Everybody, welcome to Dan Snow's history hit today, we are going to play one of our sibling episodes. We're going to play an episode of the Ancients because today is the 15th of March. Today is The Ides of March. And as you can imagine, that sent Team Ancients into total meltdown. It's like the Fourth of July, Magna Carta Day, Trafalgar Day, Christmas Day, all in one gigantic ancient mashup. So Tristan's got Dr Emma Sothern on the podcast.
They talk about the events leading up to Caesar's assassination. Was he forewarned? What can we be certain about? It's all been so mythologized. Did he really say, for example, et tu brute? Emmott's Treston, now you and me, through this remarkable day at team history, we've gone to the bunkers about the Ides of March. We've got a documentary out on history hit TV. We've got a live stream with the historian Sushma Malik. She is talking me through the assassination on Timeline, our partner channel on YouTube.
It's YouTube's biggest history channel. So please go and check out Timeline, The Ides of March with me and Sushma Malik and special guest starring Tristan Hughes, himself a historian, is coming on there for his history livestream debut. That, of course, is available to watch for the rest of eternity over that on time line, if you want to make documentary history, hit TV and check that as well. Well, it's past History Channel, but in the meantime, everybody here is Treston talking to Dr.
Emma Sothern about the assassination of Julius Caesar.
And thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Thank you so much for having me. It's always a pleasure to talk about Julius Caesar and especially at this time of year.
I mean, The Ides of March 15th, March. It does seem to be this is the most famous date in the ancient Mediterranean world.
It is certainly the only one now where you will still get newspapers that do articles about The Ides of March. Nobody's talking about any other day in Roman history these days, but everybody knows the ides of March and to beware it. Exactly.
To beware the Ides of March as we're going to get into. But let's start with the background, first of all. So let's go to the stars of 44 B.C. and at the end of the Civil War, Caesar, he's now back in Rome. But what's he been doing?
So Caesar has by 44, conclusively defeated everybody around him. He came back to Rome after he had been governor of Gohl, where he had beat them into submission and then been the first Roman to properly go to Britain and show off their prowess there. And he had come back. People had threatened to prosecute him. He didn't like that. So he marched on Rome in order to prevent it, which the Senate was not expecting it to say Pompeii and the Senate had had to flee and then Caesar had absolutely destroyed them.
Pompey's dead. He was his only competitor in terms of power and in terms of the respect that he commanded. And Caesar has now come back and told everybody, it's all lads. I have resolved the problem of the Civil War, which I started. And he has then gone about for the past couple of years doing lots of constitutional and social reforms to shape the empire in his own image. Basically, he's following in the footsteps of Sola, who had done it previously and had done lots and lots of social reforms.
But he is going much further than Siller, partly because he is giving himself lots of powers, which Sulla never had. He has given himself permanent tribunal in power, for example, which means that he can veto the Senate. He has made himself dictator for ten years. Earlier on, he's given himself the power to choose all of the magistrates. So he is the person who picks console's. He is the person who picks. He's going to be chipin.
He has failed the Senate, which is depleted from the civil war, that he has filled it up with people who like him. And he has reject the calendar, which is the thing the people mostly remember him for. The previous Roman calendar was a disaster, to be honest. I say amazing that they went with it for so long bits 355 days a year, which obviously does not correspond to the actual length of the year. So in order to prevent the months from drifting along the solier, every so often the Pontifex Maximus would insert an extra month.
So he would insert a 28 day month into the middle of the year. So you'd be going along happily and then all of a sudden you'd have an extra month standard.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Standard. And because there had been a civil war going on for so long, nobody had got around to doing this for a really long time. So the year had drifted really far away from the actual Solia and it was getting to the point where they were celebrating like Harvest Festival in April, which is very open season with mathematicians and astrologers, introduced a new one, which is sixty 365 days with a leap year.
But he has basically come back and spent four years completely reshaping everything from what day of the week it is to how one becomes a console and impacted almost every part of people's lives, which has started to freak people out quite a lot, starts to freak people out.
And you mentioned, I think in passing just there and I know the list extensive, so we're not going to go through all of them. But he's received a shitload of honours by this time, hasn't he?
A terrifying amount of honours. We'd be here for the rest of the podcast if we listed all of them. But most importantly, he's given himself virtually every possible title. He has senser. He has Imperator. He is Pontifex Maximus. He is dictator for ten years until just about six weeks or so before he's murdered. He declares that he is dictator for life. He has got a shiny golden chair, which he's allowed to sit in. He's got a statue of his which is carried amongst the gods.
