Preview from First Pages
Favor-seekers quickly surrounded him. One of his friends put a scroll in his right hand, but Caesar was unable to read it because of the crush of the crowd. When he reached the top step, he gestured to the soothsayer to perform the customary auspices. Almost immediately the soothsayer became alarmed. “I’ve found an omen that’s a sign of death!”
Caesar put his hand to his head as he thought about Calpurnia and her dream. He frowned as he put his hand down and said, “I had that same omen before my war against Pompey years ago, and I’m still alive. Let’s try it again later.”
He turned to see Decimus now pushing his way toward him. When he made it, he said, “Hurry, Caesar, the senators are waiting.” As he took one last look around, Caesar saw the large figure of Mark Antony moving slowly in his direction. He too was surrounded by favor-seekers.
There was the usual polite applause when he walked into the chamber. As he sat down, Tillius Cimber approached him with a scroll. Cimber knelt and said, “It’s a petition to release my brother from exile.”
Caesar waved him off. “We’ll discuss it later.” As he started to open the scroll he’d been carrying, Cimber jumped up and grabbed his toga with both hands. Caesar said angrily, “I told you we’d talk about it later!”
Instead of letting go, Cimber pulled Caesar’s toga down over his shoulders to restrain his arms. Then Cimber yelled, “Friends, what are you waiting for?”
Caesar struggled to free himself. Someone swung a dagger at him from behind, and it cut into his chest. He realized now that he was surrounded by a group of senators. Most were in back of him. He immediately yanked his toga out of Cimber’s hands and jumped up to grab the arm of the man who’d stabbed him. When he saw that it was Casca, he yelled, “Why, this is violence!” Then, with great force, he hurled Casca across the room. A dagger cut into his side as he turned to fight off another attacker. With hatred in his eyes, Cassius came straight at him. Caesar ducked and swerved, but Cassius still managed to slice his face. Caesar was screaming as he spun and wrestled from side to side. He felt a knife go into his back. Another cut into his thigh. The attackers were now coming at him from all sides. He looked down and saw that his body was covered in blood.
When Marcus Brutus came at him, Caesar said in Greek, “You, too, my child?” He spoke no more. As he started to fall, he used his right arm to pull his toga up over his head and used his left to throw it down to cover his legs and feet. When he landed on the floor, in front of Pompey’s statue, his toga fully covered his body, but his blood was flowing out from under it in every direction.