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Assassination of Julius Caesar Essay

assassination of julius caesar essay

Example #1

Gaius Julius Caesar, a Roman consul, was a great leader and a terrible dictator. Many of his reforms were excellent, but he also was hungry for the power of the Roman Dictator, which would give him absolute power for as long as he required it.

Throughout his life, he did many things including creating the calendar that we know today, advancing mathematics, and many other scholarly things. When he became dictator in 44 B.C., those in power knew he must be stopped, and so he was assassinated.

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Caesar was born in 100 B.C., sometime in July. Around the age of 22, unable to gain a political position in the Forum, he went to Rhodes to study rhetoric. There he became a priest and scholar. During the next 20-30 years, Caesar became a triumvir (consisting of Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar), governor, and finally sole dictator of Rome.

In 48 B.C. the Roman Senate gave Caesar the power of dictator for one year. During this time he defeated Pompey. In 45 B.C. the Senate made him consul for ten years, but in 44 B.C. after winning his final victory and pacifying the Roman world, Caesar decided to become dictator for life.

This prompted Gaius Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus to plot an assassination to preserve the Roman Republic. On March 15, 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was killed in the Senate house.

The reason behind the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar was very clear. He just had too much power. Cassius and Brutus knew that if Caesar became the dictator he would destroy the Roman republic. Caesar knew that by becoming the dictator he would have those who did not like him, so he enacted the Sanctity of the Tribunes, which enabled him to be unharmed without dire consequences.

When Caesar was killed, Rome became divided on who should have the power. Eventually, Octavius “Augustus” Caesar became the sole emperor of Rome, and from there out Rome declined.


Example #2

Gaius Julius Caesar remains one of the most important figures for his prolific conquests that he made during his life as an emperor and probably his untimely-preplanned death. This was a genius in making, combating with not only the minute Egypt but also with world giants like Germany, Gaul, and Britain (Appian 1949, 115).

Nevertheless, his ingenuity did not save him from death in the hands of his enemies in disguise as friends, Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus, when they descended on him on the Ides of March. These two men, in the company of a pack of others, carefully designed the death of Caesar behind his back. However, why would they want to kill their friend?

It is important to note that, Caesar’s leadership or tyrannical rule policies had nothing to do with his death. Despite his leadership skills, all seemed to be well with Romans. All the indicators of a thriving economy were prevalent in Rome.

From the creation of thousands of employment opportunities to economic stimulation through export and import, confidence levels amongst Romans were rising by the day and everyone seemed to be happy save for some leadership flaws here and there, which are common in any leadership. These leadership flaws could not move anyone to rebel against and plot the assassination of the emperor.

Even though there are many schools of thought giving different reasons as to why Caesar was assassinated, the most compelling school of thought is the one stating that Caesar was assassinated because his assassins wanted power. All other malicious claims directed to Caesar were only to cover the truth. Brutus and Cassius were formerly enemies to Caesar and after he defeated Pompey, they swore allegiance to him but their initial rebellion did not go away and this is evident from the assassination they carried out.

The fact that the men that assassinated Caesar wanted some grounds to accuse him and justify their assassination, implies that they had to plot how to win other people’s hearts and allegiance. Unfortunately, Caesar made many gullible mistakes exposing him to the wiles of these assassins. Many times he failed to read signs that would signify impending danger. In the opinion of the writer of this paper, nothing Caesar would say or do that would avert his inevitable death.

Brutus and Cicero were very much aware of the damage they would cause to Caesar once they managed to brand him a tyrant (Yavetz 1983, 186). Therefore, the only thing that these two men needed was to come up with a strategy that would subject Caesar to public ridicule and then attack him after gaining enough support. To do this, they had to convince other senators to get into their scheme; fortunately, they got huge backing from senators, who joined them for different reasons.

According to Nicholas of Damascus (1964), the chief principals of this plot were men who knew for sure that if Caesar were dead, then they would gain the power to run the nation. This persuaded many senators to consent to the plot of killing their emperor. Other people agreed to the plot because they were still angry because of losing their relatives and friends in the civil war. Therefore, to end such impunity, they wanted to be led through democracy, not despotism.

However, Nicholas of Damascus (1964) notes that these were mere cover-ups, the fact is that these people were hypnotized by the promise of ascending to power and they would find any excuse to assent to the plot. Moreover, some people joined the plot not because they had anything against Caesar, but because they loved the pioneers of the plot. Interestingly, men who had been genuine friends to Caesar also took part in the plot. How did this happen?