So when they parade the statues of the gods at the beginning of games and things as a statue of Caesar in there, he's got a statue of himself amongst the ancient kings. He's made himself sacrosanct. So touching him in public is now illegal and not just illegal, but blasphemous or getting in his way.
He's got temples to himself. He's got temples. He's building a temple to his ancestors. He has inaugurated a college of priests for himself. So people are now making sacrifices to Julius Caesar and he has granted himself the right to wear red knee high boots, which sounds ridiculous. But in the same way that if you were to draw a stereotypical French person, you draw them with a beret and a striped shirt, that's like the stereotype of a king. If you asked a Roman child to draw a king, they would draw shiny red knee high boots.
And so he's given himself all of this stuff, which is above and beyond anything that anyone else has ever got, and that every point in his day to day life, he is being placed on a pedestal that is amongst the gods rather than amongst the people. Crikey.
So he's very powerful at this time, basically, which is really interesting, all that detail we're talking about the early months of 44 B.C. coming up to the Ides of March. Our main sources for this information. We've got five main sources. Do we?
We do, which is quite a lot for a Roman thing. The earliest one is from the reign of Augustus. So it's only about 30 odd years later and is by far the most flattering to Caesar because Nicolas of Damascus is trying to get back into Augustus's good when he writes, but they're all fairly consistent. Details change, but they're. So we've got Nicklaus', then we have Suetonius, who is writing under the Emperor Hadrian. So he's about hundred years later.
And we have Appian, who's about the same time he's writing a thing of the civil wars, and Plutarch, who is a little bit later about 200 ish, who writes biographies. So he writes Wallkill parallel lives and he sees Caesar as being a parallel to Alexander the Great.
And then we have Cassius Dio, who is the least detailed and is writing in to 20 to 30 odd. So two hundred and fifty years later. And it's very clearly drawing off the previous ones. And you can see as you go through because I said tired and they all see this as an incredibly significant event where they take from one another, but they're mostly from about 150 to 200 years later.
So we have these sources, incredible sources, interesting sources, shall we say. So let's talk about you highlight this in your book, three main incidents that occur before the Ides of March. Emma, incident number one, Caesar in the senators. What is this?
This is the one that is generally considered by their sources, all of whom are senatorial sources. So they are very much on the side of the senators here as being like the incident that really sparks everything, which is that Caesar is sitting in his shiny chair in the forum that he is building. So he's building a forum and a temple and he's overseeing it like someone from Grand Designs. He's a proper project manager and he's sitting in his chair making notes on whatever design things he's doing.
And the senators have had a meeting without him. And they come over dressed in their best togas, which is a difficult garment to wear. So they've really dressed up for it. And they voted him a load of honors that they want to grant him. So they pugil over to see him and they wait for him to stand up and greet, which is what you're supposed to do. The protocol of respect in Rome is very, very clear. There's no room for ambiguity when a senator comes.
No matter who you are, you stand up and greet them and he just doesn't. He just ignores and eventually one of his attendants has to jab him with their elbow and say, look, he's come to see you, Caesar, at which point he deigns to look at them and ask what they want, but he still doesn't stand up and greet them properly. And they are furious and embarrassed and highly disrespected. And then to make the situation worse, they give him these honors and they say this is what we've decided to grant you.
And his response is to look at the list and say, well, I'll have some of them, but the rest of them just know I'm not interested and give them back the tablet and then just go back to what he was doing. And this is just an unbelievable act of disrespect and of rudeness which cannot be tolerated. All the senators have left really is their self-respect and their ego and the idea that people will treat them correctly and Caesar is now not even doing that.
He's taken away their right to fight elections. He's taken away the chance that they will ever be able to bring honor to their family again. And now he is stamping on their faces, essentially. And the best thing, the only defense that anyone can come up with for this is DIO. He's much, much later. And he really like Caesar. And Caesar is brilliant because he's very used to emperors. And his best reason is that he thinks that Caesar was having an attack of diarrhea and didn't want to stand up in case he made a mess.
And some things are going really badly wrong with your legacy, if that's the best thing someone can say.
I love how the best defense comes from our latest source writing 300 years later, saying actually he just had a bit of a problem at that time. And that is amazing. Just before we go on to the next one.
So it sounds like he's humiliated these senators and their pride. It seems like the pride takes a huge hit.
