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Featured anniversary |  23 October 42 BC: Brutus takes his own life

For Marcus Junius Brutus, one of the aristocratic assassins of Julius Caesar, the second battle of Philippi was a catastrophe. More than two years since Caesar’s murder, Brutus might have been forgiven for thinking himself safe. Even at the beginning of October 42 BC, when he was facing the combined armies of Caesar’s lieutenant Mark Antony and his heir Octavian, his position looked pretty good. But after a stalemate on 3 October at the first battle of Philippi, in modern-day Greece, things began to unravel…

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Brutus begs his companion to kill him in a 1756 painting by Giacomo Zampa. Having been decisively defeated in battle by Mark Antony and Octavian – later to rule Rome as emperor Augustus – Brutus felt he had little choice but to commit suicide. (Photo by Alfredo Dagli Orti-Art Resource, NY)