In 44 B.C., Marcus Junius Brutus betrayed a group of conspirators who had plotted to kill Julius Caesar, whose appointment as "dictator for life" - in Rome of the period, dictatorship was an elective office conferred by the Senate for limited periods during emergencies - had aroused resentment not only among Caesar's many enemies but even among his friends.
Julius Caesar Survives the Ides of MarchIronically, it was the latter from among whom the would-be assassins would come, as did Brutus1.
Initially a reluctant supporter of the conspiracy, Brutus had come to worry about what might follow. Rome had already endured civil war as a result of the conflict between Caesar and Pompey, whom the Senate had made sole consul in 52 B.C. The prospect of a renewal of internal strife came to outweigh in Brutus' mind the dangers of allowing Caesar to remain in power.
Unfortunately, the plot's failure triggered disaster. Caesar first had the conspirators rounded up and slain, and, to avoid the risk of revenge schemes, their families and friends as well. The dictator's ruthless purge predictably resulted in the growth of new schemes, leading to still further bloodbaths as Caesar suppressed each in turn. Even Brutus, who had saved Caesar's life by exposing the first assassination plot against him, finally fell victim to his suspicions, as did his great-nephew Octavian, whom Caesar feared intended to take his place2.
A new article by Eric LippsBy the time of Julius Caesar's death in his mid-nineties in 4 B.C., the Roman Republic was a memory. Influenced by the Egyptian culture of his paramour Cleopatra VII3, the mother of his son Caesarion4 Caesar had not only transformed the dictatorship into a hereditary monarchy but had himself declared a god. The Senate remained in place, but only as a shell; all real power now lay with Caesar, who besides claiming divinity had also taken the formal title of emperor. He would be succeeded by his forty-three-year-old son by Cleopatra, Caesarion, born Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar, whom Julius Caesar had acknowledged as his issue in 40 B.C.5 and who, by reason of his parentage, was already Pharaoh of Egypt by the time he became Roman emperor, having served as co-ruler with his mother from 26 B.C. until her death seven years later at age 506. On assuming the emperorship, Caesarion would formally change his name to Augustus and, like his father, would have himself declared divine7.