You Too?

June 30, 2012
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The sun had not risen yet.  All was quiet in the city.  The bustling, yells, and cries of merchants and citizens alike would eventually fill the streets and marketplaces.  But not now.  Not for hours.  Now the magnificent arches and splendid aqueducts that were the pride of the Roman Republic were quiet.  Nothing stirred.  The red-roofed domuses slumbered away.  Their aristocratic occupants would not rise as early as this.  Why should they?  Let the plebeians do the early rising and get to work.  They needed their sleep for more important things.

But two figures of aristocratic background did indeed move about the city.  Some blue-bloods would be confused as to why anyone of noble birth would be up so early.  But Marcus Brutus and Cassini Castro had an important meeting with the Senate that they had to attend.  Cassini was a large man, standing about six and a half feet tall.  An eloquent sword was strapped to a belt he had fastened around his toga.  He had completely outfitted himself in his finest jewelry and best perfume, so that he may look regal for the events to come.  The other man, Brutus, was of an average build with wavy brown hair and sea blue eyes. However, he had not dressed himself as splendidly as Cassini.  He still wore a senatorial toga, but wore no jewelry or perfumes.  His only similarity to Cassini was the knife he carried within the folds of his toga.

“The day of liberation has come here at last, eh Brutus?” said Cassini.  He’d been babbling for hours now on how their actions would save the Republic.  Suddenly a cat mewed and darted across the duo’s path.  But Brutus was not listening.  A war was being waged in his head.  How could he do it?  Julius was his friend, one of the best.  He’d stood with him all through the fracturing of the First Triumvirate.  Through all the assassinations and betrayals, all the treachery and treason.  Brutus had been there.  And now he would have his own act of assassination.  A terrible deed.

“What do you think of the weather we’ve been having Brutus?” asked Cassini.    “Personally, I think it has been a bit too warm,” Cassini stated.

“Yes, quite warm,” said Brutus.  Now the other half of him cried out.  No! Julius would become emperor! The people had to be represented, and Brutus would make sure that that happened.  But then he’d become no better than Pompey, the devilish tyrant they’d campaigned so hard to destroy.  
Suddenly an epiphany came to Brutus.  He could turn the conspirators over to Julius. He’d tell him all of the names.  He’d meet Julius before he entered the theatre, and warn him of the danger.  Then they’d leave together, or call in a guard.  And in one swift move Brutus would have eliminated several enemies, political and otherwise.  But first he had to lose Cassini.  Considering this, Brutus realized that Cassini may very well tell of his betrayal if he simply ran away.  The conspirators would surely suspect something was amiss.  This left Brutus with the option of killing Cassini, a man he’d never really liked much anyways.

Brutus had the element of surprise on his side.  But Cassini was much larger than him, had a better weapon, and was rumored as an accomplished swordfighter. However, Brutus believed that his advantage outweighed Cassini’s three.  Determined to save Julius, Brutus reached for his knife.      

Getting a good grip on the weapon and then taking a deep breath, Brutus swiftly drew his knife and stabbed at Cassini’s neck.  Out of the corner of his eye, Cassini saw the knife and immediately crouched and turned, reaching for his sword.  Brutus’ blade connected with Cassini’s shoulder, drawing blood.  Cassini continued to turn, and the knife soon lost its hold on him.  Pulling his sword from his sheath, Cassini swung it blindly towards Brutus, hoping to hit him.  Brutus leapt back, dripping red knife in hand, and knew he had failed.

Cassini stood about ten feet away.  Deep red stained his robes upon his left shoulder.  His sword was held firmly by both hands.  He was wild looking, with his clothes in disarray, and sweat beading on his forehead.

“Traitor,” growled Cassini.  “You stand with Julius, don’t you?  So, you would rather the people be denied their ideas.  Also, I’m only one of the conspirators.  There’s a whole other fifty-eight you’ll have to kill to stop this!”

“Rome will prosper under Julius!  He has bright plans for the Republic!” retorted Brutus.

“He is no better than a dictator!” spat Cassini.  “No better than the tyrannical kings of old!”  At that moment, the cat that had crossed their path earlier came whizzing past.  A black hound was at its heels.  It didn’t notice Cassini as it thundered after the cat.  The dog slammed into him, sending him flying into the wall of a store.  Cassini was hit hard, his sword flying form his hands and hitting the street.  Brutus saw his chance.  He sprinted for the sword, dropping his knife in the process.  Grabbing hold of the hilt, Brutus ran at Cassini, sword in hand, ready for the kill.  Though dazed, Cassini had managed to get halfway to his feet by the time Brutus had arrived.  Brutus hefted a mighty swing at Cassini and hit him across the legs.

