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"Suicide by cop" is, as I understand, an expression from police reports to describe people who create confusion and force the police to use their guns, and shoot the person that has created havoc.

A friend of mine uses the expression to describe the assassination of Caesar. One of my arguments against this is that I am unaware of parallels in Antiquity. (As a rule of the thumb, I prefer explanations that can be applied more than once. Of course, some events are unique, but an explanation that can be used to describe only one phenomenon, appears to be weaker than an explanation that covers more phenomena.)

Leaving the methodical aspect aside: does anyone know of another Roman organizing his own suicide?

Gaius Decius Aquilius

As an ex-cop I know of several instances of suicide by cop. They are, witout exception ruinious to both the officer and the the families involved. In every case I have detailed knowledge of, the subject was under the influence of drugs, specifically meth or crack and would have faced a long prison sentence. Out of five instances that come to mind, one is dead, four survived. One officer died, three were wounded. In three more incidences no one was injured. I have to also interject here to those of you unfamiliar with firearms, "shooting to wound" is a myth. There is no such thing in a real encounter where everything happens in a confused few seconds. Very few people who are fully trained with firearms can make a precision hit (say within 6 inches of point of aim), on a paper target. The decision to fire is directed by a "use of force doctrine" that will vary from state to state. There is also the endless stream of "what the officer shoud have done" by people with no traing or knowledge of the matter for the usual 18 months for investigation and clearance. The average cost of a police involved shooting is 2.6 million, the vast majority of that money going to involved legal fees and council. The "killing" may often be more financial that the shooting. One risk managment official contemptiously told an officer that it cost $400, 000 to clear his shooting and if the officer had died it would only cost $40,000. If my I cynicism with our legal system seems extreme, I got that way by expierience.

I do not think there is an exact ancient parallel. Suicide seems to be viewed differenty in the ancient world.

Ralph Izard
Did you look at Anton van Hooff's book on suicide in the ancient world?
I think the theory about Julius Caesar effectively committing suicide by knowlingly walking in to an assassination attempt is crazy and without factual basis. Everything we know about Caesar- especially his action in crossing the Rubicon and thus causing a civil war rather than laying down his powers, suggests that he was not a man to 'roll over' as it were.
What if he was a manic depressive, or clinically depressed? We also know that he was highly intelligent, and a creative thinker. If, perhaps, he wished to die or thought it simply inevitable he would go soon anyway (the feeling of dying is prevalent with the clinically depressed), then who knows? Other ways to commit suicide are through attrition (drinking oneself to death, etc), and many suicides are through putting oneself in immediate peril, like with a train where it is left for someone else to drive the train, the suicide doesn't actually drive it. In a way, that would be similar to how Caesar acted as he did not recklessly provoke the assassins in the senate house but placed himself in peril (if he had known of the plot against himself).
Just to illustrate the point from an historical perspective:

Some Famous People Who Suffer from Mood Disorder

The following list is drawn from "Touched With Fire; Manic-Depressive Ilness and Artistic Temperament"
Kay Redfield
Jamison, The Free Press (Macmillan), New York, 1993

•Mahatma Gandhi •Ajax, according to Aristotle •Hans Christian Andersen •Honore de Balzac •Charles Baudelaire •Napoleon Bonaparte •Winston Churchill •Copernicus •Oliver Cromwell •Empedocles, according to Aristotle •Hercules, according to Aristotle •Howard Hughes •Robert E Lee •Abraham Lincoln •Michelangelo •John Stuart Mill •Benito Mussolino •Nebuchadnezzar •Lord Nelson •Friederich Nietzsche •Emperor Norton I •Pitt •Plato, according to Aristotle •Theodore Roosevelt •St John •St Theresa •William T Sherman •Socrates, according to Aristotle


Some more:
Queen Elizabeth
St Francis

Here's a book on the subject: A Brotherhood of Tyrants: Manic Depression & Absolute Power by D. Jablow Hershman, Julian Lieb.
"Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin all manifested elements of mania and depression from their earliest years, the pair avers. They draw on a variety of literature--some of it well known, some dating from a century or longer ago, some coming from the medical literature--to support their arguments as, presenting their subjects' lives chronologically, they emphasize incidents that fit the manic-depressive pattern. Although some of these events are common knowledge, others are not, and it is the latter that add special weight to the book's thesis."

