History of Assassinations Roman Emperor Julius Caesar Part 3

About the assassination of Roman leader Julius Caesar, history and accout of the conspiracy and murder and betrayal by Brutus.


The Victim: GAIUS JULIUS CAESAR, consul, commander in chief, and, from Feb. 14, 44 B.C., dictator perpetuus ("dictator for life") of the Roman Republic.

Then Marcus Brutus advanced on him. According to some accounts, Brutus had already stabbed him once. In any case, it is generally agreed that Caesar recognized Brutus at this point and abandoned all resistance. Covering his head with his robe, he collapsed or was forced down at the base of Pompey's statue. Brutus's dagger caught him in the groin. The assassins continued to stab him as he lay there.

Brutus moved to the center of the hall and tried to make a speech. But the senators fled in terror. Caesar's fellow consul Antony, detained outside by one of the conspirators who was an old friend, hurried home disguised as a slave. The conspirators made their way to the Forum, where Brutus at last made a speech. But a hostile crowd soon forced them to withdraw to the Capitol, where they barricaded themselves.

Meanwhile Caesar's body lay unattended at the foot of Pompey's statue. After a while, some slaves arrived and took it to his house on a litter. The autopsy showed there had been 23 wounds, of which only one, in the chest, could be called fatal. The note thrust into Caesar's hand that morning was still on his body, unopened. It contained an accurate account of the conspiracy.

The Assassins: Only 20 of the 60 or so conspirators can be identified. No fewer than 11 of these were Caesar's own men; 4 of these had been generals in his Gallic campaigns, and 7 others had fought for him against Pompey. Most of the 20 had been nominated by him for public office.

Of the ones who had fought against him in the civil war, Cassius probably had the best reason for feeling slighted. He had been passed over for a command in the war against Persia. Marcus Brutus, in contrast, was an idealist and intellectual who seems to have been obsessed with his remote ancestor Brutus, who abolished the Roman monarchy. But he, too, may have had a personal motive. He was the son of Servilia, who had had a long affair with Caesar in his younger days, though she was another man's wife. Brutus could have been Caesar's illegitimate son--hence the story that Caesar's dying words were "You too, my child?"

During the civil war, Servilia was rumored to have made her daughter Tertia, Brutus's half sister, sexually available to Caesar in return for certain financial opportunities. At the time of the conspiracy, Tertia was married to Cassius.

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