Roman Republic

Caesar’s Fourth Consulship (45 BC)

Appointment of the Magistrates of 45 BC

Aureus issued by L. Munatius Plancus: 45 BC (RRC 475/1)

Obverse: C. CAES DIC TER: Bust of Victory


Minted in Rome

Geoffrey Sumner (referenced below, at p. 357) observed that:

  1. “The situation this year was markedly irregular.  The only election [that had taken] place in 46 BC, apart from those for the plebeian magistracies, [had been] that of Caesar to his 4th consulship].  The remaining magistrates were not elected until after Caesar's return from Spain and held office for not quite three months”

As late as October 46 BC, Cicero expected that Caesar would arrange for the elections of the magistrates for the following year to be held before leaving for Spain: thus, he asked Atticus to find out from the Caesarian Q. Pilius Celer (who was  Atticus’ brother-in-law):

  1. “... what Caesar’s arrangements with the candidates [were], and whether he [probably Celer, possibly Caesar] means to appear himself on the Field of Fennel [i.e. Spain] or the Field of Mars [i.e. the Campus Marius].  I should be very glad to know whether I shall have to be in Rome for the elections”, (‘Letter to Atticus’, 245, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at p. 273). 

In fact, Caesar no longer felt the need to go through the motions of elections: according to Suetonius:

  1. “He held his 3rd and 4th consulships in name only, content with the power of the dictatorship, [which was] conferred on him at the same time  ... Moreover, in both years, he substituted two consuls for himself for the last 3 months, in the meantime holding no elections except for tribunes and plebeian aediles, and appointing praefecti instead of the praetors, to manage the affairs of Rome during his absence”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 76: 2).

Cassius Dio gave details of the way that Caesar’s appointment was made:

  1. “Caesar was at that time dictator, and at length, near the close of the year, he was appointed consul, after Lepidus, who was master of the horse, had convoked the people for this purpose; for Lepidus had become master of the horse at that time also, having given himself, while still in the consulship, that additional title, contrary to precedent”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 33: 1).

In other words, towards the end of 46 BC, Lepidus, who was both consul and  master of horse, arranged for Caesar (who was still in his 3rd dictatorship) to be re-elected as consul (without a colleague): Lepidus continued to manage affairs in Rome as master of horse (a post that he retained in in Caesar’s 4th dictatorship, as discussed below).  Cassius Dio also recorded that:

  1. “... the remaining magistrates were nominally elected by the plebs and by the whole people, in accordance with ancestral custom, since Caesar would not [arrange the elections of curule magistrates before leaving Rome]; yet they were really  appointed by him and were sent out to the provinces without casting lots.  As for their number, all were the same as before, except that 14 praetors and 40 quaestors were appointed”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 47: 1).

The fasti Capitolini record  for 45 BC can be completed as:

  1. Consul: C. Julius C.f. C.n. Caesar IV (without a colleague) - [resigned]

  2. Consuls in the same year:

  3. Q. Fabius Q.f. Q.n. Maximus - died in office , C. Caninius C.f. C.n. Rebilus - elected in his place

  4. C. Trebonius [C.f. . .]

Since (as we shall see) Fabius fought with Caesar in Spain in the early part of this year, it is likely that he returned to Rome with Caesar in October 45 BC.  It was probably at this point that Caesar resigned his consulship and Fabius and Trebonius took office.   L. Munatius Plancus, the issuer of the coin illustrated above, served as  Urban Prefect and also probably as praetor (see Robert Broughton, referenced below, at p. 307 and p. 313).

Battle of Munda (March 45 BC)

Silver denarius issued by Caesar: 46 BC (RRC 468/1)

Obverse: Head of Venus, wearing a diadem

Reverse: CAESAR: Trophy with oval shield and carnyx in each hand, seated captives below

Probably produced at a military mint travelling with Caesar’s army

Caesar reached Spain in early December 46 BC and, after a number of preliminary skirmishes, engaged with the Pompeians at Munda.  Caesar secured an almost complete victory, which was celebrated in the early empire on 17th March (fasti Caeretani, fasti Farnesiani).  At least two prominent Pompeians, T. Attius Varus and T. Labienus, died in the battle, which Kathryn Welch (referenced below, at p. 105) characterised as:

  1. “... a bloody climax to a bloody campaign.”

Cnaeus Pompeius was killed in the aftermath of the battle in which and his forces had been destroyed.  However, as Appian noted:

  1. “A younger brother of [Cnaeus], also named Pompeius but called by his first name, Sextus, collected those who escaped from this fight.  Sextus, for the present, kept [a low profile] and lived by piracy”, (‘Civil Wars’, 2: 105-6).

Sextus Pompeius survived to challenge Caesar:  as Appian recorded:

  1. “ Being the younger son of Pompey the Great, [Sextus] was at first disregarded by Gaius Caesar in Spain as not likely to accomplish anything of importance on account of his youth and inexperience.  He roamed about the ocean with a few followers, committing piracy and concealing the fact that he was Pompeius.  When larger numbers joined him for the purpose of pillage, and his force became powerful, he revealed his name.  Presently, those who had served with his father and his brother ... drifted to him as their natural leader, and Arabio, who had been deprived of his ancestral kingdom ... , came to him from Africa.  His forces being thus augmented, his doings were now more important than robbery, and  as he flew from place to place, the name of Pompeius spread through the whole of Spain, which was the most extensive of the provinces.  He nevertheless avoided coming to an engagement with the Caesar’s governors.  When Caesar learned of his doings, he sent Carinas with a stronger army to fight him. [Sextus], however, being the more nimble of the two, would show himself and then disappear, and so he wore out his enemy and got possession of a number of towns, large and small.  Then Caesar sent Asinius Pollio as successor to Carinas to prosecute the war against Pompeius.  While they were carrying on warfare on equal terms, Caesar was assassinated [a year later - see below], and the Senate recalled Pompeius”, (‘Civil Wars’, 4: 84).

However, in March 45 BC, the potential problem of Sextus Pompeius was ignored, and:

  1. ... Caesar, having ended the civil wars, hastened to Rome, honoured and feared as no one had ever been before”, (‘Civil Wars’, 2: 106).

In fact, Appian was incorrect when he referred to Caesar as ‘hastening’ to Rome: as we shall see, he did not arrive back in the city until September. 

Octavius in Spain

According to Nicolaus of Damascus (Life of Augustus’, 9-10), Caesar had originally intended to take Octavius with him to Spain, but this plan was abandoned when Octavius became ill after his exertions in relation to the ludi Veneris Genetricis (above).  When he recovered, Octavius finally took:

  1. “... the long road [to Spain] and approached Caesar, who had already completed the whole war in the space of seven months]”, (Life of Augustus’, 10).

According to Velleius Paterculus:

  1. “At the age of 18,  Octavius followed Caesar to Spain in his campaign there, and Caesar kept him with him thereafter as his companion, allowing him to share the same roof and ride in the same carriage, and though he was still a boy, honoured him with the pontificate”, (‘Roman History’, 2: 59: 3).

