Cassius Dio.

Dio's Rome, Volume 2 An Historical Narrative Originally Composed in Greek During the Reigns of Septimius Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus; and Now Presented in E online

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Online LibraryCassius DioDio's Rome, Volume 2 An Historical Narrative Originally Composed in Greek During the Reigns of Septimius Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus; and Now Presented in E → online text (page 26 of 30)
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by priesthoods, adding one to the "Quindecimviri", and three others to
the "Septemviri," as they were called.



The following is contained in the Forty-fourth of Dio's Rome.

About the decrees passed in honor of Caesar (chapters 1-11).

About the conspiracy formed against him (chapters 12-18).

How Caesar was murdered (chapters 19-22).

How a decree was passed that the people should not bear malice against
one another (chapters 23-34).

About the burial of Caesar and the oration delivered over him (chapters

Duration of time, to the end of the 5th dictatorship of Julius Caesar,
held in company with Aemilius Lepidus as Master of the Horse, and to the
end of his 5th consulship, shared with Marcus Antonius. (B.C. 44 = a.u.


[B.C. 44 (_a.u._ 710)]

[-1-] This Caesar did as a preliminary step to making a campaign against
the Parthians, but a baleful frenzy which fell upon certain men through
jealousy of his onward progress and hatred of his being esteemed above
others caused the death of the leader by unlawful means, while it added
a new name to the annals of infamy; it scattered decrees to the winds
and brought upon the Romans seditions again and civil wars after a state
of harmony. They declared that they had proved themselves both
destroyers of Caesar and liberators of the people, but in fact their plot
against him was one of fiendish malice, and they threw the city into
disorder when at last it possessed a stable government. [-2-] Democracy
has a fair appearing name which conveys the impression of bringing equal
rights to all from equal laws, but its results are seen not to agree at
all with its title. Monarchy, on the contrary, strikes the ear
unpleasantly, but is a very excellent government to live under. It is
easier to find one single excellent man than many, and if even this
seems to some a difficult feat, it is quite inevitable that the other
proposition be acknowledged to be impossible; for the acquirement of
virtue is not a characteristic of the majority of men. And again, even
though one reprobate should obtain supreme power, yet he is preferable
to a multitude of such persons, as the history of the Greeks and
barbarians and of the Romans themselves proves. For successes have
always been greater and more in number in the case both of cities and of
individuals under kings than under popular rule, and disasters do not
happen so easily in monarchies as in ochlocracies. In cases where a
democracy has flourished anywhere, it has nevertheless reached its prime
during a short period when the people had neither size nor strength that
abuses should spring up among them from good fortune or jealousies from
ambition. For a city so large as this, ruling the finest and the
greatest part of the known world, containing men of many and diverse
natures, holding many huge fortunes, occupied with every imaginable
pursuit, enjoying every imaginable fortune, both individually and
collectively, - for such a city to practice moderation under a democracy
is impossible, and still more is it impossible for the people, unless
moderation prevails, to be harmonious. If Marcus Brutus and Gaius
Cassius had stopped to think this over they would never have killed the
city's head and protector nor have made themselves the cause of
countless ills both to their own persons and to all the rest of mankind
then existing.

