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Marcus Brutus





."The ground of Sylla's hostility to Caesar was the relationship between him and Marius; for Marius, the elder, married Julia, the sister of Caesar's father, and had by her the younger Marius, who consequently was Caesar's first cousin. And though at the beginning, while so many were to be put to death, and there was so much to do, Caesar was overlooked by Sylla, yet he would not keep quiet, but presented himself to the people as a candidate for the priesthood, though he was yet a mere boy. Sylla, without any open opposition, took measures to have him rejected, and in consultation whether he should be put to death, when it was urged by some that it was not worth his while to contrive the death of a boy, he answered, that they knew little who did not see more than one Marius in that boy.'

"There being two factions in the city, one that of Sylla, which was very powerful, the other that of Marius, which was then broken and in a low condition, he undertook to revive this and to make it his own. And to this end, whilst he was in the height of his repute with the people for the magnificent shows he gave as aedile, he ordered images of Marius and figures of Victory, with trophies in their hands, to be carried privately in the night and placed in the capitol. Next morning when some saw them bright with gold and beautifully made, with inscriptions upon them, referring them to Marius's exploits over the Cimbrians, they were surprised at the boldness of him who had set them up, nor was it difficult to guess who it was. The fame of this soon spread and brought together a great concourse of people. Some cried out that it was an open attempt against the established government thus to revive those honours which had been buried by the laws and decrees of the senate; that Caesar had done it to sound the temper of the people whom he had prepared before, and to try whether they were tame enough to bear his humour, and would quietly give way to his innovations. On the other hand, Marius's party took courage, and it was incredible how numerous they were suddenly seen to be, and what a multitude of them appeared and came shouting into the capitol. Many, when they saw Marius's likeness, cried for joy, and Caesar was highly extolled as the one man, in the place of all others, who was a relation worthy of Marius."

                                                                    Plutarch's Life of Caesar                                                                 Back


Servilia, a typical Roman Matrona

“ Servilia was the woman whom Caesar loved best, and in his first consulship he brought her a pearl worth 60,000 gold pieces. He gave her many presents during the civil war, as well as knocking down certain valuable estates to her at a public auction for a song. When surprise was expressed at the low price, Cicero made a neat remark;”It was even cheaper than you think, because a third ( tertia) had been discounted.’ Servilia you see, was also suspected at the time of having prostituted her daughter Tertia to Caesar”.

Syme on Servilia

“ Cato was dominated by his step sister, a woman possessed of all the rapacious ambition of the patrician Servilii and ruthless to recapture power for her house.”

                                                                                                                                                     Plutarch on Servilia

“ It seems that in Caesar’s youth he had an affair with Servilia, who was madly in love with him, and as Brutus had been born at about the time when her passion was at its height, he had always cherished a suspicion that Brutus was his own son.”

" When Caesar, he said, was selling by auction the property of citizens, Servilia, the mother of Marcus Brutus, bought a valuable estate quite cheaply and so became the victim of a jest of Cicero's.........In fact rumours and jokes about the profligacy of the elderly adulterer were rife at that time in Rome and gave people some amusement from their troubles."  Macrobius, Satires2.2.5

" I arrived at Antium before midday. Brutus was glad to see me. Then before a large company, including Servilia, Tertulla and Portia, he asked me what I thought he ought to do...... To that I said there's no use crying over spilt milk...and when I began to give my views....your lady friend ( Servilia was Atticus' friend)  exclaimed" Well upon my word! I never heard the like! ...Servilia undertook to get the corn commission removed from the decree, and our friend Brutus was soon persuaded to drop his empty talk about wanting to be in Rome."       Cicero to Atticus 15.11 ( June 7 44 )




'Upon this they were all inclined to the milder and more merciful opinion, when Cato, standing up, began at once with great passion and vehemence to reproach Silanus for his change of opinion, and to attack Caesar, who would, he said, ruin the commonwealth by soft words and popular speeches, and was endeavouring to frighten the senate, when he himself ought to fear, and be thankful, if he escaped unpunished or unsuspected, who thus openly and boldly dared to protect the enemies of the state, and while finding no compassion for his own native country, brought, with all its glories, so near to utter ruin, could yet be full of pity for those men who had better never have been born, and whose death must deliver the commonwealth from bloodshed and destruction. This only of all Cato's speeches, it is said, was preserved; for Cicero, the consul, had disposed in various parts of the senate-house, several of the most expert and rapid writers, whom he had taught to make figures comprising numerous words in a few short strokes; as up to that time they had not used those we call shorthand writers, who then, as it is said, established the first example of the art. Thus Cato carried it, and so turned the house again, that it was decreed the conspirators should be put to death.