(As noted on the previous page, a remark by Nicolaus of Damascus suggests that Caesar might have arranged for Octavius’ entry into the pontifical college as early as 47 BC.)

Events at Rome (March - October 45 BC)

New Honours Offered to Caesar

The news of Caesar’s victory reached Rome of 20th April and, according to Cassius Dio:

  1. “The Parilia [of the following day] was honoured by permanent annual games in the Circus, not  because the city had been founded [by Romulus] on that very day, but because the news of Caesar's victory had arrived the day before, towards evening”, (‘Roman History’, (43: 42: 3).

In other words, from this point, annual games were to be held on 21st April in commemoration of Caesar’s victory at Munda.  The Senate also:

  1. “... decreed at this time that:

  2. an ivory statue of Caesar (and later that a whole chariot) should appear in the procession at the games in the Circus, together with the statues of the gods;

  3. and they set up:

  4. another likeness of him in the temple of Quirinus with the inscription Θεῷ ἀνικήτῳ (Deo Invicto); and

  5. yet another on the Capitol, beside the former kings of Rome”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 45: 2-3). 

Ittai Gradel (referenced below, at p. 54) characterised the statue of Caesar in the Quirinal, and its inscription declaring him to be the unconquered god represented the second phase in the Senate’s award of divine honours to Caesar.  he also observed that the new statue of Caesar in the Temple of Quirinus and its inscription naming him as deus invictus:

  1. “... further [elaborated] on the theme that Caesar had re-founded Rome by is victory at Munda”.

It certainly must have felt that the last nail had been driven into the coffin of the all-too-human Roman Republic of old. 

Ludi Florales (3rd May 45 BC): Debut of the Statue of Caesar at Games in the Circus?

Ittai Gradel (referenced below, at p. 68) drew attention to a letter that Cicero wrote to Atticus of 26th May 45 BC, in which he referred to Caesar as:

  1. “... this god of the procession, this messmate of Quirinus, ...”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 299: 3, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at vo. IV, p. 33).

He suggested that this indicated that Caesar’s statue was carried next to that of Quirinus (the deified Romulus) on 21st April 45 C and observed (at p. 69) that this:

  1. “... would have carried divine associations, but they did not deify Caesar: ...the main point was, not to declare [him]  ... as a god in any absolute sense ... , [but rather] to express a superhuman status of absolute power (divinity in a relative sense).


  1. Caesar might have been characterised as the messmate of Quirinus because a new statue of him had been installed in Quirinus’ temple; and

  2. his statue seems to have been pared with Victory at the subsequent ludi Apollinares (see below).

Furthermore, as John Ramsey and Arthur Lewis Licht (referenced below, at p. 34, note 8) pointed out, this scenario assumes only a few days at most for the new arrangements to be made, even if some Caesarians at Rome had had prior notice of Caesar’s victory.  They therefore suggested that a better occasion for the debut of  Caesar’s statue at games in the Circus might have been 3rd May, the last day of the ludi Florales

Ludi Apollinares (13th July 45 BC)

In a letter that Cicero wrote to Atticus from Tusculum in July 45 BC, he referred to a procession that Atticus must have previously described to him:

  1. “What a delightful letter!  Though the procession was odious, it is nevertheless not odious [in every respect] ... . The people were splendid not to clap even the figure of Victory owing to its impious neighbour [by which he meant an image of Caesar]”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 336: 1, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. IV, p. 105).

David Shackleton Bailey dated this to 14th July 45 BC.  Although other scholars have suggested a date later in July, John Ramsey and Arthur Lewis Licht (referenced below, at pp. 25-40) set out the arguments  for 14th, which would indicate that the incident reported to Cicero had actually occurred at the ludi Apollinares of the previous day.  On this hypothesis (which they set out at p. 35):

  1. “... Cicero and Atticus may have identified the crowd’s reaction at the ludi Apollinares as having [demonstrated opposition to Caesar] ... because [he] was being honoured in the procession, which included his ivory statue [above] for only the second time.”

John Ramsey and Arthur Lewis Licht (referenced below, at p. 35) suggested two other reasons why the crowd in the Circus might have felt aggrieved by the absent Caesar:

  1. Caesar’s birthday was on 13th July, and we might note in tis context that, according to Cassius Dio, shortly before Caesar’s death in 44 BC, the Senate, inter alia:

  2. “... voted to celebrate his birthday by public sacrifice”, (‘Roman History’, 44: 4: 4-5); and

  3. in 43 BC, the triumvirs:

  4. “... compelled everybody to celebrate [the] birthday [of divus Julius] by wearing laurel and by merry-making, passing a law that those who neglected these observances [would be severely punished] ...  Now, it happened that the ludi Apollinares fell on the same day [as Caesar’s birthday], and they therefore voted that the feast of  [Caesar’s] birthday should be celebrated on the previous day, on the ground that there was an oracle of the Sibyl that forbade the holding of a festival  ... to any god other than Apollo [on 13th April]”, (‘Roman History’, 47: 18: 5-6). 

It is  possible that, on 13th April 45 BC, the crowd in the Circus were annoyed because honours were being paid to Caesar at public altars elsewhere and thereby encroaching on honours due to Apollo.

The games would normally have been have been sponsored by the urban prefect, but (as we have seen) none of the curule offices had yet been filled.  Thus, according to Cassius Dio:

  1. “Two of the city prefects, [who had been appointed by Caesar] managed the public treasuries, and one of them celebrated the ludi Apollinares at Caesar’s cost”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 48: 3).

In other words, by showing displeasure at the games, the crowd was criticising Caesar, their sponsor.

Events at Rome (September - December 45 BC)

In a passage of the speech that Cicero claimed that he would have given in the Senate on 19th September, 44 BC, had he attended (which he probably published in November of that year), he noted that Mark Antony:

  1. “... traveled a great distance to meet ... Caesar on his way home from Spain: a rapid round trip, [designed]  so that he should see that if your courage left something to be desired, you were at least a man of energy.  Somehow or other you again became one of his cronies”, (‘Philippics’, 2: 78, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at Vol. I, p. 131).

According to Plutarch:

  1. “When Caesar returned from Spain [in September], all the principal men went many days’ journey [from Rome] to meet him, but it was Mark Antony who was conspicuously honoured by him: for, as he journeyed through Italy, he had:

  2. Mark Antony in  his carriage; and

  3. behind him, [Decimus Iunius] Brutus Albinus, and Octavius, his niece’s son ... ”, (‘Life of Antony’, 11: 1).

Plutarch subsequently recorded the following allegation that C. Trebonius had made against Mark Antony:

  1. “... he said that, while people were going out to meet Caesar on his return from Spain, Mark Antony had travelled with him and shared his tent, and that he, [Trebonius], had sounded him out ... [about the possibility that he might join a conspiracy against Caesar]: he said that Mark Antony had understood him, but had neither responded to these advances nor reported them to Caesar ... ”, (‘Life of Antony’, 13: 1).

