Whoosh! Issue 22 - July 1998

IAXS project #262
By Nicolas Carr
Copyright © 1998 held by author
1500 words

History as Idiosyncrasy (01-03)
Caesar and DESTINY (04-08)
Caesarian Delivery (09-11)
WHEN IN ROME... (12-13)
Caesar in the Xenaverse (14)

Julius Caesar In Xena: Warrior Princess And In History

Later he modeled for pizza boxes

Julius Caesar, the real deal.

History as Idiosyncrasy

[1] One of the most prevalent idiosyncrasies of Xena: Warrior Princess has been its apparent lack of a consistent, historically accurate time line. History is bent to the writers' needs, with small additions or deletions being made to fit a given storyline. This "creative licensing" occurs in episodes such as THE ROYAL COUPLE OF THIEVES (17/117) [Ark of the Covenant], GIANT KILLER (27/203) [David and Goliath], THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210), DESTINY (36/212) [Julius Caesar], THE DELIVERER (50/304) [Boadicea], ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313) [the Persian army?s advance on Athens], and WHEN IN ROME... (62/316) [Caesar again, Pompey and Crassus].

[2] While the episodes all are in some way based in historical accuracy, they are, for the most part, fictional. Of these fictional additions to history, one particular character has been changed to the point of sharing almost nothing but his name with his historical counterpart. Yes, it is everyone's favorite maniacal egomaniac, Julius Caesar!

[3] Was Caesar truly a bad person? Was he an arrogant politician, a cutthroat opportunist, and a back-stabber that wandered around the ancient world telling anyone within earshot of his future destiny? No. I believe a little comparison/contrast is in order. First, I will tackle DESTINY (36/212).

Caesar and DESTINY

Which hand has the coin? Come on, Brutus, you've seen me do
this MCM times!

Caesar, Julius Caesar, and Brutus, having a manly moment in DESTINY.

[4] In the first glimpse we have of Caesar in DESTINY (36/212), he is on the ground with a pirate sword to his neck. It is then that we hear the first of several of the wonderful quotes spoken by the XWP Caesar. When asked about his impending death, he replied, "A brave man dies only once. A man like you...dies a thousand times." This is actually a bastardization of the genuine quote, "Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once," which was penned by William Shakespeare in his play, The Tragedy Of Julius Caesar.

[5] At any rate, the money-grubbing Xena spares him, and is most certainly interested in him, as we shall later see. Caesar is then tied to the mast (not exactly first-class) for most of the voyage. Is this fact or fiction? It is fact (with some alterations, of course). While traveling in the East in the winter of 74 BC, Julius was captured by pirates. While the pirates awaited their ransom, Caesar threatened them with crucifixion. They obviously thought nothing of it, and collected the ransom money. True to his word, and immediately upon his release, Caesar had them all crucified.

[6] The biggest discrepancy in DESTINY's (36/212) Caesar, however, is the comment he made to Brutus, where he said that he would no longer take orders from 'old men in white robes'. This is fictional. Caesar's family, the Julii Caesares, had been prominent in Roman politics for at least 100 years. Caesar was considered a shrewd and brilliant political leader. He, in fact, made his living as a politician before he was a soldier. He held several political offices, including Pontifex Maximus (High Priest), Praetor, Governor, Consul, and finally, Dictator. For him to mock the Roman politicians would be madness, as he himself was one of them, and had been for many years. Perhaps they confused Julius with his uncle, Gaius Marius, who indeed harbored a great dislike for the Senate.

[7] Moreover, what of the statement XWP's Caesar made about financing his own invasions? Well, that is true to a certain extent. It was common practice at that time for Roman generals to pay their men, in addition to the Imperial wages the men received. When Caesar gained control of the four legions in the provinces of Gaul, he commanded about 20,000 men. He soon increased it in size to a staggering eleven legions, in addition to cavalry and miscellaneous auxiliaries. This could have been as many as 70,000 men. He was able to raise this army himself because by this time he had become a very wealthy man. However, the money did not come from a pirate's ransom.

