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Casar had warning given him of his fate by indubitable omens. A few months before, when the colonists settled at Capua, by virtue of the Julian law, were demolishing some old sepulchres, in building countryhouses, and were the more eager at the work, because they discovered certain vessels of antique workmanship, a tablet of brass was found in a tomb, in which Capys, the founder of Capua, was said to have been buried, with an inscription in the Greek language to this effect: "Whenever the bones of Capys come to be discovered, a descendant of Iulus will be slain by the hands of his kinsmen, and his death revenged by fearful disasters throughout Italy." Lest any person should regard this anecdote as a fabulous or silly invention, it was circulated upon the authority of Caius Balbus, an intimate friend of Caesar's. A few days likewise before his death, he was informed that the horses, which, upon his crossing the Rubicon, he had consecrated, and turned loose to graze without a keeper, abstained entirely from eating, and shed floods of tears. The soothsayer Spurinna, observing certain ominous appearances in a sacrifice which he was offering, advised him to beware of some danger, which threatened to befall him before the ides of March were past. The day before the ides, birds of various kinds from a neighbouring grove, pursuing a wren which flew into Pompey's senate-house,1 with a sprig of laurel in its beak, tore it in pieces. Also, in the night on which the day of his murder dawned, he dreamt at one time that he was soaring above the clouds, and, at another, that he had joined hands with Jupiter. His wife Calpurnia fancied in her sleep that the pediment of the house was falling down, and her husband stabbed on her bosom; immediately upon which the chamber doors flew open. On account of these omens, as well as his infirm health, he was in some doubt whether he should not remain at home, and defer to some other opportunity the business which he intended to propose to the senate; but Decimus Brutus advising him not to disappoint the senators, who were numerously assembled, and waited his coming, he was prevailed upon to go, and accordingly set forward about the fifth hour. In his way, some person having thrust into his hand a paper, warning him against the plot, he mixed it with some other documents which he held in his left hand, intending to read it at leisure. Victim after victim was slain, without any favourable appearances in the entrails; but still, disregarding all omens, he entered the senate-house, laughing at Spurinna as a false prophet, because the ides of March were come without any mischief having befallen him. To which the soothsayer replied, "They are come, indeed, but not past."
1 This senate-house stood in that part of the Campus Martius which is now the Campo di Fiore, and was attached by Pompey, "spoliis Orientis Onustus," to the magnificent theatre, which he built A.U.C. 698, in his second consulship. His statue, at the foot of which Caesar fell, as Plutarch tells us, was placed in it. We shall find that Augustus caused it to be removed.
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