Nicolaus of Damascus: Life of Augustus

    - sections 1-100

Nicolaus was a philosopher and historian, who lived in the first century B.C. He was a friend of the emperor Augustus, and met him in Rome on several occasions - see the note on Nicolaus and Augustus. Long passages from his eulogistic biography have been preserved in the "Constantine Excerpts" of the 10th century A.D. They do not stretch beyond the early years of Augustus (up to 44 B.C.), but they provide a very valuable and almost contemporary account of the events surrounding the assassination of Julius Caesar.

This translation is by C.M.Hall (1923). The Greek text of the fragments has been edited by F.Jacoby in Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker (FGrH_90). Throughout his narrative, Nicolaus calls the young Augustus "Caesar", but for the sake of clarity he is called "Octavianus" in the translation.

See key to translations for an explanation of the format of this translation. The paragraph numbers in the translation are shown in green and the section numbers in the Greek text are shown in red.

  Sections 101-139 →     Autobiography of Nicolaus →


Fragment 125

[An excerpt from Nicolaus, about the early upbringing of the young Caesar]

[1] Men gave him this name [Augustus] in view of his claim to honour; and, scattered over islands and continents, through city and tribe, they revere him by building temples and by sacrificing to him, thus requiting him for his great virtue and acts of kindness toward themselves. For this man, having attained preeminent power and discretion, ruled over the greatest number of people within the memory of man; established the farthest boundaries for the Roman Empire; and not only securely settled the tribes of Greeks and barbarians, but also [won] their good will; at first with arms but afterward even without arms, by attracting them of their own accord. By making himself known through kindness he persuaded them to obey him. The names of some of them he had never heard before, nor had they been subject within the memory of anyone, but he subdued them: all those that live as far as the Rhine and beyond the Ionian Sea and the Illyrian peoples. These are called Pannonians and Dacians.

[ See the work: 'Concerning Brave Honest Deeds' ]

Fragment 126

[2.] [2] To set forth the full power of this man's intelligence and virtue, both in the administration which he exercised at Rome and in the conduct of great wars both domestic and foreign, is a subject for competition in speech and essay, that men may win renown by treating it well. I myself shall relate his achievements, so that all can know the truth. First I shall speak of his birth and breeding, his parents, his nurture and education from infancy, by means of which he came to such an estate.

[3] His father was Gaius Octavius, a man of senatorial rank. His forbears, renowned for both wealth and justice, left their estates to him, an orphan, at their death. His guardians spent his money, but he renounced his just claims and was satisfied with the remainder.

Fragment 127

[3.] [4] Octavius, at the age of about nine [twelve?] years, was an object of no little admiration to the Romans, exhibiting as he did great excellence of nature, young though he was;  # for he gave an oration before a large crowd and received much applause from grown men. [5] After his grandmother's death he was brought up by his mother Atia and her husband Lucius Philippus, who was a descendant of the conquerors of Philippus of Macedonia. At Philippus' house, as if at his father's, Octavius was reared and showed great promise, already seeming to be treated with respect by his comrades, the children of highest birth. Many of them associated with him, and even not a few of the youths who had hopes to undertake affairs of state. Daily many lads, men, and boys of his own age attended him whether he rode on horseback outside of the town or went to the house of his relations or any other person; [6] for he exercised his mind with the finest practices and his body with noble and warlike pursuits; and more quickly than his teachers he himself applied his lessons to the facts in hand, so that for this reason also much praise redounded to him in the city. Both his mother and her husband Philippus took care of him, inquiring each day from the instructors and curators whom they had placed in charge of the boy what he had accomplished, how far he had advanced, or how he had spent the day and with whom he associated.

[4.] [7] At the time when the Civil War had laid hold on the city, his mother Atia and Philippus quietly sent Octavius off to one of his father's country places.

[8] He entered the forum, aged about fourteen, to put off the toga praetextata and assume the toga virilis, this being a token of his becoming registered as a man. [9] Then while all the citizens looked upon him, because of his comeliness and very evidently noble descent, he sacrificed to the gods and was registered in the college of priests in place of Lucius Domitius, who had died. The people indeed had very eagerly elected him to this position. Accordingly, he performed the sacrifice, adorned with the toga virilis and at the same time the honours of a very high priestly office.

[10] Nevertheless, though he was registered as of age according to law, his mother would not let him leave the house other than as he did before, when he was a child, and she made him keep to the same mode of life and sleep in the same apartment as before. For he was of age only by law, and in other respects was taken care of as a child. [11] He did not change the fashion of his clothes, but continued to use the Roman garb.

[5.] [12] He went to the temples on the regular days, but after dark on account of his youthful charm, seeing that he attracted many women by his comeliness and high lineage; though often tempted by them he seems never to have been enticed. Not only did the watchful care of his mother, who guarded him and forbade his wandering, protect him, but he too was prudent now that he was advancing in age. [13] During the Latin festival when the consuls had to ascend the Alban Mount to perform the customary sacrifices, the priests meanwhile succeeding to the jurisdiction of the consuls, Octavius sat on the Tribunal in the centre of the forum. And there came many people on legal business and many on no business at all except for a sight of the boy; for he was well worth beholding, especially when he assumed the dignity and honourable aspect of office.

[6.] [14] Caesar had by this time completed the wars in Europe, had conquered Pompeius in Macedonia, had taken Egypt, had returned from Syria and the Euxine Sea, and was intending to advance in to Africa in order to put down what was left of war over there; and Octavius wanted to take the field with him in order that he night gain experience in the practice of war. But when he found that his mother Atia was opposed he said nothing by way of argument but remained at home. [15] It was plain that Caesar, out of solicitude for them, did not wish him to take the field yet, lest he might bring on illness to a weak body through changing his mode of life and thus permanently injure his health. For this cause he took no part in the expedition.

[7.] [16] After finishing that war also, Caesar returned to Rome, having granted pardon to a very few of the captives who fell to him because they had not learned wisdom in the earlier wars. Then the following incident occurred: there was a particular associate and friend of Octavius, Agrippa, who had been educated at the same place and who was a very special friend of his. His brother was with Cato and treated with much respect; he had participated in the African War, but was at this time taken captive. Although Octavius had never yet asked anything of Caesar he wanted to beg the prisoner off, but he hesitated because of modesty and at the same time because he saw how Caesar was disposed toward those who had been captured in that war. However, he made bold to ask it, and had his request granted. Thereupon he was very glad at having rescued a brother for his friend and he was praised by others for employing his zeal and right of intercession first of all for a friend's safety.

[8.] [17]  # After this Caesar celebrated his triumphs for the African War and the others which he had fought; and he ordered the young Caesar, whom he had now adopted, and who was in a way a son even by nature, on account of the closeness of their relationship, to follow his chariot, having bestowed upon him military decorations, as if he had been his aide [syskenos] in the war. Likewise, at the sacrifices and when entering the temples he stationed him at his side and he ordered the others to yield precedence to him. [18] Caesar already bore the rank of imperator, which was the highest according to the Roman usage, and he was highly esteemed in the state. The boy, being his companion both at the theatre and at the banquets, and seeing that he conversed kindly with him, as if with his own son, and having by this time become somewhat more courageous, when many of his friends and citizens asked him to intercede for them with Caesar, in matters in which they were in need of aid, looking out for the opportune moment he respectfully asked and was successful; and he became of great value to many of his kinsfolk, for he took care never to ask a favour at an inopportune time, nor when it was annoying to Caesar. And he displayed not a few sparks of kindness and natural intelligence.

[9.] [19]  # Caesar wished Octavius to have the experience of directing the exhibition of theatrical productions (for there were two theatres, the one Roman, over which he himself had charge, and the other Greek). This he turned over to the care of Octavius. The latter, wishing to exhibit interest and benevolence in the matter, even on the hottest and longest days, never left his post before the end of the play; with the result that he fell ill, for he was young and unaccustomed to toil. [20] Being very ill, every one felt considerable apprehension regarding him, lest a constitution such as his might suffer some mishap, and Caesar most of all. Accordingly, every day he either called himself and encouraged him or else sent friends to do so, and he kept physicians in continuous attendance. On one occasion word was brought to him while he was dining that Octavius was in a state of collapse and dangerously ill. He sprang up and ran barefooted to the place where the patient was, and in great anxiety and with great emotion questioned the physicians, and he sat down by the bedside himself. When Octavius' full recovery was brought about, he showed much joy.

[10.] [21]  # While Octavius was convalescing, still weak physically though entirely out of danger, Caesar had to take the field on an expedition in which he had previously the intention of taking the boy. This however he could not now do on account of his attack of sickness. Accordingly, he left him behind in the care of a number of persons who were to take particular charge of his mode of life; and giving orders that if Octavius should grow strong enough, he was to follow him, he went off to the war. The eldest son of Pompeius Magnus had got together a great force in a short time, contrary to the expectations of everyone, with the intention of avenging his father's death, and, if possible, of retrieving his father's defeat. [22] Octavius, left behind in Rome, in the first place gave his attention to gaining as much physical strength as possible, and soon he was sufficiently robust. Then he set out from home toward the army, according to his uncle's instructions (for that is what he called him). Many were eager to accompany him on account of his great promise but he rejected them all, even his mother herself, and selecting the speediest and strongest of his servants he hastened on his journey and with incredible speed he covered the long road and approached Caesar, who had already completed the whole war in the space of seven months.

[11.] [23]  # When Octavius reached Tarraco it was hard to believe that he had managed to arrive in so great a tumult of war. Not finding Caesar there, he had to endure more trouble and danger. He caught up with Caesar in Spain near the city of Calpia. [24] Caesar embraced him as a son and welcomed him, for he had left him at home, ill, and he now unexpectedly saw him safe from both enemies and brigands. In fact, he did not let him go from him, but he kept him at his own quarters and mess. He commended his zeal and intelligence, inasmuch as he was the first of those who had set out from Rome to arrive. And he made the point of asking him in conversation, for he was anxious to make a trial of his understanding; and finding that he was sagacious, intelligent, and concise in his replies and that he always answered to the point, his esteem and affection for him increased. [25] After this they had to sail for Carthago Nova, and arrangements were made whereby Octavius embarked in the same boat as Caesar, with five slaves, but, out of affection, he took three of his companions aboard in addition to the slaves, though he feared that Caesar would be angry when he found this out. However, the reverse was the case, for Caesar was pleased in that Octavius was fond of his comrades and he commended him because he always liked to have present with him men who were observant and who tried to attain to excellence; and because he was already giving no little thought to gaining a good reputation at home.

[12.] [26] Caesar duly arrived at Carthago Nova, intending to meet with those who were in need of him. A great many came to see him, some for the purpose of settling any differences they might have had with certain persons, others because of matters of civil administration, others in order to obtain the rewards for deeds of courage which they had performed. Regarding these matters he gave them audience. Many other officers had congregated there also. [27] The Saguntines came to Octavius asking for assistance, for there were a number of charges against them. He acted as their spokesman, and speaking before Caesar skilfully secured their release from the charges. He sent them home delighted, singing his praises to everyone and calling him their saviour. Thereupon many people approached him, asking for his patronage, and he proved of considerable value for them. Some he relieved of the charges brought against them, for others he secured rewards, and he placed still others in offices of state. His kindness, humanity, and the prudence he had revealed at these gatherings were subjects of comment to all. In fact Caesar himself cautiously [ lacuna ] . . .

Fragment 128

[13.] [28] [ lacuna ] . . . of silver, according to the ancestral custom; nor to associate with young fellows who drank freely, nor to remain at banquets till nightfall, nor to dine before the tenth hour, except at the house of Caesar or Philippus or Marcellus, his sister's husband, a man of sobriety and of the best Roman descent. [29] Modesty [aidos], which one might assume was fitting for one of that age (for nature has assigned it an earlier place than other virtues) was apparent in his actions and continued during his whole life. [30]  # Therefore Caesar made much of him and not as some think, entirely because of relationship. Some time before he had decided to adopt him, but fearing that elated at the hope of such good fortune, as those usually are who are brought up in wealth, he might become forgetful of virtue and depart form his accustomed mode of life, Caesar concealed his intention but he adopted him as son in his will (for he had no male children of his own) and made him residuary legatee of his entire estate, after bequeathing one fourth of his property to friends and townsmen, as was afterwards known.

[14.] [31] Octavius asked permission to go home to see his mother, and when it was granted, he set out. [32]  # When he reached the Janiculan Hill near Rome, a man who claimed to be the son of Gaius Marius came with a large crowd of people to meet him. He had taken also some women who were relatives of Caesar, for he was anxious to be enrolled in the family, and they testified to his descent. He did not succeed in persuading Atia at all, nor her sister, to make any false statement concerning their family; for the families of Caesar and Marius were very close, but this young man was really no relative whatever. So then, he came up to the young Caesar with a great multitude and tried to gain his authority also for being enrolled in the family. The citizens who accompanied him were also earnestly persuaded that he was Marius' son. [33] Octavius was in quite a quandary and began to consider what he should do. It was a difficult thing to greet a stranger as a relative, one whose origin he did not know, and for whom his mother did not vouch; and on the other hand, to repudiate the youth [neaniskos] and the crowd of citizens with him would be very difficult particularly for one so modest as he. Accordingly he quietly answered and dismissed the fellow, saying that Caesar was the head of their family and the chief of the state and of the whole Roman government. He should therefore go to him and explain to him the kinship, and if he convinced Caesar, then both they and the other relations would accede to his decision quite convinced; otherwise there could be no ground for their connection with him. In the meanwhile, until Caesar decided, he should not come to Octavius nor ask for anything that might be expected of a relative. Thus sensibly he answered and everyone there commended him; nevertheless the young fellow followed him all the way home.

[15.] [34] When he arrived in Rome he lodged near the house of Philippus and his mother, and passed his time with them, seldom leaving them, except at times when he wished to invite some of his young friends to dine with him; but that was not often. [35] While he was in the city, he was declared a patrician by the Senate.

Fragment 129

[36] Octavius lived soberly and in moderation; his friends know of something else about him that was remarkable. For an entire year at the very age at which youths, particularly those with wealth, are most wanton, he abstained from sexual gratification out of regard for both his voice and his strength.

[ End of the history of Nicolaus of Damascus and of the life of the young Caesar ]

Fragment 130

[16.] [37]  # Octavius spent three months in Rome and then came and sojourned here [Apollonia]. He was admired by his friends and companions, revered by everyone in the city, and praised by his instructors. [38] In the fourth month of his stay, a freedman came from home, in excitement and dismay, sent by his mother and carrying a letter which said that Caesar had been killed in the Senate by Cassius and Brutus and their accomplices. She asked her son to return to her as she did not know what the outcome of affairs would be. She said he must show himself a man now and consider what he ought to do and put his plans in action, according to fortune and opportunity. His mother's letter made all this clear, [39] and the man who brought it gave a similar report. He said he had been sent immediately after Caesar's murder, and he had wasted no time on the way, so that hearing the news as quickly as possible, Octavius would be able to make his plans accordingly. He added that the relatives of the murdered man were in great danger, and it was necessary to consider first of all how this was to be avoided. The group of murderers was not small, and they would drive out and murder Caesar's relatives.

[40]  # When they heard this they were greatly disturbed (it was just about the time that they were going to dinner). Speedily a report spread to those out of doors and through the whole city, revealing nothing accurately, but only that some great calamity had befallen. Then when the evening was fully come many of the foremost Apollonians came up with torches, asking with kind intent what the news was. After taking counsel with his friends Octavius decided to tell the most distinguished of them, but to send the rabble away. He and his friends did so, and when the crowd was with difficulty persuaded by the leaders to leave, Octavius had the opportunity of taking counsel with his friends (much of the night already having been spent) as to what ought to be done and how he should improve the situation. [41] After thoroughly considering the case, some of his friends advised him to go and join the army in Macedonia; it had been sent out for the Parthian War, and Marcus Acilius was in command of it. They advised him to take the army for the sake of safety, to go to Rome, and to take vengeance upon the murderers. The soldiers would be hostile toward the murderers because they had been fond of Caesar, and their sympathy would increase when they saw the boy. [42] But this seemed a difficult course for a very young man, and too much for his present youth and inexperience, especially since the disposition of the people toward him was not clear as yet and many enemies were at hand. Hence the suggestion was not adopted.

Avengers of Caesar were expected to appear from among those who in his lifetime had come upon good fortune at his hands or who had received from him power, riches, and valuable gifts, such as they had not hoped for even in dreams. [43] Octavius received advice of various sorts from different people, as is always the case in times when a situation is obscure and unsettled, but he determined to postpone decision in the whole matter until he could see those of his friends who were pre-eminently mature and wise and secure the aid of their counsel also. He decided therefore to refrain from action, but to go to Rome, and having first arrived in Italy, to find out what had taken place after Caesar's murder, and to take counsel with the people there concerning the entire affair.

[17.] [44] His retinue then began preparations for the voyage. (?) Apollodorus, pleading his age and ill health, returned to his home at Pergamum. [45] The inhabitants of Apollonia came in multitudes and for some time affectionately begged Octavius to stay with them, saying that they would put the city to any use that he wished, out of good will toward him and reverence for the deceased. They thought that it would be better for him to await developments in a friendly city, since so many enemies were abroad. However, since he desired to participate in whatever was done, and to avail himself of any opportunity for action, he did not change his decision, but said that he must set sail. Then he praised the Apollonians, and afterward when he became master of Rome he conferred on them autonomy and immunity and some other not inconsiderable favours, and made it one of the most fortunate cities. All the people in tears escorted him at his departure, admiring his restraint and wisdom that he had revealed in his sojourn there; and at the same time they were sorry for his lot.

[46] There came to him from the army not a few from the cavalry and infantry, both tribunes and centurions, and many others for the sake of serving him, but some for their own gain. Then they exhorted him to take up arms and they promised that they would take the field with him and persuade others also, in order to avenge Caesar's death. He commended them, but said that he had no need of them at present; when, however, he would call them to take vengeance, he asked that they be ready; and they agreed to this.

[47] Octavius put out to sea on ships which were at hand, though it was still quite perilously wintry, and crossing the Ionian Sea, arrived at the nearest promontory of Calabria, where the news regarding the revolution at Rome had not yet been clearly announced to the inhabitants. He came ashore here and started on foot for Lupiae. [48] When he arrived there he met people who had been in Rome when Caesar was buried; and they told him, among other things, that he had been named in the will as Caesar's son, inheriting three fourths of his property, the remaining share having been set aside to pay the sum of seventy-five drachmae to each man in the city. Caesar had enjoined Atia, the youth's mother, to take charge of his burial, but a great crowd had forced its way into the forum and had there cremated the body and interred the remains. [49] They told Octavius that Brutus and Cassius and the other murderers had taken possession of the Capitol, and were obtaining, through the promise of freedom, the slaves as allies. On the first two days while Caesar's friends were still panic stricken many men came and joined the murderers; but when colonists from the neighbouring cities (whom Caesar had furnished with grants and had established in those cities) began to come in large numbers and attach themselves to the followers of Lepidus, the magister equitum, and to those of Antonius, Caesar's colleague in the consulship, who were promising to avenge Caesar's death, most of the conspirators' group dispersed. The conspirators being thus deserted gathered some gladiators and others who were implacably hostile to Caesar, or who had had a share in the plot. [50] A little later, all these came down from the Capitoline, having received pledges of safety from Antonius who now had a large force, but who for the present had given up his plan to avenge Caesar's murder. (That was why they were allowed to leave Rome safely and go to Antium). Even their houses were besieged by the people, not under any leader, but the populace itself was enraged on account of the murder of Caesar, of whom they were fond, and especially when they had seen his bloody garment and newly slain body brought to burial when they had forced their way into the forum and had there interred it.

[18.] [51]  # When Octavius heard this he was moved to tears and grief because of his memory and affection for the man, and his sorrow stirred anew. Then he stopped and waited for other letters from his mother and friends in Rome, although he did not disbelieve those who had reported the events, for he saw no reason why they should fabricate any falsehood. After this he set sail for Brundisium, for he had now learned that none of his enemies were there, though previously he had been suspicious lest the city might be held by some of them, and consequently he had not recklessly approached it directly from the other shore. [52] There arrived from his mother also a letter in which was written an urgent request for him to return to her and the whole household as soon as possible, so that no treachery should come upon him from without, seeing that he had been designated Caesar's son. It bore out the earlier news, and said that the whole populace was aroused against Brutus and Cassius and their party, and was greatly vexed at what they had done. [53] His stepfather Philippus sent him a letter asking him not to take steps to secure Caesar's bequest but even to retain his own name because of what had happened to Caesar and to live free from politics and in safety. Octavius knew that this advice was given with kind intent, but he thought differently, as he already had his mind on great things and he was full of confidence; he therefore took upon himself the toil and danger and the enmity of men whom he did not care to please. Nor did he propose to cede to anyone a name or a rule so great as his, particularly with the state on his side and calling him to come into his father's honours; and very rightly, since both naturally and by law the office belonged to him, for he was the nearest relative and had been adopted as son by Caesar himself, and he felt that to follow the matter up and avenge his death was the proper course to pursue. This is what he thought, and he wrote and so answered Philippus though he did not succeed in convincing him. [54] His mother Atia, when she saw the glory of fortune and the extent of the Empire devolving upon her own son, rejoiced; but on the other hand knowing that the undertaking was full of fear and danger, and having seen what had happened to her uncle Caesar, she was not very enthusiastic; so it looked as if she was between the view of her husband Philippus and that of her son. Hence she felt many cares, now anxious when she enumerated all the dangers awaiting one striving for supreme power, and now elated when she thought of the extent of that power and honour. Therefore she did not dare to dissuade her son from attempting the great deed and effecting a just requital, but still she did not venture to urge him on, because fortune seemed somewhat obscure. She permitted his use of the name Caesar and in fact was the first to assent. [55] Octavianus, having made inquiry as to what all his friends thought about this also, without delay accepted both the name and the adoption, with good fortune and favourable omen.

This was the beginning of good both for himself and all mankind, but especially for the state and the entire Roman people. He sent immediately to Asia for the money and means that Caesar had previously dispatched for the Parthian War, and when he received it along with a year's tribute from the people of Asia, contenting himself with the portion that had belonged to Caesar he turned the public property over to the state treasury. [56] At that time, too, some of his friends urged him as they had at Apollonia to go to Caesar's colonies and to levy an army, inducing the men to join an expedition on his behalf by employing the prestige of the great name of Caesar. They declared that the soldiers would gladly follow the leadership of Caesar's son and would do everything for him; for there persisted among them a wonderful loyalty and good will toward Caesar and a memory of what they had accomplished with him in his lifetime, and they desired under the auspices of Caesar's name to win the power which they had formerly bestowed upon Caesar. [57] However, the opportunity for this did not seem to be at hand. He therefore turned his attention toward seeking legally, through a senatorial decree, the dignity his father had held; and he was careful not to acquire the reputation of being one who was ambitious and not a law abiding man. Accordingly, he listened especially to the eldest of his friends and those of the greatest experience, and set out from Brundisium for Rome.

[19.] [58] From this point my narrative will investigate the manner in which the assassins formed their conspiracy against Caesar and how they worked out the whole affair, and what happened afterward when the whole state was shaken. Accordingly, I shall in the first place rehearse the circumstances of the plot itself, its reasons, and its final momentous outcome. In the next place I shall speak of Octavianus on whose account this narrative was undertaken; how he came into power, and now, after he had taken his predecessor's place, he employed himself in deeds of peace and war.

[59]  # At first a few men started the conspiracy, but afterwards many took part, more than are remembered to have taken part in any earlier plot against a commander. They say that there were more than eighty who had a share in it. Among those who had the most influence were: Decimus Brutus, a particular friend of Caesar, Gaius Cassius, and Marcus Brutus, second to none in the estimation of the Romans at that time. All these were formerly members of the opposite faction, and had tried to further Pompeius' interests, but when he was defeated, they came under Caesar's jurisdiction and lived quietly for the time being; but although Caesar tried to win them over individually by kindly treatment, they never abandoned their hope of doing him harm. He on his part was naturally without grudge against the beaten party, because of a certain leniency of disposition, but they, using to their own advantage his lack of suspicion, by seductive words and pretence of deeds treated him in such a way as to more readily escape detection in their plot. [60] There were various reasons which affected each and all of them and impelled them to lay hands on the man. Some of them had hopes of becoming leaders themselves in his place if he were put out of the way; others were angered over what had happened to them in the war, embittered over the loss of their relatives, property, or offices of state. They concealed the fact that they were angry, and made the pretence of something more seemly, saying that they were displeased at the rule of a single man and that they were striving for a republican form of government. Different people had different reasons, all brought together by whatever pretext they happened upon.

At first the ringleaders conspired; then many more joined, some of their own accord because of personal grievances, some because they had been associated with the others and wished to show plainly the good faith in their long standing friendship, and accordingly became their associates. [61] There were some who were of neither of these types, but who had agreed because of the worth of the others, and who resented the power of one man after the long-standing republican constitution. They were very glad not to start the affair themselves, but were willing to join such company when someone else had initiated proceedings, not even hesitating to pay the penalty if need be. The reputation which had long been attached to the Brutus family was very influential in causing the uprising, for Brutus' ancestors had overthrown the kings who ruled from the time of Romulus, and they had first established republican government in Rome. [62] Moreover, men who had been friends of Caesar were no longer similarly well disposed toward him when they saw people who were previously his enemies saved by him and given honours equal to their own. In fact, even these others were not particularly well disposed toward him, for their ancient grudges took precedence over gratitude and made them forgetful of their good fortune in being saved, while, when they remembered the good things they had lost in being defeated, they were provoked. Many also hated him because they had been saved by him although he had been irreproachable in his behaviour toward them in every respect; but nevertheless, the very thought of receiving as a favour the benefits which as victors they would readily have enjoyed, annoyed them very much.

[63] Then there was another class of men, namely those who had served with him, whether as officers or privates, and who did not get a share of glory. They asserted that prisoners of war were enrolled among the veteran forces and that they received identical pay. Accordingly, his friends were incensed at being rated as equal to those whom they themselves had taken prisoners, and indeed they were even outranked by some of them. To many, also, the fact that they benefitted at his hands, both by gifts of property and by appointments to offices, was a special source of grievance, since he alone was able to bestow such benefits, and everyone else was ignored as of no importance. [64] When he became exalted through many notable victories (which was fair enough) and began to think himself superhuman the common people worshipped him, but he began to be obnoxious to the optimates and to those who were trying to obtain a share in the government. [65] And so, every kind of man combined against him: great and small, friend and foe, military and political, every one of whom put forward his own particular pretext for the matter in hand, and as a result of his own complaints each lent a ready ear to the accusations of the others. They all confirmed each other in their conspiracy and they furnished as surety to one another the grievances which they held severally in private against him. [66] Hence, though the number of conspirators became so great, no one dared to give information of the fact. Some say, however, that a little before his death, Caesar received a note in which warning of the plot was given, and that he was murdered with it in his hands before he had a chance to read it, and that it was found among other notes after his death.

[20.] [67]  # However, all this became known subsequently. At that time some wished to gratify him by voting him one honour after another, while others treacherously included extravagant honours, and published them, so that he might become and object of envy and suspicion to all. Caesar was of guileless disposition and was unskilled in political practices by reason of his foreign campaigns, so that he was easily taken in by these people, supposing, naturally enough, that their commendations came rather from men who admired him than from men who were plotting against him.

To those who were in authority this measure was especially displeasing: that the people were now rendered powerless to make appointments to office, and that Caesar was given the right of bestowing [offices] upon whomsoever he pleased. An ordinance voted not long before provided this. [68]  # Furthermore, all sorts of rumours were being bandied about in the crowd, some telling one story, others another. Some said that he had decided to establish a capital of the whole empire in Egypt, and that Queen Cleopatra had lain with him and borne him a son, named Cyrus [(?) Caesarion], there. This he himself refuted in his will as false. Others said that he was going to do the same thing at Troy, on account of his ancient connection with the Trojan race.

[69]  # Something else, such as it was, took place which especially stirred the conspirators against him. There was a golden statue of him which had been erected on the Rostra by vote of the people. A diadem appeared on it, encircling the head, whereupon the Romans became very suspicious, supposing that it was a symbol of servitude. Two of the tribunes, Lucius and Gaius, came up and ordered one of their subordinates to climb up, take it down, and throw it away. When Caesar discovered what had happened, he convened the Senate in the temple of Concordia and arraigned the tribunes, asserting that they themselves had secretly placed the diadem on the statue, so that they might have a chance to insult him openly and thus get credit for doing a brave deed by dishonouring the statue, caring nothing either for him or for the Senate. He continued that their action was one which indicated a more serious resolution and plot: if somehow they might slander him to the people as a seeker after unconstitutional power, and thus (themselves stirring up an insurrection) to slay him. After this address, with the concurrence of the Senate he banished them. Accordingly, they went off into exile and other tribunes were appointed in their place. [70] Then the people clamoured that he become king and they shouted that there should be no longer any delay in crowning him as such, for Fortune had already crowned him. But Caesar declared that although he would grant the people everything because of their good will toward him, he would never allow this step; and he asked their indulgence for contradicting their wishes in preserving the old form of government, saying that he preferred to hold the office of consul in accordance with the law to being king illegally.

[21.] [71]  # Such was the people's talk at that time. Later, in the course of the winter, a festival was held in Rome, called Lupercalia, in which old and young men together take part in a procession, naked except for a girdle, and anointed, railing at those whom they meet and striking them with pieces of goat hide. When this festival came on Marcus Antonius was chosen director [hegemon]. He proceeded through the forum, as was the custom, and the rest of the throng followed him. Caesar was sitting in a golden chair on the Rostra, wearing a purple toga. At first Licinius advanced toward him carrying a laurel wreath, though inside it a diadem was plainly visible. He mounted up, pushed up by his colleagues (for the place from which Caesar was accustomed to address the assembly was high), and set the diadem down before Caesar's feet. [72] Thereupon Caesar called Lepidus, the magister equitum, to ward him off, but Lepidus hesitated. In the meanwhile Cassius Longinus, one of the conspirators, pretending to be really well disposed toward Caesar so that he might the more readily escape suspicion, hurriedly removed the diadem and placed it in Caesar's lap. Publius Casca was also with him. While Caesar kept rejecting it, and among the shouts of the people, Antonius suddenly rushed up, naked and anointed, just as he was in the procession, and placed it on his head. But Caesar snatched it off, and threw it into the crowd. Those who were standing at some distance applauded this action, but those who were near at hand clamoured that he should accept it and not repel the people's favour. [73] Various individuals held different views of the matter. Some were angry, thinking it an indication of power out of place in a democracy; others, thinking to court favour, approved; still others spread the report that Antonius had acted as he did not without Caesar's connivance. There were many who were quite willing that Caesar be made king openly. All sorts of talk began to go through the crowd. When Antonius crowned Caesar a second time, the people shouted in chorus, "Hail, King"; but Caesar still refusing the crown, ordered it to be taken to the temple of Capitoline Jupiter, saying that it was more appropriate there. Again the same people applauded as before. [74] There is told another story, that Antonius acted thus wishing to ingratiate himself with Caesar, and at the same time was cherishing the hope of being adopted as his son. [75] Finally, he embraced Caesar and gave the crown to some of the men standing near to place it on the head of the statue of Caesar which was near by. This they did. Of all the occurrences of that time this was not the least influential in hastening the action of the conspirators, for it proved to their very eyes the truth of the suspicions they entertained.

[22.] [76] Not long after this, the praetor Cinna propitiated Caesar to the extent of securing a decree which allowed the exiled tribunes to return; though in accordance with the wish of the people they were not to resume their office, but to remain private citizens, yet not excluded from public affairs. Caesar did not prevent their recall, so they returned. [77]  # Caesar called the annual comitia (for he had the authority of a decree to do so) and appointed Vibius Pansa and Aulus Hirtius as consuls for the ensuing year; for the year after that, Decimus Brutus, one of the conspirators, and Munatius Plancus. [78]  # Directly after this, another thing happened that greatly aroused the conspirators. Caesar was having a large handsome forum laid out in Rome, and he had called together the artisans and was letting the contracts for its construction. In the meanwhile, up came a procession of Roman nobles, to confer the honours which had just been voted him by common consent. In the lead was the consul (the one who was Caesar's colleague at that time), and he carried the decree with him. In front of him were lictors, keeping the crowd back on either side. With the consul came the praetors, tribunes, quaestors, and all the other officials. Next came the Senate, in orderly formation, and then a multitude of enormous size -never so large. The dignity of the nobles was awe inspiring - they were entrusted with the rule of the whole empire, and yet looked with admiration on another as if he were still greater. [79] Caesar was seated while they advanced and because he was conversing with men standing to one side, he did not turn his head toward the approaching procession or pay any attention to it, but continued to prosecute the business which he had on hand, until one of his friends, nearby, said , 'Look at these people coming up in front of you.' Then Caesar laid down his papers and turned around and listened to what they had come to say. Now among their number were the conspirators, who filled the others with ill-will toward him, though the others were already offended at him because of this incident.

[80] Then those also were excited who wished to lay hands on him not to recover liberty but to destroy the entire extant system; they were looking for an opportunity to overcome one who seemed to be absolutely invincible. For, although he had participated up to this time in three hundred and two battles in both Asia and Europe, it appeared that he had never been worsted. Since, however, he frequently came out by himself and appeared before them, the hope arose that he could be taken by treachery.  # They tried to bring about, somehow, the dismissal of his bodyguard by flattering him when they addressed him, saying that he ought to be considered sacred in the eyes of all and be called pater patriae; and by proposing decrees to that effect in the hope that he would be thus misled and actually trust to their affection, and that he would dismiss his spearmen in the belief that he was guarded by the good will of everyone. This actually came to pass, and made their task far easier.

[23.] [81] The conspirators never met to make their plans in the open, but in secret, a few at a time in each other's houses. As was natural, many plans were proposed and set in motion by them as they considered how and when they should commit the awful deed. Some proposed to attach him while on his way through the 'Via Sacra', for he often walked there; others, at the time of the comitia, when he had to cross a certain bridge to hold the election of magistrates in the field before the city. They would so divide their duties by lot that some should jostle him off the bridge and the others should rush upon him and slay him. Others proposed that he be attacked when the gladiatorial shows were held (they were near at hand), for then, because of these contests no suspicion would be aroused by the sight of men armed for the deed. The majority urged that he be killed during the session of the Senate, for then he was likely to be alone. There was no admittance to non-members, and many of the senators were conspirators, and carried swords under their togas. This plan was adopted.

[82]  # Fortune [Tyche] had a part in this by causing Caesar himself to set a certain day on which the members of the Senate were to assemble to consider certain motions which he wished to introduce. When the appointed day came the conspirators assembled, prepared in all respects. They met in the portico [stoa] of Pompeius' theatre, where they sometimes gathered. [83] Thus the divinity showed the vanity of man's estate - how very unstable it is, and subject to the vagaries of fortune - for Caesar was brought to the house of his enemy, there to lie, a corpse, before the statue of one whom, now dead, he had defeated when he was alive. And Fate [Moira] becomes a still stronger force if indeed one acknowledges her part in these things: on that day his friends, drawing conclusions from certain auguries, tried to prevent him from going to the Senate Room [bouleuterion], as did also his physicians on account of vertigoes to which he was sometimes subject, and from which he was at that time suffering; and especially his wife Calpurnia, who was terrified by a dream that night. She clung to him and said that she would not let him go out on that day. [84] But Brutus, one of the conspirators, though he was at that time thought to be one of his most intimate friends, came up to him and said, 'What do you say, Caesar? Are you going to pay any attention to a woman's dreams and foolish men's omens, a man such as you? Are you going to insult the Senate which has honoured you and which you yourself convened, by not going out? No; if you take my advice you will dismiss from your mind the dreams of these people and go, for the Senate has been in session since morning, and is awaiting you.' He was persuaded and went out.

[24.] [85] Meanwhile the assassins were making ready, some of them stationing themselves beside his chair, others in front of it, others behind it. [86] The augurs brought forward the victims for him to make his final sacrifice before his entry into the Senate Room. It was manifest that the omens were unfavourable. The augurs substituted one animal after another in the attempt to secure a more auspicious forecast. Finally they said that the indications from the gods where unfavourable and that there was plainly some sort of curse hiding in the victims. In disgust, Caesar turned away toward the setting sun, and the augurs interpreted this action still more unfavourably. The assassins were on hand and were pleased at all this. Caesar's friends begged that he postpone the present session on account of what the soothsayers had said; and for his part, he was just giving the order to do this, [87] but suddenly the attendants came to summon him, saying that the Senate had a quorum. Then Caesar cast a look toward his friends. And Brutus approached him again and said, 'Come Sir, turn your back on these people's nonsense and do not postpone the business that deserves the attention of Caesar and of the great empire, but consider your own worth a favourable omen.' Thus persuading him, he at the same time took him by the hand and led him in, for the Senate-chamber was nearby. Caesar followed in silence. [88] When he came in and the Senate saw him, the members rose out of respect to him. Those who intended to lay hands on him were all about him. The first to come to him was Tullius Cimber, whose brother Caesar had exiled, and stepping forward as though to make an urgent appeal on behalf of his brother, he seized Caesar's toga, seeming to act rather boldly for a suppliant, and thus prevented him from standing up and using his hands if he so wished. Caesar was very angry, but the men held to their purpose and all suddenly bared their daggers and rushed upon him. [89] First Servilius Casca stabbed him on the left shoulder a little above the collar bone, at which he had aimed but missed through nervousness. Caesar sprang up to defend himself against him, and Casca called to his brother, speaking in Greek in his excitement. The latter obeyed him and drove his sword into Caesar's side. A moment before Cassius had struck him obliquely across the face. Decimus Brutus struck him through the thigh. Cassius Longinus was eager to give another stroke, but he missed and struck Marcus Brutus on the hand. Minucius, too, made a lunge at Caesar but he struck Rubrius on the thigh. It looked as if they were fighting over Caesar. [90] He fell, under many wounds, before the statue of Pompeius, and there was not one of them but struck him as he lay lifeless, to show that each of them had had a share in the deed, until he had received thirty-five wounds, and breathed his last.

