Overall Notes on this Study Guide
This study guide includes the text of Plutarch's Life of Marcus Brutus, adapted from Thomas North's translation (edited for length, mature content and occasionally for spelling). If you prefer to use the complete text, North's translation can be downloaded from the link on the AmblesideOnline Plutarch page, or purchased in the Wordsworth Classics edition of Plutarch's Lives (an inexpensive paperback available at many bookstores). Divisions for other editions (W. H. Weston, Grace Voris Curl, Rosalie Kaufman) here.
If you have read Plutarch's life or Shakespeare's play of Julius Caesar, or have studied Roman history before, the characters and story here will be familiar to you. If not, you will probably want to look up some of the background to the story. Some helpful resources would be A Child's History of the World by V. M. Hillyer ("The Noblest Roman of Them All"), the Spark Notes guide to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/juliuscaesar ); a biographical page about Brutus here: gone; try here: https://web.archive.org/web/20050301010615/http://heraklia.fws1.com/contemporaries/brutus/ ; The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon ("The Roman Empire"). You may want to review the events that occurred almost 500 years before Marcus Brutus (see Hillyer: "Rome Kicks Out Her Kings"), to understand why it was so vitally important to the Romans that the Republic be preserved at all costs. This study guide will be based mainly on Plutarch's text; other historical sources will disagree with some of his facts, but for the purposes of this study we will focus on his own account.
Each lesson in this study guide will contain explanations of difficult vocabulary and suggested narration or discussion questions. If the parent and student are doing these lessons together, it works well to introduce the reading by setting the scene and introducing the "main idea" of the lesson; then reading, narrating, and discussing. Some ideas for written assignments and further research will be suggested, and you can add to these or adapt them as you like. Since Shakespeare borrowed so heavily from North's Plutarch for his Julius Caesar, an interesting activity for any of the lessons might be to read and compare scenes from the play; or even to write a scene yourself and see how it compares with Shakespeare's!
Marcus Brutus, LESSON 1
If you read Poplicola last term, you'll remember not only Junius Brutus, who is referred to at the beginning of this life, but also one of the laws that Poplicola made while he was consul of Rome. The law said that it was permissible to take the life of anyone conspiring to seize the government and become a tyrant; that you could stab first and ask questions later. The story of Marcus Brutus (usually called Brutus here) shows what happens when that law is put to the test.
In the first reading, some of the main characters are introduced: Brutus, Cassius and Caesar. Julius Caesar has just been made "dictator" by the Roman Senate for the next ten years, because of his military success. This, plus some of his other policies, makes him extremely unpopular with some of the young aristocrats. Brutus and Cassius had both been involved in Caesar's battles, although Brutus fought for Caesar's enemy, Pompey. Near the end of this section, Cassius tells Brutus that Caesar may soon even be made king, and something will have to be done about it. Cassius also insists that because of his good reputation, Brutus will have to be in charge to make it seem "holy and just."
garboil -- confusion (isn't that a great word?)
choler -- bad temper
mean -- low in rank
unmeet -- not fitting
listed -- wished, chose
praetor -- in the Roman Republic, one of a number of elected magistrates charged chiefly with the administration of civil justice
grew strange together -- had nothing to do with each other
tyrant -- a king or ruler who uses his power oppressively or unjustly
Marcus Brutus came of that Junius Brutus who had valiantly put down the Tarquins from the kingdom of Rome. But that Junius Brutus, being of a sour stern nature not softened by reason, being like unto swordblades of too hard a temper, was so subject to his choler and malice he bare unto the tyrants, that for their sakes he caused his own sons to be executed. But this Marcus Brutus in contrary manner, whose life we presently write, having framed his manners of life by the rules of virtue and study of philosophy, and having employed his wit, which was gentle and constant, in attempting of great things, me thinks he was rightly made and framed unto virtue. So that his very enemies which wish him most hurt, because of his conspiracy against Julius Caesar, if there were any noble attempt done in all this conspiracy, they refer it wholly unto Brutus; and all the cruel and violent acts unto Cassius, who was Brutus' familiar friend, but not so well given and conditioned as he.
Marcus Cato the philosopher was brother unto Servilia, Marcus Brutus' mother: whom Brutus studied most to follow of all the other Romans, because he was his uncle, and afterwards he married his daughter. Brutus, being but a young stripling, went into Cyprus with his uncle Cato, who was sent against Ptolemy, king of Egypt. The which journey he was sorry to take upon him because he thought this office too mean and unmeet for him, being a young man, and given to his book. This notwithstanding, he behaved himself so honestly and carefully, that Cato did greatly commend him: and after all the goods were sold and converted into ready money, he took the most part of it, and returned withal to Rome.
Afterwards, when the empire of Rome was divided into factions, and that Caesar and Pompey both were in arms one against the other; and that all the empire of Rome was in garboil and uproar: it was thought then that Brutus would take part with Caesar, because Pompey not long before had put his father to death. But Brutus, preferring the respect of his country and commonwealth before private affection, and persuading himself that Pompey had juster cause to enter into arms than Caesar, he then took part with Pompey; though oftentimes meeting him before, he thought scorn to speak to him, thinking it a great sin and offence in him, to speak to the murderer of his father. But then, submitting himself unto Pompey as unto the head of the commonwealth, he sailed into Sicily, lieutenant under Sestius that was governor of that province. But when he saw that there was no way to rise, nor to do any noble exploits, and that Caesar and Pompey were both camped together, and fought for victory: he went of himself, unsent for, into Macedon, to be partaker of the danger. It is reported that Pompey, being glad, and wondering at his coming, when he saw him come to him, he rose out of his chair, and went and embraced him before them all, and used him as honorably as he could have done the noblest man that took his part. Brutus, being in Pompey's camp, did nothing but study all day long, except he were with Pompey; and not only the days before, but the self-same day also before the great battle was fought in the fields of Pharsalia, where Pompey was overcome.
It is reported that Caesar did not forget him, and that he gave his captains charge before the battle, that they should beware they killed not Brutus in fight; and if he yielded willingly unto them, that then they should bring him unto him: but if he resisted and would not be taken, then that they should let him go, and do him no hurt. Some say he did this for Servilia's sake, Brutus' mother. For when he was a young man, he had been acquainted with Servilia, who was extremely in love with him.
after Pompey's overthrow at the battle of Pharsalia, and that he fled
to the sea, when Caesar came to besiege his camp, Brutus went out of
the camp-gates unseen of any man, and leapt into a marsh full of water
and reeds. Then when night was come, he crept out, and went unto the
city of Larissa: from whence he wrote unto Caesar, who was very glad
that he had escaped , and sent for him to come unto him. When Brutus
was come, he did not only pardon him, but also kept him always about
him, and did as much honour and esteem him as any man he had in his
Now there were divers sorts of Praetorships in Rome, and it was looked for, that Brutus or Cassius would make suit for the chiefest Praetorship, which they called the Praetorship of the city: because he that had that office was as a judge, to minister justice unto the citizens. Therefore they strove one against another: though some say, that there was some little grudge betwixt them for other matters before, and that this contention did set them further out, though they were allied together: for Cassius had married Junia, Brutus' sister. Brutus with his virtue and good name contended against many noble exploits in arms, which Cassius had done against the Parthians. So Caesar after he had heard both their objections, told his friends, with whom he consulted about this matter: "Cassius' cause is the juster," said he, "but Brutus must be first preferred." Thus Brutus had the first Praetorship, and Cassius the second: who thanked not Caesar so much for the Praetorship he had, as he was angry with him for that he had lost.
But Brutus in many other things tasted of the benefit of Caesar's favour in any thing he requested. For if he had listed, he might have been one of Caesar's chiefest friends, and of greatest authority and credit about him. Howbeit, Cassius' friends did dissuade him from it (for Cassius and he were not yet reconciled together since their first contention and strife for the Praetorship), and prayed him to beware of Caesar's sweet enticements, and to fly his tyrannical favours: the which they said Caesar gave him, not to honour his virtue, but to weaken his constant mind, framing it to the bent of his bow.
Now when Cassius felt his friends, and did stir them up against Caesar: they all agreed, and promised to take part with him, as long as Brutus were the chief of their conspiracy. For they told him that so high an enterprise and attempt as that, did not so much require men of manhood and courage to draw their swords, as it stood them upon to have a man of such estimation as Brutus, to make every man boldly think, that by his only presence the fact were holy and just. If he took not this course, then that they should go to it with fainter hearts; and when they had done it, they should be more fearful: because every man would think that Brutus would not have refused to have made one with them, if the cause had been good and honest. Therefore Cassius, considering this matter with himself, did first of all speak to Brutus, since they grew strange together for the suit they had for the praetorship. So when he was reconciled to him again, and that they had embraced one another, Cassius asked him if he were determined to be in the Senate-house the first day of the month of March, because he heard say that Caesar's friends should move the council that day, that Caesar should be called king by the Senate. Brutus answered him, he would not be there. "But if we be sent for," said Cassius, "how then?" "For myself then," said Brutus, "I mean not to hold my peace, but to withstand it, and rather die than lose my liberty."
Narration and Discussion
What was Brutus like as a young man? Give some examples that show his character. How did he end up being such a personal friend of Caesar?
The friends of Cassius urge Brutus to "fly [Caesar's] tyrannical favours: the which they said Caesar gave him, not to honour his virtue, but to weaken his constant mind, framing it to the bent of his bow." What does this mean? Is it possible to buy a person's love and obedience through flattery and gifts? (Is it possible to be very nice and kind to someone and still be a tyrant?) Do you think Brutus would be likely to be bought by such favours?
Keep a list of some of the words used (in this lesson and in others) for positions of authority: for instance, praetor, king, emperor, consul, dictator. What might have been the difference between Poplicola being called consul of Rome and Caesar being called dictator and possibly king?
