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Cassius plans to forge letters from the citizens to convince Brutus. What does this...

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abwa2013 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted April 22, 2013 at 11:29 AM via web

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Cassius plans to forge letters from the citizens to convince Brutus. What does this show about the common people and their attitude to Caesar in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 22, 2013 at 1:37 PM (Answer #1)

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In Act I, Scene iii, of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, the conspirators meet the night before the Ides of March.  Part of Cassius' plan is to ensure that Brutus joins in the conspiracy whole heartedly.

Good Cinna, take this paper,
And look you lay it in the praetor’s chair,
Where Brutus may but find it; and throw this
In at his window; set this up with wax
Upon old Brutus’s statue.

Cassius asks Cinna to take a letter that Cassius has written which Cinna should place in Brutus’s chair in the senate.  In addition, Cinna was to throw another letter in Brutus’s window at home.  He was to use wax to put a letter at Marcus Brutus’s father’s statue [he was also a great senator].
Later, Brutus receives the letter through his window.

The letter states:

Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake and see thyself!
Shall Rome, &c. Speak, strike, redress!

Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake!

The letter also asks if Rome should be ruled by one man.  The letter asks Brutus to speak, strike, and compensate for Caesar’s rule.  

Since the people did not actually write the letters, the indication is that it was possible that some of the Roman citizens could have ill feelings toward Caesar.  Although it seems that most of the Roman adored Caesar, there were some who had supported Pompey who was part of the first triumvirate with Caesar. 

Pompey and Caesar had started a civil war with Caesar victorious and Pompey dead in Egypt.  Later, Caesar had pursued Pompey’s sons in to Spain and defeated and killed them. 

Some of the Roman tribunes and other senators resented Caesar’s rise to power based on the death of Pompey and his sons. 

Cassius and the other conspirators felt that Brutus was necessary to the assassination plan.  He was popular with the Roman citizens and other senators as well. His father had also been a great senator before his death.

The Roman people were rather fickle.  It appears that the people would support whoever is in power. However, in this situation, Cassius’s letters were not real and only sent to make Brutus think that the people of Rome wanted him to strike out against Caesar.

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted April 22, 2013 at 2:58 PM (Answer #2)

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If Cassius has to resort to such a measure, this would suggest that the ordinary citizens of Rome are not really that bothered about Caesar themselves. If they really were concerned about his growing power, they would likely make some move of their own accord; but there is absolutely no evidence of this.

If anything, the people are shown to be cheering Caesar on as he returns to Rome, in the very first scene of the play. However, this does not mean that they really support Caesar either; it seems they just want an occasion for celebration. They are cheering him just as they cheered his enemy, Pompey, in the past. In short, they get behind anyone who affords a fine spectacle, just as later, at Caesar's funeral, they are shown to be susceptible to anyone who delivers a rousing speech. They fall first for Brutus’s impassioned appeal to their patriotism which, he says, necessitated Caesar’s removal, then fall just as easily for Antony’s tears over the slain leader and turn against Brutus.

The people are not shown to have any great concern for politics or politicians in this play, therefore – although the politicians are anxious to act, or to be seen to act, in their name. This is why Cassius forges the letters; he knows that the idealistic Brutus will not be able to resist what he thinks is a genuine appeal from the people.

Brutus does everything for the greater good of Rome, for the ordinary people of Rome. It is just his misfortune that he is not able to impress his political convictions upon them. Indeed, in this play, they seem incapable of absorbing any political opinions at all, or indeed, even of acting rationally - certainly when they are in a crowd. Casca speaks of them in the most contemptuous terms when he describes their reaction to the public offering of a crown to Caesar:

The rabblement hooted, and clapped their chopped hands, and threw up their sweaty night-caps, and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Caesar refused the crown that it had, almost, choked Caesar (I.ii.242-245)

This scathing description of the crowd is from a man who, as one of Caesar’s killers, supposedly is acting on their behalf, for the greater good of Rome. This helps to illustrate the gulf between the ordinary people and the politicians, which not even the idealistic Brutus can bridge.

Sources:

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abwa2013 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted May 4, 2013 at 11:41 AM (Answer #3)

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In Act I, Scene iii, of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, the conspirators meet the night before the Ides of March.  Part of Cassius' plan is to ensure that Brutus joins in the conspiracy whole heartedly.

Good Cinna, take this paper,
And look you lay it in the praetor’s chair,
Where Brutus may but find it; and throw this
In at his window; set this up with wax
Upon old Brutus’s statue.

Cassius asks Cinna to take a letter that Cassius has written which Cinna should place in Brutus’s chair in the senate.  In addition, Cinna was to throw another letter in Brutus’s window at home.  He was to use wax to put a letter at Marcus Brutus’s father’s statue [he was also a great senator].
Later, Brutus receives the letter through his window.

The letter states:

Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake and see thyself!
Shall Rome, &c. Speak, strike, redress!

Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake!

The letter also asks if Rome should be ruled by one man.  The letter asks Brutus to speak, strike, and compensate for Caesar’s rule.  

Since the people did not actually write the letters, the indication is that it was possible that some of the Roman citizens could have ill feelings toward Caesar.  Although it seems that most of the Roman adored Caesar, there were some who had supported Pompey who was part of the first triumvirate with Caesar. 

Pompey and Caesar had started a civil war with Caesar victorious and Pompey dead in Egypt.  Later, Caesar had pursued Pompey’s sons in to Spain and defeated and killed them. 

Some of the Roman tribunes and other senators resented Caesar’s rise to power based on the death of Pompey and his sons. 

Cassius and the other conspirators felt that Brutus was necessary to the assassination plan.  He was popular with the Roman citizens and other senators as well. His father had also been a great senator before his death.

The Roman people were rather fickle.  It appears that the people would support whoever is in power. However, in this situation, Cassius’s letters were not real and only sent to make Brutus think that the people of Rome wanted him to strike out against Caesar.

Thank you!

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abwa2013 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted May 4, 2013 at 11:42 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

If Cassius has to resort to such a measure, this would suggest that the ordinary citizens of Rome are not really that bothered about Caesar themselves. If they really were concerned about his growing power, they would likely make some move of their own accord; but there is absolutely no evidence of this.

If anything, the people are shown to be cheering Caesar on as he returns to Rome, in the very first scene of the play. However, this does not mean that they really support Caesar either; it seems they just want an occasion for celebration. They are cheering him just as they cheered his enemy, Pompey, in the past. In short, they get behind anyone who affords a fine spectacle, just as later, at Caesar's funeral, they are shown to be susceptible to anyone who delivers a rousing speech. They fall first for Brutus’s impassioned appeal to their patriotism which, he says, necessitated Caesar’s removal, then fall just as easily for Antony’s tears over the slain leader and turn against Brutus.

The people are not shown to have any great concern for politics or politicians in this play, therefore – although the politicians are anxious to act, or to be seen to act, in their name. This is why Cassius forges the letters; he knows that the idealistic Brutus will not be able to resist what he thinks is a genuine appeal from the people.

Brutus does everything for the greater good of Rome, for the ordinary people of Rome. It is just his misfortune that he is not able to impress his political convictions upon them. Indeed, in this play, they seem incapable of absorbing any political opinions at all, or indeed, even of acting rationally - certainly when they are in a crowd. Casca speaks of them in the most contemptuous terms when he describes their reaction to the public offering of a crown to Caesar:

The rabblement hooted, and clapped their chopped hands, and threw up their sweaty night-caps, and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Caesar refused the crown that it had, almost, choked Caesar (I.ii.242-245)

This scathing description of the crowd is from a man who, as one of Caesar’s killers, supposedly is acting on their behalf, for the greater good of Rome. This helps to illustrate the gulf between the ordinary people and the politicians, which not even the idealistic Brutus can bridge.

Thank you!

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