The plotters then resolved to strike before he set out. Caius Cassius, a tall, lean man, who had lately been made praetor, was the chief conspirator, and with him was Marcus Junius Brutus, a descendant of him who overthrew the Tarquins, and husband to Porcia, Cato’s daughter, also another Brutus named Decimus, hitherto a friend of Caesar, and newly appointed to the government of Cisalpine Gaul. These and twelve more agreed to murder Caesar on the 15th of March, called in the Roman calendar the Ides of March, when he went to the senate-house.
Rumors got abroad and warnings came to him about that special day. His wife dreamt so terrible a dream that he had almost yielded to her entreaties to stay at home, when Decimus Brutus came in and laughed him out of it. As he was carried to the senate-house in a litter, a man gave him a writing and begged him to read it instantly; but he kept it rolled in his hand without looking. As he went up the steps he said to the augur Spurius, “The Ides of March are come.” “Yes, Caesar,” was the answer; “but they are not passed.” A few steps further on, one of the conspirators met him with a petition, and the others joined in it, clinging to his robe and his neck, till another caught his toga and pulled it over his arms, and then the first blow was struck with a dagger. Caesar struggled at first as all fifteen tried to strike at him, but, when he saw the hand uplifted of his treacherous friend Decimus, he exclaimed, “Et tu Brute”—“Thou, too, Brutus”—drew his toga over his head, and fell dead at the foot of the statue of Pompeius.
THE SECOND TRIUMVIRATE.
The murderers of Caesar had expected the Romans to hail them as deliverers from a tyrant, but his great friend Marcus Antonius, who was, together with him, consul for that year, made a speech over his body as it lay on a couch of gold and ivory in the Forum ready for the funeral. Antonius read aloud Caesar’s will, and showed what benefits he had intended for his fellow-citizens, and how he loved them, so that love for him and wrath against his enemies filled every hearer. The army, of course, were furious against the murderers; the Senate was terrified, and granted everything Antonius chose to ask, provided he would protect them, whereupon he begged for a guard for himself that he might be saved from Caesar’s fate, and this they gave him; while the fifteen murderers fled secretly, mostly to Cisalpine Gaul, of which Decimus Brutus was governor.
Caesar had no child but the Julia who had been wife to Pompeius, and his heir was his young cousin Caius Octavius, who changed his name to Caius Julius Caesar Octavianus, and, coming to Rome, demanded his inheritance, which Antonius had seized, declaring that it was public money; but Octavianus, though only eighteen, showed so much prudence and fairness that many of the Senate were drawn towards him rather than Antonius, who had always been known as a bad, untrustworthy man; but the first thing to be done was to put down the murderers—Decimus Brutus was in Gaul, Marcus Brutus and Cassius in Macedonia, and Sextus Pompeius had also raised an army in Spain.