Today – 13 July – is the birthday of perhaps the most famous Roman of all – the Emperor Julius Caesar, who was born in Rome in 100BC.
Julius Caesar was a commonly used name – and there is a confusing array of them in Roman history.
The month of July was named after the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, however. He also regulated the calendar to 365.25 days and added an extra day in February every four years to make the thing work.
Apart from his great dictatorship and many military campaigns, Julius Caesar will perhaps always be best known for his infatuation with the Egyptian Queen, Cleopatra, with whom he consorted while still married to his third and last wife, Calpurnia – even bringing his mistress to Rome to stay at his villa in a blaze of male insensitivity.
As with many ancient historical figures, the life of Julius Caesar is a combination of fact and mythology – including his supposed ancestral link to the Trojan and Roman hero Aeneas, son of the goddess Aphrodite.
Julius Caesar’s father was Gaius Julius Caesar III, governor of Asia, and his mother Aurelia Cotta – who are also my 59th great grandparents.
Aurelia is described by the philosopher Plutarch as being strict and respectable and known for her independence, intelligence, beauty and common sense – and for being held in “high regard” throughout Rome.
Apart from some genetic material, a love of writing, a love of Rome and a love of Egypt, that is all I have in common with Julius Caesar himself, however.
So for the man who had everything, on your birthday, I give you this simple blog.
Buon compleanno – or fortuna dies natalis, as the ancient Romans might have said!