Studying Warlords – Caesar Part 2


Click here to read part 1.

Leadership Skills & Providing Incentives

Suetonius claimed that Caesar was incredibly skilled as a speaker and could deliver any kind of bad news in a casual and matter-of-factual manner without adversely affecting the morale of his men.

Caesar was considered to have been a great writer and communicator. He could not only formulate complicated ideas and plans, but also communicate them very successfully to other people – e.g a battle plan to his generals, centurions, and legionnaires. This has always been considered to be vital part of being a leader – the ability to break down complicated matters in a way that anyone can understand.

Caesar was prominently one of the first people in a position of power to reward and choose subordinates based on individual skill and competence, without regards to their lineage (family name). For example, his centurions were chosen and promoted based on feats of bravery.

He rewarded the bravest legionnaires with medals or specially engraved swords. This was an immense honor and made the legionnaires feel like they had been specially chosen by him. The strategy of providing incentives to appeal to people’s innate drive to chase for honor and riches was taken several steps further by Napoleon much later.

In Caesar’s ninth legion there was a centurion named Scaeva who consistently showcased feats of incredibly bravery. Scaeva lost an eye and was injured many times as he led his troops to victory during battles in which they were usually outnumbered. Scaeva was later appointed primus pilus and awarded an elite group of soldiers. They were richly rewarded with extra rations of food daily, new clothes and equipment, as well as money and honorable awards.

When the ninth legion was in peril and many of its legionnaires were deserting, Caesar told them he was going to decimate them for insubordination and dishonorable behavior. This was actually a bluff. However it was successful and Caesar slowly allowed himself to be persuaded by the ninth legion to reduce the punishment to a constrained decimation within the 120 original conspirators who had been primarily responsible for the situation. When it was found out that one of the twelve people finally ordered to be killed was innocent Caesar replaced this man with the centurion responsible for him who’d let the mistake take place. In doing this Caesar increased accountability and provided incentive for every man in a leading position in his army to make sure to handle his responsibilities and be properly rewarded ― or face the consequences of not taking responsibility for his men.

Forgivess,Acceptance, and Justness

As the commander of his legions the only crimes Caesar couldn’t accept were treason or soldiers who deserted. He preferred to use diplomacy as a means to solving disputes over using violence. This often led neutral or enemy factions to join his side during war or political disputes.

Caesar provided a lot of freedom and individual rights for his legionnaires and the people he ruled over relative to his contemporary peers. During the war against Pompey, many of the Pompeian soldiers and townspeople switched sides because of the ruthlessness and harsh treatment that was being enforced in the Pompeian camps as opposed to the liberal and forgiving attitude of Caesar’s.

After crossing the Rubicon and during the civil war after winning the battle for the town Corfinium Caesar spared the life of his enemy, the former consul Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, as well as about 50 other statesmen while reminding them that he was doing so despite the fact that they had forced him down this course of action, and that a few of them had opposed him despite being indebted to him. He went on to redistribute the money that had been stolen from the town by the statesmen and used to for bribing him with in exchange for letting them live. This event quickly became a central part of his reputation for being just and forgiving.

When Caesar’s most competent lieutenant Labienus deserted him in favor of Pompey, Caesar quickly accepted Labienus’s decision to do so and did not punish him in any way. On the contrary, he asked for all of Labienus’s remaining belongings and spoils of war to be sent to him by caravan – even though they were now on opposing sides of the war.

As dictator Caesar did not allow for a reset of debts – a “novae tabulae” even though he could have done so and it certainly would have been a popular political move. He said that if he was to do so it would benefit him the most seeing as he was the one who’d taken the most financial loans and therefore it would be unfair to the people of Rome.

As opposed to i.e Sulla, Caesar was somewhat just even as a dictator. Caesar allowed Brutus and Cicero to write books about his nemesis Cato the Younger. These books gave rise to much goodwill and furthered the legacy of the deceased Cato to the displeasure of Caesar – who later published his own book Anticato to counteract this positive PR of Cato’s. The book was primarily written to discredit Cato and described events such as when Cato divorced himself from his wife in order to let his good, and very rich friend Hortensius marry her. Then when Hortensius had died and left the widow with his property and finances, Cato remarried her.


·         When Caesar was dictator most political decisions were taken behind closed doors as opposed to being decided publically in the senate. The senate was more for show while the real decisions were taken by Caesar and his brain trust.  Many people were satisfied with the decisions taken  and the overall feedback was positive.

Caesar was set on changing a lot of the regulation to improve Rome. Some of the laws he implemented were to abolish luxurious and lavish displays of wealth and to promote equality. He forbade the use of purple-colored clothing and pearls except during special occasions.

Promotion and Propaganda

Caesar, Sallust, and Cicero all wrote books and contributed to the social life. None of them were passive observers who strived to give the objective truth – they were all very much active players. Therefore much of their writing was for propaganda, political purposes, or leaving a legacy.

Caesar wrote a total of ten war commentaries. These commentaries as well as most other material written by Caesar was fueled by the purpose of proving to the reader that he was indeed worthy of his elected position. It served as PR or propaganda.

Caesar wrote two books called De Analogia in which he advocated simplicity in communication and writing. Cicero was praised as the foremost speaker and writer in Rome in regards to his simple yet effective style of communication. Caesar was a big believer in using plain language as opposed to feeling the need to use fancy words to show off and thus limiting the understanding of the total audience – which is considered an early phase that every writer goes through, and hopefully sheds as the writer shifts his focus from impression on others to pure expression. (Not that much different from what Stephen King advocated in his book On Writing.)

Political Strategy and Public Persona

·         As an edile Caesar was set on making the greatest party and public games thus far in the history of  Roman ediles. This led  him to recruit so many gladiators that the state feared he was going to start a riot. They quickly to created a law that limited the amount of gladiators allowed per game.  They may also have created the law because there was a set tradition for each year’s edile to host a better party than the previous year’s edile and Caesar party would have been too hard for coming generations to outdo and would therefore lower morale.

      Caesar divorced his second wife, most likely because she cheated on him with Clodius, but Caesar never admitted whether that was the reason. When asked why he divorced her if it wasn’t because she cheated on him he said: “the wife of Caesar cannot even be suspected of being unfaithful.”

      Caesar borrowed huge sums of money to finance his politic career and become popular.  Crassus is known to have helped Caesar out financially several times. Crassus would often lend money to ambitious people without interest in order to secure future favors or build alliances. It was not uncommon behavior to borrow large sums of money to further one’s political career in hopes to reaching high positions such as consulship at which point one would be ruling a province and get a chance of earning the money back. However, many people failed to do so and were ruined by the strategy.

roman talentcash

      Crassus was probably the richest man in Rome. He is quoted as saying: “You aren’t rich until you’ve got enough money to finance a private army.”  

      Read Part 3 here.


Adrian Goldsworthy – Caesar, a Roman Colossus



  1. nice article, looking forward to part 3 :) If there is one?

    btw what’s the quote on the bottom say, and what language is that?

    • Hey thanks for the comment!

      Yes, I have a part three ready to be posted in a few days, let me know what you think about it!

      The quote on the bottom says:

      Crassus was probably the richest man in Rome. He is quoted as saying: “You aren’t rich until you’ve got enough money to finance a private army.”

      To me there is nothing wrong with it. It’s written in plain English.

  2. Sebastian says

    Du är grym!!! Keep it up

Speak Your Mind