If I were to ask you who is the most famous Roman of all time, I can pretty much guarantee you would answer Julius Caesar. And I think you would be right. He was the catalyst that moved the Republic to the Empire. His life story and achievements are incredible. He was a great politician, a great military man, and by all accounts a great man. He was a man of the people, he loved them and they loved him right back.
Caesar’s Story (The Short Version…)
Julius Caesar was born in 100 B.C, into a family that was noble but broke. He grew up around middle class and poor people, and as such could identify more with the common man than the upper class.
His early years read like a wild adventure, hiding from the bad guys who were out to kill him, living a life on the run. At one point he was captured by pirates and ransomed, and then once freed he turned around, attacked those same pirates, got the ransom money back and then crucified them all!
Caesar was an accomplished military man and he fought for the poor and the landless against the members of his own class, which endeared him to the citizens of Rome. After years of fighting and civil wars he eventually became the leader of Rome
Unlike his predecessors he wasn’t about bloody purges and savagery, instead was a really good leader. He brought about peace, pardoned enemies instead of crushing them, and always, always maintained a fantastic relationship with the people of Rome. They loved him.
But the Senate didn’t. He was blowing their game on enriching themselves at the expense of the poor, and he held far too much power. So they decided to assassinate him.
The Ides of March
It nearly didn’t happen.
On the 15th of March 44 B.C he was to attend a meeting of the senate. His friends had warned him not to go, a psychic warned him he would die on the Ides of March, his wife Calpurnia had a nightmare that he would be killed, and on top of all of these he woke up having one of his dizzy spells. So he sent a message that he wouldn’t be coming.
He was due to head out on a military mission the next day and the senate worried he would come back an even bigger hero than he already was, so in desperation they decided to send someone he trusted to get him, Decimus Brutus. Caesar loved Decimus like a son, so away they went together, arm in arm.
Murder In The Curia
The Senate house had been damaged by fire so the meeting was held in the Curia (a senate meeting room) in the Teatro Pompeo.
The meeting began and suddenly dozens of senators pulled daggers from their togas and set upon Julius Caesar in a stabbing frenzy. When it was done everyone fled, leaving him to bleed to death alone on the cold marble floor.
Riots In The Streets Of Rome
The senators thought they had liberated the republic. They saw themselves as heroes. The people saw otherwise. Enraged that their beloved leader had been taken from them they took to the streets and rioted. The conspirators who killed Caesar locked themselves inside their homes or fled.
It got worse too. Julius Caesar’s funeral took place in the Forum and the masses came to pay homage. Remember the people of Rome loved him. Their fury at his murder was at boiling point when Marc Antony took advantage of an incredible opportunity.
He got up in front of the people and spoke of all the great things beloved Caesar had done for them. A politician to the core he got them whipped into hysteria . Then he held up Caesar’s blood stained toga and pointed out all the stab wounds.
To top it all off, right when the powder keg that was the crowd was about to explode, Marc Antony read them Julius Caesar’s will.
Caesar the great had bequeathed his estates, his gardens, his art collections (which were pretty sizable) and a huge sum of money, to the people of Rome. His people. The people he loved more than anything. For their benefit and for their enrichment. What could possibly show the people of Rome more clearly that he wasn’t the oppressor the senate accused him of being?? This proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that his assassination had been a theft. They had been robbed of this great man. The crowd (literally) went wild.
Fire In The Forum
The crowds raged through the Forum smashing everything they could and throwing anything that could be burned onto the funeral pyre. Fire tore through the Forum and the mob went wild.
So the Senators plan back fired. Instead of strengthening the Republic, this destroyed it. Caesar had named Octavian as his successor, and he went on to amass more power than anyone ever had before, created the Empire and renamed himself Augustus.
The Anniversary of Caesar’s Death
Every year on the anniversary of Julius Caesar’s death, March 15th, also known as the Ides of March, there are celebrations in Rome. There is a marathon in his name, cultural events happen across the city, there is a re-enactment of his death at the Teatro Pompeo, and flowers are laid at the Temple of Caesar at the remains of his funeral pyre.
Italy’s Festivals In March
One of the things I love to do when I’m in Italy is check out any festivals happening nearby. There are multiple festivals that take place in Italy every March. If you are on the Private Members List you will have a list of my favorites in your inbox. If you are not on the Private Members List and would like to get all the extra information to help you plan your trip to Italy you can join it HERE.
My New Book
I have a new book coming soon! Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome takes you through (more than) 101 different things to see and do in Rome that are not on the regular tourist radar. I don’t talk about the Colosseum, the Vatican, The Trevi Fountain or the Spanish Steps, because A) you already know about them and B) they are always full of tourists.
Most people don’t realize that Rome is full to bursting with hundreds of really amazing things to see, most of which are only a couple of minutes walk from the big attractions. Each of these come with stories that range from intriguing to hilarious, and give you an entirely different perspective on what you’re looking at.
This book not only tells you about some of these places, but also tells you what’s nearby, so you can see where to slot some of them into your existing Rome itinerary.
From Ancient Rome to Underground Rome, amazing churches to the best markets, from where to watch the sunset over the Eternal City to where to find the Caravaggios, from street foods you have to try to where to find the ghosts of Rome, the book is packed with fantastic information designed to turn your visit into the trip of a lifetime, and make you fall in love with Rome the way I have.
Join the list for news about the book release and discounted pricing HERE