P LUTARCH evidently regarded Brutus with especial admiration, and would scarcely admit any flaw in the character or conduct of his hero. It is probably through his influence that Brutus has long been regarded by many as the very embodiment of patriotism.
It is no doubt true that Brutus regarded the murder of Caesar as an act of political justice and necessity, and it would certainly not be right to judge his action entirely by the standard of our times, in which political murder is looked upon with abhorrence. But, even if it be allowed that murder for political purposes can sometimes be justified, it is impossible to acquit Brutus of base ingratitude in sharing in the murder of the man who had pardoned him when an enemy, and who had loaded him with favours and honours as a friend. The character of Brutus in this respect gains a lustre, not its by right, because his motives, though misguided, were at any rate far nobler than the base envy and malice of Cassius. Brutus seems in truth to have been an austere, hard man, by no means so free from fault as Plutarch represents, but with the avarice and love of money so often found in men of his character. Though a man of great industry and learning, his mind was narrow in its scope. Hence he did not see that the death of one man, however great he might be, would not avail to alter the course of events which were leading inevitably to single rule in the dominions of Rome. Julius Caesar died, but, in a few years after his death, the young Caesar had established himself as sole ruler and had, as the Emperor Augustus, restored order to the dominions of Rome, and was able to hand down his power to his successors.
Shakespeare closely follows Plutarch in his rendering of the character of Brutus in his Julius Caesar, and indeed makes him the true hero of the play.
I T is said by some that Marcus Brutus was the descendant of the Junius Brutus whose statue, bearing a naked sword in its hand, was set up in the Capitol by the Romans of old time, in witness that it was he who had completely put down the line of the Tarquins, kings of Rome.
That Brutus of old time was like a sword forged of cold iron. For his temper was hard by nature, and was not made more gentle by education, so that through his hatred of tyrants he went even so far as to slay his own sons. But Marcus Brutus tempered his natural disposition by the discipline of learning and philosophy, so that he is considered as having most fully shaped himself to the pursuit of virtue. Hence it was, that even those who were the enemies of Brutus through the slaying of Caesar credited him with whatever of good came from the dictator's death, while that which was evil they laid to the charge of Cassius, who was kinsman and friend to Brutus, but of a nature less frank and noble.
Some there are, however, who say that Marcus Brutus was not descended from Junius Brutus, the expeller of the Tarquins. It is, however, agreed that his mother Servilia was descended from that Servilius who concealed a dagger about him, and, going down to the Forum, struck down one who was aspiring to make himself a tyrant.
Of all the Romans, Brutus took Cato the philosopher most for his model. With him he was closely connected in kinship, for Cato was his uncle, being the brother of Servilia. Moreover, Brutus married Cato's daughter Porcia. As for the Greek philosophers, Brutus was well versed in all of them, but devoted himself especially to those of the school of Plato.
When the rupture between Pompey and Caesar took place, it was expected that Brutus would side with the latter, since Pompey had put his father to death some time before. Brutus, however, placed the public affairs before his own personal feelings, and, as he considered that Pompey had more right upon his side than Caesar, he joined his party. He acted thus even although up to that time he had refused to speak to Pompey, thinking it shame to have any converse with the murderer of his father.
Brutus was at first sent by Pompey to Sicily. He found, however, that there was nothing of importance to be done in that island. He went, therefore, as a volunteer to Macedonia, where the forces of Pompey and Caesar were already assembled to contend for the mastery of the Roman world. It is said that Pompey, surprised and in a special degree delighted at his coming, rose from his seat as to a man of great importance and embraced him with fervour.
During the campaign Brutus spent the whole of his leisure in reading and study. This was the case even immediately before the great battle of Pharsalia. He was at this time put to much discomfort from the intense heat, for it was the height of summer, and his tent-bearers delayed in coming, so that it was almost midday before he had anointed himself and taken a little food. Nevertheless, while others slept or made arrangements for the future in view of the battle, Brutus calmly occupied himself until eventime in writing an epitome of a historical author.
It is said that Caesar was not indifferent to the fate of Brutus, and that he gave orders to his officers not to kill him in the battle, and to suffer him to escape if he would not yield himself up. Brutus did indeed succeed in escaping from the camp after the defeat and the flight of Pompey. He stole out through a gate which led to a marshy part of the country, full of reeds and pools of water, through which he made his way to a town at no great distance. Thence he wrote to Caesar, and was pardoned by the victor, who was glad to hear that he had survived the battle. Indeed, Caesar kept Brutus about him and treated him with great consideration, so that by his intercession Caesar was even induced to pardon Cassius, who had married the sister of Brutus.
It is said that, on the first occasion upon which he heard Brutus making a speech in public, Caesar remarked: 'I know not what this youth wills, but I see that what he does will he wills with all his might.' Indeed, the earnest character of Brutus, and his determined intention of being guided by reason and reflection, gave force to his efforts to accomplish whatever he set his hand to. But he was deaf to flattery and to unreasonable requests, and was wont to express his contempt for those who are so weak that they can refuse nothing.
Now there was a certain office of great honour to which it was expected that either Brutus or Cassius would be appointed. The claims of Brutus rested upon his good fame and the esteem felt for his character, while Cassius was supported by the splendid exploits he had accomplished in the campaigns against the Parthians. Caesar consulted with his companions about the office and the claims of Brutus and Cassius, and then announced this decision: 'Brutus must have the office, though perhaps there is more justice in the claim of Cassius.'
This was a source of anger against Caesar on the part of Cassius, for, though he was appointed to another office, his mind was filled not with gratitude for what he had received, but with resentment on account of what had been denied him.
As for Brutus, he might, had he so pleased, have been the first of Caesar's friends and second only to him in power. But though he was not yet reconciled to Cassius after their recent rivalry, he inclined towards him rather than to Caesar. Moreover, many urged him not to allow himself to be won over entirely by Caesar, whose favours, said they, were due to a wish to undermine his patriotism and his sturdy love of liberty.
But though Caesar showed his affection for Brutus, he was not entirely without suspicion of him. For when he was told that Antony was aiming at a change in the government, Caesar replied that he had no fear of trouble from such a plump, long-haired fellow as Antony, but from the lean and hungry ones, whereby he meant Brutus and Cassius. On another occasion, when some one hinted doubts of the faithfulness of Brutus, Caesar touched his own body with his hand and said: 'What! do you think he cannot wait to take his turn after this poor body?' It therefore appears that Caesar regarded Brutus as the fittest to succeed to his power. Certainly, it seems that Brutus might indeed have been the first man in the state, if he could for a time have endured to be second to Caesar.