[-3-] It happened as follows, and his death was due to the cause I shall
presently describe. He had not aroused dislike without any definite
justification, except in so far as it was the senators themselves who
had by the novelty and excess of their honors sent his mind soaring; and
then, after filling him with conceit, they found fault with his
prerogatives and spread injurious reports to the effect that he was glad
to accept them and behaved more haughtily as a result of them. It is
true that sometimes Caesar erred by accepting some of the honors voted
him and believing that he really deserved them, yet most blameworthy are
those who, after beginning to reward him as he deserved, led him on and
made him liable to censure by the measures that they voted. He neither
dared to thrust them all aside, for fear of being thought contemptuous,
nor could he be safe when he accepted them. Excess in honors and praises
renders conceited even the most modest, especially if such rewards
appear to have been given with sincerity. [-4-] The privileges that were
granted him (in addition to all those mentioned) were of the following
number and kinds. They will be stated all together, even if they were
not all moved or ratified at one time. First, then, they voted that he
should always appear even in the city itself wearing the triumphal garb
and should sit in his chair of state everywhere except at festivals. At
that time he got the right to be seen on the tribune's benches and in
company with those who were successively tribunes. And they gave him the
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,
and to have lictors that always carried laurel, and after the Feriae
Latinae to ride from Albanum to the city mounted on a charger. In
addition to these remarkable privileges they named him father of his
country, stamped his image on the coinage, voted to celebrate his
birthday by public sacrifice, ordered that there be some statue of him
in the cities and all the temples of Rome, and they set on the rostra
two, one representing him as the savior of the citizens and the other as
the rescuer of the city from siege, along with the crowns customary for
such achievements. They also passed a resolution to build a temple of
Concordia Nova, on the ground that through his efforts they enjoyed
peace, and to celebrate an annual festival in her honor. [-5-] When he
had accepted these, they assigned to him the charge of filling the
Pontine marshes, cutting a canal through the Peloponnesian isthmus, and
constructing a new senate-house, since that of Hostilius although
repaired had been demolished. The reason given for that action was that
a temple of Good Fortune might be built there, which Lepidus, indeed,
while master of the horse had completed: but the real intention was that
the name of Sulla should not be preserved in it and that another
senate-house, newly constructed, might be named the Julian, just as they
had called the month in which he was born July, and one of the tribes
(selected by lot) the Julian. And Caesar himself, they voted, should be
sole censor for life and enjoy the immunities bestowed upon the
tribunes, so that if any one should outrage him by deed or word, that
man should be an outlaw and involved in the curse, and further that his
son, should he beget or adopt one, was to be appointed high priest.
[-6-] As he seemed to like this, a gilded chair was granted him, and a
garb that once the kings had used and a body-guard of knights and
senators: furthermore they decided that prayers should be made for him
publicly every year, that they would swear by his Fortune and that all
the deeds he was yet to do should receive confirmation. Next they
bestowed upon him a quinquennial festival, as to a hero, and managers of
sacred rites for the festival of naked boys in Pan's honor,[110]
constituting a third priestly college which they called the Julian, and
on the occasion of all combats in armor one special day of his own each
time both in Rome and the rest of Italy. When he showed himself pleased
at this, too, then they voted that his gilded chair and crown set with
precious gems and overlaid with gold should be carried into the theatre
on an equal footing with those of the gods, and that on the occasion of
the horse-races his chariot should be brought in. And finally they
addressed him outright as Julian Jupiter and ordered a temple to be
consecrated to him and to his Clemency, electing Antony as their priest
like some Dialis.

[-7-] At the same time with these measures they passed another which
well indicated their disposition. It gave him the right to place his
tomb within the pomerium; and the decrees regarding this matter they
inscribed with gold letters on silver tablets and deposited beneath the
feet of the Capitoline Jupiter, thus pointing out to him very clearly
that he was a man. When they began to honor him it was with the idea
that he would be reasonably modest; but as they went on and saw that he
was delighted at what they voted, - he accepted all but a very few of
their gifts, - various men kept at different times proposing various
greater marks of esteem, all in excess, some as an act of extreme
flattery toward him, and others as one of sarcastic ridicule. Actually
some dared to suggest permitting him to have intercourse with, as many
women[111] as he liked, because even at this time, though fifty years
old, he still had numerous mistresses. Others, and the majority,
followed the course mentioned because they wished to make him envied and
disliked as quickly as possible, that he might the sooner perish. Of
course precisely that happened, though Caesar took courage on account of
these very measures to believe that he would never be plotted against by
the men who had voted him such honors, nor by any one else, because they
would prevent it; and in consequence from this time he dispensed with a
bodyguard. Nominally he accepted the privilege of being watched over by
the senators and knights and thus did away with his previous guardians.
[-8-] Once on a single day they had passed in his honor an unusually
large number of decrees of especially important character, that had been
voted unanimously by all the rest except Cassius and a few others, who
became notorious for this action: yet they suffered no harm, a fact
which conspicuously displayed their ruler's clemency. So, then, they
approached him as he was sitting in the fore-part of the temple of Venus
with the intention of announcing to him in a body their decisions; - such
business they transacted in his absence, in order to have the appearance
of doing it not under compulsion but voluntarily. And either by some
Heaven-sent fatuity or through excess of joy he received them sitting,
an act which aroused so great indignation among them all, not only
senators but all the rest, that it afforded his slayers one of their
chief excuses for their plot against him. Some who subsequently tried to
defend him said that owing to diarrhoea he could not control the movement
of his bowels and had remained where he was in order to avoid a flux.

