|Assassination of Julius Caesar|
|Location||The Theatre of Pompey, Rome, Roman Republic|
|Date||15 March 44 BC|
|Target||Gaius Julius Caesar|
|Perpetrators||Gaius Cassius Longinus, Marcus Junius Brutus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus and over thirty other Senators of the Roman Republic.|
The assassination of Julius Caesar was a conspiracy of several Roman senators, notably led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Cassius Longinus, and Decimus Brutus, at the end of the Roman Republic. They stabbed Caesar to death in the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March (15 March) 44 BC.
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic. It was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a Roman magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic appointment to the Senate. According to the Greek historian Polybius, our principal source on the Constitution of the Roman Republic, the Roman Senate was the predominant branch of government. Polybius noted that it was the consuls who led the armies and the civil government in Rome, and it was the Roman assemblies which had the ultimate authority over elections, legislation, and criminal trials. However, since the Senate controlled money, administration, and the details of foreign policy, it had the most control over day-to-day life. The power and authority of the Senate derived from precedent, the high caliber and prestige of the senators, and the Senate's unbroken lineage, which dated back to the founding of the Republic in 509 BC. It developed from the Senate of the Roman Kingdom, and became the Senate of the Roman Empire.
Gaius Cassius Longinus, often referred to as Cassius, was a Roman senator and general best known as a leading instigator of the plot to assassinate Julius Caesar. He was also the brother-in-law of Marcus Junius Brutus, another leader of the conspiracy. He commanded troops with Brutus during the Battle of Philippi against the combined forces of Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar's former supporters, and committed suicide after being defeated by Mark Antony.
Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus was a Roman politician and general of the 1st century BC and one of the leading instigators of Julius Caesar's assassination.
In January 44, Caesar—who was already dictator—was named dictator for life by the Senate. This declaration made many senators of the conservative Optimates faction fear that Caesar wanted to overthrow the Republic and establish a monarchy; they thus decided to kill him to save the Republic. Despite the death of Caesar, the conspirators were unable to restore the institutions of the Republic, and the ramifications of the assassination led to the Liberators' civil war and ultimately to the Principate period of the Roman Empire.
A dictator was a magistrate of the Roman Republic, entrusted with the full authority of the state to deal with a military emergency or to undertake a specific duty. All other magistrates were subordinate to his imperium, and the right of the plebeian tribunes to veto his actions or of the people to appeal from them was extremely limited. However, in order to prevent the dictatorship from threatening the state itself, severe limitations were placed upon its powers: a dictator could only act within his intended sphere of authority; and he was obliged to resign his office once his appointed task had been accomplished, or at the expiration of six months. Dictators were frequently appointed from the earliest period of the Republic down to the Second Punic War, but the magistracy then went into abeyance for over a century, until it was revived in a significantly modified form, first by Sulla between 82 and 79 BC, and then by Julius Caesar between 49 and 44 BC. The office was formally abolished after the death of Caesar, and not revived under the Empire.
Dictator perpetuo, also called dictator in perpetuum, was the office held by Julius Caesar from 26 January or 15 February of the year 44 BCE until his death on 15 March. By abandoning the time restrictions usually applied in the case of the Roman dictatura, it elevated Caesar's dictatorship into the monarchical sphere.
The Optimates were a conservative political faction in the late Roman Republic.
Biographers describe tension between Caesar and the Senate,[ citation needed ] and his possible claims to the title of king. These events were the principal catalysts for Caesar's assassination.
The Senate named Caesar dictator perpetuo ("dictator in perpetuity"). Roman mints produced a denarius coin with this title and his likeness on one side, and with an image of the goddess Ceres and Caesar's title of Augur Pontifex Maximus on the reverse. According to Cassius Dio, writing over 200 years later, a senatorial delegation went to inform Caesar of new honors they had bestowed upon him in 44 BC. Caesar received them while sitting in the Temple of Venus Genetrix, rather than rising to meet them.
The denarius was the standard Roman silver coin from its introduction in the Second Punic War c. 211 BC to the reign of Gordian III, when it was gradually replaced by the Antoninianus. It continued to be minted in very small quantities, likely for ceremonial purposes, until and through the tetrarchy (293–313).
Cassius Dio or Dio Cassius was a Roman statesman and historian of Greek and Roman origin. He published 80 volumes of history on ancient Rome, beginning with the arrival of Aeneas in Italy. The volumes documented the subsequent founding of Rome, the formation of the Republic, and the creation of the Empire, up until 229 AD. Written in ancient Greek over 22 years, Dio's work covers approximately 1,000 years of history. Many of his 80 books have survived intact, or as fragments, providing modern scholars with a detailed perspective on Roman history.