Cassius, however, a violent-tempered man who hated Caesar himself rather than his rule, lost no opportunity of inflaming the mind of Brutus against the power of Caesar. But Brutus hated the system of government, and was not moved by hatred of Caesar as a man.
Cassius had a number of personal grievances against Caesar. Among these, one was the fact that the dictator had seized the lions which Cassius had procured for certain public shows he intended to provide. Some say that this was the chief cause of the plot of Cassius, but they are mistaken. For from earliest youth there was in the nature of Cassius a hatred and enmity to all tyrants, as was shown when he was still a lad and went to the same school as the son of Sulla, the dictator. One day this schoolfellow began bragging among the other boys about his father's absolute power, whereupon Cassius jumped up and gave him a sound trouncing. The affair attracted some attention, and there was even talk of prosecuting young Cassius for the attack. Pompey, however, prevented this, and having had both the boys brought before him, questioned them about the quarrel. Thereupon Cassius said to his schoolfellow, 'Come now, say again before Pompey, if you dare, the words that made me angry, so that I may have the pleasure of cracking your mouth again.'
As for Brutus, he was incited to act against Caesar, not only by many words from his friends, but also by many exhortations, both spoken and written, from the citizens. On the statue of his ancestor, that Brutus who put an end to the kings, they wrote, 'Would that you were now here, Brutus!' and 'Would that this Brutus were alive!' And every morning Brutus found his official seat full of papers bearing such writings as these: 'Art thou asleep, Brutus?' and 'Thou art not really Brutus!'
The real cause of these discontents lay in the actions of the flatterers of Caesar, who placed crowns upon his statues by night, as if they designed to lead on the crowd to salute him as king.
When Cassius sought to induce a number of his friends to join in a plot against Caesar, they all agreed, but only on the condition that Brutus would take the lead in it. For they said that the design required the support of his character more than it needed many hands and much daring. If he would not join them, they could not act boldly in the matter, since everybody would say that it could not be a good cause or Brutus would have been of their number. Cassius saw the force of this argument, and now began to make the first advances to Brutus since their rivalry.
When they were once more upon friendly terms, Cassius asked if Brutus intended to be present in the senate on the day when, it was said, Caesar's friends meant to propose that he should be given the kingly power. Brutus answered that he should not attend the meeting. 'But,' said Cassius, 'what if they summon us to be present.' 'In that case,' answered Brutus, 'it would be my duty not to keep silence, but to fight and die in the cause of liberty.'
Cassius was encouraged by the words and went on 'What man amongst the Romans will suffer you to die thus? Do you not know yourself, Brutus? Do you think that it is men of no account who put those exhortations in your seat? Be assured rather that they are the best men in Rome. From others they demand gifts and displays and shows of gladiators, but from you the destruction of tyranny. With you they are ready to dare and suffer anything, if you prove yourself such a man as they think you to be.' So saying he embraced Brutus, and then each went to sound his own friends on the matter.
Among the most intimate friends of Brutus was Caius Ligarius, one of Pompey's followers. Though he had been pardoned by Caesar, he felt no gratitude for the mercy, but rather hatred for the power which had put him in danger. He lay sick when Brutus came to visit him. 'Alas, Ligarius,' said he, 'that you should be ill at such a time.' At once the sick man raised himself on his elbow, and seizing his friend's hand, said, 'But, Brutus, I am well if you have on hand any design worthy of yourself.'
From this time the two leaders secretly spoke of the plot to those whom they trusted, and added them to the number of the conspirators, choosing such as they knew feared nothing and despised death. In addition to such men, they also gained over another Brutus, surnamed Albinus, because, although he was not a bold and courageous man, he was strengthened by a body of gladiators he kept, and also because he was in the confidence of Caesar. He, like most of the others, was persuaded to join the plot on account of the reputation of Brutus.
The lives of the first men in Rome were now in some sense dependent upon him as their leader in the conspiracy. Hence, though in public he kept strict watch upon himself, so that there should appear no change in his manner, yet when he was at home care and anxiety lay heavy upon him, especially during the night. Sometimes he lay sleepless, often he was lost in thought and sat brooding over the difficulties of the attempt, so that he seemed an altered man. The change did not escape the notice of his wife Porcia, who loved her husband dearly. But to her affection she added something of the spirit of a philosopher, as became the daughter of Cato. She determined, therefore, that she would not seek to find the cause of her husband's anxiety before she had made full trial of her own firmness, and had proved herself strong enough to bear the weight of his secret, however heavy it might be.
Therefore she made trial of herself in this manner. She ordered all her servants out of her room, and then with a knife wounded herself deeply in the thigh. The wound bled freely and caused her such great pain that she fell into a fever. Brutus was deeply affected by her condition, and attended to her with care. Then, in the height of her pain, she spoke thus to him: 'Brutus, when you married the daughter of Cato, you did not, I imagine, look upon her as a mere companion, but as the partner of your fortunes. Never have you given me cause to repent my marriage, but how can I for my part prove my love and faith to you if I may not share your secret counsels? Even if secrecy be not a virtue of women, yet remember that I, though indeed a woman, am the daughter of Cato and the wife of Brutus. But I did not place full confidence in the strength I draw from such a parentage and such a marriage until I had tried myself and proved myself above the fear of pain. See, here is the wound by which I made the trial.'
Astounded at the strength of mind and the resolution of his wife, Brutus told her of the plot which was on foot. Then, raising his hands to heaven, he besought the favour of the gods upon the enterprise, and that he might be enabled to prove himself worthy of the love of Porcia.
The conspirators decided that the best time to carry out the plot would be at a meeting of the senate which had been called for the Ides of March, for it was only on such an occasion that they could all assemble together without giving rise to suspicion. Moreover, the hand of fate seemed to point to the spot where the meeting was to be held as the place of Caesar's death. For it was a portico adjoining the theatre, and in it there stood a statue of Pompey; so that the death of Caesar in that place would make it seem as though some god had led him thither that the death of Pompey might be avenged.
When the day came, Brutus armed himself with a dagger concealed about his person and went forth. The other conspirators met at the house of Cassius, and first of all conducted his son, who was that day to assume the man's toga, to the Forum. Thence in a body they went to Pompey's portico to await the coming of Caesar. Had any onlooker been privy to their plot, he would have been astonished at their calmness. Such of them as were magistrates heard causes as coolly and decided as clearly as though nothing else were upon their minds. One of those who came before Brutus appealed from his judgment to Caesar. 'Caesar does not and shall not,' said Brutus, 'prevent me from acting according to the law.'
