Brutus (in ancient Rome)
Brutus (brōō´təs), in ancient Rome, a surname of the Junian gens. Lucius Junius Brutus, fl. 510 BC, was the founder of the Roman republic. He feigned idiocy to escape death at the hands of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (see under Tarquin). Roman historians tell how he led the Romans in expelling the Tarquins after the rape of Lucrece, how he became one of the first praetors (there were no consuls), and how he executed his sons for plotting a Tarquinian restoration. Decimus Junius Brutus Gallaecus, fl. 138 BC, consul, consolidated the province of Farther Spain and stopped the encroaching Lusitanian tribespeople. Marcus Junius Brutus, d. c.77 BC, was a partisan of Lepidus (d. 77 BC) in the struggle with Catulus (d. 60 BC); Pompey had him murdered. His wife Servilia was the half-sister of Cato the Younger. Their son was Marcus Junius Brutus, 85? BC–42 BC He and Caius Cassius Longinus (see under Cassius) were the principal assassins of Julius Caesar. He had sided with Pompey, but after the battle of Pharsalus, Caesar pardoned him, made him governor of Cisalpine Gaul (46 BC), and, in 44 BC, urban praetor. Nevertheless, he joined Cassius in the plot against Caesar. After the murder of Caesar, Brutus went east and, in the republican cause, joined Cassius and held Macedonia with him. Late in 42 BC, Octavian (later Augustus) and Antony arrived, and a battle was fought at Philippi. When it went against the republicans, Brutus committed suicide. Brutus' wife Portia was the daughter of Cato the Younger. Brutus had a contemporary reputation as a Stoic philosopher, and his admirers have regarded him as a second Cato, driven reluctantly to commit murder in order to save the republic. His detractors, on the other hand, have considered his friendship with the self-seeking Cassius as indicative of his true character. A lesser member of the conspiracy was Decimus Junius Brutus, d. 43 BC, a partisan of Caesar against Pompey and a favorite of the dictator. Caesar gave him command in Gaul and appointed him to be his heir in case of Octavian's death. After Caesar's death, Brutus refused to surrender Cisalpine Gaul. In 43 BC, Antony, to whom the senate had assigned the province, besieged Brutus at Mutina (modern Modena). He tried to escape and was killed.
The implausibility of a myth is no great obstacle to its popularity and ‘Brutus’ ran and ran. Tudor historians deeply resented the suggestion of Polydore Vergil (a foreigner) that the story was not very likely as a slur upon the nation. The myth had important political consequences. First it put heart into the Welsh after centuries of defeat. They could comfort themselves with a heroic past which must foretell a glorious future: William of Newburgh, writing some 40 years after Geoffrey, remarked sourly that the story had only been told to please the Welsh. Secondly, Geoffrey's account of King Arthur, a direct descendant of Brutus, told how he had conquered Ireland, Iceland, Orkney, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Normandy, and had challenged Rome itself. Tudor imperialists seized upon it. John Dee and others improved upon Arthur's conquests by adding America, visited by Madog in the 12th cent., and called for a great new British empire. Until deep into the 20th cent. the imperialist vision inspired and helped to bind together the nations of the British Isles.
J. A. Cannon
Lucius Junius Brutus the legendary founder of the Roman Republic. Traditionally he led a popular uprising after the rape of Lucretia, against the king (his uncle) and drove him from Rome. He and the father of Lucretia were elected as the first consuls of the Republic (509 bc).
Marcus Junius Brutus (85–42 bc), Roman senator, with Cassius led the conspirators who assassinated Julius Caesar in 44. They were defeated by Caesar's supporters, Antony and Octavian, at the battle of Philippi in 42, after which he committed suicide.
Brutus (legendary founder of the British race)
Brutus, legendary founder of the British race: see Brut.