The growing power of Julius Caesar, who assumed the title of dictator for life, threatened the prestige of many members of the Roman Senate. On March 15 in 44 bc a group of senators assassinated Caesar. The story of the assassination has become the subject of many plays and other works of art.
The basic prop for Caesar's continuation in power was the dictatorship for life. According to the traditional Republican constitution, this office was only to be held for six months during a dire emergency. That rule, however, had been broken before. Sulla had ruled as dictator for several years, and Caesar now followed suit. In addition, he was made consul for ten years in 45 bc and received the sanctity of tribunes, making it illegal to harm him. Caesar also obtained honors to increase his prestige: He wore the robe, crown, and scepter of a triumphant general and used the title imperator. Furthermore, as Pontifex Maximus, he was head of the state religion. Above all, however, he was in total command of the armies, and this remained the backbone of his power.
As a ruler Caesar instituted various reforms. In the provinces he eliminated the highly corrupt tax system, sponsored colonies of veterans, and extended Roman citizenship. At home he reconstituted the courts and increased the number of senators. His reform of the calendar gave Rome a rational means of recording time.
A number of senatorial families, however, felt that Caesar threatened their position, and his honors and powers made them fear that he would become a rex (king), a title they, as Republicans, hated. Accordingly, in 44 bc, an assassination plot was hatched by a group of senators, including Gaius Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus. On March 15 of that year, when Caesar entered the Senate house, the group killed him