Iūnius Brūtus, Marcus

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Son of another Marcus Iunius Brutus (put to death by Pompey in 77 after a promise of safe conduct) and of Servilia, b. (probably) 85 bc. Brought up by Porcius Cato (2), he was educated in oratory and philosophy and long retained hatred for Pompey. In 58 he accompanied Cato to Cyprus and in 56 lent a large sum to Salamis at 48 per cent interest p.a., contrary to the law of Gabinius, procuring a senate decree to validate the loan. As moneyer (?55) he issued coins showing Libertas and portraits of his ancestors. As quaestor 53 he went to Cilicia with Claudius Pulcher, whose daughter he had married. When Cicero succeeded Appius, he found that an agent of Brutus had been made prefect of cavalry to extort money from Salamis and that five Salaminian senators had been killed. He cancelled the appointment, but to avoid offence to Brutus gave a similar post to Brutus' agent in Cappadocia and recognized the validity of the loan to Salamis. In 52 Brutus defended Annius Milo and in a pamphlet attacked Pompey's wish for a dictatorship, but in 49 he joined the republican cause and was formally reconciled with Pompey. After Pompey's defeat at Pharsalus (48) he successfully begged Caesar for pardon and, no doubt through Servilia's influence, became one of his protégés. He was made a pontifex and in 47 sent to govern Cisalpine Gaul, while Caesar went to Africa to fight Cato and the republicans. During this time he developed relations with Cicero, who dedicated various philosophical and rhetorical works to him and, at his request, wrote a eulogy of Cato after Cato's death. (Finding it unsatisfactory, Brutus wrote one himself.) Although he now divorced Claudia and married Cato's daughter Porcia, widow of Calpurnius Bibulus, he remained on good terms with Caesar, met him on his return from Munda, assured Cicero of Caesar's laudable optimate intentions, and was made urban praetor for 44 and designated consul for 41. But when Caesar became dictator perpetuo (February 44), Brutus joined, and ex officio took the lead in, the widespread conspiracy that led to Caesar's assassination before his departure for his Parthian war. Outmanœuvred by Marcus Antonius, whose life he had spared on the Ides of March, he and Cassius Longinus had to leave Rome and, failing to win popular approval, left Italy for Greece (August 44). With Antony now openly hostile, Brutus collected nearly 400 million sesterces from the treasuries of Asia and Syria and confiscated the supplies Caesar had prepared for his campaign. He and Cassius gradually seized all the eastern provinces, building up large armies, partly of veterans. When Cicero, in his Philippics, swung the senate behind them, they received imperiummaius in the east. Brutus captured, and later executed, Antony's brother Gaius Antonius; after Cornēlius Dolabella's death he acquired Asia and completed its conquest, and during 43 and 42 squeezed it dry for his armies. The money was turned into a large coinage, and Brutus, alone among the republicans, put his own head on one of the gold coins. He also won the title of imperator in Thrace. In 42 he and Cassius, with about 80,000 legionaries plus auxiliaries, twice met Antony and Octavian at Philippi. In the first battle Cassius, defeated by Antony, committed suicide, while Brutus impressively defeated Octavian. In a second battle, forced on Brutus, he was defeated, deserted by his soldiers, and also committed suicide. His body was honourably treated by Antony.


Subjects: Classical Studies.

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