On March 15th, 44BC, Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of rebel Roman senators.
This day, known as The Ides of March, is recognised as the day on which the Roman Republic began its transition into the Roman Empire as it led to the outbreak of a string of civil wars which made irreversible changes to the structure of the republic.
Born in July, 100BC, Caesar was a Populares Roman statesman – this political grouping was devoted to the cause of the plebeians, over the interests of the aristocracy which were favoured by the Optimates group.In October, 49BC, Caesar became the Dictator of the Roman Republic. In 44BC, he was guaranteed the position of Dictator ‘for life’. His life was cut short when a group of rebellious senators, led by senator Marcus Brutus, plotted to and successfully assassinated Caesar that same year.
Historians regard the extension of Caesar’s power and the reduced role of the Senate as the driving factor behind his murder. The likes of Brutus and other senior Populares senators were close to Caesar and often had his ear, but Caesars reforms – in particular, laws in 43 and 42BC which allowed him to appoint all magistrates consuls and tribunes, effectively transforming the magistrates from being representatives of the people to being representatives of the dictator – turned his aristocratic, once-allies against him. What’s more, Caesar’s wild popularity amongst the common people was derived from his economic reforms, although many of these reforms were seen as harmful to the aristocracy and, as such, likely motivated Caesar’s assassins.