Part 5: The Mob

The next day (17th) the Senate meets again to finalize the new and old deals that have been struck to maintain the peace. They are very thankful to Marc Antony for the compromise that avoided a civil war. Besides amnesty the conspirators will also receive positions (Brutus in Crete, Cassius in Africa, Decimus Brutus in Cisalpine Gaul). For Antony, all Julius Caesar's acts and laws will remain, he will be defied, his Will will be honored and read to the people (Antony has already read it, so he knows what it contains. I've often wondered if he had a plot of his own for justice and revenge, figuring the will reading would turn the tides against the conspirators?) and Julius Caesar will have a public funeral.

Everything seems to have gone very well for the conspirators but Brutus has made two fatal mistakes. Cassius and others want to kill Antony (and others?) along with Julius Caesar on the 15th but Brutus wouldn't agree to join the conspiracy (Brutus was the Kingpin they needed) if anyone else was killed besides Julius Caesar. Cassius opposed the public funeral and Will reading, but Brutus agreed to it. Tomorrow Brutus will see that Cassius was correct on both points!

The funeral is held in the Forum on the eighteenth (some say the twentieth). His body is then to be brought to the Campus Martius where a funeral pyre has been built near his family tomb. ( Photo 7 ) You are still behind the Rostra. All that remains of the *Original Julius Caesar Rostra* is the Curved Front, it's substructure (Augustus enlarged the Rostra outward years later) and those white marble slightly curved steps on the left. So if you look from the side of the Rostra you can see the Curved Front (with small sections of marble facing still attached, best seen from the Arch of Septimius Severus side) of the original Julius Caesar Rostra, roughly in the middle of the enlarged Rostra. *THAT* is where all these events took place. [Diagram*/2/5.html Fig. 30 It's the section above 'HEMICYCLIVM'] Friends, foes, conspirators?, allies and the common people all crowd into the Forum that day. Julius Caesar's coffin is a model of the Temple of Venus Genetrix (Universal Mother- who Julius Caesar's family claimed decent) which is located in the Forum of Caesar.

Up those stairs the bier (coffin) and Marc Antony ascend. I assume that like at any state funeral there were a lot of speeches :-) . But only one will have impact that changes the course of history. Julius Caesar's Will is read to the crowd.

He has actually named several of the conspirators as guardians to any son that he might father and Decimus Brutus (his friend who convinced him to go to the Senate meeting) as a heir in the second degree. The crowd has just heard that men who Julius Caesar had enough faith and confidence in to be named in his will, have also betrayed and murdered him! He has also left 300 Sesterces (about 3 months' pay, consider that many of them are 'On the Dole' - Welfare) to each Roman Citizen! Plus he leaves his gardens near the Tiber to all Roman Citizens to use as a public park!

The crowd is now on the verge of becoming an angry mob, all that is needed is just one spark to ignite them. Antony steps up to the edge of the Rostra of Caesar and addresses the crowd. He has written a eulogy for his friend, Julius Caesar. [Cassius Dio said it ended with these words (?)] "Of what avail, O Caesar, was your humanity, of what avail your inviolability, of what avail the laws? Nay, though you enacted many laws that men might not be killed by their personal foes, yet now mercilessly you yourself were slain by your Friends! And now, the victim of assassination, you lie dead in the Forum through which you often led the Triumph crowned; wounded to death, you have been cast down upon the Rostra of Caesar from which you often addressed the People. Woe for the blood-bespattered locks of gray, alas the rent (cut) robe, which you assumed (Julius Caesar wears a purple robe - the royal color), it seems, only that you might be slain in it!" Antony then grabs and holds up Caesar's blood-soaked robe to the crowd so they see the all the cuts made by the assassins knives. THE SPARK!!!

Now walk back the way you came, through the Arch, past the Curia and over to the Temple of Julius Caesar ( Photo 4 and photo 1 ). See the little entrance under the tin roof, walk into it. Protected by that roof are the remains of the concrete core of the Altar (usually a few flowers have been placed upon it), this marks the spot where Julius Caesar was cremated and the Temple was built from this point back. Legend says that the ashes from his pyre rest beneath this altar?

Go back outside and face the Rostra. That section on your 90° right and back to the Curia alongside that section of the Via Sacra you just walked along to the Basilica Aemilia (Emilia) located behind it, are the remains of the Portico of Gaius and Lucius Caesar and the Tabernae Novae, a two-story shopping mall :-) . It was built about 40 years after Julius Caesar's death. But in 44 BC that section contained a market place with different shops and they are about to have a very bad business day :-) . I have found nothing about whether or not any of the conspirators were at the Will reading and funeral that day. But if so, I'm certain that they decided to "get outta Dodge" rather quickly at this point :-) . Roman rulers were always cremated and/or buried outside of the city walls. Rumors while Julius Caesar was alive was that he wanted to be buried within the city walls like the Kings from the early Roman times. This would have really upset the Romans...King=Dictator but it would also be a great honor if they (the Mob) choose to do it themselves.

The crowd is now an angry Mob, some are calling for revenge and death to the conspirators! The Mob shouts that they should cremate the body either in the Temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill or the Curia Pompey where Julius Caesar was murdered.

Finally they decide to do it at the other end of the Forum in front of the Regia (this would be an very honorable spot). The shops are looted of tables, chairs and benches and they are piled high. The Mob takes possession of Julius Caesar's body and places it atop the pile and sets it afire. Some in the Mob throw in parts of their clothing, military awards, jewelry or other personal possessions. The fire is kept burning all night (Julius Caesar's bones will be picked out of the ashes the next day and buried in his family tomb).

A friend of Julius Caesar's named Helvius *Cinna* had a dream the night before that Julius Caesar had invited him to supper (or to go into a dark place) but when he refused Julius Caesar took him by the hand and forced him to go along with him. Helvius was ill (fever) that day and didn't go to the funeral. But when he heard that Julius Caesar was being cremated in the Forum he decided to go and honor his friend.

Someone in the Mob asked who he was (a rich/nobleman that probably looked out of place in the Mob?), someone said *Cinna* and someone said something to someone etc. The Mob now believes that the Praetor Cornelius *Cinna* (the conspirator who read the anti-Julius Caesar speech in the Forum on the 15th) is within their grasp. And poor Helvus is literally torn limb from limb. The Mob now has had it's first taste of blood! They grab firebrands from the pyre and march to Brutus and Cassius's houses to torch their homes and kill them, but they are repelled by their clients, slaves and freemen. Others will not be so lucky. Brutus and the conspirators with other allies and friends wisely choose to leave Rome.

Next: Part 6a: Civil War
[Home]                         copyright (c) 2012-2018 by Jeff Bondono                         [Walter's Tours of Ancient Rome]