|Marcus Junius Brutus|
|First appearance||"The Stolen Eagle" (2005)|
|Last appearance||"Philippi" (2007)|
|Portrayed by||Tobias Menzies|
|Family||Servilia of the Junii (mother) |
Cato the Younger (half-uncle)
Marcus Junius Brutus is a historical figure who features as a character in the HBO/BBC2 original television series Rome, played by Tobias Menzies. He is depicted as a young man torn between what he believes is right, and his loyalty and love of a man who has been like a father to him. The real Marcus Junius Brutus was the most famous of Julius Caesar's assassins, and one of the key figures in the civil wars that followed the assassination.
He is a haughty but an awkward young noble; it is unclear which parts of Brutus' actions are done in favour of what he believes or what part of his actions are done in favour of what others expect of him. Brutus appears guilty of killing Caesar in season two and bathes naked in a river in order to have himself reborn of his past actions and from then on seems less worried about it. After raising a considerable army with Cassius, Brutus's spirits rise considerably as they march back to Rome, having apparently come to terms with his role as defender of the Republic. The good humour does not last long however as he is soon defeated at the Battle of Philippi by the combined forces of Octavian and Antony. Unwilling to run when Cassius died, Brutus sadly walks towards the advancing enemy ranks and forces them to stab him to death in a scene reminiscent of the senators stabbing Caesar.
Brutus is the son of Servilia of the Junii, who is the lover of Gaius Julius Caesar. Brutus is also the direct descendant of Lucius Junius Brutus who founded the Roman republic. His father died when he was a child and was brought up alone by his mother, although Caesar appears to have had a large part in his upbringing also. At the beginning of the series, Brutus first appears when he visits Caesar at his camp in Gaul, on the way home from visiting his cousin. Brutus appears to show a very real affection for Caesar, and Caesar appears to reciprocate these feelings and treats him as a father would a son. Upon returning home, his mother demands to know if Caesar asked of her at all; the fact that Brutus humorously teases his mother before giving her the love letter suggests that the affair has indeed been going on for so long that he finds no reason to question it.
After this argument, Brutus agrees to Cassius and Servilia's wishes and plans to assassinate Caesar. While the other senators attempt to come up with ideas to murder Caesar by bribing his cook and poisoning him, Brutus scolds them all saying that the death of Caesar isn't "some cheap murder" and that to make it honourable it must be done by their own hands. Brutus also insists that Mark Antony, Caesar's right-hand man and Lucius Vorenus, the new senator Caesar has appointed, must not be harmed. On the Ides of March, Brutus and the other senators involved in the plot attack Caesar on the Senate floor, stabbing him to death. Brutus watches in horror to begin with as the other senators attack Caesar and it is only when Caesar is bleeding to death on the Senate floor that Cassius forces the dagger into Brutus' hand and orders him to stab Caesar. Brutus kneels next to Caesar, both of them clearly heartbroken at seeing each other in such a state; he stabs Caesar and Caesar finally dies.
Unable to stand killing a man he once loved, Brutus hurries home and washes the blood off of his shaking hands while Servilia tries to keep him calm. Although Brutus seems confident that the transfer of power will be peaceful, Antony proves otherwise and politically manoeuvres Brutus, along with the other conspirators (with the exception of Servilia), to leave Rome. Unwilling to give up, Brutus and Cassius set out to raise an army in Asia Minor but Brutus does so only half-heartedly, still depressed over his involvement in Caesar's death. As a result, Brutus begins to grow careless of his image and becomes a bearded, drink-sodden wreck much to the annoyance of Cassius. After washing his sins free in a river, Brutus seems to recover from his guilt and sets out with much more rigour.
While in Asia Minor, Brutus receives an urgent message from Cicero: Octavian has taken control of Rome and is using his army to coerce the senators into declaring Brutus and Cassius enemies of the state. Cicero pleads for Brutus and Cassius to take their army and return to Rome in order to remove Octavian, who Cicero guarantees is weak. Overjoyed at going home, Brutus marches his men all the way to Greece before encountering the combined forces of Octavian and Antony. Even though Brutus and Cassius only have 14 legions to Octavian and Antony's 19, Brutus elects to stay and fight, mindful of his past cowardice. In the following battle, Brutus witnesses Cassius's final moments and the utter defeat of their army. Unwilling to dishonour himself any longer, Brutus kisses his signet ring (passed down to him from his father by Servilia) and orders his men to save themselves. Brutus then walks towards the advancing enemy while stripping off his armour. Although the legionaries seem reluctant to attack him, Brutus forces them to strike by slicing the leg of one soldier – he is stabbed to death in a scene deliberately similar to Caesar's assassination. After the battle, a marauder is seen cutting off Brutus' finger to steal the ring, oblivious to its value and significance.
Comparison with the historical Marcus Junius Brutus
Marcus Junius Brutus was the son of Servilia and the tribune of the same name. He was the half-brother to Junia Tertia, who married his ally Gaius Cassius Longinus as well as having two other sisters. He was the nephew of Cato the Younger, through his mother who was Cato's elder half-sister. Cato was also the father of Porcia Catonis, who was Brutus' second and most well-known wife (HBO: Rome's Brutus is known to be unmarried). Brutus' relationship to Cassius and Cato is not mentioned, and his three sisters and wife Porcia are omitted from the series completely.
It is known by means of record that historical Brutus' face was heavily pockmarked, possibly from smallpox; the character, however, has clear skin.
No one has a clear view on what the historical Brutus was really like, although his personality and life is best recalled in Plutarch who describes him as an intelligent and well-read man saying that "There was practically no Greek philosopher with whom Brutus was unacquainted or unfamiliar..." as well as that, "In Latin, now, Brutus was sufficiently trained for narrative or pleading; but in Greek he affected the brevity of the apophthegm and the Spartan, of which he sometimes gives a striking example in his letters."
Although the rift between Brutus and Servilia is historical it was for different reasons. While the series explained it as Servilia's disappointment with Brutus at accepting favours from Caesar, historically it was Brutus' divorce of his first wife and marriage to Porcia. Modern historians agree that it was Brutus' wife Porcia, rather than his mother Servilia, who may have persuaded him to participate in the assassination of Caesar. However this is still theory based on the fact Porcia was the only woman privy to the plot prior to it being carried out. Again, Servilia fills this gap.
Historically, Brutus committed suicide after the second battle of Philippi nearly three weeks after Cassius' death. In the series the events of the battles are concentrated and his death mirrors Caesar's; he is surrounded and stabbed to death by a throng of enemy soldiers.
Plutarch recalls that Brutus' brother-in-law refused to retreat and died by charging into the enemy ranks without armour or sword. This may have been one of the factors that influenced Brutus' death in the series.