Julius Caesar invaded Britain twice: in 55 and 54 BC. On the first occasion Caesar took with him only two legions, effected little beyond a landing on the coast of Kent; the second invasion consisted of five legions and 2,000 cavalry. The force was so imposing that the Britons did not dare contest Caesar's landing in Kent, waiting instead until he began to move inland. Caesar now penetrated into Middlesex and crossed the Thames, but the British prince Cassivellaunus with his war chariots harassed the Roman columns, Caesar was compelled to return to Gaul after imposing a tribute, never paid. Britain had long been known to the classical world as a source of tin; the coastline had been explored by the Greek geographer Pytheas in the 4th century BC, may have been explored earlier, in the 5th, by the Carthaginian sailor Himilco. But to many Romans, the island, lying as it did beyond the Ocean at what was to them the edge of the "known world," was a land of great mystery.
Some Roman writers insisted that it did not exist, dismissed reports of Pytheas's voyage as a hoax. Britain during the reign of Julius Caesar had an Iron Age culture, with an estimated population of between one and four million. Archaeological research shows that its economy was broadly divided into highland zones. In the lowland southeast, large areas of fertile soil made possible extensive arable farming, communication developed along trackways, such as the Icknield Way, the Pilgrims' Way and the Jurassic Way, navigable rivers such as the Thames. In the highlands, north of the line between Gloucester and Lincoln, arable land was available in only isolated pockets, so pastoralism, supported by garden cultivation, was more common than settled farming, communication was more difficult. Settlements were built on high ground and fortified, but in the southeast, oppida had begun to be established on lower ground at river crossings, suggesting that trade was becoming more important. Commercial contact between Britain and the continent had increased since the Roman conquest of Transalpine Gaul in 124 BC, Italian wine was being imported via the Armorican peninsula, much of it arriving at Hengistbury Head in Dorset.
Caesar's written account of Britain says that the Belgae of northeastern Gaul had conducted raids on Britain, establishing settlements in some of its coastal areas, that within living memory Diviciacus, king of the Suessiones, had held power in Britain as well as Gaul. British coinage from this period shows a complicated pattern of intrusion; the earliest Gallo-Belgic coins that have been found in Britain date to before 100 BC as early as 150 BC, were struck in Gaul, have been found in Kent. Coins of a similar type were struck in Britain and are found all along the south coast as far west as Dorset, it appears that Belgic power was concentrated on the southeastern coast, although their influence spread further west and inland through chieftains establishing political control over the native population. Caesar claimed that, in the course of his conquest of Gaul, the Britons had supported the campaigns of the mainland Gauls against him, with fugitives from among the Gallic Belgae fleeing to Belgic settlements in Britain, the Veneti of Armorica, who controlled seaborne trade to the island, calling in aid from their British allies to fight for them against Caesar in 56 BC.
Strabo says that the Venetic rebellion in 56 BC had been intended to prevent Caesar from travelling to Britain and disrupting their commercial activity, suggesting that the possibility of a British expedition had been considered by then. In late summer, 55 BC though it was late in the campaigning season, Caesar decided to make an expedition to Britain, he summoned merchants who traded with the island, but they were unable or unwilling to give him any useful information about the inhabitants and their military tactics, or about harbours he could use not wanting to lose their monopoly on cross-channel trade. He sent Gaius Volusenus, to scout the coast in a single warship, he examined the Kent coast between Hythe and Sandwich, but was unable to land, since he "did not dare leave his ship and entrust himself to the barbarians", after five days returned to give Caesar what intelligence he had managed to gather. By ambassadors from some of the British states, warned by merchants of the impending invasion, had arrived promising their submission.
Caesar sent them back, along with his ally Commius, king of the Gallic Atrebates, to use their influence to win over as many other states as possible. He gathered a fleet consisting of eighty transport ships, sufficient to carry two legions, an unknown number of warships under a quaestor, at an unnamed port in the territory of the Morini certainly Portus Itius. Another eighteen transports of cavalry were to sail from a different port Ambleteuse; these ships may have been triremes or biremes, or may have been adapted from Venetic designs Caesar had seen or may have been requisitioned from the Veneti and other coastal tribes. In a hurry, Caesar himself left a garrison at the port and set out "at the third watch" – well after midnight – on 23 August with the legions, leaving the cavalry to march to their ships and join him as soon as possible. In light of events, this was either a tactical mistake or confirms the invasion was not intended for complete conquest. Caesar tried to land at Dubris, whose natural harbour had been identified by Volusenus as a suitable landing place.