And an interesting view on the sack of Thebes by Alexander:
"In the region beyond the Oxus the army came upon one city of Greeks who joyously welcomed Alexander and his men, but Alexander ordered the massacre of these Greeks because they were the descendants of priests who a century and a half earlier had turned their holy sanctuary over to the Persians. The Persians resettled those priests to a remote part of their empire. Although there may have been some rationale behind Alexander's action the real explanation probably lies in Alexander's mental condition. He most likely suffered from manic-depressive syndrome, now also known as bipolar syndrome. While in the manic phase Alexander possessed bountless energy and charm. He could be generous to his enemies as well as his friends. But in the depressive phase he could order monstrous atrocities and even personally carryout dispicable acts of violence. He consumed alcohol to excess and this probably made matters worse. It is fairly common for manic-depressives to try to cope with their depression by means of alcohol and they may get some respite in the short run but in the long run the alcoholism exacerbates the depression. The destruction of Thebes early in Alexander's career was probably a consequence of such depression."
There simply is no way to prove that Caesar was manic depressive. The majority of the evidence that Caesar knew of any plot is anecdotal. I think the theory that he knew of the assassination plot and walked in to it in order to kill himself is deeply flawed. He had ample opportunity to place himself in a situation to be killed during the civil wars or during his planned expedition against Parthia.
Quote:There simply is no way to prove that Caesar was manic depressive.
I wonder if that is the case, and if a modern psychologist has actually taken a look. A lot could be revealed through his writings and actions.

Quote:He had ample opportunity to place himself in a situation to be killed during the civil wars
And he actually did place himself in mortal danger, don't forget. The motivation is the issue. Was it to inspire the men, and even then was there are a hidden reason that even he would not know of?

I'm not saying he was manic depressive, but it's a very interesting point that Jona makes. The theory is that he had epillepsy, but what if it was something more akin to Churchill's "Black Dog"?
I saw a program where it was postulated that Caesar did just that. The theory was that he suffered from a form of epilepsy that was progressive and would eventually leave him a helpless fool who would defecate all over himself, and, that he knew it.

The theory further goes that facing this, he organized his own death, knowing that by doing so, he would achieve everything he wanted.

It was highly interesting. However, I had serious doubts about it.

First it assumed that Caesar, a 1st century BC person, would have had had an in depth understanding of the study of modern neurological disorders, including their prognosis.

Second, I have deep felt doubts about the "science" of psychology. My own personal experience as a trial attorney is that I can find a psychologist to say anything I want. I can put one psychologist who will testify as to one conclusion on the stand and another who will testify to the exact opposite. Both will "sound" equally scientific.
Dear John, My friend and you are talking about the same theory. I share your skepticism about the difficulty of looking inside Caesar's mind. Therefore, I would say: an explanation (deliberately walking into a known trap) that is used only once, is to be abandoned if there's an alternative that has been used more often.

So here's my question again: are there known cases of people who sought their own killing?
Symbionese Liberation Army? They seem more the type whom you would expect to do it. Alienated, radical, violent, criminal, anti-social. Jim Jones of Jonestown fame, also, though he did it to himself. Perhaps John Wilkes Booth.
I've seen the program too and found all of it highly speculative. Some things were just plain ridiculous IMHO. And I felt iritated at the way they made it appear that the conclusion reached in the end was the right one.

The methods used in their research were at times very funny and contained a lot of circle reasoning...

As it is already so difficult to understand the psyche of living people, paleopsychology is probably impossible.

In my opinion Caesar was sure nobody would dare to lay hand on him. I think he got a bit to sure of himself and paid the price with his life.

Quote:In my opinion Caesar was sure nobody would dare to lay hand on him. I think he got a bit to sure of himself and paid the price with his life.
That would be my opinion too; everyone who was compos mentis knew that killing Caesar meant a new round of civil wars. That is, at least, what Luciano Canfora (Giulio Cesare. Il dittatore democratico, 1999) writes, and I think he is right. This means, of course, that the assassins were stupid, a conclusion that I, witnessing modern Dutch politics, certainly do not rule out.
Quote:Symbionese Liberation Army? They seem more the type whom you would expect to do it. Alienated, radical, violent, criminal, anti-social. Jim Jones of Jonestown fame, also, though he did it to himself. Perhaps John Wilkes Booth.
Thanks - but ancient Romans? I don't know.
I saw that programme too and thought it was pretty rubbish.
If you wanted to commit suicide in the ancient world, you could just go ahead and do it with no major social stigma, esp. if you were ill (Pliny Ep. 1.12) or in political difficulties (Ep. 3.16 - Paete non dolet; Otho who suicided after Cremona 1, and Nero who, being a whimp at least in Roman eyes couldn't do it and had to get a slave to help; Cato the Younger, etc. etc. etc.)
Caesar had tons of stuff to do before he finished what he'd started and was about to head off for some Parthian-bashing. I don't think he was trying to top himself.

As for the assassins being stupid, well maybe short-sighted and over-optimistic but tyrant-slaying is a good old Roman tradition and from their perspective was it sensible or acceptable to allow total political domination by one man?