As Christopher Pelling referenced below, at p. 147) pointed out, Plutarch had found this allegation in Cicero’s second  ‘Philippic’ (see above):

  1. “... after all, Mark Antony, if it is a crime to have wished Caesar to be killed, consider, please, what is to become of you, since:

  2. it is common knowledge that you plotted his death at Narbo [modern Narbone] with C. Trebonius; and

  3. it was because of your association with Trebonius in that plan that, when Caesar was [subsequently] about to be murdered, we saw Trebonius take you aside”, (‘Philippics’, 2: 34, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at Vol. I, p. 89).

John Ramsey (referenced below, at p. 213)  observed that there were at least two occasions on which Trebonius might have approached Mark Antony at Narbo:

  1. Mark Antony had set out for Spain in late 46 or early 45 BC in order to join Caesar but that he had unexpectedly turned back at Narbo and returned to Rome (see Cicero (‘Philippics’, 2: 76) , and it is possible that Trebonius had set out for Spain at about the same time; and/or

  2. it is possible that Trebonius  accompanied Caesar on his return from Spain to Rome, and  that Mark Antony travelled as far as Narbo to meet them (as suggested by Plutarch).

Cicero’ claim that Trebonius distracted Mark Antony at the time of Caesar’s murder (which he repeated at ‘Philippics’, 13: 23, as discussed on the following page) is also probably true (since many in of his listeners or readers  would have witnessed it.  However, Cicero was being mendacious when he claimed this as evidence that Mark Antony had been an accomplice to Caesar’s murder: as John Ramsey argued (at pp. 212-3) the exchange between Trebonius and Mark Antony at Narbo, whether before or after the Spanish war:

  1. “... is doubtless an invention of Cicero’s.  He tries to lend plausibility [to his allegation by claiming that it is common knowledge], ... a well-known ploy used to compensate for the lack of solid evidence.”

Ludi Veneris Genetricis (probably September/ October 45 BC)

According to Suetonius (‘Life of Caesar’, 83: 1), Caesar made his will on 13th September, at his estate at Labiniucum, and he presumably arrived in Rome shortly thereafter.  None of our surviving sources record the celebration of the ludi Veneris Genetricis in 45 BC.  However, since:

  1. Caesar had founded a college to oversee the ludi Veneris Genetricis in 46 BC; and

  2. Octavian, who was a member of this college, certainly held them in July 44 BC;

we can reasonably assume that they were also held, either in July of in September/October 45 BC.  John Ramsey and Arthur Lewis Licht (referenced below, at pp. 41-2) argued that the later date was more likely, since:

  1. Caesar had not yet returned to Rome in July; and

  2. in any case, there was no obvious reason at that time for moving the games away from the dies natalis of  the Temple of Venus Genetrix, when he would be in the city.

Furthermore, John Ramsey and Arthur Lewis Licht (referenced below, at pp. 42-3) pointed out the anniversary of the original games (26th September into early October 46 BC) might well have provided a backdrop to Caesar’s 5th triumph (which, as we shall see, he celebrated on or shortly before 13th October. As they also pointed out (at p. 42) that the ludi Veneris Genitricis of 46 BC had:

  1. “... capped the celebration of Caesar’s four triumphs;

They further argued that:

  1. “ ... this double connection with triumphal returns of Caesar (in 46 and again in 45 BC) ... most probably explains why the festival was transformed into [the ludi Victoria Caesaris, which were celebrated on 20-30 July under the empire.”

(They demonstrated in their Appendix I that this change of name was already underway in 44 BC, when the games were certainly held in July:  some sources, including those derived from the testimony of Octavian himself, used the old name at that point while others used the new one.)

Interestingly, Octavius might well have played a part in organising these games: according to Nicolaus of Damascus, after his return from Spain with Caesar in September 45 BC:

  1. “Octavius spent three months in Rome and then came and sojourned here [in Apollonia - see below]”, (Life of Augustus’, 16).

Caesar’s Fifth Triumph (October 45 BC)

Plutarch recorded that Caesar’s war in Spain was:

  1. “... the last war that Caesar waged; and the triumph that was celebrated for it infuriated  the Romans as nothing else had done.  For it commemorated, not a victory over foreign commanders or barbarian kings, but the utter annihilation of the sons [sic] and the family of the mightiest of the Romans [Pompey the Great], who had fallen upon misfortune; and it was not acceptable for Caesar to celebrate a triumph for the calamities of his country, priding himself upon actions that had no defence before gods or men ...”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 56: 7-9).

Cassius Dio observed that, since Caesar:

  1. “... showed no moderation, but was filled with arrogance, as if immortal.  [Thus, for example], although he had conquered no foreign nation but had rather destroyed a vast number of [Roman] citizens, he not only celebrated the triumph himself ... , but also allowed Q. Fabius and Q. Pedius, to [triumph], although they had merely been his legates and had achieved no individual success.  Naturally this occasioned ridicule ... Nevertheless, the most brilliant triple triumphs and triple processions of the Romans were held in honour of [this victory], and a thanksgiving of [an unprecedented] 50 days was observed”, (‘Roman History, 43: 41:2 - 42:2). 

Unfortunately, the line in the Augustan fasti Triumphales that recorded Caesar’s 5th triumph no longer survives: however, the surviving record resumes with:

  1. Q. Fabius Q.f. Q.n. Maximus, cos., ex Hispania, 3 id.Oct. [13th October]

  2. Q. Pedius M.f., pro cos., ex Hispania, id.Dec. [13th December]

The likelihood is therefore that Caesar’s 5th triumph  was held shortly before 13th  October.  (Since Cassius referred to ‘triple triumphs and triple processions’, I wonder whether all three triumphs were celebrated on 13th October, and that the wrong month was carved in error on the third entry).

Preparations for the Invasion of Parthia

According to Suetonius, after his victory at Munda in early 46 BC, Caesar planned a series of projects:

  1. “... for the adornment and convenience of the city and for the protection and extension of the Empire, [including]:

  2. the construction of

  3. a temple to Mars, greater than any in existence ... ;and

  4. a theatre of vast size, sloping down from the Tarpeian Rock;

  5. the reduction of the civil code ... and of the vast and prolix mass of statutes to include only the best and most essential in a limited number of volumes;

  6. the opening to the public of the greatest possible libraries of Greek and Latin books, assigning to Marcus Varro the charge of procuring and classifying them ...;

  7. the building of a highway across the Apennines from the Adriatic to the Tiber;

  8. the cutting of  a canal through the Isthmus [at Corinth];

  9. the checking of the Dacians, who had poured into Pontus and Thrace, followed by the invasion of Parthia by way of Lesser Armenia ... .

  10. All these enterprises and plans were cut short by his death [less than a year later]”, (‘Life of Caesar’, 44).

Caesar’s intentions in respect of the Parthians would have been coloured by the recent deterioration  Syria, where (as we have seen) the Pompeian Q. Caecilius Bassus had established a base.  By late 46 BC:

  1. Caesar had mandated Q. Cornificius, the governor of the neighbouring province of Cilicia, to oppose Bassus;

  2. Cornificius and Cicero expected the Parthians to return to the aid of Bassus; and

  3. it seems that Caesar  shared this concern, since Cicero referred to:

  4. ... the legions that I hear are being brought to your support ... ”, (‘Letters to Friends’, 206, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2001, at Vol. II, p. 257).

