In 44 BC, Gaius Julius Caesar was warned by Marcus Junius Brutus that his fellow senators were planning to assassinate him that very day.
Ides of MarchBecause a corrupt nobility had benefited from Senatorial control of the Republic for the four centuries since the explusion of Tarquin, the last of the seven legendary kings of Rome. But Caesar had changed all that, seizing control with the powerful army that he had formed in Gaul. With the support of the army and the peasants he established a dictatorship. And even if he had declined the title of King, he had no hesitation in declaring himself a God.
Despite this conflict, Caesar and the Senate shared a mutual interest that enabled them to quickly reach a compromise. Within days, Caesar would march on Parthia. Now in his late fifties, this was probably his final chance to revisit his spectacular success as a soldier-general. And there was an aspect of destiny waiting to be fulfilled, because after all he claimed to be descended from the goddess Venus and the legendary hero Aeneas. In short, five years of civilian rule in the Roman capital had bored him to distraction and he meant to bring an end to his salad days.
The nobility had long enjoyed reaping the rewards of Roman expansion and in reality their key interest in political control was but a means to an end. Assured of their continuation of at least the benefits of their kleptocracy, they had little hesitation in agreeing that the eighteen-year old adopted son Octavian should rule in name only while his father launched a glorious military conquest promising to return the material rewards of that enterprise to the nobility.
If the Senators congratulated themselves on converting Caesar into the "cash cow" that they had always dreamt of, then events were to prove otherwise. Hoping to expand the Roman Empire by up to a third and perhaps return in glory via the Persian Gulf, the mission collapsed into farce and the dying Caesar would be forced to concede "we came, we saw, we got our asses whipped".
As soon as this terrible news reached Rome, Octavian's days were numbered, and he was soon replaced by Marc Anthony, a man also grasping his last chance at destiny. In his famous play "Alexander the Great", William Shakespeare would make a disfavourable reference to the two generals attempts to subdue the Persians, rightly describing Caesar's fall as a Greco-Roman tragedy.