UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
the dead and save Rome. Marcus Brutus was thus induced to give his name and
influence to the base and bloody work.
A meeting of the Senate was called for the 15th (or Ides) of March. The
subject to be considered was the question of the Parthian war. It was
determined by the conspirators to consummate their work at this meeting.
The city was full of rumors and agitation. The plotters more than half
betrayed themselves by their looks and actions. Popular tradition has
preserved the story of prodigies and portents in both the earth and the
heavens. Battalions of warriors were seen contending in a cloud. Caesar's
horses wept and would not eat. A solitary bird of evil omen croaked in the
forum. A lioness gave birth to whelps on the steps of the Capitol. A
soothsayer came and warned Caesar that the Ides of March was a day of fate,
and Calpurnia, Caesar's wife, besought him not to go forth to the Senate
House. But the latter could not be moved and went to his duty and his
When he entered the chamber the senators were already seated. As soon as he
had taken his chair the conspirators, with daggers under their cloaks,
crowded around him and began to petition for the recall from banishment of
a certain Cimber, brother of one of the senators present. Caesar refused
the petition, which was pressed with additional earnestness by Brutus and
Cassius until the Imperator in some anger rose from his seat. Thereupon he
was attacked. Casca, one of the meanest of the crowd, stabbed him in the
neck. Caesar seized the arm of his assailant, exclaiming: "Villain, what
dost thou mean?" For a brief moment he defended himself from the daggers of
his enemies, but seeing Brutus among the number he cried out, Et tu, Brute
(1) then drew his mantle over his face and fell, pierced with twenty-three
wounds, at the foot of the statue of Pompeius.
It was one thing to murder the greatest man of the age, and another to
explain the deed. The conspirators had acted without much regard to the
future. They had cut down the main stay of the state and had nothing to
offer instead. They had hoped in a vague sort of way for the restitution of
the Republic, and to this end relied upon the senatorial party for support.
But most of the senators were Caesar's friends, and when they saw him fall
they fled in dismay from the Senate House. When the murderers looked around
after the accomplishment of their infamous deed, expecting to be applauded,
they saw only empty benches. They stood face to face with the vacuity of a
At the time of the assassination the Roman army, under command of Lepidus,
was outside the city gates waiting for the announcement of the Parthian
expedition. The chief friend of the dead Imperator was Marcus Aatonius, and
to him the conspirators-though they had recently discussed the question of
killing him also-were now obliged to look for aid in the business of
restoring the Republic. Antonius, fearing for his life, had escaped to his
own house, but he soon learned that the assassins had stopped with the
murder of Caesar, and that he himself was sought for by Brutus. He
determined to make the most of what remained of the world, and should
opportunity offer to make a terrible settlement with the murderers of
Caesar. He accordingly gave in his adherence to the scheme of the
restoration and _______________ 1 "Thou too, Brutus!"