Front Matter The Lady Roma The She-Wolf The Twin Boys Numitor's Grandson The Sacred Birds The Founding of Rome The Sabine Maidens The Tarpeian Rock The Mysterious Gate The King Disappears The Peace-Loving King Horatius Slays His Sister Pride of Tullus Hostilius King Who Fought and Prayed The Faithless Friend A Slave Becomes a King Cruel Deed of Tullia Fate of the Town of Gabii Books of the Sibyl Industry of Lucretia Death of Lucretia Sons of Brutus Horatius Cocles Mucius Burns Right Hand The Divine Twins The Tribunes Coriolanus and His Mother The Roman Army in a Trap The Hated Decemvirs The Death of Verginia The Friend of the People Camillus Captures Veii The Statue of the Goddess Schoolmaster Traitor Battle of Allia The Sacred Geese The City Is Rebuilt Volscians on Fire Battle on the Anio The Curtian Lake Dream of the Two Consuls The Caudine Forks Caudine Forks Avenged Fabius among the Hills Battle of Sentinum Son of Fabius Loses Battle Pyrrhus King of the Epirots Elephants at Heraclea Pyrrthus and Fabricius Pyrrhus is Defeated Romans Build a Fleet Battle of Ecnomus Roman Legions in Africa Regulus Taken Prisoner Romans Conquer the Gauls The Boy Hannibal Hannibal Invades Italy Hannibal Crosses the Alps Battle of Trebia Battle of Lake Trasimenus Hannibal Outwits Fabius Fabius Wins Two Victories Battle of Cannae Despair of Rome Defeat of Hasdrubal Claudius Enjoy a Triumph Capture of New Carthage Scipio Sails to Africa Romans Set Fire to Camp Hannibal Leaves Italy The Battle of Zama Scipio Receives a Triumph Flamininus in Garlands Death of Hannibal Hatred of Cato for Carthage The Stern Decree Carthaginians Defend City Destruction of Carthage Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi Tiberius and Octavius Death of Tiberius Gracchus Death of Gaius Gracchus The Gold of Jugurtha Marius Wins Notice of Scipio Marius Becomes Commander Capture of Treasure Towns Capture of Jugurtha Jugurtha Brought to Rome Marius Conquers Teutones Marius Mocks the Ambassadors Metellus Driven from Rome Sulla Enters Rome The Flight of Marius Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius Marius Returns to Rome The Orator Aristion Sulla Besieges Athens Sulla Fights the Samnites The Proscriptions of Sulla The Gladiators' Revolt The Pirates Pompey Defeats Mithridates Cicero Discovers Conspiracy Death of the Conspirators Caesar Captured by Pirates Caesar Gives up Triumph Caesar Praises Tenth Legion Caesar Wins a Great Victory Caesar Invades Britain Caesar Crosses Rubicon Caesar and the Pilot The Flight of Pompey Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr Caesar is Loaded with Honours Nobles Plot against Caesar The Assassination of Caesar Brutus Speaks to Citizens Antony Speaks to Citizens The Second Triumvirate Battle of Philippi Death of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra Battle of Actium Antony and Cleopatra Die Emperor Augustus

Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

The Nobles Plot against Caesar

Since the days of Tarquin the Proud, the people of Rome had hated the very name of king. In some strange and subtle way, their love for Cæsar and their pride in his achievements began, from this time, to be touched with the suspicion that he wished to bear the title Rex, rex being the Latin word for king.

Slowly but surely the thought grew. Suppose Cæsar should claim the supreme title and then forget his gracious ways, and become like Tarquin of old, proud and cruel!

Cæsar's enemies were not slow to take advantage of the mood of the people, and they did all that they could to encourage their suspicion and dread.

His friends, too, foolishly played into the hands of his enemies, some of them one day saluting him as Rex.

Cæsar, whether he was pleased or not, was quick to see that the people standing near were angry. So he replied, as though to reprove his friends, that his name, as they knew, was not Rex but Cæsar.

Rex, as well as meaning king, was also the surname of a well-known Roman family.

It was all very well for Cæsar to pretend that his friends had mistaken who he was, but rumours were soon rife in the city—that Cæsar really wished the title, and had not been well pleased at the evident dislike of the people to hear him saluted as Rex.

And so gradually his words and movements came to be watched by his enemies and by the people too, always with this thought of kingship in their minds.

When, on his return from Spain, the consuls and senators went to tell Cæsar of the new honours that had been heaped upon him, he did not, as was his custom, rise to receive them, but remained sitting.

Not only the Senate, but the people, were indignant at such haughty behaviour, and Cæsar himself was quick to see that he had made a mistake.

He tried to excuse himself, saying that his health was not good, but few believed that that accounted for his action.

It is said that he really was going to rise as usual, had not one of his flatterers pulled him to his seat, saying, 'Will you not remember you are Cæsar, and claim the honour which is your due?'

Soon after this, in February 45 B.C., an ancient festival called the Lupercalia was celebrated on the Palatine.

Cæsar sat, clad in a triumphal robe, in a golden chair to watch the games.

Mark Antony was taking part in the festival, and as he ran hither and thither amid the merrymakers, he reached the Forum and saw Cæsar seated on the chair of gold as on a throne. He stepped before him and held out a crown wreathed with laurel.

A few persons had been placed near Cæsar, with orders to applaud when Antony proffered the crown to the Dictator, and so some feeble cheers rose on the air, while the crowd looked on coldly and in silence.

But when Cæsar moved the crown aside, loud cheers burst from the multitude. There was no doubt that the Dictator's action had pleased them.

Again Antony offered the crown, while a few persons clapped their hands, but when once more Cæsar put it aside, cheer after cheer rent the air.

A third time Antony tried to force the crown upon Cæsar, but the temper of the people had been shown too plainly, and the Dictator now bade the crown to be taken to the Capitol and dedicated to Jupiter, for he alone was king.

A few days later, those who passed the statues of Cæsar found them adorned with crowns.

This roused the anger of two tribunes, who pulled off the crowns and arrested those who, they believed, had first called Cæsar Rex, and sent them to prison.

Whether Cæsar really wished to be king or not, he was angry with the tribunes for their hasty conduct, and ordered them to be suspended from the tribuneship.

As I told you, Cæsar's every act was now watched with suspicion. He had no sons to follow him, so he began to bring his great-nephew Octavius, who was eighteen years of age, to the front, and treat him as a prince and his heir should be treated. It seemed to the nobles that Cæsar was acting as a king, who claimed for his heir the respect due to royalty.

In this, and many other ways, the Dictator incensed the patricians. Little by little their hatred grew, until some among them began to think that it would be well if Cæsar were dead. For as long as he was alive it was not possible for them to be as powerful as they had been before he ruled in Rome.

But others, like Decimus Brutus, who was loved by Cæsar and who loved him, did not wish the Dictator out of the way, in order to satisfy their own ambitions. They truly believed that it would be better for Rome not to be ruled by one man, but by the Senate and the people, as had been the way of old.

So while different nobles had different reasons for plotting against Cæsar, they all had agreed at length that Cæsar must be put to death.

The chief conspirator was Cassius, who like Brutus had fought for Pompey, and had been pardoned and even favoured by Cæsar.

Cassius was crafty and ambitious, and his dark lean face smiled as he thought how soon Cæsar's power would now be at an end. Brutus, too, was one of the most active conspirators.

Before long the plot was complete, and the conspirators determined that it should be carried out quickly, lest it should be discovered. For already more than sixty or seventy people had been told the terrible secret.