Study Guide by Anne White, Aug. 2020
A Dividing Line.--Both Shakespeare and Scott use, as it were, a dividing line, putting on the one side the wilful, wayward, the weak and the strong; and on the other, persons who will. Faust, Lady Macbeth, King Lear, Edward Waverley, Charles II., King John, Marlborough, all sorts of unlikely persons, fall to the side of the line where Will is not in command. On the other side, also, unlikely people find themselves in company--Wolsey, Sir Thomas More, Laud, Mahomet, Henry V. of England, and Henry IV. of France . . . To make even a suggestive list would be to range over all history and literature. Let me say again, however, that here is a line of study which should make our reading profitable, as making us intimate with persons, and the more able for life. (Charlotte Mason, Ourselves)
These notes, and the accompanying text, are prepared for the use of individual students and small groups following a twelve-week term. The text is that of Thomas North's 1579 translation of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, with substitutions from John Dryden's 1683 translation where it seemed useful.
In other volumes, I have used brackets to mark the changes from North's translation; in this one, however, they have been omitted. Please note that this also means that some omissions have not been noted. Those using audio versions or other translations may therefore want to preview those versions for suitability.
Each study contains explanatory material before the first lesson. A little at the beginning may be useful to stir interest in the study, but it is not meant to be given all in one dose!
Some lessons are divided into two or three sections. These can be read all at once or used throughout the week.
I encourage you to make the lessons your own. Use the questions that are the most meaningful to you. Remember that Charlotte Mason was satisfied with "Proper names are written on the blackboard, and then the children narrate what they have listened to."
This Plutarch study includes suggestions for end-of-term examinations. The questions for Brutus were drawn from original P.N.E.U. programmes.
"But Brutus in contrary manner, for his virtue and valiantness, was well-beloved of the people and his own, esteemed of noble men . . . because he . . . had ever an upright mind with him . . ."
If you have read Plutarch's Life of Publicola, you will remember not only Lucius Junius Brutus (an ancestor of Marcus Brutus), but also the law made at the beginning of the Roman Republic, which said that it was permissible to take the life of anyone conspiring to seize the government and become a tyrant. In the story of Marcus Junius Brutus, that law was again put to the test.
Many students will have read one or more of the Lives corresponding to this time period, such as Crassus, Julius Caesar, Pompey, Cato the Younger, and Cicero; and will be familiar with events that took place during the life of Marcus Brutus. For those that have not, a short review is included.
Who was Marcus Junius Brutus?
Marcus Brutus, usually called Brutus, was born about the time that Gaius Marius was first elected consul of Rome. His father, also named Marcus Junius Brutus, was put to death in 77 B.C. (an act for which Pompey was blamed); so Brutus is sometimes referred to as Brutus the Younger.
The World of Marcus Brutus
Brutus grew up during a time of economic and military upheaval. Overseas conquests meant a great number of foreign captives; so small, family-run farms now competed with larger operations based on slave labour. The lack of small land owners forced the army to accept soldiers from the poorer classes, who then had to be paid more so that they could afford weapons. These soldiers considered themselves employees of the army (rather than citizens who occasionally had to fight): their loyalty was to their general, perhaps even more than to Rome itself.
Rome also became a dangerous place, as power shifted back and forth between Marius and his former lieutenant Lucius Cornelius Sulla, and as political "enemies" were repeatedly punished by proscription: confiscation of property and a death warrant, or exile if they could escape. (Those who have read Plutarch's Life of Julius Caesar will remember that Caesar, a nephew of Marius, spent time in hiding.)
The Government of the Roman Republic
The Roman Empire did not formally exist until Octavius Caesar (later Caesar Augustus) became Emperor in 27 B.C. However, though it was still the era of the Roman Republic, Rome did have an empire because of the large amount of foreign territory it had acquired. For clarity, we will call it the small-e empire.
There were two different types of class divisions in ancient Rome. The first was family-based, between the patricians (the nobility) and the plebeians (common people). The second type were property- or wealth-based classes such as the senatores, who owned large amounts of land. The next level down, the equestrian class (in North's translation, the knights of Rome), was a "business class," made up of those who could afford horses and who therefore made up the cavalry in times of war. Besides the equestrian class, there were three lower classes of property owners; and, lowest of all, the proletarii.
Were the senatores the same as the senators?
Often, but the two were not identical. Over the centuries, and even within the Republic era, both the size of the Senate and the personal requirements for membership (age, wealth) changed. Some plebeians became senators along with the patricians. Those elected to magistracies (see below) were also included in the Senate.
What was an aedile, a quaestor, a consul?
The elected positions, or magistracies, in Rome were, starting at the bottom, quaestor, aedile, praetor, and consul. There were various numbers of each of these: for example, two consuls were elected each year. Ex-consuls could become censors; and a consul could become dictator if the need (usually a great emergency) arose.
What was the praetor urbanis?
The praetor urbanis was next in rank only to the consuls. He could summon the Senate or organize military defenses in their absence.
Who were the tribunes?
The duty of a non-military tribune (sometimes called a tribune of the plebeians, or plebs, or a tribune of the people) was to protect the common people from any individual or group (such as the nobles) who might suppress their rights. This position was not part of the junior-senior ranking of magistrates such as quaestor and consul; it was an office voted on by the common people (plebeians).
Can we integrate the reading with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?
Shakespeare combined material from Plutarch's Lives of Julius Caesar and Brutus to write his version of the story. Notes on the play (Shakespeare Connections) are included in this study. If students have not already read Julius Caesar, you could make it the term's Shakespeare play; or you can simply refer to the relevant scenes.
Let's Talk Of Gaul, and Governors, and the other Brutus
Gaul, a Roman province inhabited by Celtic people, was divided into Transalpine Gaul ("Gaul-over-the-Alps"), covering parts of today's France, Belgium, and Germany; and Cisalpine Gaul ("Gaul-on-this-side-of-the-Alps"), today's Northern Italy. There are other, more correct names and divisions, but that is enough to read this Life.
Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus was the cousin of Marcus Brutus. Shakespeare misspells his name as Decius; and although he is part of the conspiracy (in the play), and goes to Caesar's house to escort him to the Senate, he doesn't do much that makes him memorable as a character. The real Decimus Brutus was a loyal supporter of Julius Caesar, a trusted friend who had fought with him in Gaul (in 58 B.C.), and even during his civil war; who nevertheless became annoyed with Caesar because he had not been given sufficient recognition for his loyalty and bravery. For example, he had expected a triumphal parade on his return from Gaul, but was denied it. However, Caesar seems to have been unaware of his resentment; his belief in Decimus' loyalty was key to the success of the conspiracy.
Decimus Brutus was acting governor of Transalpine Gaul from 48 to 46 B.C.; but Marcus Brutus, as Plutarch states, was governor of Cisalpine Gaul from 46 to 45 B.C. As we will read in Lesson One, Marcus Brutus had asked Caesar's pardon for fighting against him, and granting him that position shows that he had become a trusted friend. After the death of Caesar, Decimus Brutus was given the governorship of Cisalpine Gaul, and it was near the end of his term that he was besieged by Mark Antony (Lesson Four).
Decimus Brutus is always referred to as such in this story. "Brutus" refers to Marcus Brutus.
On the Map
Place names are listed under this heading. For consistency, I have used Dryden's spelling for places instead of North's. Charlotte Mason suggested using resources such as Dent's Atlas of Ancient & Classical Geography, which can be found online. A newer resource I have used myself is the Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome by Nick Constable (Checkmark Books/Thalamus Publishing, 2003).
Top Ten Vocabulary Terms in the Life of Marcus Brutus
If you recognize these words, you are well on your way to mastering the vocabulary for this Life. They will not be repeated in the lessons.
1. choleric: hot-tempered
2. divers: various, several
3. factions: groups divided by conflict or disagreement
4. meet: proper
5. oration: speech
6. stay: stop or delay
7. tarry: delay, wait; wait for someone or something
8. tyrant: a king or ruler who uses his power oppressively or unjustly
9. victuals: supplies, particularly food (pronounced vittles)
10. word of the battle: a pre-arranged signal to charge the enemy
In 49 B.C., Julius Caesar crossed the border into Italy, along with his army, which was a deliberate act of defiance against Rome. After a short stop in the city of Rome to collect funds, and then a march into Spain to gather extra troops, he made his way to Greece, where, after a series of battles, he was finally declared the victor.
Brutus, at this time, was a younger man who had already earned respect in Rome both for his family connections and for his own honest nature. He was expected to take Caesar's side, largely because Pompey, who led the Roman defenses against Caesar, had been responsible for the death of Brutus' father when Brutus was still a child. However, this Brutus, like his ancestor, put loyalty to Rome ahead of personal animosities (or perhaps, as Plutarch suggests, there was another reason). In any case, he surprised Pompey by arriving at his camp to offer support.
Capitol: the political and religious center of Rome, where the Temple of Jupiter and the Forum (see Lesson Two) were located. When the conspirators took refuge "in the Capitol" (Lesson Two), they barricaded themselves on the Capitoline Hill.
too hard a temper: To temper steel is to treat it so as to increase its strength. However, steel of too hard a temper breaks easily.
great battle . . . : the Battle of Pharsalus, see notes below
a breviary of Polybius: a history narration
would: wants; Dryden says "intends"
he begat him: he was his father
that Junius Brutus: see introductory notes for this study
Tarquins: the kings who ruled before the beginning of the Republic
Julius Caesar: Roman politician and general
Cassius: Gaius Cassius Longinus, Roman senator and general
Marcus Cato the philosopher: Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, the subject of the Life of Cato the Younger; an orator known for his moral integrity. Although he is called Cato the Younger, he had a son, also named Marcus Porcius Cato, mentioned in Lesson Twelve.
Ptolemy: Ptolemy of Cyprus, a king who committed suicide in 58 B.C. rather than submit to Roman power
Pompey: Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Roman statesman and general. He was defeated by Julius Caesar at the Battle of Pharsalus.
his father: Brutus the Elder; see introductory notes for this study
100 B.C.: birth of Julius Caesar
85 B.C.: birth of Brutus
49-45 B.C.: Civil war in Rome, called "Caesar's Civil War"; Brutus travelled to Greece to fight with Pompey against Caesar
48 B.C.: Battle of Pharsalus
46 B.C.: Battle of Thapsus (Caesar defeated loyalist forces including those led by Cato). Cato's death by suicide.
On the Map
Students should be given the opportunity to look at a map of the Roman Republic (or the Roman Empire) which shows Rome and its territories.
Places named in this lesson include Cyprus, the Island of Rhodes, Pamphylia, and Cilicia.
Marcus Brutus was descended from that Junius Brutus for whom the ancient Romans erected a statue of brass in the Capitol among the images of their kings with a drawn sword in his hand, because he had valiantly put down the Tarquins from their kingdom of Rome. But that Junius Brutus, being of a sour stern nature, not softened by reason, being like unto sword blades of too hard a temper, was so subject to his choler and the malice he bore 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, seems to have been of a temper exactly framed for 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 his equal in honesty and pureness of purpose.
[omission for length]
Marcus Cato the philosopher was brother unto Servilia, Marcus Brutus' mother: and he it was whom Brutus studied most to follow of all the other Romans, because he was his uncle; and (after Cato's death) he married his daughter Porcia.
[omission for length]
When he was but a very young man, he accompanied his uncle Cato to Cyprus, when he was sent there against Ptolemy. But when Ptolemy killed himself, Cato, being by some necessary business detained in the Island of Rhodes, had already sent Canidius, one of his friends before, to keep the king's treasure and goods. But Cato, fearing he would be light-fingered, wrote unto Brutus forthwith to come out of Pamphylia (where he was but newly recovered of a sickness) into Cyprus, the which he did. The which journey he was sorry to take upon him, both for respect of Canidius' shame, whom Cato as he thought wrongfully slandered, as also 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 unto 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 now, looking upon him as the general of his country, he placed himself under his command, and set sail for Cilicia, to be lieutenant to Sestius, who had the government 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 honourably 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 while he was with Pompey; and not only the days before, but the selfsame day also before the great battle was fought in the fields of Pharsalus, where Pompey was overthrown. It was in the midst of summer, and the sun was very hot, besides that the camp was lodged near unto marshes, and they that carried his tent tarried long before they came, whereupon, being very weary with travel, scant any meat came into his mouth at dinner time. Furthermore, when others slept, or thought what would happen the morrow after, he fell to his book, and wrote all day long till night, writing a breviary of Polybius.
It is said that Caesar had so great a regard for him that he ordered his commanders by no means to kill Brutus in the battle, but to spare him if possible, and to bring him safe to him, if he would willingly surrender himself; but if he made any resistance, to suffer him to escape rather than do him any violence. 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. And because Brutus was born in that time, he persuaded himself that he begat him.
[omission for content]
So, after Pompey's overthrow at the Battle of Pharsalus, 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 company.
[omission for length]
Brutus in the meantime gained Caesar's forgiveness for his friend Cassius; and pleading also in defense of the king of the Libyans, though he was overwhelmed with the greatness of the crimes alleged against him, yet by his entreaties and deprecations to Caesar in his behalf, he preserved to him a great part of his kingdom. They say also that Caesar said, when he heard Brutus plead: "I know not," said he, "what this young man would, but, whatever he would, he willeth it vehemently." For Brutus' gravity and constant mind would not grant all men their requests that sued unto him; but being moved with reason and discretion, he did always incline to that which was good and honest.
[omission for length]
Narration and Discussion
What was Brutus like as a young man? Why did he decide to support Pompey in the civil war?
Plutarch says that "Brutus' gravity and constant mind would not grant all men their requests that sued unto him." Why is it sometimes better not to agree to everything asked of us?
Creative Narration: In Dryden's words: "From Larissa he wrote to Caesar who expressed a great deal of joy to hear that he was safe, and, bidding him come, not only forgave him freely, but honoured and esteemed him among his chiefest friends." Taking the role of Julius Caesar, start a list of "Reasons I Like Brutus." Continue adding to the list during the next lesson. You might decide to add a second list, "Reasons I Am Not Sure Brutus Likes Me."
Creative Narration for older students: Divide a sheet of paper in two, and list similarities and contrasts between Brutus and Cassius.
Part One: Brutus appreciated the benefits of Caesar's friendship.
Part Two: Brutus helped to plan Caesar's assassination.
How did one follow so closely on the other?
The conspiracy and the assassination of Julius Caesar are dramatized in Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3, Scene 1.
Plutarch writes of Caesar: "'It is not,' said he, 'the fat and the long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the lean,' meaning Brutus and Cassius." In Act 1, Scene 2, Shakespeare writes "Let me have men about me that are fat, / Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights. / Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look, / He thinks too much; such men are dangerous." Plutarch includes Brutus as the target of Caesar's comment, but Shakespeare does not; do you think there was a reason for that?
A small point of character interest occurs in Act 1, Scene 2, where Shakespeare drops the name of Titinius into a speech, establishing a connection between him and Julius Caesar. In Plutarch's narrative, Titinius is introduced much later and said to be a friend of Cassius. The brief line here functions as the first mention of a character who will be used later on.
a great good hap: very fortunate
praetorship of the city; the first praetorship: praetor urbanis; see introductory notes
contention: something being argued over or fought for (as in the phrase "bone of contention").
listed: wished, chose
vigour of purpose: power to act; will
rancour: anger, resentment
estimation: high esteem, having a good reputation
grew strange together: had not much to do with each other
Scipio: Quintus Caecilius Metellus Scipio; governor of Syria; father-in-law of Pompey; fought at the Battle of Thapsus
Antony: Marcus Antonius, usually called Mark Antony or Antony in English; a Roman general and politician, supporter of Caesar; later part of the Second Triumvirate.
Dolabella: Publius Cornelius Dolabella, a Roman general and politician
Tillius Cimber: Shakespeare calls him Metellus Cimber.
Casca: Publius Servilius Casca Longus, one of the conspirators
March 44 B.C.: Death of Julius Caesar
On the Map
Africa: The Roman province called Africa
Gaul in Italy: Cisalpine Gaul; see introductory notes for this study
Parthia: a kingdom in the Middle East
Megara: a city and region in Attica. There will be more details about Megara later on.
Now when Caesar took sea to go into Africa against Cato and Scipio, he left Brutus as governor of Gaul in Italy, on this side of the Alps, which was a great good hap for that province. For while people in other provinces were in distress with the violence and greed of their governors, and suffered as much oppression as if they had been slaves and captives of war, Brutus, by his easy government, made them amends for their calamities under former rulers, directing moreover all their gratitude for his good deeds to Caesar himself. For when Caesar returned out of Africa, and progressed up and down Italy, the things that pleased him best to see were the cities under Brutus' charge and government, and Brutus himself: who honoured Caesar in person, and whose company also Caesar greatly esteemed.
Now several praetorships being vacant, 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 the other, 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. Others say, that this contention betwixt them came by Caesar himself, who secretly gave either of them both hope of his favour. This provoked them at last to an open competition and trial of their interests. Brutus had only the reputation of his honour and virtue to oppose to the many and gallant actions performed by Cassius 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 Caesar not so much for the praetorship he had, as he was angry with him for that which he had lost.
But Brutus in many other things tasted of the benefit of Caesar's favour in anything 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 they 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 unbend his strength, and undermine his vigour of purpose.
Now Caesar on the other side did not trust him overmuch, nor was Brutus not without tales brought unto him against him: howbeit he feared his great mind, authority, and friends. Yet, on the other side also, he trusted his good nature and fair conditions. When it was told him that Antony and Dolabella designed some disturbance, "It is not," said he, "the fat and the long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the lean," meaning Brutus and Cassius. At another time also, when one accused Brutus unto him, and bade him beware of him: "What," said he again, clapping his hand on his breast, "think ye that Brutus will not tarry till this body die?" Meaning that none but Brutus, after him, was meet to have such power as he had. And surely, in my opinion, I am persuaded that Brutus might indeed have come to have been the chiefest man of Rome, if he could have contented himself for a time to have been next unto Caesar, and to have suffered his glory and authority which he had gotten by his great victories to consume with time.
But Cassius being a choleric man, and hating Caesar privately more than he did the tyranny openly, he incensed Brutus against him. Brutus felt the rule an oppression, but Cassius hated the ruler; and, among other reasons on which he grounded his quarrel against Caesar, the loss of his lions (which he had procured when he was aedile-elect) was one; for Caesar, finding these in Megara, when that city was taken by Calenus, seized them to himself.
[omission for length: examples of Cassius' hot temper]
Now when Cassius felt his friends, and did stir them up against Caesar, they all agreed and promised to take part with him, so 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 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."
[omission for length and content: Brutus and Cassius began to gather men "whom they thought stout enough to attempt any desperate matter." Some of their recruits were said to have joined only because Brutus was involved. Brutus spent many sleepless nights worrying about the plan, and his wife was greatly concerned.]
[omission for length: Caesar's somewhat delayed arrival at Pompey's Theatre, on the Ides of March]
When Caesar was come into the house, all the senate rose to honour him at his coming in. So when he was set, the conspirators flocked about him, and amongst them they presented one Tillius Cimber, who pleaded humbly for the calling home again of his brother that was banished. They all made as though they were intercessors for him, and took him by the hands and kissed him. Caesar at the first simply refused their kindness and entreaties: 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 doest thou?" Casca, on the other side cried in Greek, and called his brother to help him. So several people running on a heap together to fly upon Caesar, he 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.
Then the conspirators thronging one upon another, because every man was desirous to have a cut at him, so many swords and daggers lighting upon one body, one of them hurt another, and among them Brutus caught a blow on his hand, because he would make one in murdering of him; and all the rest also were every man of them bloodied.
Caesar being slain in this manner, Brutus, standing in the midst of the house, would have spoken, and stayed the other senators that were not of the conspiracy, to have told them the reason why they had done this fact. But they, as men both afraid and amazed, fled one upon another's neck in haste to get out at the door, and no man followed them. For it was set down and agreed between them that they should kill no man but Caesar only, and should entreat all the rest to look to defend their liberty. All the conspirators but Brutus, determining upon this matter, thought it good also to kill Antony, because he was a wicked man, and that in nature favoured tyranny: besides also, for that he was in great estimation with soldiers, having been conversant of long time amongst them: and specially having a mind bent to great enterprises, 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 Antony, 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 Antony's life, who at that present time disguised himself and stole away.
Narration and Discussion
How did Julius Caesar's respect help move Brutus up the ladder in Rome?
How did Brutus come to believe that he was doing an honourable act by conspiring to kill Caesar?
For older students: In Dante's Inferno, three unfaithful servants are pictured being eaten by Satan's three mouths: Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot. Do you agree with such a judgment on Brutus?
For older students: ". . . the which they said Caesar gave him not to honour his virtue, but to unbend his strength, and undermine his vigour of purpose." The issue of power and its misuses is a very large one. Write about or discuss examples of "sweet enticements," or those which, though seemingly well meant, may stunt one's "vigour of purpose," or Will (as Charlotte Mason put it).
". . . though we are slow to elect for ourselves, we are zealous propagandists on behalf of others. We…push them zealously into that which we are assured is for their good… but, in so far as we have chosen for another, we have done that other person an injury…" (Charlotte Mason, Ourselves)
Creative Narration #1: This reading offers several possible subjects for drawing or painting. Can you find any paintings that were inspired by this story?
Creative Narration #2: See previous lesson.
Julius Caesar was dead, and there were many questions in the air. What would happen to Rome now? What would the consequences be for Brutus and the other conspirators? Would Brutus' reputation save him from the vengeance of those who supported Caesar?
"Afterwards, when Caesar's body was brought into the marketplace, Antony making his funeral oration in praise of the dead…taking Caesar's gown all bloody in his hand, he laid it open to the sight of them all, shewing what a number of cuts and holes it had upon it." Act 3, Scene 2 contains Antony's funeral oration, and the reaction of the Roman people to his words.
"And because someone called him by his name, Cinna, the people thinking he had been that Cinna who in an oration he made had spoken very evil of Caesar, they falling upon him in their rage slew him outright in the marketplace." This event takes place in Act 3, Scene 3.
marketplace: the Forum in Rome, a central area between the government buildings, where speeches were made, public ceremonies were conducted, etc.
pulpit for orations: the place from which speeches were made
returned again into the Capitol: they were using the Capitol as a refuge until they could be assured of their own safety
stayed and quenched: prevented
governments of provinces: It is important to note that these governorships were not to take effect until the following January.
in hugger mugger: quietly, in secret
marred all: caused trouble, ruined everything
Cinna, #1 and #2: This involves a case of mistaken identity.
Cicero: Marcus Tullius Cicero, the subject of Plutarch's Life of Cicero
Lepidus: Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, Roman general and statesman; consul in 46 and 42 B.C.; supporter of Julius Caesar. He became one of the Second Triumvirate in October 43 B.C.
Decimus (Junius) Brutus Albinus: Roman general and a cousin of Marcus Brutus. Please read the introductory notes for this study.
Trebonius: one of the conspirators, who was later killed by Dolabella
On the Map
Several Roman provinces are named in this lesson, such as Crete; Africa; Asia; Bithynia; Cisalpine Gaul. Note that Asia did not refer to the whole continent, but to the area that had been the Kingdom of Lydia, the northwestern part of present-day Turkey. Likewise, Africa included only parts of northern Africa.
But Brutus and his party, having their swords bloody in their hands, went straight to the Capitol, persuading the Romans as they went to take their liberty again. 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 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 marketplace. The rest followed in troop, 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 marketplace, to the pulpit for orations.
At the sight of Brutus, the crowd, though consisting of a confused mixture and all disposed to make a tumult, were struck with reverence, and awaited what he would say with order and with silence. 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 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. There Brutus, being afraid to be besieged, sent back again the noblemen that came thither with him, thinking it no reason that they, which were no partakers of the murder, should be partakers of the danger.
Then the next morning the Senate being assembled, and Antony, Plancus, and Cicero having made a motion that they should take an order to pardon and forget all that was past, and to establish friendship and peace again: 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 broke up, and Antony, 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, where every man saluted and embraced each other; among the which, Antony himself did bid Cassius to supper to him; and Lepidus also bade Brutus; and so one bade another, as they had friendship and acquaintance together.
The next day following, the Senate, being called again to council, did first of all commend Antony, 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 Crete; Africa, unto Cassius; Asia, unto Trebonius; Bithynia, unto Cimber; and unto Decimus Brutus Albinus, Gaul on this side the Alps.
When this was done, they came to talk of Caesar's will and testament, and of his funerals and tomb. Then Antony 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 spoke 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' proposal that Antony 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 Antony 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 Tiber River, 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 marketplace, Antony 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 open to 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 benches and tables out of the shops round about; 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 thoroughly kindled, some here, some there, took burning firebrands, and ran with them to the murderers' houses that had killed him, to set them afire. Howbeit the conspirators, foreseeing the danger before, had wisely provided for themselves, and fled.
But there was a poet called Cinna, who had been no partaker of the conspiracy, but was always one of Caesar's chiefest friends. This man dreamed that he was invited to supper by Caesar, and that he declined to go, but that Caesar entreated and pressed him to it, very earnestly; and at last, taking him by the hand, led him into a very deep and dark place, whither he was forced against his will to follow in great consternation and amazement. This dream put him all night into a fever, and yet notwithstanding, the next morning when he heard that they carried Caesar's body to burial, being ashamed not to accompany his funerals: he went out of his house, and thrust himself into the press of the common people that were in a great uproar. And because someone called him by his name, Cinna, the people thinking he had been that Cinna who in an oration he made had spoken very evil of Caesar, they falling upon him in their rage slew him outright in the marketplace.
[omission for length. The conspirators fled the city in fear, which allowed Mark Antony to take control. He was not popular with the common people, and the feeling among them was a wish for Brutus' presence, especially at the games in honour of Apollo. However, Rome still seemed too dangerous a place for Brutus to attempt a return.]
Narration and Discussion
Do you think Brutus was as hard-hearted as his ancestor Brutus (mentioned in Lesson One)? Or was he not cruel enough (should he have agreed to kill Antony as well)? What might happen because of that decision?
For older students: Charlotte Mason wrote:
"Several times a day we shall find two ideas presented to our minds; and we must make our choice upon right and reasonable grounds. The things themselves which stand for the ideas may not seem to matter much; but the choice matters. Every such exercise makes personality the stronger; while it grows the weaker for every choice we shirk."
She also said:
"These foreign ideas get in with a rush. We know how that just man, Othello, was instantly submerged by the idea of jealousy which Iago cunningly presented." (Charlotte Mason, Ourselves)
So far we have seen both Cassius and Antony use the power of small ideas to turn others to their way of thinking. How can we guard against being swayed to make unwise or immoral choices?
The time period covered by this lesson spans the summer of 44 B.C., through the rest of that year and the early winter of the next. The events of those months could fill a long list of Historic Occasions. First was the post-assassination arrival and rising popularity of young Octavius, Caesar's heir. Then in December of 44 B.C., Mark Antony began a civil war by besieging Decimus Brutus (see Lesson Three), the outgoing governor of Cisalpine Gaul, in the city of Mutina (present-day Modena, in Northern Italy).
The senate, at their meeting in January of 43 B.C., was divided: some wanted to negotiate with Antony, others (such as Cicero) believed that only strong military action would stop him. Another strategy proposed at this time was that all new governorships (which traditionally started in January) should be cancelled, and those who currently held those positions should continue in them for another year. This act would allow Decimus Brutus to remain governor of Gaul; otherwise he might become the outlaw in a standoff with Roman authorities, rather than the other way around.
While all this was happening in Italy, Marcus Brutus was seemingly enjoying philosophical studies in Greece; but he was also gathering an army to fight for his beloved Roman Republic. He began capturing cities and whole territories, to keep them safe (so to speak) against potential tyrants. At the beginning of 43 B.C., he was able to write to the Senate that he was in command of Macedon, Illyricum, and Greece. However, the situation with Antony was quickly growing worse, and that commanded most of the Romans' attention.
curry favour: do nice things to make people like you
mild and courteous bondage: slavery, but nice slavery
usurped tyranny: unlawful tyranny, vs., perhaps, perfectly upright tyranny
Hector parting from Andromache: in The Iliad, the scene where Hector says goodbye to his wife and young son
Octavius Caesar: Gaius Octavius, or Octavius; later called Caesar Augustus; who became the first Roman Emperor in 27 B.C. At the beginning of 43 B.C., he was made propraetor and given command of troops, although he was not yet twenty years old. Note on translations of his name: North uses "Octavius Caesar." Dryden refers to him as "Young Caesar" or, later, just "Caesar." Other books, such as Genevieve Foster's Augustus Caesar's World, say "Octavian." For consistency in these notes, I have used "Octavius."
the captain of those ships: seemingly his friend Marcus Appuleius
Leto's son: the Greek god Apollo
Gaius (Antony's brother), or Gaius Antonius: He was praetor urbanis in 44 B.C., while his older brother Mark Antony was consul and a third brother, Lucius Antony, was a tribune. After Caesar's assassination, he was appointed governor of Macedonia, which is why he was traveling there at that time.
Gabinius: Aulus Gabinius, a "tribune of the people"
Cicero's son: Cicero the Younger, born in 65 B.C. Trivia: another young soldier recruited by Brutus at this time was Quintus Horatius Flaccus, later known as the poet Horace.
August 44 B.C.: Brutus sailed to Greece
December 44 B.C.: Conflict between Decimus Brutus and Antony, the outgoing and incoming governors of Cisalpine Gaul
January 43 B.C.: Aulus Hirtius and Gaius Vibius Pansa took office as consuls
Winter 43 B.C.: Brutus fell ill at Dyrrhachium, but recovered and began capturing cities "for the Republic."
On the Map
Apollonia: A city founded by the Greeks, in the region called Illyria; home to a school of philosophy during the Roman era; it was taken by Brutus for Pompey during the war against Caesar. Its ruins are located in present-day Albania.
through the country of Lucania unto the city of Elea: Elea, also called Velia, was a city on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Athens: a city-state in Greece (now the capital city)
Macedon: or Macedonia; the kingdom to the north of Greece
Carystus: or Karistos, a town on the island of Euboea (sometimes called Chalcis), which is the second-largest Greek island after Crete
Dyrrhachium: a city now called Durrës, in Albania
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, and where he was expecting also to meet Caesar on his way to the expedition which he had determined on against the Parthians; 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 Antony sorely; and by force of money got a great number of his father's soldiers together, that had served in the wars with him.
And Cicero himself, for the great malice he bare Antony, sided with young Caesar. But (Marcus) Brutus marvellously reproved Cicero for it, and wrote unto him, that he seemed by his doings not to be sorry to have a master, but only to be afraid to have one that should hate him: and that all his doings in the commonwealth did witness that he chose to be subject to a mild and courteous bondage, since by his words and writings he did commend this young man Octavius Caesar to be a good and gentle lord. "For our predecessors," said he, "would never abide to be subject to any masters, how gentle or mild soever they were"; and, for his own part, that he had never resolutely determined with himself to make war, or peace, but otherwise, that he was certainly minded never to be slave nor subject. And therefore he wondered much at him, how Cicero could be afraid of the danger of civil wars, and would not be afraid of a shameful peace; and that to thrust Antony out of the usurped tyranny, in recompense he Cicero went about to establish young Octavius Caesar as tyrant. These were the contents of Brutus' first letters he wrote unto Cicero.
Now, the city of Rome being divided in two factions, some taking part with Antony, other also leaning unto Octavius Caesar, and the soldiers selling themselves, as it were, by public outcry, and going over to whoever would give them most: Brutus, seeing the state of Rome would be utterly overthrown, therefore determined to go out of Italy, and went afoot through the country of Lucania unto the city of Elea, by the seaside. There Porcia, being ready to depart from her husband Brutus and to return to Rome, did what she could to dissemble the grief and sorrow she felt at her heart: but, in spite of all her constancy, a picture which she found there accidentally betrayed it. It was a Greek subject, Hector parting from Andromache when he went to engage the Greeks, giving his young son Astyanax into her arms, and she fixing her eyes upon him. When she looked at this piece, the resemblance it bore to her own condition made her burst into tears, and several times a day she went to see the picture, and wept before it.