It does. And there's such rigid protocols for behavior in the Roman Senate and such rigid ways of talking to each other.
And it's a highly flattery based social economy where everybody tells each other they love each other very much and how brilliant one another is and then say that they hate them. And the idea that Caesar would have taken on his role so completely that he now won't even bother to engage in the social economy is just a massive blow. And that is what makes people start going home. And little conversations that were happening at dinner parties suddenly become a lot more concrete about what are we going to do about this?
This can't go on.
Incident number two, the wreck's incidents. Yes.
So there's two of these. And in one, someone called Caesar Rex while he's riding past on his horse. Rex is king. And it is a dirty word to the Romans. It's the most disgusting thing that you can say about somebody and Caesar being Caesar. He's quite smart and witty and he does say, no, my name's not Rex, it's Caesar. And it's brushed off. But the Tribune says teacher beings who take it more seriously and they hunt down the guy that said it and tell him off basically.
And Caesar's not very happy about that.
He doesn't want people doing anything to do with him that he isn't in charge of. But it kind of would have probably been fine, except that another incident happened shortly afterwards whereby somebody puts a crown on one of his statues. And again, Caesar brushes off, but the Tribune's hunt down the person who did it and imprison them. And this angers Caesar. And now this is two times that they have interfered with justice and they have interfered with the people who were his power base.
And their response to Caesar isn't having any of it. He gave them their jobs and he's not going to stand for them getting in his way. So he imprisons the two tribunes. And this is a gross violation. It's like imprisoning the queen, like you just can't do it. Actually, a better example would be technically, the queen has the power to say, no, you can't be prime minister. When a minister comes and says we want to form a government, technically she can do that, but she doesn't.
And if she did, everyone would be like, whoa, technically, Caesar has the right to imprison the tribunes because I've given it to him. But the fact that he does it makes everybody go, hang on a minute, you can't do that.
The tribunes are sacrosanct. They are the voice of the plebeians. They are apart from the Senate. They are supposed to be a voice of control over this kind of thing. They're not supposed to be. You can't just go around imprisoning them. That's another way in which he grossly underestimated how people are reacting to him and grossly oversteps the boundaries of what they will accept or decision. That doesn't sound good.
It's OK. But just before we move on, the word Rex King, you mentioned it was a dirty word. Why is it such a dirty word, particularly for the Roman senators?
It is a dirty word because the Romans have overthrown kings.
So back in the sixth century B.C. and this is a really core part of their identity. And what makes Rome better than everyone else is that they had a king called Tarkan, a Superbikes who had overstepped the boundaries of what was a constitutional monarchy and had become a tyrant. So they had overthrown him and they had thrown out the kings and then set up this republic, which was very much based on checks and balances. And no one person, you know, there's two consuls as to tribunes, nobody has too much power.
Nobody's supposed to have power for more than a year. And it's really core to their identity that they have this republic that is totally democratic and that they will never give power to one man again. And as a result, when people start throwing around the word king, it really cuts to the core of their self mythologising as to why Rome is so great.
Fair enough. So we've had two incidents already. They seem pretty bad in themselves, but then we get the big one incident number three, what is this?
The big one, the Leap Akhalaia, which is in February, and it is a big festival where a bunch of elite men get naked in a cave and then cover themselves in blood and then run through.
The streets of Rome hitting women with sticks, right? OK, it's a cracking good time for all of the family and it's kind of a fertility festival and everybody thinks it's hilarious. But it's a really big deal. It's a big festival. And Marc Anthony, who is Caesar's right hand man, he is the kind of leader this year of the early Carlia. And so they run through the city and they end up in the forum in front of Cesar, sitting on his fancy chair, overseeing the whole thing.
And the whole city is there to have a great time and be hit with a stick. And then Anthony out of somewhere, remembering that he is nude, out of somewhere, he pulls a crown, an actual diadem, and he presents it to Caesar.
And depending on which source you read, depends on what happens. But basically, he's offered a Caesar, either lets it be put on his head or takes it and then gauges how the crowd reacts. And the crowd is not keen on seeing Caesar wearing a crown. They do when they see it and they cheer when he takes off and he puts it on and off a couple of times just to check. They're not happy with it. And so he makes it look as though he has been forced to put this on and he has plausible deniability.
