See also full text of Suetonius: The Deified Julius [At Ancient History Sourcebook]
[At Ancient History Sourcebook]
II. He served his first campaign in Asia on the personal staff of Marcus Thermus,
governor of the province. Being sent by Thermus to Bithynia, to fetch a fleet, he dawdled
so long at the court of Nicomedes that he was supected of improper relations with the king
[The Latin is stronger - "non sine rumore prostratae regi pudicitiae"]; and lent
colour to this scandal by going back to Bithynia a few days after his return for the
alleged purpose of collecting a debt for a freedman, one of his dependents. During the
rest of the campaign he enjoyed a better reputation, adn at the storming of Mytilene
Thermus awarded him the civic crown.
XLV. He is said to have been tall of stature, with a fair complexion, shapely limbs, a
somewhat full face, and keen black eyes; sound of health, except that towards the end he
was subject to sudden fainting fits and to nightmare as well. He was twice attacked by the
falling sickness [*epilepsy] during his campaigns. He was somewhat overnice in the care of
his person, being not only carefully trimmed and shaved, but even having superfluous hair
plucked out, as some have charged; while his baldness was a disfigurement which troubled
him greatly, since he found that it was often the subject of the gibes of his detractors.
Because of it he used to comb forward his scanty locks from the crown of his head, and of
all the honours voted him by the senate and people there was none which he received or
made use of more gladly than the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath at all times. They
say, too, that he was fantastic in his dress; that he wore a senator's tunic with fringed
sleeves reaching to the wrist [*Latus clavis - the braod purple strip, or a tunic with the
broad stripe. All senators had the right to wear this; the peculiarity in Caesar's case
consisted in the long fringed sleeves.] , and always had a girdle over it, though rather a
loose one [*While a girdle was commonly worn with the ordinary tunic, it was not usual to
wear one with the latus clavis (Quint. 2.3.138). The looseness of the girdle was an
additional peculiarity.]; and this, they say, was the occasion of Sulla's mot, when he
often warned the nobles to keep an eye on the ill-girt boy.
XLVI. He lived at first in the Subura in a modest house, but after; he became pontifex
maximus, in the official residence on the Sacred Way. Many have written that he was very
fond of elegance and luxury; that having laid the foundations of a countrv-house on his
estate at Nemi and finished it at greatcost, he tore it all down because it did not suit
him in every particular, although at the time he was still poor and heavily in debt; and
that he carried tesselated and mosaic floors about with him on his campaigns.
XLVII. They say that he was led to invade Britain by the hope of getting pearls, and
that in comparing their size he sometimes weighed them with his own hand; that he was
always a most enthusiastic collector of gems, carvings, statues, and pictures by early
artists; also of slaves of exceptional figure and training at enormous prices, of which he
himself was so ashamed that he forbade their entry in his accounts.
XLVIII. It is further reported that in the provinces he gave banquets constantly in two
dining-halls, in one of which his officers or Greek companions, in the other Roman
civilians and the more distinguished of the provincials reclined at table. He was so
punctilious and strict in the management of his household, in small matters as well as in
those of greater importance, that he put his baker in irons for serving him with one kind
of bread and his guests with another; and he inflicted capital punishment on a favourite
freedman for adultery with the wife of a Roman knight, although no complaint was made
XLIX. There was no stain on his reputation for chastity except his intimacy with King
Nicomedes, but that was a deep and lasting reproach, which laid him open to insults from
every quarter. I say nothing of the notorious lines of Licinius Calvus:
Whate'er Bithynia had, and Caesar's paramour.