On 28th May 45 BC, less than two months after Caesar’s victory at Munda, Cicero noted in a letter to Atticus that Caesar had told his supporters that:

  1. “... he will not go to fight the Parthians until he has settled affairs here [in Rome]”, (‘Letters to Atticus’, 302: 3, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. IV, p. 39).

However, as we have seen, Caesar had not been in any great hurry to return to Rome and, as Robert Morstein-Marx (referenced below, at p. 923) observed:

  1. “By the time that he [finally did so] ... in late September 45 BC, his mind was clearly set on a great expedition against Parthia ...”

Whatever his wider objectives, we can reasonably assume that they included the defeat of Bassus and the recovery of Syria.

Caesar had appointed C. Antistius Vetus as governor of Syria for 45 BC, but things had not gone well: Cicero reported to Atticus that their mutual friend, Balbus:

  1. “... has had a letter from [Antistius] dated 31 December 45 BC, to the effect that, when he was laying siege to [Bassus] and was on the point of capturing him, Pacorus of Parthia came up with a very large force.  Thus [Bassus] was snatched from his clutches with the loss of many of his own men”, (‘Letter to Atticus’, 363, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 1999, at Vol. IV, p. 157).

Antistius may well have used the arrival f the Parthians to excuse his own lack of success aganist Bassus: according to Cassius Dio, Antistius and Bassus:

  1. “... had a fairly equal struggle and, when neither party was able to gain any great advantage, they parted, without any definite truce, to await the bringing up of allies.

  2. Antistius was joined by locals who favoured Caesar and by reinforcements that Caesar sent from Rome; while

  3. Bassus was joined by Alchaudonius the Arabian. ...  Even the Parthians came at the invitation of Bassus but they soon withdrew on account of the winter and hence did not accomplish anything of importance”, (‘Roman History’, 47: 27: 2-5).

Thus, as Gareth Sampson (referenced below, at p. 98) observed:

  1. “The year 45 BC ... ended with Bassus in control of Syria and the Parthians, [who had previously declined Pompey’s request for help after Pharsalus, were now] indicating their willingness to involve themselves in the Roman civil war [by taking the side of those who were fighting] against Caesar.”

Appointments of Magistrates in 44 BC

Aureus issued by Caesar: 44 BC: (RRC 481/1)

Obverse: C CAES DIC QUAR: Bust of Venus

Reverse: COS·QUINC in laurel wreath

Minted in Rome 

Silver denarius issued by the moneyer M. Mettius: 44 BC: (RRC 480/2)

Obverse: CAESAR·DICT·QVART: Wreathed head of Caesar

Reverse: M·METTIVS: Juno Sospita in biga,

Minted in Rome  

As Robert Morstein-Marx (referenced below, at p. 923) observed:

  1. “By the time that [Caesar] returned from Munda in late September 45 BC, his mind was clearly set on a great expedition against Parthia ... ”

According to Cassius Dio, at about the same time (and presumably after encouragement from Caesar):

  1. “... a longing came over all the Romans alike to avenge Crassus and those who had perished with him [during the Parthian campaign of 53 BC] ... They unanimously voted the command of the war to Caesar, and made ample provision for it.  Among other details, they decided that he should have a generous number of assistants and also, in order that the city should [not] be without officials in his absence, ... that the magistrates should be appointed in advance for three years, this being the length of time they thought necessary for the campaign”, (‘Roman History’,  43: 51: 1-2). 

Clearly, since so much power was now lay with Caesar, unprecedented measures would be needed to guarantee the smooth running of Rome and the provinces while he embarked on what was expected to be a long campaign in the east. 

Geoffrey Sumner (referenced below, at p. 363) observed that:

  1. “The quaestorian elections [for 44 BC] were certainly held by [Caesar]  on 31 December [45 BC].”

The evidence for this comes in a letter that Cicero wrote to his friend Manius Curius, who was still outside Italy:

  1. “At least you were not in the Campus when the elections to the quaestorship began at 9am.  A chair of state had been placed for Q. Maximus, whom these people used to call consul.  His death was announced, and the chair removed.  Whereupon [Caesar], having taken auspices for an assembly of the tribes, held an assembly of the centuries and, at 1pm, declared a consul elected, to remain in office until  ... the following morning.  So, you may take it that nobody had breakfast in the consulship of Caninius”, (‘Letters to Friends’,  265, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, 2001, referenced below, Vol. II, at p. 449).

Caesar’s own Magistracies

Transcription and Completion of the entries in the fasti Privernum for 44 BC

From Jean-Louis Ferrary (referenced below, at p. 1562)

The entries in the fasti Capitolini for 44 BC are very lacunose, although what survives confirms the information recorded on the coins illustrated above: Caesar began the year as:

  1. dictator for 4th time, a post that had begun in April 45 BC (and was due to roll over into his 5th dictatorship in April 44 BC), although he subsequently resigned; and

  2. consul for the 5th time, presumably in accordance with his right to the consulship for 5 years (which had started with his second consulship in 48 BC, followed by his 3rd in 46 BC and his 4th in 45 BC).

Fortunately, the inscription on a newly-discovered fragment of the fasti Privernum, published by  Fausto Zevi and Filippo Cassola (referenced below) allows us to complete these entries:  I have reproduced above the transcription and completion of the new text proposed Jean-Louis Ferrary (referenced below, at p. 1562).  This indicates that Caesar:

  1. resigned his 4th dictatorship during 44 BC to become dictator perpetuo, with Lepidus as his master of horse in both capacities (lines 10-14); and

  2. shared the consulship of 44 BC with Mark Antony (now consul for the 1st time) and announced to resign on leaving for Parthia, having designated P. Cornelius Dolabella as suffect consul  in his place.

The most important new information that emerges from the fasti Privernum relates to Caesar’s masters of horse:

Lepidus was to serve as master of horse as long as Caesar remained dictator; and

a second master of horse was to be appointed when he was paludatus (away in his province - see below): as Jean-Louis Ferrary observed (at p. 1566):

  1. the fact that Cn. Domitius Calvinus was designated to hold this post in 43 BC was also recorded in the fasti Capitolini; but

  2. the fact that M. Valerius Messala was designated to hold it in 44 BC was new information.

Octavius was destined to accompany Caesar when he left for Parthia::

  1. according to Nicolaus of Damascus, after his return from Spain with Caesar in September 45 BC:

  2. “Octavius spent three months in Rome and then came and sojourned here [in Apollonia]”, (‘Life of Augustus’, 16); and

  3. according to Velleius Paterculus, Caesar:

  4. “... sent him to Apollonia [in Epirus] to study, with the intention of taking him with him as his companion in his contemplated wars with ... the Parthians”, (‘Roman History’, 2: 59: 3-4).

