The moral conflict of Marcus Junius Brutus continued to argue even after 2000 years of Julius Ceaser’s assassination. Morality is the personal view of what is ethically right and what is ethically wrong. For some Brutus’s role in the assassination was brutal and unfaithful yet for others, he was a mere protector of Rome against the growing tyranny. Whatever it may be, today Brutus’ name is often recalled as history’s infamous betrayer.

But who was Marcus Junius Brutus?

Marcus Junius Brutus was a Roman politician and orator famously recognized as being one of the main assassins of Julius Ceaser. In his political career, Brutus was against Pompey who had killed his father. But with time Brutus sided with Pompey against Ceaser, only to ensure a civil war. However, in the end, Ceaser won the conflict and instead of executing Brutus, he pardoned him and granted him amnesty. More than this, Brutus became one of the closest advisors of Ceaser in 44 BCE.

Ceaser’s autocratic behavior soon turned many senators against him and they called themselves Liberators and plotted to assassinate Ceaser. They all saw Rome growing towards tyranny where one man had too much power and Brutus lies center to this. For Brutus, opposing the growing power wasn’t just a political matter instead of a more personal one. Brutus was the descendent of Lucius Junius Brutus, who had helped overthrow the tyranny of Tarquin The Proud. But instead of claiming the throne, Lucius Brutus made people take an oath to never allow any king to rule over them. This way he ensured that the people of Rome first became Republic with no one man having too much power.


But things changed with Julius Ceaser, Romans started seeing him as their ruler and rose to the powerful position of Consul. Years of military triumph made him the wealthiest man in Rome. This wasn’t all, many temples and statues were erected to honor Ceaser, in fact, a whole month was named after him, today recognized as ‘July’. Even the title of dictator meant to be given to a person in situations of wartime emergencies had been bestowed on Ceaser several times. All of this was too much for the Liberators to watch silently. One leader that planned the assassination was Gaius Cassius Longinus and his brother-in-law Brutus.

Here comes the most important question, the question of Brutus’s morality. Being the closest advisor of Ceaser who treated him like his own son, Brutus was left with the moral dilemma of securing the principles his ancestors died for or allowing himself to witness Ceaser’s rising power. He was the most complex character in the whole assassination plot.  Brutus throughout his life has lived with honor and ethical code. Thus joining the conspirators wasn’t easy for him, yet his character had always misjudged people and their intentions. Therefore, on Cassius consistent insistence, Brutus finally thought it right to kill Ceaser but not in a cold-blooded murder but in a more quasi-religious ritual.

Was Julius Ceaser’s assassination right or wrong?

On March 15, 44 BCE, Brutus along with other Liberators surrounded Ceaser at Cappitoline Hill and stabbed him several times with daggers. Ceaser refrained, struggled, and fought against all of them but the moment he saw Brutus, he stopped. As per the famous line by Shakespeare “Et, Tu Brute?”, nobody exactly knows what Ceaser said in his last moment. But one fact everyone agreed on was that after seeing Brutus, Ceaser gave up the fight.  

On a theoretical level, since Caesar was subverting the Republican government structure, one could argue that Brutus and the Liberators were right in eliminating an existential threat to the Republic. But on a more practical level, if they were right the aftermath of the assassination would have been in their support. Yet, moments after the assassination, Rome was in a state of panic. Some might argue that a man who had planned on further conquest would have extracted the empire’s resources and manpower, thus stopping him would seem more of practical thought. Or if Ceaser would have been alive, Octavian wouldn’t have had a chance to create the principate and lived under his shadow. From this point of view, Ceaser’s death probably provided stability to transition Rome.


But on contrary, nobody exactly knew what it would have been like if Ceaser wasn’t killed. The historically most famous assassination has always been a matter of debate morally. Though the world often answered it according to the aftermath of the assassination, yet nobody ever gave enough thought to what would have happened if Ceaser lived. And with this arises the question of Brutus morality.  

It was to every extent wrong for Brutus to go against the man who had blind faith in his loyalty. Brutus did have qualities that could have made him a successful man in Roman history but these qualities also limited him severely, even fatally, when he joined people who do not choose the same ethical and moral considerations. His character becomes more complex with his unconscious hypocrisy. Though he objects to Ceaser’s unethical money-making, he also asks for a share or knows that the assassination was wrong yet still became the member. These things together comply with Brutus hypocrisy to which he constantly denies, as per the story by Shakespeare.

Opinions over Ceaser’s assassination were divided from the start and have remained so. As for Brutus, his fate lies in his conflicting legacy. In every writer’s work, Brutus character received an unrepented judgment, like in Dante’s Inferno where he was thrown to Satan, or by Shakespeare in which he was quoted as “the noblest Roman of them all” who acted for the goodwill of Rome.

In the end, Brutus could mean so much for so many people. He nobly accepts his fate and chooses personal honor over political benefits. Even in his last moments, when he decides to take his own life, he had the satisfaction of being certain in his own heart. He died being loyal to his principles and nobility on which he planned every decision of his life including Julius Ceaser’s assassination.  

Like it? Share with your friends!



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Choose A Format
Formatted Text with Embeds and Visuals
Youtube, Vimeo or Vine Embeds