They were not able, however, to persuade the majority, since not long
after this he arose and walked home without assistance; hence most men
suspected him of being inflated with pride and hated him for his
supercilious behavior, when it was they themselves who had made him
disdainful by the extreme nature of their honors. After this occurrence
suspicion was increased by the fact that somewhat later he submitted to
being made dictator for life.

[-9-] When he had reached this point, the conduct of the men plotting
against him became no longer doubtful, and in order to embitter even his
best friends against him they did their best to traduce the man and
finally called him "king," - a name which was often heard in their
consultations. When he refused the title and rebuked in a way those that
so saluted him, yet did nothing by which he could be thought to be
really displeased at it, they secretly adorned his statue, which stood
on the rostra, with a diadem. And when Gaius Epidius Marullus and Lucius
Caesetius Flavus, tribunes, took it down, he became thoroughly angry,
although they uttered no insulting word and furthermore spoke well of
him before the people as not desiring anything of the sort.[-10-] At
this time, though vexed, he remained quiet; subsequently, however, when
he was riding in from Albanum, some men again called him king, and he
said that his name was not king but Caesar: then when those tribunes
brought suit against the first man that termed him king, he no longer
restrained his wrath, but showed evident irritation, as if these
officials were actually aiming at the stability of his government. For
the moment he took no revenge upon them: later, when they issued public
notice to the effect that they found themselves not at liberty to speak
freely and without molestation for the public good, he appeared
exceedingly angry and brought them into the senate-house, where he
accused them and put their conduct to the vote. He did not put them to
death, though some declared them worthy of that penalty, but first
having removed them from the tribuneship through the motion of Helvius
Cinna, their colleague, he erased their names from the senate. Some were
pleased at this, or pretended to be, on the ground that they would have
no need to incur danger by free speech, and keeping out of politics they
viewed events as from a watch tower. Caesar, however, received an ill
name from this fact, too, that whereas he should have hated those that
applied to him the name of king, he let them go and found fault instead
with the tribunes.

[-11-] Something else that happened not long after these events proved
still more clearly that while pretendedly he shunned the title, in
reality he desired to assume it. When he had entered the Forum at the
festival of the Lupercalia, at which naked boys competed, and was
sitting on the rostra in his golden chair adorned with the royal apparel
and conspicuous by his crown wrought of gold, Antony with his fellow
priests saluted him as king and surrounding his brows with a diadem
said: "The people gives 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 pre-arranged 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. After this certain men at the elections
proposed those tribunes previously mentioned for the office of consul,
and approaching Marcus Brutus and such other persons as were of high
spirit attempted privately to persuade them and incited them to action
publicly. [-12-] They scattered broadcast many letters (taking the
fullest advantage of his having the same name as the great Brutus who
overthrew the Tarquins), declaring that he was not truly that man's
descendant: for _he_ had put to death both his sons, the only ones he
had, when they were mere lads, and was left no offspring surviving. This
attitude was, however, a mere ruse on the part of the majority, adopted
in order that being in family akin to that famous man he might be
induced to undertake similar deeds. They kept continually invoking him,
crying out "Brutus, Brutus!", and adding further: "We need a Brutus."
Finally on the statue of the early Brutus they wrote "Would that thou
wert living," and upon their contemporary's platform (he was praetor at
the time) "Brutus, thou sleepest," and "Thou art not Brutus."

