Ides Of March: 10 Facts About the Julius Caesar Assassination
On March 15, 44 BCE, Roman emperor Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Roman Senate by a group of Senators who feared he had become an all-powerful dictator. William Shakespeare immortalized the event in his tragedy Julius Caesar, and even today historians continue to debate his legacy. But there are some things you likely didn't know about Caesar's untimely end.
1. He was too powerful for his own good.
The conspiring senators ultimately believed that power belonged to a collective group (them) and not one person. Caesar's dictator for life status and dismissals of Senate procedures cultivated tensions that ended in his demise.
2. His last words were probably not what you think they were.
"Et tu, Brute?" Caesar is supposed to have asked the lead conspirator, Brutus. But no, not quite. You'd be surprised how many people think that the Shakespeare quote actually constituted his last words. However, there's no proof Caesar said that exact phrase, and there are many alternatives that suggest otherwise. In one case, the Roman historian Suetonius wrote that others claimed Caesar's last words were a Greek phrase, "κα? σ? τ?κνον," meaning, "You too, child?" Suetonius himself thought Caesar said nothing, as did Greek historian Plutarch.
3. He probably died a slow death.
Caesar was stabbed multiple among a throng of about 60 Senators. Out of all his wounds, only one delivered to his chest was said to be the devastating blow. Yikes.
4. Stabbing wasn't the only option.
Other ideas to kill Caesar included pushing him over a bridge, attack him while he went on a walk, and even assassinate him during the time of the elections. It seems the possibilities were endless.
5. His wife knew best.
Days before his assassination, Caesar was warned not to go near the Senate, due to various rumors. His wife's concerns were even brushed off after she told him that she had a vision of warning. If only he had listened.
6. The Senators were horrible knife-wielders.
The conspirators were so wild in their attack that in stabbing Caesar, the Senators also managed to harm themselves. Brutus, for example, was said to have obtained wounds in his legs and hand.
7. He was stabbed in the junk.
The first man to stab Caesar was Servilius Casca, in the upper shoulder. On another note, Brutus choose to stab Caesar ... in the groin.
8. His adopted son carried on his legacy.
Despite having a living son (his mother being Cleopatra), Caesar instead adopted a great nephew, Octavian, to take over his legacy. He was the first ruler of the Roman Empire after the Roman Republic fell apart. Octavian became the emperor Augustus.
9. The killers badly misjudged what the public's reaction would be.
A majority conspirators involved with Caesar's death had to flee Rome due to the revolt from the people that followed. Guess they weren't all that grateful in being saved from Caesar's power after all.
10. Art imitates life ... even when it's really painful.
A statue made of wax was created in Caesar's honor that displayed all 23 of his stab wounds.