After Caesar forgave the likes of Brutus and Cassius who had been his enemies and gave them powers in his authority, the men who had remained loyal felt betrayed. They could not understand this form of kindness. When Cassius approached them to take part in the plot, they gave in easily for they wanted to revenge what Caesar had done to them.

It is unfortunate that these loyal Caesar friends could not enjoy the good reaps from the war and by joining the plot; they knew they would access power and finally enjoy what they had labored for all that long. Finally, after spurring people from all lifestyles into rebellion, Brutus and Cassius had to fool Caesar into stupid acts that would leave him exposed (Taylor 1949, 173). This opens up the next element of this conspiracy; that is, the plot.

In Greek culture, no man was to become a king as long as he lived (Yavetz 1983, 193). Wittingly, these assassins painted Caesar as a king by offering him several honors. Unfortunately, Caesar gave in to the ill plans of these brutes and as time went on, he started acting against the law, something that would cost him life.

The disregard for the law would give the assassins a foothold to censure him. The conspirators started by voting on how Caesar would appear in public. According to the vote passed, Caesar was to appear in all public places wearing exultant attire and sit in the chair of state. The aim of this vote was to make bring him close to people who would easily fault him as he mingled with them often.

Additionally, they bestowed on him the power and right to “offer the so-called spolia opima at the temple of Jupiter Feretrius, as if he had slain some hostile general with his own hand. To have lectors that always carried the laurel and after the Feriae Latinae, to ride from Albanum to the city mounted on a charger” (Cassius Dio 1949, 12). This meant that his status was elevated almost to a state of a king. This was just but the beginning of the honors Caesar received.

To hypnotize Caesar completely, the conspirators named him the father of the nation. This was followed by inscribing his image in all the coins used in Rome around that time. Additionally, they passed a vote that Caesar’s birthday was to be celebrated by offering public sacrifice and his statue was to stand in all cities.

Two of Caesar’s statues were to stand in all temples one signifying him as a savior of people and the other as a savior of the city under siege. A temple was to be built in his honor to symbolize peace. To cap it all, they appointed him the high priest and conferred powers to censure life to him alone.

Mistakenly, Caesar accepted all these accolades with unfathomed gullibility. This saw the passing of the law that required prayers to be made to him and he accepted the garbs worn by kings. Finally, after a series of honors that Caesar accepted readily, they “addressed him outright as Julian Jupiter and ordered a temple to be consecrated to him and to his Clemency” (Cassius Dio 1949, 16).

The motive behind all these awards was to paint Caesar as a king or a god, something that would attract disapproval readily, hence justifying their assassination.

Actions of these people spoke loudly and it was evident that they did not have any good faith in what they were doing. “Others, and the majority, followed the courses mentioned because they wished to make him envied and disliked as quickly as possible, that he might the sooner perish” (Renard 1987, 568). This explains clearly the motive behind these accolades. However, this was not the only reason why these senators gave Caesar all these honors.

Going back to Caesar’s life as an emperor, he was always under the watch of a guard. This meant that the senators could not meet him whatsoever; hence, they would not get a chance to carry out the assassination. After receiving many honors, Caesar was convinced that these people would never try to eliminate him (Taylor 1949, 175).

Therefore, he let his guard leave for he was now comfortable in the presence of the senators, who had apparently become his friends. As time went by, he dismissed all other guards and now he would remain under the watch of knights and senators. Caesar’s gullibility continued to portray itself as he consistently became mesmerized by the “kindness” of his subjects. However, it did not take long for these power-hungry assassinators to find a loophole in what they would easily exploit at the expense of this gullible emperor.

One evening these conspirators approached Caesar to explain why they would carry some of the house businesses in his absence to show that they worked involuntarily as opposed to compulsory duty (Suetonius 1913, 77). However, Caesar did not wake up from his seat and this dismayed many of them. Sympathizers of Caesar tried to explain that he could not walk because he had a bout of diarrhea; nevertheless, they could not justify these claims because he eventually stood up and walked without support.

These assassins pretended to be dismayed by this act of pride; however, this is all they wanted from the beginning; a foothold to accuse Caesar. Well, they got it fully later when Caesar accepted to be made a dictator for life. Nevertheless, the end was yet to come. Some of the people still supported Caesar and the conspirators had to look for a way to embitter them. The next course of action was well-plotted.

As aforementioned, among the Romans, there could not be a king for this was outright scorn to the tribunes. Then the time came, and the senators tried to brand Caesar a king but he refused vehemently. However, after scrutinizing the events, it appears that Caesar wanted the title. Firstly, it would be expected of him to rebuke such people, put them into prison, or worse kill them (Adcock 1951, 693). However, he did not do anything to them.

