Who Betrayed Julius Caesar?
Nobody can be accepted by everyone, so were the rulers who sat on the very top. People always tend to have more discontentions with the ones with more power over them than the ones who were actually annoying. There were always assassinations toward powerful leaders, like Jing Ke to Qin Shi Huangdi and J. D. Tippit to John Kennedy. Julius Caesar, a legendary leader of Rome, was murdered in an assassination that took place on March 15th, 44 BC in the Theatre of Pompey in Rome. It had been cleared that the perpetrators were over sixty members of the Roman Republic Senate, led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and Marcus Junius Brutus. They worked out the plan “ Ides of March” and stabbed Caesar to death.
The Senate made the decision because they felt threatened by Caesar’s gaining powers. He had power over Gaul, who had their loyalty to him; he was in close relationship with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra, whose power could become his; he named himself the “Perpetual Dictator” of Rome, who could manage the power for a lifetime, which was basically a King. The Senate used to own all the power, they even get a report every time after the war with the generals thanking and appreciating them. However, Caesar only said three words in his report:“ Veni, Vidi, vici”, which meant “I came, I saw, I conquered”. In other words, he was coming for the Senate, and therefore he did and got full control over Rome. The Senate got their power taken away. They could not bear Caesar’s king-like behaviors and they did not like Caesar’s new reforms. How he bore a child with Cleopatra was also a dangerous signal to The Senators. They just wanted Caesar out of their way in order to get their power back. This was totally understandable because envious was always considered a part of human nature. People these days would hate to have their job taken away and being replaced by, so did the ancient Romans. Their motive was mostly out of jealousy. Another reason that might drive them to the action was that they wanted to keep the Senate going, despite the fact that their structure was getting broken down. They may want to do so for their own reasons, either they were a big supporter and believer of the Republican system, or that they had personal issues with Caesar.
Cassius could be considered as one of the major players and the first to come up with the plan. His motive was simple, he just wanted Caesar killed and out of the picture for his own good. He once was a trusted naval commander of Crassus. Crassus was even willing to give him full power over the fights. When Crassus was killed in the battle, he came across Pompey, Crassus’ old companion, and was appreciated by him for his abilities. He was offered a job as the naval commander and led a part of his fleet in the battle. This did not last long either. After his valued leader died in the battle against Caesar, he was forced to surrender under his enemy. Despite the fact that Caesar might choose to forgive him in order to prove himself a charitable ruler, Cassius was still offered an opportunity to join the Senate. It was fair to say that Cassius was a good fit for the Senate, for that he was conservative and did not like things to be changed. However, Caesar’s actions opposed his wills. Caesar’s reforms were a threat to his possessions, for that the land he owned and his slaves who worked for him were going to be taken away. He would even lose his superior prestige with the none-Romans earning their citizenships. If he lost Caesar as a threat, he could keep everything he owned and perhaps get some more.
One of the only similarities between Marcus Brutus and Cassius was that they both fought for Pompey during Caesar’s Civil War. Unlike Cassius, Marcus Brutus choose to confess to Caesar right after the war and apologized to him. Caesar forgave him immediately, just like what he did to Cassius, but he also got in Caesar’s inner circle because they were once close, so close that some even suspected him to be Caesar’s secret son. He chose to join the assassination mainly because of the impact of his uncle, who raised him up. Quintus Servilius Caepio was a big believer and supporter of the Senate. Under his influence, Marcus Brutus tended to be bothered by Caesar’s king-like behaviors. Like most of the Senators, he was not used to having a king around. This thought made him easily affected by Cassius, he betrayed his friend and even became one of the main assassins. Clearly, it was difficult for Caesar to believe that he also took part in the assassination. Caesar finally gave up to fight back after he came up and stabbed him. The dictator spoke his last words: “Et Tu, Brute?” which meant: “You too? My child?” Then he covered his head with his cape and fell down, embracing the death that was waiting for him.
Another perpetrator closed to Caesar was Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, who used to be a trusted friend. Decimus Brutus fought on Caesar’s side during the wars and was also a part of Caesar’s inner circle. Their relationship used to be so close that he thought he should get a split of Caesar’s properties and powers, even the throne after he passes away since he was Caesar’s close friend. He was jealous of Caesar’s adopted son who was obviously going to inherit everything and the crown as king. Knowing that there was no way for him to get the power, and thinking that he could get more rights if Caesar was out of the way, he turned his back to his former good friend. However, he was still the most trusted Senator to Caesar, if not then he would not have been the one to persuade Caesar into going to the theater when he was hesitating.
Despite Servilius Casca was not a part of the major players, he could also be considered as a culprit to blame. Casca was the first to make the actual move while Caesar was distracted by Tullius Cimber. With worries in his mind, he stabbed Caesar in the neck. The wound was neither deep nor moral, which gave Caesar the chance to grab his hand and not the dagger. Feeling scared and in danger under Caesar’s accusations, he turned to the other Senators and asked for help. The rest of the Senators then rushed up with their weapons. In other words, Casca was the one to finally start the assassination. He was one of the subordinates of the attack, for that he took part in this for an unknown motive, and he was not the only one. Many might be talked into this idea while it might be against one’s will. Yet, what they did still could not be justified.
It might seem like all the perpetrators had their reasons. However, they did not consider Caesar’s side of the problem. After the death of Cras sus, the great balance of the “Three Man Rule” was broken, Caesar and Pompey were left in the competition against each other overpower. It was just a matter of time for one of them to finally win over all the power since it was what they both desired. Even if Pompey was the one to win the victory, he would also make himself king, or a lifetime ruler. This would not have been a surprise for the Senators since they were once under the rule of kings. Sulla, who was the first to take the title “Perpetual Dictator”, was obviously going to have an influence on Pompey, since he was once a general of Sulla’s. The act of Caesar was considered a crisis because it was a matter of circumstance, with him gaining more and more power. After conquering all of Gaul and defeating Pompey, he even got in a relationship with Cleopatra and helped her to gain power, knowing that someday it will be in his control… Yet it was fair to say that Caesar had good intentions for Rome. The reforms he worked on reflected how he wanted to improve Rome by inspiring the poor to work for themselves and offered them more chances. He even made plans to reorganize coinage and laws, but he never got to adopt it since he was murdered. This again led to the reasons why the Senators choose to kill him. His reforms affected their accessibility to power, therefore, they felt threatened. The fact that Caesar made himself dictator for life, had an heir to the throne, and even had a child with Cleopatra whose half-Roman and Egyptian. This opposed their idea of the law system… Their reasons were totally understandable, but it was not justified.
The Senate system they believed in used to be ethical. But it was on the edge of breaking down because of Senators like Cassius who only seek their own goods. It was just a matter of time for them to go from democracy to oligarchy. Despite Caesar’s king-like behaviors, he was still aiming to make Rome better. This decided case death of the dictator to be not justified.