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How Was Caesar Killed?

Michael Anissimov
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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Gaius Julius Caesar (100 - 44 BCE), known as Julius Caesar or just Caesar, was a military and political leader in ancient Rome who eventually declared himself dictator for life (dictator perpetus). He spent a lot of time traveling around in military campaigns, but his popularity among many of the Roman people and his conflict with the Senate made him a number of enemies at home. Caesar was stabbed to death in the Senate chamber by a small group of aristocrats.

Caesar is one of the best-known and most important figures in world history, and especially in ancient history. In Rome, he was famous for conquering Gaul (modern-day France), which extended the Roman Empire to the Atlantic Ocean, and leading the first Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BCE.

He was well-loved by the common people as a military and political leader in the Roman Republic. After he became famous as a general, Caesar assumed political power in a triumvirate with Marcus Licinius Crassus and Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus. Being of the populares (populist) political tradition, he deemphasized the role of the Senate in favor of popular assemblies of common citizens. This led to various troubles with the Senate.

When the triumvirate collapsed, it caused a political crisis. Caesar restored order, and established his own dominance, by marching on Rome with his legions. After winning several engagements in a Roman civil war, he established himself as dictator-for-life, much to the distaste of the Senate.

As Caesar acquired more popularity and power, some senators began to plot his assassination. After much thought over potential strategies, including the possibility of killing him while on his favorite walking path, the senators decided to stab him right in the middle of the Senate chamber during a meeting. After the assassination, the senators spilled out into the streets in joy. The killing took place on what was called the Ides of March, the 15th day of the month.

Many of the Roman people were angry that a small group of aristocrats had murdered their hero, and popular opinion turned against the Senate. Caesar's adopted son, Octavian, became the focus on popular support in the ensuing civil war. After the conclusion of the war, Octavian took power as dictator, ending the centuries-long Roman Republic and replacing it with the monarchic Roman Empire.

Two years after his death, Caesar was deified in a ceremony, and formally added to the pantheon of Roman gods.

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Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated Historical Index contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By anon315878 — On Jan 25, 2013

Who did Marc Antony try to rule Rome with?

By fBoyle — On Oct 17, 2012

When historians talk about Caesar, they always speak very highly of him. He is always portrayed as a great military hero who was fearless and successful. But the truth was that he was also a dictator and somewhat a tyrant. I'm not surprised that he was eventually assassinated. It tends to happen to many dictators.

By bluedolphin — On Oct 17, 2012

@turkay1-- I don't believe that there is any proof of whether Caesar was in fact killed by Brutus and whether he said anything before he died. The only accounts of Brutus attacking Caesar and Caesar saying "You too, Brutus" before dying is found in old literary works.

That saying became really famous after it was included in the play, Julius Caesar, by Shakespeare. The play was about Caesar's life and in the part where Caesar was to die, Shakespeare showed all of the members of the Senate stabbing Caesar, Brutus being the last one.

It really surprised Caesar because he was not expecting this from Brutus, who was indeed close to him. In the play, Caesar also says the same line: "Et tu, Brute?" before he falls and dies.

So even though we don't have proof of how Caesar died, this seems to be the most widely accepted story.

By candyquilt — On Oct 16, 2012

I don't remember where I heard this from, but wasn't Caesar killed by Brutus, who was his close friend?

They even have a saying for it "You too, Brutus?" I think Brutus was Caesar's best friend and he was the one who stabbed Caesar from the back in the Senate and killed him. That's why now when someone is betrayed, they say "You too Brutus?"

By anon74021 — On Mar 30, 2010

His son, Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar, nicknamed Caesarion or little Caesar (June 23, 47 BC – August, 30 BC), was the last king of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, who reigned, as a child, jointly with his mother Cleopatra VII of Egypt from September 2, 44 BC to August, 30 BC, when he was killed on orders of Octavian, who would become the Roman emperor Augustus.

Augustus was not really his son. Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) was the first ruler of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from January 27 BC until his death in AD 14. Born Gaius Octavius Thurinus, he was adopted posthumously by his great-uncle Gaius Julius Caesar in 44 BC, and between then and 31 BC was officially named Gaius Julius Caesar.

By anon24345 — On Jan 11, 2009

what was the name of caesars son, and for how long did he rule after caesars death?

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated Historical Index contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology...
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