Fake News in the Roman Empire
The Financial Times reports a famous historical event that triggered a massive fake news crisis that put an end to the Roman Republican hopes. I am referring to the killing of Julio Caesar. After appointing himself as dictator for life in 44bc, Julio Caesar was stabbed 23 times on the ides of March by the republican ‘liberators’, led by Brutus.
This action, rather than helping to re-establish the republican system, triggered the battle for power of the two major Caesar’s supporters: the loyal general Mark Antony and the adopted son Octavian. In such a situation, Octavian understood he had to convince the republicans that Mark Antony was not adapt to succeed Caesar and he started a campaign to picture him as a threat to Rome. Mark Antony was portrayed as a soldier who left Rome to enjoy his lascivious life and to flirt with Cleopatra, the leader of a foreign land. Such a portrait was in a perfect contrast with the Octavian’s self representation of virtuous protector of Roman values and traditions.
Thanks to these rumors, in the 27bc, Octavian managed to convince the republicans and could finally call himself Augustus, the first emperor of Rome. With a perfectly orchestrated fake news campaign, the Roman republican experience was set to its end.