Caesar as Dictator Perpetuo (from early February 44 BC)

Silver denarius issued by the moneyer P. Sepullius Macer: 44 BC (RRC 481/10)

Obverse: CAESAR DICT·PERPETUO: Wreathed head of Caesar

Reverse: P·SEPVLLIVS MACER: Venus standing, holding Victory

Minted in Rome

According to Cassius Dio, shortly before his murder, Caesar allowed himself:

  1. “.. to be chosen dictator for life.  When he had reached this point, the men who were plotting against him hesitated no longer”, (‘Roman History’, 44: 8: 4).

The coin illustrated above is one of eleven of the 27 denarii in the series RRC 480 on which Caesar is designated as dictator perpetuo: they were issued by:

  1. L. Aemilius Buca (3);

  2. P. Sepullius Macer (6, including this one); and

  3. C. Cossutius Maridianus (2).

It is possible to estimate the date of the change made to Caesar’s title: Josephus referred to a speech that he made in the Senate (in relation to decrees concerning the Jews) when he was:

  1. “C. Caesar, Imperator, dictator the 4th time, and consul the 5th time, designated to be perpetual dictator”, (‘Antiquities’, 14: 10: 7).

Miriam Pucci Ben Zeev (referenced below) deduced that this must  have been the decree to which Josephus subsequently returned:

  1. “As for the decisions rendered by C. Caesar, with the concurrence of the Senate, concerning the Jews, which there was not time to have registered in the Treasury . . . they were dated the 5th day before the [9th] February in the Temple of Concord”, (‘Antiquities’, 14: 10: 10, translated by Miriam Pucci Ben Zeev at p. 252).

She concluded (at p. 253) that these two records:

  1. “... allows us ... to establish a new terminus ante quem for the date in which the title Dictator Perpetuus [sic] was given to Caesar: 9th February of the year 44 BC.”

As we shall see, Cicero claimed that Caesar was dictator perpetuo at the time of the Lupercalia (15th February: if this is correct, then the change in the title of Caesar’s dictatorship was made at some time in the period 9th - 15th February.  The the eleven coins  that bore this title must therefore have been minted after this date: Caesar’s head is veiled on four of them (RRC 840/ 13-16), and these might have been issued shortly after his death, although this is by no means certain.

As Theodore Buttrey (referenced below, at pp. 221-2) pointed out, Caesar had already been awarded ten one-year, sequential dictatorships, which would have taken him to March 36 BC: a new title implying that he was dictator for life would have added very little but would have played into the hands of his enemies (who accused him of wanting to be king).  He argued that the Caesar’s new title was dictator perpetuo, and that this meant ‘dictator without interruption’ rather than ‘dictator for life: 

  1. “What was at issue was a problem in practical chronology.  ... The next renewal [of Caesar’s rolling dictatorship was dureing April 44 BC], when he would already have left for the Parthian Campaign; and reiteration would have been expected in successive Aprils, while Caesar was [still] away, no-one knowing for how long:  ... the point of Caesar’s new title [must have been simply] to maintain his position at Rome in his absence, given that [his right to the consulship for 5 years, beginning with 48 BC] would expire at the end of 44 BC”.

As things turned out, Caesar had a month at most to live and, following his death, Lepidus was left with his province and the designated masters of horse never took office.  Furthermore, Caesar became the last Roman ever to be appointed as dictator:  Cicero (in a speech that he gave in the Senate on 2nd September, 44 BC) referred to Mark Antony’s:

  1. “... most remarkable gesture [after Caesar’s murder]: the total removal of the office of dictator from our constitution, an office that had usurped the might of royal power (vim regiae potestatis).  We did not even debate the subject; [Mark Antony] brought the draft of a decree ... and, as soon as it had been read out, we followed his lead with the utmost enthusiasm and, by a decree, voted him our unstinted thanks”, (‘Philippics’, 1: 3, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at Vol. I, p. 9).

Consuls Designate

Cassius Dio recorded that, in view of Caesar’s impending absence, the Romans decided (presumably with Caesar’s encouragement) that:

  1. “... the magistrates should be appointed in advance for 3 years, this being the estimated length of time needed for the [Parthian] campaign”, (‘Roman History’,  43: 51: 2-6). 

The fasti Capitolini:

  1. confirm the information in the fasti Privernum that Caesar designated P. Cornelius Dolabella as suffect consul, a post that he would assume when Caesar left for Parthia; and

  2. also record that C. Vibius Pansa and A. Hirtius  served as consuls of 43 BC and that they both died in office.

More importantly, we know from a passage by Cicero (‘Philippics’, 3: 37-8, David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at Vol. I, p. 215) that, on 20th December 44 BC:

  1. C. Vibius Pansa and A. Hirtius were consules designati (consuls-designate); and

  2. Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus and L. Munatius Plancus were imperators and consuls-designate. 

Thus, it seems that Caesar had:

  1. designated Hirtius and Pansa as consuls of 43 BC; and

  2. assigned provinces to Decimus and Plancus (see below) and designated them as the consuls for 42 BC.


Cassius Dio recorded that Caesar had:

  1. “... appointed Dolabella consul in his own stead [in 44 BC], leaving Antony to finish out his year in office [at Rome]”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 51: 8).

Plutarch recorded that Caesar had:

  1. “... proposed this to the Senate.  But, since Mark Antony vehemently opposed the plan, ... Caesar desisted for the time being ... But,  when Caesar subsequently came before the people to proclaim Dolabella, Mark Antony shouted that the omens were opposed.  Caesar therefore yielded, and gave up Dolabella, who was much annoyed”, (‘Life of Mark Antony’, 11: 2-3). 

It seems that this matter was still unresolved at the time of Caesar’s murder, since Cicero (in a speech that would have been made in the Senate on 19th September 44 BC, had he attended, and was probably first circulated towards the end of the year, referred to:

  1. “... the auspices, concerning which Caesar was going to consult the Senate on the Ides of March”, (“Philippics’, 2: 88, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, at p. 141).

As John Ramsey (referenced below, at p/ 289) observed, this referred to Mark’Antony’s use (or, in Cicero’s view, abuse) of the auspices in order to block Dolabella’s election.  Caesar was murdered before this meeting started, so the matter remained unresolved.  However, Velleius Paterculus recorded that

  1. “Dolabella, whom Caesar had named for the consulship [of 44 BC] with the intention of putting him in his own place, seized the fasces and the insignia of that office [in the immediate aftermath of Caesar’s murder], (‘Roman History’, 2: 58: 3).

Caesar’s Arrangements for the Governance of Rome in his Absence

It seems that Caesar assigned the governance of Rome in his absence to:

  1. Mark Antony and (from the time of his departure) Dolabella as consuls and Messala as the second master of horse in 44 BC;

  2. Hirtius and Pansa as consuls and Corvinus as the second master of horse in 43 BC; and

  3. Decimus and Plancus as consuls (possibly with a now-unknown second master of horse) in 42 BC.

Provincial Governors

Nearer and Farther Spain

As we have seen, Lepidus had been consul in 46 BC, and had spent 45 BC as Caesar’s master of horse, a post that he was designated to retain as long as Caesar himself was dictator.  Cassius Dio recorded that, shortly before Caesar had been murdered, he had also:

  1. “... assigned Gallia Narbonensis and Nearer Spain to Lepidus”, (‘Roman History’, 43: 51: 8).