This showed that he was pleased by the title; something that caused many people to disdain him. To cover up his behavior, Caesar told people that he was not a king but only a Caesar. Even though he took some actions against the first people to call him a king, the measures were not severe as expected for he only relieved them of their duties as tribunes and banned them from public speaking. He went ahead to rub their names from tribune-ship; however, this did not quell the mounting disapproval among citizens. Did he really dissent the title?

The answer to this question is no! If Caesar were totally, against the title, he would come out clearly and refuse it. However;

Antony with his fellow priests saluted him as king and surrounding his brows with a diadem said: “The people give this to you through my hands.” He answered that Jupiter alone was king of the Romans and sent the diadem to him to the Capitol, yet he was not angry and caused it to be inscribed in the records that the royalty presented to him by the people through the consul he had refused to receive.

It was accordingly suspected that this had been done by some prearranged plan and that he was anxious for the name but wished to be somehow compelled to take it, and the consequent hatred against him was intense (Cassius Dio 1949, 17).

This shows that he somehow accepted the title “king”; hence, making him a tyrant. Thus, the assassination would not be branded as such, but it would be called tyrannicide. However, Caesar was still popular amongst middle and lower classes and they vowed to fight Brutus and his team. The fact that Brutus went to organize troops in Greece to topple Antony is a clear indication that all he wanted was power.

Despite his ingenuity in conquering his enemies, Caesar could not deal with his closest enemies who disguised as friends. They led him into believing that they liked and honored him by awarding him with several accolades until they won his trust. First, they had to win his trust to a point of him letting go of his guards.

This would ensure that the senators gained access to Caesar and have the opportunity to kill him. Luckily, this worked well for them as they accomplished it. Secondly, they had to paint Caesar as a tyrant in the eyes of the citizens to justify their assassination, which in effect it would be termed as tyrannicide. They also accomplished this by branding him a ‘king”, a title that he was not supposed to hold. Their craftiness was aided in part by Caesar’s gullibility and failure to read the two sides of the coin.

There is a clear indication that Caesar wanted to be called a king and this was the biggest mistake that he made. However, this assassination was inevitable and nothing he would have done to prevent it. It was a political attack where the assassinators were power-hungry and the only way they could gain it was through assassination. However, they failed in their bid to rule Rome as opposition mounted against them leading to a series of wars.


Example #3

Julius Caesar (100 – 44 B.C.) was a very gifted and also a motivated leader. He was appointed dictator of Rome for ten years after he defeated the Senates forces. Some of the senators, such as Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius, who he had previously been pardoned, feared that Julius Caesar aimed to establish a monarchy over Rome with himself as the absolute ruler (king). The Romans despised the word king because it went against their belief of being “free citizens of a century-old republic”. Julius Caesar’s life came to an end on March 15, 44 B.C., when about sixty senators attacked and beat him to death.

Cicero, who was not one of the assassins, believes the “The tyrant deserved his death for having made an exception of the one thing that was the blackest crime of all.” He does not only call Caesar a tyrant but also in his writing called On Duties, he calls him a madman. He feels that a man who has the objective of being King of the Roman people and master of the world has to be an insane man. He thought it was not morally correct for a Roman person to be an absolute leader of his own people.

On the other hand, a man by the name of Dio Cassius feels that Caesar did many good things while he was alive. Dio Cassius also thinks that Caesar is not blameless for his own death. He says that Caesar killers thought that they did a positive thing when they murdered Caesar, however, they put the city into an uproar after it finally had stabilized their government.

Dio Cassius also compares Democracy and Monarchy in this passage on page 127 of the sourcebook. He says that, “Democracy has a fair-appearing name and conveys the impression of bringing equal rights to all through equal laws” and that “Monarchy, on the contrary, has an unpleasant sound, but is the most practical form of government.”


Example #4

William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, is mainly based on the assassination of Julius Caesar. The character who was in charge of the assassination was ironical, Marcus Brutus, a servant and close friend to Julius Caesar. After examining Brutus’ relationship to Caesar, his involvement in the conspiracy, and his importance to the plot, the truth can be revealed.

Marcus Brutus, a servant and close friend to Caesar, has a strong relationship with Caesar but a stronger relationship with the city of Rome and its people. Brutus was always beside Caesar in many points of the play, Brutus was talking and next o Caesar.

