The Assassination of Julius Caesar
The Assassination of Julius Caesar The assassination of Julius Caesar in 44BC by conspiring members of the Roman senate was an effort to remove a dictator whose power had grown to extraordinary levels and to revive the Republic government. Caesar’s power span throughout the entire Roman Empire, which during his reign extended from present day Syria, down into parts of Africa, over to Spain, most of France and all of Italy. He had the favor of the people, military and most of the Roman government.
Caesar’s death at the hand of conspirators did remove him from power; however, it did not restore the Republic government as the Senate had anticipated, on-the-other hand it gave rise to yet a more powerful dictator that was beyond what Caesar had achieved prior to his demise. Preceding Caesar’s rise to power, the Roman Empire was ruled by the Senate which in turn was determined by the people; however, the Senate resided in Rome and could not directly govern the wide expanse of the Roman Empire. Rome was split into provinces, each province was presided over by a governor appointed by the Senate and changed every year.
The governor’s performance depended solely on his personal character; Roman government did not include a check and balance system such as current governments do today. The lack thereof created social unrest throughout many provinces. An unmoral governor could rule as they saw fit, taking advantage of their constituents. Social unrest was not the only breakdown of the Roman government; military forces did not receive their entire pay from the Republic. Soldiers were paid a wage from the state, but relied upon their general to provide spoils of war to supplement pay.
Wealthier generals could even provide soldiers with parcels of land at the time of their discharge. Many soldiers were poor non-land owners depending on their service in the military to provide them and their families a better life. This dependency shifted the allegiance of the armies away from the Republic and to the generals that provided riches and lands. With the command and allegiance of large armies, or legions, powerful generals could march against the Republic and over throw the Senate, thus creating a serious threat.
The Senate’s strategy to abate this threat from generals and their legions was to reward victorious generals with honors and titles. Celebrations lasting for days were held in a victorious general’s honor and the general was rewarded a political office or given a special title. Several generals had been given honors and titles during the middle of the first century BCE, Pompey and Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was born into an old Roman patrician family around 100 BCE and became one of the greatest politicians and generals of his time.
He began his career with establishing a political family connection that was centered on Caesar’s aunt Julia, whom had married Gaius Marius, the most important man in Rome for about 20 years; he was a seven time consul, the highest political position one could achieve. Caesar used this connection in one of his earliest attempts to gain favor from the people of Rome. During a speech at his aunt’s funeral, Caesar played upon his relation to Marius to win the support of Marius’ followers. Marius had been declared an enemy of the state and his honors or figures of victory were buried by the law and Senate.
Caesar had the figures dug up and transported to the capital during the night. The next morning, word spread of the revival of these honors and a mass of people came rushing into the city, most over joyous to see Marius’ honors restored. Caesar was praised by most of the Roman people who thought him a worthy relation of Marius and tolerated by the Senate whom Caesar defied with such a public display. Caesar continued to create public displays of kindness all the while winning the favor of the people.
Caesar’s military exploits also gained him favor from not only the Roman people, but the Senate as well. Caesar participated in the Gallic wars and was given governorship of the province. He and his legions tamed a sixty thousand man revolt in Gaul at which the Senate granted a fifteen day festival, such a length had never before been awarded for a victory. The Senate awarded such a length due to the threat the revolt presented to the Empire and people’s fondness for Caesar himself. Caesar now had the power of his legions, the Roman people and the Senate.
After Caesar’s victory in Gaul, he was made dictator of the Roman Empire around 47 BCE. He was the first dictator to be awarded dictatorship for life and was so adored that his birth month, July, was renamed after him. His position as dictator bestowed upon him command of the all Roman legions and provinces, financial control, foreign policy decisions and power over the Senate. He appointed a large number of his supporters to the Senate firmly establishing his control of the Roman Empire. Caesar’s boundless power was not agreeable to all of the Senate.