Several species of humans have intermittently occupied Britain for a million years. The Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD is conventionally regarded as the end of Prehistoric Britain and the start of recorded history in the island, although some historical information is available from before then; the earliest evidence of human occupation around 900,000 years ago is at Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast, with stone tools and footprints made by Homo antecessor. The oldest human fossils, around 500,000 years old, are of Homo heidelbergensis at Boxgrove in Sussex; until this time Britain was permanently connected to the Continent by a chalk ridge between south-east England and northern France called the Weald-Artois Anticline, but during the Anglian Glaciation around 425,000 years ago a megaflood broke through the ridge, creating the English Channel, after that Britain became an island when sea levels rose during interglacials. Fossils of early Neanderthals dating to around 400,000 years ago have been found at Swanscombe in Kent, of classic Neanderthals about 225,000 years old at Pontnewydd in Wales.
Britain was unoccupied by 60,000 years ago, when Neanderthals returned. By 40,000 years ago they had become extinct and modern humans had reached Britain, but their occupations were brief and intermittent due to a climate which swung between low temperatures with a tundra habitat and severe ice ages which made Britain uninhabitable for long periods. The last of these, the Younger Dryas, ended around 11,700 years ago, since Britain has been continuously occupied. Britain and Ireland were joined to the Continent, but rising sea levels cut the land bridge between Britain and Ireland by around 11,000 years ago. A large plain between Britain and Continental Europe, known as Doggerland, persisted much longer until around 5600 BC. By around 4000 BC, the island was populated by people with a Neolithic culture. However, no written language of the pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain has survived. Although the main evidence for the period is archaeological, available genetic evidence is increasing, views of British prehistory are evolving accordingly.
Toponyms and the like constitute a small amount of linguistic evidence, from river and hill names, covered in the article about pre-Celtic Britain and the Celtic invasion. The first significant written record of Britain and its inhabitants was made by the Greek navigator Pytheas, who explored the coastal region of Britain around 325 BC. However, there may be some additional information on Britain in the "Ora Maritima", a text, now lost but, incorporated in the writing of the author Avienus. Archaeological evidence demonstrates that ancient Britons were involved in extensive maritime trade and cultural links with the rest of Europe from the Neolithic onwards by exporting tin, in abundant supply. Julius Caesar wrote of Britain in about 50 BC after his two military expeditions to the island in 55 and 54 BC; the 54 invasion was an attempt to conquer at least the southeast of Britain but failed. Located at the fringes of Europe, Britain received European technological and cultural achievements much than Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region did during prehistory.
The story of ancient Britain is traditionally seen as one of successive waves of invasion from the continent, with each bringing different cultures and technologies. More recent archaeological theories have questioned this migrationist interpretation and argue for a more complex relationship between Britain and the Continent. Many of the changes in British society demonstrated in the archaeological record are now suggested to be the effects of the native inhabitants adopting foreign customs rather than being subsumed by an invading population. Palaeolithic Britain is the period of the earliest known occupation of Britain by humans; this huge period saw many changes in the environment, encompassing several glacial and interglacial episodes affecting human settlement in the region. Providing dating for this distant period is difficult and contentious; the inhabitants of the region at this time were bands of hunter-gatherers who roamed Northern Europe following herds of animals, or who supported themselves by fishing.
There is evidence from bones and flint tools found in coastal deposits near Happisburgh in Norfolk and Pakefield in Suffolk that a species of Homo was present in what is now Britain at least 814,000 years ago. At this time and Eastern Britain were linked to continental Europe by a wide land bridge allowing humans to move freely; the species itself lived before the ancestors of Neanderthals split from the ancestors of Homo sapiens 600,000 years ago. The current position of the English Channel was a large river flowing westwards and fed by tributaries that became the Thames and Seine. Reconstructing this ancient environment has provided clues to the route first visitors took to arrive at what was a peninsula of the Eurasian continent. Archaeologists have found a string of early sites located close to the route of a now lost watercourse named the Bytham River which indicate that it was exploited as the earliest route west into Britain. Sites such as Boxgrove in Sussex illustrate the arrival in the archaeological record of an archaic Homo species called Homo heidelbergensis around 500,000 years ago.
