Happy Birthday Julius Caesar! 2,121 today!

Julius Caesar was born on 13 July 100BC, making today his 2,121st birthday. The famous Roman emperor was born by Caesarian section – and recently researchers have suggested that the procedure might have contributed to him having an enlarged cranium.

We are all acquainted with the dour-faced marble busts of Julius Caesar, but now researchers at the National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden in the Netherlands have used the latest facial reconstruction technology to create a lifelike image of the most famous Roman Emperor in the world.

Tusculum portrait Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar gives his name to the Caesarean procedure used during more complex deliveries to ensure a baby is born quickly without injury or distress. As a result of the procedure, the great ruler was born with an enlarged cranium.

Although he is not known to have fathered any surviving children, his looks did not detract female admirers and he was married three times and was famously the lover of the Egyptian ruler Cleopatra VII, with whom he fathered a son, Ptolemy Philopator Philometor Caesar (Caesarion).

Caesarion died in childhood after being executed by Octavian (Augustus), leaving Augustus – Caesar’s great nephew – to become the great emperor’s successor.

Using existing busts of Julius Caesar and 3D technology, archaeologist and anthropologist Maja d’Hollosy has created a lifelike image of what Caesar would have looked like in the flesh, including his large cranium and almost pinched features, perhaps as a result of his skull deformity. Images of his great nephew and successor Augustus, show a marked family resemblance, however.

After Caesar’s murder in 44BC, Augustus built a temple in his memory in the Forum. All that is left of it is a humble mound where the altar was, where people leave offerings.

All hail Caesar and happy birthday!

Caesar's altar mound
Remains of altar to Julius Caesar in the Roman Forum

All images copyright A. Meredith except where stated.

Featured image: Facial reconstruction of Julius Caesar, based on the bust of him in the Vatican Museum. The reconstruction shows him with germanic earlobes, however – narrow and short – whereas those of Roman descent have long fleshy earlobes, as his bust appears to have. See below and above. In this reconstruction Caesar also appears to have a pierced ear! Well, it is his birthday!

Chiaramonti Bust of Julius Caesar, Vatican Museum, dating from before the
Roman Empire was established in 27 BC (Image Wikipedia). It is thought to be
one of the most accurate depictions of the face of Caesar. In the later days of
the Roman republic when Caesar lived, there was a prefernce for realistic
portraits rather than idealised ones – a movement called verism or verismo
July birthday boy Julius Caesar

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