Sunday, 10 April 2016
Julius Caesar (SEE): Personality Type Analysis
Although by ancestry belonging to the highest nobility - his clan 'Julius' claimed direct descent to Aeneas and therefore to the goddess Venus - Caesar's family was (relatively) impoverished by the time he was born in 100 BC. In the ultra-competitive, expensive, high-stakes world of Roman politics of his time, that meant that Caesar had to adopt unconventional means of advancing his political career.
Especially considering his circumstances, Caesar's political career was extraordinarily successful, with him advancing faster, and to greater heights, than any of his contemporaries, even those far wealthier and better connected.
Simplistically, Caesar's whole career progressed on the basis of all-or-nothing extreme risk-taking. In electoral politics, that meant spending money far beyond his means, getting into debt to the point of criminal liability - but always rescued by electoral or military success. But failure at any point could have meant bankruptcy, disgrace, and exile: famously, at the age of 37, he bet it all in winning the election to Pontifex Maximus, telling his mother that day that either he'd win or have to go into exile.
Likewise, as a military leader, his style was to get himself and his men into very difficult situations (numerical inferiority, poor logistics, unknown and hostile territory, etc.) and then use tactical brilliance and improvisation to find a way out - with supreme self-confidence in his abilities and, as he himself put it, "Caesar's luck". In so doing, he basically re-invented ancient warfare as he went along, even in situations where he had no previous experience, as in siege warfare (Alesia) or urban warfare (Alexandria) or in more conventional battles (Pharsalus). This meant that more conventional, cautious commanders such as Pompey were outmanoeuvred by Caesar even when in numerical and tactical advantage.
Caesar obviously trusted his on-the-moment tactical improvisation and often neglected the accumulation of intelligence, as in his first expedition to Britain. That almost led to disaster as he simply did not realize that the Channel tides were far more intense than those of the Mediterranean.
Caesar's never-ending, sometimes reckless pursuit of political power, as well as his natural ability to lead and his confidence in assessing forces on the battlefield, on the spot, strongly point to F as a Valued and Strong function, indeed to an Ego function. This is also confirmed by his apparent lack of physical fear even in very disadvantageous situations, even when kept prisoner by pirates (he mocked them and said he'd crucify them as soon as he was set free, which he did).
As a leader of men, Caesar was notorious for not caring about imposing discipline on his men in the way of rules: what he cared about was their loyalty, obedience, competence. and trust (i.e. willingness to follow him into seemingly hopeless situations). His leadership was based not mainly on the fact that he was their hierarchical and social superior, but that he was better than they were at being leader and thus deserved to be followed.
This is evidence that his leadership was based on F+R, rather than F+L. Caesar's focus on R can be seen in his memoirs of his conquest of Gaul, when he repeatedly boasts of his personal relationship to the Gallic chieftains (and complains of those who couldn't be trusted). It can also be seen in his approach to political enemies: Caesar was so confident in his ability to gain the trust of those he had defeated that he preferred to pardon them and receive them as friends.
Caesar's pursuit of personal political power and wealth, besides based on extreme risk-taking, was also based on ignoring conventions and rules, even laws. His approach was to achieve his goals and worry less about such "details". The problem with that is that his continuous illegalities led to him being liable to prosecution by his political enemies - precisely what meant that his only way in the political ladder was up: even a brief period out of office would mean legal prosecution. Like his near-disastrous military traps, that was a longer-term personal trap that he found himself into, arguably without realizing it, leaving him no way out except through his ultimate extreme gamble i.e. illegally invading Italy proper with his legions, characteristically saying "let the dice fly" as he did so.
A historical controversy exists as to whether Caesar always planned to make himself supreme political leader in Rome (i.e. like a revolutionary leader) or whether - as he himself claimed - he ended up as Dictator simply because it was either that, or being personally ruined. The first interpretation would suggest someone of the Beta quadra, like a Benito Mussolini (SLE) or Vladimir Lenin (SLE); the second, rather the Gamma quadra.
Having achieved (illegal) control of Rome and Italy through sheer military power, Caesar was concerned about legalizing it but he did so in a seemingly ad hoc manner, becoming at first Dictator for just a few days, then consul, then later Dictator again in different ways - as with military campaigns, that was done in a 'making it up as you go along manner' and apparent zero concern with consistency. That confirms, along with other observations above, low focus on L.
Although chiefly concerned with completing his victory over his political enemies, during his period as Dictator, Caesar engaged into a series of isolated reforms: a settlement of the debts of over-indebted individuals, urban reform in Rome, reform of the then-chaotic calendar (introducing the modern calendar), reform of the supply of subsidized grain, etc. All of those were implemented with enormous energy in a very brief period of time, but rather as a series of isolated measures aimed at fixing specific problems pragmatically, not as part of any 'restructuring' of Roman society or constitution. Indeed, despite his own position having become essentially extra-constitutional, Caesar showed no apparent concern (or idea) of how to adjust the constitution accordingly, and at the time of his death his plan was to start another huge military campaign, against Parthia (Persia). This shows where his priorities lay.
Julius Caesar was a man most focused, and able, and confident, in the F matters of career climbing and military exploits and conquest, but in a way where extreme (and sometimes almost disastrous) risk-taking was the pattern, and with little sign of longer-term strategy or vision. This shows a much lower focus on T than F. His focus on L seemed non-existent, either in his approach to military matters or in his legal position, or in any visible 'ideology' (except that of his rising to the top). His approach to P was ambiguous: in the possession of political power, his use of it had mote of a P than L focus, but in campaign, his use of it was shaky.
Finally, besides being confident in his ability to get the respect and trust of individuals, by all accounts he was the perfect politician in terms of knowing the value of propaganda and in exercising enormous personal charm when he wanted to.
All of that fits the SEE's functional ordering of F1, R2, L4, T5, P6 and E8, besides the more general SEE themes of personal independence and opportunistic, improvised careerism.
Recommended reading and sources: Caesar's own reports of his wars in Gaul, "The Gallic Wars", are available online in English. Plutarch and Suetonius wrote biographies of him. Contemporaries such as Sallust and Cicero left extensive works on the period. My own preferred modern biography is Adrian Goldsworthy's 'Caesar: Life of a Colossus'.
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