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Julius Caesar: facts and assassination

Everyone (or almost everyone) knows when and how Julius Caesar was assassinated: the Ides of March 44 B.C. (meaning the 15th of March), stabbed 23 times by several conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius. However, only few know some other details the powerful Julius Caesar, the man who started the process that brought to the end of the Roman Republic and to its political transformation into an Empire. Before that day, he had already been very close to be murdered. And despite being a valorous general – maybe the greatest Rome has ever had – his sexuality was somehow ambiguous, since he was called “husband of every woman and wife of every man.”

Let’s review the life of one of the greatest men of the antiquity, to shed a light on this kind of less known but yet interesting facts.

101 or 100 B.C. Caesar is born the 13 of July (month named after him) and lives in the suburra (suburb), not really a place you want to grow up in.

82 B.C. Sulla wins the civil war over Marius and thinks about killing Caesar, among other Marius’ supporters, but then he changes his mind.

74 B.C. On his way towards Rhodes, Caesar is kidnapped by pirates. He plays it cool. Asks his friends for the money needed to pay the ransom (he gives the pirates even more than requested), writes poems and promises that he’ll be back soon to slaughter them all. Indeed, the promise will be kept.

69 B.C. While in Spain (he was running a Roman province), Caesar breaks in tears before a statue of Alexander the Great. “I am the same age as him, and haven’t achieved anything like him”, he whispers.

60 B.C. Caesar, Crassus and Pompey make an alliance to share among them the highest political roles in Rome. On year later Caesar becomes consul.

58-51 B.C. Conquer of Gaul.

49 B.C. With his army of veterans Caesar crosses the Rubicon, the border of the Pomerium, a sacred area that nobody was allowed to reach in arms. Outraged, the Senate fleas Rome with Pompey. It’s again the civil war.

48 B.C. Caesar defeats Pompey in the Battle of Pharsalus. After meeting – and having an affair with – Cleopatra in Egypt, he subdues the rebels in Pontus and crushes the Spanish insurgents. He gets back to Rome in 45 B.C. as the supreme winner. Consul and dictator for life, the Republic is in his hands.

44 B.C. Here we are. The proverbial Ides of March. Just a month earlier, at the feast of Lupercalia, Caesar was offered the crown but turned it down. However, the conspiracy was already set up and too many people saw Caesar as a deadly threat to the Republic. Weirdly enough, he ignores several signs and hints that could have saved him the life: bad omens, his wife dreaming of Caesar’s death, a fortuneteller who warned him about the Ides of March, a man (who knew about the plot) gave him even a paper to let him know about it, but he just dropped it into his pockets. So, during a Senate’s meeting, he was surrounded by the conspirators and stabbed 23 times to death. It seems that, seeing Brutus, he exclaimed in Greek “You too son?” (Kai su teknon?). Shakespeare’s famous line “Et tu Brutus?

Although Julius Caesar was killed at the Senate, he wasn’t killed in the Senate. As a matter of fact, that very day the assembly was about to gather at the Pompey’s Curia, the huge entrance hall of the Pompey’s Theatre. Its leftovers lay underneath today’s Largo di Torre Argentina, partially excavated. Nowadays, the remains of 4 Roman temples are visible, whereas the Curia is still largely covered. However, right next to them, a team of archeologists from Spain has discovered the proof that confirmed what the Roman authors had written: a huge block of concrete laid by Augusts to remind the tragic occurrence. So, this must have been the place! We visit the Largo di Torre Argentina on our Glory of Rome Segway Tour, with daily departures at 14.30. The area is so closed to our office, though, that we can get there during any other of our Segway tours of Rome. While making the booking, type in the promocode ET TU TURTLES to get 10% discount.

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