This painting is depicting the Roman Consuls who were very important political leader during the roman republic. Specifically Brutus is raising his knife to stab Julius ceasar, a threat to the Roman republic.
During the days of the Roman Republic two consuls were elected. They served one year before they were replaced. If a consul died during his term (not uncommon when consuls were in the forefront of battle) or was removed from office, another would be elected.
From the galleys to the step-son of a Roman consul, Ben-Hur's fortunes reverse thanks to God's hand.Jack Hawkins plays the Roman Consul Quintus Arius, a stern soldier who has lost purpose in living, and regained strength thanks to Ben-Hur.