Not to omit any small matters that may serve to show Cato's temper, and add something to the portraiture of his mind, it is reported, that while Caesar and he were in the very heat, and the whole senate regarding them two, a little note was brought in to Caesar which Cato declared to be suspicious, and urging that some seditious act was going on, bade the letter be read. Upon which Caesar handed the paper to Cato; who, discovering it to be a love-letter from his sister Servilia to Caesar, by whom she had been corrupted, threw it to him again, saying, "Take it, drunkard," and so went on with his discourse.

Caesar, exalted with this success, proposed another law, for dividing almost all the country of Campania among the poor and needy citizens. Nobody durst speak against it but Cato, whom Caesar therefore pulled from the rostra and dragged to prison: yet Cato did not even thus remit his freedom of speech, but as he went along continued to speak against the law, and advised the people to put down all legislators who proposed the like. The senate and the best of the citizens followed him with sad and dejected looks, showing their grief and indignation by their silence, so that Caesar could not be ignorant how much they were offended; but for contention's sake he still persisted, expecting Cato should either supplicate him, or make an appeal. But when he saw that he did not so much as think of doing either, ashamed of what he was doing and of what people thought of it, he himself privately bade one of the tribunes interpose and procure his release. However, having won the multitude by these laws and gratifications, they decreed that Caesar should have the government of Illyricum, and all Gaul, with an army of four legions, for the space of five years, though Cato still cried out they were, by their own vote, placing a tyrant in their citadel."  

" Being eager to take Cato alive, Caesar hastened towards Utica, for Cato was guarding that city, and took no part in the battle. But he learned that Cato had made away with himself, and he was clearly annoyed, though for what reason is uncertain. At any rate, he said: "Cato, I begrudge thee thy death; for thou didst begrudge me the preservation of thy life." Now, the treatise which Caesar afterwards wrote against Cato when he was dead, does not seem to prove that he was in a gentle or reconcilable mood. For how could he have spared Cato alive, when he poured out against him after death so great a cup of wrath?'

  Plutarch on Cato

" Cato was an old enemy of Caesar's and besides he was stung by his defeat at the elections."  Caesar's Civil War

" As for Cato, my affection for him is no less than yours; but even with the best will in the world, there are times when his high-mindedness is a positive danger to the state. He delivers opinions which would be more at home in the pages of Plato's Republic than among the dregs of Romulus here. " Cicero


"In birth, age and eloquence, they were well matched. They had the same nobility of soul, and equal, through quite different, reputations. Caesar was esteemed for the many kind services he rendered and for his lavish generosity; Cato, for the consistent uprightness of his life. The former was renowned for his humanity and mercy; the latter had earned respect by his strict austerity. Caesar won fame by his readiness to give, to relieve, to pardon; Cato, by never offering presents. The one was a refuge for the unfortunate, and was praised for his good nature; the other was a scourge for the wicked, admired for his firmness. Finally, Caesar had made it a rule to work hard and sleep little; to devote himself to the interests of his friends and to neglect his own; to be ready to give people anything that was worth the giving. For himself he wanted a high command, an army, and a war in some new field where his gifts could shine in all their brightness. Cato's taste was for restraint, propriety, and, above all, austerity...he was more concerned to be a good man than to be thought one; and so the less he courted fame, the more did it attend his steps unsought." Sallust,

"I envy you this death, for you envied [denied] me the chance to save you." Caesar's words according to Cassius Dio

" It is both Roman and Sallustian that morality should be in the forefront of this evaluation, especially as regards Cato; but it is not wholly inappropriate. Cato made morality into a programme. Since everyone saw the decline of the age as the result of moral failure, he drew the conclusion that one must behave in the old Roman manner and make others do the same. His nature was tough and unshakeable, rooted in the stoic philosophy, which he practised with almost ludicrous consistency, with a rock-like conviction of the rightness of his policy; he was inflexible in his aims; there must be no innovation; every inch of the old order must be maintained and defended. Caesar and Cato were thus two fundamentally different representatives of the Roman aristocracy....and in the long run carried their one sidedness to perverse lengths."             Meier




' charming voice and a knowledge of how to make herself agreeable to every one. Being brilliant to look upon and to listen to, with the power to subjugate every one, even a love-sated man already past his prime, she thought that it would be in keeping with her rôle to meet Caesar, and she reposed in her beauty all her claims to the throne. She asked therefore for admission to his presence, and on obtaining permission adorned and beautified herself so as to appear before him in the most majestic and at the same time pity-inspiring guise. When she had perfected her schemes she entered the city (for she had been living outside of it), and by night without Ptolemy's knowledge went into the palace"  Cassius Dio

She landed at dusk, and since she was bound to be spotted otherwise, she got inside one of those bags that are used for holding bedclothes while Apollodurus carried her inside to Caesar. This ruse is said to have opened Caesar's eyes to the side of Cleopatra that was far from innocent and to have made him fall for her.

