The Classical Quarterly

Research Article

The Greek Letters of M. Junius Brutus

R. E. Smitha1

a1 University College, Nottingham

Since Bentley's attack upon the Greek letters of Euripides and Phalaris, scholarship has been inclined to look with suspicion upon other similar compositions, which have for the most part lain under a cloud of doubt. This attitude of doubt was certainly to be found in the scholarship of last century, though there has been a tendency of late years to attempt to restore certain of these groups of letters to their original position as genuine productions of the writers whom they claim as their authors. Such has been the case with Plato's letters; such also is the case with those of M. Junius Brutus, the tyrannicide. Condemned last century by both Westermann and Marcks, they found in Rühl a clever and successful advocate, who stoutly refuted these attacks. His task was rendered less difficult, in that Marcks, who alone adduced arguments to support his thesis, had not gone deeply into his subject, and his reasoning, therefore, was superficial. But the subversion of Marcks' arguments did not of itself establish the authenticity of the letters, and the positive reasoning of Rühl was hardly less deficient than Marcks'. A fresh examination of these letters, therefore, may be pardoned, if the conclusions differ from those of Rühl.