The Temple of Venus Genetrix is a ruined temple in the Forum of Caesar, Rome, dedicated to the Roman goddess Venus Genetrix, the goddess of motherhood and domesticity. It was dedicated to the goddess in 46 BCE by Julius Caesar.
Suetonius wrote (almost 150 years later) that Caesar failed to rise in the temple, either because he was restrained by Cornelius Balbus or that he balked at the suggestion he should rise.Suetonius also gave the account of a crowd assembled to greet Caesar upon his return to Rome. A member of the crowd placed a laurel wreath on the statue of Caesar on the Rostra. The tribunes Gaius Epidius Marullus and Lucius Caesetius Flavus ordered that the wreath be removed as it was a symbol of Jupiter and royalty. Caesar had the tribunes removed from office through his official powers. According to Suetonius, Caesar was unable to dissociate himself from the royal title from this point forward. Suetonius also gives the story that a crowd shouted to him rex ("king"), to which Caesar replied, "I am Caesar, not Rex" ("Ego caesar, non-rex."). Also, at the festival of the Lupercalia, while he gave a speech from the Rostra, Mark Antony, who had been elected co-consul with Caesar, attempted to place a crown on his head several times. Caesar put it aside to use as a sacrifice to Jupiter Optimus Maximus.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, commonly known as Suetonius, was a Roman historian belonging to the equestrian order who wrote during the early Imperial era of the Roman Empire.
Lucius Cornelius Balbus was born in Gades early in the first century BC.
A laurel wreath is a round wreath made of connected branches and leaves of the bay laurel, an aromatic broadleaf evergreen, or later from spineless butcher's broom or cherry laurel. It is a symbol of triumph and is worn as a chaplet around the head, or as a garland around the neck. The symbol of the laurel wreath traces back to Greek mythology. Apollo is represented wearing a laurel wreath on his head, and wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions. This includes the ancient Olympics — for which they were made of wild olive tree known as "kotinos" (κότινος), — and in poetic meets; in Rome they were symbols of martial victory, crowning a successful commander during his triumph. Whereas ancient laurel wreaths are most often depicted as a horseshoe shape, modern versions are usually complete rings.
Plutarch and Suetonius are similar in their depiction of these events, but Dio combines the stories, writing that the tribunes arrested the citizens who placed diadems or wreaths on statues of Caesar. He then places the crowd shouting "rex" on the Alban Hill with the tribunes arresting a member of this crowd as well. The plebeian protested that he was unable to speak his mind freely. Caesar then brought the tribunes before the senate and put the matter to a vote, thereafter removing them from office and erasing their names from the records.
Damnatio memoriae is a modern Latin phrase meaning "condemnation of memory", i.e., that a person is to be excluded from official accounts. There are and have been many routes to damnatio, including the destruction of depictions, the removal of names from inscriptions and documents, and even large-scale rewritings of history.
Suetonius adds that Lucius Cotta proposed to the Senate that Caesar should be granted the title of "king", for it was prophesied that only a king would conquer Parthia.Caesar intended to invade Parthia, a task that later gave considerable trouble to Mark Antony during the second triumvirate.
His many titles and honors from the Senate were ultimately merely honorary. Caesar continually strove for more power to govern, with as little dependence as possible on honorary titles or the Senate. The placating and ennobling of Caesar did not allay ultimate confrontation, as the Senate was still the authority granting Caesar his titles. Formal power resided in them, resulting in tension with Caesar.
Brutus began to conspire against Caesar with his friend and brother-in-law Gaius Cassius Longinus and other men, calling themselves the Liberatores ("Liberators"). Many plans were discussed by the group, as documented by Nicolaus of Damascus:
The conspirators never met exactly openly, but they assembled a few at a time in each other's homes. There were many discussions and proposals, as might be expected, while they investigated how and where to execute their design. Some suggested that they should make the attempt along the Sacred Way, which was one of his favorite walks. Another idea was to do it at the elections, during which he had to cross a bridge to appoint the magistrates in the Campus Martius. Someone proposed that they draw lots for some to push him from the bridge and others to run up and kill him. A third plan was to wait for a coming gladiatorial show. The advantage of that was, because of the show, no suspicion would be aroused if arms were seen. The majority opinion, however, favored killing him while he sat in the Senate. He would be there by himself, since only Senators were admitted, and the conspirators could hide their daggers beneath their togas. This plan won the day.
