Julia (daughter of Caesar)

Julia (c. 76 BC – 54 BC) was the daughter of Roman dictator Julius Caesar by his first or second wife Cornelia, and his only child from his marriages.[1] Julia became the fourth wife of Pompey the Great and was renowned for her beauty and virtue.

Julia caesaris.jpg
Julia from Promptuarii Iconum Insigniorum. The inscription reads: "Julia; Gaius Caesar's daughter; Pompey's wife."
Born76 BC
Died54 BC (aged about 22)
Known forDaughter of Julius Caesar
PartnerServilius Caepio


Julia was probably born around 76 BC.[2] Her mother died in 69 BC[3] when Julia was only seven years old, after which she was raised by her paternal grandmother Aurelia Cotta. Her father engaged her to a Servilius Caepio. There has been a notion that it could have been Marcus Junius Brutus[4] (Caesar's most famous assassin), who, after being adopted by his uncle, was known as Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus for an unknown period of time; however, this is just conjecture. Caesar broke off this engagement and married her to Pompey in April 59 BC, with whom Caesar sought a strong political alliance in forming the First Triumvirate. This family-alliance of its two great chiefs was regarded as the firmest bond between Caesar and Pompey, and was accordingly viewed with much alarm by the optimates (the oligarchal party in Rome), especially by Marcus Tullius Cicero and Cato the Younger.[5][6][7]

Pompey was supposedly infatuated with his bride. The personal charms of Julia were remarkable: she was a kind woman of beauty and virtue; and although policy prompted her union, and she was thirty years younger than her husband, she possessed in Pompey a devoted husband, to whom she was, in return, reportedly attached.[8] A rumor suggested that the middle aged conqueror was losing interest in politics in favor of domestic life with his young wife. In fact, Pompey had been given the governorship of Hispania Ulterior, but had been permitted to remain in Rome to oversee the Roman grain supply as curator annonae, exercising his command through subordinates.[9]

Julia died before a breach between her husband and father had become inevitable.[9][10] Plutarch reports that at the election of aediles in 55 BC, Pompey was surrounded by a tumultuous mob, and his robe was stained with the blood of some of the rioters. A slave carried the stained toga to his house and was seen by Julia. Imagining that her husband was slain, she fell into premature labor,[9][11] miscarrying thereafter. As a result of the miscarriage, her health was irreparably damaged. In August of the next year, 54 BC, she died in childbirth,[12] and her infant—a son, according to some writers,[13][14][15] a daughter, according to others,[9][16]—did not survive and died along with Julia.[17] Caesar was in Britain, according to Seneca,[18] when he received the news of Julia's death.[19]

Pompey wished her ashes to repose in his favourite Alban villa, but the Roman people, who loved Julia, determined they should rest in the field of Mars (Campus Martius). For permission a special decree of the senate was necessary, and Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, one of the consuls of 54 BC, impelled by his hatred for Pompey and Caesar, procured an interdict from the tribunes. But the popular will prevailed, and, after listening to a funeral oration[20] in the forum, the people placed her urn in the field of Mars.[21] Ten years later the official pyre for Caesar's cremation would be erected near the tomb of his daughter,[22][23] but the people intervened after the funeral oration by Mark Antony and cremated Caesar's body in the Forum.

After Julia's death, Pompey and Caesar's alliance began to fade, which resulted in Caesar's civil war. It was allegedly remarked, as a singular omen, that on the day Augustus entered Rome as Caesar's adoptive son (in May 44 BC), the monument of Julia was struck by lightning.[24] Caesar himself vowed a ceremony to her manes, which he exhibited in 46 BC as extensive funeral games including gladiatorial combats.[14][25] The date of the ceremony was chosen to coincide with the ludi Veneris Genetricis on September 26,[26] the festival in honor of Venus Genetrix, the divine ancestress of the Julians.[27]


  • 76 BC — Julia's birth
  • 69 BC–68 BC — Her mother Cornelia (wife of Caesar), dies. Cornelia is often stated to have died in childbirth, but this is not confirmed.[28]
  • 59 BC — Marriage to Pompey
  • 55 BC — Julia has a miscarriage
  • 54 BC — Julia dies while giving birth, her child only survives a few days

Cultural depictionsEdit


  • In the novel Caesar's Women by Colleen McCullough, Julia is one of the three main female characters, along with her grandmother Aurelia Cotta and her father's mistress Servilia.
  • In Dante Alighieri's epic poem The Divine Comedy (14th century), Julia was encountered by Dante in the first circle of Hell, the Limbo (where souls rest who are not in torture, pagans that lived righteous existences):[29]
[...] The foremost circle that surrounds the abyss. [...]
[...] I knew, who in that Limbo were suspended. [...]
[...] Lucretia, Julia, Marcia, and Cornelia, [...]