"Victor in spite of all, he turned over the rule of Egypt to Cleopatra and her younger brother, fearing that if he made a province of it, it might one day under a headstrong governor be a source of revolution" Suetonius 

"She is, by the way, a beauty in no way, shape, manner, or form.  Her figure is anything other than voluptuous, and her face is marred not merely by the inbred Ptolemy hooked nose, but by a strong chin and hard features which detract from the sweetness and gentleness we prize in our women. Caesar, being exactly twice her age when she came to him in Alexandria, was perhaps less vulnerable than that hot bull Antony.   I am not a superstitious man, but if this is the famed seductress of those two great Romans--and who knows of  how many others--then her means are witchcraft and vile Egyptian potions.  For she knows not how to behave like a woman in any of the ways that matter."

  Cicero on Cleopatra

"Less popular was his treatment of Cleopatra: he enrolled her among the Friends of the Roman People, put her statue in the Temple of Venus Genetrix and installed her with her infant son Caesarion in his suburban house on the Janiculum." Scullard




""Pompey for his part, was reluctant to let anyone stand on the same pinnacle of prestige as himself. For this reason, and also because he had been listening to Caesar's enemies, he had completely severed his friendly connexions with Caesar."

 After Lucius had discharged the business for which he had come, he revealed that he had a message from Pompey concerning personal relations between himself and Caesar . Pompey wanted to clear himself in Caesar's eyes, and begged him not to take as a personal affront what he had done for the sake of the state; for he had always put the good of the country before the claims of personal friendship, and Caesar too as befitted his position."            Caesar's Civil Wars

" Our friend Pompey has done nothing wise, nothing brave, nothing I may add that was not contrary to the weight of my own advice and and influence. I am not concerned with past history, how Pompey fostered and strengthened and armed Caesar against the he prolonged Caesar's provincial command, how in Caesar's absence he helped him in everything., how in his third consulship, when he had begun to be the defender of the Republic, he lent weight to the proposal of the ten tribunes that canditure in absence should be permitted, and reinforced that point of law of his own, hoe he opposed attempts of Consul Marcus Marcellus to terminate Caesar's Gallic commands on March 1st- I am not concerned with all that."

"Neither in this case nor in others has our Pompey thought [of an ideal commonwealth.]. Both [Caesar and Pompey] have sought to gain absolute power, not to create a happy and virtuous state." Cicero to Atticus

"he turned away from him with loathing, as from an assassin; and when he received Pompey's signet ring on which was engraved a lion holding a sword in his paws, he burst into tears." Plutarch's Pompey

" Caesar's anxiety to capture the disarmed and helpless Pompey was certainly not due to any vindictiveness against his adversary, whom he always chose to consider as the well meaning but irresolute dupe of the extremist party among the nobles. More probably he intended to preserve Pompey by an act of calculated generosity, in the not unreasonable hope that he might renew a partnership, in which his former associate would serve as dignified figurehead, while he gathered all effective power into his own hands."  Cary

"Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus was fundamentally averse to conflict. He was not a man to assert himself, but preferred to please everyone....He sought honour and fame rather than power and influence. He did not champion others; he avoided controversey, preferring to be seen as a kind of figurehead.." Meier



e" Romans, it is true, say that the many virtues of Crassus were obscured by his sole vice of avarice; and it is likely that the one vice which became stronger than all the others in him weakened the rest. The chief proofs of his avarice are found in the way he got his property and in the amount of it. For at the outset he was possessed of not more than three hundred talents; then during his consulship he sacrificed the tenth of his goods to Hercules, feasted the people, gave every Roman out of his own means enough to live on for three months, and still, when he made a private inventory of his property before his Parthian expedition, he found that it had a value of seventy-one hundred talents. The greatest part of this, if one must tell the scandalous truth, he got together out of fire and war, making the public calamities his greatest source of revenue.

ever, this eager rivalry did not carry Crassus away into anything like hatred or malice; he was merely vexed that Pompey and Caesar should be honoured above himself, but he did not associate this ambition of his with enmity or malevolence. It is true that once when Caesar had been captured by pirates in Asia and was held a close prisoner by them, he exclaimed: "O Crassus, how great a pleasure wilt thou taste when thou hearest of my capture!" But afterwards, at least, they were on friendly terms with one another, and once when Caesar was on the point of setting out for Spain as praetor, and had no money, and his creditors descended upon him and began to attach his outfit, Crassus did not leave him in the lurch, but freed him from embarrassment by making himself his surety for eight hundred and thirty talents. And when all Rome was divided into three powerful parties, that of Pompey, that of Caesar, and that of Crassus (for Cato's reputation was greater than his power, and men admired him more than they followed him), it was the thoughtful and conservative part of the city which attached itself to Pompey, the violent and volatile part which supported the hopes of Caesar, while Crassus took a middle ground and drew from both."                

