Historians have traditionally viewed the chief pontificate, a prestigious Roman priesthood, as being employed to further personal ambitions and strike out at rival factions under the Republic. This book provides a new assessment of this priest''s role before the Principate. The actions of the chief pontiffs are shown to have been primarily motivated by the upholding of tradition and religious propriety. The priesthood was, in fact, a position that acted as a safeguard against discord and instability and not one that promoted them. Caesar''s election to the chief pontificate marked a major turning-point and the author puts forward innovative new arguments to explain many of Caesar''s actions. The case is made that, after his victory in the Civil War, Caesar set about establishing an autocratic form of government based on the chief pontificate and the dictatorship. The inspiration and justification for this stemmed from Caesar''s mythical heritage and the numerous links it provided to key institutions at Rome, including the Vestal Virgins. This is an important work for scholars and students interested in Roman history, religion or religion''s relationship with political power.