These early peoples hunted the large native mammals of the period. One hypothesis is that they drove elephants and hippopotamuses over the tops of cliffs or into bogs to more kill them; the extreme cold
Cassivellaunus was a historical British tribal chief who led the defence against Julius Caesar's second expedition to Britain in 54 BC. He led an alliance of tribes against Roman forces, but surrendered after his location was revealed to Julius Caesar by defeated Britons. Cassivellaunus made an impact on the British consciousness, he appears in British legend as Cassibelanus, one of Geoffrey of Monmouth's kings of Britain, in the Mabinogion, the Brut y Brenhinedd and the Welsh Triads as Caswallawn, son of Beli Mawr. His name in Common Brittonic, *Cassiuellaunos, comes from Proto-Celtic *kassi- "passion, hate" + *uelna-mon- "leader, sovereign". Cassivellaunus appears in Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico, having been given command of the combined British forces opposing Caesar's second invasion of Britain. Caesar does not mention Cassivellaunus's tribe, but his territory, north of the River Thames, corresponds with that inhabited by the tribe named the Catuvellauni at the time of the invasion under Claudius.
Caesar tells us that Cassivellaunus had been in near-constant conflict with his neighbors, as was typical of the British tribes in this period, had brought down the king of the Trinovantes, the most powerful tribe in Britain at the time. The king's son, fled to Caesar in Gaul. Despite Cassivellaunus's harrying tactics, designed to prevent Caesar's army from foraging and plundering for food, Caesar advanced to the Thames; the only fordable point was defended and fortified with sharp stakes, but the Romans managed to cross it. Cassivellaunus dismissed most of his army and resorted to guerilla tactics, relying on his knowledge of the territory and the speed of his chariots. Five British tribes, the Cenimagni, the Segontiaci, the Ancalites, the Bibroci and the Cassi, surrendered to Caesar and revealed the location of Cassivellaunus's stronghold.. Caesar proceeded to put the stronghold under siege. Cassivellaunus managed to get a message to the four kings of Kent, Carvilius and Segovax, to gather their forces and attack the Roman camp on the coast, but the Romans defended themselves capturing a chieftain called Lugotorix.
On hearing of the defeat and the devastation of his territories, Cassivellaunus surrendered. The terms were mediated by Caesar's Gallic ally. Hostages were given and a tribute agreed. Mandubracius was restored to the kingship of the Trinovantes, Cassivellaunus undertook not to wage war against him. All this achieved, Caesar returned to Gaul; the Roman legions did not return to Britain for another 97 years. The Greek author Polyaenus relates an anecdote in his Stratagemata that Caesar overcame Cassivellaunus's defence of a river crossing by means of an armoured elephant; this claim may derive from a confusion with the Roman conquest of 43 AD, when Claudius is supposed to have brought elephants to Britain. Cassivellaunus appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's 12th century work Historia Regum Britanniae spelled Cassibelanus or Cassibelaunus; the younger son of the former king Heli, he becomes king of Britain upon the death of his elder brother Lud, whose own sons Androgeus and Tenvantius are not yet of age.
In recompense, Androgeus is made Duke of Kent and Trinovantum, Tenvantius is made Duke of Cornwall. After his conquest of Gaul, Julius Caesar sets his sights on Britain, sends a letter to Cassibelanus demanding tribute. Cassibelanus refuses, citing the Britons' and Romans' common Trojan descent, Caesar invades at the Thames Estuary. During the fighting, Cassibelanus's brother Nennius encounters Caesar and sustains a severe head wound. Caesar's sword gets stuck in Nennius's shield, when the two are separated in the mêlée, Nennius throws away his own sword and attacks the Romans with Caesar's, killing many, including the tribune Labienus; the Britons hold firm, that night Caesar flees back to Gaul. Cassibelanus's celebrations are muted by Nennius's death from his head wound, he is buried with the sword he took from Caesar, named Crocea Mors. Two years Caesar invades again with a larger force. Cassibelanus, had planted stakes beneath the waterline of the Thames which gut Caesar's ships, drowning thousands of men.
