Assassination of Julius Caesar

The Death of Caesar by Jean-Léon Gérôme
The Death of Caesar by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Location: Rome, Roman Republic

Photographer: Jean-Léon Gérôme
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Historical Context

By the time of his assassination on 15 March (the Ides of March) 44BC, Julius Caesar was at the height of his power, having recently been declared dictator perpetuo by the Roman Senate.

This kind of power made many senators nervous that Caesar would overthrow the senate and establish one-man tyranny. Thus they planned to murder him and restore the authority of the Roman Republic.

Despite being warned of the plot in the days before, Caesar went to the Senate on the 15th. There, a group of about 30 Senators - including Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius - attacked him with knives, stabbing him numerous times. Records of his last words vary; some mentioned that he said nothing, or said "You too, child?" in Greek. The most famous supposed phrase, "Et tu, Brute?" comes from William Shakespeare's 1599 play Julius Caesar and has no basis in fact.

In any case the goals of the assassination failed. It led to civil war and the eventual assumption to power of Augustus, who became the first Roman Emperor.

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