The Intriguing Life and Impact of Brutus, the Assassin of Caesar

01 Introduction

Marcus Junius Brutus, a name synonymous with the assassination of Julius Caesar, holds a unique place in history as one of the most famous murderers. His life and actions have been a subject of fascination for writers, artists, and scholars over the centuries, evoking various interpretations. From being hailed as a hero to vilified as a traitor, Brutus’s legacy is a complex one, leaving an indelible mark on humanity. In this article, we delve into the lesser-known facets of Brutus’s life and the far-reaching consequences of his actions.

02 The Weight of a Name

Born in 85 BC, Marcus Junius Brutus was the second in his family to carry that name. Following his adoption by his uncle (details to follow), he briefly altered his name to Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus before reverting to his original name.

03 A Lineage of Rebellion

Brutus hailed from a prestigious Roman family, with a notable ancestor, Lucius Junius Brutus, who played a pivotal role in overthrowing an Etruscan king and earning the moniker “the founder of the Roman Republic.” One can’t help but wonder if toppling dictators ran in the family.

04 The Iconic Phrase

The phrase “Et tu, Brute?” remains etched in history as Julius Caesar’s alleged utterance upon recognizing Brutus amidst the fatal stabbing by senators. While its authenticity remains debated, this iconic phrase has been incorporated into numerous plays, even predating Shakespeare.

05 Tragedy in the Family

Brutus’s father, Marcus Junius Brutus the Elder, held a significant position as a tribune in the Roman Republic and had ties to the populares faction. During a tumultuous period following the rule of dictator Sulla, Brutus’s father clashed with the formidable Roman general Pompey, leading to dire consequences. The exact circumstances are unclear, but Brutus’s father found himself in Pompey’s captivity, ultimately meeting his demise by execution.

06 The Influence of Uncle Quintus

In 59 BC, Brutus was adopted by his uncle, Quintus Servilius Caepio, a prominent politician with military experience. Caepio had served as a tribune under Marcus Licinius Crassus, a wealthy Roman, and later joined the First Triumvirate alongside Caesar and Pompey. Brutus greatly admired his uncle and temporarily changed his name in honor of this fatherly figure.

07 Early Ventures into Politics

Brutus’s entry into politics began while assisting another uncle, Cato the Younger, who served as the Roman governor of Cyprus. During this time, Brutus accumulated wealth through money lending, capitalizing on high interest rates. In a different era, he might have been compared to the real-life Gordon Gekko.

08 Wealth and Marriage

Upon returning to Rome from Cyprus, Brutus was a wealthy man, thanks to his financial endeavors. His affluence, coupled with his prestigious lineage, made him an attractive bachelor. At some point (the exact date remains uncertain), he married Claudia Pulchra, the daughter of a powerful Roman politician, further solidifying his position in Roman society.

09 Legacy in Pop Culture

Brutus’s notoriety as an assassin transcends the ages and has found its way into modern pop culture. He is featured in the Assassin’s Creed video game series, where players can obtain his dagger and armor. The games even suggest that Brutus was a member of the Roman Brotherhood of Assassins. Assassin’s Creed Origins offers a reenactment of Caesar’s assassination, prominently involving Brutus.

10 Shakespearean Perspective

In 1599, William Shakespeare brought the tale of Brutus’s role in Caesar’s assassination to the stage with “Julius Caesar.” Interestingly, despite the titular focus on Caesar, the play positions Brutus as the central character or antihero, depending on one’s perspective. Shakespeare portrays Brutus as a conflicted figure grappling with loyalty issues as he justifies his fatal act. Even Mark Antony acknowledges him as “the noblest Roman of them all” due to his ostensibly selfless motives in slaying Caesar.


Brutus’s life and legacy are marked by complexity and ambiguity, leaving historians, artists, and scholars to continue exploring the layers of his character and the impact of his actions on the course of history. Whether seen as a hero, a villain, or something in between, Brutus remains a compelling and enduring figure in human storytelling and cultural imagination.

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