Brutus was the son of Marcus Junius Brutus, a relatively unimportant politician, and Servilia Caepionis, half-sister of Cato the younger and mistress of Julius Caesar. Some sources refer to the possibility of Caesar being his real father. As a young man he was adopted by his uncle Servilius Caepio and added his cognomen to his name. His political career started as an assistent of Cato, during his governorship in Cyprus. During this time, he enriched himself by loaning money to desperate persons at an appaling interest. From his debut in the senate, Brutus aligned with the Optimates (the conservative faction) against the triumvirate of Pompey and Julius Caesar. He had everything to hate in Pompey, who had his father murdered in 77 BC, during the Sulla prosecutions.
But when Civil War broke in 49 BC between Pompey and Caesar, Brutus followed his old enemy and present leader of the Optimates. After the disaster of the battle of Pharsalus, Brutus wrote Caesar with apologies and was forgiven immediately. Caesar called him for his inner circle and, when he left for Africa in pursuit of Cato and Metellus Scipio, made him governor of Gaul. In the next year (45 BC), Caesar nominated him praetor.
A conservative by nature, Brutus never concealed his convictions. He married Porcia Catones, daughter of Cato, and wrote a text praising his deceased father-in-law's qualities. Caesar was very fond of him and respected his opinions. But Brutus, like many other senators, was not satisfied with the state of the Republic. Caesar had been made dictator for life and was approving legislation to concentrate power in himself. Together with his friend and brother-in-law Cassius and other men, they started to conspire against Caesar. On the Ides of March (March 15; see Roman calendar) of 44 BC, a group of senators including Brutus murdered Caesar on the steps of Pompey's Theater. The dictator's famous last words were directed to him: Tu quoque, Brute, fili mi or Et tu, Brute ("You, too, Brutus, my son?" or "You, too, Brutus?").
The conspirators received a temporary amnesty from Marcus Antonius, now the head of the state. But the city itself was against them, because the population loved Caesar dearly. Antonius decided to make use of the circumstances and, in March 20, during Caesar's funeral eulogy, spoke angrily against the murderers. No longer saviours of the Republic but facing treason charges, Brutus and his fellow conspirors fled to the East.
In Athens, Brutus dedicated himself to the study of philosophy and, no less importantly, to the raising of funds and levying of soldiers to form legions. Antonius and Octavianus (Caesar's adopted son) were due to come after him and Cassius searching for revenge. Their armies appeared in the summer of 42 BC. The First Battle of Philippi, in October 3, does not produce a decisive result. Brutus' men defeat Octavianus, but Antonius defeats Cassius, who commits suicide without knowing of his ally's victory. Both armies regroup and in October 23 the Second Battle of Philippi takes place. According to Plutarch and Suetonius, Brutus is afflicted by dreams of Caesar and other omens that announce his defeat. His spirits were very low and indeed at this time, Octavianus and Antonius are the uncontested winners. Brutus manages to escape but does not proceed very far. His friends urged him to escape once more, but he replies with one of his most famous quotes: Escape, yes, but this time with the hands, not with the feet. And saying this, he committed suicide.
Later Evaluations of Brutus