Compare Julius Caesar

Posted: October 23rd, 2013




Compare Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln are undeniably two men who made history through their leadership expeditions on their respective nations. When comparing the two, one key aspect of how they made history comes into mind: their assassination. Hence, comparing the assassination of an American president to that of Julius Caesar reveals both similarities and differences. Ultimately, the major of comparing the two is through the similarity between the two assassinations. In this case, they were carried out by people who disagreed with Lincoln and Caesar’s authority and power, and how they used this power and authority.

In most modern and ancient histories, Julius Caesar is considered a demagogue and a dictator. If so, then Caesar’s assassination was an act of defending the republic. The perpetrators of this act called themselves the liberators who were led by Junius Brutus and Cassius Longinus. As documented by Nicolaus of Damascus, many plans had been laid out by the group. The liberators never met in the open but held their meetings in each other’s houses a few at a time (Alvin 31). There were many proposals and discussions as they investigated the best means of executing their plans. Some suggested that they should execute Caesar when he was talking his usual walks down the Sacred Way.

Another suggestion laid out by the group members involved assassinating Caesar at the elections where he would have crossed a bridge prior to appointing magistrates to the Maritus Campus. This plan would have had them drawing lots to push him off the bridge and others waiting below to kill him. In addition, there was a third plan that involved conducting the act at a gladiatorial show. The main advantage of this scene was that the show allowed carrying of weapons hence the group would have aroused no suspicion with their swords for stabbing Caesar. However, majority of the group members favored killing him when he would be sitting at the senate. This situation would have left him exposed since he would have been by himself as other senators would have been going through the admission process. Ultimately, this plan was chosen (Furtwangler 72).

Two days prior to the assassination, Cassius held a meeting with the liberators and informed them that they should turn their swords against themselves if their plan was ever leaked. On March Ides of 44BC or March 15 in the Roman Calender, a group of Senators summoned Caesar and asked him to read a petition in the forum. This petition was a move by the senators requiring him to surrender power and hand it back to the Senate. However, this petition was fraudulent. Mark Antony had somehow learnt of the plot to assassinate Caesar the previous night from one of the liberators, Servilius Casca. In a desperate act, Antony attempted to prevent this by warding off Caesar at the theater’s pass on Pompey (Alvin 47). He led him to a room that adjoined the east portico. The murder of Caesar occurred as he was reading the fake petition. The first attempt failed as Caesar managed to hold off the first attacker. However, the rest of the Liberators led by Brutus descended on him on the lower portico steps. He was stabbed 23 times (Parissien 52).

For the assassination, of Abraham Lincoln, the main perpetrator was John Wilkes Booth. Booth originally designed a plan of kidnapping Lincoln and holds him ransom for the freedom of the Confederate prisoners. Booth attended a speech on 11 April outside the White House where President Lincoln was promoting the voting rights for blacks. It is in this occasion that Booth changed the kidnapping plan into an assassination. Word then reached Booth that the President was scheduled to attend Ford’s Theatre. At the time, Booth was a well-known actor thus making his access to such an event much easier.

In the theater, the President was without his main bodyguard who had wandered. Booth seized this opportunity, crept up behind the president, and waited for the perfect opportunity to shoot the President with a round-slug 44. He waited for a funny moment in the play hoping that the laughter would muffle the sound of the gunshot (Furtwangler 142). Booth managed to assassinate President Lincoln and made an escape. However, a manhunt ensued, and he was apprehended twelve days later in a barn-house where he was shot and died soon after. Ultimately, the murder of President Lincoln brought forward many controversies regarding the issues of race, politics, and equality.

As stated earlier, the decision to assassinate Lincoln was made when he made the speech outside the White House on 11 April to promote black voting rights. Additionally, Lincoln was looking to use his authority to cultivate a sense of equality in America and end slavery. At this time, racism was rife in the United States and many people including Booth and the governor of Maine, who owned over sixty-five slaves at the time, were not amused with this decision. In 1861, Lincoln acted to fulfill his desire to cultivate equality by suspending the constitution. Consequently, a civil war was declared. Suspension of the constitution warranted executive orders. It is important to understand that the only way a President was allowed to make an executive order was when the constitution was suspended. People like Booth saw this as abuse of office (Morse 41).

In comparison, the assassination of Julius was inclined on a similar reason. In this case, the rise of Caesar’s power was considered by some as disregard and disrespect of authority, tradition, and Roman rules. Caesar on many occasions challenged Roman commander Pompey and his main opponent, thus leading to many civil wars. Additionally, his decision to cross Rubicon was contrary to the Roman law that restricted him to enter Rome because he was a governor of Gaul at the time. Additionally, following Pompey’s death, Caesar conferred more powers to himself by diluting the Senate’s reaches and powers (Alvin 82). One major flaw that Caesar possessed was his strong ambition. This made him overconfident and thought he had become invincible both in Rome and battle. Because his soldiers respected and loved him, Caesar thought that he would pursue whatever he desired. This is what led to his demise.

Conclusively, both Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln are men renowned for their roles that made significant influences in the shaping of Rome and the United States. A number of aspects can be used to compare the two, but the fact that the two were assassinated by people against their use of authority is the ideal mode of comparison. President Lincoln was assassinated for his support on black equal rights and the end of slavery. His act was noble, but the society at that time was stubborn to comprehend such change. On the other hand, Caesar’s assassination came down to his abuse of office and power.


Works Cited

Alvin B. Kernan. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009. Print.

Furtwangler, Albert. Assassin on Stage: Brutus, Hamlet, and the Death of Lincoln. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007. Print.

Morse, John T. Abraham Lincoln. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 2005. Print.

Parissien, Steven. Assassinated!: Assassinations That Shook the World, from Julius Caesar to Lincoln. London: Quercus, 2008. Print.

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