But, though they appeared calm, the conspirators were disturbed by a number of accidents. The day was far spent, but still Caesar did not come, and their anxiety grew as the time went on. While they were thus waiting, a man came up to Casca, and, putting his hand upon him, said: 'You hid this matter from me, but Brutus has told me all.' Casca burst out with a cry of astonishment, whereupon the other, laughing, went on: 'Yes, about this office for which you are standing, how came you suddenly to be rich enough to do so?' At about the same time a certain senator saluted Brutus and Cassius and, in a whisper, said: 'You have my best wishes, but do not delay. It is no longer a secret.' He then went hurriedly away, leaving them in consternation, for they thought that everything was known.
Soon after, a messenger came running to Brutus to tell him that his wife was dying. Porcia had been in great anxiety, and consumed with care as to how events were going. After her husband had gone forth, she started up and ran to the door at every little sound and every voice she heard. She sent messenger after messenger to make inquiries, and at length, unable to bear her anxiety longer, she fainted away. Her women shrieked in alarm, neighbours ran to her assistance, and a report soon spread through the city that she was dead. In truth, however, she soon recovered through the care of those about her.
The news, not without reason, caused great distress to Brutus. His private grief, however, had to give way to his zeal for the public. He remained at his post, for by this time it was reported that Caesar was coming, carried in a litter. He had been delayed by the predictions of the soothsayers, who declared the day to be of ill omen, and by the entreaties of his wife.
As soon as Caesar had descended from the litter, the very senator who had wished Brutus success went up to the dictator and spoke with him for some considerable time, Caesar all the while listening intently. The conspirators, who could not hear what was being said, suspected from what the senator had said to Brutus that he was now revealing the whole of the plot. They were much alarmed, and by looks from one to the other agreed that they would not suffer themselves to be seized, but would at once slay themselves. Indeed, Cassius and others began to draw their swords from beneath their robes with this intent. Brutus, however, was able to tell from the senator's looks and gestures that he was only presenting a petition. He reassured his fellow-conspirators by smiling upon them, for, as strangers stood mingled with them, he dared not express his relief in words. Soon afterwards the senator kissed Caesar's hand and withdrew, so that it was plain that he had only been speaking about his own affairs.
The senate was already seated, and the conspirators placed themselves so as to be near Caesar's chair. Cassius turned his face to Pompey's statue and invoked his old leader, as though the dead stone could hear his prayers. Meanwhile another of the conspirators kept Antony, the friend of Caesar, in conversation outside the court.
Now Caesar entered, and the whole senate rose to salute him. He took his seat, and the conspirators, under pretence of presenting a petition, crowded around him. One of their number spoke to him, and begged for the recall of his brother who had been banished. All joined in the appeal, and some laid hold of Caesar's hand and kissed it. The dictator refused their request, and when they still continued to press their suit, rose to his feet in anger. Thereupon one of them seized the robe of Caesar and pulled it down from his shoulders, while Casca, who stood behind, struck the first blow and wounded him slightly near the shoulder. Caesar seized the sword-hand of Casca, crying, 'Villain, what wouldst thou?' At once he was wounded by many, almost at the same instant. He looked around for some way of escape, but, when he saw the dagger of Brutus pointed against him, he ceased to make any effort for his life. Loosing his hold on Casca's hand, he covered his head with his robe and fell beneath the swords that stabbed at him so furiously that the murderers wounded one another. Brutus was stabbed in the hand; all were covered with blood.
Thus was Caesar killed. Then Brutus stood forth in order to speak, and called upon the senators with reassuring words to stay and hear him. They fled, however, in panic, thronging and jostling at the door. None pursued them, for the conspirators had firmly resolved that Caesar alone should die, and that all others should be called to enjoy the blessings of freedom. True, all of them except Brutus were of opinion, when they were discussing the deed, that Mark Antony should be slain at the same time. For Antony was an ambitious and violent man, and was strong in his popularity with the army. Hence the conspirators feared him, especially as he also held the office of consul at the time.
Brutus, however, was strongly opposed to the slaying of Antony. At first he based his opposition on the grounds of justice, and afterwards on the hope of a change in the disposition of Antony. He trusted that, when Caesar was once out of the way, Antony would display his generous nature and his love of fame and honour by joining his countrymen in welcoming the coming of freedom. Thus Antony was saved by the efforts of Brutus, and, in the general confusion which followed the death of Caesar, he escaped disguised in plebeian dress.
Brutus and his comrades then, their hands still all bloody, went to the Capitol, waving their naked swords and calling the citizens to liberty. At first, however, all was confusion; shouts were raised on all sides, and men ran aimlessly hither and thither. But, when it was found that there was no more killing and no plundering, both the senators and many of the people took courage and went up to the conspirators in the Capitol. Brutus then spoke to them in such a manner as to pacify the people and calm their fears. They applauded and praised him, and called upon Brutus and his companions to come down. The conspirators therefore left the Capitol and went down to the Forum, most of the rest of the people following. Some of those of high rank, however, mingled with the slayers of Caesar, and surrounding Brutus, conducted him with great honour from the Capitol to the place whence speeches were delivered in the Forum.
At the sight of Brutus and his comrades thus supported, the mob which had assembled in the Forum, though it was divided in opinion and inclined to raise a tumult, was afraid to do so. The people, therefore, listened in silence to what Brutus had to say when he stood forth. Nevertheless it was plain that they did not all agree with the murder of Caesar, for when the conspirator Cinna began to speak and to bring accusations against the dead man, they broke out into disorder and abused the speaker. The conspirators therefore withdrew again to the Capitol, and Brutus, fearing that the mob would blockade them there, sent away those who had accompanied them but had not taken part in the murder, for he deemed it not right that they should share the danger.
However, when the senate met on the following day, Antony and several on both sides spoke in favour of letting bygones be forgotten, and in favour of peace. In the end it was resolved that the conspirators should not only escape punishment, but that the consuls should bring forward a measure for conferring honours upon them. Antony also sent his son to the Capitol as a hostage. Brutus and his comrades now came down from their place of refuge and greetings and handshakings were exchanged between them and Caesar's friends. Indeed, Antony entertained and feasted Cassius, Lepidus received Brutus, and the rest of the conspirators were in like manner entertained by others of the opposite party.