Nicolaus writes that in the days leading up to the assassination, Caesar was told by doctors, friends, and even his wife, Calpurnia, not to attend the Senate on the Ides for various reasons, including medical concerns and troubling dreams Calpurnia had:
...his friends were alarmed at certain rumors and tried to stop him going to the senate-house, as did his doctors, for he was suffering from one of his occasional dizzy spells. His wife, Calpurnia, especially, who was frightened by some visions in her dreams, clung to him and said that she would not let him go out that day. But [Decimus] Brutus, one of the conspirators who was then thought of as a firm friend, came up and said, 'What is this, Caesar? Are you a man to pay attention to a woman's dreams and the idle gossip of stupid men, and to insult the Senate by not going out, although it has honored you and has been specially summoned by you? But listen to me, cast aside the forebodings of all these people, and come. The Senate has been in session waiting for you since early this morning.' This swayed Caesar and he left.
Caesar had been preparing to invade the Parthian Empire (a campaign later taken up by his successor, Mark Antony) and planned to leave for the East in the latter half of March. This forced a timetable onto the conspirators. Two days before the actual assassination, Cassius met with the conspirators and told them that, should anyone discover the plan, they were to turn their knives on themselves.His successors did attempt the conquests of Parthia and Germania, but without lasting results.
On the Ides of March of 44 BC, a day used by the Romans as a deadline for settling debts, the conspirators staged a game of gladiatorial sport at the Theatre of Pompey. The gladiators were provided by Decimus Brutus in case their services were needed. They waited in the great hall of the theatre's quadriportico. Caesar, however, was late, having received several warnings in the previous days. Therefore, Decimus Brutus was sent to fetch him, and managed to persuade Caesar to attend so as not to disappoint the Senate. Mark Antony, having vaguely learned of the plot the night before from a terrified Liberator named Servilius Casca, and fearing the worst, went to head Caesar off. The plotters, however, had anticipated this and, fearing that Antony would come to Caesar's aid, had arranged for Trebonius to intercept him just as he approached the portico of the Theatre of Pompey, where the session was to be held, and detain him outside (Plutarch, however, assigns this action to delay Antony to Decimus Brutus). When he heard the commotion from the Senate chamber, Antony fled.
According to Plutarch, as Caesar arrived at the Senate, Lucius Tillius Cimber presented him with a petition to recall his exiled brother. ἄδελφε, βοηθεῖ", "adelphe, boethei"). Within moments, the entire group, including Brutus, were stabbing the dictator. Caesar attempted to get away, but, blinded by blood in his eyes, he tripped and fell; the men continued stabbing him as he lay defenseless on the lower steps of the portico. According to Eutropius, sixty or more men participated in the assassination. Caesar was stabbed 23 times. Suetonius relates that a physician who performed an autopsy on Caesar established that only one wound (the second one to his chest that pierced his aorta) had been fatal. This autopsy report (the earliest known post-mortem report in history) describes that Caesar's death was mostly attributable to blood loss from his stab wounds.The other conspirators crowded round to offer their support. Both Plutarch and Suetonius say that Caesar waved him away, but Cimber grabbed Caesar's shoulders and pulled down Caesar's toga. Caesar then cried to Metellus Cimber, "Why, this is violence!" ("Ista quidem vis est!"). At the same time, Casca produced his dagger and made a glancing thrust at the dictator's neck. Caesar turned around quickly and caught Casca by the arm. According to Plutarch, he said in Latin, "Casca, you villain, what are you doing?" Casca, frightened, shouted "Help, brother!" in Greek ("
Caesar was killed at the base of the Curia in the Theatre of Pompey.
The dictator's last words are a contested subject among scholars and historians. Suetonius himself says he said nothing, καὶ σύ, τέκνον;" (transliterated as "Kai su, teknon?": "You too, child?" in English). Plutarch also reports that Caesar said nothing, pulling his toga over his head when he saw Brutus among the conspirators. The version best known in the English-speaking world is the Latin phrase " Et tu, Brute? " ("You too, Brutus?"); this derives from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (1599), where it actually forms the first half of a macaronic line: "Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar." This has no basis in historical fact. Shakespeare was making use of a phrase already in common use at the time.[ original research? ] According to Plutarch, after the assassination, Brutus stepped forward as if to say something to his fellow senators not involved in the plot; they, however, fled the building. Brutus and his companions then marched to the Capitol while crying out to their beloved city: "People of Rome, we are once again free!" They were met with silence, as the citizens of Rome had locked themselves inside their houses as soon as the rumour of what had taken place had begun to spread. According to Suetonius, all the conspirators made off, and he (Caesar) lay there lifeless for some time, and finally three common slaves put him on a litter and carried him home, with one arm hanging down.nevertheless, he mentions that others have written that Caesar's last words were the Greek phrase "
A wax statue of Caesar was erected in the Forum displaying the 23 stab wounds. [ citation needed ] In the ensuing years, the Liberators' civil war resulted in the end of the Republic and the rise of Imperial Rome.A crowd who had amassed there started a fire, which badly damaged neighboring buildings.
