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Chapter 13 - Remembering M. Brutus: From Mixed and Hostile Perspectives

from Part II - Politicising Cultural Memory

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 April 2023

Martin T. Dinter
Affiliation:
King's College London
Charles Guérin
Affiliation:
Université de Paris IV
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Summary

On the Ides of March 44 BC, a momentous occasion took place in the history of Rome: Julius Caesar was assassinated in a crowded meeting of the senate.1 Almost immediately the scramble to define, legitimize, and record the act was set in motion. Marcus Junius Brutus, we are told, raised his dagger in the air and called on Cicero, presumably hoping he would be the ideal advocate for their deed; after all, Cicero had spoken out vigorously against tyranny in his published works, and this is the line they wanted to take now: that Caesar was a tyrant justly slain. For the same reason, the assassins took control over their image by rebranding themselves as ‘Liberators’ – that is, as the men who had freed Rome from Caesar’s rule. On the afternoon of the Ides, Brutus and Cassius attempted to address the people of Rome in a contio – a public meeting hastily convened in the forum. But there was little public support either then or in the meetings that followed.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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