At daybreak of the following day the senate met again. Honours were first conferred on Antony, for having prevented the outbreak of civil war, and afterwards on Brutus and those of his friends who were present. Moreover, provinces were distributed among them, Crete being decreed to Brutus and Libya to Cassius.
There next arose a discussion about the will of Caesar and about his funeral. Antony demanded that the body should be borne forth, not in a secret manner, but with the honours due to so great a man, and that his will should be read in public. Cassius was strongly opposed to these proposals, but Brutus gave way. Herein Brutus is considered to have made a second great mistake; his first having been the sparing of the life of Antony. For, in the first place, the will left to every Roman the sum of seventy-five drachmae, and, moreover, Caesar's gardens beyond the river were bequeathed to the people. When they heard these things the citizens were filled with affection for Caesar and regret for his death. And, in the second place, the people were deeply stirred when the body of Caesar was carried into the Forum, and Antony, according to custom, made a funeral oration in his honour. For, seeing that the citizens were affected by his speech, Antony played upon their feelings of pity, and, holding up the blood-stained garment of Caesar, he unfolded it and showed the rents made by the swords of the murderers and the number of the wounds under which Caesar fell. Then the mob burst out into furious disorder; some clamoured for the blood of the assassins, and some tore down benches and tables from the workshops, and with them built a vast funeral pyre upon which they placed the body of Caesar and burnt it. When the pile was blazing, some plucked out burning brands and ran to the houses of the conspirators, intending to set fire to them. This danger was, however, repelled, for the conspirators had guarded against such an attack.
The mob was now in a ferocious mood, as was shown by their murder of Cinna the poet, who was in no wise concerned in the plot against Caesar, whose friend indeed he was. It chanced that during the previous night he had been troubled with terrifying dreams about Caesar, and that afterwards he had fallen into a fever. Nevertheless, when morning came, he thought it shame not to be present at Caesar's funeral. There he was seen, and it being known that his name was Cinna, the mob took him to be Cinna the conspirator, who had recently reviled Caesar before the people. They set upon the unfortunate poet and tore him to pieces.
The change in Antony's conduct and the fear of the mob, now suddenly raised to fury, made Brutus and his friends fly from the city. At first they stayed at no great distance from Rome, for they expected that the violence of the people would soon wear itself out, and that they would then be able to return. They were encouraged in this belief by the fact that the senate favoured them, and had punished those who sought to fire the houses of the conspirators. They learnt, too, that the people were murmuring at the power of Antony, and were beginning to turn towards Brutus, whom they expected to return to the city to superintend the public spectacles, according to the duties of the office which he held. Brutus indeed bought a great number of wild beasts for the shows, and gave orders that all should be killed and none sold or kept over, but because he heard that friends of Caesar had formed plots against him and were quietly entering the city, a few at a time, he did not venture to return to Rome.
The arrival of the young Caesar brought about another change in the state of affairs in the city. He was the son of Caesar's niece, and by the dictator's will was left his son and heir. At the time of the murder he was studying at the town of Apollonia, but as soon as the news reached him he came to Rome. He assumed the name of Caesar as a first step towards gaining the favour of the people, whom he further gratified by distributing the money left them by the will. He also gathered round him by rewards many of those who had served Caesar. By these means he made himself a powerful party against Antony.
Now, when the people of Rome were thus found to be separating themselves into two parties, one for Caesar and one for Antony, and the armies showed themselves so corrupt as almost openly to sell themselves to the highest bidder, Brutus altogether despaired of the state of affairs. He resolved to leave Italy, and, setting out by sea, made his way to Athens. There he was well received by the people.
At Athens he attended the lectures of certain philosophers, but at the same time, though no one suspected it, he was making preparations for war. He was able to obtain possession of a large sum of money and stores of arms, and the old soldiers of Pompey, who were still wandering about the country, gladly flocked to his standard. Moreover, the governor of Macedonia surrendered that district to him, and the rulers and kings all round about began to come over to his side. He was thus strong enough to defeat Caius, the brother of Antony, who was sent against him.
Brutus was about to set out for Asia, when news came of events at Rome. The young Caesar, with the support of the senate, had made himself too strong for Antony and had driven him out of Italy. His power was now formidable, and he began to seek to be made consul contrary to the law. Moreover, he maintained large armies which were not required for the public service. When, however, Caesar saw that the senate were displeased at these things, and that the minds of the senators began to turn towards Brutus, he became alarmed. He therefore sent to Antony, and became reconciled with him. Next he surrounded the city with his soldiers, and thus got the consulship, although he had hardly reached the age of manhood, for he was only in his twentieth year. He then began a prosecution of Brutus and his accomplices on a charge of murder, in having put to death without trial the first man in the state. The judges being compelled to give their votes, the accused were condemned in their absence. It is said that the whole body of people gave a groan when the crier, in accordance with custom, summoned Brutus to appear before the court, while the nobles bent their eyes to the ground in silence. One of them, indeed, was seen to shed tears, and for that reason his name was shortly afterwards put on the list of those who were to be killed. Then three men, Caesar, Antony, and Lepidus, divided the empire among themselves, and they prosecuted and put to death two hundred men, one of whom was Cicero.
Brutus having taken his army, which was now a considerable force, over into Asia, set about fitting out a fleet. He also sent to Cassius, urging that they should meet and that they should hold their forces at no great distance from Italy, since their object was not conquest and dominion, but the deliverance of their country. Cassius agreed, and the two friends met at Smyrna. They could not but feel pleased at the contrast between their present fortunes and their circumstances when they last parted in the harbour of Athens. For they had hurried from Italy as miserable fugitives without arms and without money; without a single ship or soldier or stronghold; yet after no long interval they met as the leaders of armies and the commanders of navies, strong enough to fight for the mastery of Rome.
Now that they had joined their forces, Cassius wished that each should have equal rank and honour. Brutus, however, generally went to Cassius as being his superior in age and less strong in body. The general opinion concerning Cassius was that he possessed considerable military skill, but that he was violent in temper and disposed to rule by fear; while Brutus had the esteem of most men, the love of his friends, and the admiration of all. Even by his enemies he was not hated, for he was of a moderate and high-minded temper, unswayed by anger, pleasure or rank, upright in judgment and unswerving in honour. Most of all, his good repute sprang from the faith which men had in his motives.
