Gaius Cassius Longinus Biography

Gaius Cassius Longinus, also known as Cassius, was a Roman senator and military general who played a significant role in the assassination plot against Julius Caesar. He was married to Brutus’s half-sister, Junia, and fought alongside Brutus in the Battle of Philippi. After Caesar’s murder, Cassius was forced to leave Rome and ultimately took his own life following a defeat by Mark Antony. Despite his military prowess, Cassius was not well-liked and often instilled fear in his subordinates. His influence extended beyond his lifetime, as he is featured in the works of renowned literary figures like Shakespeare and Dante. Additionally, Cassius had a philosophical inclination and later embraced Epicureanism.

Quick Facts

  • Italian Celebrities Born In October
  • Also Known As: Cassius
  • Died At Age: 43
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Junia Tertia
    • Father: Gaius Cassius Longinus Varus
    • Siblings: Lucius Cassius Longinus, Quintus Cassius Longinus
    • Children: Quintus Cassius Longinus
  • Born Country: Italy
  • Military Leaders
  • Italian Men
  • Died on: October 3, 42 BC
  • City: Rome, Italy
  • Cause of Death: Suicide

Childhood & Early Life

Cassius was born on October 3, before 85 B.C., in Rome, Italia, Roman Republic. He belonged to an old Roman family known as “gens Cassia.” Not much is known about his early life, but there is a story about him having an altercation with the son of Sulla, the dictator, in school. He was fluent in Greek and was taught philosophy by Archelaus of Rhodes.

Early Career

In 53 B.C., Cassius served under Marcus Licinius Crassus of the “1st Triumvirate” as a “quaestor.” He witnessed the defeat of Crassus during the Battle of Carrhae against the Parthians. After gathering what was left of the Roman army, he returned in 52 B.C. and defeated the Parthians. Cassius gained control of Syria and became wealthy by allowing people to trade in the area. He was made the “Tribune of the Plebs” in 49 B.C. and was saved from being tried for extortion in Syria due to the civil war between Caesar and the ‘Optimates.’ Cassius initially supported Pompey the Great but was later forgiven by Caesar and appointed as a legate. He became the second-highest ranking official of Rome and was to be made the governor of Syria.

Assassination of Caesar

Cassius, who was married to Junia Tertulla, the half-sister of Marcus Junius Brutus, began conspiring against Caesar and planned his murder. Although Cassius was the mastermind behind the assassination plot, Brutus became the leader of the rebels against Caesar. On March 15, 44 B.C., Cassius and his associates attacked and killed Caesar. However, when Mark Antony took over, the people of Rome turned against them.

After the Assassination

After the assassination, Cassius and the rebels were forced to leave Rome and went to Syria. There, Cassius formed a large army and defeated one of Mark Antony’s trusted counselors. In 43 B.C., the “Second Triumvirate” was formed by Mark Antony, Octavian (later Emperor Augustus), and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus. Cassius and Brutus crossed the Hellespont and settled near Philippi, Macedonia. The war began soon after, with Brutus defeating Octavian and Cassius being defeated by Mark Antony. It is believed that Cassius requested his soldiers to kill him after his defeat. He was buried at Thasos.

Cassius & Epicureanism

Cassius had a deep interest in philosophy and is believed to have converted to Epicureanism between 48 and 45 B.C. Epicurus, an ancient Greek philosopher, advocated for a total withdrawal from politics. Cassius tailored this philosophy to suit his needs and his act of murdering Caesar. Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero linked Cassius’s brand of Epicureanism with his desire for peace after the civil war between Caesar and Pompey.

Family & Personal Life

Cassius was married to Junia Tertia and had a son. Junia was the daughter of Roman matron Servilia and her second husband, Decimus Junius Silanus. Junia was rumored to be the illegitimate daughter of Julius Caesar and Servilia. Cassius and Junia’s son was born around 60 B.C., and Junia is believed to have lived until 22 A.D.

Legacy

In Dante’s “Inferno,” Cassius is depicted as one of the three people who are chewed by Satan forever in one of his three mouths at the center of Hell. This punishment is for his role in the murder of Julius Caesar. Cassius is also a major character in William Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar.”

Trivia

Cassius did not use his portrait on the coins he issued. Instead, he showcased the image of Liberty as part of his propaganda. Plutarch described him as someone with “violent and uncontrolled passions” and believed that Cassius was not liked by his subordinates due to his habit of instilling fear in them.

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