Sixty members of the Senate, led by Marcus Brutus, secretly plotted to assassinate Caesar and restore power to the Senate and Republic. Marcus philosophically tested members of the Senate to determine who would support the cause, least he be discovered before the deed could be carried out. Cassius, Labeo, Brutus surnamed Albinus, Tillius Cimber and Casca were among the sixty senate members willing to support Marcus. The conspirators determined the best opportunity to carry out the deed non-conspicuously was during a Senate meeting in which Caesar had planned to attend.
They could all meet in one central location without raising suspicion. They also hoped that after Caesar’s demised the gathered Senators would rise up and restore the Republic. March 15, 44 BCE, the Ides of March, during a Senate meeting, the conspirators surrounded Julius Caesar with the ruse of bestowing love and honor onto him, pulled out their daggers and stabbed him repeatedly until his demise. The assassination went as planned by the conspirators; however, the Senate did not rise up and restore the Republic as the conspirators had hoped.
Instead the Senate fled and the death of Julius Caesar brought about a civil war in Rome. The assassination of Caesar also made way for another man, Caesar’s grand-nephew Octavian or later called Augustus, to assume and increase the power Caesar once held. Caesar had name Octavian his successor in his last will and testament. Ironically, Caesar had also named Marcus Brutus as his second successor, in the event that Octavian had not out lived him. Octavian was outraged by Caesar’s murder and sought out all sixty of the Senate conspirators to avenge his grand-uncle.
Octavian went on to assume Caesar’s powers and became the first Roman Emperor. Under Octavian reign, the Roman Empire achieved the longest time of peace and stability. Octavian maintained an honest government, improved Roman roads, promoted free trade among the provinces and built many buildings, aqueducts and bridges. He also was given the same honor as Caesar, by having his birth month, August, named after him. He was not only bestowed military and political titles such as Caesar, but was also bestowed religious ones as well. After, Augustus death the Roman people worshipped him as a god.
The well-planned Senate assassination of Julius Caesar lead by Marcus Brutus, was designed to remove Caesar from power and restore the Republic government, however, it only gave rise to an even more powerful and revered dictator, Augustus. Augustus’ rule aided to form Western Civilization into what it has become today. Works Cited Horne, Charle F, Claude Herman and Walters Johns. Ancient History Sourcebook: Appian: The Furneral of Julius Caesar, 44 BCE. 1910-1915. 25 09 2011 http://www. fordham. edu/halsall/ancient/appian-juliusdeath. asp. Horne, Charle F, Claude Herman and Walters Johns. “Ancient History Sourcebook: Suetonius (c. 9-after 122 CE):De Vita Caesarum, Divus lulius (The Lives of the Caesars, The Deified Julius), written c. 110 CE. ” 1910-1915. Fordham University: The Jesuit Univesity of New York. 25 09 2011 http://www. fordham. edu/Halsall/ancient/suetonius-julius. asp. Horne, Charle F, Cluade Herman and Walters Johns. Ancient History Sourcebook: Plutarch: The Assassination of Julius Caesar, from Marcus Brutus (excerpts). 1910-1915. 25 09 2011 http://www. fordham. edu/Halsall/ancient/plutarch-caesar. asp. Plutarch. Caesar by Plutarch Written 75 A. C. E. Translated by John Dryden. 1994. David C Stevenson. 24 09 2011 http://classics. it. edu/Plutarch/caesar. html. (linked from History Guide <http://www. historyguide. org/) SparkNotes: The Roman Empire (60 BCE-160 CE): From Republic to Dictatorship: Caesar to Octavain. 25 09 2001 http://www. sparknotes. com/history/european/rome3/section1. rhtml. Annenberg Learner. “The Western Tradition: 09 The Rise of Rome”. 1989 Annenberg Learner. 24 09 2011 < http://www. learner. org/vod/vod_window. html? pid=827>. Annenberg Learner. “The Western Tradition: 10 The Roman Empire”. 1989 Annenberg Learner. 24 09 2011 <http://www. learner. org/vod/vod_window. html? pid=828>