Bithynia quicquid/ et pedicator Caesaris umquam habuit
I pass over, too, the invectives of Dolabella and the elder Curio, in which
Dolabella calls him "the queen's rival, the inner partner of the royal couch,"
and Curio, "the brothel of Nicomedes and the stew of Bithynia'' I take no account of
the edicts of Bibulus, in which he posted his colleague as "the queen of
Bithyllia," saying that " of yore he was enamoured of a king, but now of a
king's estate." At this same time, so Marcus Brutus declares, one Octavius, a man
whose disordered mind made him sornewhat free with his tongue, after saluting Pompey as
" king " in a crowded assembly, greeted Caesar as ''Queen.'' But Gaius Memmius
makes the direct charge that he acted as cup-bearer to Nicomedes with the rest of his
wantons at a large dinner-party, and that among the guests were some merchants from Rome,
whose names Memmius gives. Cicero, indeed, is not content with having written in sundry
letters that Caesar was led by the king's attendants to the royal apartments, that he lay
on a golden couch arrayed in purple, and that the virginity of this son of Venus was lost
in Bithynia; but when Caesar was once addressing the senate in defence of Nysa, daughter
of Nicomedes, and was enumerating his obligations to the king, Cicero cried: " No
more of that, pray, for it is well known what he gave you, and what you gave him in
turn." Finally, in his Gallic triumph his soldiers, among the bantering songs which
are usually sung by those who follow the chariot, shouted these lines, which became a
All the Gauls did Caesar vanquish, Nicomedes vanquished him;
Lo ! now Caesar rides in triumph, victor over all the Gauls,
Nicomedes does not triumph, who subdued the conqueror.
L. That he was unbridled and extravagant in his intrigues is the general opinion, and
that he seduced many illustrious women, among them Postumia, wife of Servius Sulpicius,
Lollia, wife of Aulus Gabinius, Tertulla, wife of Marcus Crassus, and even Gnaeus Pompey's
wife Mucia. At all events there is no doubt that Pompey was taken to task by the elder and
the younger Curio, as well as by many others, because through a desire for power he had
afterwards married the daughter of a man on whose account he divorced a wife who had borne
him three children, and whom he had often referred to with a groan as an Aegisthus. But
beyond all others Caesar loved Servilia, the mother of Marcus Brutus, for whom in his
first consulship he bought a pearl costing six million sesterces. During the civil war,
too, besides other presents, he knocked down some fine estates to her in a public auction
at a nominal price and when some expressed their surprise at the low figure, Cicero
wittily remarked: "It's a better bargain than you think, for there is a third
off." And in fact it was thought that Servilia was prostituting her own daughter
Tertia to Caesar.
LI That he did not refrain from intrigues in the provinces is shown in particular by
this couplet, which was also shouted by the soldiers in his Gallic triumph:
Men of Rome, keep close your consorts, here's a bald adulterer.
Gold in Gaul you spent in dalliance, which you borrowed here in Rome.
LII. He had love affairs with queens too, including Eunoe the Moor, wife of Bogudes, on
whom, as well as on her husband, he bestowed many splendid presents, as Naso writes: but
above all with Cleopatra, with whom he often feasted until daybreak, and he would have
gone through Egypt with her in her state-barge almost to Aethiopia, had not his soldiers
refused to follow him. Finally he called her to Rome and did not let her leave until he
had ladened her with high honours and rich gifts, and he allowed her to give his name to
the child which she bore. In fact, according to certain Greek writers, this child was very
like Caesar in looks and carriage. Mark Antony declared to the senate that Caesar had
really acknowledged the boy, and that Gaius Matius, Gaius Oppius, and other friends of
Caesar knew this. Of these Gaius Oppius, as if admitting that the situation required
apology and defence, published a book, to prove that the child whom Cleopatra fathered on
Caesar was not his. Helvius Cinna, tribune of the commons, admitted to several that he had
a bill drawn up in due form, which Caesar had ordered him to propose to the people in his
absence, making it lawful for Caesar to marry what wives he wished, and as many as he
wished, "for the purpose of begetting children." But to remove all doubt that he
had an evil reputation both for shameless vice and for adultery (impudicitae et
adulteriorum), I have only to add that the elder Curio in one of his speeches calls him
"every woman's man and every man's woman"
LIII. That he drank very little wine not even his enemies denied. There is a saying of
Marcus Cato that Caesar was the only man who undertook to overthrow the state when sober.
Even in the matter of food Gaius Oppius tells us that he was so indifferent, that once
when his host served stale oil instead of fresh, and the other guests would have none of
it, Caesar partook even more plentifully than usual not to seem to charge his host with
carelessness or lack of manners.