While the two were at Smyrna, Brutus applied to Cassius for a share in the large amount of money which the latter had collected, because his own resources were exhausted in building a fleet. The friends of Cassius were opposed to letting Brutus have the money, but, nevertheless, Cassius gave him the third part. Some time after they separated again in order to carry on the undertakings they had in view. As for Brutus, he made a demand upon the Lycians for men and money. They refused to supply him, however, and, revolting against him, occupied certain steep passes to prevent the passage of his army. Brutus attacked them with his cavalry, killed six hundred of them, and then captured the positions and forts which they had occupied. He set free without ransom all the prisoners whom he took, hoping by kind treatment to win over the nation. The Lycians, however, continued obstinate, until at last Brutus drove the most warlike of them into the town of Xanthus, and there besieged them. Some of those who were thus shut up endeavoured to get away by swimming under the water of the river which flowed by the city. These, however, were caught in nets which were stretched down to the bottom of the river by weights, and on the top of which bells were fixed, so that an alarm was given whenever a swimmer was entangled in the net.
One night the besieged made a sally and set fire to certain engines. The Romans, however, saw them and drove them back to the town, but meanwhile a strong wind blew the flames against the battlements and the houses near by began to take fire. Brutus, therefore, fearing that the city would be destroyed, ordered his soldiers to help to put out the fire. But the Lycians all at once became seized with a kind of madness, a frenzy of despair in which they welcomed death. Men, women and children, freemen and slaves, young and old joined in hurling missiles from the walls upon the Romans who were trying to put out the flames. They brought wood and reeds and all manner of combustible things to feed the fire, and to make it spread to the whole city. Hence the flames rushed onward, and blazing furiously, girdled the whole city with a ring of fire. Meanwhile Brutus, in distress at the horror of the sight, rode round the walls and besought the Xanthians to save themselves and their city from the fire. None heeded him. In all kinds of ways they sought death; men and women and even little children. Some with shouts and cries leapt into the flames, others broke their necks by jumping from the wall, while some bared their throats to their father's knives and bade them strike. After the city was destroyed, one woman was found hanging by a rope, a dead child slung about her neck, and in her hand a torch to fire the house. Brutus could not bear to see this dreadful sight. He wept on hearing about it, and offered a reward to every soldier who should save the life of one of the Lycians. But, in spite of this offer, it is said that only one hundred and fifty were prevented from finding death. It seemed as if the Xanthians in their despair were reproducing one of the scenes of their earlier history, for their forefathers had in like manner set fire to their city and destroyed themselves in the time of the Persian wars.
Brutus now found that another Lycian city which he approached was preparing to resist his entry. He hardly knew what to do, being unwilling to attack it, because he feared that the horrors of the siege of Xanthus would be repeated. However, as he happened to hold some of the women of the town captives, he let them go without ransom. They spread such a good report of Brutus, and praised his justice and moderation so highly, that they persuaded the citizens to give up the place. Upon this all the rest of the Lycians surrendered. They found that Brutus was indeed just and merciful beyond their expectation. For he demanded from them only one hundred and fifty talents, and then, without doing them any injury, departed.
After some time Brutus invited Cassius to join him at Sardis, and met him upon his approach, the whole of the armed forces saluting both of them as generals. Now, as often happens between commanders in the stress of great affairs, causes of difference and feelings of suspicion had arisen between Brutus and Cassius. Hence, directly they came to Sardis and were within doors, they entered a room by themselves, and having closed the door began to blame one another, and to bring forward charges and accusations. This led on to tears and unrestrained anger, so that their friends outside wondered at their violent language, and feared lest they should do one another an injury. But, as the generals had forbidden any one to enter the room, they could do nothing. However, at length one of them, a senator whose character and freedom of speech led to his rough speeches being often taken as jests, forced his way into the room, although the slaves at the door tried to stop him. With mock solemnity he addressed the angry men in words taken from the poet Homer to this effect, 'Obey me! for both of you are much younger than I.' Thereupon Cassius laughed, but Brutus turned him out with some harsh words. However, the upshot of the interruption was that the friends became reconciled, and their difference was ended for a time. Cassius gave an entertainment to which Brutus came with his friends, and they all made merry over the feast.
On the following day Lucius Pella, who had been in the confidence of Brutus, was accused by the people of Sardis of taking money unlawfully. He was publicly condemned by Brutus, and his name declared infamous, whereat Cassius was much vexed. For only a few days before he had, after blaming them in private, publicly acquitted two of his friends guilty of the same offence. He now blamed Brutus for being too strict in keeping to the exact letter of the law, at a time when they should do their best to please and gratify their supporters. Brutus, however, bade him remember the Ides of March, and how they had slain Caesar, not because he himself plundered the people, but because he supported others who did so. He declared that, if justice can be rightly overlooked upon occasion, it would have been better to bear the wrongs inflicted by Caesar's friends than to allow injustice to be wrought by their own party.
It is said that when Brutus and Cassius were about to pass over from Asia into Europe, a wonderful sign came to Brutus. He was by nature wakeful, and by his temperate life and strength of will he had reduced the time he gave to sleep to a very small space. He never lay down during the day, and only slept for such a time at night as could not be employed in business. Now that the war was going on and he had the care of so many great matters, he was accustomed to give even less time than usual to sleep, and to employ the rest of the night on pressing affairs, or in reading, until the time when the officers of the army came to wait upon him for his orders. Now on the occasion in question, it being the dead of night and the lamp burning dimly in his tent, Brutus sat thinking and reflecting, while deep silence lay upon the whole camp. Suddenly it seemed to him that some one entered the tent, and, looking towards the entrance, he had a strange vision of a huge and terrible form standing by him in silence. Brutus, however, found courage to ask the phantom, 'What god or man art thou, and why comest thou hither?' Thereupon the form replied, 'I am thy evil spirit, Brutus. Thou shalt see me again at Philippi.' Then the apparition disappeared. Brutus called his slaves, but they one and all declared that they had neither seen nor heard anything.
Another strange occurrence happened when the soldiers were embarking. Two eagles appeared and perched upon the foremost standards of the army. The soldiers fed them, and the birds were carried along with them until they came to Philippi. But there, the day before the battle, the winged visitors flew away.
