A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

20. M.JuniusBrutus, the father of the socalled tyrannicide [No. 21] is described by Cicero as well skilled in public and private law; but he will not allow him to be numbered in the rank of orators. (Cic. Brut. 36.) He was tribune B. C. 83 (Cic. pro Quint. 20); and the M. Brutus who is spoken of with some asperity by Cicero for having made an impious attempt to colonize Capua (de, Leg. Agr. 2.33, 34, 36), in opposition to omens and auspices, and who is said, like all who shared in that enterprise, to have perished miserably, is supposed by Ernesti (Clav. Cic.) after Mazochius (Amphitheat. Camp. p. 9; Poleni, Thes. Supp. 5.217) to have been the pater interfectoris. He no doubt made this attempt in his tribunate.

M. Brutus married Servilia, who was the daughter of Q. Servilius and of Livia, the sister of Drusus, and thus was half-sister of Cato of Utica by the mother's side. Another Servilia, her sister, was the wife of Lucullus. The Q. Servilius Caepio, who afterwards adopted her son, was her brother. She traced her descent from Servilius Ahala, the assassin of Sp. Maelius. (Plut. Brut. 1.) This asserted descent explains the pronoun vester in the masculine gender in a passage of Cicero's Orator (100.45), which was addressed to the younger Brutus: " Quomodo enim vester axilla ala factus est, nisi fuga literae vastioris." It is in reference to this descent that we find the head of Servilius Ahala on the coins of the so-called tyrannieide : one is figured on p. 83. Servilia was a woman of great ability, and had much influence with Cato, who became the father-in-law of her son.

Brutus, besides his well-known son, had two daughters by Servilia, one of whom was married to M. Lepidus, the triumvir (Vell. 2.88 ; compare Cic. Fam. 12.2), and the other to C. Cassius. The name, other than Junia, of the former, is not known. Asconius, in his commentary on the speech pro Milone, mentions Cornelia, cujus castitas pro exemplo habita est, as the wife of Lepidus ; but perhaps Lepidus was married twice, as a daughter of Brutus could not have borne the family-name Cornelia. The wife of Cassius was named Tertia, or, by way of endearment, Tertulla. Some have supposed, without reason, that Brutus had but one daughter, Tertia Junia, who was married successively to Lepidus and Cassius; and Lipsius (cited Orelli, Onomast. Cic. s. v. Tertia) erroneously (see ad Att. 14.20) makes Tertia the daughter of Servilia by her second husband.

There is much reason to suspect that Servilia intrigued with Caesar (Plut. Brut. 5), who is said to have believed his assassin to have been his own son; but this cannot have been, for Caesar was only fifteen years older than the younger Brutus. Scandal went so far as to assert, that Tertia, like her mother, was one of Caesar's mistresses; and Suetonius (Suet. Jul. 30) has preserved a double entendre of Cicero in allusion to Servilia's supposed connivance at her daughter's shame. This anecdote refers to a time subsequent to the death of the elder Brutus. The death of Tertia, A. D. 22, when she must have been very old, is recorded by Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 3.76), who states that the images of twenty of the noblest families graced her funeral; " sed praefulgebant Cassius atque Brutus, eo ipso, quod effigies eorum non visebantur."

The knowledge of these family connexions gives additional interest to the history of the times. Though the reputed dishonour of his wife did not prevent the father from actively espousing the political party to which Caesar belonged, yet it is possible, but not very probable, that the rumour of Caesar's amours with a mother and a sister may afterwards have deepened the hostility of the son.

When Lepidus, B. C. 77, endeavoured to succeed to the leadership which had become vacant by the death of Sulla, Brutus was placed in command of the forces in Cisalpine Gaul; and, at Mutina, he for some time withstood the attack of Pompey's hitherto victorious army; but, at length, either finding himself in danger of being betrayed, or voluntarily determining to change sides, he put himself and his troops in the power of Pompey, on the understanding that their lives should be spared, and, sending a few horsemen before him, retired to the small town of Rhegium near the Padus. There, on the next day, he was slain by one Geminius, who was sent by Pompey for that purpose. Pompey (who had forwarded despatches on successive

days to the senate to announce first the surrender and then the death of Brutus) was much and justly blamed for this cruel and perfidious act. (Plut. Pomp. 16; Appian, App. BC 2.111; Liv. Epit. 90.)