The death of a leader always changes the course of history. The death of Julius Caesar changed the trajectory of the Roman Empire forever. But how was Julius Caesar killed?
The Rise of Julius Caesar
He was a master statesman as well as a military general. When he was assassinated, he had gained unprecedented power, declared a dictator by the Senate. Within a year, he implemented significant reforms in the Senate and altered local government. Although his actions benefited many, he also made enemies within the government.
His popularity soared among the lower and middle-class Romans, primarily because of the reforms that favored them. However, with power comes envy and opposition. Many senators started viewing him not as a reformist but as a potential tyrant.
A Plot Most Heinous
Although Caesar had plenty of supporters, he also had a lot of opponents. Some senators believed he accumulated too much power, far beyond the limits of the Republic. After Caesar appointed Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus to significant positions, their fears were further heightened.
A multi-person plan was enacted to assassinate Caesar; however, it was seen as a noble act of tyrannicide, killing a tyrant in order to save Rome. They believed by ending Caesar’s life, the Roman Republic would be preserved.
Caesar’s Last Day
As the Roman Ides of March went on, Caesar reached a location near the Theatre of Pompey unaware of the deadly plot against him on March 15, 44 BC. It seemed like just another meeting; however, Casca, one of the conspirators, struck with his knife first, as the meeting progressed. The conspirators meticulously planned the assassination.
After that, Caesar was surrounded by the other conspirators, who stabbed him one after another as a signal, reminiscent of the tragic end that befell Keith Whitley. Caesar’s legendary words reflect how shocked, surprised, and hurt he must have been when he saw Brutus among his assailants: “Et tu, Brute?”
The Aftermath of the Assassination
A total of 23 stab wounds caused Julius Caesar’s tragic death, not a single wound but the cumulative blood loss from multiple wounds. Though the conspirators may have believed they had saved Rome from a dictator, the events after his assassination proved to be far more dramatic than they had anticipated.
The death of Julius Caesar created a power vacuum in Rome. Instead of the Republic’s revival, Rome plunged into a series of civil wars. The conspirators faced the wrath of the public and Caesar’s supporters. The very act meant to save the Republic ironically led to its transformation into an Empire with Caesar’s grandnephew and adopted son, Octavian, who would later be known as Augustus, becoming the first Roman Emperor.
It is widely recognized that Julius Caesar died in one of the most notorious assassinations in history. As senators believed that they were doing Rome a service, their actions inadvertently ended the Republic they so desperately wanted to save. It is a tale of power, betrayal, and political intrigue.
How did Julius Caesar die?
A group of senators known as the Liberators orchestrated a premeditated plot to murder Julius Caesar. In 44 BC, the conspirators attacked Caesar in an ambush and stabbed him 23 times. The attack was so brutal that Caesar was stabbed 23 times by the conspirators. A number of his former allies led the attack, including Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.
Why was Julius Caesar assassinated?
In many senators’ eyes, Julius Caesar was accumulating too much power, which threatened the Roman Republic’s integrity. The reforms and actions he conducted made him enemies within the Senate, even though popular with the common people. His declaration of himself dictator alienated senators who valued the Republic’s traditions even further.
Where did Caesar’s assassination take place?
It was a public space, which made it easier for the conspirators to ambush Caesar. Pompey, Caesar’s former ally turned rival, made the choice of location symbolic.