Part 1: The Big Picture

I recently came across these versions (there are many :-) of the events which are very good: (sorry, broken link) and The Roman Forum and historical sites associated with Julius Caesar have always fascinated me when I'm in Rome. Tourists (like myself :-) often bypass these unmarked major and minor sites, never knowing what transpired there over 2000 years ago. But we all have heard the story, either through history books, teachers, movies, TV or the Shakespearean play.

I'm not a very good writer and an even worse proofreader :-) . This was written in parts over time plus additions from my last trip and finding new links for dead ones. I repeat info sometimes (usually at locations) so if you do take this walk you don't have to go back and look for something I mentioned previously. Also I detail locations in case the Photo Links go dead someday. And I admit I do tend to go overboard in the directions to certain places, especially *The Tree* :-) . The actual site locations are accurate but as far as what was said or done, or the omens that happened...It's up to you to believe it or not :-) . All I have done is piece together what was written by ancient historians (Suetonius, Plutarch, Cassius Dio, etc) and info I've gotten from websites, history books, historical guidebooks, documentaries, etc. I have paraphrased some words and/or combined different versions or just chosen one version of who, what or where. Also a few educated guesses :-) . I have added a "(?)" here and there in the middle of a sentence when there's a doubt or another version says something differently. Again it's just a historical tourist walk of the sites and not a thesis :-) . I just tried to balance everything out to keep it very accurate plus entertaining and interesting. Also no matter how hard I try WebTv just keeps running my paragraphs together with no breaks...sorry.


You will find many versions of exactly where Julius Caesar was murdered in the Senate building. And where the Senate building was actually located. Some misconceptions come from Shakespeare who places it on the Capitol (Capitoline Hill). While some even say it was in the Roman Forum's Senate Building (Curia Julia). But it was *definitely* in the Curia Pompey which is located outside these two areas about 750-850 m away and used as the Senate Building on that fateful day.

Another major misconception from Shakespeare although he has him entering the Senate building in his Play. He is sometimes shown in the theater to be murdered on the front steps of the Senate. More dramatic plus one less scene change, the Senate building and the steps are already there at least in the two local productions I have seen :-) . This is how many people first see the assassination and it becomes a fact sometimes in other later accounts. It's very common to read that Julius Caesar was killed on the steps of the Senate building. But it's a *fact* that Marc Antony (a strong and fearless man) was kept outside the Senate building on the steps by one of the conspirators in a contrived conversation, in order to separate him from Julius Caesar. Also to do this deed in front of the Roman people gathered outside the Senate building could be very dangerous. They could easily turn into a vengeful mob and kill all the conspirators (it wouldn't be the first or the last time :-) . And there is a better possibility for Caesar to escape although wounded into the mob or into the Senate building or to have others come to his aid. Better to have him out of sight and away from Antony and the mob.

And *where* would the 'Statue of Pompey' at whose base Caesar died at be located on the front steps???

Other accounts say and show the assassination on the floor of the Senate. Caesar enters the building and the Senators all rise in his honor. It would have been very disrespectful to stop and petition him while walking over to the podium and his seat of honor. He would also have 360° to escape, towards the front door or into the main body of Senators on his left and right for help. But mainly he would have *a lot* of ground to cover *while being stabbed* to get to the Statue of Pompey in the rear of the building. Plus he would be running into a dead-end and not towards help or escape. Caesar was a fearless man who has been surrounded and outnumbered before in combat. To give him the slightest advantage could be a foolish mistake even if it is a longshot. In the chaos of the attack, a few seconds, a few meters and the tides could quickly turn against the conspirators. But if they waited until he was seated on the podium, everything will be to their advantage.

Being on their feet while their prey is beneath them, they have the 'high ground'. And time to position themselves while waiting for the signal to attack. Caesar is now cornered, out of sight, distracted by the conspirator's petitions before him and far from Antony and the onlookers outside. Most historians modern and ancient (especially Suetonius) seem to agree he was seated when attacked.

The two best arguments are in my opinion:

The Statue of Pompey is right behind his chair on the podium. He has a stylus (a long pen, probably metal) in his hand with which he stabbed Casca in the arm after he struck the first blow. Caesar wouldn't be walking from his litter to his seat with a pen it his hand signing autographs, it's not a ballpoint pen :-) . It requires an inkpot and both these items would be brought to him when seated to sign petitions or decrees probably with a small table. A stylus is also used to write in wax tablets (paper is very expensive) which can be reused but not in this case.

So if Julius Caesar was attacked while seated and that's the rear section of the 'Curia Pompey' in the 'Area Sacra'. You can see the place where the podium, chair and Statue once were and the World's most famous political assassination took place over 2000 years ago!

Next: Part 2: Caesar's Home
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