The Romans are once again put to flight. The leaders of the Britons gather in Trinovantum to thank the gods for their victory with many animal sacrifices and celebrate with sporting events. During a wrestling bout, Cassibelanus's nephew Hirelglas is killed by Androgeus's nephew Cuelinus. Cassibelanus demands that Androgeus turn his nephew over to him for trial, but Androgeus refuses, insisting he should be tried in his own court in Trinovantum. Cassibelanus threatens war, Androgeus appeals to Caesar for help, agreeing to accept him as liege and sending his son as a hostage. Caesar invades landing at Richborough; as Cassibelaunus's army meets Caesar's, Androgeus attacks Cassibelaunus from the rear with five thousand men. His line broken, Cassibelanus retreats to a nearby hilltop. After two days siege, Androgeus appeals to Caesar to offer terms. Cassibelanus agrees to pay tribute of three thousand pounds of silver, he and Caesar become friends. Six years Cassibelanus dies and is buried in York. Androgeus has gone to Rome with Caesar, so Tenvantius succeeds as king of Britain.
Cassivellaunus appears as Caswallawn, son of Beli Mawr, in the Welsh Triads, the Mabinogion, the Welsh versions of Geoffrey's Historia Regum Britanniae known as the Brut y Brenhinedd. In the Second Branch of the Mabinogi, he appears as a usurper, who
The River Thames, known alternatively in parts as the Isis, is a river that flows through southern England including London. At 215 miles, it is the longest river in England and the second longest in the United Kingdom, after the River Severn, it flows through Oxford, Henley-on-Thames and Windsor. The lower reaches of the river are called the Tideway, derived from its long tidal reach up to Teddington Lock, it rises at Thames Head in Gloucestershire, flows into the North Sea via the Thames Estuary. The Thames drains the whole of Greater London, its tidal section, reaching up to Teddington Lock, includes most of its London stretch and has a rise and fall of 23 feet. Running through some of the driest parts of mainland Britain and abstracted for drinking water, the Thames' discharge is low considering its length and breadth: the Severn has a discharge twice as large on average despite having a smaller drainage basin. In Scotland, the Tay achieves more than double the Thames' average discharge from a drainage basin, 60% smaller.
Along its course are 45 navigation locks with accompanying weirs. Its catchment area covers a small part of western England; the river contains over 80 islands. With its waters varying from freshwater to seawater, the Thames supports a variety of wildlife and has a number of adjoining Sites of Special Scientific Interest, with the largest being in the remaining parts of the North Kent Marshes and covering 5,449 hectares; the Thames, from Middle English Temese, is derived from the Brittonic Celtic name for the river, recorded in Latin as Tamesis and yielding modern Welsh Tafwys "Thames". The name may have meant "dark" and can be compared to other cognates such as Russian темно, Lithuanian tamsi "dark", Latvian tumsa "darkness", Sanskrit tamas and Welsh tywyll "darkness" and Middle Irish teimen "dark grey"; the same origin is shared by countless other river names, spread across Britain, such as the River Tamar at the border of Devon and Cornwall, several rivers named Tame in the Midlands and North Yorkshire, the Tavy on Dartmoor, the Team of the North East, the Teifi and Teme of Wales, the Teviot in the Scottish Borders, as well as one of the Thames' tributaries called the Thame.
Kenneth H. Jackson has proposed that the name of the Thames is not Indo-European, while Peter Kitson suggested that it is Indo-European but originated before the Celts and has a name indicating "muddiness" from a root *tā-,'melt'. Indirect evidence for the antiquity of the name'Thames' is provided by a Roman potsherd found at Oxford, bearing the inscription Tamesubugus fecit, it is believed. Tamese was referred to as a place, not a river in the Ravenna Cosmography; the river's name has always been pronounced with a simple t /t/. A similar spelling from 1210, "Tamisiam", is found in the Magna Carta; the Thames through Oxford is sometimes called the Isis. And in Victorian times and cartographers insisted that the entire river was named the Isis from its source down to Dorchester on Thames and that only from this point, where the river meets the Thame and becomes the "Thame-isis" should it be so called. Ordnance Survey maps still label the Thames as "River Isis" down to Dorchester. However, since the early 20th century this distinction has been lost in common usage outside of Oxford, some historians suggest the name Isis is nothing more than a truncation of Tamesis, the Latin name for the Thames.
Sculptures titled Tamesis and Isis by Anne Seymour Damer can be found on the bridge at Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Richard Coates suggests that while the river was as a whole called the Thames, part of it, where it was too wide to ford, was called *lowonida; this gave the name to a settlement on its banks, which became known as Londinium, from the Indo-European roots *pleu- "flow" and *-nedi "river" meaning something like the flowing river or the wide flowing unfordable river. For merchant seamen, the Thames has long been just the "London River". Londoners refer to it as "the river" in expressions such as "south of the river"; the river gives its name to three informal areas: the Thames Valley, a region of England around the river between Oxford and West London. Thames Valley Police is a formal body. In non-administrative use, the river's name is used in those of Thames Valley University, Thames Water, Thames Television, publishing company Thames & Hudson and South Thames College. An example of its use in the names of historic entities is the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company.