Blood splattered onto the street.  Brutus was repulsed by the smell.  It was terrible and instant, burning at his nose.  Cassini was no longer able to stay in his half-standing position and fell down, slumping against the wall.  Cassini gave a moan as the blood ran like a river.  The blood gushed around Cassini’s sword, and just began to nip at Brutus’ sandals.  Brutus could stand it no longer.  He ran.

The scenery flew by.  Red-roofed domuses were nothing but blurs to Brutus’ eyes.  He had to reach the Senate now.  Huffing and puffing, Brutus finally laid eyes upon Pompey’s Theatre.  It was situated somewhat off to the side of the street, but obviously still a great attraction.  Brutus could identify other senators milling around the theatre making small talk with one another.  Brutus could tell they were senators by the purple cloth woven into their togas, and a few slaves that clambered around them.  Looking at the theatre, Brutus felt sick to his stomach.  He knew that at this place, a horrendous crime would be committed.  He could not face it.

But he had to.  He’d wait right inside the amphitheatre for Julius.  He’d stop him, tell him of the conspiracy, and they’d leave.  Brutus straightened his robes, but was unable to do anything about the stains of blood upon them.  Then he started for the theatre.

A few of the senators cried out to Brutus in greeting, but he only nodded back.  Thankfully, Brutus saw that none of the conspirators were among them.  Being careful to avoid the slaves, Brutus hurried on to the archway.  Then suddenly an exclamation rang out from behind him.

“Well, if it isn’t Marcus Brutus!”  Brutus was petrified.  He’d know that voice anywhere.  It was that of Gaius Cassius, ringleader of the conspiracy.  Brutus turned and let his gaze fall on Cassius.  He was of average build, with sandy blonde hair and brown eyes.  His most significant trait seemed to be his lazy eye, never quite focusing in on Brutus.  He also wore senatorial clothes.  Next to him stood another man who Brutus instantly recognized as Tillius Cimber, another senator and conspirator.  He was a gruff little man, barely four feet tall.  Like Cassini, he wore a sword strapped to his belt and had a sinister smile on his face.

“How are you doing, Brutus?” questioned Cassius.  He and Tillius began to stalk toward him.  Brutus was shell-shocked.  He couldn’t take on these two.  Not without a weapon, and with all the senators around.  The pair now stood right in front of Brutus.

“You do have yours, don’t you?” whispered Cassius.  Brutus knew he was referring to his knife, and simply lied by nodding.  “Good, then let us take our seats.”  The three entered the theatre together.  Upon walking through one of the archways leading into the amphitheatre, Cassius began to comfort Brutus.

“I know how close you two were, Brutus,” said Cassius.  “Julius was a strong ally of mine as well.  But all alliances must come to an end sooner or later.”

The trio walked down the aisles that separated the seats of the amphitheatre.  Brutus glanced at the temple to Venus Victrix atop the theatre, and scoffed.  Pompey, the theatre’s namesake and founder, the same one that was Julius’ enemy, wouldn’t have put anything of the likes there except for the ancient laws forbidding such monuments of pleasure. But with the temple to Venus Victrix (which just so happened to be Pompey’s patron god), the gardens that stretched off behind the theatre’s stage, the meeting hall at the end of the gardens, and another four temples behind the meeting hall, the complex  was officially deemed a religious site, not a theatre.  It was at this meeting hall that Julius would be killed.  The three mounted the stage and moved into the building that housed the masks, props, and costumes.

“What do you think will happen after this Marcus?  Do you believe you’ll be made consul?  And what do you think the other senators will think of this?” asked Tillius.  “I personally think that the Senate will be pushed to the head of the government, even above the consuls or tribunes.”

Cassius pushed open a door, and held it for Tillius and Brutus.  They had entered the gardens, and this fresh air gave Brutus the strength to answer.

“The Republic will be preserved,” he said simply.  “If the people want the Senate to be the head, then it’ll be the head.”

Tillius nodded understandingly.  Nothing was said as they walked through the garden.  A beautiful emerald green garden with tinkling fountains of water and the songs of exotic birds.  An odd place to be before an assassination.  It upset Brutus.