When Brutus and Cassius had crossed into Europe, they nearly succeeded in capturing a force of the enemy which had been sent on in advance. Antony, however, saved them by a march of wonderful rapidity. Some days later Caesar joined him, and the two armies were then drawn up against one another on the plains of Philippi, Caesar being over against Brutus and Antony opposed to Cassius. The forces were the largest Roman armies that were ever engaged one against the other. In numbers Caesar had a considerable superiority, but the troops of Brutus outshone their foes in the splendour of their arms. Although Brutus made his officers in other respects adopt a simple and hard mode of life, yet much of their armour was of gold, and silver was used lavishly. Their leader believed that the value and the splendour of their military dress would raise the spirits of the soldiers and increase their courage. Before the battle there were some signs and omens which disturbed the soldiers of Brutus and Cassius. For when Cassius was conducting a solemn ceremony, his attendant officer brought him the garland reversed. On a previous occasion, too, a golden statue of Victory which belonged to Cassius fell down, through its bearer slipping while it was being carried in a procession. Moreover, great numbers of birds of prey appeared daily in the camp, and swarms of bees collected at a certain spot within the lines of the army.
The soldiers were much cast down by these omens, which were not without some effect even upon their general himself. On account of this Cassius was not anxious for immediate battle, but was in favour of drawing out the war, especially as Brutus and he were stronger in resources than the enemy, but weaker in numbers. Brutus, however, had all along been anxious to bring matters to an issue as soon as possible, in order that the country might, at any rate, be relieved from the burden of war. Moreover, he was encouraged by the success of his cavalry in some skirmishes and affairs of outposts. The matter was debated at length among the chief officers, and it was finally decided to fight the next day.
Brutus retired to rest after spending the evening in high spirits and in talk about philosophy. Cassius, however, passed the evening with only a few of his most intimate friends, and appeared unusually thoughtful and quiet. After supper he took aside one of his companions, and pressing his hand, said, 'I call you to witness that, like Pompey the Great, I am forced to hazard the safety of my country upon the chances of a single battle. However, let us be of good heart and trust in fortune, although we may have decided badly.'
Next morning at daybreak a purple garment was hung out as the signal of battle in the lines of Brutus and of Cassius, and the two leaders met between the camps of their armies. Then Cassius addressed his fellow-general in these words: 'Brutus, I trust that we may win the victory and live long happily together. But if the battle ends otherwise than as we expect, it will not be a simple matter for us to see one another again. I therefore beg you to tell me now what you intend to do in regard to flight or death, if fortune goes against us.' Brutus answered that it had formerly been his opinion that it was not right for a man to kill himself, but that he had now changed his views, and that he did not intend to survive defeat. 'In that event,' he went on, 'I shall withdraw from life satisfied because on the Ides of March I dedicated my life to my country, and have since then lived in freedom and honour for her sake.' Cassius smiled approval at these words, and embraced his friend. 'Let us go into battle with such thoughts,' said he, 'for then we shall either be victors, or, at the worst, be undismayed by defeat.'
They now arranged the order of battle. Brutus asked Cassius to be allowed to command the right wing, and his request was granted, though Cassius, by reason of his greater age and experience, was considered more fitted to command in that part of the field. Brutus at once led forth his splendidly equipped cavalry and also rapidly brought up the infantry.
At the time the soldiers of Antony were engaged in cutting trenches in the marshes near which they were encamped. Meanwhile Caesar was on the watch, but was not actually on the spot because of sickness, while his soldiers did not expect any serious battle. They supposed that the enemy intended merely to make sallies upon the works and to disturb their comrades who were making the trenches by showers of missiles and by threats and shoutings. Hence they paid but little attention to those who were opposed to them, and did not understand the meaning of the loud but confused clamour which came from the direction of the trenches.
In the meantime the command to attack came from Brutus to his officers, and he himself advanced on horseback in front of the legions, and encouraged them to fight bravely. Some few of the soldiers heard the word of command as it was passed along, but the greater part rushed shouting upon the enemy without awaiting the order. Hence there arose some irregularity and some gaps in the line of battle, and as a result some of the legions completely outflanked Caesar's left. There was some fighting with those soldiers of Caesar who were stationed on the extreme left, and some few of them were killed. Some of the troops of Brutus, however, passed right round this flank and fell upon the camp of the enemy. There Caesar had a narrow escape, for he had but just been carried out of the camp when the soldiers of Brutus burst into it. Indeed, they pierced his empty litter with darts and spears, and for a time it was supposed that he had been killed. The prisoners who were taken in the camp were slaughtered, and with them two thousand Greeks who had lately come in as allies.
Those troops of Brutus who had not thus outflanked the enemy, but had been engaged in a frontal attack upon them, easily put their opponents, who were in disorder, to flight. In hand-to-hand fighting they broke up and destroyed three legions, and following up their success rushed, with Brutus amongst them, into the camp in pursuit of the fugitives.
But meanwhile the attack of Cassius on the other wing had been beaten back, and the enemy had in turn captured his camp. Thus it came about that while Brutus thought their troops completely victorious, Cassius believed that they were totally defeated. This mistake ruined their cause, for on the one hand Brutus did not come to the aid of Cassius, since he believed that his fellow-general was victorious, while on the other Cassius did not await Brutus, for he thought that his friend had perished.
When Brutus retired after destroying Caesar's camp, he was surprised to find that he could not see the tent of Cassius standing out plainly as usual in its place. Nor indeed were the other tents of Cassius's army to be seen, for they had been torn down and destroyed when the soldiers of Antony burst into the camp. Those followers of Brutus who were gifted with the keenest eyesight now told their general that they could see the glitter of many helmets and the gleam of many silver shields moving about in the camp of Cassius. Neither the number of these nor the style of armour seemed to them to agree with the idea that the soldiers moving about were the men left by Cassius to guard his camp, but, on the other hand, there did not appear to be so many dead bodies lying about as might be expected, if so large a force as that of Cassius had been defeated. These observations first gave Brutus some inkling of the misfortune which had overtaken his fellow-general. He at once set a guard over the camp of the enemy, and recalling his men from the pursuit, got together a force to go to the aid of his fellow-general.
The affairs of Cassius had fared in this manner. He had been displeased to see the soldiers of Brutus make their onset without the word of command and in disorder, and still further displeased to see them rush to plunder the camp for their own profit, instead of striving to encircle the enemy and attack them in the rear. For his own part, Cassius conducted his operations too slowly and without sufficient vigour and judgment. Hence he was surrounded by the right wing of his opponents. His cavalry broke and fled towards the sea, and he soon found his infantry wavering, though he strove desperately to rally them. He seized a standard from a flying standard-bearer, and with his own hands stuck it in the ground before his feet. But his efforts were in vain. Even those who were close about him lost heart and courage. Hence, being hard pressed, Cassius was forced to give way and to fly with but a few followers to a hill which commanded a view of the plain.
