Politics and Philosophy in the Late Roman Republic: Marcus Junius Brutus & Gaius Cassius Longinus

Research output: Other contribution

Abstract

Though the date of the final collapse is unclear, no event is more notable than the assassination of Julius Caesar. What prompted the relationships, actions, and power dynamics in the Roman Republic during its final years? Historians have monopolized the study of this event, confining the study to a less dynamic and interesting debate by excluding one of the most recognized names in Roman history: Gaius Cassius Longinus. From the beginning, Cassius has been known from a perspective that is fundamentally tied to his brother-in-law and fellow assassin, Marcus Brutus. Cassius was explicitly established as the less-virtuous counterpart and therefore, he was, and continues to remain, under explored. Contra to the literature, the purpose of this thesis is to focus on Cassius and his determination to combine his philosophy into action. It is concerned with the motivations of behavior and the dynamics of thought separating Cassius from Brutus. This study will use psychobiography, rhetorical, and philosophical analysis to examine the connection between social and philosophical background in relation to political action and behavior. It will therefore ask to what degree, the motivations of the leading Liberatores were guided by value-systems, philosophical practices, and Republican traditions. The first part of this thesis aims to illuminate Cassius’ life and behavior by examining different sources – who was he? Was he the villain Shakespeare presents or the cold- hearted soldier Plutarch describes? The second part of this study outlines morality and introduces the concept of justice, while investigating how actions were shaped by philosophical and social standings, and imperial discourse, structure, and practice. What did justice mean? Did philosophy influence the conspirator’s ideas about justice, themselves, and the Republic – or did philosophy provide a convenient cover? Were these ideas articulated, validated, or negotiated? The final part of the thesis connects their actions into something broader about the continuities and changes of the Roman Republic in this period.
Original languageEnglish
TypeBA Thesis
Number of pages123
Publication statusSubmitted - 2016

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