Why Was Julius Caesar Assassinated?
“I came; I saw; I conquered” was the line that originated from a letter Julius Caesar purportedly wrote to the Roman Senate around 46 BC, after achieving victory in his short war at the Battle of Zela.
Who was he?
Alleged to be a descendent of Aeneas, the Trojan prince, Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman statesman, general and notable author of Latin prose. He was the protagonist in the events that caused the fall of the Roman Republic and the ascendency of the Roman Empire. His propitious birth on c. July 12 or 13, 100 B.C., opened new chapter in Roman history. At the age of 31, Caesar was a great general and fought in several wars when he was drawn into the Roman politics. After creating several alliances, he became powerful and dictator of the Roman Empire.
Julius Caesar at the helm of Roman power:
As a dictator, Caesar instituted several reforms that enhanced his status with Rome’s lower- and middle-class populations. However, he was not popular with the Senate as a number of politicians were envious and threatened by his growing power. The believed that Caesar was planning to proclaim himself as emperor. History had shown that Romans had distaste for a king as leader. Legend proved that Caesar came to power five centuries since they allowed a king to rule them.
What caused Julius Caesar’s assassination?
Caesar might have erred when he included his former Roman enemies, Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus to join the Senate. The two led a conspiracy after getting the support of many Roman senators to assassinate Caesar on the Ides of March (the 15th), 44 BC.
The senators wanted to kill Caesar not only for their desire for power but it was partly out of revenge for majority of the Senators were Pompey’s followers and they believed that the death of their leader was an order from Caesar.
Another simple answer would be that Caesar was becoming more and more powerful so some Senators plotted to kill him in their efforts to establish and maintain balance of power in the Republic.
One interesting theory stated that Julius Caesar wanted to immortalize his death. He knew what was coming and realized that he exhibited symptoms of epilepsy that for him was an inglorious way to die but an assassination would immortalize him. He had carefully planned his successor, and already finalized his will. Why did he dismiss his bodyguards shortly before his death? Recorded in his autopsy was that his dead hand was gripping a note of warning.
Theorists of the assassination were not clear whether Caesar knew ahead of the plot to kill him. But his killers who called themselves “the liberators” felt their need for action as Caesar was scheduled to leave Rome on March 18 for a military campaign in what is now modern-day Iraq. His purpose was to avenge the losses suffered by Crassus.
Caesar was advised and warned by his friends that there were certain rumors going on about a plot. Even the royal physician tried to make him stay in bed as he earlier complained of occasional dizzy spells. Calpurnia, his spouse, was talking about frightening visions in her dreams begged him to stay. But Brutus, whom he considered a trusted ally, told him not to believe in dreams.
At that time, Caesar was the dictator of the Roman Republic and was newly declared perpetual dictator by the Senate. This pronouncement added to the fervor to kill him for fear that Caesar wanted to overthrow the Senate in favor of tyranny.
With Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus at the helm, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death in a location near the Theatre of Pompey on the Ides of March. (March 15), 44 BC. A group of the plotters surrounded and stabbed him until he fell down near the portico. Mark Anthony who was around to defend him was prevented to get near Caesar as he was surrounded by the senators.
The conspirators were not able to restore the Roman Republic. The ramifications of the assassination led to the Liberators’ civil war and, ultimately, to the Principate period of the Roman Empire. A wax statue of Caesar was erected in the Forum displaying the 23 stab wounds. In the end, he was still a hero!
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