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Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger, (early June 85 BC – October 23 42 BC) better known simply as Brutus was a Roman Politician during the late years of the Roman Republic. His legacy is best preserved in William Shakespears The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Brutus took part in a conspiracy to murder Julius Caesar, who had been apointed Dictator for Life. Brutus, and associates where sucessful yet soon after began to fight among each other. Brutus, his forces surrounded, commited suicide on October 23, 42 BC. Brutus is often considered a tragic hero, a man with good intentions who ultimately was drawn into deeds that lead to his demise.

Biography

Early Life

Brutus was born to Marcus Junius Brutus the Senior in June 85 BC. In 58 BC he became an assistant to Governor Cato of Cyprus. In 53 he became Quastor (Cheif Financial Officer) of Cilicia. He made his fortune by way of money lending, at high interest. He returned to Rome where he married Claudia Pulchra, and entered the senate aligning himself with the Opitmates, or Good Men, faction. At the time a triumvate existed of Julius, Pompey, and Marcus.

Senate Career

A civil war erupted between Julius, and Pompey. Brutus went to Greece in support of Pompey, leader of the Opitmates, and semi-rival of Brutus as the two did not see eye to eye on certain issues. Julius at the time must have known Brutus as he instructed his troops to not harm Brutus, unless he resisted capture. Brutus was pardoned by Julius, and allowed by him to continue his political career, even appointing him governor of Gaul. Brutus wrote letters of deep apology for his actions. Brutus became part of Caesar's inner circle, and they often discussed politics. In June 45 BC Brutus divorced his wife to marry his first cousin, Porcia Catonis. He was also nominated by Caesar to hold the office of Urban Preator (military leader, and magistrate, comparable to the chief of police having judicial, and executive powers), but did not aquire the position.

The Assassination

Members of the senate became concerned over Caesar's rapid rise to power, and his every growing king like behavior. Brutus was contacted by fellow senators, where he was drawn into the conspiracy to kill Caesar. His wife, became the only woman who was in on the plot. On March 15, he waited in the senate with fellow assassins. Caesar was late to arrive, and his associates where becoming nervous, yet, despite receiving words that might have changed his mind, Brutus convinced others to remain. When Caesar arrived the assassins struck, at this point Brutus is said to have cried out; "Sic semper tyrannis!" (Thus ever to tyrants!), with the group stabbing Julius a total of 23 times. Many senators fled upon witnessing this. Brutus is said to have stepped forwards, to speak to those who remained yet before he could utter a word they too fled. According to Plutarch; Brutus, and the others marched outside, and cried out; "People of Rome, we are again free!" yet where met with utter silence, and empty streets as word of the act had spread though out the city, and the people had barred themselves in home.

After the assassination, the Senate passed an amnesty on the assassins. This amnesty was proposed by Caesar's friend and co-consul Marcus Antonius. Nonetheless, uproar among the population caused Brutus and the conspirators to leave Rome. Brutus settled in Crete from 44 to 42 BC.

Battle of Philipi

The following year, Octavian received consulship from the Roman Senate, one of his first actions, to declare the assassins enemies of the state. Brutus was warned by Marcus Tullius Cicero. In the letter he explained that Antonius, and Octavian where in open war with each other. Realizing Rome was defenseless Brutus, and Gais Cassius Longinus marched 19 legions towards the capital. Upon hearing of this development the feuding factions, fearing a take over, agreed to a peace, and marched to cut the advance. Their forces met at Philipi, Macedonia where they fought.

Knowing he was to be defeated, and captured, Brutus committed suicide. According to Plutarch; Brutus's last words where something along the lines of "By all means must we fly; not with our feet, however, but with our hands. Punish, great Jove, the author of these ills." Antonius, as a show of respect, had Brutus's body wrapped in an expensive purple mantle. Prior to the cremation this mantle was stolen, and Antonius had the thief executed. Porcia, Brutus's wife, is reported to have committed suicide upon hearing of her husbands death, however according to Plutarch (Brutus 53 para 2) he possessed a letter from Brutus mourning Porcia's death from illness a year prior to the battle.

Political Views

Specifics concerning Brutus's views are hard to come by. It is generally understood that while he was a member of the Opitmates, they had some disagreements. The Opitmates where a faction that desired to maintain power centered in the senate. The senate composed of members of the aristocracy. They opposed the Populares, a faction that desired to extend power to the Plebs (common free men) through the Popular Assemblies, and Tribune of Plebs. The members of the two opposing factions however found common ground when it came to Caesar, who though carrying the people's favor, continued to diminish their political voice. The members of both factions who took part in the conspiracy called themselves the Liberatores.

Brutus seems to have been a moderate, having one foot in with the Populares, and another with the Opitmates. According to some sources his friction with his fellow Opitmates came from his belief that the aristocracy are the inherent servants of the people. He believed their vast wealth should be used to create public facilities such as libraries, and centers of learning.

Family

Marcus Junius Brutus the Senior, Father

Servilia Caepionis, Mother

Claudia Pulcha Major, First Wife (Divorced)

Porcia Catonis, First Cousin, Second Wife

Notable Quotes

"Sic semper tyrannis!" (Thus ever to tyrants!) upon assaulting Julius Caesar. The phrase is the motto of Virginia, and was uttered by John Wilks Booth upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Sources