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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

death.

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

great crime.

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!"