But to his enemies, to the people who supported Pompeii, to the people who are already very frightened by what Caesar has been doing for the past 10 years, what they have just seen is their greatest enemy, wearing a crown, sitting in a golden chair in front of a crowd of Romans wearing a crown. And this just really kicks them into high gear, made worse by the fact that Caesar is just about in the next couple of weeks to go to Partha, as you mentioned, Pahuja there.
So just before we then go on to the conspiracy and the conspirators themselves, is there something about the civilized books in the whole idea of Rexon Path is that somehow relates to this moment, too?
Yeah, there's this allegedly a prophecy that only a king will be able to take here. And there's a conspiracy theory going around that the only way in which Caesar will be able to win is if he declares himself a Wrex. And some people think he's going to, like, declare himself king of some random, pliant kingship or that he's going to declare that he's king of data or something. But some people think that he is going to say that he's king of Rome in order to fulfill the prophecy, which doesn't help.
Oh, dear. No, it doesn't help at all. So time is of the essence for these senators, for these conspirators. First, remember, how many conspirators were there?
A lot. Somewhere between 30 and 60, depending on who you ask. But there's a lot I mean, there's nine hundred senators. So it's still a minority, but there's a good amount of them who are having conversations with one another, having dinner with one another each evening and then mingling around. And they're quite clear that they never have big meetings because Rome is not a closed society. People will spot that, but they are quietly passing information amongst each other and building this idea that they don't have a lot of time.
And if they don't get rid of Caesar now, then they're going to lose the opportunity forever.
And so who are the figureheads at the top of this conspiracy? So there's three main ones. There's Marcus Brutus, who is son of Sevilla, and he's kind of rumored that he might be the illegitimate son of Caesar, but that's kind of a conspiracy theory. He is a Pompeian who had fought with Pompey against Caesar but had been forgiven. There is Ghias Cassius Longinus, who is the same, another senator who fought with Pompey and had been pardoned.
And then there is Desmet Brutus, who is the Brutus, and he is a long time friend and close family member of Caesar, who has been by his side all through his time in Gaul when he was genocide angles and all through his career.
And he is when they get him on their side, that's when the conspiracy really becomes something real because they have someone close to Caesar.
It's so interesting, particularly in ancient history, when you hear of plots in the ancient Roman or ancient Greek Hellenistic worlds, where you hear of these plots, that they come off the grounds, they actually start building momentum when they have that one key figure who is close to Caesar, where he's like a prominent in the regime, which really kick starts. And it sounds like this Brutus figure was one of those people.
Yeah. And in the later sources, you get lots of stories about people trying to convince Brutus to join as well, because the person who overthrew the last King, Takuan, was a Brutus. And so decimeter Brutus has this heritage and get people writing on his statues of like, why are you going to live up to your heritage? When are you going to kill the tyrant that. Kind of thing, and he feels that social pressure to live up to his namesake, but he eventually joined because although he loved Caesar, he sees Caesar is going down a path that can't really be defended anymore.
If you are going to say you have restored the republic or made the republic great again, then you can't go around. Also throwing chippings in prison and wearing a crown like it's just not living up to what you're saying you're doing. Yeah.
Some interesting crosses there is. And then make the republic great again. But also wearing the dyed. So going on to the plot, the conspiracy, you talked about the meeting, small groups, very revolutionary as the day is nearing. Why do they ultimately decide, of all places to attack Caesar, to kill Caesar?
The Senate House, they choose the Senate, House or during a senatorial meeting, one because they hope that senators will join in with them, that once they see what's happening, other senators might join in.
Secondly, because it's a place where Caesar won't be surprised if people approach him. And you can very easily hide Dagres under a toga. Tiger is like two metres of wool. It is really easy to hide something in there.
And thirdly, because they want to make it clear that this is not a murder of a person where they have other plans to throw him off of a bridge and to stab him while he's coming out of the theater and things like that. But they decide to do it in a political place in order to show that this is a political decision. And that's why they decide not to kill Mark Anthony as well. It's to show that this isn't a personal thing against a faction.
This is a political decision within the extremely well established by this point tradition of killing people who threaten the republic. So they decide to do it in this political space to make that statement.
Is that their thoughts when they're preparing this plot, that's their aim. They want to achieve that with Caesar's death. Oh, it will all go back to the Republic of Ireland that we've been dreaming of.
That does seem to be it because they have no plan for what's going to happen afterwards. It's very clear that their plan ended at the point where Caesar died. They have nothing after that. So it's pretty clear that they didn't want to take any kind of control in his place. They kind of assumed that everyone would go, well, that was one armed period in our history and then it would go back to being boy had been before, where everybody could compete to be gone.
