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[134] Against all these virtues and merits must be set down the crime against Cæsar, which was not an ordinary or a small one, for it was committed unexpectedly against a friend, ungratefully against a benefactor who had spared them in war, and nefariously against the head of the state, in the senate-house, against a pontiff clothed in his sacred vestments, against a ruler without an equal, who was most useful above all other men to Rome and its empire. For these reasons Heaven was incensed against them and often forewarned them of their doom. When Cassius was performing a lustration for his army his lictor presented his garland wrong side up. A gilded statue of Victory dedicated to Cassius fell down. Many birds hovered over his camp, but uttered no sound,1 and swarms of bees continually settled upon it. While Brutus was celebrating his birthday at Samos it is said that in the midst of the feast, although not a ready man with such quotations, he shouted out this verse without any apparent cause: -- “"A cruel fate O'ertakes me, aided by Latona's son."2

Iliad, xvi. 849. Bryant's translation.

Once when he was about to cross from Asia into Europe with his army, and while he was awake at night and the light was burning low, he beheld an apparition of extraordinary form standing near him, and when he boldly asked who of men or gods it might be, the spectre answered, "I am thy evil genius, Brutus. I shall appear to thee again at Philippi."3 And it is said that it did appear to him before the last battle. When the soldiers were going out to the fight an Ethiopian met them in front of the gates, and as they considered this a bad omen they immediately cut him in pieces. It was due to divine interposition, no doubt, that Cassius gave way to despair without reason after a drawn battle, and that Brutus was forced from his policy of wise delay to an engagement with men who were pressed by hunger, while he himself had supplies in abundance and the command of the sea, so that his calamity proceeded rather from his own troops than from the enemy. Although they had participated in many engagements, they never received any hurt in battle, but both became the slayers of themselves, as they had been of Cæ sar. Such was the punishment that overtook Cassius and Brutus.

1 Dion Cassius (xlvii. 40) favors us with a long chapter, full of prodigies bearing upon the battles of Philippi. The prodigy of the birds is thus described: "But that which especially indicated to Brutus and Cassius their ruin, so that it was plain to their adversaries, was the great number of vultures and other carrion-eating birds that soared above them only, and looked down at them screaming and squeaking in a fearful and awe-inspiring way." Florus (iv. 7) mentions the same phenomenon: "Birds accustomed to feed on dead bodies flew around the camp as though it were already their own."

2 ἀλλά με μοἶρ᾽ ὀλοὴ καὶ Λητοῦς ἔκτανεν υἱός: the dying words of Patroclus.

3 There is a noteworthy similarity of Greek words between Plutarch and Appian in relating the conversation between Brutus and the spectre, viz., Plutarch: "Τίς ποτ̓ ὤν," εἶπεν, "ἀνθρώπων θεῶν τί βουλόμενος ἥκεις ὡς ἡμᾶς;" ῾Υποφθέγγεται δὲ αὐτῷ τὸ φάσμα, "῾Ο σὸς, Βροῦτε, δαίμων κακός: ὄψει δέ με περὶ Φιλίππους." Appian: καὶ πυθέσθαι μὲν εὐθαρσῶς, ὅστις ἀνθρώπων θεῶν εἴη: τὸ δὲ φάσμα εἰπεῖν, ῾Ο σὸς, Βροῦτε, δαίμων κακός: ὀφθήσομαι δέ σοι καὶ ἐν Φιλίπποις.

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