It is likely that Caesar had given him this province so that he could keep the activities of Sextus Pompeius in both Spain and Massalia (modern Marseille) under surveillance, and Robert Broughton (referenced below, at p. 326) estimated that he left Rome for his province soon after Caesar’s murder.

According to Nicolaus of Damascus, by November 44 BC:

  1. “C. Asinius Pollio was in charge of Farther Spain”, (‘Life of Augustus’, 28).

Velleius Paterculus recorded that, at this time:

  1. “... Asinius Pollio, steadfast in his resolution ... and continued to be an adversary of [Sextus Pompeius in Spain]”, (‘Roman History’, 2: 63: 3). He then recorded that, by November 44 BC:

  2. “... the praetorian Asinius Pollio had distinguished himself in his campaigns against Sextus in Spain]”, (‘Roman History’, 2: 73: 2)

From this, it is clear that Pollio had served as one of the praetors of 45 BC, and had then been given Farther Spain as his praetorian province in the following year.

Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul

Cassius Dio expressed surprise that Decimus joined the conspiracy to murder Caesar in early 44 BC since he:

  1. “... had been designated as consul for [43 BC] and had been assigned to Cisalpine Gaul”, (‘Roman History’, 44: 14: 3). 

Appian recorded that those among Caesar’s murderers who:

  1. “... had accepted the command of provinces from him [soon] left Rome] to take charge of them: [these included]  Decimus Brutus to Cisalpine Gaul ... “, ‘Civil Wars’, 3: 2).

Robert Broughton (referenced below, at p. 307) suggested that, since he had not held curule office before tat point, he had served as one of the 14 praetors of 45 BC and had then been given Cisalpine Gaul as his praetorian province in the following year.  Geoffrey Sumner (referenced below, at p. 359)  observed that, since there is:

  1. “... a conspicuous vacancy in [our knowledge of Decimus’]  career in 45 BC,  ... the conjecture that he held one of the praetorships in that year is highly reasonable.”

If so, then had then been given Cisalpine Gaul  as his praetorian province for 44 BC, the year prior to his designated year as consul.

We know from Cicero (‘Letter to Atticus’, 363, translated by David Shackleton Bailey., referenced below, 1999, at Vol. IV, p. 59) that Hirtius was still governor of Transalpine Gaul at the time of Caesar’s murder.  According to Nicolaus of Damascus, by November 44 BC:

  1. “L. Munatius Plancus, the consul-elect, held Transalpine Gaul”, (‘Life of Augustus’, 28).

It is likely that, like Decimus (above), he had served as praetor in 45 BC, although, as Geoffrey Sumner (referenced below, at p. 360) he could alternatively have been praetor on an earlier occasion.  (As we saw on the previous page, he issued an aureus (RRC 475/1) as praefectus urbanus in 45 BC).  His governorship of Transalpine Gaul was certainly contemporary with those of Decimus,  Lepidis and Pollo above).  Plancus, like Decimus, held his Gallic governorship in the year prior to his designated year as consul.

Macedonia and Syria

It seems that, in his last meeting with the Senate as consul on 28th November 44 BC, the governorship of Macedonia had fallen his older brother, Mark Antony’s older brother.  Cicero claimed that he had:

  1. “... dashed off to Macedonia. [wreaking havoc on the way] .  What had he to do with Apollonia, with Dyrrachium, with Illyricum, or with the army of the imperator Publius Vatinius, [the governor of Illyricum]?  He was succeeding Hortensius, as he said himself.   Macedonia has fixed boundaries, fixed terms of tenure, and a fixed army, if there was any”, (‘Philippics’, 10: 5: 11, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, at Vol. II, p. 109).

The governor whom C. Antonius was attempting to succeed was Q. Hortensius, whom Caesar must had appointed for 44 BC.  Plutarch (Life of Brutus’, 25: 3) referred to him as ‘Hortensius the Praetor’: Geoffrey Sumner (referenced below, at p. 358) observed that, if he had, indeed, previously serve as praetor, he could have don so at any time between 49 BC, when he held a command under Caesar, abd 44 BC.

Syria: C. Anstitius Vetus; Staius Murcus; Dolabella

According to Cassius Dio, Trebonius to western Asia Minor;

and Tillius Cimber to Bithynia.

Cassius and Marcus Brutus, who were the special favourites of the Senate, had also been chosen by Caesar as governors for the following year, the former of Syria, and the latter of Macedonia. But being still city praetors, they [remained at Rome] 1 necessarily, and in their official capacity they conciliated the colonists by various decrees, and among others by one enabling them to sell their allotments, the law hitherto forbidding the alienation of the land till the end of twenty years.

According to Bradley Jordan (referenced below, at pp. 182-3) argued that:

  1. “... there is no credible evidence  that the allocation of provinciae for 44 BC had been arranged prior to [Caesar’s murder]. ... .  Though there are no explicit references to the date [on which the initial allocations took place, it was probably] between 17th March and 18th April 44 Bc.

Macedonia and Syria

Antonius received Macedonia, along with Caesar s army, intended for the Parthian campaign; while

  1. [Dolabella] was granted Syria.

[This arrangement] had tangible benefits for each consul.

  1. Macedonia, lying athwart the routes from Rome to the east, was an immensely strategic province and, with its perennially restless tribal neighbours, offered the opportunity of a serious campaign.

  2. Meanwhile Syria, though wracked by the continuing revolt by Q. Caecil ius Bassus, was the logical departure point for any campaign against the Parthians.  It was an important commission which provided a chance at glory for an aspiring young consular

  3. Both of these provinciae provided conventional military commands and both were closely associated with Caesar s political legacy: [this] initial allocation of the provinciae consulares contains no clear break from the compromise of i7th March.

According to Appian

“After Brutus and Cassius had left the city, Antony, being in possession of something like monarchical power, cast about for the government of a province and an army for himself. He desired that of Syria most of all, but he was not ignorant of the fact that he was under suspicion and that he would be more so if he should ask for it; for the Senate had secretly encouraged Dolabella, the other consul, to oppose Antony, as he had always been at variance with him. Antony, knowing that this young Dolabella was himself ambitious, persuaded him to solicit the province of Syria and the army enlisted against the Parthians, to be used against the Parthians, in place of Cassius, and to ask it, not from the Senate, which had not the power to grant it, but from the people by a law. Dolabella was delighted, and immediately brought forward the law. The Senate accused him of nullifying the decrees of Caesar. He replied that Caesar had not assigned the war against the Parthians to anybody, and that Cassius, who had been assigned to the command of Syria, had himself been the first to alter the decrees of Caesar by authorizing colonists to sell their allotments before the expiration of the legal period of twenty years. He said also it would be an indignity to himself if he, Dolabella, were not chosen for  p531 Syria instead of Cassius. The Senate then persuaded one of the tribunes, named Asprenas, to give a false report of the signs in the sky during the comitia, having some hope that Antony, too, who was both consul and augur, and was supposed to be still at variance with Dolabella, would co-operate with him. But when the voting came on, and Asprenas said that the signs in the sky were unfavourable, as it was not his business to attend to this, Antony, angry at his lying, ordered that the tribes should go on with the voting on the subject of Dolabella.