So maybe later on somebody else would become another Caesar.
Well, we'll see what happens after the assassination in due course, then. You're listening to Downsize History. We've got an episode of the Ancients now because The Ides of March 15th, March, talking about obviously Julius Caesar getting assassinated. That will do next year. More after this.
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So let's go on to the 15th of March, the Ides of March, the day itself, and I got to ask about the yeomen's. First of all, leading up to this day, they haven't been very favorable to Caesar.
They have in Romans loved him and they loved him in all situations. And it's amazing that they got anything done with the amount of things they think.
The diamonds that humans are listed are completely different in every source, which I quite enjoyed.
There's no overlap whatsoever, which suggests that just completely made up Suetonius as early as one to have kind of proper omens. He loves a name and he has one where some tombs were dug up in Kapua. And a guy called Kappus, who's the ancient founder of the town of Kapua, his tomb is discovered and has a bronze tablet in it, which basically says something like, when this tomb is moved, a son of Illium will die and Italy will suffer, which is a bit much in.
The second one is even more on the nose. And it has a bird called the King Bird flying into the theater of Pompeii, chased by other birds while carrying a laurel leaf in his beak. And then the other birds kill him. On the statue of Pompeii, which is like the one that comes up most often, is that they have lots of dreams. Him and Calpurnia have dreams. She dreams either that she's holding Caesar or they both dream that their house is falling down, or that the facade of their house is falling down in some way.
Calpurnia Caesar's wife.
Yes, and she's very upset by the dreams and kind of tries to beg him not to go.
But she's a woman, so he's just like goes there is in Suetonius and in Plutarch is where we have the classic soothsayer who warns him not to go from Shakespeare. Neither of them are as good at writing good lines as Shakespeare. So instead of Beware the Ides of March, Barina says there is a danger coming which will happen no later than the Ides of March.
Just flows off the tongue that you're really chips. Right.
And Plutarch also has Caesar doing a sacrifice where he cuts open an animal to investigate its entrails and the animal has no heart, which is definitely a bad sign.
Peter Pan, Peter Blasim has a need to explain everything. So he does tell his reader that that's not normal.
Just in case you thought about also hopping around with.
No, and there is various sacrifices where the arguments are unfavorable, which talks are very much not to go anywhere near the Senate this week, I find absolutely astonishing.
As you mentioned, the Romans, they do love a good omen and they do love omens, particularly preceding an infamous moment in their history. I'm thinking Boudicca in Colchester and so many others. But it is just astonishing. We're not even talking about the Ides of March itself yet. But the quantity of Romans that we hear about apparently that occur in the days just before the fifteenth of March.
Yeah. So the bird is apparently the day before and Plutarco also has lights in the heavens during the night. There's lights and there's rumbling and crashing noises heard. And the night before, Caesar's windows and doors are suddenly flying open and wake him up and to read them, it sounds like the entire city is being bombarded with birds dropping out of the sky and loud noises and flashing lights like an absolute cacophony of omens occurring to which everyone goes and sees it just keeps going and ignores them all.
Well, he ignores the moves, so he gets the day itself and talk me through the journey, the walk from Caesar's House to the Senate House.
So he has called the senatorial meeting because he's about to leave so they can't start until he gets there. And he has done several sacrifices. Raymond sacrificed constantly to check that everything is going to be OK and all of them have come up badly.
Plus, his wife had the dream, plus the doors flying open. So he decides that he's not going to go and they send Dismas Beirutis to persuade him. So he talks Sisa into going. And basically what he says depends on how much the source like Caesar. But basically he says, come on, we can't do this without everyone's waiting for you. You can't just keep a thousand people waiting and eventually he persuade him to go.
Some of the sources are really cinematic about what happens next and have someone trying to warn Caesar. So either someone presses a scroll into his hand with a note written on it saying what's going to happen? And he just hands it to his secretary and doesn't read it in Plutarch. I think someone runs to warn him. And by the time he gets there, it's too late. And so he runs after him. He can't get to Caesar because there's too many people crowding around him and he's pushed back by the crowd and just watch Caesar.
Go to his death, but people try to warn him, which he ignores, he sees Barina on the way and being charming, jocular Julius Caesar, he says, Hey, the Ides of March is coming. I'm still going. And Sabrina replies, But they're not finished yet.
