Thursday, 09 October 2008

When and How was Julius Caesar assassinated?


Julius Caesar was assassinated on the 15th day of March, known as the Ides of March, 44 BC. Much has been written about his death and most of it dramatized for effect. The only available written documentation of his death that I could lay my hands on is that of Suetonius, the respected Roman scholar and historian, and the author of the Lives of the Caesars.
Following, quoted verbatim, from the English translation of his work on “De Vita Caesarum, Divius Iulius”, paragraph LXXXII.

“ As he took his seat, the conspirators gathered around him as if to pay their respects, and straightway Tillius Cimber, who had assumed the lead, came nearer as though to ask something: and when Caesar with a gesture put him off to another time, Cimber caught his toga by both shoulders: then as Caesar cried: “Why, this is violence!” one of the Cascas stabbed him from one side just below the throat. Caesar caught Casca’s arm and ran it through with his stylus, but as he tried to leap to his feet, he was stopped by another wound. When he saw he was beset on every side by drawn daggers, he muffled his head in his robe, and at the same time drew down its lap to his feet with his left hand, in order to fall more decently, with the lower part of his body also covered. And in this wise he was stabbed with three and twenty wounds, uttering not a word, but merely a groan at the first stroke, although some have written that when Marcus Brutus rushed at him, he said in Greek, “You too, my child”. All the conspirators made off, and he lay there lifeless for some time, until finally three common slaves put him on a litter and carried him home, with one arm hanging down. And of so many wounds none turned out to be mortal, in the opinion of the Physician Antistius, except the one in the breast. The conspirators had intended after slaying him to drag his body to the Tiber, confiscate his property, and revoke his decrees: but they forboe through fear of Marcus Antonius the consul, and Lepidus, the master of horse”

Suetonius based his writings on interviews with people present at the assassination and writings available at the time.
If there are other sources more credible than his, please let me know