Brutus was the name of two famous people in Roman history: the name hero who fought for Roman freedom, and secondly the name of one of Julius Caesar's assassins. In joining the conspiracy against Caesar, Brutus may have been motivated in part by the sense that his name required him to live up to the heroic deeds of the earlier Brutus, by stopping Caesar from becoming emperor.
BRUTUS, Lucius Junius, the Roman hero who overthrew monarchy and restored republican government. His history is mythical, but he is thought to have been the son of a rich Roman, whose property was taken by Tarquin the Proud during the time of the Etruscan dominion over Rome. His father and brothers were killed, while he escaped death by pretending idiocy. When one of the royal family had wronged Lucretia and aroused all Rome to indignation, he threw off the mask, convoked the people, and drove the kings from Rome. Rome now became a free city, after it had been governed by kings for 245 years. Two consuls were elected to rule, and Brutus and Collatinus were the first selected. His two sons plotted to bring Tarquin back, but Brutus, sitting in judgment when they were brought to trial, sentenced them both to death as traitors. He was killed in- a battle with Aruns, son of Tarquin, in the year 509 B. c. His services to Rome were commemorated by the erection of a bronze statue with a drawn sword, and the matrons of Rome mourned him a whole year because he had so bravely avenged the wrong done to Lucretia.
Lucius Junius Brutus was considered the founder of the Roman Republic.
BRUTUS, Marcus Junius, celebrated Roman, born in 85 B. C.; commited suicide in 42. In early manhood he was devoted exclusively to literary pursuits and did not interest himself in the political discussions of Rome until he had attained a mature age. During the civil war between Pompey and Caesar he sympathized with the former, but after the Battle of Pharsalia he became friendly with Caesar and was made governor of Cisalpine Gaul, and later of Macedonia. After returning to Rome, he was divorced from his wife with the design of marrying Portia, daughter of Cato, of whom he was a supporter. Later he was influenced by Cassius to join the conspiracy against Caesar, which ended in his assassination. However, the people were enraged at Caesar's death and Brutus fled from Rome and later from Italy.
He was successful in joining Cassius and subjugating the Lycians and Rhodians. The triumvirs, Octavianus, Antony, and Lepidus, successfully occupied Rome and organized to defeat the conspirators. Brutus and Cassius, having gathered a large army in Asia Minor, crossed the Hellespont and fortified themselves at Philippi in Macedonia. Antony completely defeated Cassius. Octavianus, though defeated temporarily, succeeded in gaining a victory over Brutus. When his ultimate defeat became apparent, he fell upon his sword, which was held by his friend Strabo, and thus ended his life. In speaking of Brutus, Shakespeare alludes to him as "the greatest Roman of them all." Unhappily, this estimate of his life will not bear scrutiny.