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Julius Caesar was stabbed to death

On this day in 44bc Julius Caesar was stabbed to death. 

In modern times, the term Ides of March is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. Caesar was stabbed 23 times in the Roman Senate by a group of conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.

'Morte di Cesare' by Vincenzo Camuccini in 1798

According to Plutarch (an early Greek historian), a seer had foreseen that Caesar would be harmed not later than the Ides of March and on his way to the Theatre of Pompey, Caesar met that seer and joked, “The ides of March have come”, meaning the prophecy had not been fulfilled, to which the seer replied “Ay, Caesar; but not gone”. This meeting is famously dramatized in William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, when Caesar is warned by the soothsayer to “beware the Ides of March”.

The conspirators staged a game of gladiatorial sport at Pompey’s theatre. The gladiators were provided by Decius Brutus in case their services were needed. They awaited in the great hall of the theatre’s quadriportico. Mark Antony, having learned of the plot the night before, and fearing the worst, went to head Caesar off at the steps of the forum. However, the group of senators intercepted Caesar just as he was passing the Theatre of Pompey, and directed him to a room adjoining the east portico. Had Antony arrived during the assassination, he would certainly have come to Caesar’s aid, and would have proven a very formidable adversary in Caesar’s defence.

According to Plutarch, as Caesar arrived at the Senate, Tillius Cimber presented him with a petition to recall his exiled brother. The other conspirators crowded round to offer their support. Both Plutarch and Suetonius say that Caesar waved him away, but Cimber grabbed Caesar’s shoulders and pulled down Caesar’s tunic. Casca then produced his dagger and made a glancing thrust at the dictator’s neck. Caesar turned around quickly and caught Casca by the arm. Within moments, the entire group was striking at the dictator. Caesar attempted to get away, but, blinded by blood, he tripped and fell; the men continued stabbing him as he lay on the lower steps of the portico. Caesar was stabbed 23 times. Suetonius relates that a physician who performed an autopsy on Caesar established that only one wound, the second one to his chest, had been fatal. This autopsy report, which is the earliest known post-mortem report in history, describes that Caesar’s death was mostly attributable to blood loss from the multiple stab wounds.


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