Please help me explain the following quotation from William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, Act II, including the name of the speaker and what is being discussed: "Let’s all be sacrificers, but...

Please help me explain the following quotation from William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, Act II, including the name of the speaker and what is being discussed: "Let’s all be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.”


For Act II in Julius Caesar, I need some help in analyzing and explaining quotations: Tell who the speaker is, whom he is talking and about what.



Clarify what the quotation reveals about the character or the themes.

1-Let’s all be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.”


Asked on by queenie97

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In this quotation from William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Brutus is talking to Cauis about their plan to murder Julius Caesar by stabbing him with daggers. In ancient Rome, animals were sacrificed to the gods by being killed and then carved up. The entrails, skin, and bones were burnt as offerings, and the meat cooked and served to the people attending the festival. Physically, the act of carving up an animal was the same when done by a sacrificer or a butcher but the intent was different. Interestingly, animal sacrifices had to indicate their willingness by bowing their heads on the way to the altar to be an acceptable sacrifice.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The following exchange between Cassius and Brutus answers your question. Brutus addresses Cassius both as Caius Cassius and Caius to fit the iambic pentameter meter. The are discussing a matter of the greatest historical importance. Cassius wants Mark Antony to be killed along with Caesar, but Brutus overrules him. It turns out that Cassius was right about his assessment of Antony and about wanting to eliminate him. Antony manages to turn the Roman citizens against Brutus, Cassius and the other conspirators. Without their base in Rome, Brutus and Cassius are at an extreme disadvantage. Antony and Octavius Caesar hold the center of power, where they can easily raise troops, money, and supplies. Antony proves himself to be "a shrewd contriver," as Cassius calls him. Antony is in a very bad spot with the death of Caesar, yet he single-handedly outsmarts Brutus and turns the whole city against him. Antony has his faults, but he is a marvel of courage and intelligence. 
Decius, well urged. I think it is not meet
Mark Antony, so well beloved of Caesar,
Should outlive Caesar. We shall find of him
A shrewd contriver; and you know his means,(165)
If he improve them, may well stretch so far
As to annoy us all, which to prevent,
Let Antony and Caesar fall together.
BRUTUS: Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius.
To cut the head off and then hack the limbs
Like wrath in death and envy afterwards;
For Antony is but a limb of Caesar.
Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius. - See more at:
The characters in Julius Caesar are continuously calling each other by name. The audience only sees actors on a stage, almost all of whom are men who are dressed alike. The audience has to be reminded of their identities, and Shakespeare had no way of achieving this other than by inserting names in the dialogue. A good example of this ongoing necessity is to be seen above where Brutus calls Cassius by name twice in only five lines. These two men have known each other since childhood. Normally such men would not be calling each other by name, but the names are intended for the benefit of the audience.
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narukami | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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It also points to the fact that Brutus believed, and indeed wanted everyone to know, that the attack on Caesar was a "sacrifice" of Caesar to the cause of liberty and the restoration of the Republic and not a wonton murder for political gain.

Caesar alone was their target, as he was the "tyrant" and although it made perfect political sense to also murder certain of Caesar's followers, most notably Mark Antony, Brutus forbid this -- there was to be no wholesale massacre of Caesarians.  The forum was not to run red with blood.

"Let’s all be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.”




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