On this day in 44 BC, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death. Assassins Marcus Junius Brutus and Senator Gaius Cassius Longinus, along with several others, stabbed the Roman leader to death near the Theatre of Pompey in Rome.
Reasons behind the assassination were rooted in fear that Caesar was angling to overthrow the Senate. If Caesar kept all government power to himself, the Roman Republic would be tossed into tyranny. Brutus brought the assassination idea to Cassius, and they and others met and discussed the state of the situation. They called themselves the Liberators, underscoring that their intentions were not based in malice so much as the sense they were unleashing the Republic from its captor.
The core conspirators carefully met, a few at a time, in one another’s homes to discuss details of their plan, such as where the assassination should take place. Caesar’s favorite place to walk was along the Sacred Way, but if the assassins were armed while attending an upcoming gladiatorial show, it might be easier: their weapons would not arouse suspicion. A majority of the senators agreed the best plan would be to attack him from within the Senate where he would be seated alone. And, because Senators were the only ones admitted, they could control the environment. Weapons could be easily concealed beneath their togas.
Preceding the Senate meeting on March 15, Caesar was told by several people close to him not to attend the meeting. His wife, Calpurnia, warned him she had visions in her dreams that worried her. So confident were her convictions, she clung to him on the day he set out from the meeting, begging him not to leave. His doctors were concerned over dizzy spells that Caesar was suffering, and concluded he should not go either. A number of friends had heard rumors in Rome about his safety. They too urged him not to attend. Finally, one of the principal architects of the plan, Caesar’s close friend Brutus, advised Caesar to ignore the warnings.
Upon arriving at the Senate, word had spread about the possibility of an assassination attempt. While some of his allies stood in the distance waving their arms trying to warn him, his enemies gathered, circling their prey. Caesar only knew of the attack as it began to unfold. Someone grabbed his shoulders while someone else pulled his tunic down. Casca tried cutting his neck with a dagger. The wounds were superficial. Caesar, a seasoned war general, took hold of Casca by the arm. Casca yelled for assistance and the entire band of Liberators chaotically, ruthlessly attacked, plunging their daggers into Caesar numerous times until he died.