CSI: Caesar
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There are often myths and misconceptions surrounding historical figures like Julius Caesar. Caesar was a Roman general and politician who declared himself dictator of the Roman Empire, but that lasted less than one year before he was famously assassinated on the Ides of March 15th, 44 B.C. Among the myths that is not true is that he was born as the result of a cesarean section, and it is unlikely that's where the name of the procedure came from. It does spear to be true that Caesar was the subject of the first recorded autopsy in history. What does the autopsy tell us about his assassination?

The day before his death, historians think Caesar had dinner with Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, who apparently convinced Caesar to go to the Senate as usual the next day. Caesar was not feeling well, and his wife was concerned about rumors of a planned attack. Caesar entered the Senate via the Porticus of Pompey and took a seat on his specially built golden throne he used while attending the Senate.

There were four leaders of the conspiracy to kill Caesar that day. There were 200 senators in the Senate chamber along with ten tribunes and slaves and secretaries. Lucius Tillius Cimber approached Caesar with a petition, then Cimber grabbed Caesar by his toga and Casca was the first to stab him. The attackers had chosen small double-edged daggers in planning their attack because they were easy to hide.

Other conspirators joined in the attack, and Caesar died at the foot of a statue honoring one of his old enemies, Pompey. Modern recreations of the attack theorize that there were 5 to 10 attackers. Some historians think his last words were "Kai su, technon?" which translates into "You too, my child?" Most people know the phrase "Et tu Brute?" or "You too, Brutus?" which Shakespeare made famous in his play, but both refer to Brutus, who may have been Caesar's illegitimate child.

The body lay in the Senate for three hours before servants took it home, where a physician named Antistius examined the body. He documented 23 stab wounds, only one of which would have been fatal. The fatal wound entered below his left shoulder blade and could have punctured the heart, a lung or a blood vessel. Regardless, the cause of death was blood loss.

Antistius also presented his findings in the forum, the Latin forensis, from which the term forensics arose. This was the first recorded autopsy and gave a name to the field of studying a body after death to determine what may have caused it: forensic science. The original plan was that Caesar was to be burnt on a funeral pyre at the Field of Mars after his funeral on March 20th, but an angry crowd returned his body to the forum. Outraged by the killing of their leader and demanding justice for the killers, the crowd surrounded the senate house and burned it to the ground.

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