Under these circumstances the multitude turned their thoughts towards Marcus Brutus, who was thought to be a descendant of the elder Brutus on his father's side, on his mother's side belonged to the Servilii, another illustrious house, and was a son-in-law and nephew of Cato. The desires which Brutus felt to attempt of his own accord the abolition of the monarchy were blunted by the favours and honours that he had received from Caesar.
For not only had his life been spared at Pharsalus after Pompey's flight, and the lives of many of his friends at his entreaty, but also he had great credit with Caesar. He had received the most honourable of the praetorships for the current year, and was to be consul three years later, having been preferred to Cassius, who was a rival candidate. For Caesar, as we are told, said that Cassius urged the juster claims to the office, but that for his own part he could not pass Brutus by.1
Once, too, when certain persons were actually accusing Brutus to him, the conspiracy being already on foot, Caesar would not heed them, but laying his hand upon his body said to the accusers:
‘Brutus will wait for this shrivelled skin,’
implying that Brutus was worthy to rule because of his virtue, but that for the sake of ruling he would not become a thankless villain.
Those, however, who were eager for the change, and fixed their eyes on Brutus alone, or on him first, did not venture to talk with him directly, but by night they covered his praetorial tribune and chair with writings, most of which were of this sort:
‘Thou art asleep, Brutus,’ or,‘Thou art not Brutus’
When Cassius perceived that the ambition of Brutus was somewhat stirred by these things, he was more urgent with him than before, and pricked him on, having himself also some private grounds for hating Caesar; these I have mentioned in the Life of Brutus.4
Moreover, Caesar actually suspected him, so that he once said to his friends:
‘What, think ye, doth Cassius want? I like him not over much, for he is much too pale.’ And again, we are told that when Antony and Dolabella were accused to him of plotting revolution, Caesar said:
‘I am not much in fear of these fat, long-haired fellows, but rather of those pale, thin ones,’ meaning Brutus and Cassius.