The Italian Renaissance poet Carlo Marsuppini wrote a eulogy about Piccarda Bueri, in which he compared her to Julia. He names her as an example of great marital devotion.[30]


  • In Julius Caesar (2002 television movie), the role of the child Julia is played by Alexandra Morris,[31][32] while the role of the adult Julia is played by Italian actress Nicole Grimaudo.[33]
  • Julia's death is portrayed in the premiere episode of HBO's 2005 television series Rome.
  • In 2017 Netflix released season 2 of the documentary, biography, drama series Roman Empire named Julius Caesar: Master of Rome. The role of Julia was played by Phoenix Connolly.[34] She was shown standing by her mother's deathbed in her teens.


  1. ^ Tacitus, Annals, iii. 6.
  2. ^ Guy Edward Farquhar Chilver , Robin J. Seager " Iulia (2)" The Oxford Classical Dictionary. Ed. Simon Hornblower and Anthony Spawforth. Oxford University Press 2009. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t111.e3368.
  3. ^ Matthias Gelzer, Caesar, Politician and Statesman, (translated by Peter Needham), Oxford, 1968; Thomas Robert Shannon Broughton, Magistrates of the Roman Republic, vol. 2, 132, New York, (1951–1986). Gelzer quotes Broughton to assert that Caesar was quaestor in 69. Gelzer then explains that Caesar, after taking on his place of duty, delivered an oration in praise of his aunt Julia. Shortly after this, his wife died too.
  4. ^ Sempronius [I 15]. In: Der Neue Pauly. Vol. 11, col. 465.
  5. ^ Cicero, Letters to Atticus, ii. 17, viii. 3.
  6. ^ Plutarch, Life of Caesar, 14; Pompey, 48; Cato the Younger, 31.
  7. ^ Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar, 50.
  8. ^ Plutarch, Life of Pompey, 48.
  9. ^ a b c d Plutarch, Life of Pompey, 53.
  10. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 44, 47.
  11. ^ Valerius Maximus, Memorable Deeds and Sayings, iv. 6. § 4.
  12. ^ William Smith (ed.), A New Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology and Geography, 1851.
  13. ^ Velleius Paterculus, ii. 47.
  14. ^ a b Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar, 26.
  15. ^ Lucanus, v. 474, ix. 1049.
  16. ^ Dio Cassius, xxxix. 64.
  17. ^ Dio Cassius, xl. 44.
  18. ^ Seneca, To Marcia, On consolation, xiv. 3.
  19. ^ Cicero, Oration for Publius Quinctius, iii. 1; Letters to Atticus, iv. 17.
  20. ^ In Latin: laudatio funebris.
  21. ^ Dio Cassius, xxxix. 64; xlviii. 53.
  22. ^ Suetonius, Life of Julius Caesar, 84.
  23. ^ Livy, Ad urbe condita preserved by a 4th century summary entitled Periochae, cxvi. 6.
  24. ^ Suetonius, Life of Augustus, 95; compare Life of Julius Caesar , 84.
  25. ^ Dio Cassius, xliii. 22.
  26. ^ John T. Ramsey, A. Lewis Licht, Comet of 44 B.C. and Caesar's Funeral Games, appendix III, Oxford University Press US, 1997.
  27. ^ Octavian followed this precedent in 44 BC by staging the ludi funebres for Caesar while simultaneously moving the Ludi Veneris Genetricis from September to July, after which time they were known as Ludi Victoriae Caesaris; see John T. Ramsey and A. Lewis Licht, The Comet of 44 B.C. and Caesar's Funeral Games (American Philological Association, 1997), p. 41 online.
  28. ^ Bill Yenne; Julius Caesar: Lessons in Leadership from the Great Conqueror
  29. ^ Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, Inferno Canto IV, 24, 45 and 128, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867.
  30. ^ Pernis and Adams. p. 9. {{cite book}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ Caesar Cast & Crew – Yahoo! TV
  32. ^ PEPLUM – Jules Caesar (DVD)
  33. ^ Julius Caesar (2002)(TV) at IMDb Retrieved July 15, 2006.
  34. ^ Roman Empire (TV series) - Full Cast & Crew - IMDb

Primary sourcesEdit

Secondary sourcesEdit

  • This entry incorporates public domain text originally from:
    • William Smith (ed.), Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, 1870.
    • William Smith (ed.), A New Classical Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography, Mythology and Geography, 1851.
  • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1867.
  • Thomas Robert Shannon Broughton, Magistrates of the Roman Republic, vol. 2, 132, New York, (1951–1986).
  • Matthias Gelzer, Caesar, Politician and Statesman, (translated by Peter Needham), Oxford, 1968.
  • Pernis, Maria Grazia and Adams, Laurie (2006). Lucrezia Tornabuoni de' Medici and the Medici family in the fifteenth century. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc, New York.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  • John T. Ramsey, A. Lewis Licht, Comet of 44 B.C. and Caesar's Funeral Games, Oxford University Press US, 1997.