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Seeing death, a necessary end, will come when it will come


...and it did, premature for our Great and Powerful Julius Caesar. This post was inspired by a short discussion we had in class on whether Brutus was a villain in Roman History for assassinating the charming Julius Caesar. I stood on the side of BRUTUS = A VILLAIN because you know, murdering a friend is just wrong - Caesar loved Brutus so much and considered him his son. When I started writing drafts for this post, I was intending to blame Brutus and hoping to paint Brutus in an evil light but I failed. You and I both know that it is silly to speak in absolutes.

Busts of Marcus Junius Brutus ( left, by Michelangelo, 1539) and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

To be fair, the video we saw in class was biased towards Caesar to a rather large extent. Oh Caesar, you lucky lucky man – I guess death always makes someone more honourable than they really are. for thought….

The "Tusculum portrait", one of two surviving busts of Julius Caesar made during his lifetime.

Julius Caesar was the Roman’s people hero, we all know he had some really impressive credentials but all these credentials really did something to his head. Caesar was really arrogant! He refused to rise (as an sign of respect) to other members of the Senate and got mad when people did not rise for him, he made his birthday a holiday and even named a month after himself! During his processions, a statue of him was often carried along with the statues of the other gods. He had a denarius coin with this title and his face on one side, the goddess Ceres and and his title, Pontifex Maximus (the most important position in the Ancient Roman religion) on the other side.

Vercingetorix throws down his arms at the feet of Julius Caesar

Because of Caesar’s accomplishments, he was revered and found it hard to dissociate himself with Kingship and it seemed like the people saw him as a God, rather than, just a powerful man.

Well, we know Caesar was the dictator of the Roman Republic at that time. But do we know how he became the dictator of the Roman Republic? Remember the reading from class 16 – the History of Rome? Prof Heather mentioned that a dictator wouldn’t be a dictator for long but in 44 BCE Caesar, declared himself the dictator perpetuo (dictator in perpetuity). This really angered some members of the senate because he disregarded the usual time restrictions. Caesar's dictatorship now became a monarchy, he was the only one in power. The other members of the senate feared not having any say in decision making and was determined to kill off Caesar, thinking that the only way the Roman Republic could be saved, was through Caesar death.

The death of Julius Caesar as depicted by Vincenzo Cammuccini, 1804-5 CE. (National Art Gallery, Moderna, Italy)

In a way, Brutus and his team of conspirators did it for the good of the Roman Republic. When Caesar declared himself the dictator perpetuo, he disregarded the republic. Caesar had too much power. To save the republic, and the power of the collective people, they did what they had to do - hide a dagger in their togas and stab him until he dies.

Unfortunately for them, this was the fall of the Roman Republic.