As you continue to read through the life of Brutus, watch for events that illustrate some of the important ways Plutarch describes him; for instance, that he "framed his manners of life by the rules of virtue and study of philosophy"; and that he was so respected even by his enemies that if there was praise to be given in the mess of Caesar's assassination, it was given to Brutus, and if there was blame, it was given to Cassius. Do you agree that Brutus was "the noblest Roman of them all?"
Have you ever felt troubled in your heart and knew that something you planned to do was wrong, but you felt you had to go through with it anyway? In spite of Brutus' qualms and troubled sleep, he follows through with his role in the assassination of Julius Caesar.
countenance -- face
fidelity -- faithfulness
put their enterprise in execution -- carry out their plans
the soothsayers bade him beware he went not abroad -- the fortune tellers had warned him to stay at home
thou dost sue to be Aedilis -- an Aedile (eed-ile) was an elected official of ancient Rome who was responsible for public works and games and who supervised markets, the grain supply, and the water supply; Casca wanted to be elected to this position.
despatch -- hurry things up
litter -- a seat that is carried through the streets
Pompey's Porch -- a place where the Senate often met
Now Brutus, who knew very well that for his sake all the noblest, valiantest, and most courageous men of Rome did venture their lives, weighing with himself the greatness of the danger: when he was out of his house, he did so frame and fashion his countenance and looks that no man could discern he had anything to trouble his mind. But when night came that he was in his own house, then he was clean changed: for either care did wake him against his will when he would have slept, or else oftentimes of himself he fell into such deep thoughts of this enterprise, casting in his mind all the dangers that might happen: that his wife, lying by him, found that there was some marvellous great matter that troubled his mind, not being wont to be in that taking, and that he could not well determine with himself
His wife Porcia (as we have told you before) was the daughter of Cato. This young lady, was excellently well seen in philosophy, loved her husband well, and was of a noble courage. "I being, O Brutus," said she "the daughter of Cato, was married unto thee, to be partaker with thee of thy good and evil fortune. Now for thyself, I can find no cause of fault in thee touching our match: but for my part, how may I shew my duty towards thee and how much I would do for thy sake, if I cannot constantly bear a secret mischance or grief with thee, which requireth secrecy and fidelity?" Brutus was amazed to hear what she said unto him, and lifting up his hands to heaven, he besought the gods to give him the grace he might bring his enterprise to so good pass, that he might be found a husband worthy of so noble a wife as Porcia
Now a day being appointed for the meeting of the Senate, at what time they hoped Caesar would not fail to come, the conspirators determined then to put their enterprise in execution, because they might meet safely at that time without suspicion; and the rather, for that all the noblest and chiefest men of the city would be there: who, when they should see such a great matter executed, would every man set to their hands, for the defence of their liberty.
So when the day was come, Brutus went out of his house with a dagger by his side under his long gown, that nobody saw nor knew but his wife only. The other conspirators were all assembled at Cassius' house, to bring his son into the market-place, who on that day did put on the man's gown, called toga virilis; and from thence they came all in a troop together unto Pompey's porch, looking that Caesar would straight come thither. But by chance there fell out many misfortunes unto them, which was enough to have marred the enterprise. The first and chiefest was Caesar's long tarrying, who came very late to the Senate: for, because the signs of the sacrifices appeared unlucky, his wife Calphurnia kept him at home, and the soothsayers bade him beware he went not abroad.
The second cause was, when one came unto Casca being a conspirator, and taking him by the hand, said unto him: "O Casca? thou keptest it close from me, but Brutus hath told me all." Casca being amazed at it, the other went on with his tale, and said: "Why, how now, how cometh it to pass thou art thus rich, that thou dost sue to be Aedilis?" Thus Casca being deceived by the other's doubtful words, he told them it was a thousand to one, he blabbed not out all the conspiracy.
Another Senator, called Popilius Laena, after he had saluted Brutus and Cassius more friendly than he was wont to do, he rounded softly in their ears, and told them: "I pray the gods you may go through with that you have taken in hand; but withal, despatch, I reade you, for your enterprise is bewrayed ." When he had said, he presently departed from them, and left them both afraid that their conspiracy would out.
Now it was reported that Caesar was coming in his litter: for he determined not to stay in the Senate all that day (because he was afraid of the unlucky signs of the sacrifices) but to adjourn matters of importance unto the next session and council holden, feigning himself not to be well at ease. When Caesar came out of his litter, Popilius Laena (that had talked before with Brutus and Cassius, and had prayed the gods they might bring this enterprise to pass) went unto Caesar, and kept him a long time with a talk. Caesar gave good ear unto him: wherefore the conspirators (if so they should be called) not hearing what he said to Caesar, but conjecturing by that he had told them a little before that his talk was none other but the very discovery of their conspiracy, they were afraid every man of them; and, one looking in another's face, it was easy to see that they all were of a mind, that it was no tarrying for them till they were apprehended, but rather that they should kill themselves with their own hands.
And when Cassius and certain other clapped their hands on their swords under their gowns to draw them, Brutus, marking the countenance and gesture of Laena, and considering that he did use himself rather like an humble and earnest suitor than like an accuser, he said nothing to his companion (because there were many amongst them that were not of the conspiracy), but with a pleasant countenance encouraged Cassius. And immediately after Laena went from Caesar, and kissed his hand; which shewed plainly that it was for some matter concerning himself that he had held him so long in talk.
Now all the Senators being entered first into this place or chapter-house where the council should be kept, all the other conspirators straight stood about Caesar's chair, as if they had had something to say unto him. And some say that Cassius, casting his eyes upon Pompey's image, made his prayer unto it, as if it had been alive. Trebonius on the other side drew Antonius aside, as he came into the house where the Senate sat, and held him with a long talk without. When Caesar was come into the house, all the Senate rose to honour him at his coming in. They all took Caesar by the hands, and kissed his head and breast. Caesar at the first simply refused their kindness; but afterwards, perceiving they still pressed on him, he violently thrust them from him. Then Cimber with both his hands plucked Caesar's gown over his shoulders, and Casca, that stood behind him, drew his dagger first and strake Caesar upon the shoulder, but gave him no great wound. Caesar, feeling himself hurt, took him straight by the hand he held his dagger in, and cried out in Latin: "O traitor Casca, what dost thou?" Casca on the other side cried in Greek, and called his brother to help him. Caesar, looking about him to have fled, saw Brutus with a sword drawn in his hand ready to strike at him: then he let Casca's hand go, and casting his gown over his face, suffered every man to strike at him that would.
All the conspirators, but Brutus, determining upon this matter, thought it good also to kill Antonius, because he was a wicked man, and that in nature favoured tyranny; he was also of great authority at that time, being Consul with Caesar. But Brutus would not agree to it. First, for that he said it was not honest: secondly, because he told them there was hope of change in him. For he did not mistrust but that Antonius, being a noble-minded and courageous man, (when he should know that Caesar was dead), would willingly help his country to recover her liberty, having them an example unto him to follow their courage and virtue.
So Brutus by this means saved Antonius' life, who at that present time disguised himself and stole away: but Brutus and his consorts, having their swords bloody in their hands, went straight to the Capitol, persuading the Romans as they went to take their liberty again.
Narration and Discussion
Do you think Brutus is as hard-hearted as his ancestor Brutus (mentioned in Lesson 1)? Or is he not cruel enough (should he have agreed to kill Antonius as well)? What were the reasons he would not agree to kill Antonius? Do you agree that the conspirators acted with "courage and virtue?"
Do you see any humor in the conversation between Casca and the man who said "Brutus hath told me all?" Could you write a similar conversation between two people, one of whom has a guilty conscience about something, and the other who knows nothing about it?
reading offers several good subjects for drawing or painting the
between Brutus and Porcia, the conspirators waiting nervously in
Pompey's Porch, the assassination itself. Research suggestion:
find any paintings that have been done on this subject? (There is
Julius Caesar is dead, and there are many questions in the air. What will happen to Rome now? What will the consequences be for Brutus and the other conspirators? Will Brutus' reputation save him from the vengeance of those who supported Caesar? There is a struggle going on for the hearts of the people, and in this reading it's obvious how quickly their favor can change.
oration -- speech
rakehell -- an immoral or dissolute person (where we get the modern term "rake"); troublemaker
in hugger-mugger -- quietly, in secret
Now at the first time, when the murder was newly done, there were sudden outcries of people that ran up and down the city, the which indeed did the more increase the fear and tumult. But when they saw they slew no man, neither did spoil or make havoc of anything, then certain of the Senators and many of the people, emboldening themselves, went to the Capitol unto them. There, a great number of men being assembled together one after another, Brutus made an oration unto them, to win the favour of the people, and to justify that [sic] they had done. All those that were by said they had done well, and cried unto them that they should boldly come down from the Capitol: whereupon Brutus and his companions came boldly down into the market-place. The rest followed in troupe, but Brutus went foremost, very honourably compassed in round about with the noblest men of the city, which brought him from the Capitol, through the market-place, to the pulpit for orations. When the people saw him in the pulpit, although they were a multitude of rakehells of all sorts, and had a good will to make some stir; yet, being ashamed to do it, for the reverence they bare unto Brutus, they kept silence to hear what he would say. When Brutus began to speak, they gave him quiet audience: howbeit. immediately after, they shewed that they were not all contented with the murder. For when another called Cinna would have spoken, and began to accuse Caesar, they fell into a great uproar among them, and marvellously reviled him; insomuch that the conspirators returned again into the Capitol.
The Senate being assembled, it was decreed that they should not only be pardoned, but also that the Consuls should refer it to the Senate, what honours should be appointed unto them. This being agreed upon, the Senate brake up; and Antonius the Consul, to put them in heart that were in the Capitol, sent them his son for a pledge. Upon this assurance, Brutus and his companions came down from the Capitol.
The next day following, the Senate, being called again to council, did first of all commend Antonius, for that he had wisely stayed and quenched the beginning of a civil war: then they also gave Brutus and his consorts great praises; and lastly they appointed them several governments of Provinces. For unto Brutus they appointed Creta; Africa unto Cassius; Asia unto Trebonius; Bithynia unto Cimber; and unto the other, Decius Brutus Albinus, Gaul on this side of the Alps.
When this was done, they came to talk of Caesar's will and testament, and of his funerals and tomb. Then Antonius, thinking good his testament should be read openly, and also that his body should be honourably buried, and not in hugger-mugger, lest the people might thereby take occasion to be worse offended if they did otherwise: Cassius stoutly spake against it. But Brutus went with the motion, and agreed unto it, wherein it seemeth he committed a second fault. For the first fault he did, was when he would not consent to his fellow-conspirators, that Antonius should be slain; and therefore he was justly accused, that thereby he had saved and strengthened a strong and grievous enemy of their conspiracy. The second fault was, when he agreed that Caesar's funerals should be as Antonius would have them, the which indeed marred all. For first of all, when Caesar's testament was openly read among them, whereby it appeared that he bequeathed unto every citizen of Rome seventy-five drachmas a man; and that he left his gardens and arbours unto the people, which he had on this side of the river Tiber, in the place where now the temple of Fortune is built: the people then loved him, and were marvellous sorry for him.
Afterwards, when Caesar's body was brought into the market-place, Antonius making his funeral oration in praise of the dead, according to the ancient custom of Rome, and perceiving that his words moved the common people to compassion, he framed his eloquence to make their hearts yearn the more; and taking Caesar's gown all bloody in his hand, he laid it opento the sight of them all shewing what a number of cuts and holes it had upon it. Therewithal the people fell presently into such a rage and mutiny, that there was no more order kept amongst the common people. For some of them cried out, " Kill the murderers"; others plucked up forms, tables, and stalls about the market-place, and having laid them all on a heap together, they set them on fire, and thereupon did put the body of Caesar, and burnt it in the midst of the most holy places. And furthermore, when the fire was throughly kindled, some here, some there, took burning firebrands, and ran with them to the murderers' houses that killed him, to set them on fire. Howbeit the conspirators, foreseeing the danger before, had wisely provided for themselves and fled.
Brutus and his companions kept at the first in the city of Antium, hoping to return again to home, when the fury of the people was a little assuaged. The people growing weary of Antonius' pride and insolency, who ruled all things in a manner with absolute power, they desired that Brutus might return again; and it was also looked for that Brutus would come himself in person to play the plays which were due to the people, by reason of his office of praetorship. [see research note below] But Brutus, understanding that many of Caesar's soldiers which served under him in the wars, and that also had lands and houses given them in the cities where they lay, did lie in wait for him to kill him, and that they daily by small companies came by one and by one into Rome, he durst no more return thither.
Narration and Discussion:
After narrating this reading, discuss one or more of the following questions:
The conspirators feared that they would be punished for the murder of Caesar, so they barricaded themselves in the Capitol. Why was the decision of the Senate so different from what they expected?
How did Antonius use his funeral oration to win the people over to his side? (Do you think the terms of Caesar's will also had something to do with it?) You might want to read Shakespeare's version of Antonius' speech.
However, it seems that the people still did love Brutus and wanted him to return. If Rome was first in his heart as always, why would he not risk returning?
were the "plays that were due to the people"? According to Smith's 1875
classical dictionary (online), the Praetor Urbanus was specially named
Praetor, and he was the first in rank. His duties confined him to Rome,
as is implied by the name, and he could only leave the city for ten
days at a time. It was part of his duty to superintend games called the
Ludi Apollinares. (source:
More about the Ludi Apollinares: http://abacus.bates.edu/~mimber/Rciv/apollinares.htm
At this point Brutus is still something of a fugitive, trying to stay out of Rome and danger after Caesar's death. However, he has his finger strongly on the pulse of Rome, and when new events threaten Roman stability, he is not above taking advantage of the situation. In this reading, pay attention to the way that he uses his popularity and military skill to build up an army.
An important new character is introduced: Octavius Caesar, or Caesar Augustus, who would later be the first Roman Emperor. Those of you who have read Genevieve Foster's book on Caesar Augustus will be familiar with him; if not, it would be a good idea to look him up in a history book or online. The other major character to watch for is Caius, the brother of Antonius (Marc Antony).
advertised -- being told
myriad -- ten thousand
munition -- materials used in war, especially weapons and ammunition
resign the government unto him -- give up the rule of the land to him
sumpter -- packhorse or mule
victuals -- food, provisions
warders -- guards
Now the state of Rome standing in these terms, there fell out another change and alteration, when the young man Octavius Caesar came to Rome. He was the son of Julius Caesar's niece, whom he had adopted for his son, and made his heir, by his last will and testament. But when Julius Caesar, his adopted father, was slain, he was in the city of Apollonia (where he studied); but when he heard the news of his death, he returned again to Rome. Where, to begin to curry favour with the common people, he first of all took upon him his adopted father's name, and made distribution among them of the money which his father had bequeathed unto them. By this means he troubled Antonius sorely, and by force of money got a great number of his father's soldiers together, that had served in the wars with him.
Now the city of Rome being divided in two factions, some taking part with Antonius, others also leaning unto Octavius Caesar, and the soldiers making portsale of their service to him that would give most, Brutus seeing the state of Rome would be utterly overthrown, he determined to go out of Italy, and he sailed towards Athens.
When he arrived there, the people of Athens received him with common joys of rejoicing and honourable decrees made for him. He went daily to hear the lectures of Theomnestus the Academic philosopher, and of Cratippus the Peripatetic, and so would talk with them in philosophy, that he seemed he left all other matters, and gave himself only to study: howbeit secretly, notwithstanding, he made preparation for war. Shortly after, he began to enter openly into arms: and being advertised that there came out of Asia a certain fleet of Roman ships that had got good store of money in them, and that the captain of those ships (who was an honest man and his familiar friend) [Anstitius] came towards Athens: he went to meet him as far as the Isle of Carystos, and having spoken with him there, he handled him so that he was contented to leave his ships in his hands: whereupon he made him a notable banquet at his house, because it was on his birthday. When the feast-day came, and that they began to drink lustily one to another, the guests drank to the victory of Brutus and the liberty of the Romans.
After this, Antistius gave him, of the money he carried into Italy, fifty myriads. Furthermore, all Pompey's soldiers, that straggled up and down Thessaly, came with very good will unto him. He took from Cinna also five hundred horsemen, which he carried into Asia unto Dolabella. After that, he went by sea unto the city of Demetriade, and there took a great deal of armour and munition which was going to Antonius: and the which had been made and forged there by Julius Caesar's commandment, for the wars against the Parthians. Furthermore Hortensius, governor of Macedon, did resign the government thereof unto him. Besides, all the princes, kings, and noblemen thereabouts, came and joined with him, when it was told him, that Caius (Antonius' brother) coming out of Italy, had passed the sea, and came with great speed towards the city of Dyrrachium, and Apollonia, to get the soldiers into his hands which Gabinius had there. Brutus therefore, to prevent him, went presently with a few of his men in the midst of winter when it did snow hard, and took his way through hard and foul countries, and made such speed indeed, that he was there long before Antonius' sumpters that carried the victuals.
Brutus being very faint, and having nothing in his camp to eat, his soldiers were compelled to go to their enemies; and coming to the gates of the city, they prayed the warders to help them to bread. When they heard in what case Brutus was, they brought him both meat and drink: in requital whereof, afterwards, when he won the city, he did not only intreat and use the citizens thereof courteously, but all the inhabitants of the city also for their sakes.
Now when Caius Antonius was arrived in the city of Apollonia, he sent unto the soldiers thereabouts to come unto him. But when he understood that they went all to Brutus, and furthermore, that the citizens of Apollonia did favour him much, he then forsook that city and went unto the city of Buthrotus; but yet he lost three of his ensigns by the way, that were slain every man of them. Then he sought by force to win certain places of strength about Byllis, and to drive Brutus' men from thence, that had taken it before: and therefore, to obtain his purpose, he sought a battle with Cicero, the son of Marcus Tullius Cicero, by whom he was overcome. For Brutus made the younger Cicero a captain, and did many notable exploits by his service.
Shortly after, having stolen upon Caius Antonius in certain marshes far from the place from whence he fled, he would not set on him with fury but only rode round about him, commanding his soldiers to spare him and his men, as reckoning them all his own without stroke striking. And so indeed it happened: for they yielded themselves and their captain Antonius unto Brutus; so that Brutus had now a great army about him.
Narration and Discussion:
How did Octavian "trouble Antonius sorely"? What opportunity did Brutus see in this turn of events? Give some examples of how things seemed to be going more and more in Brutus' favour, culminating in his victory over Caius Antonius.
What qualities about Brutus make people want to submit to his leadership (example: the soldiers of Caius Antonius)? Does he ever seem to abuse the power he has? Now that Brutus has his "great army", what will/should he do with it?
In this section, we hear first what is going on in Rome (Octavius Caesar drives Antonius out of Italy, then becomes worried and tries to win him back to his side), and then more about Brutus' attempts to build an army, and his reunion with Cassius. Plutarch describes how Brutus is admired for his single-minded devotion to Rome--even by his enemies--and contrasts his character with that of Cassius.
proscription -- being denounced publicly, having one's property seized, and being
banished or condemned to death
lenity -- mildness, gentleness (where we get our word lenient)
choleric -- hot tempered
familiar -- overly friendly, chummy
sovereignty -- independent power
divers -- several, more than one
hap -- lucky accident, chance
So Brutus preparing to go into Asia, news came unto him of the great change at Rome: for Octavius Caesar was in arms, by commandment and authority from the Senate, against Marcus Antonius. But after that he had driven Antonius out of Italy, the Senate began then to be afraid of him, because he sued to be Consul, which was contrary to the law; and kept a great army about him when the empire of Rome had no need of them. On the other side Octavius Caesar, perceiving the Senate stayed not there, but turned unto Brutus that was out of Italy, and that they appointed him the government of certain provinces: then he began to be afraid for his part, and sent unto Antonius to offer him his friendship. Then coming on unto his army near to Rome, he made himself to be chosen Consul, whether the Senate would or not, when he was yet but a stripling or springall of twenty years old, as himself reporteth in his own Commentaries. So when he was Consul, he presently appointed judges, to accuse Brutus and his companions for killing of the noblest person in Rome and chiefest magistrate without law or judgment: and made L. Cornificius accuse Brutus, and M. Agrippa, Cassius. So the parties accused were condemned, because the Judges were compelled to give such sentence. The voice went, that when the herald (according to the custom after sentence given) went up to the chair or pulpit for orations, and proclaimed 'Brutus' with a loud voice, summoning him to appear in person before the judges, the people that stood by sighed openly, and the noblemen that were present hung down their heads, and durst not speak a word. Among them the tears fell from Publius Silicius' eyes: who, shortly after, was one of the proscripts or outlaws appointed to be slain.
After that, these three, Octavius Caesar, Antonius, and Lepidus, made an agreement between themselves, and by those articles divided the provinces belonging to the empire of Rome among themselves, and did set up bills of proscription and outlawry, condemning two hundred of the noblest men of Rome to suffer death.
Now when Brutus had passed over his army (that was very great) into Asia, he gave order for the gathering of a great number of ships together, as well in the coast of Bithynia, as also in the city of Cyzicum, because he would have an army by sea; and himself in the meantime went unto the cities, taking order for all things, and giving audience to princes and noblemen of the country that had to do with him.
Afterwards he sent unto Cassius in Syria, and they both met at the city of Smyrna, which was the first time that they saw together since they took leave each of other at the haven of Piraea in Athens, the one going into Syria, and the other into Macedon. So they were marvellous joyful, and no less courageous, when they saw the great armies together which they had both levied: considering that they departed out of Italy like naked and poor banished men, without armour and money, nor having any ship ready nor soldier about them, nor any one town at their commandment; yet notwithstanding, in a short time after, they were now met together, having ships, money, and soldiers enough, both footmen and horsemen, to fight for the empire of Rome.
Now Cassius would have done Brutus much honour, as Brutus did unto him, but Brutus most commonly prevented him, and went first unto him, both because he was the elder man as also for that he was sickly of body. And men reputed him commonly to be very skilful in wars, but otherwise marvellous choleric and cruel, who sought to rule men by fear rather than with lenity: and on the other side, he was too familiar with his friends, and would jest too broadly with them. But Brutus, in contrary manner, for his virtue and valiantness, was well beloved of the people and his own, esteemed of noblemen, and hated of no man, not so much as of his enemies; because he was a marvellous lowly and gentle person, noble-minded, and would never be in any rage, nor carried away with pleasure and covetousness, but had ever an upright mind with him, and would never yield to any wrong or injustice; the which was the chiefest cause of his fame, of his rising, and of the goodwill that every man bare him: for they were all persuaded that his intent was good. For they did not certainly believe that, if Pompey himself had overcome Caesar, he would have resigned his authority to the law, but rather they were of opinion that he would still keep the sovereignty and absolute government in his hands, taking only, to please the people, the title of Consul, or Dictator, or of some other more civil office. And as for Cassius, a hot, choleric, and cruel man, that would oftentimes be carried away from justice for gain, it was certainly thought that he made war and put himself into sundry dangers, more to have absolute power and authority than to defend the liberty of his country. For they that will also consider others that were elder men than they, as Cinna, Marinus, and Carbo, it is out of doubt that the end and hope of their victory was to be the lords of their country, and in manner they did all confess that they fought for the tyranny, and to be lords of the empire of Rome. And in contrary manner, his enemies themselves did never reprove Brutus for any such change or desire.
For it was said that Antonius spake it openly divers times, that he thought, that of all them that had slain Caesar, there was none but Brutus only that was moved to do it, as thinking the act commendable of itself: but that all the other conspirators did conspire his death for some private malice or envy, that they otherwise did bear unto him. Hereby it appeareth, that Brutus did not trust so much to the power of his army as he did to his own virtue, as it is to be seen by his writings. For approaching near to the instant danger, he wrote unto Pomponius Atticus that his affairs had the best hap that could be. "For," said he, "either I will set my country at liberty by battle, or by honourable death rid me of this bondage." And furthermore, that they being certain and assured of all things else, this one thing only was doubtful to them: whether they should live or die with liberty. He wrote also that Antonius had his due payment for his folly: " for where, he might have been a partner equally of the glory of Brutus, Cassius, and Cato, and have made one with them, he liked better to choose to be joined with Octavius Caesar alone: with whom, though now he be not overcome by us, yet shall he shortly after also have war with him." And truly he proved a true prophet, for so came it indeed to pass.
Narration and Discussion
Someone's character can be shown by what he says, what he does, what other people say about him; by comparing and contrasting him with others. Which of these methods does Plutarch use in this section?
Do rulers and kings generally want most to serve their country, or to rule (be boss) and be treated well? What about those in positions of authority in business or in other non-government jobs (bosses, managers, supervisors)? What about those in authority in the church? Discuss this with a parent or another adult. What has been their experience? What does the Bible say about the role and responsibility of those in leadership positions? ("Servant of all")
Historical notes: You may want to look up more information about the Triumvirate (the agreement between Caesar, Antonius, and Lepidus).
At the city of the Xanthians, Brutus encounters something completely unfamiliar to him: people who just do not want to be under Roman rule in any way, and who are willing to go to any lengths to maintain their independence. This disaster is the first sour note in Brutus' campaign; up until now, everything he does has met with success. How does he handle things when they don't go as he expected? (Note to parents: if you use the original text, please be aware that there is some graphic detail about the deaths of the Xanthians.)
This section is a bit long, and you may wish to stop after the main story (after "Plutarch here tells of some of the other military events of this time." However, the last part is entertaining and shows something of the moods of both Brutus and Cassius at this time; it could be read separately at a different time.
Xanthos -- the
oldest and largest city of the mountain province of Lycia.
rap and rend -- snatch, seize
levied -- collected, seized
rampiers -- bulwarks, defenses
faggots -- pieces of firewood
Now whilst Brutus and Cassius were together in the city of Smyrna, Brutus prayed Cassius to let him have some part of his money whereof he had great store; because all that he could rap and rend of his side, he had bestowed it in making so great a number of ships, that by means of them they should keep all the sea at their commandment. Cassius' friends hindered this request and earnestly dissuaded him from it, persuading him, that it was no reason that Brutus should have the money which Cassius had gotten together by sparing and levied with great evil will of the people their subjects, for him to bestow liberally upon his soldiers, and by this means to win their good wills, by Cassius' charge. This notwithstanding, Cassius gave him the third part of this total sum.
So Cassius and Brutus then departing from each other, Cassius took the city of Rhodes, where he too dishonestly and cruelly used himself: although, when he came into the city, he answered some of the inhabitants who called him lord and king, that he was neither lord nor king, but he only that had slain him that would have been lord and king.
Brutus, departing from thence, sent unto the Lycians to require money and men of war. But there was a certain orator called Naucrates, that made the cities to rebel against him, insomuch that the countrymen of that country kept the straights and little mountains, thinking by that means to stop Brutus' passage. Wherefore Brutus sent his horsemen against them, who stole upon them as they were at dinner, and slew six hundred of them: and taking all the small towns and villages, he did get all the prisoners he took go without payment of ransom, hoping by this his great courtesy to win them, to draw all the rest of the country unto him. But they were so fierce and obstinate, that they would mutine for every small hurt they received as he passed by their country, and did despise his courtesy and good nature: until that at length he went to besiege the city of the Xanthians (Xanthus, described here), within the which were shut up the cruellest and most warlike men of Lycia.
There was a river that ran by the walls of the city, in the which many men saved themselves, swimming between two waters, and fled: howbeit they laid nets overthwart the river, and tied little bells on the top of them, to sound when any man was taken in the nets. The Xanthians made a sally out by night, and came to fire certain engines of the battery that beat down their walls: but they were presently driven in again by the Romans, so soon as they were discovered.
The wind by chance was marvellous big, and increased the flame so sore, that it violently carried it into the crannies of the wall of the city, that the next houses unto them were straight set on fire thereby. Wherefore Brutus being afraid that all the city would take on fire, he presently commanded his men to quench the fire, and to save the town if it might be. But the Lycians at that instant fell into such a frenzy and strange and horrible despair, that no man can well express it: and a man cannot more rightly compare or liken it than to a frantic and most desperate desire to die. For all of them together, with their wives and children, masters and servants, and of all sorts of age whatsoever, fought upon the rampiers of their walls and did cast down stones and fire-works on the Romans, which were very busy in quenching the flame of the fire, to save the city. And in contrary manner also, they brought faggots, dry wood, and reeds, to bring the fire further into the city as much as might be, increasing it by such things as they brought. Now when the fire had gotten into all parts of the city, and that the flame burnt bright in every place, Brutus, being sorry to see it, got upon his horse, and rode round about the walls of the city, to see if it were possible for to save it, and held up his hands to the inhabitants, praying them to pardon their city, and to save themselves. Some of them, weeping and crying out, did cast themselves into the fire.. [Plutarch describes how the city was destroyed by fire with many tragic deaths.] Brutus caused an herald to make proclamation by sound of trumpet, that he would give a certain sum of money to every soldier that could save a Xanthian; there were not above fifty of them saved, and yet they were saved against their wills.
Therefore Brutus, likewise besieging the city of the Patareians, perceiving that they stoutly resisted him, he was also afraid of that, and could not well tell whether he should give assault to it or not, lest they would fall into the despair and desperation of the Xanthians.
Howbeit, having taken certain of their women prisoners, he sent them back again without payment of ransom. Now they that were the wives and daughters of the noblest men of the city, reporting unto their parents that they had found Brutus a merciful, just, and courteous man, they persuaded them to yield themselves and their city unto him, the which they did. So after they had thus yielded themselves, divers other cities also followed them, and did the like: and found Brutus more merciful and courteous than they thought they should have done, but specially far above Cassius. For Cassius, about the self-same time, after he had compelled the Rhodians every man to deliver all the ready money they had in gold and silver in their houses, the which, being brought together, amounted to the sum of eight thousand talents: yet he condemned the city besides, to pay the sum of five hundred talents more. Where Brutus in contrary manner, after be had levied of all the country of Lycia but an hundred and fifty talents only, he departed thence into the country of Ionia, and did them no more hurt. [Plutarch here tells of some of the other military events of this time.]
About that time Brutus sent to pray Cassius to come to the city of Sardis, and so he did. Brutus, understanding of his coming, went to meet him with all his friends. There both their armies being armed, they called them both Emperors. Now as it commonly happened in great affairs between two persons, both of them having many friends and so many captains under them, there ran tales and complaints betwixt them. Therefore, before they fell in hand with any other matter, they went into a little chamber together, and bade every man avoid , and did shut the doors to them. Then they began to pour out their complaints one to the other, and grew hot and loud, earnestly accusing one another, and at length fell both a-weeping. Their friends that were without the chamber, hearing them loud within, and angry between themselves, they were both amazed and afraid also, lest it would grow to further matter: but yet they were commanded that no man should come to them. Notwithstanding, one Marcus Phaonius, that had been a friend and a follower of Cato while he lived, and took upon him to counterfeit a philosopher, not with wisdom and discretion, but with a certain bedlem and frantic motion: he would needs come into the chamber, though the men offered to keep him out. But it was no boot to let Phaonius, when a mad mood or toy took him in the head: for he was a hot hasty man, and sudden in all his doings, and cared for never a senator of them all. Now, though he used this bold manner of speech after the profession of the Cynic philosophers (as who would say, Dogs), yet his boldness did no hurt many times, because they did but laugh at him to see him so mad. This Phaonius at that time, in despite of the door-keepers, came into the chamber, and with a certain scoffing and mocking gesture, which he counterfeited of purpose, he rehearsed the verses which old Nestor said in Homer: All lords, I pray you hearken both to me, For I have seen mo years than suchie three. Cassius fell a-laughing at him: but Brutus thrust him out of the chamber, and called him dog, and counterfeit Cynic. Howbeit his coming in brake their strife at that time, and so they left each other. The self-same night Cassius prepared his supper in his chamber, and Brutus brought his friends with him. So when they were set at supper, Phaonius came to sit down after he had washed. Brutus told him aloud, 'no man sent for him,' and bade them set him at the upper end: meaning indeed, at the lower end of the bed. Phaonius made no ceremony, but thrust in amongst the middest of them, and made all the company laugh at him. So they were merry all supper-time, and full of their philosophy.
Narration and Discussion
Brutus is described as a merciful and courteous ruler. How is it then that the Xanthians refused to surrender to him? (You may want to look up something about the history of the Xanthians; apparently this was not the first time they had used this extreme strategy to protect themselves.) If Brutus has taken pride in the good reputation he has, do you think he would take this as a personal rejection?
The story of Marcus Phaonius lends a little comic relief. Why do you think that Brutus and Cassius allowed him to come in and tease them, and sit where he wanted to at dinner? This might be a good scene to act out if you have enough people.
LESSON 7: THREE STORIES ABOUT BRUTUS
This section is made up of three "snapshots" of Brutus as he prepares for the final battle against Octavian and Antonius. Although he is troubled about the situation (which may explain his vision of the "evil spirit") and "his head [is] ever busily occupied to think of his affairs," he does not abandon either his sense of justice or his skill in dealing with people, especially those under his command..
defamed -- disgraced
pilfery -- petty theft
meeter -- better
pilled, polled -- robbed, plundered
suborner -- someone who bribes or induces someone to commit a crime, especially to give false testimony
countenance -- in this case, it means approval
Epicureanism -- "the philosophical system of Epicurus, holding that the world is a series of fortuitous combinations of atoms and that the highest good is pleasure" (Random House College Dictionary)
credulous -- gullible, ready to believe anything
conjecture -- guess
furniture -- equipment, things the soldiers were furnished with
The next day after, Brutus, upon complaint of the Sardians, did condemn and note Lucius Pella for a defamed person, that had been a Praetor of the Romans, and whom Brutus had given charge unto: for that he was accused and convicted of robbery and pilfery in his office. This judgment much misliked Cassius, because he himself had secretly (not many days before) warned two of his friends, attainted and convicted of the like offences, and openly had cleared them: but yet he did not therefore leave to employ them in any manner of service as he did before. And therefore he greatly reproved Brutus, for that he would shew himself so straight and severe, in such a time as was meeter to bear a little than to take things at the worst. Brutus in contrary manner answered, that he should remember the Ides of March, at which time they slew Julius Caesar, who neither pilled nor polled the country but only was a favourer and suborner of all them that did rob and spoil, by his countenance and authority. And if there were any occasion whereby they might honestly set aside justice and equity, they should have had more reason to have suffered Caesar's friends to have robbed and done what wrong and injury they had would than to bear with their own men. "For then," said he, "they could but have said we had been cowards, but now they may accuse us of injustice, beside the pains we take, and the danger we put ourselves into." And thus may we see what Brutus' intent and purpose was.
But as they both prepared to pass over again out of Asia into Europe, there went a rumour that there appeared a wonderful sign unto him. Brutus was a careful man, and slept very little, both for that his diet was moderate, as also because he was continually occupied. He never slept in the day-time, and in the night no longer than the time he was driven to be alone, and when everybody else took their rest. But now whilst he was in war, and his head ever busily occupied to think of his affairs and what would happen, after he had slumbered a little after supper, he spent all the rest of the night in dispatching of his weightiest causes; and after he had taken order for them, if he had any leisure left him, he would read some book till the third watch of the night, at what time the captains, petty captains, and colonels, did use to come to him. So, being ready to go into Europe, one night very late (when all the camp took quiet rest) as he was in his tent with a little light, thinking of weighty matters, he thought he heard one come in to him, and casting his eye towards the door of his tent, that he saw a wonderful strange and monstrous shape of a body coming towards him, and said never a word. So Brutus boldly asked what he was, a god or a man, and what cause brought him thither ? The spirit answered him, "I am thy evil spirit, Brutus: and thou shalt see me by the city of Philippes.'' Brutus being no otherwise afraid, replied again unto it: "Well, then I shall see thee again."
The spirit presently vanished away: and Brutus called his men unto him, who told him that they heard no noise, nor saw anything at all. Thereupon Brutus returned again to think on his matters as he did before: and when the day brake, he went unto Cassius, to tell him what vision had appeared unto him in the night. Cassius being in opinion an Epicurean, and reasoning thereon with Brutus, spake to him touching the vision thus. "In our sect, Brutus, we have an opinion, that we do not always feel or see that which we suppose we do both see and feel, but that our senses being credulous and therefore easily abused (when they are idle and unoccupied in their own objects) are induced to imagine they see and conjecture that which in truth they do not. For our mind is quick and cunning to work (without either cause or matter) anything in the imagination whatsoever. And therefore the imagination is resembled to clay, and the mind to the potter: who, without any other cause than his fancy and pleasure, changeth it into what fashion and form he will....." With these words Cassius did somewhat comfort and quiet Brutus. When they raised their camp, there came two eagles that, flying with a marvellous force, lighted upon two of the foremost ensigns, and always followed the soldiers, which gave them meat and fed them, until they came near to the city of Philippes: and there, one day only before the battle, they both flew away.
So Antonius camped against Cassius, and Brutus on the other side, against Caesar. The Romans called the valley between both camps, the Philippian fields: and there were never seen two so great armies of the Romans, one before the other, ready to fight. In truth, Brutus' army was inferior to Octavius Caesar's in number of men; but for bravery and rich furniture, Brutus' army far excelled Caesar's. For the most part of their armours were silver and gilt, which Brutus had bountifully given them: although, in all other things, he taught his captains to live in order without excess. But for the bravery of armour and weapon, which soldiers should carry in their hands, or otherwise wear upon their backs, he thought that it was an encouragement unto them that by nature are greedy of honour, and that it maketh them also fight like devils that love to get, and to be afraid to lose: because they fight to keep their armour and weapon, as also their goods and lands.
NARRATION AND DISCUSSION
When the spirit tried to "spook" Brutus by warning him that he would see him by the city of Philippes, Brutus replied with the equivalent of "Okay, see you then." Was he just being flippant? Why did he not act more concerned?
Do you agree with the idea that well-equipped soldiers would fight better because they don't want to lose their armour? Can you think of any historical events where a tattered and outnumbered army still managed to fight off the enemy? (Maybe Valley Forge, or Athens vs. Persia?) In any case, how does this show Brutus' skill and understanding of the soldiers' minds? At this point, would you predict success or defeat for Brutus and Cassius?
LESSON 8 - PREPARATION FOR THE BATTLE
The Checkernotes for Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" describe the setting of the story here as follows: "Brutus has overridden Cassius' suggestion that they wait for the enemy to come to them on the heights of Sardis and has decided, instead, that they go down to meet the enemy at Phillipi." (Checkerbooks, Inc., 1982) The mood begins to darken; things are not going quite so well for Brutus and Cassius. Certain unlucky signs seem to warn of defeat, and bother even the Epicurean Cassius enough to make him plead to delay the battle. However, Brutus is determined to see the fight through without delay. Against his better judgment, Cassius is compelled to follow.
drachma -- the
principle silver coin of Ancient Greece, used also by the Romans
wether -- male sheep, especially a castrated one
jeopard -- jeopardize, put in danger
skirmishes -- quarrels; minor battles
tarry -- wait, delay
Now when they came to muster their armies, Octavius Caesar took the muster of his army within the trenches of his camp, and gave his men only a little corn, and five silver drachmas to every man to sacrifice to the gods, and to pray for victory. But Brutus, scorning this misery and niggardliness, first of all mustered his army, and did purify it in the fields, according to the manner of the Romans: and then he gave unto every band a number of wethers to sacrifice, and fifty silver drachmas to every soldier. So that Brutus' and Cassius' soldiers were better pleased, and more courageously bent to fight at the day of battle, than their enemies' soldiers were. Notwithstanding, being busily occupied about the ceremonies of this purification, it is reported that there chanced certain unlucky signs unto Cassius. For one of his sergeants that carried the rods before him, brought him the garland of flowers turned backward, the which he should have worn on his head in the time of sacrificing. Moreover it is reported also, that another time before, in certain sports and triumph where they carried an image of Cassius' victory, of clean gold, it fell by chance, the man stumbling that carried it. And yet further, there was seen a marvellous number of fowls of prey, that feed upon dead carcases: and bee-hives also were found, where bees were gathered together in a certain place within the trenches of the camp: the which place the soothsayers thought good to shut out of the precinct of the camp, for to take away the superstitious fear and mistrust men would have of it. The which began somewhat to alter Cassius' mind from Epicurus' opinions, and had put the soldiers also in a marvellous fear.
Thereupon Cassius was of opinion not to try this war at one battle, but rather to delay time, and to draw it out in length, considering that they were the stronger in money, and the weaker in men and armour. But Brutus, in contrary manner, did always before, and at that time also, desire nothing more than to put all to the hazard of battle, as soon as might be possible: to the end he might either quickly restore his country to her former liberty, or rid him forthwith of this miserable world, being still troubled in following and maintaining of such great armies together.
But perceiving that, in the daily skirmishes and bickerings they made, his men were always the stronger and ever had the better, that yet quickened his spirits again, and did put him in better heart. And furthermore, because that some of their own men had already yielded themselves to their enemies, and that it was suspected moreover divers others would do the like, that made many of Cassius' friends which were of his mind before (when it came to be debated in council, whether the battle should be fought or not) that they were then of Brutus' mind. But yet was there one of Brutus' friends called Atellius, that was against it, and was of opinion that they should tarry to the next winter. Brutus asked him what he should get by tarrying a year longer? "If I get nothing else," quoth Atellius again, "yet have I lived so much longer." Cassius was very angry with this answer: and Atellius was maliced and esteemed the worse for it of all men. Thereupon it was presently determined they should fight battle the next day.
So Brutus, all supper-time, looked with a cheerful countenance, like a man that had good hope, and talked very wisely of philosophy, and after supper went to bed. But touching Cassius, Messala reporteth that he supped by himself in his tent with a few of his friends, and that all supper-time he looked very sadly, and was full of thoughts, although it was against his nature: and that after supper he took him by the hand, and holding him fast (in token of kindness, as his manner was) told him in Greek: "Messala, I protest unto thee, and make thee my witness, that I am compelled against my mind and will (as Pompey the Great was) to jeopard the liberty of our country to the hazard of a battle. And yet we must be lively, and of good courage, considering our good fortune, whom we should wrong too much to mistrust her, although we follow evil counsel." Messala writeth, that Cassius having spoken these last words unto him, he bade him farewell, and willed him to come to supper to him the next night following, because it was his [Cassius'] birthday.
The next morning, by break of day, the signal of battle was set out in Brutus' and Cassius' camp, which was an arming scarlet coat: and both the chieftains spake together in the midst of their armies. There Cassius began to speak first, and said: "The gods grant us, O Brutus, that this day we may win the field, and ever after to live all the rest of our life quietly one with another. But since the gods have so ordained it, that the greatest and chiefest things amongst men are most uncertain, and that if the battle fall out otherwise to-day than we wish or look for, we shall hardly meet again, what art thou then determined to do, to fly, or die?" Brutus answered him, being yet but a young man, and not over greatly experienced in the world: "I trust (I know not how) a certain rule of philosophy, by the which I did greatly blame and reprove Cato for killing himself, as being no lawful nor godly act, touching the gods, nor concerning men valiant, not to give place and yield to divine providence, and not constantly and patiently to take whatsoever it pleaseth him to send us, but to draw back and fly: but being now in the midst of the danger, I am of a contrary mind. For if it be not the will of God that this battle fall out fortunate for us, I will look no more for hope, neither seek to make any new supply for war again, but will rid me of this miserable world, and content me with my fortune. For I gave up my life for my country in the Ides of March, for the which I shall live in another more glorious world." Cassius fell a-laughing to hear what he said, and embracing him, "Come on then," said he, "let us go and charge our enemies with this mind. For either we shall conquer, or we shall not need to fear the conquerors."
After this talk, they fell to consultation among their friends for the ordering of the battle. Then Brutus prayed Cassius he might have the leading of the right wing, the which men thought was far meeter for Cassius, both because he was the elder man, and also for that he had the better experience. But yet Cassius gave it him, and willed that Messala (who had charge of one of the warlikest legions they had) should be also in that wing with Brutus. So Brutus presently sent out his horsemen, who were excellently well appointed, and his footmen also were as willing and ready to give charge.
Narration and Discussion
Compare Plutarch's account of the discussion between Brutus and Cassius to Shakespeare's adaptation (Julius Caesar, Act V, Scene 1) (see below). Is Shakespeare faithful to the spirit of the conversation as Plutarch tells it? How do you feel about the changes he has made?
For mature students: Brutus has been having some difficult thoughts about possibly taking his own life. He admits that he criticized someone else's suicide because of his own beliefs in the Stoic philosophy (something for you to look up!), but that now he believes he would in fact kill himself if he is defeated in this battle, since there is no further hope. Is it possible for someone to make so many mistakes that suicide would be the only solution? What hope does the Bible offer those who face deep despair? Can you think of any examples of people (Biblical or not) who came out of equally desperate situations? (See Pilgrim's Progress for one example, e.g. Christian and Hopeful trapped by Giant Despair.)
Now, most noble Brutus,
The gods to-day stand friendly, that we may,
Lovers in peace, lead on our days to age!
But since the affairs of men rest still incertain,
Let's reason with the worst that may befall.
If we do lose this battle, then is this
The very last time we shall speak together:
What are you then determined to do?
Even by the rule of that philosophy
By which I did blame Cato for the death
Which he did give himself, I know not how,
But I do find it cowardly and vile,
For fear of what might fall, so to prevent
The time of life: arming myself with patience
To stay the providence of some high powers
That govern us below.
Then, if we lose this battle,
You are contented to be led in triumph
Thorough the streets of Rome?
No, Cassius, no: think not, thou noble Roman,
That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome;
He bears too great a mind. But this same day
Must end that work the ides of March begun;
And whether we shall meet again I know not.
Therefore our everlasting farewell take:
For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius!
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.
For ever, and for ever, farewell, Brutus!
If we do meet again, we'll smile indeed;
If not, 'tis true this parting was well made.
Why, then, lead on. O, that a man might know
The end of this day's business ere it come!
But it sufficeth that the day will end,
And then the end is known. Come, ho! away!
LESSON 9 - A Tragedy of Errors: The Death of Cassius
A helpful site with a map showing Philippi: gone; try here: https://web.archive.org/web/20060208142701/http://heraklia.fws1.com/aftermath/Index.htm
The battle begins, and Brutus and Cassius lead their soldiers in different directions. The scene is one of much confusion, looting, and mayhem. Brutus' troops manage to plunder Caesar's camp; however, miscommunication and careless mistakes lead to tragedy.
Is there a leading idea in all this? Maybe that itself could be this lesson's chief question: do Brutus and Cassius still see sense in what they are doing, or has the whole story become only madness and chaos?
wrought -- worked
bills -- notes
pike -- a shafted weapon with a sharp head
legion -- 3,000 to 6,000 soldiers plus some cavalry
sack, spoil -- to pillage, plunder, loot after capture
glister -- glisten, glitter
compass -- surround, encircle
ensign -- flag or banner
slew -- killed
Now Antonius' men did cast a trench from the marsh by the which they lay, to cut off Cassius' way to come to the sea: and Caesar, at the least his army, stirred not. As for Octavius Caesar himself, he was not in his camp because he was sick. And for his people, they little thought the enemies would have given them battle, but only have made some light skirmishes to hinder them that wrought in the trench, and with their darts and slings to have kept them from finishing of their work: but they, taking no heed to them that came full upon them to give them battle, marvelled much at the great noise they heard, that came from the place where they were casting their trench.
In the meantime Brutus, that led the right wing, sent little bills to the colonels and captains of private bands, in the which he wrote the word of the battle; and he himself, riding a-horseback by all the troops, did speak to them, and encouraged them to stick to it like men. So by this means very few of them understood what was the word of the battle, and besides, the most part of them never tarried to have it told them, but ran with great fury to assail the enemies; whereby, through this disorder, the legions were marvellously scattered and dispersed one from the other.
