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Transcript of Julius Ceasar
c. 79 BCE: Caesar, on the staff of a military legate, was awarded the civic crown (oak leaves) for saving the life of a citizen in battle. His general sent him on an embassy to Nicomedes, the king of Bithynia, to obtain a fleet of ships; Caesar was successful, but subsequently he became the butt of gossip that he had persuaded the king (a homosexual) only by agreeing to sleep with him. When Sulla died in 78, Caesar returned to Rome and began a career as a orator/lawyer (throughout his life he was known as an eloquent speaker) and a life as an elegant man-about-town.
72 BCE: Caesar was elected military tribune. (Note that Pompey and Crassus were the consuls for 70 BCE.)
68/67 BCE: Caesar was elected quaestor and obtained a seat in the Senate; he married Pompeia, a granddaughter of Sulla. Caesar supported Gnaeus Pompey and helped him get an extraordinary generalship against the Mediterranean pirates, later extended to command of the war against King Mithridates in Asia Minor.
58 BCE: Caesar left Rome for Gaul; he would not return for 9 years, in the course of which he would conquer most of what is now central Europe, opening up these lands to Mediterranean civilization—a decisive act in world history. However, much of the conquest was an act of aggression prompted by personal ambition (not unlike the conquests of Alexander the Great). Fighting in the summers, he would return to Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy) in the winters and manipulate Roman politics through his supporters (see this map of Caesar's Gallic campaigns).
March 15, 44 BCE: Caesar attended the last meeting of the Senate before his departure, held at its temporary quarters in the portico of the theater built by Pompey the Great (the Curia, located in the Forum and the regular meeting house of the Senate, had been badly burned and was being rebuilt). The sixty conspirators, led by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Brutus Albinus, and Gaius Trebonius, came to the meeting with daggers concealed in their togas and struck Caesar at least 23 times as he stood at the base of Pompey's statue. Legend has it that Caesar said in Greek to Brutus, “You, too, my child?” After his death, all the senators fled, and three slaves carried his body home to Calpurnia several hours later. For several days there was a political vacuum, for the conspirators apparently had no long-range plan and, in a major blunder, did not immediately kill Mark Antony (apparently by the decision of Brutus). The conspirators had only a band of gladiators to back them up, while Antony had a whole legion, the keys to Caesar's money boxes, and Caesar's will. Click here for some assessments of Caesar by modern historians. Brutus Marcus Junius Brutus was born in or about 85 BCE, as the eldest son of a Roman politician with the same name, a man who never made it to the top. Father Brutus was killed in 78 by Gnaeus Pompey, a young general who was to become famous. The boy was educated by the half-brother of his mother Servilia, Marcus Porcius Cato, and later adopted by a relative of his mother, Quintus Servilius Caepio. To honor his adoptive father, the young man started to call himself Marcus Junius Brutus Caepio.
In 59, a man named Vettius declared that Brutus and several other men were part of a complot to kill Pompey. In fact, there was no such complot, and one of the consuls af that year, the popular politician Gaius Julius Caesar, an ally of Pompey, did his best to get rid of the accusations. Caesar had a good reason for this: he had an affair with Brutus' mother, and he did not want to bring the young man, whom he had often met at the house of his mistress, into troubles.
In 53, he was chosen quaestor, the financial magistracy which a Roman politician had to occupy when he started his career. He was responsible for the taxes in a province called Cilicia (where his father-in-law was governor), and used the opportunity (and the army of Cilicia) to settle accounts in Cyprus. The next governor of Cicilicia, Marcus Tullius Cicero, condemned this behavior.
Meanwhile, Brutus served as military commander in Cilicia and Macedonia. Politically, he had later sided with conservative politicians like Cicero and Cato, who wanted to defend the rights of the Senate against the generals. When the inevitable war between Caesar and Pompey broke out in January 49, Brutus the conservatives sided with the latter, and were defeated in August 48 in the the battle of Pharsalus in Greece. Caesar showed clemency to the son of his lover.
Some 60 senators conspired to assasinate the dictator, and Brutus, who was close to Caesar, became one of the leaders of the plot. His brother Decimus and his friend Cassius were also involved. It would be easy to kill Caesar, who had disbanded his bodyguard, trusting that nobody would like to run the risk of a new civil war (Sulla had done the same). Suetonius decribes the events on 15 March 44 BCE:
In the autumn of 42, Marc Antony and Octavian crossed the Adriatic sea and proceeded against Brutus and Cassius. In two large battles near Philippi, on the northern shore of the Aegean Sea in Macedonia, Brutus and Cassius were defeated. Brutus committed suicide. The republic was never restored Antony Antony was a daring general in the army of Julius Caesar who rose to become one of Caesar's closest colleagues. After Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C., Antony jumped into the struggle for control of Rome. (At the funeral of Caesar he spoke out strongly against the assassins; William Shakespeare later dramatized this moment in the play Julius Caesar, with the famous oration beginning "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.") Antony joined forces with Caesar's adopted heir Octavian to purge Rome of their common enemies. They formed the so-called Second Triumvirate with general Marcus Lepidus and divided the empire, with Antony being given control of Egypt. There he met and became the lover of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. Their meeting, with Cleopatra dressed as the love goddess Venus and arriving on a lavishly decorated barge, is a famous story recorded by Plutarch and others. Antony and Cleopatra joined forces and the triumvirate dissolved. At the battle of Actium in 31 B.C. the naval forces of Antony and Cleopatra were routed by those of Octavian. (Cleopatra fled the scene while the battle was still underway, and Antony followed; their departure is often regarded as one of naval history's great blunders.) A year later, with Octavian's forces nearing Alexandria, Antony committed suicide by falling on his sword. Cleopatra followed suit (allegedly killing herself with the self-inflicted bite of a poisonous snake) and Octavian was left in final control of Egypt and Rome. Antony's life and tragic end was immortalized by Shakespeare in his play Antony and Cleopatra.
(born c. 83 — died August, 30 BC) Roman general. After military service (57 – 54), he joined the staff of his relative Julius Caesar. He helped Caesar drive Pompey from Italy in 49 and in 44 was made co-consul. After Caesar's assassination, Octavian (later Caesar Augustus) initially opposed Antony but later formed the Second Triumvirate with Antony and Lepidus. Antony helped defeat republican forces at Philippi and took control of Rome's eastern provinces. On a mission to Egypt to question Cleopatra about her loyalty, he became her lover (41 – 40). He returned to Italy in 40 to settle differences with Octavian, whereupon he received command of the eastern provinces. To strengthen his position, he agreed to marry Octavian's sister Octavia. When relations with Octavian again collapsed, he headed for Syria and sent for Cleopatra for aid. Octavian sent Octavia to him, and, when Antony ordered her back to Rome, a fatal breach opened. The Triumvirate ended in 32, leaving Antony little support in Rome. He divorced Octavia, and Octavian declared war on Cleopatra. Antony lost the Battle of Actium, and he and Cleopatra fled to Egypt, pursued by Octavian. When resistance became futile, they committed suicide.
Cassius A talnted genral and longtime acquaintance of Caesar. Cassius dislikes the fact that Caesar has become too powerful and must die, finally converting Brutus to his cause by sending him forged letters claiming that the Roman people support the death of Caesar. Impulsive and unscruupulous, Cassius harbors no illusions about the way the political world works. A shrewd opportunist, he proves successful but lacks integrity. Octavius