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 Brutus and Cassius, who had been designated as prætors at the same time, had a controversy with each other as to which of them should be the city prætor, this being the place of highest honor, either because they were really ambitious of the distinction or as a pretence so that they might not seem to have a common understanding with each other. Cæsar, who was chosen umpire between them, is reported to have said to his friends that justice seemed to be on the side of Cassius, but that he must nevertheless favor Brutus. He exhibited the same affection and preference for this man in all things. It was even thought that Brutus was his son, as Cæsar was the lover of his mother, Servilia (Cato's sister) at the time of his birth,1 for which reason, when he won the victory at Pharsalus, it is said that he gave an immediate order to his officers to save Brutus by all means. Whether Brutus was ungrateful, or ignorant of his mother's fault, or disbelieved it, or was ashamed of it; whether he was such an ardent lover of liberty that he preferred his country to everything, or whether it was because he was a descendant of that Brutus of the olden time who expelled the kings, he was aroused and shamed to this deed principally by people who secretly affixed to the statues of the elder Brutus and also to the tribunal of Brutus himself such writings as these, "Brutus, are you corrupted by bribes?" "Brutus, are you dead?" or "would that you were still alive!" or, "your posterity is unworthy of you," or, "you are not the descendant of that Brutus." These and many like incentives fired the young man to a deed like that of his own ancestor.
1 Plutarch relates the following anecdote in his Life of Cato Minor (24), where he describes the part taken by the latter in the debate on the conspiracy of Catiline: "As we ought not to omit even the smallest indications that show the mental image of the man, it is said that while Cæsar was engaged in a severe struggle and controversy with Cato on this subject, and the Senate was hanging on their words, a little tablet was brought in to Cæsar. Cato considered this a suspicious circumstance and slandered him so that some of the senators were moved to ask that the contents be read. Cæsar handed the tablet to Cato, who was standing near. It was an immodest letter from his own sister Servilia to Cæsar, with whom she was in love, and by whom she had been seduced. Cato, after reading it, threw it back to Cæsar, saying: 'Keep it, you debauchee,' and then went on with his speech."
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