Brutus also loves Caesar but fears his power. Brutus would not allow Caesar to rise to power and then turn his back onto the people of Rome. This is the only reason Brutus would conspire against Caesar. Caesar feels that Brutus is noble to him and does the right thing regardless of personal danger. On the Ides of March, as Caesar was assassinated, Caesar’s last line is: “Et Tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar”. This shows that Caesar would not die without Brutus’ stab. Caesar realizes that there must be a good reason for this assassination if Brutus was involved. After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus talks to Antony about Caesar’s death.

Brutus says that Antony cannot see their members of the conspiracy hearts’, that are full of pity. Again, this shows how Brutus loved Caesar but cared for the life of Rome and its people more. Marcus Brutus had a very important role in the conspiracy against Caesar. He was the “backbone” of the plan. According to Cassius, Brutus’ main purpose in the conspiracy is for an insurance policy. The people will think since Brutus is loyal to Caesar, that there is a good reason for Caesar’s assassination. Brutus will also be the leader of the conspiracy for another insurance policy” for the assassination.

Cassius is the one who declares this, “Brutus shall lead the way, and we will grace his heels With the boldest and best hearts of Rome. ” Again, if Brutus leads the way, the people will think that the death of Julius Caesar wasn’t such a bad thing. Brutus also declares to himself that his role in the conspiracy is to save Rome. He says to the people that, “If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” If Brutus were not in the plot of The Tragedy of Julius

Caesar, the conspiracy would probably not have worked. Since Brutus “… loved Rome more. ” he decided to be a part of the conspiracy. If he hadn’t loved Rome more than Caesar, he would not have joined in the assassination of Julius Caesar. Cassius and the rest of the conspirators would probably not have continued on without Brutus because they would have no “insurance” afterward. The people would think that there was no reason for Caesar’s death and most likely beheaded all the conspirators. Also, if Brutus were not in the play, the whole end of the play would not ever occur.

Brutus would not be there to have an army or kill himself, and Cassius will already be beheaded. If Brutus were not in the play, the title would have absolutely no meaning. Marcus Brutus was a good friend to Julius Caesar, but not good enough. He had moral values dealing with Rome and its people. Brutus’ values then made him join a conspiracy against Caesar put together by Cassius. Brutus joined this mainly because he didn’t want Caesar to turn his back on Rome so there would be a reasonable reason for killing Caesar. If Brutus weren’t in the play, there would be no “Tragedy” in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Tragedy Of Julius Caesar

William Shakespeare’s play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, is mainly based on the assassination of Julius Caesar. The character who was in charge of the assassination was ironical, Marcus Brutus, a servant and close friend to Julius Caesar. After examining Brutus’ relationship to Caesar, his involvement in the conspiracy, and his importance to the plot, the truth can be revealed.

Marcus Brutus, a servant and close friend to Caesar, has a strong relationship with Caesar but a stronger relationship with the city of Rome and its people. Brutus was always beside Caesar in many points of the play, Brutus was talking and next o Caesar.

Brutus also loves Caesar but fears his power. Brutus would not allow Caesar to rise to power and then turn his back onto the people of Rome. This is the only reason Brutus would conspire against Caesar. Caesar feels that Brutus is noble to him and does the right thing regardless of personal danger. On the Ides of March, as Caesar was assassinated, Caesar’s last line is: “Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar”. This shows that Caesar would not die without Brutus’ stab. Caesar realizes that there must be a good reason for this assassination if Brutus was involved. After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus talks to Antony about Caesar’s death.


Example #5

Betrayal By Friends Julius Caesar once wrote, “Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt” (Caesar, Book I, Ch. 18), which means, “Men willingly believe what they wish” (Ramage, 442). This is apparent in the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. The conspirators who assassinated Julius Caesar convinced themselves that killing Caesar was necessary for multiple yet individual reasons. Cassius, the lead conspirator, and instigator, convinces himself that Caesar is not better than he and should not be allowed to rule. Brutus allowed himself to be convinced by Cassius that Caesar needed to die for the greater good of Rome.

The remaining senators who took part in the conspiracy also allowed themselves to be misguided by Cassius into believing Caesar should die for the greater good of Rome. In this play all of these men let themselves believe Julius Caesar had to be killed, proving Caesar’s proclamation to be true. Each of the men involved in the conspiracy was motivated to take part in Caesar’s death by different reasons. The conspiracy that ultimately leads to Julius Caesar’s death was motivated by a variety of personal, political, and philosophical motives.