He then gets to the Senate. Someone sidetracks Marc Anthony outside, while Caesar then does another sacrifice.
The animals in Rome live a terrible life and someone sacrifices again to make sure that everything auspices are OK, that the gods want them, and it comes up badly. So they do it again and they've worked their way through God knows how many animals by this point, but all of them are coming up with don't do it. And Brutus again has to say, oh, this is ridiculous. Come on, Caesar is not afraid of the gods. And so Caesar goes in.
And despite everything which has happened, which is telling him not to go, he goes and sits in his chair and then the assassination begins.
Yeah. What happens to you through the assassination? Every single person has a slightly different version, but the basic details are all the same, which is that one guy comes and kneels down at Caesar's chair and asks him for clemency for his brother, who has been echoed by Caesar. And Caesar tries to brush him off. So this guy grabs Caesar's toga. Caesar hasn't been touched in public for a long time and he's not happy about it. But this grabbing of Caesar's toga by Kimba is the sign that it's all going to begin.
Either he's holding him down or he is exposing his neck and someone comes up behind a guy called Casca and stabs him in the neck. He's aiming for the neck, but it kind of hits that collarbone in the shoulder, which makes Caesar stand up. At this point, Caesar's reaction depends on who you're reading. Some of them have him just being shocked and being thrown around silently as everybody comes and stops him. One of them has him grabbing the knife, which I quite like.
Yes, quite a bad ass move. One has Caesar stab the hand that is holding the knife, stab Kafka's hand with his pen. My personal favorite is one has him grab Casca from behind him and then throw him across the room. But regardless of what his reaction is, he is vulnerable. He is exposed, he's got a knife in him and everybody just comes at him and twenty odd people start coming at him.
They all describe it as Caesar being buffeted about from one knife to the next and people trying so hard to hit Caesar that the hitting one another and a lot of them come away with injuries to themselves because they're being hit by knives, which are coming into the fray like it's a real mob that attacks him.
Then instantaneous, which is the main one that Shakespeare draws off of, for example, is when he does that to my child, he sees Brutus. He realizes that this isn't just Pompeian faction, that this is something that even people who are allies have joined in to. What he says is Kaycee Technion, which is a Greek quotation. But after Suetonius, you get a few who have him. He sees Brutus, and that's when he gives up. Basically, that's when he realizes he can't fight it and he covers his face and he goes down.
It is so interesting. I mean, it's gruesome, but it is so interesting to hear, as you say, it wasn't just the companions who were part of this conspiracy. It's when it dawns on Caesar that it was actually his allies, too, who had decided that this was too far. He has to go. Yeah.
And the fact that is Brutus as well, he Bridges's in his well, he's that close to him that he is one of his heirs. And that moment when he sees that it's his closest allies and that that whole day, Brutus, have been like, come on, come on, come on.
He hadn't just been doing normal politics, but he had been pushing him towards this, that he just gives up.
So probably the only time in his life that Caesar ever gave up anything. He was a fighter from the beginning. Absolutely brutal.
Has been orchestrating the whole thing. You said getting him to the Senate House. It was his main mission and he accomplished it. Exactly. That assassination is a remarkable story.
I know you've done a lot of work on murders in the Roman forum because we've senators in particular, we have seen other gruesome murders of senators on other senators before this.
Yes, it had become for the fifty years before that sixty seventy years become a bit of a hobby for senators to kill one another and to kill magistrates in the forum or while there is an election going on. One loyalist is Tiberius Granicus, who is a trippier and he tries to lead some land reforms.
Land reforms are a constant thorn in the side, which ends with Tiberius being beaten to death by senators.
He rip apart their own. Ventures in order to beat him to death in the middle of an election, and then Guya Schrecker says Tiberius, his brother, is also killed and beheaded after he try some more clear attack on the republic. But he is beheaded and killed. This guy called Saturnine, who is killed after he had somebody else. He has one of his opponents beaten to death during an election and he is then killed and stabbed. Catalin, who was killed by Cicero Cicero, will claim until his dying day that that was legitimate, but there was no trial and they had him killed.
Behind the scenes with nobody looking, there's Claudius Pulcher. He was one of my favorite, Raman's, who is killed in a street brawl between two paramilitary factions on the street. And that's just the big ones. There's a lot of violence which is happening. And every time this happens, the person who does the killing says that they're defending the republic and they say this person wanted too much power. This person wanted to be a king. This person, they were trying to raise up the people to be a tyrant.
