History in Five: The Death of Rome’s Most Famous General, Julius Caesar (Watch)

On March 15th, 44 BC, one of the most famous assassinations in history took place. Now, after countless fictionalized retellings of that dramatic event, historian Barry Strauss has laid out the five facts you need to know about the death of Julius Caesar.

A general who rose to become a dictator in Rome, Caesar was stabbed to death on the floor of the Senate. More than 60 people participated in the act itself, and the aftershocks of that day would be felt for many years to come.

The plot to kill him, however, had been brewing for some time before the infamous Ides of March.

Over the years, Caesar had gained power and influence. With the military at his back, he became less dependant on the Senate and was often hailed by the public as a figure of royalty.

It’s not entirely clear whether or not Caesar himself wished to gain the status of a king. The very idea of it flew in the face of everything the Roman Republic stood for, and he apparently rejected the title when members of the public tried to refer to him as “Rex” – meaning “King” in Latin. There is no doubt, however, that he was keen to gain more personal power than the Senate was comfortable devolving to him.

Caesar’s death went down in history for many reasons – the shockingly public nature of the stabbing, the political ramifications that surrounded the event and an aftermath that saw the rise of Augustus, the first true emperor of Rome.

Consequently, many of the details have become distorted through this story’s many retellings. From William Shakespeare’s famous play on the subject, to modern television adaptations like HBO’s Rome, fictionalized accounts may have blurred the true facts of the assassination, and the events leading up to it.

In this video, Barry Strauss clears away the myth and focus on the history. Fast, informative and every bit as shocking as fiction, the true events surrounding Caesar’s assassination are well worth revisiting.

Malcolm Higgins

Malcolm Higgins is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE