THE IDES OF MARCH ! "AMBITION'S DEBT IS PAID"

THE next three years were spent by Caesar in campaigns in Asia, Egypt, and Africa, until by 45 B.C. he was master of the Roman world. But, as was shown by his dallying with Cleopatra of Egypt for nearly a year, and by his bombastic three-word despatch after a campaign in the East, " I came, I saw, I conquered " {Veni, vidi, vici), success had blunted his judgment. On the i5th, the Ides of March, 44 B.C., he was assassinated by a group of reactionary republicans, headed by Brutus and Cassius. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar gives us a vivid picture of the events leading up to and following the assassination. Caesar had formed far-reaching plans for remoulding and enlarging the empire, but he outraged sentiment by his open contempt for the old constitution. The Senate was increased in numbers and filled with provincials and freed slaves. Rome was not to be superior to the other cities of the empire, and Alexander's cosmopolitanism was to be revived, with the Latins as leaders of the world. The assumption of a life dictatorship awakened the inherited Roman prejudice against kings and caused Caesar's death. This event showed how necessary his rule had been. Anarchy and bloodshed followed for another thirteen years, until his grand-nephew and adopted son, Gaius Octavius, known as Augustus (63 B.C.-A.D. 14), restored peace. In 45 B.C., Augustus [1] was only eighteen years old, but he managed to assert his right as Caesar's heir against Mark Antony, who had been one of Caesar's followers. The two joined forces and aided by another general, Lepidus, defeated Brutus and Cassius at Philippi in 42 B.C. The Empire was partitioned between the three victors. Antony went to Egypt and fell victim to Cleopatra's lures. Augustus conquered the West, took Africa from Lepidus, and in 31 B.C. beat Antony in a great naval battle at Actium off the west coast of Greece. Rome had fallen under the rule of her wisest son, and the hundred years of agony were over.



[1] The full titles of Gaius Octavius were Emperor Augustus Cassar. Emperor was originally the title borne by Roman commanders of an army, then it was assumed by governors of a province, and finally by the heads of the Roman Empire. Augustus was a title bestowed on Octavius by the Roman Senate in 27 B.C. for services rendered the State ; it was afterwards assumed as the first title of his successors. Ccssar was the name of the patrician family of the Julia gens (the family of Julius Caesar) and it was adopted by Octavius as heir presumptive to Julius Caesar ; it was thus originally a title equivalent to Prince of Wales. It was afterwards adopted as the second title of the Roman emperors.