William Shakespeare can have offered Marcus Junius Brutus all the credit, yet Caesar"s true betrayer to be a lot closer friend.

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On march 15, 44 B.C. A group of roman inn senators murdered Julius Caesar together he sat on the podium in ~ a senate meeting. The dictator dropped bleeding to his death from 23 stab wounds before the horrified eyes of the rest of the house. It was a small after noon on the Ides that March, together the Romans called the mid-day that the month. The spectators didn’t know it yet yet they to be witnessing the last hours of the roman Republic. But who was to blame?

As reader of wilhelm Shakespeare know, a dice Caesar turned to one of the assassins and also condemned him with his last breath. It was Caesar’s friend, Marcus Junius Brutus.

“Et tu, Brute?” – “You too, Brutus?” is what Shakespeare has actually Caesar speak in the Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Except, Caesar never said these words. And also Brutus to be neither his closest friend nor his greatest betrayer, not by a lengthy shot.

The worst traitor was one more man: Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus. Decimus was a remote cousin that Marcus Brutus. Due to the fact that Shakespeare all yet leaves him the end of the story, Decimus is the forgotten assassin. In fact, he to be essential.

Shakespeare put two guys in charge of the plot to death Caesar, Brutus and also Gaius Cassius Longinus (he that the well known “lean and also hungry look”). Shakespeare mentions Decimus but misspells his name as Decius and downplays his role. But often-overlooked old sources make clear that Decimus was a leader that the conspiracy.


Decimus to be closer to Caesar than either Brutus or Cassius was. In fact, they protest Caesar during his bloody rise to strength in a civil war. Only once he began winning the war did they defect to his cause. Caesar pardoned Brutus and Cassius and also rewarded them through political office however he didn’t trust them. Decimus was different. He always fought because that Caesar, never versus him, and so he hosted a ar in Caesar’s within circle.

Decimus belonged come the roman nobility, the narrow elite that ruled both Rome and an empire of tens of numerous people. His grandfather extended Rome’s rule to the Atlantic, in Spain. Yet Decimus’s father had actually a mediocre career and also his mother dabbled in revolution. Climate Caesar came along and offered Decimus the opportunity to regain his house’s name.

Decimus to be a soldier in ~ heart, educated yet rough and ambitious, as his enduring correspondence shows. “My soldiers have actually experienced mine generosity and my courage,” Decimus wrote. “I waged war against the many warlike peoples, recorded many strongholds and also destroyed countless places.” the did every that, that wrote, to admire his men, to serve the public, and to advance his reputation.

Decimus warmed to Caesar, a an excellent commander and a battle hero come boot. In his mid-twenties Decimus join Caesar’s forces that to be fighting to include Gaul (roughly, France and also Belgium) to Rome’s empire. Decimus won an important naval fight off Brittany and also served with Caesar in the siege in ~ Alesia (in today’s Burgundy) that sealed Rome’s victory in Gaul.


Julius Caesar laying siege come Alesia, Gaul, 52 BC. (Credit: The print Collector/Print Collector/Getty Images)

Later, his adversaries in the roman inn senate tried to piece Caesar of power however he fought back. The was polite war and also Decimus chose Caesar. When again, Decimus winner a win at sea, this time top top Gaul’s Mediterranean coast. A thankful Caesar named Decimus acting governor of Gaul if Caesar went turn off to challenge his adversaries elsewhere. After an ext than four years of difficult fighting, Caesar went back to Rome triumphant in 45 B.C., through Decimus in ~ his side. Why, then, go Decimus raise a dagger versus Caesar only nine month later?

Many Romans feared the power that Caesar amassed. In theory Rome was a constitution republic. In practice, Rome teetered for years on the brink of military dictatorship. Now, Caesar was Rome’s very first dictator for life—a king in all yet name. He even took a queen as his mistress, Cleopatra the Egypt. In march 44 B.C. She stayed in Caesar’s villa on the outskirts of Rome. She young boy was, she claimed, Caesar’s illegitimate child. Every one of this was too much for roman traditionalists.

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But ambition rather than political rule turned Decimus versus Caesar. Decimus’s letters imply a man who cared more about honor than about liberty. He wanted the difference of a triumph or formal win parade in Rome, but Caesar denied it, although that granted the privilege to lesser generals. No doubt the dictator liked to dole the end his favors slowly to keep his males on your toes. He rewarded Decimus in other ways, yet the slim still smarted.