[25.] [91] A tremendous uproar arose from those who had no knowledge of the plot and who were rushing terror-stricken from the senate house, thinking that the same awful thing was going to happen to themselves also; and from those of Caesar's associates who were outside and who thought that the whole senate was involved and that a large army was on hand for the purpose; and from those who, ignorant of the affair, were terrified and thrown into confusion from the suddenness of the noise and from what burst upon their view - for all at once the assassins {rushed out}, with bloody daggers in their hands. The whole place was full of people running and shouting. [92] There was a crowd, too, in the theatre, which got up and rushed out in disorder (there happened to be a gladiatorial exhibition in progress) knowing nothing definite of what had happened but frightened by the shouting all about them. Some said that the Senate was being slaughtered by gladiators, others that Caesar had been murdered and that his army had started to pillage the city; some got one impression, others another. There was nothing clear to be heard, for there was a continuous tumult until the people saw the assassins and Marcus Brutus trying to stop the outcry and exhorting the people to be of good courage, for that no evil had taken place. The sum and substance of his words (as the rest of the assassins also loudly boasted) was that they had slain a tyrant. [93] It was proposed by some of the conspirators that they ought to put out of the way still others who were likely to oppose them and again try to gain control. They say that Marcus Brutus restrained them, declaring that it was not right to kill, for the sake of vague suspicion, people against whom there was no clear charge; and this view prevailed. [94] Then rushing forth the assassins fled in haste through the forum up to the Capitoline, carrying their swords bare and shouting that they had acted in behalf of common freedom. A great crowd of gladiators and slaves, who had been prepared for the purpose, followed them. There was much running in the streets and through the forum, now that the news that Caesar had been murdered became known to the throng. The city looked as if it had been occupied by an enemy. After the conspirators had ascended the Capitoline, they distributed themselves in a circle about the place and mounted a guard, fearing that Caesar's soldiers would attack them.

[26.] [95] The body of Caesar lay just where it fell, ignominiously stained with blood - a man who had advanced westward as far as Britain and the Ocean, and who had intended to advance eastward against the realms of the Parthians and Indians, so that, with them also subdued, an empire of all land and sea might be brought under the power of a single head. There he lay, no one daring to remain to remove the body. Those of his friends who had been present had run away, and those who were away remained hidden in their houses, or else changed their clothing and went out into the country districts nearby. [96] Not one of his many friends stood by him, either while he was being slaughtered or afterward, except Calvisius Sabinus and Censorinus; but these also, though they offered some slight opposition when Brutus and Cassius and their followers made their attack, had to flee because of the greater number of their opponents. All the others looked out for themselves and some even acquiesced in what had occurred. They say that one of them thus addressed the body: 'Enough of truckling to a tyrant.' [97] A little later, three slaves, who were nearby, placed the body on a litter and carried it home through the forum, showing, where the covering was drawn back on each side, the hands hanging limp and the wounds on the face. Then no one refrained from tears, seeing him who had lately been honoured like a god. Much weeping and lamentation accompanied them from either side, from mourners on the roofs, in the streets, and in the vestibules. When they approached his house, a far greater wailing met their ears, for his wife rushed out with a number of women and servants, calling on her husband and bewailing her lot in that she had in vain counselled him not to go out on that day. But he had met with a fate far worse than she ever expected.

[26a.] [98]  # These were now preparing for his burial, but the assassins had secured a number of gladiators some time previous to the deed when they were about to attack him and had placed them under arms, between the senate house and the theatre, in the arcade of Pompeius. Decimus Brutus had got them ready under the pretext that he wished to seize one of the gladiators who were assembling in that theatre, a man whom he had previously hired. (The contests were taking place at that time, and as he was going to conduct some himself, he pretended that he was a rival of the present exhibitor.) As a matter of fact, this preparation was more with reference to the assassination, so that, in case any resistance should be offered by Caesar's guards, the conspirators should have assistance at hand. [99] With these gladiators and an additional throng of slaves they descended from the Capitoline. Calling together the people, they decided to test them and the magistrates, finding out how they were regarded by them; whether they were looked upon as having ended a tyranny or as murderers {. . .} that still greater ills were likely to burst forth in consequence of the late deed; for the action had taken place with no inconsiderable forethought and preparation on the part of those who accomplished it, and on the part of those against whom the plot was laid; and that there was a considerable number of Caesar's auxiliary troops and important commanders still left, who would take over the task of carrying out his plans. [100] There was profound silence then because of the unusual nature of the situation, for men's minds were confused, everyone watching eagerly to see what bold move might first be made in such a crisis, and be the beginning of a revolution. Meanwhile since the people were quietly awaiting the consequences, Marcus Brutus (honoured throughout his whole life because of his discretion and the renown of his ancestors and the fairness which he was supposed to have) made the following speech.

[ See: 'Concerning Public Speeches.' ]

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