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Marcus Brutus   



MARCUS Brutus was descended from that Junius Brutus to 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, in remembrance
of his courage and resolution in expelling the Tarquins and destroying
the monarchy. But that ancient Brutus was of a severe and inflexible
nature, like steel of too hard a temper, and having never had his
character softened by study and thought, he let himself be so far
transported with his rage and hatred against tyrants that, for
conspiring with them, he proceeded to the execution even of his own
sons. But this Brutus, whose life we now write, having to the goodness
of his disposition added the improvements of learning and the study of
philosophy, and having stirred up his natural parts, of themselves
grave and gentle, by applying himself to business and public
affairs, seems to have been of a temper exactly framed for virtue;
insomuch that they who were most his enemies upon account of his
conspiracy against Caesar, if in that whole affair there was any
honourable or generous part, referred it wholly to Brutus, and laid
whatever was barbarous and cruel to the charge of Cassius, Brutus's
connection and familiar friend, but not his equal in honesty and
pureness of purpose. His mother, Servilia, was of the family of
Servilius Ahala, who when Spurius Maelius worked the people into a
rebellion and designed to make himself king, taking a dagger under his
arm, went forth into the market-place, and upon pretence of having
some private business with him, came up close to him, and, as he
bent his head to hear what he had to say, struck him with his dagger
and slew him. And thus much, as concerns his descent by the mother's
side, is confessed by all; but as for his father's family, they who
for Caesar's murder bore any hatred or ill-will to Brutus say that
he came not from that Brutus who expelled the Tarquins, there being
none of his race left after the execution of his two sons; but that
his ancestor was a plebeian, son of one Brutus, a steward, and only
rose in the latest times to office or dignity in the commonwealth. But
Posidonius the philosopher writes that it is true indeed what the
history relates, that two of the sons of Brutus who were of men's
estate were put to death, but that a third, yet an infant, was left
alive, from whom the family was propagated down to Marcus Brutus;
and further, that there were several famous persons of this house in
his time whose looks very much resembled the statue of Junius
Brutus. But of this subject enough.
Cato the philosopher was brother to Servilia, the mother of
Brutus, and he it was whom of all the Romans his nephew most admired
and studied to imitate, and he afterwards married his daughter Porcia.
Of all the sects of the Greek philosophers, though there was none of
which he had not been a hearer, and in which he had not made some
proficiency, yet he chiefly esteemed the Platonists; and not much
approving of the modern and middle Academy, as it is called, he
applied himself to the study of the ancient. He was all his lifetime a
great admirer of Antiochus of the city of Ascalon, and took his
brother Aristus into his own house for his friend and companion, a man
for his learning inferior indeed to many of the philosophers, but
for the evenness of his temper and steadiness of his conduct equal
to the best. As for Empylus, of whom he himself and his friends
often make mention in their epistles, as one that lived with Brutus,
he was a rhetorician, and has left behind him a short but well-written
history of the death of Caesar, entitled Brutus.
In Latin, he had by exercise attained a sufficient skill to be
able to make public addresses and to plead a cause; but in Greek, he
must be noted for affecting the sententious and short Laconic way of
speaking in sundry passages of his epistles; as when, in the beginning
of the war, he wrote thus to the Pergamenians: "I hear you have
given Dolabella money; if willingly, you must own you have injured me;
if unwillingly, show it by giving willingly to me." And another time

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