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"Et tu, Brute?"

These words come from Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, which includes the Roman ruler Caesar's murder by a group of senators in 44 BCE. The senators were led by Marcus Brutus (Brute), who had been a close friend of Caesar. The Latin "Et tu, Brute?" may be translated literally as "And you, Brutus?", or more loosely as "You too, Brutus?" or "Even you, Brutus?" In the play, Caesar utters these words and resigns himself to death when he sees that even his closest friend is among the conspirators. To this extent, the term has come to symbolize the epitome of betrayal, and perhaps resignation or acceptance. Note that the word "Brute" is pronounced - and sometimes written - as "Bruté" [broo-tay].

History does not record with certainty Caesar's actual last words. Shakespeare used these words for dramatic effect, though the phrase was current at the time and had been used in previous plays by other writers. But whatever Caesar may or may not have said on the occasion, his death heralded the historically significant transition from Roman republic to Roman empire.


Caesar: Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?
Casca: Speak, hands, for me! [They stab Caesar.]
Caesar: Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar! [Dies.]
Cinna: Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!

Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet

utter (verb): say
resign oneself to (verb): accept (something inevitable)
conspirator (noun): someone who takes part in a secret plan to do something unlawful
epitome (noun): perfect example
herald (verb): announce; be a sign of coming change
bootless (adjective): without effect; useless; in vain
tyranny (noun): cruel, oppressive rule or government

Contributor: Josef Essberger