Gaius Cassius Longinus (Classical Latin: [ˈgaː.i.ʊs ˈkas.si.ʊs ˈlɔŋ.gɪ.nʊs] ; October 3, before 85 BC – October 3, 42 BC), 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, also a 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.
The Roman Republic was the era of classical Roman civilization beginning with the overthrow of the Roman Kingdom, traditionally dated to 509 BC, and ending in 27 BC with the establishment of the Roman Empire. It was during this period that Rome's control expanded from the city's immediate surroundings to hegemony over the entire Mediterranean world.
The Roman Senate was a political institution in ancient Rome. It was one of the most enduring institutions in Roman history, being established in the first days of the city of Rome,. It survived the overthrow of the kings in 509 BC, the fall of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC, the division of the Roman Empire in 395 AD, the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD, and the barbarian rule of Rome in the 5th, 6th, and 7th centuries.
The assassination of Caesar was the result of a conspiracy by many Roman senators led by Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, and Marcus Junius Brutus. They stabbed Caesar to death in a location adjacent to the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March 15 March 44 BC. Caesar was the Dictator of the Roman Republic, having recently been declared dictator perpetuo by the Senate of the Roman Republic. This declaration made many senators fear that Caesar wanted to overthrow the Senate in favor of totalitarianism, as well as the fear that Caesar’s pro plebeian manifesto would endanger them financially. The conspirators were unable to restore the Roman Republic, and the ramifications of the assassination led to the Liberators' civil war and ultimately to the Principate period of the Roman Empire.
Cassius was elected as a Tribune of the Plebs in 49 BC. He opposed Caesar, and he commanded a fleet against him during Caesar's Civil War: after Caesar defeated Pompey in the Battle of Pharsalus, Caesar overtook Cassius and forced him to surrender. After Caesar's death, Cassius fled to the East, where he amassed an army of twelve legions. He was supported and made Governor by the Senate. Though he and Brutus marched west against the allies of the Second Triumvirate, Cassius was defeated at the Battle of Phillippi and committed suicide.
The Great Roman Civil War, also known as Caesar's Civil War, was one of the last politico-military conflicts in the Roman Republic before the establishment of the Roman Empire. It began as a series of political and military confrontations, between Julius Caesar, his political supporters, and his legions, against the Optimates, the politically conservative and socially traditionalist faction of the Roman Senate, who were supported by Pompey and his legions.
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, usually known in English as Pompey or Pompey the Great, was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic. He came from a wealthy Italian provincial background, and his father had been the first to establish the family among the Roman nobility. Pompey's immense success as a general while still very young enabled him to advance directly to his first consulship without meeting the normal requirements for office. His success as a military commander in Sulla's second civil war resulted in Sulla bestowing the nickname Magnus, "the Great", upon him. His Roman adversaries insulted him as adulescentulus carnifex, "the teenage butcher", after his Sicilian campaign. He was consul three times and celebrated three triumphs.
The Second Triumvirate is the name historians have given to the official political alliance of Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, Marcus Antonius, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, formed on 27 November 43 BC with the enactment of the Lex Titia, the adoption of which some view as marking the end of the Roman Republic, whilst others argue the Battle of Actium or Octavian becoming Caesar Augustus in 27 BC. The Triumvirate existed for two five-year terms, covering the period 43 BC to 33 BC. Unlike the earlier First Triumvirate, the Second Triumvirate was an official, legally established institution, whose overwhelming power in the Roman state was given full legal sanction and whose imperium maius outranked that of all other magistrates, including the consuls.
He followed the teachings of the philosopher Epicurus, although scholars debate whether or not these beliefs affected his political life. Cassius is a main character in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar that depicts the assassination of Caesar and its aftermath. He is also shown in the lowest circle of Hell in Dante's Inferno as punishment for betraying and killing Caesar.
Epicurus was an ancient Greek philosopher who founded a highly influential school of philosophy now called Epicureanism. He was born on the Greek island of Samos to Athenian parents. Influenced by Democritus, Aristotle, and possibly the Cynics, he turned against the Platonism of his day and established his own school, known as "the Garden", in Athens. He and his followers were known for eating simple meals and discussing a wide range of philosophical subjects, and he openly allowed women to join the school as a matter of policy. An extremely prolific writer, he is said to have originally written over 300 works on various subjects, but the vast majority of these writings have been lost. Only three letters written by him—the Letters to Menoeceus, Pythocles, and Herodotus—and two collections of quotes—the Principle Doctrines and the Vatican Sayings—have survived intact, along with a few fragments and quotations of his other writings. His teachings are better recorded in the writings of later authors, including the Roman poet Lucretius, the philosopher Philodemus, the philosopher Sextus Empiricus, and the biographer Diogenes Laërtius.
