Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Plutarch
Pages of Marcus Brutus



Previous | Next
                  

Marcus Brutus   


of injustice, after all our pain and dangers which we endure." By
which we may perceive what was Brutus's purpose, and the rule of his
actions.
About the time that they were going to pass out of Asia into Europe,
it is said that a wonderful sign was seen by Brutus. He was
naturally given to much watching, and by practice and moderation in
his diet had reduced his allowance of sleep to a very small amount
of time. He never slept in the daytime, and in the night then only
when all his business was finished, and when, every one else being
gone to rest, he had nobody to discourse with him. But at this time,
the war being begun, having the whole state of it to consider, and
being solicitous of the event, after his first sleep, which he let
himself take after his supper, he spent all the rest of the night in
settling his most urgent affairs; which if he could despatch early and
so make a saving of any leisure, he employed himself in reading
until the third watch, at which time the centurions and tribunes
were used to come to him for orders. Thus one night before he passed
out of Asia, he was very late all alone in his tent, with a dim
light burning by him, all the rest of the camp being bushed and
silent; and reasoning about something with himself and very
thoughtful, he fancied some one came in, and, looking up towards the
door, he saw a terrible and strange appearance of an unnatural and
frightful body standing by him without speaking. Brutus boldly asked
it, "What are you, of men or gods, and upon what business come to me?"
The figure answered "I am your evil genius, Brutus; you shall see me
at Philippi." To which Brutus, not at all disturbed, replied, "Then
I shall see you."
As soon as the apparition vanished, he called his servants to him,
who all told him that they had neither heard any voice nor seen any
vision. So then he continued watching till the morning, when he went
to Cassius, and told him of what he had seen. He, who followed the
principles of Epicurus's philosophy, and often used to dispute with
Brutus concerning matters of this nature, spoke to him thus upon
this occasion: "It is the opinion of our sect, Brutus, that not all
that we feel or see is real and true; but that the sense is a most
slippery and deceitful thing, and the mind yet more quick and subtle
to put the sense in motion and affect it with every kind of change
upon no real occasion of fact; just as an impression is made upon wax;
and the soul of man, which has in itself both what imprints, and
what is imprinted on, may most easily, by its own operations,
produce and assume every variety of shape and figure. This is
evident from the sudden changes of our dreams; in which the
imaginative principle, once started by any trifling matter, goes
through a whole series of most diverse emotions and appearances. It is
its nature to be ever in motion, and its motion is fantasy or
conception. But besides all this, in your case, the body, being
tired and distressed with continual toil, naturally works upon the
mind and keeps it in an excited and unusual condition. But that
there should be any such thing as supernatural beings, or, if there
were, that they should have human shape or voice or power that can
reach to us, there is no reason for believing; though I confess I
could wish that there were such beings, that we might not rely upon
our arms only, and our horses and our navy, all which are so
numerous and powerful, but might be confident of the assistance of
gods also, in this our most sacred and honourable attempt." With
such discourses as these Cassius soothed the mind of Brutus. But
just as the troops were going on board, two eagles flew and lighted on
the first two ensigns, and crossed over the water with them, and never
ceased following the soldiers and being fed by them till they came
to Philippi, and there, but one day before the fight, they both flew
away.
Brutus had already reduced most of the places and people of these
parts; but they now marched on as far as to the coast opposite Thasos,
and, if there were any city or man of power that yet stood out,

Previous | Next
Site Search