The administrative powers of the Thames Conservancy have been taken on with modifications by the Environment Agency and, in respect of the Tideway part of the river, such powers are split between the agency and the Port of London Authority. The marks of human activity, in some cases dating back to Pre-Roman Britain, are visible at various points along the river; these include a variety of structure
Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a Roman politician, military general, historian who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He wrote Latin prose. In 60 BC, Caesar and Pompey formed the First Triumvirate, a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years, their attempts to amass power as Populares were opposed by the Optimates within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero. Caesar rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in the Roman Republic through a number of his accomplishments, notably his victories in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC. During this time, Caesar became the first Roman general to cross both the English Channel and the Rhine River, when he built a bridge across the Rhine and crossed the Channel to invade Britain. Caesar's wars extended Rome's territory to past Gaul; these achievements granted him unmatched military power and threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC.
With the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome. Leaving his command in Gaul meant losing his immunity from being charged as a criminal for waging unsanctioned wars; as a result, Caesar found himself with no other options but to cross the Rubicon with the 13th Legion, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy under arms. This began Caesar's civil war, his victory in the war put him in an unrivaled position of power and influence. After assuming control of government, Caesar began a program of social and governmental reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar, he gave citizenship to many residents of far regions of the Roman Empire. He initiated land support for veterans, he centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic and was proclaimed "dictator for life", giving him additional authority. His populist and authoritarian reforms angered the elites. On the Ides of March, 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by a group of rebellious senators led by Gaius Cassius Longinus, Marcus Junius Brutus and Decimus Junius Brutus, who stabbed him to death.
A new series of civil wars broke out and the constitutional government of the Republic was never restored. Caesar's adopted heir Octavian known as Augustus, rose to sole power after defeating his opponents in the civil war. Octavian set about solidifying his power, the era of the Roman Empire began. Much of Caesar's life is known from his own accounts of his military campaigns and from other contemporary sources the letters and speeches of Cicero and the historical writings of Sallust; the biographies of Caesar by Suetonius and Plutarch are major sources. Caesar is considered by many historians to be one of the greatest military commanders in history, his cognomen was subsequently adopted as a synonym for "Emperor". He has appeared in literary and artistic works, his political philosophy, known as Caesarism, inspired politicians into the modern era. Gaius Julius Caesar was born into a patrician family, the gens Julia, which claimed descent from Iulus, son of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas the son of the goddess Venus.
The Julii were of Alban origin, mentioned as one of the leading Alban houses, which settled in Rome around the mid-7th century BC, after the destruction of Alba Longa. They were granted patrician status, along with other noble Alban families; the Julii existed at an early period at Bovillae, evidenced by a ancient inscription on an altar in the theatre of that town, which speaks of their offering sacrifices according to the lege Albana, or Alban rites. The cognomen "Caesar" originated, according to Pliny the Elder, with an ancestor, born by Caesarean section; the Historia Augusta suggests three alternative explanations: that the first Caesar had a thick head of hair. Caesar issued coins featuring images of elephants, suggesting that he favored this interpretation of his name. Despite their ancient pedigree, the Julii Caesares were not politically influential, although they had enjoyed some revival of their political fortunes in the early 1st century BC. Caesar's father called Gaius Julius Caesar, governed the province of Asia, his sister Julia, Caesar's aunt, married Gaius Marius, one of the most prominent figures in the Republic.
His mother, Aurelia Cotta, came from an influential family. Little is recorded of Caesar's childhood. In 85 BC, Caesar's father died so Caesar was the head of the family at 16, his coming of age coincided with a civil war between his uncle Gaius Marius and his rival Lucius Cornelius Sulla. Both sides carried out bloody purges of their political opponents whenever they were in the ascendancy. Marius and his ally Lucius Cornelius Cinna were in control of the city when Caesar was nominated as the new Flamen Dialis, he was married to Cinna's daughter Cornelia. Following Sulla's final victory, Caesar's connections to the old regime made him a target for the new one, he was stripped of his inheritance, his wife's dowry, his priesthood, but he refused to divorce Cornelia and was forced to go into hiding. The threat against hi