William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of approximately 39 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is a history play and tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599. It is one of several plays written by Shakespeare based on true events from Roman history, which also include Coriolanus and Antony and Cleopatra.
Little is known of Gaius Cassius Longinus's early life, apart from a story that he showed his dislike of despots while still at school, by quarreling with the son of the dictator Sulla.He studied philosophy at Rhodes under Archelaus of Rhodes and became fluent in Greek. He was married to Junia Tertia (Tertulla), who was the daughter of Servilia and thus a half-sister of his co-conspirator Brutus. They had one son, who was born in about 60 BC.
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix, known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman. He had the distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as reviving the dictatorship. Sulla was a skillful general, achieving numerous successes in wars against different opponents, both foreign and Roman. He was awarded a grass crown, the most prestigious Roman military honor, during the Social War.
Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands of Greece and is also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within the Rhodes regional unit, which is part of the South Aegean administrative region. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Rhodes. The city of Rhodes had 50,636 inhabitants in 2011. It is located northeast of Crete, southeast of Athens and just off the Anatolian coast of Turkey. Rhodes' nickname is The island of the Knights, named after the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, who once conquered the land.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
In 54 BC Cassius joined Marcus Licinius Crassus in his eastern campaign against the Parthian Empire. In 53 BC Crassus suffered a decisive defeat at the Battle of Carrhae in Northern-Mesopotamia losing two-thirds of his army. Cassius led the remaining troops retreat back into Syria, and organized an effective defense force for the province. Based on Plutarch's account, the defeat at Carrhae could have been avoided had Crassus acted as per Cassius's advice. According to Dio, the Roman soldiers, as well as Crassus himself, were willing to give the overall command to Cassius after the initial disaster in the battle, which Cassius "very properly" refused. The Parthians also considered Cassius as equal to Crassus in authority, and superior to him in skill.
Marcus Licinius Crassus was a Roman general and politician who played a key role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. He is often called "The richest man in Rome".
The Parthian Empire, also known as the Arsacid Empire, was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Iran. Its latter name comes from Arsaces I of Parthia who, as leader of the Parni tribe, founded it in the mid-3rd century BC when he conquered the region of Parthia in Iran's northeast, then a satrapy (province) under Andragoras, in rebellion against the Seleucid Empire. Mithridates I of Parthia (r. c. 171–138 BC) greatly expanded the empire by seizing Media and Mesopotamia from the Seleucids. At its height, the Parthian Empire stretched from the northern reaches of the Euphrates, in what is now central-eastern Turkey, to eastern Iran. The empire, located on the Silk Road trade route between the Roman Empire in the Mediterranean Basin and the Han Empire of China, became a center of trade and commerce.
The Battle of Carrhae[ˈkar.rae̯] was fought in 53 BC between the Roman Republic and the Parthian Empire near the town of Carrhae,. The Parthian general Surena decisively defeated a numerically superior Roman invasion force under the command of Marcus Licinius Crassus. It is commonly seen as one of the earliest and most important battles between the Roman and Parthian empires and one of the most crushing defeats in Roman history.
In 51 BC Cassius was able to ambush and defeat an invading Parthian army under the command of prince Pacorus and general Osaces. He first refused to do battle with the Parthians, keeping his army behind the walls of Antioch (Syria's most important city) where he was besieged. When the Parthians gave up the siege and started to ravage the countryside he followed them with his army harrying them as they went. The decisive encounter came on October 7th as the Parthians turned away from Antigonea. As they set about their return journey they were confronted by a detachment of Cassius' army, which faked a retreat and lured the Parthians into an ambush. The Parthians were suddenly surrounded by Cassius' main forces and defeated. Their general Osaces died from his wounds, and the rest of the Parthian army retreated back across the Euphrates.
Pacorus I was a Parthian prince, who was the son of King Orodes II and Queen Laodice. It is possible that Pacorus was co-ruler with his father for at least part of his father's reign. His wife was an unnamed Armenian princess, who was one of the daughters of King Tigranes the Great of Armenia and his wife, Queen Cleopatra of Pontus.
