Print Julius Caesar Reading Comprehension
||edHelper's suggested reading level:
||grades 7 to 9
||Flesch-Kincaid grade level:
||commandership, extortion, quaestor, quash, corruption, treasurer, remarry, staunch, prominence, hailed, orator, short-lived, dictator, realization, policies, legacy
||Ancient Rome, Julius Caesar, When Caesar, Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, Asia Minor, With Rome, After Sulla, Lucius Cornelius Cinna, As Marius
By Vickie Chao
1 Ancient Rome had many famous people. Julius Caesar, undoubtedly, was one of them.
2 Julius Caesar was born on July 13, 100 B.C. (some say 102 B.C.) At the time, the Roman society divided its citizens into two large groups. One was for the nobles. The other was for the commoners. Though Caesar's family belonged to the first category, they had lost their fame and fortune a long time ago. The harsh reality forced them to live in an apartment house in a less reputable area in Rome.
3 Luckily, all hope was not lost. When Caesar was about 10 years old, his aunt, Julia, married a very rich man named Gaius Marius. Through him, the financial woes that the Caesars had suffered earlier became a memory of the past.
4 Marius started out his career in the army. As he gained prominence over time, he began pursuing a political life. Politicians in ancient Rome all had one position in mind - consul, and Marius was no exception. He won his first consul election in 108 B.C. and then five more times from 104 B.C. to 100 B.C. After concluding his sixth term in the office, he announced his intention to retire. Though he officially had bowed out from the public, Marius kept a close tab on what was going on in Rome. When he heard that his archenemy, Lucius Cornelius Sulla, was preparing for the war against the king of Pontus in Asia Minor (today's Turkey) in 87 B.C., he decided to come out of his retirement. He convinced the senate that he was a better candidate for the job than Sulla.
5 As the news of switching commandership reached Sulla, he was very angry. He was not going to sit back and let Marius be in charge. Thus, instead of accepting the new decision, he led his troops back to Rome and forced Marius and his supporters to flee. With Rome now under Sulla's control, he took back the right to lead the military campaign against Pontus and departed once again. After Sulla was gone, Marius returned to Rome. He recovered his influence in no time. Teamed up with Lucius Cornelius Cinna (Caesar's father-in-law), the duo persecuted Sulla's supporters. They won the consul election in 86 B.C. The celebration of victory was short-lived because Marius died a few days later. Cinna became the effective ruler of Rome for the next couple of years. He died in 82 B.C.
6 Upon Cinna's death, Sulla made a triumphant return to Rome. He secured an appointment from the senate and became dictator in 81 B.C. With things going his way now, Sulla began his revenge. He proscribed and outlawed anybody who opposed him. As Marius' nephew by marriage and Cinna's son-in-law, Caesar was the obvious target. To save his own life, he put on a disguise and went into hiding outside of Rome. His relatives and supporters persuaded Sulla to change his mind and spare Caesar. Although Sulla agreed at the time, he regretted the decision years later.
7 In spite of Sulla's pardon, Caesar did not return to Rome. He joined the military and stationed in Asia Minor until Sulla died in 78 B.C. While spending his time guarding the Roman Republic's territory, Caesar won many important battles and quickly became known for his genius in military operations. After Sulla's death, he came back to Rome and began trying his hands as a politician.
8 Caesar, by all accounts, was a great orator (public speaker). As a legal advocate, he prosecuted former governors notorious for extortion and corruption. His tough stand on crime won him lots of support from the commoners. For the next few years, Caesar took one position after another and slowly climbed up the political ladder. In 69 B.C., he won an election and became quaestor (treasurer) to the governor in Lusitania (today's Portugal and southern Spain). En route to this new post, he saw a statue of Alexander the Great and wept. When asked why he was so upset, he said that when Alexander was his age, he already had conquered so many nations. He felt ashamed because he had done nothing memorable to speak of. As if the realization was not depressing enough, he soon got two more blows in his personal life. Both his beloved wife and Aunt Julia died! Alas, 69 B.C. was indeed a difficult year for Caesar.
9 Though stricken by his personal loss, Caesar decided to remarry in 67 B.C. for political gain. This time, he chose Sulla's granddaughter, Pompeia Sulla, to be his next wife. The marriage, however, did not last long. They divorced five years later.
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