When the consuls had quieted the tumult, Valerius ordered Vindicius to be brought from his house, the denunciation was made, the letters were read aloud, and the accused had no courage to reply. Most of the people held their peace for very sorrow, but a few spoke of exile as a penalty, wishing to do Brutus a kindness. They were also somewhat encouraged to hope by the tears of Collatinus and the silence of Valerius. But Brutus, calling each of his sons by name, said:
‘Come, Titus, come Tiberius, why do ye not defend yourselves against this denunciation?’
But when they made no answer, though he put his question to them thrice, he turned to the lictors and said:
‘It is yours now to do the rest.’ These straightway seized the young men, tore off their togas, bound their hands behind their backs, and scourged their bodies with their rods.
The rest could not endure to look upon the sight, but it is said that the father neither turned his gaze away, nor allowed any pity to soften the stern wrath that sat upon his countenance, but watched the dreadful punishment of his sons until the lictors threw them on the ground and cut off their heads with the axe. Then he rose and went away, after committing the other culprits to the judgement of his colleague.1
He had done a deed which it is difficult for one either to praise or blame sufficiently.
For either the loftiness of his virtue made his spirit incapable of suffering, or else the magnitude of his suffering made it insensible to pain. In neither case was his act a trivial one, or natural to a man, but either god-like or brutish. However, it is right that our verdict should accord with the reputation of the man, rather than that his virtue should be discredited through weakness in the judge. For the Romans think that the work of Romulus in building the city was not so great as that of Brutus in founding and establishing its form of government.