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient Greek city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. Its ruins lie near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey, and lends the modern city its name.
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia. Originating in eastern Turkey, the Euphrates flows through Syria and Iraq to join the Tigris in the Shatt al-Arab, which empties into the Persian Gulf.
Cassius returned to Rome in 50 BC, when civil war was about to break out between Julius Caesar and Pompey. Cassius was elected tribune of the Plebs for 49 BC, and threw in his lot with the Optimates, although his brother Lucius Cassius supported Caesar. Cassius left Italy shortly after Caesar crossed the Rubicon. He met Pompey in Greece, and was appointed to command part of his fleet.
In 48 BC, Cassius sailed his ships to Sicily, where he attacked and burned a large part of Caesar's navy. II. Cassius was overtaken by Caesar en route, and was forced to surrender unconditionally.He then proceeded to harass ships off the Italian coast. News of Pompey's defeat at the Battle of Pharsalus caused Cassius to head for the Hellespont, with hopes of allying with the king of Pontus, Pharnaces
Caesar made Cassius a legate, employing him in the Alexandrian War against the very same Pharnaces whom Cassius had hoped to join after Pompey's defeat at Pharsalus. However, Cassius refused to join in the fight against Cato and Scipio in Africa, choosing instead to retire to Rome.
Cassius spent the next two years in office, and apparently tightened his friendship with Cicero.In 44 BC, he became praetor peregrinus with the promise of the Syrian province for the ensuing year. The appointment of his junior and brother-in-law, Marcus Brutus, as praetor urbanus deeply offended him.
Although Cassius was "the moving spirit" in the plot against Caesar, winning over the chief assassins to the cause of tyrannicide, Brutus became their leader.On the Ides of March, 44 BC, Cassius urged on his fellow liberators and struck Caesar in the chest. Though they succeeded in assassinating Caesar, the celebration was short-lived, as Mark Antony seized power and turned the public against them. In letters written during 44 BC, Cicero frequently complains that Rome was still subjected to tyranny, because the "Liberators" had failed to kill Antony. According to some accounts, Cassius had wanted to kill Antony at the same time as Caesar, but Brutus dissuaded him.
Cassius' reputation in the East made it easy to amass an army from other governors in the area, and by 43 BC he was ready to take on Publius Cornelius Dolabella with 12 legions. By this point the Senate had split with Antonius and cast its lot with Cassius, confirming him as governor of the province. Dolabella attacked but was betrayed by his allies, leading him to commit suicide. Cassius was now secure enough to march on Egypt, but on the formation of the Second Triumvirate, Brutus requested his assistance. Cassius quickly joined Brutus in Smyrna with most of his army, leaving his nephew behind to govern Syria.
The conspirators decided to attack the triumvirate’s allies in Asia. Cassius set upon and sacked Rhodes, while Brutus did the same to Lycia. They regrouped the following year in Sardis, where their armies proclaimed them imperator. They crossed the Hellespont, marched through Thrace, and encamped near Philippi in Macedon. Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian (later known as Augustus) and Mark Antony soon arrived, and Cassius planned to starve them out through the use of their superior position in the country. However, they were forced into a pair of battles by Antony, collectively known as the Battle of Philippi. Brutus was successful against Octavian, and took his camp. Cassius, however, was defeated and overrun by Antony and, unaware of Brutus' victory, gave up all hope and killed himself with the very same dagger he had used against Julius Caesar.The date of Cassius' death is the same as that of his birth, October 3. He was mourned by Brutus as "the Last of the Romans" and buried in Thasos.
86 years later, in 42 AD, another man with the name Cassius Chaerea participated in the assassination of Emperor Caligula.
"Among that select band of philosophers who have managed to change the world," writes David Sedley, "it would be hard to find a pair with a higher public profile than Brutus and Cassius — brothers-in-law, fellow-assassins, and Shakespearian heroes," adding that "it may not even be widely known that they were philosophers."
Like Brutus, whose Stoic proclivities are widely assumed but who is more accurately described as an Antiochean Platonist, Cassius exercised a long and serious interest in philosophy. His early philosophical commitments are hazy, though D.R. Shackleton Bailey thought that a remark by Ciceroindicates a youthful adherence to the Academy. Sometime between 48 and 45 BC, however, Cassius famously converted to the school of thought founded by Epicurus. Although Epicurus advocated a withdrawal from politics, at Rome his philosophy was made to accommodate the careers of many prominent men in public life, among them Caesar's father-in-law, Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus. Arnaldo Momigliano called Cassius' conversion a "conspicuous date in the history of Roman Epicureanism," a choice made not to enjoy the pleasures of the Garden, but to provide a philosophical justification for assassinating a tyrant.
