Two thousand and sixty years after his assassination, Julius Caesar has a simple message for leaders of nations that they will ignore at their peril.
When you rely on creating divisions in society as your prime means of remaining in power, your reign will be short.
When you create fear, people will move to protect themselves in ways you cannot control.
When you make people feel insecure, they will quickly decide that they need a new leader who will give them a sense of security. And it won’t be you.
Caesar came to power by constantly undermining others, finally causing many loyal Romans to die in totally unjustifiable battles against his prime rival Pompey the Great, the man who had vastly expanded the Roman Empire.
Once he had demolished Pompey, he used his political power to give massive handouts of land to his loyal followers by taking it from its rightful owners without compensation.
Despite thinking that his friends would be forever grateful, he took out an insurance policy by openly courting his old enemies in the belief that his friends would thus be unable to dispose of him if he ever fell from grace.
His life was dominated by a powerful woman, Cleopatra, whom he shipped from Egypt to be constantly at his side to the humiliation of his wife. He failed to note that Cleopatra’s ambitions were even greater than his
In the end, he was totally unaware that his trusted friends had decided that he was leading Rome into a state of decay and were plotting to remove him as a matter of urgency.
50 people formed the assassination team and they all knew the exact day, time, place and circumstances in which Caesar would die. Not one of them leaked the plans.
So it was that he was totally astonished when about 20 of his closest mates drove in their daggers while the other 30 protected them.
He was replaced as Emperor by a young man called Octavian who was not one of the plotters. He was just a competent behind the scenes organiser and he ensured that the assassins did not survive for very long.
At the end of the day, history tells us that people very quickly dispose of politicians who are not genuinely committed leaders. They rapidly fall out of love with charisma. They want social stability and economic security, not physical security.
They will place their trust in quiet achievers and will show instant wrath if that trust is ever betrayed.
The world constantly changes, but history has a habit of repeating itself.
Yours at Large,
(If you would like to read the latest book on Julius Caesar, buy The Death of Caesar by Barry Strauss. I enjoyed reading it last week.)
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