For first of all Messala's legion, and then the next unto them, went beyond the left wing of the enemies, and did nothing, but glancing by them overthrew some as they went; and so going on further, fell right upon Caesar's camp, out of the which (as himself writeth in his commentaries) he had been conveyed away a little before, through the counsel and advice of one of his friends called Marcus Artorius: who, dreaming in the night, had a vision appeared unto him, that commanded Octavius Caesar should be carried out of his camp. Insomuch as it was thought he was slain, because his litter (which had nothing in it) was thrust through and through with pikes and darts. There was great slaughter in this camp. For amongst others, there were slain two thousand Lacedaemonians, who were arrived but even a little before, coming to aid Caesar.
The other also that had not glanced by, but had given a charge full upon Caesar's battle, they easily made them fly, because they were greatly troubled for the loss of their camp; and of them there were slain by hand three legions. Then, being very earnest to follow the chase of them that fled, they ran in amongst them hand over head into their camp, and Brutus among them. But that which the conquerors thought not of, occasion showed it unto them that they were overcome; and that was, the left wing of their enemies left naked and unguarded of them of the right wing, who were strayed too far off, in following of them that were overthrown.
So they gave a hot charge upon them. But, notwithstanding all the force they made, they could not break into the midst of their battle, where they found them that received them and valiantly made head against them. How-beit they brake and overthrew the left wing where Cassius was, by reason of the great disorder among them, and also because they had no intelligence how the right wing had sped. So they chased them, beating them into their camp, the which they spoiled, none of both the chieftains being present there. For Antonius, as it is reported, to fly the fury cf the first charge, was gotten into the next marsh: and no man could tell what became of Octavius Caesar, after he was carried out of his camp. Insomuch that there were certain soldiers that shewed their swords bloodied , and said that they had slain him, and did describe his face, and shewed what age he was of. Furthermore, the forward and the midst of Brutus' battle had already put all their enemies to flight that withstood them, with great slaughter: so that Brutus had conquered all on his side, and Cassius had lost all on the other side. For nothing undid them but that Brutus went not to help Cassius, thinking he had overcome them as himself had done; and Cassius on the other side tarried not for Brutus, thinking he had been overthrown as himself was. And to prove that the victory fell on Brutus' side, Messala confirmeth, that they won three eagles, and divers other ensigns of the enemies, and their enemies won never a one of theirs.
Now Brutus returning from the chase, after he had slain and sacked Caesar's men, he wondered much that he could not see Cassius' tent standing up high as it was wont, neither the other tents of his camp standing as they were before, because all the whole camp had been spoiled, and the tents thrown down, at the first coming of their enemies. But they that were about Brutus, whose sight served them better, told them that they saw a great glistering of harness, and a number of silvered targets, that went and came into Cassius' camp, and were not (as they took it) the armours nor the number of men that they had left there to guard the camp; and yet that they saw not such a number of dead bodies and great overthrow as there should have been, if so many legions had been slain. This made Brutus at the first mistrust that which had happened. So he appointed a number of men to keep the camp of his enemy which he had taken, and caused his men to be sent for that yet followed the chase, and gathered them together, thinking to lead them to aid Cassius, who was in this state as you shall hear.
First of all, he was marvellous angry to see how Brutus' men ran to give charge upon their enemies, and tarried not for the word of the battle, nor commandment to give charge: and it grieved him beside, that after he had overcome them, his men fell straight to spoil, and were not careful to compass in the rest of the enemies behind: but with tarrying too long also, more than through the valiantness or foresight of the captains his enemies, Cassius found himself compassed in with the right wing of his enemy's army. Whereupon his horsemen brake immediately, and fled for life towards the sea.
Furthermore, perceiving his footmen to give ground, he did what he could to keep them from flying, and took an ensign from one of the ensign-bearers that fled, and stuck it fast at his feet: although with much ado he could scant keep his own guard together. So Cassius himself was at length compelled to fly, with a few about him, unto a little hill, from whence they might easily see what was done in all thc plain: howbeit Cassius himself saw nothing, for his sight was very bad, saving that he saw (and yet with much ado) how the enemies spoiled his camp before his eyes. He saw also a great troupe of horsemen, whom Brutus sent to aid him, and thought that they were his enemies that followed him: but yet he sent Titinnius, one of them that was with him, to go and know what they were.
Brutus' horsemen saw him [Titinnius] coming afar off, whom, when they knew that he was one of Cassius' chiefest friends, they shouted out for joy; and they that were familiarly acquainted with him lighted from their horses, and went and embraced him. The rest compassed him in round about on horseback, with songs of victory and great rushing of their harness, so that they made all the field ring again for joy. But this marred all.
For Cassius, thinking indeed that Titinnius was taken of the enemies, he then spake these words: "Desiring too much to live, I have lived to see one of my best friends taken, for my sake, before my face." After that, he got into a tent where nobody was, and slew himself.
Narration and Discussion
Brutus and Cassius were not lacking in military experience; why do you think they did not handle their armies more skillfully during this battle? What were some of the reasons for all the misunderstanding and chaos?
If you had trouble following the story of the battle, try drawing it out or acting it out with small figures. (If you still have trouble, don't worry about it too much; even the people involved probably weren't certain what was going on.)
Our "limited vision" sometimes causes us to misunderstand people or events that God sends to help us. How might the example of this story remind you to look for God's perspective in the events of your life?
The recent victory of Brutus' army and the death of Cassius bring unexpected responsibilities and headaches for Brutus. As the only commanding officer, he now has to deal with a) a camp full of enemy prisoners, b) Cassius' defeated and discouraged soldiers, and c) the constant threat of desertion and rebellion from his own men. To make things even worse, Antonius and Octavius Caesar are making plans for a second battle, and they do not intend to lose this time.
carriage -- management, leadership
brook -- handle
outgone -- gone faster than
standing very tickle -- being very uncertain
Brutus in the meantime came forward still, and understood also that Cassius had been overthrown: but he knew nothing of his death till he came very near to his camp. So when he was come thither, after he had lamented the death of Cassius, calling him the last of all the Romans, being unpossible that Rome should ever breed again so noble and valiant a man as he, he caused his body to be buried, and sent it to the city of Thassos, fearing lest his funerals within his camp should cause great disorder.
Then he called his [Cassius'] soldiers together, and did encourage them again. And when he saw that they had lost all their carriage, which they could not brook well, he promised every man of them two thousand drachmas in recompense. After his soldiers had heard his oration, they were all of them prettily cheered again, wondering much at his great liberality, and waited upon him with great cries when he went his way, praising him, for that he only of the four chieftains was not overcome in battle. And to speak the truth, his deeds showed that he hoped not in vain to be conqueror. For with few legions, he had slain and driven all them away that made head against him: and if all his people had fought, and that the most of them had not outgone their enemies to run to spoil their goods, surely it was like enough he had slain them all, and had left never a man of them alive.
There were slain of Brutus' side about eight thousand men, counting the soldiers' slaves, whom Brutus called Brigas: and of the enemies' side, as Messala writeth, there were slain as he supposeth, more than twice as many more. But on Brutus' side, both his camps stood wavering, and that in great danger. For his own camp being full of prisoners, required a good guard to look unto them: and Cassius' camp on the other side took the death of their captain very heavily, and beside, there was some vile grudge between them that were overcome, and those that did overcome. Brutus, having such a great army to govern, and his affairs standing very tickle, and having no other captain coequal with him in dignity and authority, he was forced to employ them he had, and likewise to be ruled by them in many things, and was of mind himself also to grant them anything, that he thought might make them serve like noble soldiers in time of need. For Cassius' soldiers were very evil to be ruled, and did show themselves very stubborn and lusty in the camp, because they had no chieftain that did command them: but yet rank cowards to their enemies, because they had once overcome them.
On the other side, Octavius Caesar and Antonius were not in much better state; for first of all they lacked victuals. And because they were lodged in low places, they looked to abide a hard and sharp winter, being camped as they were by the marsh side: and also for that, after the battle, there had fallen plenty of rain about the autumn, where through, all their tents were full of mire and dirt, the which by reason of the cold did freeze incontinently. But beside all these discommodities, there came news unto them of the great loss they had of their men by sea. For Brutus' ships met with a great aid and supply of men, which were sent them [to Antonius and Caesar] out of Italy, and they [Brutus' ships] overthrew them in such sort, that there escaped but few of them: and yet they were so famished, that they were compelled to eat the tackle and sails of their ships. Thereupon they [Antonius and Caesar] were very desirous to fight a battle again, before Brutus should have intelligence of this good news for him: for it chanced so, that the battle was fought by sea, on the selfsame day it was fought by land.
But by ill fortune, rather than through the malice or negligence of the captains, this victory came not to Brutus' ear till twenty days after. For had he known of it before, he would not have been brought to have fought a second battle, considering that he had excellent good provision for his army for a long time; and besides lay in a place of great strength, so as his camp could not greatly be hurt by the winter, nor also distressed by his enemies: and further, he had been a quiet lord, being a conqueror by sea, as he was also by land. This would have marvellously encouraged him. Howbeit the state of Rome (in my opinion) being now brought to that pass, that it could no more abide to be governed by many lords, but required one only absolute governor: God, to prevent Brutus that it should not come to his government, kept this victory from his knowledge, though indeed it came but a little too late.
For the day before the last battle was given, very late in the night, came Clodius, one of his enemies, into his camp, who told that Caesar, hearing of the overthrow of his army by sea, desired nothing more than to fight a battle before Brutus understood it. Howbeit they gave no credit to his words, but despised him so much, that they would not vouchsafe to bring him unto Brutus, because they thought it but a lie devised, to be the better welcome for this good news.
Narration and Discussion:
Discuss this passage: "And to speak the truth, his deeds showed that he hoped not in vain to be conqueror. For with few legions, he had slain and driven all them away that made head against him: and if all his people had fought, and that the most of them had not outgone their enemies to run to spoil their goods, surely it was like enough he had slain them all, and had left never a man of them alive." Do you agree that nothing is taken away from Brutus' bravery by the fact that he was hindered by deserters and men more interested in looting than in fighting? How might history have been changed if he had been backed up by soldiers as faithful as he was himself?
