Story of the Romans - Helene Guerber
Caesar, the greatest man in Roman history, was dead. He had been killed by Brutus, "an honorable man," who fancied it was his duty to rid his country of a man whose ambition was so great that it might become hurtful.
Brutus was as stern as patriotic, and did not consider it wrong to take a man's life for the good of the country. He therefore did not hesitate to address the senate, and to try and explain his reasons for what he had done.
But to his surprise and indignation, he soon found himself speaking to empty benches. The senators had all slipped away, one by one, because they were doubtful how the people would take the news of their idol's death.
Brutus, Cassius, and the other conspirators were equally uncertain, so they retired to the Capitol, where they could defend themselves if need be. The Romans, however, were at first too stunned to do anything. The senators came together on the next day to decide whether Cæsar had really been a tyrant, and had deserved death; but Cicero advised them to leave the matter unsettled.
Thus, by Cicero's advice, the murderers were neither rewarded nor punished; but a public funeral was decreed for the dead hero. His remains were exposed in the Forum, where he was laid in state on an ivory bed. There Cæsar's will was read aloud, and when the assembled people heard that he had left his gardens for public use, and had directed that a certain sum of money should be paid to every poor man, their grief at his loss became more apparent than ever.
As Cæsar had no son, the bulk of his property was left to his nephew and adopted son, Octavius. When the will had been read, Mark Antony, Cæsar's friend, pronounced the funeral oration, and made use of his eloquence to stir up the people to avenge the murder.
He gradually worked them up to such a pitch that they built the funeral pyre with their own hands, and wished to put the murderers to death. The conspirators, however, succeeded in escaping from the city; and before long Brutus and Cassius made themselves masters of Macedonia and Syria.
With Cæsar dead, and Cassius and Brutus away, Mark Antony was the most powerful man in Rome. He soon discovered, however, that Octavius and the ex-consul Lepidus would prove his rivals. After fighting against them for a short time, without gaining any advantage, he finally made peace with them.
These three men then formed what is know in history as the Second Triumvirate (43 B.C.). They agreed that Antony should rule Gaul, Lepidus Spain, and Octavius Africa and the Mediterranean; but Rome and Italy were to be held in common.