Cicero associates Cassius's new Epicureanism with a willingness to seek peace in the aftermath of the civil war between Caesar and Pompeius.Miriam Griffin dates his conversion to as early as 48 BC, after he had fought on the side of Pompeius at the Battle of Pharsalus but decided to come home instead of joining the last holdouts of the civil war in Africa. Momigliano placed it in 46 BC, based on a letter by Cicero to Cassius dated January 45. Shackleton Bailey points to a date of two or three years earlier.
The dating bears on, but is not essential to, the question of whether Cassius justified the murder of Caesar on Epicurean grounds. Griffin argues that his intellectual pursuits, like those of other Romans, may be entirely removed from any practical application in the realm of politics.Romans of the Late Republic who can be identified as Epicureans are more often found among the supporters of Caesar, and often literally in his camp. Momigliano argued, however, that many of those who opposed Caesar's dictatorship bore no personal animus toward him, and Republicanism was more congenial to the Epicurean way of life than dictatorship. The Roman concept of libertas had been integrated into Greek philosophical studies, and though Epicurus' theory of the political governance admitted various forms of government based on consent, including but not limited to democracy, a tyrannical state was regarded by Roman Epicureans as incompatible with the highest good of pleasure, defined as freedom from pain. Tyranny also threatened the Epicurean value of parrhesia (παρρησία), "truthful speaking," and the movement toward deifying Caesar offended Epicurean belief in abstract gods who lead an ideal existence removed from mortal affairs.
Momigliano saw Cassius as moving from an initial Epicurean orthodoxy, which emphasized disinterest in matters not of vice and virtue, and detachment, to a "heroic Epicureanism."For Cassius, virtue was active. In a letter to Cicero, he wrote:
|“||I hope that people will understand that for all, cruelty exists in proportion to hatred, and goodness and clemency in proportion to love, and evil men most seek out and crave the things which accrue to good men. It's hard to persuade people that ‘the good is desirable for its own sake'; but it's both true and creditable that pleasure and tranquility are obtained by virtue, justice, and the good. Epicurus himself, from whom all your Catii and Amafinii take their leave as poor interpreters of his words, says ‘there is no living pleasantly without living a good and just life.'||”|
Sedley agrees that the conversion of Cassius should be dated to 48, when Cassius stopped resisting Caesar, and finds it unlikely that Epicureanism was a sufficient or primary motivation for his later decision to take violent action against the dictator. Rather, Cassius would have had to reconcile his intention with his philosophical views. Cicero provides evidencethat Epicureans recognized circumstances when direct action was justified in a political crisis. In the quotation above, Cassius explicitly rejects the idea that morality is a good to be chosen for its own sake; morality, as a means of achieving pleasure and ataraxia , is not inherently superior to the removal of political anxieties.
The inconsistencies between traditional Epicureanism and an active approach to securing freedom ultimately could not be resolved, and during the Empire, the philosophy of political opposition tended to be Stoic. This circumstance, Momigliano argues, helps explain why historians of the Imperial era found Cassius more difficult to understand than Brutus, and less admirable.
In Dante's Inferno (Canto XXXIV), Cassius is one of three people deemed sinful enough to be chewed in one of the three mouths of Satan, in the very center of Hell, for all eternity, as a punishment for killing Julius Caesar. The other two are Brutus, his fellow conspirator, and Judas Iscariot, the Biblical betrayer of Jesus.
Cassius also plays a major role in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar (I. ii. 190–195) as the leader of the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. Caesar distrusts him, and states, "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous." In one of the final scenes of the play, Cassius mentions to one of his subordinates that the day, October 3, is his birthday, and dies shortly afterwards.
...at this juncture Decimus Brutus, surnamed Albinus, who was so trusted by Caesar that he was entered in his will as his second heir, but was partner in the conspiracy of the other Brutus and Cassius, fearing that if Caesar should elude that day, their undertaking would become known, ridiculed the seers and chided Caesar for laying himself open to malicious charges on the part of the senators...
More than sixty joined the conspiracy against [Caesar], led by Gaius Cassius and Marcus and Decimus Brutus.
Marcus Tullius Cicero was a Roman statesman, orator, lawyer and philosopher, who served as consul in the year 63 BC. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the Roman equestrian order, and is considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.
