Monday, March 15, 2010

Beware the Ides of March!

It was on this day, the infamous Ides of March, in 44 BC that Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of republican senators led by Marcus Junius Brutus; a man Caesar had previously advanced. However, this most well-known betrayal in history had the opposite effect that the conspirators had planned. Rather than restore the republic the people were outraged at the murder of their champion and that Brutus had betrayed the man who had been his benefactor. If anything, the murder proved to be another illustration of how divided and corrupt the republic had become and in due course Caesar was deified by the Roman Senate and his heir, Augustus, became the first Emperor of Rome.
It was also on the Ides of March in 1917 that HIM Tsar Nicholas II of all the Russias abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Grand Duke Michael.


  1. An Auspicious day of Dread and Sorrow indeed this Ides of March, and yet now still Traitorous Hearts do clammour! Abolition! Abolition! End all Lords and Privoledge!

    Perhaps the Ides whould be a Republicn Holiday so they can Celibrate the ZBloodshed of their cause! I know it is a Day for a Black Flag for those who Value Tradition.

  2. Sometimes I'm rather surprised they havn't, it seems like such an 'egalitarian' thing to do; to celebrate the murder of one of the greatest men to ever live. Yet, perhaps in their wiser moments they have considered that, in the end, it was the ruin of their very cause of restoring the republic.

    "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves..."

  3. Caesar was a brilliant man in many ways. I still think, though, that he remains a problematic figure. After all, he was not a monarch in a traditional, legitimate sense, but a "dictator in perpetuity," something unheard-of in the Roman political system. Assuming irregular and unprecedented powers, even if in the name of some "greater good," strikes me as a dangerous path to start on.

  4. You might fill me in on the "irregular" part. Off-hand I cannot think of any powers he obtained that were not legally given him by the senate. He was of course not a monarch in the traditional sense as such a thing did not then exist in Rome but any other monarch of the ancient world could likewise be called a 'dictator in perpetuity'. In my view, the dangerous path was started down by those like Pompey who did use unprecedented means to cut down Caesar because they feared his power and popularity with the common people. When they themselves used force and bribery to gain power they then drew up legislation simply to single out Caesar for attack, forbidding him to stand for election in absentia which had always been allowed before and demanding that he abandon his armies before standing for consul while of course none of them were about to give up their own military forces.

    To me his entire late life and death only serve to illustrate the general wickedness that the politician-class that ruled the republic had sunk to and I don't tend to view his actions against them as being an evil to accomplish a good but simply necessary.

    And if I could pull at your patriotic heart-strings, wasn't it Caesar who said that of all those he faced in battle the bravest were the Belgians? So he wasn't so terrible as to not recognize quality when he saw it -right? ;-)

  5. That is one of my favorite quotes:)

    Crossing the Rubicon, though, was surely irregular? (Admittedly, not a 'power,' but an action). He may have felt forced into it, but as with all acts of rebellion it seems troubling.

    As for his offices and honors, I think they were, technically, legally granted to him but still, they contravened the intention of the Roman constitution, which had strenuously tried to prevent one-man rule for centuries. Regardless of the relative merits of republican vs. monarchical government in the abstract, I just don't think that maintaining the letter of the law while subverting the spirit of the law is a good precedent to set.

    But I agree with you, public affairs were in a deplorable state at that time, and the republic was probably sick beyond salvation.

  6. I've got the exact words now: "Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae." (Of all these, the Belgians are the bravest)

    Crossing the Rubicon was a big no-no and not something he did lightly. In my view though, by breaking the rules and making up many of their own to ruin Caesar the senators had already effectively declared a personal war on him and so war it was to be. It seems to me a regular sign of a nation in decline, and it happened in the latter days of the empire as well, when those in power do not appreciate individuals of talent but see them as a threat to their own position and so try to destroy those who are their greatest asset, again, as the empire was later to do with men like Flavius Aetius and Stilicho.

    It always seemed to me at least that the senatorial class themselves were the paranoid and power-lustful ones and the murder of Caesar was not so much for what he had done but for what they feared he might do or could do with the support he had. I think that's part of the reason why is position was rather ambiguous and I tend to think Augustus took a lesson from his father's mistakes and so established a more formal set of offices that become the part of 'the Emperor' as we would know it.


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