This Thursday we're going to turn the time machine on hyperdrive and throwback all the way to 42 B.C., when one of the greatest stories of betrayal finally came to an end. Marcus Junius Brutus was one of the leaders of the conspiracy to assassinate Julius Caesar -- in fact, many historians say that it was his presence during Caesar's assassination that caused Caesar to give up and simply resign to his fate.
Brutus committed suicide on Oct. 23, 42 B.C. Less than two years prior to his suicide, though, he helped lead a plot to kill Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 B.C., in a last-ditch effort to save the Roman Republic. However, Caesar's death only sent the Roman world into a series of civil wars.
Brutus Became the Driving Force Behind Assassination
When March 15 finally came, the conspirators began to worry that their efforts had been discovered, but Brutus persisted and convinced the others to carry out the plot. When Caesar arrived, the senators pounced on Caesar, who tried to defend himself. The first blow was to his shoulder, which Caesar successfully blocked. Nevertheless, according to historians, as soon as Caesar saw that even Brutus was among the senators attacking him, he covered up his face in his toga and gave up the fight, thus resigning to his fate. Purportedly, Caesar's last words were, "Et tu, Brute?" or "Even you, Brutus?" The attack was so violent that the attacking senators even hurt themselves. Brutus reportedly suffered injuries to his hands and legs.
Roman Republic Falls in Spite of Brutus' Efforts
Brutus thought he was killing Caesar in order to restore the Roman Republic. Instead, the Republic continued to fall apart as Rome engaged in a series of civil wars between Republican forces, lead by Brutus and fellow conspirator Gaius Cassius, against the armies of Mark Antony and Octavian. In October 42 B.C., Cassius killed himself after a crushing military defeat. Later that same month, on Oct. 23, Brutus also committed suicide after his army was defeated by Antony and Octavian.
Octavian and Antony eventually turned against one another and fought until Antony's defeat in 27 B.C. That marked the official end of the Roman Republic, when Octavian changed his name to Augustus Caesar, and became the first Roman emperor.
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