When discussing Julius Caesar, most ancient authors (including Caesar in his own war memoirs) mainly focused on the dictator’s military and political maneuverings. The Roman scholar, Suetonius (c. 70-130+), however, was a different type of writer. While most of his peers were eager to study Caesar’s battles and politicking, Suetonius instead glossed over those subjects in favor of more basic topics, such as Julius Caesar’s appearance and wardrobe.
Based on his various sources (memoirs, letters, poems, songs etc.), Suetonius deduced that Caesar was a tall and very well built man with dark-colored eyes. He was apparently very particular about always keeping any stubble on his face cleanly shaved and he took any chance he got to wear a laurel wreath, so as to cover up his balding head.
Suetonius also wrote that Julius Caesar had a reputation for wearing his clothing unusually loose, a habit that supposedly started as far back as the reign of the dictator Sulla (r. 82-79 BCE). In addition, when Caesar began to wear senatorial garb, he apparently made an interesting alteration to the accepted wardrobe—he supposedly had wrist-length sleeves with fringes tailored onto his clothing.
Written by C. Keith Hansley
Picture Attribution: (Painting of Julius Caesar by Clara Grosch c. 1892, in front of a painting of an ancient ruin via pxhere.com, both [Public Domain] via Creative Commons).
- The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius, translated by Robert Graves and edited by James B. Rives. New York: Penguin Classics, 2007.