Front Matter The Lady Roma The She-Wolf The Twin Boys Numitor's Grandson The Sacred Birds The Founding of Rome The Sabine Maidens The Tarpeian Rock The Mysterious Gate The King Disappears The Peace-Loving King Horatius Slays His Sister Pride of Tullus Hostilius King Who Fought and Prayed The Faithless Friend A Slave Becomes a King Cruel Deed of Tullia Fate of the Town of Gabii Books of the Sibyl Industry of Lucretia Death of Lucretia Sons of Brutus Horatius Cocles Mucius Burns Right Hand The Divine Twins The Tribunes Coriolanus and His Mother The Roman Army in a Trap The Hated Decemvirs The Death of Verginia The Friend of the People Camillus Captures Veii The Statue of the Goddess Schoolmaster Traitor Battle of Allia The Sacred Geese The City Is Rebuilt Volscians on Fire Battle on the Anio The Curtian Lake Dream of the Two Consuls The Caudine Forks Caudine Forks Avenged Fabius among the Hills Battle of Sentinum Son of Fabius Loses Battle Pyrrhus King of the Epirots Elephants at Heraclea Pyrrthus and Fabricius Pyrrhus is Defeated Romans Build a Fleet Battle of Ecnomus Roman Legions in Africa Regulus Taken Prisoner Romans Conquer the Gauls The Boy Hannibal Hannibal Invades Italy Hannibal Crosses the Alps Battle of Trebia Battle of Lake Trasimenus Hannibal Outwits Fabius Fabius Wins Two Victories Battle of Cannae Despair of Rome Defeat of Hasdrubal Claudius Enjoy a Triumph Capture of New Carthage Scipio Sails to Africa Romans Set Fire to Camp Hannibal Leaves Italy The Battle of Zama Scipio Receives a Triumph Flamininus in Garlands Death of Hannibal Hatred of Cato for Carthage The Stern Decree Carthaginians Defend City Destruction of Carthage Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi Tiberius and Octavius Death of Tiberius Gracchus Death of Gaius Gracchus The Gold of Jugurtha Marius Wins Notice of Scipio Marius Becomes Commander Capture of Treasure Towns Capture of Jugurtha Jugurtha Brought to Rome Marius Conquers Teutones Marius Mocks the Ambassadors Metellus Driven from Rome Sulla Enters Rome The Flight of Marius Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius Marius Returns to Rome The Orator Aristion Sulla Besieges Athens Sulla Fights the Samnites The Proscriptions of Sulla The Gladiators' Revolt The Pirates Pompey Defeats Mithridates Cicero Discovers Conspiracy Death of the Conspirators Caesar Captured by Pirates Caesar Gives up Triumph Caesar Praises Tenth Legion Caesar Wins a Great Victory Caesar Invades Britain Caesar Crosses Rubicon Caesar and the Pilot The Flight of Pompey Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr Caesar is Loaded with Honours Nobles Plot against Caesar The Assassination of Caesar Brutus Speaks to Citizens Antony Speaks to Citizens The Second Triumvirate Battle of Philippi Death of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra Battle of Actium Antony and Cleopatra Die Emperor Augustus

Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

The Assassination of Caesar

An important meeting was arranged to be held in the Senate house on the 15th March 44 B.C. The conspirators fixed this, the Ides of March, as the day on which they would assassinate the Dictator. They knew that he would come to the Senate unarmed and without guards, as was his custom.

On the evening of the 14th, as Cæsar sat at supper, the conversation, strangely enough, was about the kind of death that one would wish to die.

The Dictator glanced up from the letters he was reading and said abruptly, 'A sudden one,' and then went on with his reading.

Rumours of the plot may have got abroad, but whether that was so or not, Cæsar had for some days been told of evil omens, and had been warned to beware of danger.

Among other warnings, a soothsayer had told him that evil would befall him on the Ides of March. Now the Ides of March fell on the 15th of the month.

The night before the 15th, Cæsar's wife, Calpurnia, tossed in her sleep, breaking out at length into sobs as though in great sorrow. She was dreaming that she held in her arms the dead body of her husband.

In the morning she begged him with tears not to go to the Senate-house that day.

At length her tears and the warnings that had reached him, made him first hesitate and then yield to her entreaties.

Meanwhile the senators had assembled, among them the conspirators armed with daggers which were concealed in the cases of their writing stilus.

When Cæsar did not come they grew impatient. What had happened? Had he perchance discovered their treachery? The conspirators were uneasy, and they found it hard to conceal their uneasiness.

At length Decimus Brutus, one of their number, offered to go to see why Cæsar had not come, and if necessary to entice him to the Senate.

Decimus found Cæsar at home, cast down by evil omens and by the fears of Calpurnia.

Then Decimus pretended to laugh at the great Cæsar for being disturbed by such forebodings. He scoffed at the soothsayer and his prediction that evil would befall Cæsar on the Ides of March, he mocked at the story of evil omens. 'Will Cæsar let it be told that because of such things he would not come to the Senate-house?' said the false friend.

Perhaps Cæsar was half ready to laugh at his own fears, but in any case the words of Decimus hurt his pride, and in spite of all that Calpurnia could urge, he determined to go back with Decimus to the Senate.

It was now about eleven o'clock. As Cæsar crossed the hall of his house, his bust fell and broke in pieces.

Afterwards it was said that perhaps this was done by some friend or servant to warn him what would befall him should he leave the house. At the time, the broken bust seemed but another of the omens of evil with which of late he had been surrounded.

But he left the house and stepped into the street. As he walked along he passed the soothsayer, and with an attempt at gaiety he called to him, 'The Ides of March have come.'

'Yes,' answered the wise man, 'they are come, but they are not past.'

As was ever the way, the crowd pressed close to offer petitions to him as he passed along the street.

One man seemed more eager even that the others to hand a paper to the Dictator, and when at length he succeeded, he said hurriedly, 'Read it without delay, Cæsar, for it concerns your safety.' But the paper was never read, for the Dictator handed it with others to his attendant.

No sooner had Cæsar reached the Senate-house and taken his seat than the conspirators crowded around him, one of them, named Cimber, offering him a petition.

It was one which the Dictator had already refused to grant, and he was annoyed at the persistence shown by Cimber.

Moreover, the other conspirators joined him in his entreaties, pressing ever closer and closer around the Dictator, until only those in the plot were near to him.

Cæsar was now really angry and turned away from Cimber, again refusing his request. As he did so, Cimber pulled Cæsar's toga down from his neck. It was the signal upon which the conspirators had agreed.

Casca, who was to give the first blow, thereupon drew his dagger and struck Cæsar on the shoulder. Either through fear or haste he did little harm by his stroke.

In a moment Cæsar had sprung to his feet, and seizing hold of Casca's weapon, he cried, 'Vile Casca, what does this mean?'

But immediately daggers were drawn on every side of him, and blow after blow descended upon his body, while angry faces looked into his.

Unarmed as he was, Cæsar yet struggled desperately with the assassins, until he caught sight of Decimus Brutus, whom he loved, among his murderers, ready to strike.

Then crying, 'Et tu, Brute?' 'Thou, too, Brutus?' he covered his face with his toga and fell to the ground, his body covered with many wounds.

Cæsar was dead. And it is said that nature herself mourned for the great man stricken to death by those whom he had befriended. For, for a whole year the sun shone dull and faint, while grey clouds were stretched across the sky like a funeral pall. Cæsar was dead.