Up Rise to Power Important Friends and Enemies Significant Events Dictatorship Assassination Assessment


         " A public man must never forget that he loses his usefulness when he as an individual, rather than his policy , becomes the issue."   Richard Nixon


"The Ides of March"


"I was neither properly a full citizen while Caesar was alive, except when I had resolved upon doing that deed; nor can I ever be anywhere an exile so long as I abhor servitude and submission to insult worse than every other evil.'

Extract from a letter from Brutus to Cicero

" There were various reasons which affected each and all of them and impelled them to lay hands on the man. Some of them had hopes of becoming leaders themselves in his place if he were put out of the way; others were angered over what had happened to them in war, embittered over the loss of their relatives, property,or offices of state.

They concealed the fact that they were angry, and made the pretence that they were displeased at the rule of a single man and that they were striving for a republican form of government...

Moreover, men who had been friends of Caesar were no longer similarly well disposed towards him when they saw people who were previously his enemies saved by him and given honours equal to their own."

Nicolaus of Damascus  Life of Augustus


" He died in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and was ranked amongst the Gods, not only by a formal decree, but in the belief of the vulgar. For during the first games which Augustus, his heir, consecrated to his memory, a comet blazed for seven days together, rising always about eleven o'clock; and it was supposed to be the soul of Caesar, now received into heaven: for which reason, likewise, he is represented on his statue with a star on his brow. The senate-house in which he was slain, was ordered to be shut up [101], and a decree made that the ides of March should be called parricidal, and the senate should never more assemble on that day   Suetonius

3 "It happened as follows, and his death was due to the cause now to be given. He had aroused dislike that was not altogether unjustified, except in so far as it was the senators themselves who had by their novel and excessive honours encouraged him and puffed him up, only to find fault with him on this very account and to spread slanderous reports how glad he was to accept them and how he behaved more haughtily as a result of them. It is true that Caesar did now and then err by accepting some of the honours voted him and believing that he really deserved them; yet those were most blameworthy who, after beginning to honour him as he deserved, led him on and brought blame upon him for the measures they had passed. He neither dared, of course, to thrust them all aside, for fear of being thought contemptuous, nor, again, could he be safe in accepting them; for excessive honour and praise render even the most modest men conceited, especially if they seem to be bestowed with sincerity."  Cassius Dio

Cicero to Atticus (Ad Att. 14.4) Apr. 10, 44 B.C. Lanuvium

....Indeed, I grieve at what never in any other state happened, that the Res Publica was not at the same time as liberty recovered. It is horrifying, what is being said, what is being threatened. And I fear a Gallic war, too, and where Sextus [Pompey] himself will go.

But let all things run against us, the Ides of March are consoling! Our "heroes" accomplished what through themselves they could accomplish, most gloriously and most magnificently: the remaining matters need money and resources, neither of which we have....

 "Mark Antony, a supporter of Caesar...uncovered Caesar's body, put the toga on the end of a spear and waved it aloft, torn as it was by the stabs and crimsoned with the dictator;'s blood. At this point the people like a chorus joined him in most sorrowful mourning, and as they grieved they became filled with anger...The people returned to Caesar's beir( meanwhile the murderers fled secretly from the city ) and bore it like a holy object...they set it down again in the forum...set it on fire and the people stayed with it all night. The spot was first marked by an altar, but now there is a temple to Caesar, who is worshipped as a god.'

                  Appian's Civil Wars

"It is a mistreatment of history to reduce this struggle to a factional or personal feud or even a purely constitutional issue devoid of social content. The oligarchs were less Caesar's personal rivals,, than his bitter politico-economic enemies. His power greatly alarmed them because he used it to work against ,rather than for their interests. Like other populares, he attempted to deal with unemployment, poverty, unfair taxes, excessive luxury consumption, land redistribution, debt relief and overrall aristocratic avarice......He had committed the unforgivable sin of trying to redistribute some of the wealth that the very rich siphoned from the state coffers". 

M Parenti

"The avowed object of the plot was tyrranicide, which in the eyes of both Greeks and Romans was righteous and just...the plotters were well aware that under Caesar's autocracy their opportunities for financial gain and political power would vanish, and the prestige of the Senate would be obliterated... In short, the way of life the senators had been following since the Second Punic War would end. Their struggle against reforms had opened with the murder of the Gracchi, and they fondly imagined it could be closed by the murder of Caesar."


" In Cicero's judgement , the conspiracy was planned with "the courage of men, but the understanding of boys'. It was another example of the one sidedness of the late republic. This group of upright, honorable republicans were firmly convinced that the republic would come into its own again once the tyrant had been murdered. They had understood nothing of the conditions that made his ascendancy possible".