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|Please add updates or make corrections to the NumisWiki text version as appropriate.|
BRUTUS (MARCUS JUNIUS), called by some the tyrannicide, was son of M. Junius Brutus and of Servilia, who was half sister of Cato of Utica, by the mother's side. He was born 85 BC. At a very early age he lost his father; but his education, under the careful superitendence of his mother and uncles, was an excellent one; and, having imbibed an ardent love for learning, he studies literature and oratory at Rhodes.
It is not certain that he was descended from the celebrated Brutus, who drove the Tarquins from Rome, and served the first consulate of the republic: although the portraitures and inscriptions on his family coins shew that he laid pretensions to the origin. Having, amidst the lamentable dissensions of the State, attached himself to the adherents of Pompey the Great, on the ground that it was partly which most favoured the cause of freedom, Brutus was in the army opposed to that of Julius Caesar, at the battle of Pharsalia in 48 BC. But he was afterwards not only pardoned by Caesar in that decisive shock of arms, but was loaded by him with the highest distinctions. Caesar in fact gave Brutus the government of Cisalpine Gaul, and the praetorship of Rome: favours which he repaid, be becoming, in conjunction with C. Cassius, the foremost of his assasins. It was doubtless the rememberance of these benefits conferred, that moved Caesar in the very moment of the assault made upon him by the full senate (44 BC). So that seeing Brutus in the throng of his muderers, the exclamation burst from his lips, "Tu ne etiam inter hos es, fili?" Art thou, too, amongst them, my son? After the perpetration of the crime, compelled to quit Rome, Brutus fled with Cassius and others of the conspirators into the province of Macedonia. And when he learnt that war was declared, under the Lex Pedia, against him and his associates, he betook himself to defensive measures, not only for the support of the commonwealth, but for his own personal safety. Being, however, defeated by Mark Antony and Octavian at Philippi, he put an end to his existance in 42 BC, and in the 37th year of his age [commited suicide].
"In private life (says Eckhel, vi 20), M. Brutus was a man of unimpeachable morality -- inaccesible to the allurements of pleasure and of avarice -- the only individual of the conspirators, whom public opinion held to have joined in destrying Caesar, under the impusle of a love of virtue and integrity; whilst the rest were looked upon as actuated by widely different motives. -- These commendations, however, lose much of their foundation in truth; since in determining upon the death of Julius, he could not exhibit his patriotism except at the expense of ingratitutde towards a second father -- and moreover, since he ought to have reflected that his was a fruitless and inconsiderate zeal, so long as there existed in the corrupt commonwealth of Rome, so many Caesars, ready to take the place of the departed one and, as the event proved, to use their victory with infinately greater pride and cruelty. But Brutus betrayed great inconsistenscy of principle and weakness of character, when, on the morrow after his defeat at Philippi, having resolved on self-destruction, he openly adopted words which an ancient poet puts into the mouth of Hercules: -- "Ah, wretched Virtue! thou wast, then, but a name! and yet I worshipped thee as a reality: but thou wast the slave of Fortune!" -- From this closing incident, the inference is plain, thatin his aspiration after Virtue, he had neglected the practical for the ideal."
1. BRUTUS. - Head of L. Junius Brutus. Reverse: AHALA, head of Ahala; on a denarius of the Servilia gens. - (See p.30).
2. Obverse: BRUTUS IMP COSTA LEG (Brutus Imperator, Costa Legatus), bare head of Brutus, within a crown of oak leaves.
Reverse: L BRVTVS PRIM COS (Lucius Brutus, within a crown of oak leaves. Bare head of Lucius Brutus, within a similar crown.
The two denarii above described exhibit the head of Lucius Junius Brutus who expelled the Kings from Rome, and was first of the consuls in the free commonwealth. Both were caused to be struck by Brutus, who murdered Julius Ceasar.
Before commenting on these truly precious coins, Eckhel (vi. 20 et seq.) enters into an inquiry whether the Marcus Brutus in question derived his lineage from the original L. Brutus above alluded to. He commences by observing that, even the ancient writers are at variance in their opinions on this subject. Foremost amongst these, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, citing the most distinguished writers on Roman history, affirms, that no issue, male or female, survived the Lucius who condemned his two sons for conspiracy with the Tarquin family, and who were executed by his orders, as consul. To this he adds the fact that Lucius was of patrician birth, whilst the Junii and Bruti, who boasted of their descent from him were, without exception, plebeians, and served plebeian offices in the state. Dion Cassius makes similar statements, borrowing them probably from Dionysius; and adds, that it was my many persons industriously rumoured, that Marcus ascribed his origin to Lucius, in order that such associations might stimulate him to the overthrow of the tyrant Caesar. - Other authors take a different view of the question. For example, Plutarch, adducing the testimony of Poseidonius, asserts that though two of the sons of Lucius Brutus were put to death by his command, as traitors to the republic, yet a third, then an infant, was left, by whom the race was continued. Plutarch further asserts, on the same authority, that the features of several individuals of the Junia family resembled those of the statue of L. Junius Brutus. - But there is much weightier evidence in the words of Cicero, addressed to the Senate: - "Surely, it was that L. Brutus, who both in his own person liberated the commonwealth from kingly domination, and transmitted, to nearly the five hundredth year, a posterity of similar virtues and like exploits." - In another oration, alluding to Decimus Brutus, one of the most active originators of the conspiracy, he speaks yet more plainly. [See AHALA, p. 30 of this dictionary]. - Further testimonies of the same orator, to the same point, may be seen in Havercamp's commentaries on the Familiae Romanae of Morel, p.220.
Such is the conflicting language of the ancients on this subject. And from this diversity of opinion, Eckhel avows himself the more inclined to believe that "the genealogy was a fictious one; originating in the vanity so prevalent at that period, of hunting up a remote ancestry; abundant examples of which are furnished by the coins of the Calpurnii, the Marcii, and the Pomponii; not to mention the fabulous instances that occur in those of the Antonii, the Mamilii, and the Fabii. - In complaining of this very custom, Livy says - "In my opinion, history is vitiated by certain funereal eulogies, and by the false inscriptions on statues; whilst each family arrogates to itself, delusively, the renown of others' deeds and distinctions. The inevitable consequence has been the confounding of individual with national records."
(The following information is found at the bottom of the original article. The person who originally typed that chose to go straight to the info on the coin.) - 7/09
Obverse: BRUT IMP L PLAET CEST (Brutus Imperator Lucius Plaetorius Cestianus), head of Marcus Brutus.
Reverse: EID MAR (Eidus Martiae), the pileus, or cap of liberty, between two daggers; silver of the Junia gens.
This rare and most remarkable silver coin, so important as a numismatic monument, Lucius Plaetorius Cestianus, a moneyer as well as a legatus og Marcus Brutus, was the person responsible for striking this famous coin. In describing it, Eckhel begins En pugiones, etc, "Observe the daggers employed in the perpetration of so fell a muder, brought before our own eys, on this coin -- weapons which, under the specious pretext of liberty, Brutus hesitated not to stain with the blood of that Caesar, to whom personally he owed so much; in the same deed a patriot and a cut-throat.