8 1 Thus Dolabella became governor of Syria and general of the war against the Parthians and of the forces enlisted for that purpose by Caesar, together with those that had gone in advance to Macedonia. Then it became known for the first time that Antony was co-operating with Dolabella. After this business had been transacted by the people, Antony solicited the province of Macedonia from the Senate, well knowing that after Syria had been given to Dolabella, they would be ashamed to deny Macedonia to himself, especially as it was a province without an army. They gave it to him unwillingly, at the same time wondering why Antony should let Dolabella have the army, but glad nevertheless that the latter had it rather than the former. They themselves took the opportunity to ask of Antony other provinces for Brutus and Cassius, and there were assigned to them Cyrenaica and Crete; or, as some say, both of these to Cassius and Bithynia to Brutus.

Bithynia and Pontus: L. Tillius Cimber; Q. Marcius Crispus

Asia: P. Servilius Isauricus; Trebonius

Gallia Narbonensis and Hither Spain : Lepidus (Cassius Dio, ‘Roman History’, 43: 51: 8)


Cassius Dio recorded that the lower magistrates that Caesor appointed included:

  1. “... two patrician aediles [who were, for the first time,  added to the four from the plebs.  ... And 16 praetors were appointed [in total]”, (‘Roman History’,  43: 51: 2-6). 

Velleius Paterculus recorded that, at the time of Caesar’s murder:

  1. “[M, Junius Brutus and C. Cassius Longinus] were praetors ... “ (‘Roman History’, 2: 58: 3).

Other Events at Rome before Caesar’s Murder

Caesar’s Ovation on the Alban Mount (26th January 44 BC)

The Augustan fasti Triumphales record that, on 26th January, Caesar celebrated an ovans ex monte Albano (an ovation on his return to Rome following his celebration of the Feriae Latinae on the Alban mount).  This record should  probably be connected to a passage by Cassius Dio, in which he recorded that, at an unspecified date (presumably at some time after his victory at Munda on 17th March 45 BC), the Senate had awarded Caesar the honour of:

  1. “... returning  from the Alban Mount into the City on horseback after the Feriae Latinae”, (‘Roman History’, 44: 4: 4-5).

He thus seems to have availed himself of this honour for his celebration of the Feriae Latinae in 26th January, prior to his planned departure for Parthia.  The entry in the fasti is the only source for the information that Caesar celebrated a formal ovation on his return from the games: as As Robert Morstein-Marx (referenced below, at p. 952) pointed out:

  1. “This [ovation] is remarkable, inasmuch as it had ... not been granted for any specific military achievement, as had always been the case [in the past]: the precise character of [Caesar’s ovation] is therefore unclear.”

Lupercalia (15th February 44 BC)

According to Cassius Dio, at some time after Caesar’s victory at Munda on 17th March 45 BC, the Senate decreed the institution of:

  1. “... a third priestly college, which they called the Julian, as overseers of the Lupercalia”, (‘Roman History’, 44: 6: 2).

As John North (referenced below, at p. 145) pointed out, the 15th February 44 BC:

  1. “... was the first day on which the new company (sodalitas) of the Luperci, the Luperci Juliani, joined the ancient ones, the Fabiani and Quinctiani, in running the Lupercalia route.”

In a speech that Cicero made to the Senate on 20th March 43 BC, in which he responded to a series of complaints that Mark Antony had listed in a letter addressed to the consul Hirtius and to Octavian, one of which was that the Senate had;

  1. “...  deprived the Luperci Juliani of their revenues”, (‘Philippics’, 13: 15, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at Vol. II, p. 267).

The Luperci Juliani had appeared at the Lupercalia of 44 BC for both the first and the last time.

The earliest surviving record of the controversy that arose on this day is found in a passage by Cicero that was written for delivery on 19th September 44 BC but not delivered and probably first circulated towards the end of the year:

  1. “[Caesar] sat on the rostra [at the end of the Lupercalia route], dressed in his purple toga, on his golden throne (sella), wearing a crown (coronatus). You, [Mark Antony[,  climb up, you reach the throne - you were being a lupercus when you ought to have been remembering that you were the consul; you display a diadem.  Groans round the whole forum.   ... You placed the diadem on [Caesar’s] head to popular lamentation; he refused it to popular cheering.  So, you were the only one to be found who, having tried to launch a monarchy by turning the man who was your colleague into your lord, tested out what the Roman People would tolerate and suffer”, (“Philippics’, 2: 85, translated by John North (referenced below, at p. 146).

John North (as above) observed that the purple toga and golden throne had been honours already granted to Caesar, but the diadem was obviously a controversial innovation.  Cassius Dio claimed to know what the diadem signified:

  1. “... [Mark] Antony, with his fellow-priests [presumably the other Luperci Juliani], saluted him as king and, placing a diadem on his head, said: ‘The people offer this to you through me.’”, (‘Roman History’, 44: 11: 2).

n a passage of the speech that Cicero claimed that he would have given in the Senate on 19th September, 44 BC, had he attended (which he probably published in November of that year), he claimed that Mark Antony:

  1. “... gave orders  that the following notation should be added to the calendar beside the date of the Lupercalia: [15th February] “

  2. ‘To Caius Caesar, dictator for life, Marcus Antonius, consul, offered royal power by order of the people’:

  3. Caesar declined”, (‘Philippics’, 2: 87, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at Vol. I, p. 139).

Cicero is probably being ironic here, and it is unlikely that Mark Antony ever issued this order.  However, we can reasonably assume that:

  1. Caesar formally assumed the title dictator perpetuo a few days before the Lupercalia of 44 BC;

  2. at the Lupercalia, Mark Antony, as one of the newly-instituted Luperci Juliani, saluted him as king and, placing a diadem on his head; and

  3. Caesar declined the honour. 

Caesar’s Deification

David Wardle (referenced below, at p. 106) observed that:

  1. “The contemporary testimony of Cicero is crucial in establishing the historicity of the formal deification, cult honours and the title assumed by the new divinity.”

This testimony comes in a passage in Cicero’s second ‘Philippic’ (above):   

  1. “And are you [Mark Antony] diligent in doing honour to Caesar’s memory?  Do you love him even now that he is dead?  What greater honour had he obtained [while alive, at your urging] than that of having:

  2. -a pulvinar [a cushioned couch for the gods];

  3. -a simulacrum [an image, usually of a god];

  4. -a fastigium [a gable added to his official house that made it resemble a temple]; and

  5. -a flamen [priest]? 

  6. Thus, as Jupiter, Mars and Quirinus all have priests, so divus Julius has Mark Antony.  Why do you delay then?  Why are you not inaugurated?”, (‘Philippics’, 2: 110  translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at Vol. I, p. 163). 

