Marcus Brutus was a descendant of that Junius Brutus whose bronze statue, with a drawn sword in its hand, was erected by the ancient Romans on the Capitol among those of their kings, in token that he was most resolute in dethroning the Tarquins. But that Brutus, like the tempered steel of swords, had a disposition which was hard by nature and not softened by letters, so that his wrath against the tyrants drove him upon the dreadful act of slaying his sons;1
whereas this Brutus, of whom I now write, modified his disposition by means of the training and culture which philosophy gives, and stimulated a nature which was sedate and mild by active enterprises, and thus seems to have been most harmoniously attempered for the practice of virtue. As a consequence, even those who hated him on account of his conspiracy against Caesar ascribed whatever was noble in the undertaking to Brutus, but laid the more distressing features of what was done to the charge of Cassius, who was a kinsman of Brutus, indeed, and his friend, but not so simple and sincere in his character.
Servilia, the mother of Brutus, traced her lineage back to Servilius Ahala, who, when Spurius Maelius was seditiously plotting to usurp absolute power, took a dagger under his arm, went into the forum, drew nigh the man, as if intending to confer privately with him, and when he inclined his head to listen, stabbed him to death.2
This, at all events, is generally admitted; but as to the lineage of Brutus by his father's side, those who display great hatred and malevolence towards him because of the murder of Caesar deny that it goes back to that Brutus who expelled the Tarquins, since no offspring was left to him when he had slain his sons. The ancestor of Brutus, they say, was a plebeian, son of a steward by the name of Brutus, and had only recently risen to office.
Poseidonius the philosopher, however, says that the two sons of Brutus who were of age perished according to the story, but that a third son was left, an infant, from whom the family descended. He says, moreover, that there were certainly illustrious men of this house in his own day, some of whom called attention to their likeness in form and features to the statue of Brutus. Thus much, then, on this head.