Plutarch's Life of Marcus Brutus
Text taken from Thomas North and/or John Dryden
Marcus Brutus (85-42 B.C.)
Reading for Lesson One
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]
Reading for Lesson Two
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.
Reading for Lesson Three
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.]
Reading for Lesson Four
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]
Reading for Lesson Five
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.
Reading for Lesson Six
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.
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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.
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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.
Reading for Lesson Seven
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.
Reading for Lesson Eight
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.
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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."
Reading for Lesson Nine
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.
Reading for Lesson Ten
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.
[omission for length]
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.
[omission for length and content]
Reading for Lesson Eleven
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.
Reading for Lesson Twelve and Examination Questions
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.
AmblesideOnline Plutarch Readings:
Aemilius Agis Alcibiades Alexander Aristides Brutus Julius Caesar Camillus Cato Cicero Coriolanus Crassus Demetrius Demosthenes Dion Fabius Gracchus Nicias Pericles Philopoemen Phocion Pompey, Pt 1 Pompey, Pt 2 Publicola Pyrrhus Solon Themistocles Timoleon Titus Flamininus
Aemilius Agis Alcibiades Alexander Aristides Brutus Julius Caesar Camillus Cato Cicero Coriolanus Crassus Demetrius Demosthenes Dion Fabius Gracchus Nicias Pericles Philopoemen Phocion Pompey, Pt 1 Pompey, Pt 2 Publicola Pyrrhus Solon Themistocles Timoleon Titus Flamininus