The group finally came upon the meeting hall.  A few more senators were milling around the steps leading into the hall, but none had slaves.  They wouldn’t want them this close to the four other temples or Venus Victirx’s temple.  Ignoring all of them the three conspirators mounted the stairs and took their seats in the meeting hall.  It was like any other meeting hall in Rome, with illustrious carvings set in white stone.  But the important thing was it had enough room to seat the entire Senate.

Quickly, a large man bellowed that the Senate be called to order.  A few other straggling senators hurried to their seats.  Soon all the senators had assembled.  Brutus knew that the moment was soon.  Julius would be there to specifically hear a petition from Tillius to recall an exiled brother of his.  The Senate began to discuss and debate certain bills and laws, but Brutus paid no attention.  He was watching the door, waiting for Julius.  And then there he was, just strolling through the door, completely oblivious to what was about to happen.

Julius Caesar quietly took a seat, completely unnoticed by some.  But not Tillius.  He saw him clear enough.  He stood and approached Caesar, a scroll of parchment in hand.  At this the Senate fell silent as they watched Tillius make his way to Julius.

“What be it?” thundered Caesar.

“Please, Caesar I bring forth a petition to return my brother from exile.”  He now stood right in front of Julius, that sinister smile on his face again.

“Let me see,” said Caesar, clearly annoyed.  But instead of handing him a scroll, Tillius dropped it and grabbed the front of Caesar’s robes.  Brutus knew this was the signal to begin.

Many bodies flew up around him, and rushed at Caesar and Tillius.  The two instantly disappeared behind everyone charging forward.  Brutus saw several swords and knives flashing amongst the moving mass.  The murder weapons.  Brutus moved forward too, thinking somehow he had to save Caesar.  Brutus glimpsed Servilius Casca drawing a dagger and pushing through the crowd to reach Caesar first.

“Why this violence!?” howled Caesar.  Everyone seemed to be trying to reach Julius’ body.  The senators who weren’t participating gathered in a little group farther away, just whispering and pointing.  Brutus felt terrible.  He could not reach Caesar, but could see his death all too well.  It was horrifying.

“There’s a traitor among us!” came a cry from the door.  The stabbing stopped.  All heads turned to see who had spoken.  Brutus gave a moan as he saw that it was Cassini Castro, his legs in tourniquets, and holding a crutch.  Slaves surrounded him, ready to catch him if he fell.  Some gasped when they saw him in his condition, others merely stared.

“Marcus Brutus did this to me, not an hour ago on his way here!” cried Cassini as he made his way towards Caesar and the crowd.  The crowd parted as he approached, so as to let him stand amongst them.  “Brutus stands with Caesar!  He stands with tyranny!”

Brutus paid little attention to this.  He was watching Caesar.  He could no longer stand on his own, so Tillius and Servilius Casca’s brother held onto him.  His blood ran freely over his robes, staining them red.  Then it ran onto the floor, pooling around the feet of the assassins.  And then all eyes were on Brutus, some seeming to believe Cassini, others asking Brutus for the truth.  Brutus didn’t know what to do.

“You too, Brutus?” asked Caesar with his last ounce of strength.  Brutus slowly made his way to the crowd and Caesar.  Everyone was waiting, watching him, and seeing what he’d do next.  Brutus now had to choose between his life and Caesar’s.  Then, he saw how the other senators did nothing, and how the assassins gathered in such force.  Brutus realized he’d been trying to stop an unstoppable thing.  If he sided with Caesar now, he’d surely be killed.  That couldn’t happen.  He drew a sword from the belt of someone around him and stabbed Caesar in the ribs.  Caesar gave one final shriek as more blood seeped out of the fresh wound made by Brutus.  Then his head lolled back and it was over.  Julius Caesar was dead.

The senators began to laugh.  Tillius and Casca’s brother dropped the body, washed their hands in the blood and went out on the streets to proclaim Caesar’s death.  The other senators followed their lead.  Cassini seemed a bit stunned at first, but he too covered his hands and joined the others.

But not Brutus.  He alone stood over Caesar.  The senators who hadn’t participated left for their homes, leaving Brutus with the corpse.  Brutus knelt down into the blood and placed his hands on the body.  He wasn’t sure he’d made the right decision.  And so he wept.





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