The great conspiracy against Julius Caesar

The tragedy of Julius Caesar cited by the great bard Shakespeare isn’t merely a tale or a myth, it’s real!

In 44BCE, the year Julius Caesar was assassinated. Opposing unchecked power wasn’t a political matter but it was personal for Roman senator, Marcus Junius Brutus. He claimed descent from Lucius Junius Brutus, who helped to overthrow the tyrannical king,  Tarquin the proud. The elder Brutus led the people in a rousing oath never to allow a king to rule. Rome became a  republic based on the principle that no man should hold too much power.

Julius Caesar’s rise to the power position of consul was dramatic. Years of military triumphs made him the wealthiest man in Rome and after defeating his rival, Pompey the great in civil war escalated his power. His victories and initiatives made him eminent and many senators vied for his favors. Statues, temples were dedicated and a whole month was renamed still called July. Entitled him as Dictator perpetuo, which was too much for the senators.

Liberators began to secretly discuss plans for assassination leading them were senator Gaius Cassius Longinus and his brother-in-law, Brutus. Even though he had sided with Pompey, Caesar saved his life and made him a close advisor which made Brutus hesitant to conspire against Caesar, but Cassius’s insistence and Brutus’s fear of Caesar’s ambitions won out.

On March 15 44 BCE, at a senate meeting held shortly before Caesar was to depart on his next military campaign, 60 conspirators surrounded him unsheathing daggers from their togas, and stabbed him from all sides which made Caesar struggle fiercely until he saw Brutus expressing “et tu Brutus” but we don’t know that actual dying words because some said it was nothing while others recorded “and you, child?” but all agree that when Caesar saw Brutus among his attackers he gave up the fight by covering his face, falling to the ground after being stabbed 23 times.

Within moments of Caesar’s assassination, Rome was in a state of panic making the other senators flee, while the assassins barricaded themselves on Capitoline Hill. Mark Antony, Caesar’s friend, and co-consul was swift to seize the upper hand gave a speech at the funeral which raged the crowd forcing the liberators out of Rome. The ensuing power vacuum led to wars that killed Brutus which ended the republic.

In Dante’s “inferno” he was placed in the center of hell and eternally chewed by satan for his crime of betrayal. The interpretation of Brutus as either a selfless fighter against dictatorship or a traitor has shifted with the tides of history and politics.

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