Caesar sēˈzər [key], ancient Roman patrician family of the Julian gens. There are separate articles on its two most distinguished members, Julius Caesar and Augustus. Another distinguished member of the family was Lucius Julius Caesar, d. 87 b.c., consul (90 b.c.). He proposed a law extending Roman citizenship to Roman allies that had not joined in the Social War against Rome (90 b.c.). He was killed in the beginning of the civil war by partisans of Marius. His brother Caius Julius Caesar Strabo Vopiscus, d. 87 b.c., is mentioned as an orator in Cicero's De oratore. He was killed with his brother. His name also appears as Vopisius. The son of Lucius Julius Caesar, also named Lucius Julius Caesar, d. after 43 b.c., was one of Julius Caesar's legates in Gaul (52 b.c.). He accompanied the dictator into Italy during the civil war. After the assassination of Julius Caesar he was allied with Marc Antony, whose mother, Julia, was his sister. In 43 b.c. he and Antony fell out, and only the pleas of Julia to her son saved her brother in the proscription. When Octavius (later Augustus) was adopted (44 b.c.) into the Julian gens, he took the name Caesar. His successors as emperors took the name Caesar until Hadrian, who kept the title Augustus for the emperor and allowed the heir apparent to be called Caesar. This became the custom afterward. The imperial use of the name Caesar was perpetuated in the German kaiser and the Russian czar.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Ancient History, Rome: Biographies