Cassius’ personal issues with Julius Caesar played a significant role in the conspiracy of Caesar’s assassination. Without Cassius’s severe jealousy of Caesar’s status, the assassination would not have been implemented. Cassius’ personal feelings towards Caesar are clear when he says, “I was born free as Caesar. So were you. We both have fed as well, and we can both endure the winter’s cold as well as he” (Shakespeare, 21). Cassius is saying that he and Caesar is no different, therefore Caesar is not better than him. Cassius makes his feelings about Caesar more apparent when he asks, “Brutus and Caesar- what should be in that “Caesar”?

Why should that name be sounded more than yours? Write them together, yours is a fair name. Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well. Weight them, it is as heavy” (Shakespeare, 43). In this statement, Cassius is stating that Caesar is not specialized nor is he any more significant than Brutus. Clearly Cassius cannot stand the idea that Caesar is powerful or any different than himself or Brutus. The thought of Caesar being better than Cassius sickens him. It is these personal feelings that drive Cassius to conspire and assassinate Julius Caesar.

Cassius utilized Brutus’s devotion and love for Rome to turn him against Julius Caesar. Cassius’ individualized issues with Caesar motivated him to mislead Brutus and Roman senators into believing that the death of Caesar would benefit the people of Rome. Brutus and the senators are lead to believe by Cassius that Caesar plans to turn the Roman republic into a monarchy to be ruled by Julius himself. This is indeed fabricated as part of Cassius’ conspiracy to get Brutus and the others to conspire with him against Caesar. Cassius’ conspiracy drew upon Brutus’ and the senators’ political positions to turn them against Caesar.

Cassius also fabricated letters supposedly sent from citizens of Rome calling for a political change. After receiving these letters and being lead to believe Julius is going to turn Rome into a monarchial society, its then Brutus turns against Cesar. He believes that the death of Caesar would benefit the political wellbeing of the Roman republic. This is demonstrated when Brutus says, “I know no personal cause to spurn at him but for the general” (Shakespeare, 47). The idea that he is going to kill Caesar for the good of the public is how Brutus justifies Caesar’s death.

This political viewpoint is what ultimately caused Brutus to betray Caesar. This can be illustrated when Brutus says, “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” (Shakespeare, 111). Julius Caesar was the most powerful man in Rome and history has proven time and again that with success and power, comes envy. Due to Julius Caesar’s military accomplishments and success, the senators named him “dictator for life” (Burch, 1). A title such as this clearly demonstrates the power Caesar had. Cassius’ jealousy of Caesar’s power caused him to develop the conspiracy to assassinate Julius Caesar.

Throughout the play, Cassius demonstrates his disgust for Caesar’s superiority. One example of this is when Cassius says, “Ye gods, it doth amaze me a man of such of such feeble temper should so get the start of the majestic world And bear the palm alone” (Shakespeare, 21).

Cassius is saying that Caesar is a weak and “feeble” man who does not deserve to be superior to others. He thinks Caesar is too weak of an individual to have defeated and claimed victory over the “world”. In these words from Cassius we can also see that at this time, Julius Caesar was viewed as a very powerful leader, ruler, and individual.

When you have as much power as Julius Caesar had, its no surprise that people would want to take it away. Cassius’ conspiracy aimed to do just that. This philosophical view about life can be added to the list of motives that ultimately killed Julius Caesar. When people allow themselves to believe what they want their views often become skewed and misguided. Cassius, Brutus, and the other conspirators allowed themselves to believe what they wished in order to justify killing Julius Caesar for their own individualized reasons.

Their personal, political, and philosophical motives combined with their credulous mind frames caused them to facilitate and take part in the conspiracy of Julius Caesar’s death. Cassius’ personal feelings of powerlessness lead him to betray Julius and organize the conspiracy of his death. Brutus’ belief that Julius Caesar’s death would benefit the people of Rome allowed himself to consciously justify the betrayal of his best friend. In addition to his friends conspiring against him, Julius Caesar was the most powerful man in Rome. Philosophically it’s clear that with such power comes envy.

This envy only fueled Cassius’ motives to assassinate Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar’s death serves as an example of how influential a misguided person’s beliefs can be. A susceptible mind is a dangerous tool that can lead to irreversible outcomes. References: Burch, Jessica. “Greek Philosophers Notes. ” World History. ANHS, Aliso Viejo, CA. 12 September 2013. Class Notes. Caesar, Julius. De Bello Gallico, Book I, Ch. 18. Print. Ramage, Craufurd Tait. Great Thoughts from Classic Authors. 1891. Print. Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Evanston: McDougal Littlel, 1997. Print.

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