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10 Most Infamous Stains in History


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Toga Party for the End Times
The death of Julius Caesar as painted by Alexander Zick © Bettmann/CORBIS
The death of Julius Caesar as painted by Alexander Zick © Bettmann/CORBIS

Julius Caesar was a masterful politician and warrior, and as he gained and influence in the Roman Republic, he set his sights ever higher. After a struggle that resulted in civil war, he emerged as the most powerful man in Rome.

He installed hundreds of his allies in the Senate and in effect became a dictator. Then he initiated a sweeping series of governmental changes. He commanded artists to create works of art in his likeness, which were installed all over the country.

Caesar's egotistical power grabs hardly went unnoticed. A group of around 60 senators began plotting to assassinate him in order to save their republic. When the opportunity arose, they stabbed him to death.

Yet Caesar was actually wildly popular with many Romans. At the funeral proceedings, Marc Antony raised Caesar's blood-soaked toga and waved it to stoke their anger, perhaps as part of a ploy to take power for himself.

These days, the phrase, "waving the bloody shirt" is meant to touch on the sacrifices of martyrs or to attack political opponents. And it all harkens back to the bloody betrayal of Rome's most powerful man.


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