 Plutarch's Crassus


"Although  Crassus was , in his general character, entirely upright and free from base desires, in his lust for money and ambition for glory, he knew no limits, and accepted no bounds.'          Velleius Paterculus

" The corruption of a society was plagued by two opposite but equally disastrous vices, love of luxury and love of money......we pile up riches for ourselves while the state is bankrupt."  Sallust, Conspiracy of Catiline

" In the Senate, Crassus was more influential of the two, but Pompey had great power with the people."  Plutarch's Pompey

" There is no evidence that Crassus had a single notable political idea.....he only ever reacted, copied the actions of others, or pursued wild plans. He remained a tactician and was never a strategist." Meier






Well, then, the prophecy I now give you does not rest on the flight of a bird nor the note of a bird of good omen on the left - according to the system of our augural college - nor on the normal and audible pattering of the corn of the sacred chickens. I have other signs to note; and if they are not more infallible than those, yet after all they are less obscure or misleading. Now omens as to the future are observed by me in what I may call a twofold method: the one I deduce from Caesar himself, the other from the nature and complexion of the political situation. Caesar's characteristics are these: a disposition naturally placable and clement - as delineated in your brilliant book of "Grievances" - and a great liking also for superior talent, such as your own. Besides this, he is relenting at the expressed wishes of a large number of your friends, which are well-grounded and inspired by affection, not hollow and self-seeking. Under this head the unanimous feeling of Etruria will have great influence on him.

Why, then - you may ask - have these things as yet had no effect? Why, because he thinks if he grants you yours, he cannot resist the applications of numerous petitioners with whom to all appearance he has juster grounds for anger. "What hope, then," you will say, "from an angry man?" Why, he knows very well that he will draw deep draughts of praise from the same fountain, from which he has been already - though sparingly - bespattered. Lastly, he is a man very acute and farseeing: he knows very well that a man like you - far and away the greatest noble in an important district of Italy, and in the state at large the equal of anyone of your generation, however eminent, whether in ability or popularity or reputation among the Roman people - cannot much longer be debarred from taking part in public affairs. He will be unwilling that you should, as you would sooner or later, have time to thank for this rather than his favour.

So much for Caesar. Now I will speak of the nature of the actual situation. There is no one so bitterly opposed to the cause, which Pompey undertook with better intentions than provisions, as to venture to call us bad citizens or dishonest men. On this head I am always struck with astonishment at Caesar's sobriety, fairness, and wisdom. He never speaks of Pompey except in the most respectful terms. "But," you will say, "in regard to him as a public man his actions have often been bitter enough." Those were acts of war and victory, not of Caesar. But see with what open arms he has received us! Cassius he has made his legate; Brutus governor of Gaul; Sulpicius of Greece; Marcellus, with whom he was more angry than with anyone, he has restored with the utmost consideration for his rank. To what, then, does all this tend? The nature of things and of the political situation will not suffer, nor will any constitutional theory - whether it remain as it is or is changed - permit first, that the civil and personal position of all should not be alike when the merits of their cases are the same; and, secondly, that good men and good citizens of unblemished character should not return to a state, into which so many have returned after having been condemned of atrocious crimes.".         Cicero's Letter to Aulus Caecina 46BC

" A long time afterwards, so I have been told, [Augustus] Caesar was visiting the son of one of his daughters. The boy had a book of Cicero's in his hands and, terrified of his grandfather, tried to hide it under his cloak. Caesar noticed this and, after taking the book from him, stood there and read a great part of it. He then handed it back to the young man with the words: 'A learned man, my child, a learned man and a lover of his country.'"  Plutarch's Cicero

' Marcus Tullius Cicero posed some danger to Caesar. Though not really powerful, he was an important rousing and persuasive speaker. True he was rather on the periphery of the leading senatorial circles, but highly esteemed by the majority. He was not a brave man, but in the heat of battle could be impelled by a sense of duty or indignation into making passionate protests...And he was an exceptional supporter of the Senate......A popular horror like Catiline was beyond the pale, wehereas an aristocratic horror like Caesar could perhaps " be improved".     Meier




" Brutus...took pains to moderate his natural instincts by means of the culture and mental discipline which philosophy gives, while he also exerted himself to stir up the more placid and passive side of his character and force it into action, with the result that his temperament was almost ideally balanced to pursue a life of virtue. So we find that even those men who hated him most for his conspiracy against Julius Caesar were prepared to give the credit for any redeeming element in the murder to Brutus, while they blamed all that was unscrupulous about it upon Cassius who . . . was neither so simple in character nor so disinterested in his motives." Plutarch

" Caesar's youth he had an affair with Servilia, who was madly in love with him, and as Brutus had been born at about the time when her passion was at its height, he had always cherished a suspicion that Brutus was his own son."  Suetonius