And so we were defending the republic. So we killed them. And that is a legitimate defense for all of human history, really. But it had become a legitimate defense for private action.
You mentioned one name there which would just like to talk about quickly now, which is Cicero, because we haven't talked about Cicero really at all in the Ides of March or beforehand. Do we have any idea what Cicero's viewpoint on this was after the fact?
Cicero suddenly takes a really strong opinion beforehand. He is less keen on taking a stance. He's a bit of a coward, but after the fact, he takes a very strong stance and he is very, very pro the assassination. So pro the conspirators, he believes that they were killing a tyrant and that it was a legitimate action in order to cut off the head of a threat. He doesn't believe that they are murderers and he doesn't like Augustus at all.
And so after the fact, he never writes about where he was or what he was doing or he never published his writings on the day. He never says anything about that, which is a big gap because he writes about everything. So it's a conspicuous gap. But afterwards, he's very much on the side of Brutus and Cassius and other Brutus and very much in the camp that they were taking a political action that was legitimate right then.
So Caesar has bled out. His body is on the ground on the Senate floor. You've got these senators around him with the blades out, blood dripping from the blades. Must be a horrible scene.
But what is the immediate aftermath of Caesar's death? What do the conspirators do next?
Everybody instantly flees back to their houses and sees his body is left there until three enslaved men come and get it and take it home. Everybody just runs and then everyone sits and waits to see what's going to happen next. They are waiting to see whether Mark Antony will raise any kind of army against them or whether he will try to bring the troops in. They're waiting, whereas Mark Antony is just trying to decide what he's going to do. It's a lot of nipping backwards and forwards between each of the houses.
But there's a stalemate until the next day when they have a meeting about it and they discuss what they're going to do in terms of Caesar's funeral, which is are they going to honor him as a fallen consul and Tribune and Pontifex Maximus and give him the funeral that he would have got if he had dropped out of a heart attack as a politician?
Or are they going to throw his body in the Tiber and say he was a tyrant? And there's a fairly 50/50 split between the two. And eventually they kind of agree that they will give him the funeral that he deserves because enough people want it, but they're not going to make too much of a big deal out of it. And nobody wants to be another civil war. There's been so many they all lost so many of their friends and family that nobody wants it.
And it looks like they're going to come to an accord where maybe the conspirators will be right and they will get what they want. And they have the big state funeral. Antony causes a bit of a scene by showing the toga. He then forces Cassius and Brutus and a couple of the other conspirators to leave.
But he's not going to raise an army against them. He's not going to try to enact revenge. And the kind of a court that they come to is that Cassius and Brutus and the higher level conspirators, their career is over that self exiled from Rome. No one's going to try them, but also no one's going to let them be considered again.
But maybe things will get back to normal.
But what they don't account for is Octavian. It has been posthumously adopted by Caesar in his will, he says, great nephew, he's 19 years old. He's a frail, fragile little boy who has no experience really with anything. And he comes back to Rome. And initially, everybody is a bit like, right. There's a teenager here, like a 19 year old turns up. A bunch of 50 year olds are not threatened by that situation, which was very wrong of them because he is incredibly dangerous.
And he says, I am Gaius Julius Caesar now. He's my father. I take his name and I want revenge for my father's death. He raises a personal army. He gets into quite a lot of arguments with Marc Anthony about this, because my country is like, what the hell are you doing? He forces the Senate at the point of a sword to make him a consul at 20, which is very illegal. He's outside the city with his army.
He sends some guys in to say, we need you to make Octavian. He's now Julius Caesar consul. And they say, no, you're not allowed to work on of a forty four start with basically no idea who this lot is. No. At which point one of his henchmen pulls out a sword and says, either you do all this to us and oh God. OK, sorry. Yeah. And then that overturns everything. That accord is gone.
Anthony has to decide whether he's going to ally with Octavian or whether he's going to ally with the conspirators who killed his best friend. But Octavian just comes in, looks at the table, which is very carefully being put back together in the hope that they can maybe have a normal life again and just kicks it over.
I find that really, really interesting how we have this fragile peace, as it were, in the aftermath of Caesar's death to Marc Anthony and the conspirators. And then this teenager comes in who people think, oh, it is a fragile little teenager. In fact, he's a bulldozer. He smashes right through and he absolutely destroys it.
