The Conspiracy Against Julius Caesar
It's March 1st — beware the Ides of March! That's because the assassinations of JFK, MLK or RFK were nothing compared to the conspiracy against GJC – otherwise known as Gaius Julius Caesar.
Turns out, the Romans perfected the art of political assassination two thousand years before the grassy knoll. During Caesar’s formative years, the Dictator Lucius Cornelius Sulla had over 9,000 of his political rivals “eliminated.”
Caesar himself gained wealth and power by cutting down enemies from the wilds of Gaul to the gates of Rome. During his blazing career as a military general he enslaved a million men and was responsible for the burning of the library at Alexandria.
He made himself, that is, more than one million and nine thousand enemies…
In 49 BC, Caesar brought civil war to his homeland of Italy. He had a lucky break, and at the end of the brutal fighting, he emerged the sole ruler of the proud Roman Republic. He sought to break the backs of the wealthy patrician class then ruling Rome through the sheer power of inertia, stripping them of their inherited privileges and endearing himself to the common man.
The problem was, of course, that Caesar made some very powerful enemies during this period: while smiling to his face, they were plotting to stab him in the back – literally. In the days before wiretapping and anthrax, conspiracies were cruder but equally effective.
On the Ides of March the plotters – Tillius Cimber, Gaius Cassius Longinus, and Caesar’s best friend and heir Marcus Junius Brutus, among others – surrounded Caesar as he entered the Senate and stabbed him 23 times with knives they had secreted in their togas. All told, over 60 patricians participated in the assassination, enough to make an RFK conspiracy theorist's head explode.
The problem was, the Roman people were none too pleased that a handful of aristocrats took it upon themselves to rewrite Rome’s destiny. Riots led to civil war, which eventually led to the downfall of the Republic and the installation of Caesar’s grandnephew, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, installed as Rome’s first emperor.
Though the plot against GJC was effective, the scheme to save the Republic was not. It just goes to show that even when powerful men plot behind closed doors they still can’t change the tide of history.
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