What do you think of Plutarch's statement that "God, to prevent Brutus that it should not come to his government, kept this victory from his knowledge, though indeed it came but a little too late?" We can assume that the "God" to whom Plutarch refers is not the God we serve as Christians. However, we may still agree with his idea! Do you think God had a reason for wanting the Roman Empire to develop as it did at that time?
LESSON 11: COURAGE AND LOYALTY
There are two parts to this section. The first shows an example of cowardice and desertion; the second of courage and loyalty.
The battle turns against Brutus, but, ironically, fewer on his side are killed than might be expected (those killed seem to be the loyal soldiers who fought the hardest). Those that survive, especially of Cassius' troops, begin to desert and to discourage others from continuing to fight.
In contrast, a man named Lucilius puts himself at great personal risk to save Brutus from Antonius' soldiers. Antonius recognizes his bravery and rewards him; but even this may not be enough to save Brutus from the destruction that seems close.
hard by -- close to
he had the better -- he had better success
in amaze and afraid -- in amazement and fear
middest -- midst
booty -- prize
Now after that Brutus had brought his army into the field, and had set them in battle ray, directly against the forward of his enemy, he paused a long time before he gave the signal of battle. For Brutus riding up and down to view the bands and companies, it came in his head to mistrust some of them, besides that some came to tell him so much as he thought. Moreover, he saw his horsemen set forward but faintly, and [they] did not go lustily to give charge, but still stayed to see what the footmen would do.
Then suddenly, one of the chiefest knights he had in all his army, called Camulatius, and that was alway marvellously esteemed of for his valiantness, until that time: he came hard by Brutus on horseback, and rode before his face to yield himself unto his enemies. Brutus was marvellous sorry for it: wherefore, partly for anger, and partly for fear of greater treason and rebellion, he suddenly caused his army to march, being past three of the clock in the afternoon. So in that place where he himself fought in person, he had the better, and brake into the left wing of his enemies; which gave him way, through the help of his horsemen that gave charge with his footmen, when they saw the enemies in amaze and afraid. Howbeit, the other [soldiers] also on the right wing, when the captains would have had them to have marched, they were afraid to have been compassed in behind, because they were fewer in number than their enemies, and therefore did spread themselves, and leave the middest of the battle. Whereby they having weakened themselves, they could not withstand the force of their enemies, but turned tail straight and fled. And those that had put them to flight, came in straight upon it to compass Brutus behind, who, in the middest of the conflict, did all that was possible for a skillful captain and valiant soldier, both for his wisdom, as also his hardiness, for the obtaining of victory. But that which won him the victory at the first battle, did now lose it him at the second.
For at the first time, the enemies that were broken and fled were straight cut in pieces: but at the second battle, of Cassius' men that were put to flight, there were few slain: and they that saved themselves by speed, being afraid because they had been overcome, did discourage the rest of the army when they came to join with them, and filled all the army with fear and disorder. There was the son of Marcus Cato slain, valiantly fighting among the lusty youths. For notwithstanding that he was very weary and over-harried, yet would he not therefore fly, but manfully fighting and laying about him, telling aloud his name, and also his father's name, at length he was beaten down amongst many other dead bodies of his enemies, which he had slain round about him. So there were slain in the field all the chiefest gentlemen and nobility that were in his army, who valiantly ran into any danger to save Brutus' life.
Amongst them there was one of Brutus' friends called Lucilius, who seeing a troupe of barbarous men making no reckoning of all men else they met in their way, but going all together right against Brutus, he determined to stay them with the hazard of his life; and being left behind, told them that he was Brutus: and because they should believe him, he prayed them to bring him to Antonius, for he said he was afraid of Caesar, and that he did trust Antonius better.
These barbarous men, being very glad of this good hap, and thinking themselves happy men, they carried him in the night, and sent some before unto Antonius, to tell him of their coming. He was marvellous glad of it, and went out to meet them that brought him. Others also understanding of it, that they had brought Brutus prisoner, they came out of all parts of the camp to see him, some pitying his hard fortune, and others saying that it was not done like himself, so cowardly to be taken alive of the barbarous people for fear of death.
When they came near together, Antonius stayed a while bethinking himself how he should use Brutus. In the meantime Lucilius was brought to him, who stoutly with a bold countenance said: "Antonius, I dare assure thee, that no enemy hath taken nor shall take Marcus Brutus alive, and I beseech God keep him from that fortune: for wheresoever he be found, alive or dead, he will be found like himself. And now for myself, I am come unto thee, having deceived these men of arms here, bearing them down that I was Brutus, and do not refuse to suffer any torment thou wilt put me to."
Lucilius' words made them all amazed that heard him. Antonius on the other side, looking upon all them that had brought him, said unto them: "My companions, I think ye are sorry you have failed of your purpose, and that you think this man hath done you great wrong: but I assure you, you have taken a better booty than that you followed. For instead of an enemy you have brought me a friend: and for my part, if you had brought me Brutus alive, truly I cannot tell what I should have done to him. For I had rather have such men my friends, as this man here, than mine enemies." Then he embraced Lucilius, and at that time delivered him to one of his friends in custody; and Lucilius ever after served him faithfully, even to his death.
Narration and Discussion
After narrating this passage, discuss Lucilius' actions. Why did he pretend to be Brutus?
Look up John 15:13 (Greater love has no man than this...). Can you see any parallels between the story of Lucilius and the story of Christ? Compare Lucilius' actions with those of Jesus' disciples. Another Scripture to consider might be John 10:12-13 (the hired man cares nothing for the sheep, and runs away when danger threatens); how does that describe the actions of Cassius' soldiers?
This would be a good story to act out or to illustrate. (Shakespeare wrote it into "Julius Caesar" in Act V Scene IV.)
LESSON 12: CONCLUSION AND SUMMARY
This is the inevitable conclusion to the life of Brutus (or was it inevitable?). Before you read it together, you might want to do a "pre-narration"; what do you think Brutus might be thinking at this time? What possible actions can he take? How will he decide what to do? (You might choose to do this as a dialogue between Brutus and someone else.)
firmament -- the
rehearsed -- recited
wight -- a living being
tarry -- delay
posterity -- those who come after you (your descendants)
Now Brutus having passed a little river, walled in on every side with high rocks and shadowed with great trees, being then dark night, he went no further, but stayed at the foot of a rock with certain of his captains and friends that followed him: and looking up to the firmament that was full of stars, sighing, he rehearsed two verses, of the which Volumnius wrote the one, to this effect: Let not the wight from whom this mischief vent, O Jove, escape without due punishment:-- and saith that he had forgotten the other. Within a little while after, naming his friends that he had seen slain in battle before his eyes, he fetched a greater sigh than before, specially when he came to name Labio and Flavius, of whom the one was his lieutenant, and the other captain of the pioneers of his camp.
Brutus thought that there was no great number of men slain in battle: and [so that he might] know the truth of it, there was one called Statilius, that promised to go through his enemies, for otherwise it was impossible to go see their camp: and from thence, if all were well, that he would lift up a torch-light in the air, and then return again with speed to him. The torchlight was lifted up as he had promised, for Statilius went thither. Now Brutus seeing Statilius tarry long after that, and that he came not again, he said: "If Statilius be alive, he will come again." But his evil fortune was such that, as he came back, he lighted in his enemies' hands and was slain.
Now, the night being far spent, Brutus as he sat bowed towards Clitus one of his men, and told him somewhat in his ear: the other answered him not, but fell a-weeping. Thereupon he proved Dardanus, and said somewhat also to him: at length he came to Volumnius himself, and speaking to him in Greek, prayed him for the studies' sake which brought them acquainted together, that he would help him to put his hand to his sword, to thrust it in him to kill him. Volumnius denied his request, and so did many others: and amongst the rest, one of them said, there was no tarrying for them there, but that they must needs fly. Then Brutus, rising up, "We must fly indeed," said he, "but it must be with our hands, not with our feet." Then taking every man by the hand, he said these words unto them with a cheerful countenance: "It rejoiceth my heart, that not one of my friends hath failed me at my need, and I do not complain of my fortune, but only for my country's sake: for as for me, I think myself happier than they that have overcome, considering that I leave a perpetual fame of our courage and manhood, the which our enemies the conquerors shall never attain unto by force or money; neither can let their posterity to say that they, being naughty and unjust men, have slain good men, to usurp tyrannical power not pertaining to them." Having said so, he prayed every man to shift for himself, and then he went a little aside with two or three only. Taking his sword by the hilt with both his hands, and falling down upon the point of it, he ran himself through, and died presently.
Now Antonius having found Brutus' body, he caused it to be wrapped up in one of the richest coat-armours he had. Afterwards also, Antonius understanding that this coat-armour was stolen, he put the thief to death that had stolen it, and sent the ashes of his body unto Servilia, [Brutus'] mother.
And for Porcia, Brutus' wife, Nicolaus the Philosopher and Valerius Maximus do write, that she determined to kill herself; choosing to die, rather than to languish in pain.
Narration and Discussion
After narrating this passage, you may want to review and discuss the life of Brutus in general as well as this final segment. As a writing assignment, you could take a topic such as the following: What are the things you admire most about Brutus? What things do you not admire? You may also want to read the final scene (Act V Scene V) from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, especially Antonius' speech ("This was the noblest Roman of them all.") Do you agree with Antonius? Should Brutus be called a hero?
Referring to this passage in particular: compare this somber scene to the last evening of Jesus Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. Both men knew they would soon be facing death. Are there any similarities in the stories? What are the greatest differences? Pay particular attention to the things they said.
Next term we'll be travelling back to ancient Greece to read the story of Dion (pronounced like Lion), whose story is somewhat similar to that of Brutus (Plutarch wrote Dion and Brutus as parallel lives).