will have to do an essay on him eventually. There are many ways to
tackle the subject here are a few versions of basically the same type
tu, Brute?” (Act 3, scene I, line 85) is a quotation widely used in
Western culture to signify the utmost betrayal by a friend. In the
play, these were Caesar’s last words as he looked into the face of
his best friend Brutus, as Brutus stabbed him. Shakespeare’s play,
believed to have been written around 1599, is set in ancient Rome. It
is based on a real man and a real happening, that being the
assassination of one of the Republic’s most popular leaders, Julius
Caesar. It is a play about loyalty and betrayal. As William Blake
says, “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.”
quick background, when the last king was overthrown, the people of
ancient Rome vowed never to be ruled by a king again. For the next 500
years, Rome was a Republic, ruled by the Senate and the people of
Rome. This play is set towards the end of the Roman Republic, when a
body of free noblemen called Senators ruled Rome. Rome did not become
an empire until after the assassination of Julius Caesar.
the play, Caesar's closest friends and allies are loyal. The
definition of loyalty according to The Free Online Dictionary is (1)
Steadfast in allegiance to one’s homeland, government, or sovereign.
(2) Faithful to a person, ideal, custom, cause or duty. The problem
for Caesar is that his friends are more loyal to the Roman Republic
than they are to Julius Caesar. His assassins believe that Caesar
wants to be king. They do not wish to be ruled by a king. If Caesar
became king, his friends and allies fear they will no longer be equal
Act I, Cassius and Brutus discuss Caesar. Cassius devises a plan to
sway Brutus into joining the conspiracy. Cassius was a Roman Senator
and a leading instigator in the plot to kill Julius Caesar. Cassius
resents the fact that the Roman people are starting to treat Caesar
like a God. "Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world / Like a
Colossus, and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs and peep
about" (I, ii, 138). Cassius organized the conspiracy out of fear
of losing hard-won democracy, but also to help his dear friend Brutus.
Cassius believes Caesar is a tyrant and a corrupter of his dear
friend. Cassius manipulates Brutus into believing that Caesar intends
to turn Republican Rome into a monarch under Caesar’s rule by
writing letters to Brutus in different handwriting. “That noble
minds keep ever with their likes; For who so firm that cannot be
seduced?” (1, ii, 305).
soliloquy at the end of Act One portrays his deep feelings for Brutus:
“Oh, he sits high in all the people's hearts”. He fears that
Brutus has become too close to Caesar, and therefore is in danger of
being corrupted and blinded to Caesar's faults. Brutus and Cassius
fight in Act Four because Cassius values his friendship with Brutus so
highly. “Do not presume too much upon my love. I may do that I shall
be sorry for” (4, iii, 68). Cassius is willing to risk his own
ambitions and even his own life to keep Brutus’ good opinion of him.
Cassius says, “When thou didst hate him worst, thou lovedst him
better than ever thou lovedst Cassius” (4, iii, 110). In this
scene, Cassius bares his soul to Brutus and expresses his deep love
and his deeper jealousy of the relationship between Brutus and Caesar.
may have been the ringleader, but Casca, Trebonius, Ligarius, Metellus
Cimber, Decius Brutus, and Cinna all conspire against Julius Caesar.
These men are of aristocratic origin. They are afraid of the
popularity Caesar is gaining with the people. They can see the end of
their ancient privilege in Caesar's political reforms and conquests.
They are envious of Caesar's power and prestige. Artemidorus reads a
letter out loud in Act Two, Scene Three, which lists Caesar’s many
enemies. He says, “There is but one mind in all things man, and it
is bent against Caesar. If thou Beest, not immortal, look about
March 15, the Ides of March, 44 BCE, Metellus Cimber gives the signal
for the attack on Caesar. (He was initially one of Caesar’s
strongest supporters and Caesar granted him governorship of two
provinces.) First, Casca stabs Julius Caesar in the back of Caesar’s
neck. The others follow in stabbing him. Caesar initially fights back
against his attackers, but when he sees his closest friend Brutus
stabbing him, Caesar resigns himself to his fate. Brutus, after
killing Caesar, says, “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I
loved Rome more” (3, ii, 20).
is visited by the ghost of Caesar. "I shall see thee at
Philippi" (4, iii, 287) the spirit warns him, but Brutus' courage
is unshaken and he goes on. Brutus is proud of his reputation for
honor and nobleness, but he is not always practical, and is often
naive. Brutus is the only major character in the play intensely
committed to fashioning his behavior to fit a strict moral and ethical
code. Brutus believes that the Senators have allowed a man to gain
excessive power; therefore they have the responsibility to stop him.
With a man of Caesar’s well-known ambition, that can only mean
assassination. But that does not mean he is happy with the solution.
In the end, Brutus commits suicide.
the final scene of the play, and in the wake of Brutus’ suicide,
Antony gives Brutus’ eulogy, calling him "the noblest Roman of
them all" (5, iv, 68). According to Antony, even in
death Brutus was noble. He ran himself through with a sword rather
than surrender. Caesar's murder has been avenged, order has been
restored, and, most importantly, the Roman Republic has been
preserved. As Confucius said, “It is more shameful to distrust our
friends than to be deceived by them.”
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