Site of Caesar’s demise said to be uncovered
Demonstrating that there may be nothing beyond knowing, archaeologists said Wednesday they believe they have found the exact spot in Rome where Julius Caesar was stabbed to death more than 2,000 years ago.
The assassination of Julius Caesar by Roman senators on March 15, 44 BC, was recorded by ancient historians and immortalized in William Shakespeare’s eponymous play, in which the Roman dictator uttered the last words: “Et tu Brute? Then fall, Caesar.”
A team from the Spanish National Research Council said they have unearthed evidence that reveals precisely where the infamous attack took place, according to Agence France-Presse.
Augustus, after taking sole power of Rome sometime after 27 BC, ordered the structure be placed exactly over the spot where the attack occurred so as to condemn the slaying, the scientists said.
“This finding confirms that the general was stabbed right at the bottom of the Curia of Pompey while he was presiding, sitting on a chair, over a meeting of the Senate,” the Spanish research council said in a statement.
The Curia of Pompey was a closed space used sometimes for senate meetings at the time, according to the wire service. The building’s remains are in the Torre Argentina archaeological site in the center of Rome.
What the archaeologists found was not the spot where Caesar died but the point where he must have been stabbed and fell, Spanish council researcher Antonio Monterroso told Agence France-Presse.
“We know this because there is a structure that seals the place where Caesar must have been seated presiding over the senate session where he was stabbed,” he said.
“There is a structure from the later period of his successor, the period of Augustus, placed where Caesar must have sat, and that is how we know.”
It was impossible to know if Caesar died in the same place, however, the researcher said.
“From there the body was taken to the Roman Forum for his veneration and then it was cremated,” Monterroso said. “We don’t know if he died in that instant or if he died hours later.”
Monterroso said the finding was by no means definitive.
“It is not indisputable,” he said. “All archaeological science is open to dispute, it should be open to dispute, it should be open to argument, it should be open to debate and open to criticism, of course.”
He achieved unrivaled military success, to such a degree that following his conquest of Gaul, the Roman Senate ordered him to lay down his arms and return to Rome.
Caesar refused and instead marched on Rome in 49 B.C. After the ensuing civil war, he emerged as the undisputed leader.
Concerned that too much power was vested in a single individual, several dozen Roman senators fell upon Caesar on the Ides of March, 44 BC, stabbing him multiple times. However, their actions did little to stem Rome’s slide into authoritarianism and eventual anarchy.
(Above: Morte de Césare (Death of Caesar), Vincenzo Camuccini, 1798, Galleria nazionale d’arte moderna e contemporanea, Rome.)