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Marcus Junius Brutus

In spite of all the good deeds he had done, in spite of his genius in military matters, and in spite of his love for Rome and its empire, Marcus Junius Brutus will always be remembered for his participation in the stabbing of Julius Caesar. The short phrase, “Et tu, Brutae?” Caesar knew he had many enemies, but that short question tells us that he did not know that Brutus was one of them.

In ancient Rome, Brutus is a surname of the Junian gens. Marcus Brutus’s ancestor was credited as being the founder of the Roman Empire.  Lucius Brutus, Marcus’s ancestor, pretended to be insane in order to miss the savage retribution which he knew would be wrought against all soldiers when the Tarquins raped, pillaged, and killed. He was one of first praetors and dispensed justice with a heavy hand. He even went so far as to have two of his sons executed because they plotted against him and the Roman Empire.

Marcus Junius Brutus

Marcus Brutus was the son of Marcus Junius Brutus and his wife Servilia. Their son was Marcus Junius Brutus. (85 B.C. to 42 B.C.)The talk of pillaging and murder were not considered to be inappropriate topics of conversation while children were small.

Rome was a very political city and it was difficult to know who to trust. Marcus followed his father’s lead and found that it would take many years and much more strength before he became a force with which to reckon.

The two main sources for what we know about Brutus is from William Shakespeare’s play and the writing of the ancient historian, Plutarch. Plutarch’s examinations of Caesar and Marcus Brutus formed the major source of Julius Caesar, for both character and plot.  In Act IV, Scene iii, the ghost of Caesar visits Brutus.

Brutus: How ill this taper burns. Ha! Who comes here?

I think it is the weakness of mine eyes

That shapes this monstrous apparition

It comes upon me. Art thou anything?

Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil,

That mak’st my blood cold and my hair to stare?

Speak to me what thou art.

Ghost: Thy evil spirit, Brutus.

Brutus:   Why com’st thou?

Ghost: To tell thee thou shalt see me at Philippi.

Brutus: Well; then I shall see thee again?

Ghost:    Ay, at Philippi.

Brutus: Why, I will see thee at Philippi then.

The ghost exits as quickly as he enters and Brutus asks his companions whether they have seen or heard anything.  They heard nothing, and Brutus calls for Cassius so that they can prepare for battle.

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