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.
This article concerns the period 49 BC – 40 BC.
Marcus Junius Brutus, often referred to as Brutus, was a politician of the late Roman Republic. After being adopted by his uncle 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.
The First Triumvirate was an informal political alliance of three prominent men between 60 and 53 BC, during the late Roman Republic: Gaius Julius Caesar, Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, and Marcus Licinius Crassus.
Publius Cornelius Dolabella was a Roman general, by far the most important of the Dolabellae. He arranged for himself to be adopted by a plebeian so that he could become a plebeian tribune. He married Cicero's daughter, Tullia. Throughout his life he was an extreme profligate, something that Plutarch wrote reflected ill upon his patron Julius Caesar.
Publius Vatinius was a Roman statesman during the last decades of the Republic.
Catius was an Epicurean philosopher, identified ethnically as an Insubrian Celt from Gallia Transpadana. Epicurean works by Amafinius, Rabirius, and Catius were the earliest philosophical treatises written in Latin. Catius composed a treatise in four books on the physical world and on the highest good. Cicero credits him, along with the lesser prose stylist Amafinius, with writing accessible texts that popularized Epicurean philosophy among the plebs, or common people.
Quintus Labienus Parthicus was a Roman general in the Late Republic period. The son of Titus Labienus, he made an alliance with Parthia and invaded the Roman provinces in the eastern Mediterranean which were under the control of Mark Antony. He occupied the Roman province of Syria together with the Parthians in 40 BC. He then pushed into southern Anatolia, still with Parthian support. The main Parthian force took charge of Syria and invaded Judea. Both Labienus and the Parthians were defeated by Publius Ventidius Bassus, who recovered these provinces for Mark Antony.
Marcus Tullius Cicero Minor, or Cicero the Younger, was born in 65 BC. He was the son of Marcus Tullius Cicero, who as a distinguished orator and consular senator was one of the leading figures of the Roman Republic during the 1st century BC, and his first wife, Terentia. Cicero Minor had an elder sister, Tullia, who was born in 79 BC and died in 45 BC. In the beginning Cicero wished to have a military career. On the outbreak of Caesar's Civil War in 49 BC, he joined the side of Pompey like his father. After Pompey’s defeat by Julius Caesar at Pharsalus in 48 BC, Cicero Minor was pardoned by Caesar.
Publius Licinius Crassus was one of two sons of Marcus Licinius Crassus, the so-called "triumvir", and Tertulla, daughter of Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus. He belonged to the last generation of Roman nobiles who came of age and began a political career before the collapse of the Republic. His peers included Marcus Antonius, Marcus Junius Brutus, Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, the poet Gaius Valerius Catullus, and the historian Gaius Sallustius Crispus.
Lucius Decidius Saxa, sometimes mistaken as Decidus, was a Roman general in the 1st century BC.
Marcus Favonius was a Roman politician during the period of the fall of the Roman Republic. He is noted for his imitation of Cato the Younger, his espousal of the Cynic philosophy, and for his appearance as the Poet in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar.
The military campaigns of Julius Caesar constituted both the Gallic War and Caesar's civil war in 59 BC, which had been highly controversial. The Gallic War mainly took place in what is now France. In 55 and 54 BC, he invaded Britain, although he made little headway. The Gallic War ended with complete Roman victory at the Battle of Alesia. This was followed by the civil war, during which time Caesar chased his rivals to Greece, decisively defeating them there. He then went to Egypt, where he defeated the Egyptian pharaoh and put Cleopatra on the throne. He then finished off his Roman opponents in Africa and Hispania. Once his campaigns were over, he served as Roman dictator until his assassination root on March 15, 44 BC. These wars were critically important in the transition of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
Marcus Tullius Cicero is a historical figure who features as a character in the HBO/BBC2 original television series Rome, played by David Bamber. He is depicted as a moderate politician and scholar, who is challenged with trying to save the traditional Republic from the ambitions of the various characters on the show. The real Cicero was a Roman politician, writer, and orator.
Dictator is a historical novel by British author Robert Harris, published in 2015, which concludes his trilogy about the life of the Roman lawyer, politician and orator Cicero. Dictator follows the first novel Imperium (2006) and the second novel Lustrum (2009). It is both a biography of Cicero and a tapestry of Rome in the time of Pompey, Crassus, Cato, Caesar, Clodius and ultimately Octavian.