Virgil wrote in the Georgics that several unusual events took place following Caesar's assassination.
Who dare say the Sun is false? He and no other warns us when dark uprising threaten, when treachery and hidden wars are gathering strength. He and no other was moved to pity Rome on the day that Caesar died, when he veiled his radiance in gloom and darkness, and a godless age feared everlasting night. Yet in this hour Earth also and the plains of Ocean, ill-boding dogs and birds that spell mischief, sent signs which heralded disaster. How oft before our eyes did Etna deluge the fields of the Cyclopes with a torrent from her burst furnaces, hurling thereon balls of fire and molten rocks. Germany heard the noise of battle sweep across the sky and, even without precedent, the Alps rocked with earthquakes. A voice boomed through the silent groves for all to hear, a deafening voice, and phantoms of unearthly pallor were seen in the falling darkness. Horror beyond words, beasts uttered human speech; rivers stood still, the earth gaped upon; in the temples ivory images wept for grief, and beads of sweat covered bronze statues. King of waterways, the Po swept forests along in the swirl of his frenzied current, carrying with him over the plain cattle and stalls alike. Nor in that same hour did sinister filaments cease to appear in ominous entrails or blood to flow from wells or our hillside towns to echo all night with the howl of wolves. Never fell more lightning from a cloudless sky; never was comet's alarming glare so often seen.
Two days after the assassination, Mark Antony summoned the senate and managed to work out a compromise in which the assassins would not be punished for their acts, but all of Caesar's appointments would remain valid. By doing this, Antony most likely hoped to avoid large cracks in government forming as a result of Caesar's death. Simultaneously, Antony diminished the goals of the conspirators. [ citation needed ] capitalized on the grief of the Roman mob and threatened to unleash them on the Optimates, perhaps with the intent of taking control of Rome himself. But, to his surprise and chagrin, Caesar had named his grandnephew Gaius Octavius his sole heir, bequeathing him the immensely potent Caesar name as well as making him one of the wealthiest citizens in the Republic. Upon hearing of his adoptive father's death, Octavius abandoned his studies in Apollonia and sailed across the Adriatic Sea to Brundisium. Octavius became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus or Octavian, the son of the great Caesar, and consequently also inherited the loyalty of much of the Roman populace. Octavian, aged only 18 at the time of Caesar's death, proved to have considerable political skills, and while Antony dealt with Decimus Brutus in the first round of the new civil wars, Octavian consolidated his tenuous position. Antony did not initially consider Octavius a true political threat due to his young age and inexperience, but Octavius quickly gained the support and admiration of Caesar's friends and supporters.The result unforeseen by the assassins was that Caesar's death precipitated the end of the Roman Republic. The Roman lower classes, with whom Caesar was popular, became enraged that a small group of aristocrats had sacrificed Caesar. Antony, who had been drifting apart from Caesar,
To combat Brutus and Cassius, who were massing an enormous army in Greece, Antony needed soldiers, the money from Caesar's war chests, and the legitimacy that Caesar's name would provide for any action he took against them. With passage of the Lex Titia on 27 November 43 BC,the Second Triumvirate was officially formed, composed of Antony, Octavian, and Caesar's Master of the Horse Lepidus. It formally deified Caesar as Divus Iulius in 42 BC, and Caesar Octavian henceforth became Divi filius ("Son of the Divine"). Seeing that Caesar's clemency had resulted in his murder, the Second Triumvirate brought back proscription, abandoned since Sulla. It engaged in the legally sanctioned murder of a large number of its opponents in order to fund its forty-five legions in the second civil war against Brutus and Cassius. Antony and Octavian defeated them at Philippi.
Afterward, Mark Antony married Caesar's lover, Cleopatra, intending to use the fabulously wealthy Egypt as a base to dominate Rome. A third civil war broke out between Octavian on one hand and Antony and Cleopatra on the other. This final civil war, culminating in the latter's defeat at Actium, resulted in the final ascendancy of Octavian, who became the first Roman emperor, under the name Caesar Augustus, a name that raised him to the status of a deity.
