Julius Caesar - Good or Evil?


#1

I know we’re in murky territory when we try to decide whether a person is good or bad, but please do bear with me.

Do we Catholic Christians consider Caesar to have been a good man or a bad man? I’m getting some oddly mixed anwers from my reading.

Reasons to think Caesar was bad include that he was a conqueror, which would mean that his job came with the necessity of killing. I’m not very well-versed in the era of history that he came from, so for all I know the killing may be justified, but it doesn’t seem so.

But the big thing is that he was, of course, a pagan. Furthermore, he was titled the “son of god” and he was deified. That clearly contradicts some of our most basic teachings.

However, there are also some reasons to think that he was a good man. Dante wrote that in hell, the conspirators that killed Caesar were in the same circle in hell that Judas Iscariot was in. Of course, it was just a work of fiction, but it at the very least reflects a negative outlook on Brutus and Casius, and by extension of that, giving a positive outlook on Caesar. Albeit, this example isn’t very concrete.

Popes pick their names out of respect for others with the same name. I read that Julius II chose his name after Julius Caesar, which is especially weird because it’s choosing the name of a pagan god, which was frowned upon; the first Pope to adopt a name did so because he didn’t think it was fitting to have a Pope named after the god Mercury.

I’m inclined to believe that Caesar was a bad man. Why, then, has he been held in this sort of esteem?


#2

Well he was human and had great power in a violent time (by todays standards).

Like most of us, it seems to me that he did some good things and also did some rather evil things.

He just had the power to both on a very grand scale.

How honorable were his intentions? That I don’t think we’ll ever know?

Chuck


#3

J"ulius Caesar - Good or Evil?"

Very good. Yes, he overthrew the Republic and paid for it with his life, but it had failed the nation and empire. Caesar saved them. He also contributed strongly to the strengthening of the Roman virtues of universalism through empire and order, both of which the Catholic Church would eventually adopt and give back to Europe during the so-called Dark Ages. :thumbsup:


#4

I remember writing a paper on this in 10th grade… I think I concluded he was a pretty good guy, who messed up every once in awhile, like all humans, and those mistakes were magnified because he was the ruler of Rome. I don’t have it on this computer, or I’d dig it up… I can’t remember all my reasoning.


#5

I don’t judge most historical figures as either good or bad. Many of the most interesting ones were the ones with a sort of dual personality. They committed both very good and very bad acts.

Julius Ceaser was not a Christian, so we can’t judge him by our standards.

Romans had a different morality system then we do today. It was expected that men have a few homosexual lovers and Julius Caeser did so. By our standards that would be wrong, by Romans, it wasn’t considered bad. So do you judge him by 21 rst century American thinking or ancient Roman? Why not just judge whether he is interesting or not and leave God to judge his goodness/ badness.

If you want to read a book that is pretty interesting read The Twelve Ceasers. It was written after Julius Ceaser’s death but is still a very ancient work. It isn’t hard to reaad and very interesting.


#6

You have your facts a little mixed up.

First, Julius Caesar was not titled “son of god” nor was he worshipped as a deity in his lifetime. Two years after his assasination, the Senate proclaimed him among the Roman deities.

Caesar died in 44 BC, years before Christ came to reveal himself to the world. The Romans were pagans, yes, but they had had no other religion revealed to them at that time.

Pope Julius II took the name Julius in honor of Pope Julius I, who was Pope in the 4th century. Julius was a common Roman name in the 4th century and it seems it was the first Pope Julius’s given name. I can find no reference to Julius II taking the name in honor of Julius Caesar.


#7

My namesake had a specific reason for putting Brutus and Cassius in the mouths of Satan along with Judas. The bottom of Dante’s hell, just like the rest of the pit, organizes sinners by the gravity of their sin – the worst being closer to Satan. The bottom level contains traitors against kin, traitors against benefactors and beneficiaries, and traitors against masters, in that order.

Judas, being the traitor against the greatest master of all, is crammed headlong into one of Satan’s mouths for the worst punishment. Cassius and Brutus are not punished for betraying Caesar, per se, but for betraying their earthly master. Remembering that Dante was highly involved in the politics of his day, one can see that he is demonstrating his belief that betrayal of one’s country is second in gravity only to betraying God – the source of all earthly authority.

This should by no means be taken as an endorsement of Julius Caesar’s personal virtue, though Dante goes to ample lengths to show his discomfort with the idea that virtuous pagans who lived without the revelation of God are damned for their beliefs.

Peace,
Dante


#8

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