[-13-] These incidents persuaded him, especially as he had displayed
hostility to Caesar from the start, to attack the leader, who had
nevertheless shown himself later his benefactor. He was also influenced
by the fact that he was, as I stated, both nephew and son-in-law of Cato
of Utica so-called. And his wife Portia was the only woman, as they say,
who had knowledge of the plot. She encountered him in the midst of his
meditation upon these very matters and enquired in what he was so
absorbed. When he made no answer, she suspected that she was distrusted
on account of physical weakness, for fear she should reveal something
even unwillingly under torture; hence she performed a noteworthy deed.
She secretly inflicted a deep wound in her thigh to test herself and see
if she could endure painful treatment. And when she found herself not
overdistressed, she despised the wound, and came to him and said: "You,
my husband, though you trusted that my spirit would not utter a secret,
nevertheless were distrustful of my body, and you acted in accordance
with human reason. But I have found that I can make even it keep
silence." Having said this she disclosed her thigh and after making
known the reason for what she had done, said: "Tell me boldly now all
that you are concealing, for to make me speak fire, lashes, and goads
shall alike be powerless. I was not born that kind of woman. Therefore
if you shall still distrust me, it is better for me to die than live. If
such be the case, let no one think me longer the daughter of Cato or
your wife." Hearing this Brutus marveled; and he no longer hid anything
from her but felt strengthened himself and related to her the whole
story. [-14-] After this he obtained as an associate also Gaius Cassius,
who had himself been preserved by Caesar and moreover honored with a
praetorship; he was the husband of Brutus's sister. Next they proceeded
to gather those who were of the same mind as themselves, and these
proved to be not few in number. There is no need of my giving a list of
most of the names, for I might thus become wearisome, but I cannot omit
Trebonius and Decimus Brutus, whom they also named Junius and Albinus.
For these joined in the plot against Caesar though they also had been
greatly benefited by him, - Decimus having been appointed consul for the
second year and assigned to Hither Gaul.

[-15-] They came very near being detected by reason of the number of
those concerned and by their delay. Caesar, however, would not receive
any information about such an undertaking and punished very severely
those who brought any news of the kind. Still, they stood in awe of him
and put the matter off, fearing that although he had no guard they might
be killed by the persons surrounding him at various times; and thus they
ran the risk of being discovered and perishing. Indeed, they would have
suffered this fate, had they not been forced even against their will to
hasten the plot. A report went abroad, true or false after the manner of
reports, that the so-called fifteen priests were declaring that the
Sibyl had said the Parthians should never be captured in any other way
than by a king, and the people were consequently preparing to propose
that this title be granted to Caesar. The conspirators believed this to
be true, and because a vote would be demanded of the officials, among
whom were Brutus and Cassius, owing to the seriousness of the measure,
they felt that they neither dared to oppose it nor could submit to keep
silent, and so hurried on the consummation of the plot before any
business connected with the measure could come up.

[-16-] It had been decided by them to make the attempt in the senate,
for they thought that there Caesar would least expect to be harmed in any
way and would so fall an easier victim, while they would possess
opportunity coupled with security by having their swords instead of
documents brought in boxes, and that the rest being unarmed would be
unable to make any resistance. In case any one should be so rash, they
expected at least that the gladiators, many of whom they had previously
stationed in Pompey's Theatre under the pretext that they were to
practice with arms, would assist them. These were to lie in wait there
in a certain room of the peristyle. The conspirators, when the appointed
day had come, gathered in the senate-hall at dawn and called for Caesar.
[-17-] As for him, he was warned of the plot in advance by the
soothsayers, and was warned also by dreams. The night before he was
slain his wife had a vision of their house fallen in ruins, her husband
wounded by some men and taking refuge in her bosom, and of Caesar being
raised aloft upon the clouds and grasping the hand of Jupiter. Moreover
omens not few nor indistinct crossed his path. The arms of Mars, at that
time deposited at his house by virtue of his position as high priest and
by ancestral custom, made a great noise at night, and the doors of the
chamber where he slept opened of their own accord. The sacrifices which
he offered because of these occurrences indicated nothing favorable and
the birds with which he practiced divination forbade him to leave the
house. After his assassination, finally, some recalled a weighty
incident in connection with his gilded chair, - that the servant, as
Caesar was slow in coming, carried it out of the senate, thinking that he
would have no further need of it.

