What does the saying "Beware the Ides of March!" mean? It refers to the day - March 15, 44 BCE - on which Gaius Julius Caesar, one-time dictator of ancient Rome, was murdered. His grisly assassination was legendary. But just as infamous were the conspirators behind one of the most well-known deaths in history. So just who had Julius Caesar killed?
The assassins who killed Julius Caesar (Roman senators, in large part) were an aristocratic bunch that was infuriated with the dictator's seizure of power. From his very, very close pals - like his mentees Brutus and Decimus - to his former brother-in-law and just generally discontented senators, everybody had a reason to want Caesar six feet under. And they got their wish, although they segmented an already fractured Republic into a gazillion more pieces, brought about another civil war, and ultimately helped create the Roman Empire.
Learn all about Brutus, Cassius, Decimus, and their cohorts here, and vote up the nuttiest of the Romans who killed Julius Caesar.
Quintus Antistius Labeo, Who Helped Brutus Recruit ConspiratorsPhoto: Francois-Joseph Navez/Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons
There isn’t a ton of important information on this guy, also known as Pacuvius... except in Plutarch’s Life of Brutus, where Labeo helps Brutus decide what prominent Romans to include in the conspiracy. After the assassination, Labeo kept the faith with Brutus. Plutarch says bluntly, “Labeo was his legate.”
But it was Labeo’s ending that was his true legacy. He literally dug his own grave, put his affairs in order..."Then, taking his most faithful slave by the right hand and whirling him around, as is the Roman custom in granting freedom, he handed him a sword as he turned, and presented his throat. And so his tent became his tomb,” writes Appian.Was he the craziest?
Lucius Cornelius Cinna, Caesar's Ex-Brother-in-Law
Although he didn't participate directly in Caesar's murder, Cinna was once near and dear to Caesar... and helped fan the flames against Julius. Cinna was once close to Caesar; Cinna's sister, Cornelia, was married to Caesar. He must've been happy with his in-law's loyalty to his sister, whom Caesar refused to abandon despite great encouragement to do so. Caesar even helped recall Cinna Jr. from exile.
But times changed. The day before Caesar's murder, Cinna gave a vitriolic speech against Julius, and the public remembered. They either figured Cinna might have helped stir up trouble or were just plain pissed. So a mob ran through the city and grabbed a guy named Cinna - but they got the wrong one. Instead of Cornelius Cinna, they killed a poet named Helvius Cinna.Was he the craziest?
Tillius Cimber, the Conspirator Who Put Caesar in PositionPhoto: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain
Cimber must have been high in Caesar’s esteem, since he gave Cimber the governorship of Pontus and Bithynia in 44 BCE. But that wasn’t enough for Cimber, who probably resented Caesar for refusing to pardon his exiled brother, who'd been a supporter of Pompey.
On the day of the assassination, according to Suetonius, Cimber grabbed Caesar by the toga to get him in prime stabbing position. Caesar shouted, “Why, this is violence!” in response. After Caesar’s death, Cimber fled to Bithynia in Asia Minor, the province which Caesar had assigned him, Appian says, adding that Cimber helped Brutus and Cassius in Macedonia. Cimber’s end isn’t recorded, but he probably died at the big blow-out at Philippi.Was he the craziest?
Lucius Minucius Basilus, Who Stabbed Other Conspirators By AccidentPhoto: Abel de Pujol/Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons
While serving under Caesar in Gaul, Minucius aimed to quash the rebel Ambiorix. He almost got him, too, until Ambiorix decided to flee and Minucius himself was attacked. As Caesar recounts in The Gallic Wars, it was close, but no cigar - surely an embarrassment for Minucius. Caesar also stinted him for a job as a provincial governor, according to Strauss, which would have been extremely lucrative. Instead, Caesar gave Minucius money; to a man of senatorial rank, that was an insult. During the murder of Caesar, an over-eager Minucius "made a lunge at Caesar but he struck Rubrius on the thigh."
How did Minucius meet his end? According to Appian, he was killed around the same time as Decimus: “About the same time Minucius Basilius, another of Caesar's murderers, was killed by his slaves, some of whom he was mutilating by way of punishment.”Was he the craziest?