Ittai Gradel (referenced below, at p. 72) argued that:

  1. “The honours such as temple, priest, the title of divis Julius, the inscription to Caesar as ‘Deus invictus’ after Munda, should be seen as [indicating] relative divinity, that is, divine status in relation to other men. ... Caesar’s heavenly honours expressed his new status, [which was] far above the position of any other man, past or present, in the Roman Republic.”

Caesar’s Murder (15th March 44 BC)

As everyone knows, Caesar was murdered on the Ides of March 44 BC at the start of a meeting of the Senate in the Theatre of Pompey (the usual venue since the old Curia Hostilia had burned down in riots in 52 BC.  According to Nicolaus of Damascus, as Caesar was about to leave for the meeting, amid warnings from his wife and some of his supporters not to do so:

  1. “... the attendants came to summon him, saying that the Senate had a quorum.  Caesar cast a look toward his friends, but [Decimus Brutus] approached him ...  and said:

  2. 'Come Sir, ignore these people's nonsense and do not postpone the business that deserves the attention of Caesar and of the great empire, but consider your own worth a favourable omen.'

  3. Having persuaded him, he ... led him in, for the Senate-chamber was nearby.  Caesar followed in silence.  When [he entered], ... the senators rose ... : [the conspirators] were all around him: 

  4. The first to approach him was [L. Tillius Cimber, see below]. who stepped forward as though to make an urgent appeal on behalf of his brother, [whom Caesar had exiled].  He seized Caesar's toga, seeming to act rather boldly for a suppliant, and thus prevented him from standing up and using his hands if he so wished.

  5. [Although] Caesar was very angry, the [conspirators] maintained their purpose, and all of them suddenly drew their daggers and rushed upon him:

  6. First, [C. Servilius Casca , a plebeian tribune] stabbed him on the left shoulder a little above the collar bone, at which he had aimed but missed through nervousness.  Caesar sprang up to defend himself against him, and Casca called to his brother, [P. Servilius Casca], speaking in Greek in his excitement.  The latter obeyed him and drove his sword into Caesar's side.

  7. A moment before [C. Cassius Longinus] had struck him obliquely across the face.

  8. Decimus Brutus struck him through the thigh.

  9. Cassius Longinus was eager to give another stroke, but he missed and struck Marcus Brutus on the hand.

  10. [L. Minucius Basileus, praetor in 45 BC but refused a province in 44 BC], also made a lunge at Caesar but he struck [the otherwise unknown] Rubrius on the thigh.

  11. It looked as if they were fighting over Caesar.  He fell,under many wounds, before the statue of Pompey, and every one of them but struck him as he lay lifeless, to show that each of them had had a share in the deed, until he had received 35 wounds, and breathed his last.  ...  The body of Caesar lay where it fell, ignominiously stained with blood ... , no-one daring to remain in order to remove the body.  Those of his friends who had been present ran away, and those who [had not been present]  remained hidden in their houses, or else changed their clothing and went out into the country districts nearby.  Not one of his many friends stood by him, either while he was being slaughtered or afterward, except:

  12. C. Calvisius Sabinus [who had recently returned to Rome, having served as governor of Spain in 45 BC]; and

  13. L. Marcius Censorinus;

  14. but though they offered some slight opposition ... [during the] attack, they were forced to flee because of the greater number of their opponents.  All the others looked out for themselves and some even acquiesced in what had occurred”, (Life of Augustus’, 24-6).

According to Cicero, Mark Antony accused Trebonius of parricide, to which he (Cicero) responded:

  1. “What was his crime, except to draw you away from the destruction you deserved on the Ides of March?, (‘Philippics’, 13: 23, translated by David Shackleton Bailey, referenced below, 2010, at Vol. II, p. 253).

The most immediate precedent for Caesar’s dictatorships after Pharsalus had been that of Sulla, in 82 BC, after his victory in the earlier civil war.  This too had been an extraordinary appointment: before Sulla, the last dictator of which we are aware who had been appointed for a purpose other than the holding of elections had been M. Iunius Pera, in the aftermath of the Romans disastrous defeat at Cannae in 216 BC.  However, there were important differences:

  1. As Mark Wilson (referenced below, at p. 27) pointed out, Sulla arranged to be appointed for an indefinite period the purpose of making laws and organising the State (legibus faciendis et reipublicae constituendae caussa) after the blood-letting of the civil war.  Nevertheless, he arguably followed the traditional practice by

  2. “... resigning the dictatorship [in ca. 78 BC] after having accomplished the reparation of the political system to the extent of overseeing the installation of freely-elected consuls (no mean feat after a decade of revolution, counterrevolution, and coup d’etat). 

  3. As we shall see, Caesar held four more-or less consecutive annual dictatorships in 48-44 BC (alongside his 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th consulships) before declaring himself dictator perpetuo shortly before his assassination.

Andrew Drummond (referenced below, at p. 570) observed that this one-year dictatorship was unprecedented:

  1. “Although Sulla's dictatorship [in late 82 BC] had not been subject to [the traditional] time-limit of six months, it [had not been] a dictatorship for life: ... it was to be held until Sulla had completed the task assigned to him (probably the establishment of the res publica and the passing of legislation): that task completed, he [duly resigned].  Caesar's second dictatorship was not to be of this kind: he [probably intended] to hold the office at least until the remnants of the opposition had been crushed, and may already have envisaged its use as the permanent formal basis and expression of his control of the Roman state.  ...  [However, the prospect of a perpetual dictatorship might well have provoked] considerable suspicion, if not outright opposition, at a time when his own position was still not entirely secure.  Caesar therefore resorted to the new device of an annual dictatorship ...”

Read more

Morstein-Marx R., “Julius Caesar and the Roman People”, (2021) Cambridge

Sampson G. “Rome and Parthia: Empires at War: Ventidius, Antony and the Second Romano-Parthian War, 40–20 BC”, (2020) Yorkshire and Philadelphia

Ferrary J.-L., “Le Nouveau Fragment des Fastes de Privernum et le Projet Césarien d’Organisation des Pouvoirs en Occident à la Veille de la Guerre Contre les Parthes”, Comptes Rendus des Séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 161: 4 (2017) 1561-81

Ramsey, J. T. and Raaflaub, K. A., “Chronological Tables for Caesar's Wars (58–45 BC)” , Histos, 11 (2017) 162–21

Wilson M. “The Needed Man: The Evolution, Abandonment and Resurrection of the Roman Dictatorship”, (2017) thesis of the City University of New York

Zevi F. and Cassola F., “I Fasti di "Privernum”, Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik, 197 (2016), 287-309

Buttrey T. V., “Caesar at Play: Some Preparations for the Parthian Campaign, 44 BCE”, Journal of Ancient History, 3:2, (2015) 220-41

Welch K., “Magnus Pius: Sextus Pompeius and the Transformation of the Roman Republic”, (2012) Swansea

Shackleton Bailey D. R. (translator), “Cicero: Philippics , 1-6 (Vol. I) and Books 7-14 (Vol. II)”, (2010) Cambridge, MA

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Drummond A., “The Dictator Years”, Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, 27:4 (1978), 550-72

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