He does. And he just does a lot of stuff that much like his adoptive father, he does stuff that nobody would expect you to do because it just isn't done. He raises a personal army. What's that about? And he basically raises them from seasonal troops that he will pay them a season's money and they're going to get revenge on their old commander's death. And everyone's like, hang on a minute. What? And then he marches into the Senate and demands that they give him consular power.
And that's never happened before. And they don't know how to deal with it. And he just absolutely smashes the peace that they have developed because the peace is developed based on acceptable, normal behaviour. Nobody else wants to do anything that's going to make the people or the rest of the Senate hate them or get their mum to tell them off, whereas he doesn't care. You don't care what people think of him in that time, except that he's going to get revenge and he takes after his adopted father very much in that way.
I mean, if this assassination, it seems to spark this arrival of Octavia onto the scene in its aftermath.
I mean, Emma, if it's not the end of the republic, we've Caesar's death. But what is the significance of it?
The main significance is that it teaches Octavia and how not to be assassinated. And it teaches Octavia and what he needs to do, because Octavia is incredibly smart and very, very good at public relations with the people and with the army and then with eventually after he stopped killing them with the Senate, he's incredibly good at knowing what he needs to do to keep people on his side or to get rid of people who are not on his side. And what it teaches him is that you cannot go outside of the bounds of what senators will accept.
Basically, you need to let them have their pride. You need to let them have their respectability. You need to let them have some kind of semblance of self respect. And you can't take anything which has not been precedented. So you can't outright say I'm dictator for life. You have to give yourself the power to be dictator for life without telling anybody that that's what you've done.
And what he learns is that you have to be a lot more subtle than Caesar ever was. And this is really Octavia and genius. Partly he's really good at using people, but partly he's really good looking back on past mistakes and how overt people have been when they are trying to restore the republic and how not to do that. And that's what kills the republic, because if he had been more overt, if he had made the same mistakes as Caesar when he was being less of a teenage warlord, he has his teenage warlord phase.
But then he comes back and is the first citizen. If he had been more overt and had given himself dictator for life or had said, I'm concerned forever, well, there's only one console now and it's me or something where he had. Taken a position and tried to subvert it, then he probably would have ended up with a knife in his kidneys, but because he very cleverly gives himself titles which don't really mean anything but convey that he's better than everyone else and powers which are separate from having a formal job title and a lot of little things which add up to him being dictator for life and king, but which never even come close to anybody.
In order to describe it. You would have to sit there for 20 minutes and say, and you can do this and you can do this and you can do this. You can't just say he's a king, which is what you could do with Caesar.
I mean, yes, he learns the lessons, shall we say. This teenage warlord. He's a smart boy indeed. Just before we finish, I've got to mention it because I'm happy to admit that part of my research for this podcast was looking at the assassination of Julius Caesar on HBO's Rome. And it's so cool seeing how in the TV industry they mixed it all together, like the grabbing of the dagger with this hand from Plutarch, the taking away of the toga, the asking about his brother coming back from exile.
It is so interesting how you can sometimes show the stories together to put it onto the big screen.
Yeah, and they do a really, really good job. I have to say that Kieran Hines is my Caesar. And when I imagine Caesar, I used to imagine well, self because he's basically described as well. S tall and slightly balding and a bit.
But now I just imagine Catherine Hyams like that is perfect casting and the way that they do it with him being buffeted about by the various things like a kind of scared beast. And then as he falls at the feet of Pompey's statue and he pulls his tiger over his head, which is a very early one. That's from Nicklaus'. It's really, really well done.
It's less chaotic, but that's because you need to see it. But it's a really good and he'll be my Julius Caesar forever. No one else will ever live up to that. They go.
Well, Kiran Hynde's, if you're listening, is of course, you must be got to have you on the Ancients podcast in the future, too, to hear about your Caesar experience. Emma, that was an amazing chat. Last thing, your book on Caesar's murder and so much more is called and lots of others it's called A Fatal Thing Happened on the way to the Forum.
And there's a good chapter and lots and lots of senators being murdered in the Late Republic, including Caesar, and then lots of other kinds of horrible murder as well.
Sounds like a good Sunday we can read. Emma, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. My pleasure.
Thank you for having me on our show. The school district is part of the history of our country. All of our affiliate. Thank you very much for listening to this episode of our sibling podcast, The Ancients, with the brilliant Tristan Hughes, who we call the historian in the office. If you want to listen to more Ancient's and I'm telling you, there's plenty of them guys, a machine just simply goes wherever you get your podcasts and subscribe to the ancients.