All About History

Murder IN ANCIENT ROME

When Julius Caesar entered the Senate House on 15 March 44 BCE, he is said to have done so in good spirits. He had heard the prophecy of the threat against him, but surrounded and supported by his friends, he felt he had nothing to fear. As it happened, it was those same friends who would be the ones to murder him and end his ascent as ruler of Rome.

The story of the assassination of Caesar is probably the most famous example of murder in Ancient Rome, but it was far from the last. In fact, only a cursory glance at the reigns of the emperors who would follow him shows that the life expectancy of the ruler of Rome was often short – and not because of old age or illness. Going back even further into Rome’s history, it becomes clear that this was a world in which murder was a tool like any other in political life. It’s this very history that Dr Emma Southon explores in her new book A Fatal Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.

“Mark Anthony once chased Clodius, who was tribune of the plebs, across the forum with a knife”

“The first magistrate to be murdered by the Senate was Tiberius Gracchus,” Southon tells us. “He was beaten to death by a mob of furious senators while he was tribune of the plebs and trying to force through land

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