[-18-] Caesar for this reason was so long in coming that the conspirators
feared there might be a postponement (a rumor circulated, indeed, that
he would remain at home that day), and their plot thus fall through and
they themselves be detected. Therefore they sent Decimus Brutus, as one
appearing to be a devoted friend, to secure his attendance. This man
made light of Caesar's scruples and by adding that the senate was
extremely anxious to behold him, persuaded him to go forward. At this an
image of his which he kept set up in the vestibule fell of its own
accord and was shattered to pieces. He ought then to have changed his
purpose, but instead he paid no attention to this and would not listen
to some one who was giving him information of the plot. He received from
him a little roll in which all the preparations made for the attack had
been accurately inscribed, but did not read it, thinking that it was
some other not very pressing matter. In brief, he was so confident that
to the soothsayer who had warned him to beware of that day he said
jokingly: "Where are your prophecies? Don't you see that the day over
which you were all of a tremble is here and I am alive?" And the other,
they say, answered only this: "Yes, it is here, but not yet gone."

[-19-] Now when he finally reached the senate Trebonius delayed Antony
somewhere at a distance outside. They had planned to kill both him and
Lepidus. But fearing that they might be ill spoken of as a result of the
number of those destroyed, and that it might be said that they had slain
Caesar to gain power and not to free the city, as they pretended, they
did not wish Antony even to be present at his slaughter. As for Lepidus,
he had set out on a campaign and was in the suburbs. Antony was held by
Trebonius in conversation. Meanwhile the rest in a body surrounded Caesar
(he was as easy of access and ready to be addressed as any one could
have wished), and some talked among themselves, while others presented
petitions to him, so that suspicion might be as far from his mind as
possible. When the right moment came, one of them approached him as if
to express his thanks for some favor or other and pulled his cloak from
his shoulder; for this, according to the agreement, served to the
conspirators as a signal raised. Thereupon they attacked him from many
sides at once and wounded him to death, so that by reason of their
numbers Caesar was unable to say or do anything, but veiling his face was
slain with many wounds. This is the truest account. In times past some
have made a declaration like this, that to Brutus who struck him
severely he said: "Thou, too, my child?"

[-20-] A great outcry naturally arose from all the rest who were inside
and who were standing nearby outside at the suddenness of the event and
because they were not acquainted with the slayers, their numbers, or
their intention; and all were thrown into confusion, believing
themselves in danger; so they themselves started in flight by whatever
way each man could, and they alarmed those who met them by saying
nothing definite, but merely shouting out these words: "Run, bolt doors!
Run, bolt doors!" The rest, taking it up from one another as each one
echoed the cries, filled the city with lamentations, and they burst into
shops and houses to hide themselves. Yet the assassins hurried just as
they were to the Forum, indicating both by their gestures and their
shouts not to be afraid. At the same time that they said this they
called continuously for Cicero: but the crowd did not believe that they
were sincere, and was not easily calmed. Late in the day at last they
gradually began to take courage and became quiet, as no one was killed
or arrested. [-21-] When they met in the assembly the assassins had much
to say against Caesar and much in favor of the democracy, and they bade
the people take courage and not expect any harm. They had killed him,
they declared, not to secure power or any other advantage, but in order

Online LibraryCassius DioDio's Rome, Volume 2 An Historical Narrative Originally Composed in Greek During the Reigns of Septimius Severus, Geta and Caracalla, Macrinus, Elagabalus and Alexander Severus; and Now Presented in E → online text (page 26 of 30)