From the hill Cassius himself could see nothing of what was going on in the plain, and could but dimly perceive the plundering of the camp, for he was weak of sight. The horsemen who accompanied him, however, saw a good many soldiers approaching across the plain. These were in reality messengers whom Brutus had sent to announce his victory. Cassius, however, feared that they were enemies in pursuit of him, and in order to make sure, sent one of his followers, Titinius, to reconnoitre.
When the cavalry of Brutus saw the messenger approach, and recognised him as a friend, they shouted for joy. Some who knew him leapt from their horses and embraced him, while the rest rode their horses in circles round him with clashing of arms and cries of triumph. The commotion fatally deceived Cassius. He took it for granted that Titinius was taken prisoner by the enemy, and lamented aloud that he, through too great a love of life, had caused his friend to fall into the hands of the foe. Then, in despair, he withdrew into an empty tent, taking with him only one freedman, whom he had long ago instructed how to act in such an extremity. Wrapping his robe about his face, he laid bare his neck and commanded his freedman to strike. The blow fell, and the head of Cassius was afterwards found severed from the body.
It was soon discovered that the approaching cavalry were friends, and presently Titinius, crowned with garlands, rode up to the place where he had left Cassius. The laments and mournings of his friends informed him of the unhappy fate of his general. His rejoicings were immediately changed to bitter grief, and deeply reproaching himself for his delay when speed in returning might have prevented the tragic end of his friend, he resolved to accompany him in death, and falling upon his sword made an end of himself.
When Brutus had certain information of the defeat of Cassius, he made all haste to come to his relief, but he knew nothing of the death of his fellow-general until he came up to his camp. Then he mourned over the dead body and lamented his friend, whom he called the 'Last of the Romans.'
Brutus then set himself to gather together the scattered and dispirited soldiers of Cassius, and as they had been stripped of everything they possessed by the enemy, he promised to each of them the sum of two thousand drachmae. The soldiers were both surprised and encouraged by this generosity. They loudly acclaimed him, and praised him as the only general of the four who had not been beaten. He had indeed, with but a few legions, overcome all those who were opposed to him, and if most of his soldiers had not passed beyond the enemy in quest of the plunder of the camp, he would have won a decisive victory.
As for the forces of Caesar and Antony, they were at first much more discouraged than their opponents. But, during the evening, one of the servants of Cassius came over to Antony with the news of the death of his master, and in proof thereof brought with him the robe and sword of Cassius, which he had taken from the dead body. This news so emboldened them that by daybreak they were drawn up in order of battle.
Brutus found each of the two camps which his army occupied a source of difficulty. His own was full of prisoners, and therefore required a strong guard, while in the camp of Cassius there was some murmuring at the change of masters, and some jealousy, on the part of the beaten troops, of the victorious soldiers of Brutus. The general therefore, though he drew up his army, thought it well to avoid fighting.
As the slaves who had been taken prisoners were found to be tampering with the soldiers, they were all put to the sword. Most of the freemen and citizens, however, were set free. Brutus, indeed, told them that they were more truly prisoners while in the hostile ranks than when they had fallen into his hand. 'With Caesar and Antony,' said he, 'you were indeed slaves, but with me you are freemen and citizens of Rome.' He was obliged, however, to dismiss them secretly, for some of his own officers were their implacable foes.
Brutus now gave his soldiers the promised rewards. He rebuked them mildly for beginning the attack without waiting for the order, and promised that if they satisfied him by their conduct in the next engagement he would give up to them certain cities to be plundered. This is the only circumstance in the life of Brutus that admits of no defence. It is true that Antony and Caesar afterwards acted with more unbounded cruelty in rewarding their soldiers. But such conduct from them was only in agreement with the motives by which they were inspired, while it was not expected that even the hope of victory would tempt Brutus from the straightest path of honour and justice. He had, however, as sole head of the army, to make use of such advisers as he had, and generally followed the advice of those who proposed any measures which would keep the soldiers of Cassius in a good humour. These troops he found very difficult to manage, for they were insolent in the camp and cowardly in the field.
Caesar and Antony found themselves also in a position of difficulty. They had but a scanty supply of food, and the marshy nature of the land upon which they were encamped made them dread the approaching winter. Already, indeed, they had experienced a foretaste of its hardships, for heavy autumn rains fell after the battle, and filled their tents with mire and water, which the cold weather immediately froze. While they were enduring these hardships, they received news of a great disaster which had befallen their cause at sea. Their fleet, which was on its way from Italy with a large number of soldiers, had been met by the ships of Brutus, and defeated so utterly that the few men who escaped with their lives were reduced by famine to devour the tackle of the ships. The news determined those on Caesar's side to fight before Brutus and his army were encouraged by news of the victory.
This sea-fight, it appears, took place on the same day as the land-battle, yet by some accident Brutus received no news of the victory of his fleet till too late. Had he known in time, he would certainly not have risked a second battle. He had provisions sufficient to last for a long time, and his army was posted so advantageously that he had no need to dread either the hardships of the weather nor the attacks of the enemy. Moreover, had he known that he was wholly master by sea as well as partly victorious by land, he would have had every inducement not to throw away his great advantages over the enemy by any hasty action.
But it would seem that Providence had decreed that the Republic of Rome should no longer exist, and that, in order to remove the only man who could resist the destined master of the state, Fate kept the knowledge of the victory from Brutus till it was too late to avail to save him. Yet how near he was to receiving the intelligence! For, on the very evening before the battle, a deserter came over from the enemy to tell him that Caesar was eager for battle because his fleet had been destroyed. But his information was scouted as being either treacherous or merely idle babble, and he was not even brought into the presence of Brutus.
That night, it is said, the spectre again appeared to Brutus in its former shape, but vanished without saying a word. Yet a writer well versed in philosophy who bore arms with Brutus throughout this war makes no mention of the apparition. He tells, however, of a number of omens; among which was the appearance of two eagles, who immediately before the battle were seen in the heavens between the two armies, fighting in the upper air. The soldiers watched the fight with eagerness, and an incredible silence fell upon the field until the eagle which fought on the side of Brutus was beaten and driven away.