Some forty people joined in the plot, but about half of their names are lost to history and almost nothing is known about some of those whose names have survived.The known members are:
Marcus Tullius Cicero was not a member of the conspiracy and was surprised by it, but later wrote to the conspirator Trebonius that he wished he had been "invited to that superb banquet". He believed that the Liberators should also have killed Mark Antony.The conspirators had decided, however, that the death of a single tyrant would be more symbolically effective, claiming that the intent was not a coup d'état, but tyrannicide.
Gaius Julius Caesar, known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a populist Roman dictator, politician, and military general who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. He was also a historian and wrote Latin prose.
Marcus Antonius, commonly known in English as Mark Antony or Anthony, was a Roman politician and general who played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic from an oligarchy into the autocratic Roman Empire.
Year 43 BC was either a common year starting on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday or a leap year starting on Sunday or Monday of the Julian calendar and a common year starting on Monday of the Proleptic Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Pansa and Hirtius. The denomination 43 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Year 44 BC was either a common year starting on Sunday, Common year starting on Monday, leap year starting on Friday, or leap year starting on Saturday. and a common year starting on Sunday of the Proleptic Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Julius Caesar V and Marc Antony. The denomination 44 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
This article concerns the period 49 BC – 40 BC.
Marcus Junius Brutus, often referred to as just Marcus Brutus or Brutus, was a Roman politician during the political turmoil of the late Roman Republic. He is sometimes called Brutus the Younger by later historians to distinguish him from his father of the same name. After being adopted by his uncle, Quintus Servilius Caepio, he used the name Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, but eventually returned to using his original name. He took a leading role in the assassination of Julius Caesar.
Year 42 BC was either a common year starting on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday or a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar and a common year starting on Tuesday of the Proleptic Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Lepidus and Plancus. The denomination 42 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Servilia was a Roman matron from a distinguished family, the Servilii Caepiones. She was the daughter of Quintus Servilius Caepio the Younger and Livia, thus the half-sister of Cato the Younger. She married Marcus Junius Brutus the Elder, having the son Brutus the Younger with him, after her first husbands death she remarried to Decimus Junius Silanus and had another son and three daughters with him.
Lucius Antonius was the younger brother and supporter of Mark Antony, a Roman politician.
Publius Servilius Casca Longus was one of the assassins of Julius Caesar. He and several other senators conspired to kill him, a plan which they carried out on 15 March, 44 BC. Afterwards, Casca fought with the liberators during the Liberators' civil war. He is believed to have died by suicide after their defeat at the Battle of Philippi in 42 BC.
Lucius Pinarius Scarpus was a Roman who lived during the late Republic and the early Empire. He served as the Roman governor of Cyrene, Libya during the Final War of the Roman Republic. He was originally loyal to Mark Antony, but eventually switched sides and joined Octavian following the latter's victory at the Battle of Actium in 31 BC.
Lucius Tillius Cimber was a Roman senator. He was one of the assassins of Julius Caesar, creating the diversion that enabled the first-striking assassins to attack.
The Battle of Mutina took place on 21 April 43 BC between the forces loyal to the Senate under consuls Gaius Vibius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius, supported by the legions of Caesar Octavian, and the Caesarian legions of Mark Antony which were besieging the troops of Decimus Brutus. The latter, one of Caesar's assassins, held the city of Mutina in Cisalpine Gaul.
"Kalends of February" is the twelfth episode of the first season of the television series Rome.
Marcus Junius Brutus is a historical figure who features as a character in the HBO/BBC2 original television series Rome, played by Tobias Menzies. He is depicted as a young man torn between what he believes is right, and his loyalty and love of a man who has been like a father to him. The real Marcus Junius Brutus was the most famous of Julius Caesar's assassins, and one of the key figures in the civil wars that followed the assassination.
Calpurnia was the either the third or fourth wife of Caesar, and the one to whom he was married at the time of his assassination. According to contemporary sources, she was a good and faithful wife, in spite of her husband's infidelity; and, forewarned of the attempt on his life, she endeavoured in vain to prevent his murder.
The Liberators' civil war was started by the Second Triumvirate to avenge Julius Caesar's assassination. The war was fought by the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian against the forces of Caesar's assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus in 42 BC.
The Philippicae or Philippics are a series of 14 speeches Cicero gave condemning Mark Antony in 44 and 43 BC. Cicero likened these speeches to those of Demosthenes' Philippic, which Demosthenes had delivered against Philip of Macedon. Cicero's Second Philippic is styled after Demosthenes' De Corona.
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