Little Bits of History

October 23

Posted in History by patriciahysell on October 23, 2017

42 BC: Marcus Junius Brutus (the Younger) commits suicide. Brutus had initially supported Julius Caesar but after assuming power and trying to gain even greater control, Brutus and his compatriots plotted to kill Caesar, and managed to do so in 44 BC. He and his partners thought of themselves as Liberators but immediately came into conflict with the supporters of Caesar, Marc Antony and Octavian. A Civil War ensued which culminated in the Battle of Philippi in Macedonia. The Second Triumvirate with Octavian and Antony faced Brutus’s forces on this day.

Earlier in the month, Antony had faced Cassius in the south while Octavian and Brutus clashed in the northern part of the island. After receiving the misinformation that Brutus’s forces had been defeated, Cassius committed suicide. His was the most severe loss of the day and otherwise the battles were a draw. Both sides disengaged and readied themselves for another meeting. That battle took place on this day after Octavian and Antony had been able to gather both their armies together and Brutus had been able to coalesce his own forces. The Triumvirate had 19 legions and 33,000 cavalry or over 100,000 men and up to 223,000 troops if auxiliary numbers were in line with legionary numbers. The Liberators had 17 legions and 17,000 cavalry or 100,000 men or 187,000 total troops – again that is if auxiliary numbers matched.

Brutus was not the same leader as Cassius had been and had to offer his men an extra 1,000 denarii for them to stay and fight. In the weeks between battles, Antony and Octavian had slowly moved their troops to attack Brutus, who still held higher ground. However, holding this position left him in danger of being surrounded by opposing troops. The combatants met in mostly hand to hand combat and little use of missiles was needed because of such close quarters. The body count for the day’s match was not given, but due to the type of fighting, it was probably high. Brutus lost the day and the war and so, committed suicide by running into his sword as it was held by two men.

His army was surrendered to Antony and Octavian. Antony, in a show of respect, covered Brutus’s body with his best purple cloak. The cloak was stolen and eventually the miscreant was captured and killed. Brutus’s body was cremated and the ashes sent back to his wife. The end of this battle marked the height of Antony’s own fame as a general, a leader, and a man of power. He would go on to make some of his own mistakes, leading to his own downfall dying twelve years later.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience. – Julius Caesar

An angry man is again angry with himself when he returns to reason. – Publilius Syrus

Young men, hear an old man to whom old men hearkened when he was young. – Augustus