[omission for length]
(Marcus) Brutus took ship from thence, and sailed to Athens, where he was received by the people with great demonstration of kindness, expressed in their acclamation and the honours that were decreed him. He lived there with a friend of his, with whom he went daily to hear the lectures of Theomnestus, an Academic philosopher, and of Cratippus the Peripatetic, and so would talk with them in philosophy, that it seemed he left all other matters, and gave himself only unto study: howbeit secretly, notwithstanding, he made preparation for war.
For he sent one of his captains, Herostratus, into Macedon, to win the captains and soldiers that were there; and he also kept at his disposal all the young gentlemen of the Romans, whom he found in Athens studying philosophy: amongst them he found Cicero's son, whom he highly praised and commended, saying, that whether he waked or slept he found him of a noble mind and disposition, he did in nature so much hate tyrants.
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 good store of money in them, and that the captain of those ships (who was an honest man, and his familiar friend) came towards Athens, he went to meet him as far as Carystus, and having spoken with him there, he handled him so, that he was contented to leave his ships in Brutus' 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. Brutus therefore, to encourage them further, called for a bigger cup, and holding it in his hand, before he drank spoke this verse aloud:
"But fate my death and Leto's son have wrought."
And for proof hereof it is reported, that the same day he fought his last battle by the city of Philippi, as he came out of his tent he gave his men for the word and signal of battle, "Apollo": so that it was thought ever since that his sudden crying out at the feast was a prognostication of his misfortune that should happen.
[omission for length: Brutus continued to collect military allies and money]
So when news was brought that Gaius (Antony's brother), coming out of Italy, had passed the sea and came with great speed towards the city of Dyrrhachium and Apollonia, to get the soldiers into his hands which Gabinius had there: Brutus resolved to anticipate him, and to seize them first, and in all haste moved forwards with those he had about him. His march was very difficult, through rugged places and in a great show, but so swift that he left those that were to bring his provisions for the morning meal a great way behind.
[Brutus became ill near Dyrrhachium.]
Brutus growing very faint with his illness, and there being none in the whole army that had anything for him to eat, his servants were forced to have recourse to the enemy, and, going as far as to the gates of the city, begged bread of the sentinels that were upon duty. As soon as they heard of the condition of Brutus, they came themselves, and brought both meat and drink along with them; in return for which Brutus, when he took the city, showed the greatest kindness, not to them only, but to all the inhabitants, for their sakes.
[omission for length]
Narration and Discussion
How did Brutus show strength of character at this time?
Why did Brutus make such an odd toast during his party?
Creative Narration: Imagine that Brutus, instead of writing to Cicero, had the conversation with him in person. Write or act out the scene. OR Write a speech for Porcia on viewing the picture from The Iliad.
Mark Antony refused to lift the siege against Decimus Brutus (the cousin of Marcus Brutus) unless he received a number of demands (such as the government of Transalpine Gaul). Throughout the spring months of 43 B.C., Roman troops continued to move toward Mutina, hoping to end the siege or at least keep Decimus from surrendering to Antony. It was also reported that Dolabella had killed Trebonius in Smyrna, meaning that Dolabella was now declared a public enemy, and therefore Rome planned to send troops against him as well.
Octavius and the two consuls defeated Antony, but both consuls were killed, leaving Rome short of generals. In an unexpected turn of Senate decision-making, Marcus Brutus and Cassius were both given the governorships that had been promised but cancelled, and Cassius took over the campaign against Dolabella. Decimus, now that the siege was lifted, was put in charge of capturing Antony, with Octavius under his command (which did not please Octavius).
In the summer of 43 B.C., Decimus attempted to join Brutus in Macedon, but was killed (by Antony's orders) on his way there. Octavius, a bit afraid of Antony's power, but also nervous about the fickle support of the Senate, tried a new tactic: he returned to Rome and demanded the vacant consul seats for himself and one of his relatives. As consul, he cancelled the "public enemy" orders for both Antony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus; and this allowed the three of them (that autumn) to legally form an alliance called the Second Triumvirate. Though not truly friends, they recognized their mutual desire for power, and the need for co-operation.
One of the first acts of the Triumvirate was to issue proscriptions (death sentences and seizures of property) against any and all political enemies. At the top of Antony's list was Cicero. Brutus and Cassius were also included, because of their involvement in the death of Julius Caesar; but as they were not close at hand (as Cicero was), they would have to be defeated and captured first.
Early in 42 B.C., Brutus and Cassius were reunited at Smyrna, and the last part of the reading describes their meeting.
"After that, these three, Octavius Caesar, Antony, and Lepidus made an agreement between themselves . . ." This occurs at the beginning of Act 4, Scene 1, where Antony also mentions that "Brutus and Cassius / Are levying powers." Brutus and Cassius discuss the proscriptions and the death of Cicero in Act 4, Scene 3. They also talk about the news Brutus has just received of Porcia's suicide ("she fell distract, / And (her attendants absent) swallow'd fire"). Plutarch does not mention this until the end of Brutus' Life, and he says there that her death may not have occurred in that manner or at that exact time. But it does seem probable that she died before Brutus, possibly by suicide, but perhaps of illness or grief.
the noblest person in Rome: Julius Caesar
made an agreement . . .: formed the Second Triumvirate
lenity: mildness, gentleness
sundry, diverse: various
Gaius Antonius: see previous lesson
Pomponius Atticus: a close friend of Cicero
February 43 B.C.: A state of emergency was declared in Rome.
March-April 43 B.C.: Death of both consuls in battle against Antony
Summer 43 B.C.: Death of Decimus Brutus
August 43 B.C.: Octavius declared consul
October 43 B.C.: Formation of the Second Triumvirate
December 43 B.C.: Death of Cicero
January 42 B.C.: Julius Caesar posthumously declared divine by the Senate, allowing Octavius to declare himself "Son of the Divine"
January 42 B.C.: Roman troops sent against Brutus and Cassius
Early 42 B.C.: Brutus and Cassius met at Smyrna
On the Map
Bithynia: a Roman province in Anatolia, part of present-day Turkey
Cyzicus: a town in Anatolia
Syria: a Roman province which included the kingdom of Judea
Smyrna: An important city of Roman Asia, located on the Aegean Sea. Find Smyrna and Sardis (see the next lesson) on a historical map. (Try looking for a Bible map showing the Seven Churches of Asia.)
As Brutus prepared 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 Mark Antony. But after Octavius had driven Antony out of Italy, the Senate then began to be afraid of him Octavius: 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 turned unto Brutus that was out of Italy, and that they appointed him the government of certain provinces: then he begun to be afraid for his part, and sent unto Antony to offer him his friendship. Then coming on with his army near to Rome, he made himself to be chosen consul, whether the Senate would or not, when he was yet but a young man of twenty years old, as he 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 judgement: 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, Antony, 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; and among that number, Cicero was one.
[omission for length]
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 Cyzicus, 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 unto princes and noblemen of the country that had to do with him. Afterwards he sent unto Cassius in Syria, to turn him from his journey into Egypt, telling him that it was not for the conquest of any kingdom for themselves that they wandered up and down in that sort, but contrarily, that it was to restore their country again to their liberty: and that the multitude of soldiers they gathered together was to subdue the tyrants that would keep them in slavery and subjection. Wherefore, regarding their chief purpose and intent, they should not be far from Italy, as near as they could possible, but should rather make all the haste they could to help their countrymen. Cassius believed him, and returned.
Brutus went to meet him, 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 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 departing 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 as 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 skillful 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 noble men, 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 good will that every man bore 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. And in contrary manner, his enemies themselves did never reprove Brutus for any such change or desire. For it was said that Antony spoke 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 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 Antony 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 Brutus a true prophet, for so came it indeed to pass.
Narration and Discussion
Describe the meeting of Brutus and Cassius at Smyrna (in a simple or more creative format). As you read Lesson Six, compare this with their next meeting at Sardis. Had things changed?
This lesson bridges two meetings between Brutus and Cassius: that at Smyrna, and that at Sardis. In between those points, the military crisis grew, and personal conflicts became more heated.
"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." This occurs in Act 4, Scene 2.
"Then they began to pour out their complaints one to the other, and grew hot and loud . . ." "This Favonius at that time, in despite of the doorkeepers, came into the chamber…" This is dramatized in Act 4, Scene 3. (Note that Titinius is used here as one of the doorkeepers. He also appears briefly in the next scene.)
rap and rend: snatch, seize
dissuaded him from it: tried to persuade him not to do it
behaved with no clemency: he treated the people there without mercy
engines of battery: battering rams
bade every man avoid: told everyone to stay out
Cynical: Cynicism was a form of Greek philosophy which had regained popularity in Rome at this time; but its followers (often outspoken) were often mocked as "pretend Cynics" (as Favonius is here).
Marcus Favonius: a Roman politician. Those who have read Plutarch's Life of Pompey may remember that he challenged Pompey to follow through on his promise to stomp his feet and produce an army. He was imprisoned and put to death after the Battle of Philippi.
June 42 B.C.: Brutus and Cassius met at Sardis
On the Map
city of the Xanthians or Xanthos: the oldest and largest city of the mountain province of Lycia (not to be confused with Lydia)
city of the Patareans: Patara, a city of Lycia, on the Mediterranean.
country of Ionia: a region of Anatolia
Sardis: an important city of the former Persian empire, and the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. It was considered a site of military strength.
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 goodwills by Cassius' charge. This notwithstanding, Cassius gave him the third part of his total sum.
So Cassius and Brutus then departing from each other, Cassius took the city of Rhodes, where he behaved with no clemency; 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 straits 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 let 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 mutiny for every small hurt they received as they 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, within the which were shut up the cruelest 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 across 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 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, so that the next houses unto them were straight set afire thereby. Wherefore Brutus being afraid that all the city would be set 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 rampart of their walls, and did cast down stones and fireworks 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 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 the 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 to save it, and held up his hands to the inhabitants, praying them to pardon their city, and to save themselves. Howbeit they would not be persuaded, but most of them killed themselves and their families.
[omission for content]
Therefore Brutus likewise besieging the city of the Patareans, and 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 selfsame 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 he had levied of all the country of Lycia but a hundred and fifty talents only, he departed thence into the country of Ionia, and did them no more hurt.
[omission for length]
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, the soldiers called them both Emperors.
Now, as it commonly happeneth 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 the other, 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 grow to further matter: but yet they were commanded, that no man should come to them. Notwithstanding, one Marcus Favonius, that had been a friend and follower of Cato while he lived, and, not so much by his learning or wisdom as by his wild, vehement manner, maintained the character of a philosopher, was rushing in upon them, but was hindered by the attendants. But it was a hard matter to stop Favonius, wherever his wildness hurried him; for he was fierce in all his behaviour, and ready to do anything to get his will. And though he was a senator, yet, thinking that one of the least of his excellences, he valued himself more upon a sort of Cynical liberty of speaking what he pleased, yet this boldness did no hurt many times, because they did but laugh at him to see him so mad. This Favonius at that time, in despite of the doorkeepers, 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:
"Be ruled, for I am older than ye both."
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 broke their strife at that time, and so they left each other. The selfsame night Cassius prepared his supper in his chamber, and Brutus brought his friends with him. So, when they were set at supper, Favonius 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 couch. Favonius made no ceremony, but thrust in amongst the midst of them, and made all the company laugh at him: so they were merry all suppertime, and full of their philosophy.
Narration and Discussion
Explain the argument between Brutus and Cassius when they met at Sardis.
Why do you think that Brutus and Cassius allowed Favonius to come in and tease them, and sit where he wanted to at dinner?
For older students: 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 an extreme strategy to protect themselves.)
In matters of honesty, Brutus could be unyielding (perhaps like the previously-mentioned tempered steel). In other matters, however, he showed great insight into human behaviour and motivation: for example, understanding that providing excellent armour would help his soldiers "fight like devils." (In Lesson Eight, we read that he gave them a financial incentive as well.) In this passage, we read that Brutus also struggled with "demons" of fear and uncertainty, which manifested themselves as a ghostly visitor in his tent.
". . . Brutus publicly disgraced and condemned Lucius Pella…This judgement was much misliked by Cassius: for but a few days before, two of his own friends being accused of the same crime, he only admonished them in private, but in public absolved them . . ." Cassius complains about this in Act 4, Scene 3.
"Brutus, in contrary manner, answered that he should remember the Ides of March." In Shakespeare's scene, Brutus says, "Remember March, the ides of March remember."
"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 Philippi." This also takes place in Act 4, Scene 3.
"But just as the troops were going on board, there came two eagles . . ." Cassius mentions this in Act 5, Scene 1.
by his countenance: by his allowing of those things to happen
despatching of his weightiest causes: dealing with important business
Epicurean: The Epicurean philosophy stated that the highest good was pleasure; but it also promoted freedom from fear.
driven to forsake . . .: Norbanus retreated towards Amphipolis.
rich furniture: equipment; the things the army was "furnished" with
Norbanus: Gaius Norbanus Flaccus, a Roman politician and general
Autumn 42 B.C.: Preparations for battle
On the Map
Philippi: a Greek city which had been conquered first by the Macedonians (and renamed for Philip II), and then by the Romans. The Philippian Fields were the plain to the west of the city.
Thasos: or Thassos; a large Greek island
Amphipolis: a city in the Roman province of Thrace, considered a stronghold for occupying armies.
The next day after, upon the accusation of the Sardians, Brutus publicly disgraced and condemned Lucius Pella, one that had been employed in offices of trust by himself, for having embezzled the public money. This judgement was much misliked by Cassius: for but a few days before, two of his own friends being accused of the same crime, he only admonished them in private, but in public absolved them, and continued them in his service. And therefore he greatly reproved Brutus, for that he would show himself so strait 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 plundered nor pillaged the country, but only was the support and strength 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 they had been cowards: and 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 daytime, 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 care and what would happen: after he had slumbered a little after supper, he spent all the rest of the night in despatching 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 centurions and tribunes did use to come unto him for orders. So, 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 Philippi." 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 broke, 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, spoke 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 . . . For our imagination doth upon a small fancy grow from conceit to conceit, altering both in passions and forms of things imagined. For the mind of man is ever occupied, and that continual moving is nothing but an imagination. But yet there is a further cause of this in you. For you being by nature given to melancholic discoursing, and of late continually occupied, your wits and senses, having been over-laboured, do more easily yield to such imaginations. For, to say that there are spirits or angels, and if there were, that they had the shape of men, or such voices, or any power at all to come unto us: it is a mockery. And for mine own part I would there were such, because that we should not only have soldiers, horses, and ships, but also the aid of the gods, to guide and further our honest and honourable attempts."
With these words Cassius did somewhat comfort and quiet Brutus. But just as the troops were going on board, 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 Philippi; and there, one day only before the battle, they both flew away.
Now Brutus had conquered the most part of all the people and nations of that country: but if there were any other city or captain to overcome, then they made all clear before them; and so drew towards the coasts of Thasos. There Norbanus lying in camp in a certain place called the Straits, Cassius and Brutus compassed him in in such sort, that he was driven to forsake the place which was of great strength for him, and he was also in danger beside to have lost all his army. For Octavius Caesar could not follow him because of his sickness, and therefore stayed behind: whereupon they would have taken his army, if not for Antony's aid, which made such wonderful speed that Brutus could scant believe it. Caesar came up ten days after; and Antony 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 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 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 warned Brutus that he would see him by the city of Philippi, Brutus replied with the equivalent of "Okay, see you then." Was he just being flippant? Why did he not appear more concerned?
Creative Narration: As a reporter, describe the ways that Brutus and Cassius were preparing to fight the Battle of Philippi. At this point, would you predict success or defeat for them?
Certain omens began to appear, worrying Cassius to the point that he suggested delaying the fighting as long as possible. Brutus, on the other hand, wanted to have the whole thing over with as quickly as possible.
In an omitted section, Plutarch describes "the superstitious fears which were gradually carrying even Cassius himself away from his Epicurean doctrines…" In Act 5, Scene I, Cassius says, "You know that I held Epicurus strong, / And his opinion; now I change my mind,/ And partly credit things that do presage." However, he is determined to see it through. Plutarch's Cassius says to Messalla, "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." In Shakespeare's version, Cassius says, "For I am fresh of spirit, and resolv'd / To meet all perils very constantly."
Plutarch's Cassius says, "For either we shall conquer, or we shall not need to fear the conquerors"; but Shakespeare gives Brutus similar words to end the scene: "But it sufficeth that the day will end, / And then the end is known." You may want to discuss why Shakespeare's instinct for good theatre would lead him to make that change.
muster: assemble in preparation for battle
purify it in the fields: perform a rite of cleansing from past wrongs
drachma: silver coin
wether: male sheep
skirmishes and bickerings: minor battles
mistrust her: Fortune, to the Romans, was a female deity
Providence: God, or, the gods
fell a-laughing: Dryden says "smiled"
Messalla (sometimes spelled Messala): Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, a Roman general and writer. Also referred to as Corvinus.
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 poverty and meanness of spirit, 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 the battle, than their enemies' soldiers were.
[omission for length]
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 the next winter. Brutus asked him what he should get by tarrying a year longer? "If I get nought 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 suppertime 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, Messalla reporteth that he supped by himself in his tent with a few of his friends, and that all suppertime 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: "Messalla, I protest unto thee, and make thee my witness, that I am compelled against my mind and will (as Pompey the great was) to jeopardy 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." Messalla 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 birthday.
The next morning, by break of day, the signal of battle was set out in Brutus' and Cassius' camp, which was a scarlet coat: and both the chieftains spoke 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 of himself, as being no lawful nor godly act, touching the gods, nor, concerning men valiant; not to evade the divine course of things, and not fearlessly to receive and undergo the evil that shall happen, but run away from it. But now in my own fortunes I am of another mind; for if Providence shall not dispose what we now undertake according to our wishes, 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."
Narration and Discussion
Compare Plutarch's account of the discussion between Brutus and Cassius to Shakespeare's adaptation (Julius Caesar, Act 5, 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 older students: Brutus planned to kill himself if this battle were lost. What hope does the Bible offer those who face deep despair?
Creative Narration: Continue the reporting begun in Lesson Seven.
The battle began, and Brutus and Cassius led their soldiers in different directions. Brutus' troops managed to plunder Caesar's camp; however, miscommunication and careless mistakes led to tragedy.
In Act 5, Scene 3, Shakespeare uses the dramatic device of having Cassius and others narrate what they see, rather than trying to replicate an entire battle onstage.
Plutarch mentions the character Titinius only in this passage: "Cassius sent Titinius, one of them that was with him, to go and know what they were. Brutus' horsemen saw him coming afar off . . . they shouted out for joy . . . and went and embraced him . . . Cassius thought that Titinius was actually taken by the enemy . . . and slew himself." In the play, Titinius returns and finds Cassius' body, then takes his own life. You may want to discuss how and why Shakespeare expanded on Plutarch's "minor" characters.
At the end of Act 5, Scene 3, Brutus says, "Ere night / We shall try fortune in a second fight," referring to the second battle (although it did not actually take place on the same day).
cast a trench: dig a ditch
little bills: handbills; notes. Those who have read Alice in Wonderland may recall the title of Chapter IV, "The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill."
word of the battle: the signal (see the Top Ten Vocabulary Terms)
the voward: those at the front
other ensigns: To steal the standard (or "capture the flag") of the enemy was considered a sign of victory.
brake immediately: broke their ranks and fled
October 3, 42 B.C.: First battle at Philippi; death of Cassius
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 Messalla (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.
Now Antony' men did cast a trench from the marsh by the which they lay, to cut off Cassius' way to come to the sea. Caesar was to be at hand with his troops to support them, but he was not able to be present himself, by reason of his sickness. And for his soldiers, 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, on 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; but 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, Messalla'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 although he was not there himself, having been warned by a friend's dream. 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 rest of the army, that had not gone round, but had engaged the front, easily overthrew them, finding them in great disorder; and slew upon the place three legions; and being carried on with the stream of victory, pursuing those that fled, fell into the camp with them, Brutus himself being there. But that which the conquerors thought not of, occasion shewed it unto them that 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 men that received them and valiantly made head against them. Howbeit 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 Antony, as it is reported, to fly the fury of 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 voward 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 of 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, Messalla confirmeth it, that they won three eagles, and divers other ensigns of their 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 in of the enemies. But they that were about Brutus, whose sight served them better, told him 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 surround 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 surrounded by the right wing of his enemies' 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 fleeing, 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 the 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 troop of horsemen, whom Brutus sent to aid him, and thought that they were his enemies that followed him: but yet he sent Titinius, one of them that was with him, to go and know what they were. Brutus' horsemen saw him 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 a-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 Titinius was taken of the enemies, he then spoke 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 commanded his servant Pindarus to kill him.
After that time Pindarus was never seen more. Whereupon some took occasion to say, that he had slain his master without his commandment. By and by they knew the horsemen that came towards them, and might see Titinius crowned with a garland of triumph, who came before with great speed unto Cassius. But when he perceived by the cries and tears of his friends which tormented themselves, the misfortunate that had chanced to his captain Cassius, by mistaking: he Titinius drew out his sword, cursing himself a thousand times that he had tarried so long, and so slew himself presently in the field.
Narration and Discussion
What were some of the reasons for the misunderstanding and chaos during this battle? Who actually won?
Our "limited vision" sometimes causes us to misunderstand people or events that God sends to help us. How might this story remind you to look for God's perspective in the events of your life?
Creative Narration: Continue the activity begun in Lesson Seven.
As the only commanding officer, Brutus had 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 worse, Antony and Octavius Caesar were making plans for a second battle, which they did not intend to lose.
sack and spoil: treasure, loot
stubborn and lusty: hard to control
God: Dryden says "the divine power"
October 23, 42 B.C.: Second battle at Philippi; death of Brutus
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 impossible that Rome should ever breed again so noble and valiant a man as he: he sent away the body to be buried at Thasos, lest celebrating his funeral within the camp might breed some disorder.
Then he called his soldiers together, and did encourage them again; and, seeing them destitute of all things necessary, he promised to every man two thousand drachmas in recompense of what he had lost. 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 yet 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; and of the enemies' side, as Messalla writeth, there were slain, as he supposeth, more than twice as many more. Wherefore they were more discouraged than Brutus, until that very late at night there was one of Cassius' men called Demetrius who went unto Antony, and carried his master's clothes, whereof he was stripped not long before, and his sword also. This encouraged Brutus' enemies, and made them so brave, that the next morning betimes they stood in battle array again before Brutus. 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 besides, there was some vile grudge between them that were overcome and those that did overcome. For this cause therefore Brutus did set them in battle array, but yet kept himself from giving battle.
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Afterwards Brutus performed the promise he had made to the soldiers, and gave them the two thousand drachmas apiece, but yet he first reproved them, because they went and gave charge upon the enemies at the first battle, before they had the word of battle given them: and made them a new promise also, that if in the second battle they fought like men, he would give them the sack and spoil of two cities, to wit, Thessalonica and Lacedaemon. In all Brutus' life there is but this only fault to be found, and that is not to be gainsaid (though Antony and Octavius Caesar did reward their soldiers far worse for their victory. For when they had driven all the natural Italians out of Italy, they gave their soldiers their lands and towns, to the which they had no right: and moreover, the only mark they shot at in all this war they made was but to overcome, and reign. Where in contrary manner they had so great an opinion of Brutus' virtue, that the common voice and opinion of the world would not suffer him neither to overcome, nor to save himself otherwise than justly and honestly, and specially after Cassius' death: whom men burdened, that oftentimes he moved Brutus to great cruelty.) But now, like as the mariners on the sea after the rudder of their ship is broken by tempest, do seek to nail on some other piece of wood in its place, and do help themselves to keep them from hurt as much as may be upon that instant danger: even so 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 at time of need. For Cassius' soldiers were very evil to be ruled, and did shew 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 Antony 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, all their tents were full of mire and water, which through the coldness of the weather immediately froze. 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 to Caesar's aid out of Italy, and they 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 Caesar and Antony 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, his army lay in a place of great strength, so as his camp could not be greatly hurt by the winter, nor also distressed by his enemies; and his being absolute master of the sea, and having at land overcome on that side wherein he himself was engaged, would have made him full of hope and confidence.
