Brutus in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities

L. Iunius Brutus. A celebrated Roman, the author, according to the Roman legends, of the great revolution which drove Tarquin the Proud from his throne, and which substituted the consular for the regal government. He was the son of Marcus Iunius and of Tarquinia, the second daughter of Tarquin. While yet young in years, he saw his father and brother slain by the order of Tarquin, and having no means of avenging them, and fearing the same fate to himself, he affected a stupid air, in order not to appear at all formidable in the eyes of a suspicious and cruel tyrant. This artifice proved successful, and he so far deceived Tarquin and the other members of the royal family that they gave him, in derision, the surname of Brutus, as indicative of his supposed mental imbecility. At length, when Lucretia had been outraged by Sextus Tarquinius, Brutus, amid the indignation that pervaded all orders, threw off the mask, and suatching the dagger from the bosom of the victim, swore upon it eternal exile to the family of Tarquin. Wearied out with the tyranny of this monarch, and exasperated by the spectacle of the funeral solemnities of Lucretia, the people abolished royalty, and confided the chief authority to the Senate and two magistrates, named at first praetors, but subsequently consuls. Brutus and the husband of Lucretia were first invested with this important office. They signalized their entrance upon its duties by making all the people take a solemn oath never again to have a king of Rome. Efforts, nevertheless, were soon made in favour of the Tarquins: an ambassador sent from Etruria, under the pretext of procuring a restoration of the property of Tarquin and his family, formed a secret plot for the overthrow of the new government; and the sons of Brutus became connected with the conspiracy. A discovery having been made, the sons of the consul and their accomplices were tried, condemned, and executed by the orders of the father, although the people were willing that he should pardon them. From this time, Brutus sought only to die himself, and, some months after, a battle between the Romans and the troops of Tarquin enabled him to gratify his wish. He encountered, in the fight, Aruns, the son of the exiled monarch; and with so much impetuosity did they rush to the attack that both fell dead on the spot, pierced to the heart each by the weapon of the other. The corpse of Brutus was carried to Rome in triumph. The consul Valerius pronounced a funeral eulogy over it, a statue of bronze was raised to the memory of the deceased in the Capitol, and the Roman women wore mourning for an entire year.

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