Sixty men killed Julius Caesar. Sixty people with sixty separate lives that brought them to the point where they were willing to surround a man in senate and take turns thrusting daggers into his body.
Officially, they may have attacked Caesar to keep him from crowning himself king, but there were little moments in every one of their lives that set them on the path to murder. Most of those men have been forgotten, but each one had a life of his own. Each one of Caesar’s assassins has a story that ultimately led him to become a killer—and a story of the fallout that ensued.
10. Caesar Was Sleeping with Brutus’s Mother
Caesar was not just Brutus’s friend—he was his mother’s lover. Before Brutus was even born, Caesar was sleeping with his mother, Servilia.
Brutus almost certainly knew about it. Rumors about Caesar’s and Servilia’s relationship were all over Rome. Caesar, after all, did not do a great job at hiding it. He had a tendency to lavish her with gifts, at one point spending six million sesterces to buy her a single pearl.
When Servilia got older, it just got worse. According to those Roman rumors, the aging Servilia made sure Caesar was not left with an empty bed. In her place, she sent her own daughter—Brutus’s sister—to Caesar’s bedroom.
This probably is not why Brutus killed Caesar—but it is the reason he lived long enough to do it. Brutus would have been killed for siding against Caesarin his war against Pompey, but Caesar ordered his men not to hurt him.
Partly, he wanted to keep Brutus alive to keep Servilia happy—but there was more to it. Caesar had been sleeping with Servilia when she got pregnant. He was not entirely sure, but he thought there was a pretty good chance Brutus was his son.
9. Cassius of Parma and Cicero Spread Rumors That Caesar Was Gay
Murder is not the only way to get back at somebody. The rumor mill in Rome was vicious. If you could not kill someone with a knife, you could always kill their reputation with a story.
Cicero started the rumor that Caesar was gay—and, what was more damning in Rome, that he was on the receiving end. He spread rumors that Caesar had lost his virginity to the King of Bithynia, Nicomedes IV. Nicomedes, Cicero told the world, had one of his attendants lead a young Caesar into his apartment, where the king was waiting for him, splayed out on a purple couch.
Cassius of Parma kept the rumors alive, even after helping stab Caesar to death. He had a vicious tongue—when Octavian was declared Caesar’s heir he went straight to insulting his mother for being poor, spitting out, “Your mother’s meal came from a vulgar bakeshop of Aricia!”
That was just the start, though. He also spread a rumor that Octavian had only been made heir because he had agreed to be Caesar’s sex toy. It was a terrible rumor to spread, but Cassius just spread it—he did not come up with it. The rumor had been started by Octavian’s biggest supporter: Mark Antony.