[8] The way the Xena Caesar treated his troops is also misrepresented. In DESTINY (36/212), when the guard returned to Caesar's tent reporting that Xena had escaped, he was told that his life was forfeit. Caesar would not have killed this man because he failed at a task. Killing a man for mistakes simply was not the kind of person Julius Caesar was. In fact, during the Roman Civil War, Julius was so well-liked and respected by soldiers, that Centurions and Legionnaires alike flocked to Caesar's banners, offering to not only finance his army, but fight for no pay or rations. In battle, Caesar would not tolerate cowardice. However, unlike some other generals, death was never part of his punishment.

Caesarian Delivery

[9] In THE DELIVERER (50/304), Caesar's use and the accuracy of his depiction was, again, questionable. I have always maintained that it was just an excuse to get Xena out of the way while Gabrielle did her thing at the Temple of Dahak. Nevertheless, the questions that pertain to this essay are, was Caesar in Britannia? If so, did he fight Boudiccea [Boadicea in the episode script], and if so, who won?

[10] Julius Caesar was indeed in Britannia, in 54 and 55 BC. He led an invasion of the island, crossed the Thames River, and forced the surrender of Cassivellaunus, the commander of the southeastern Britons. However, this was not without great risk, as he came close to losing his naval transports during the campaign. Though Rome had achieved victory, no lasting effects were seen, and Rome would not conquer Britain until the latter half of the first century AD.

[11] In addition, what of Boudiccea? Well, she never fought Caesar, as they lived in different centuries. However, when she did fight Rome, it was not because of conquering Roman armies, but because of corrupt Roman government officials. She lost the subsequent battle with the Romans.


Those Amazons think they're so cool with their bird hats!

Caesar, Julius Caesar, about to get medieval on Vercinix.

[12] The major historical question in WHEN IN ROME... is "Did Caesar really fight Vercinix"? Well, the character of Vercinix was an obvious adaptation of the Gallic general, Vercingetorix. Caesar did actually fight this person in Gaul, around 52 BC. In The Battle of Gergovia, Vercingetorix defeated Caesar. But in the final battle, the Battle of Alesia, the 60,000 Romans commanded by Julius Caesar decimated the combined army of nearly 330,000 Gauls (80,000 in the actual city of Alesia, and the other 250,000 being a reserve army coming to Alesia's aid) led by Vercingetorix. After his defeat, Vercingetorix was brought to Rome where he was kept prisoner for 6 years before he was ultimately beheaded, in 46 BC.

[13] As for Caesar ordering Crassus to be executed to let the citizens think he was Vercinix, historically Crassus was killed in the Middle East and therefore could not have been beheaded in the stead of the Gallic leader.

Caesar in the Xenaverse

[14] The XWP rendering of Caesar is almost completely fictional, and starkly contrasts the real Julius Caesar. Plutarch compared him to Alexander the Great, and Pliny described him as "the most dynamic character in history." To many, Caesar was the greatest of all Romans: a brilliant politician, a military genius, and a humanitarian. Without a doubt, he was one of the most influential leaders in the history of civilization. The writers and producers knew this, but they have used Caesar's fame to make Xena's past more interesting. They have shown that they have a strong knowledge of ancient history and Greco-Roman mythology. Thus, it is not ignorance that caused them to change his character. Instead, it is another twisting of history incorporated into a plot line to make it more interesting.


Interested in Roman Military and Political History? Try the following titles.

The Roman War Machine by John Peddie.
Roman History by Cassius Dio.
De Bello Gallico by Julius Caesar.
History Of Rome by Livy.


Nicolas Carr Nicolas Carr
I am currently a sophomore in college, pursuing a degree in Graphic Art and Computer Animation. I have always been very interested in Ancient Greek and Roman history, especially their military and political leaders. I have found that one can learn a lot from 2,000 year old dead people, after all! As for Xena, I have been a fan since her first appearance on HERCULES, and have yet to see an episode I did not like.
Favorite episode: RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205), BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302), and THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER (56/310).
Favorite line: Read by various characters: "Gabrielle awoke with a jerk." THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER (56/310)
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST (01/101)
Least favorite episode: I do not have one.

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