It is well known that Julius Caesar was murdered by his fellow senators on the Ides of March in Rome – the exact date was 15 March 44BC.
But exactly where he met his untimely end is a matter of debate.
It is known that he was attending a meeting of the senate at the Theatre of Pompey when he was ambushed by his colleagues and stabbed to death.
The senate was meeting at the Theatre of Pompey rather than its usual venue on the day.
Caesar’s wife had spent a sleepless night troubled by nightmares and had warned him not to go to the meeting, but he insisted.
The entrance to the Theatre of Pompey is thought to be located in an area of Rome called the Largo di Torre Argentina – the entrance is in Area Sacra, which lies in the centre of a busy piazza and is now a sanctuary to homeless cats, who prowl the ruins.
But the site stretches for a great distance – the rear wall of the theatre is situated near Campo de’ Fiori, roughly a ten-minute walk away.
Locating the exact spot where Caesar was murdered is therefore almost impossible – and it is something scholars still argue about today.
Some claim he must have been murdered near Area Sacra, as he entered the theatre for the meeting – while others claim that he could have been murdered as he took his seat for the meeting. The exact position of the meeting room is not know.
The curved rear wall of the theatre is sited in a small piazza near Campo de’ Fiori, beneath which are tunnels leading to the theatre’s auditorium, where it is supposed the meeting was held.
The tunnels are not accessible to the general public, however – but it is possible to walk from Area Sacra to the back wall of the theatre, near Campo de’ Fiori, and perhaps walk some of the route Caesar would have taken.
The area is now a bustling tourist centre, with shops and cafes and busy roads. You will need to head for Via Giubbonari and on to Teatro di Pompeo, Via di Grotta Pinta, 10, where the rear wall of the theatre can still be seen.
From here, through the remains of the Church of Santa Maria di Grottapinta, you can reach Campo de’ Fiori.
It is fascinating in itself that people today are still puzzling over the exact location of Caesar’s death – but it perhaps proves how influential he was.
The reason he was killed was as a result of him planning to make himself a ruler in perpetuity, even after death. Contrary to what many think, Julius Caesar was not an emperor – he was a general and a senator. The first emperor of Rome was his successor – his great nephew and adopted son, Octavian, who became Emperor Augustus (Caesar Augustus).
But Julius Caesar had claimed to be a direct descendant of the Trojan Prince Aeneas, the subject of the port Virgil’s epic poem, The Aeneid. Aeneas was the son of Venus and also the founder of Rome and in claiming descent from him, Julius Caesar was not only claiming his right in perpetuity as a ruler, he was also claiming a semi-divine bloodline because Aeneas was the son of Venus.
Eventually, his fellow senators decided to take action to end his plans for becoming a semi-divine ruler in perpetuity – almost a god.
The irony is that, whereas we may only remember a few other senators and even Roman emperors, Julius Caesar has become a lasting symbol of Roman power and a name most people know, just as he planned.
His death also proved to be tragic for Rome as it resulted in a period of schism.
But he ensured his longevity as a symbol of Ancient Rome – and the colleagues who brutally killed him actually stabbed themselves in the foot.
Perhaps that is why we are so fascinated by his death – and the need to know the exact spot where he met his end.
Emperor August built a temple to honour Julius Caesar in the Roman Forum – there is little left of it, with the altar reduced to a mound of soil where visitors still leave flowers and coins to honour Caesar, not to bury him.
It seems the name of Julius Caesar might actually live on forever, just as he wished – but we may never know the exact site of his death.
Where did Julius Caesar die in Rome?