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 was but a lie devised, to be the better welcome for this good news.
The selfsame night, it is reported that the monstrous spirit which had appeared before unto Brutus in the city of Sardis, did now appear again unto him in the selfsame shape and form, and so vanished away, and said never a word.
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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 yet 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 Brutus' bravery is not lessened 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?
For older students: Plutarch says 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." Although we may not understand "God" or "divine power" in the same way as Plutarch did, his idea is an interesting one. Do you think God had a reason for wanting the Roman Empire to develop as it did at that time?
In this lesson we are shown two contrasting characters: Camulatius, a soldier who openly defected to the other side; and Lucilius, who showed the utmost loyalty to his commander.
The story of Lucilius is dramatized in Act 5, Scene 4.
to tell him so much as he thought: to confirm his suspicion
faintly: without much enthusiasm
overharried: attacked repeatedly and on all sides
barbarous men: often foreigners, but here it may simply mean enemy soldiers
booty: loot, prize
Camulatius: or Camulatus. We do not seem to have more information about him, other than that he was a "good soldier."
the son of M. Cato: see Lesson One; Brutus' cousin and also the brother of Brutus' wife Porcia
Now, after that Brutus had brought his army into the field, and had set them second in battle ray, directly against the voward 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 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 always marvellously esteemed of for his valiantness until that time: he came hard by Brutus a-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 broke 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 amazement and afraid. Howbeit the other 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 midst of their 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 straight upon it to compass Brutus behind, who in the midst of the conflict did all that was possible for a skillful captain and valiant soldier: both for his wisdom, as also for 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 M. Cato slain, valiantly fighting amongst the lusty youths. For, notwithstanding that he was very weary, and overharried, yet would he not therefore flee, 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.
[The historian Appian says that the soldiers of Octavius now "seized the gate" of Brutus' camp, and that they formed patrols to capture anyone attempting to flee. Brutus himself, according to Appian, was pursued by enemy soldiers, and fled into the hills. This is the point at which Lucilius decided to act.]
Amongst them there was one of Brutus' friends called Lucilius, who seeing a troop of barbarous men making no reckoning unto 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 Antony, for he said he was afraid of Caesar, and that he did trust Antony 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 Antony, 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, Antony stayed awhile, bethinking himself how he should use Brutus.
In the meantime Lucilius was brought to him, who stoutly, with a bold countenance, said,
"Antony, 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 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. Antony on the other side, looking upon all them that had brought him, said:
"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 do 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 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
Why did Lucilius pretend to be Brutus? Look up John 15:13 (Greater love has no man than this . . .).
For older students: Those with a cynical turn of mind might ask if Lucilius was merely saving his own skin by finding a way into Antony's camp and appearing loyal and honourable (rather than, perhaps, accompanying Brutus on his escape). What do you think?
Creative Narration: This would be a good story to act out or to illustrate.
Lesson Twelve and Examination Questions
Outmaneuvered by his enemies, there was not much that Brutus could do. "I do not complain of my fortune," he said, "but only for my country's sake: for, as for me, I think myself happier than they that have overcome."
Shakespeare dramatizes the final hour of Brutus' life in Act 5, Scene 5.
firmament: the heavens
posterity: those that come afterward
Clitus, Dardanus, Flavius, Labeo, Statilius, Strato, Volumnius: Brutus' friends and fellow soldiers. Those who have read Plutarch's Life of Cato the Younger will remember the loyalty of Statilius to Cato in the last days of his life.
October 23, 42 B.C.: death of Brutus
31 B.C.: Battle of Actium, fought between the forces of Octavius Caesar and Mark Antony (plus Cleopatra). It is considered the end of the Roman Republic and the beginning of the Empire.
Now Brutus having passed a little river, walled in on either 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; one of which, Volumnius writes, was this:
Punish, great Jove, the author of these ills.
The other, he says he has forgot.
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 Labeo and Flavius, of the which the one was his lieutenant, and the other chief officer of his engineers.
In the meantime, one of the company being athirst, and seeing Brutus athirst also: he ran to the river for water, and brought it in his helmet. At the selfsame time they heard a noise on the other side of the river. Whereupon Volumnius took Dardanus, Brutus' servant, with him, to see what it was: and, returning straight again, asked if there were any water left. Brutus, smiling gently, told them all was drunk; "but they shall bring you some more." Thereupon he sent him again that went for water before, who was in great danger of being taken by the enemies, and hardly escaped, being sore hurt. Furthermore, Brutus thought that there was no great number of men slain in battle, and, to 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 torch light 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.
[The historian Appian states that, early next morning, Brutus returned to his troops. When he asked his officers if they would attempt breaking through enemy lines, they replied only that he should look out for himself; and it was after this that he ran on his sword. Plutarch says that this took place while Brutus was still a fugitive in the hills.]
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 drew aside his armour-bearer Dardanus, and said somewhat also to him: at length he came to Volumnius, and prayed him 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 nor money; no more than they could hinder posterity from believing and saying that, being unjust and wicked men, they had destroyed the just and the good, and usurped a power to which they had no right."
Having said so, he prayed every man to shift for themselves, and then he went a little aside with two or three only, among the which Strato was one. He came as near to him as he could, and taking his sword by the hilts with both his hands, and falling down upon the point of it, ran himself through. Others say that, not he, but Strato (at his request) held the sword in his hand, and turned his head aside, and that Brutus fell down upon it: and so ran himself through, and died presently.
Messalla, that had been Brutus' great friend, became afterwards Octavius Caesar's friend. So, shortly after, Caesar being at good leisure, he brought Strato, Brutus' friend, unto him, and weeping, said: "Caesar, behold, here is he that did the last service to my Brutus." Caesar welcomed him at that time, and afterwards he did him as faithful service in all his affairs, as any Grecian else he had about him, until the Battle of Actium.
It is reported also, that this friend Messalla himself answered Caesar one day, when he gave him great praise before his face, that he had fought valiantly, and with great affection for him, at the Battle of Actium, (notwithstanding that he had been his cruel enemy before, at the Battle of Philippi, for Brutus' sake): "I ever loved," said he, "to take the best and justest part."
Now, Antony having found Brutus' body, he caused it to be wrapped up in one of the richest mantles he had. Afterwards also, Antony understanding that this mantle was stolen, he put the thief to death that had stolen it, and sent the ashes of his body unto his 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
In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Mark Antony called Brutus "the noblest Roman of them all." Do you agree that Brutus was a hero? What are the things you admire most about him? What do you not admire?
Why did Brutus call himself "happier" (or more fortunate) than those that won the battle?
For older students: In Lesson One, Plutarch said that Brutus "framed his manners of life by the rules of virtue and study of philosophy." How did that shape the outcome of his story?
For Christian students in particular: Compare this somber scene to the story 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.
1. a) Why did Caesar honour and esteem Brutus? b) Give an account of the meeting of Brutus and Cassius at Sardis, or at Smyrna.
2. (Alternative) How did Lucilius save the life of Brutus?
1. Give an account of the way in which Brutus and Cassius prepared for the battle of the Philippian Fields.
2. (Alternative) "Brutus . . . tasted of the benefit of Caesar's favour . . ." Give instances. OR, How did Favonius end the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius at Sardis? What led to it? Tell the whole story.
3. (For high school) Compare and contrast the characters of Cassius and Brutus, giving illustrations. OR "He was right made and framed unto virtue." Give instances to show how Plutarch justifies this estimate of treatment of the pirates.
Brooke, C.F. Tucker. Shakespeare's Plutarch: Containing the Main Sources of Julius Caesar. London: Chatto & Windus, 1909.
Plutarch's Lives: The Dryden Plutarch. Revised by Arthur Hugh Clough, Volume 3. London: J.M. Dent, 1910
About the Author
Anne E. White (www.annewrites.ca) has shared her knowledge of Charlotte Mason's methods through magazine columns, online writing, and conference workshops. She is an Advisory member of AmblesideOnline and the author of Minds More Awake: The Vision of Charlotte Mason, as well as other books in The Plutarch Project series.
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