Et tu, Brute?
"Et tu, Brute?" (pronounced [ɛt ˈtuː ˈbruːtɛ]) is a Latin phrase meaning "and you too, Brutus?". The phrase is often used poetically to represent the last words of the Roman dictator Julius Caesar to his friend Marcus Brutus at the moment of his assassination. However, there is no evidence that Caesar actually said these words, and the fame of the quotation is entirely due to its occurrence on William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. The quotation is widely used in Western culture to signify the utmost betrayal by an unexpected person, such as a friend.
Another common translation for the phrase is "You too, Brutus?". Literally, the Latin phrase translates to "And you, Brutus?". The name "Brutus", a second declension masculine noun, appears in the phrase in the vocative case, and so the -us ending of the nominative case is replaced by -e.
On March 15 (the Ides of March), 44 BC, Caesar was attacked by a group of senators, including Marcus Junius Brutus, Caesar's close friend. Caesar initially resisted his attackers, but when he saw Brutus, he supposedly spoke those words and resigned himself to his fate.
Caesar's last words are not known with certainty and are a contested subject among scholars and historians alike. The phrase Et tu, Brute?, maintains its familiarity from William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar (1599), where it actually forms the first half of a macaronic line: "Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!" Shakespeare in turn was making use of a phrase already in common use in his time: it appears for example, in Richard Eedes's Latin play Caesar Interfectus of 1582 and The True Tragedie of Richarde Duke of Yorke &c of 1595, a source work for Henry VI, Part 3.
The phrase follows in the tradition of the Roman historian Suetonius, who reports that others have claimed Caesar's last words were the Greek phrase "καὶ σὺ τέκνον;", transliterated as "Kai su, teknon?". The phrase means "You too, child?" or "You too, young man?" but has commonly been interpreted as meaning "You too, my child?" (Tu quoque, fili mei in Latin) and taken as an indication that Brutus was Caesar's illegitimate son. His mother was Servilia Caepionis: Caesar's long-time and most beloved and trusted mistress. Caesar was known to be very fond of Brutus, and to treat him as a father would a son. However, for Caesar to have been the father of Brutus, the child must have been conceived when Caesar was only 14 years and 2 months old (assuming a usual 9 months pregnancy). Still, Caesar's sexual exploits were well known, and he and Servilia had met by that time.
There is no reliable evidence that Caesar ever spoke the words, if he did then the interpretation "my child" is not certain, and he was only fourteen when Brutus was born. Suetonius himself claims Caesar said nothing as he died. Plutarch also reports that Caesar said nothing and merely pulled his toga over his head when he saw Brutus among the conspirators.
It has recently been argued that the phrase can, if Caesar said it, be interpreted as a curse or threat. One theory states Caesar adapted the words of a Greek sentence which to the Romans had long since become proverbial: The complete phrase is said to have been "You too, my son, will have a taste of power," of which Caesar only needed to invoke the opening words to foreshadow Brutus' own violent death, in response to his assassination. In a similar vein, Caesar's words have been interpreted to mean "Your turn next." and "To hell with you too, lad!" In some other languages, for example Italian, the best-known version of Caesar's last words is a more literal Latin translation of the Greek phrase reported and dismissed by Suetonius: tu quoque, fili mi. This version is reported, for example, in Charles François Lhomond's De Viris Illustribus, an 18th-century summary of Roman history, which was long used as a standard text by Latin students. Another possibility not studied in the past but which is increasingly prominent is based on the fact that a large number of old patrician families of Rome like Caesar's Julia gens had Greek and not Latin as their maternal language. Thus, Caesar, under the violence of the attack, and confronted with his own death, refuges to his maternal language, Greek. The argument is further reinforced by the fact that Caesar uses the colloquial contemporary "τέκνον" and not the classical "παῖ" that an educated Roman would use when speaking in Greek.
In popular culture
American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers released a song titled "Even You Brutus?" on their 2011 album I'm With You.
American rock band The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus released an album called "Et Tu, Brute?" in early 2013.
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- Gill, N. S., "Latin – Vocative endings", About.com, retrieved 2012-09-16
- Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 1, Line 77
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- Lhomond De Viris Illustribus, Caius Julius Caesar