After Brutus had drawn up his army in order of battle, some time passed before he gave the word for the attack. As he passed among the ranks, he could not help suspecting some of the soldiers, and accusations were made to him concerning others. He found that his cavalry showed little eagerness for the battle, and that they seemed inclined to wait and see what success might attend the infantry. Moreover, a certain soldier, famous for his courage, rode close by Brutus, and in full sight of his general deserted to the enemy.
This desertion was unspeakably mortifying to Brutus, and either out of anger or because he feared that the treason might be followed by other desertions, he at once, about three o'clock in the afternoon, led his army against the enemy.
Where Brutus fought in person he was, as in the previous battle, successful. He charged the enemy's left wing with his infantry, and broke it. Then his cavalry, following up the impression which the infantry had made, routed that wing. But meanwhile the soldiers in the other wing of his army, when ordered to advance, were afraid that the enemy, who had the advantage in numbers, would surround them. Moved by this fear, they extended their line so much that it was made fatally weak. The centre of Brutus's left wing, therefore, could not sustain the shock of the enemy's charge, but was almost immediately broken and put to flight. So thoroughly were they swept from the field that the enemy surrounded Brutus. In this desperate situation he did everything that the bravest and most skilful general could do to restore the battle. His conduct at least deserved victory. But the soldiers of Cassius, dispirited by their former defeat, were a great source of weakness. They fought feebly, and the terror and confusion in their ranks infected the greater part of the army.
There were, however, many who fought most bravely for their cause and general. Marcus, the son of Cato, was slain fighting among the bravest of the young nobles. He disdained flight or surrender, and calling out his name as the son of Cato continued to ply his sword until he fell upon a heap of slaughtered foes. At the same time fell many others who fearlessly exposed themselves in order to preserve their general.
Lucilius, a man of virtue and a close friend of Brutus, saw a body of barbarian horse in the service of Antony riding at full speed with the special object of attacking and killing the general. He determined to stop them, though at the hazard of his life. He therefore shouted to them that he was Brutus, and they believed him, because at the same time he implored them to take him before Antony and pretended to be afraid of being carried to Caesar. The horsemen rejoiced at this capture, and, esteeming themselves especially fortunate, sent word to Antony of their success. Their general was greatly pleased at the news, and went forth to meet them as they returned with their prisoner. Many others, when the news spread that Brutus was captured, went forth to see him; some pitying his misfortunes, others blaming him for baseness in allowing himself to fall alive into the hands of barbarians.
When at last the captive and his captors approached, and Antony was considering in what manner he should receive his conquered foe, Lucilius boldly addressed him. 'Be assured, Antony,' said he, 'that Brutus neither is nor will be taken alive by an enemy. Dead or alive, his state will not be unworthy of him. As for myself, I deceived your soldiers, and am prepared to suffer the worst penalty which you can inflict upon me.'
Thus spoke Lucilius, to the amazement of those who stood by. Then Antony addressed himself to the captors. 'I see, fellow-soldiers,' said he, 'that you are angry at the deceit which has been practised upon you. But you have really brought me richer booty than you thought. You sought an enemy; you have brought me a friend. How I should have treated Brutus I know not, but this I know, that I would rather have such a man as this for a friend than for an enemy.' So saying, he embraced Lucilius and handed him over to the honourable care of one of his friends. Ever afterwards Antony found Lucilius faithful to his interests.
Meanwhile Brutus, flying from the battlefield with a few of his officers and friends, passed a brook overhung by cliffs and shaded by trees. There they rested in a hollow under a great rock, for darkness had fallen. Casting his eyes upwards to the heavens, bright with many stars, Brutus repeated the words of the Greek poet, 'Forgive not, Jove, the cause of this distress.' Then sadly he went over the names of those of his friends who had fallen in the battle, sighing deeply at the mention of those whom he most loved.
Meanwhile, one of his attendants being thirsty and seeing that his general was in like case, took his helmet and went down to the brook to get water. At the same time a sound was heard on the opposite bank, and two of the little band went to find out the cause. On their return they asked for water. 'All has been drunk,' said Brutus, with a smile, 'but another helmetful shall be brought.' The attendant, therefore, was again sent down to the brook, but in going he was wounded by the enemy, and with difficulty made his way back.
It was therefore evident that parties of the enemy were very near the hiding-place. Nevertheless, Brutus was not without hope that his affairs might yet be restored, for he thought that his losses in the battle had not been very heavy. One of his followers, Statilius, therefore volunteered to try to make his way through the enemy, in order to find in what condition their camp was. It was arranged that if he got there safely, he should hold up a lighted torch in the camp as a signal, and then return with his intelligence.
Statilius arrived in safety at the camp, for the torch was held up as had been arranged. But his companions waited in vain for a long time for his return. 'If Statilius were alive,' said Brutus at length, 'he would be here by this time.' In truth, as the messenger was making his way back to his friends, he fell into the hands of the enemy and was slain.
When the night was far spent, Brutus whispered some words to one of his servants, who made no answer but burst into tears. After this, the general took his armour-bearer on one side and said something to him privately. Next he spoke in Greek to another friend, whom he besought by the memory of their studies and deeds together to help him by putting his hand to the sword, so that he might give himself the fatal thrust. His friend, as well as several others whom Brutus addressed, refused, and one of them remarked that it was time that they should fly.
'We must indeed fly,' said Brutus, rising hastily, 'but with our hands, not our feet!' Then, taking each of two of his friends by the hand, he spoke very cheerfully to this effect: 'It is to me a source of great gladness that my friends have been faithful. And if I have any resentment against fortune, it is for my country's sake and not my own. For I count myself more happy than my conquerors in the unsullied reputation I shall leave behind me.' He then besought his followers to provide each for his own safety, and withdrew with only two or three of his closest friends.
One of these friends was Strato, who had been his friend since the time when the two studied rhetoric together. Brutus placed this friend next to him, and then, laying hold of the hilt of his sword with both hands, fell upon the point and died. By some it is said that Strato, at the request of Brutus, turned aside his friend's head and held the sword, and that Brutus threw himself upon it with such violence that the point, entering at his breast, passed right through his body, so that he died immediately.
When Antony found the body he caused it to be covered with the richest of his robes, and he afterwards sent the ashes of Brutus to his mother Servilia. As for Porcia, the wife of Brutus, some writers tell us that she was for a time prevented from finding the death she sought by the watchfulness of her friends. But at length she eluded their care, and killed herself by swallowing coals of fire which she snatched from the hearth.