Jan 10, 49 BC: Caesar Crosses the Rubicon

Jan 10, 49 BC: Caesar Crosses the Rubicon

On January 10, 49 B.C.E., General Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, a stream separating Rome from the province of Gaul. Crossing the Rubicon began a civil war that would end the Roman Republic.


6 - 12


Social Studies, World History

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On January 10, 49 B.C.E., General Julius Caesar entered Roman territory by crossing the Rubicon, a stream in what is now Northern Italy. In crossing the Rubicon, Caesar began a civil war that signaled the end of the Roman Republic. Julius Caesar was a very popular military and political leader who expanded the borders of the Roman Republic through what are today France, Spain, and the island of Britain. Caesar’s popularity and independence created tension between him and other elected officials in Rome. The Rubicon was a shallow river that served as a boundary between Rome and its provinces. Caesar crossed from a part of Gaul, where he was serving as governor. It was against the law to cross into Roman territory with an army, and Caesar knew this—he knew he was starting a civil war. He may have quoted one of his favorite plays when crossing the streamAlea iacta est, the die is cast. (Romans were familiar with throwing (casting) dice as a game of chance.) The Roman civil war that followed lasted five years. It ended with Caesar being named Rome’s “dictator for life.” Years later, the Roman Republic dissolved and the Roman Empire emerged—with Caesar’s adopted son, Augustus, serving as its first emperor.

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National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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