THE NOBLES PLOT AGAINST CAESAR
 SINCE the days of Tarquin the Proud, the people of Rome
had hated the very name of king. In some strange and
subtle way, their love for Cæsar and their pride in
his achievements began, from this time, to be touched
with the suspicion that he wished to bear the title
Rex, rex being the Latin word for king.
Slowly but surely the thought grew. Suppose Cæsar
should claim the supreme title and then forget his
gracious ways, and become like Tarquin of old, proud
Cæsar's enemies were not slow to take advantage of the
mood of the people, and they did all that they could to
encourage their suspicion and dread.
His friends, too, foolishly played into the hands of
his enemies, some of them one day saluting him as Rex.
Cæsar, whether he was pleased or not, was quick to see
that the people standing near were angry. So he
replied, as though to reprove his friends, that his
name, as they knew, was not Rex but Cæsar.
Rex, as well as meaning king, was also the surname of a
well-known Roman family.
It was all very well for Cæsar to pretend that his
friends had mistaken who he was, but rumours were soon
rife in the city—that Cæsar really wished the title,
and had not been well pleased at the evident dislike of
the people to hear him saluted as Rex.
And so gradually his words and movements came to be
 watched by his enemies and by the people too, always
with this thought of kingship in their minds.
When, on his return from Spain, the consuls and
senators went to tell Cæsar of the new honours that
had been heaped upon him, he did not, as was his
custom, rise to receive them, but remained sitting.
Not only the Senate, but the people, were indignant at
such haughty behaviour, and Cæsar himself was quick to
see that he had made a mistake.
He tried to excuse himself, saying that his health was
not good, but few believed that that accounted for his
It is said that he really was going to rise as usual,
had not one of his flatterers pulled him to his seat,
saying, "Will you not remember you are Cæsar, and
claim the honour which is your due?"
Soon after this, in February 45 B.C., an ancient
festival called the Lupercalia was celebrated on the
Cæsar sat, clad in a triumphal robe, in a golden chair
to watch the games.
Mark Antony was taking part in the festival, and as he
ran hither and thither amid the merrymakers, he reached
the Forum and saw Cæsar seated on the chair of gold as
on a throne. He stepped before him and held out a
crown wreathed with laurel.
A few persons had been placed near Cæsar, with orders
to applaud when Antony proffered the crown to the
Dictator, and so some feeble cheers rose on the air,
while the crowd looked on coldly and in silence.
But when Cæsar moved the crown aside, loud cheers
burst from the multitude. There was no doubt that the
Dictator's action had pleased them.
Again Antony offered the crown, while a few persons
clapped their hands, but when once more Cæsar put it
aside, cheer after cheer rent the air.
A third time Antony tried to force the crown upon
Cæsar, but the temper of the people had been shown too
 and the Dictator now bade the crown to be taken to the
Capitol and dedicated to Jupiter, for he alone was
A few days later, those who passed the statues of
Cæsar found them adorned with crowns.
This roused the anger of two tribunes, who pulled off
the crowns and arrested those who, they believed, had
first called Cæsar Rex, and sent them to prison.
Whether Cæsar really wished to be king or not, he was
angry with the tribunes for their hasty conduct, and
ordered them to be suspended from the tribuneship.
As I told you, Cæsar's every act was now watched with
suspicion. He had no sons to follow him, so he began
to bring his great-nephew Octavius, who was eighteen
years of age, to the front, and treat him as a prince
and his heir should be treated. It seemed to the
nobles that Cæsar was acting as a king, who claimed
for his heir the respect due to royalty.
In this, and many other ways, the Dictator incensed
the patricians. Little by little their hatred grew,
until some among them began to think that it would be
well if Cæsar were dead. For as long as he was alive
it was not possible for them to be as powerful as they
had been before he ruled in Rome.
But others, like Decimus Brutus, who was loved by
Cæsar and who loved him, did not wish the Dictator out
of the way, in order to satisfy their own ambitions.
They truly believed that it would be better for Rome
not to be ruled by one man, but by the Senate and the
people, as had been the way of old.
So while different nobles had different reasons for
plotting against Cæsar, they all had agreed at length
that Cæsar must be put to death.
The chief conspirator was Cassius, who like Brutus had
fought for Pompey, and had been pardoned and even
favoured by Cæsar.
Cassius was crafty and ambitious, and his dark lean
 smiled as he thought how soon Cæsar's power would now
be at an end. Brutus, too, was one of the most active
Before long the plot was complete, and the conspirators
determined that it should be carried out quickly, lest
it should be discovered. For already more than sixty
or seventy people had been told the terrible secret.