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“Oh, that we then could come by (influence) Caesar’s spirit/And not dismember...

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heat9rocks | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:22 PM via web

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“Oh, that we then could come by (influence) Caesar’s spirit/And not dismember Caesar! But, alas,/Caesar must bleed for it!” Brutus still has reservations about the murder. Why does he go ahead with the assassination in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare? 

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

Posted April 21, 2013 at 8:58 PM (Answer #1)

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In the tragedy Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Marcus Brutus took nearly a month to make the decision that he should join the conspiracy plot to assassinate Caesar on March 15, 44 B.C. Once he made that decision, Brutus assumed the leadership of the conspirators.

When the assassins arrive at Brutus’s house early in the morning of the Ides of March, the final decisions are made concerning the details of what each conspirator will do.  Cassius suggests that Antony be killed along with Caesar, but Brutus says “No.” Killing Antony would make the conspirators look like butchers rather than representatives of the government.

We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar,
And in the spirit of men there is no blood.

O, that we then could come by Caesar's spirit,
And not dismember Caesar! But, alas,
Caesar must bleed for it! And, gentle friends,
Let's kill him boldly, but not wrathfully…

Brutus in explaining his position addresses Cassius again.  The assassins are going to rise against Caesar.  When he is dead, there will be no more blood…If only they could do all this without bloodshed.  If only they could admonish Caesar with courage but with no anger.

Brutus foolishly believes that the other conspirators are involved for the good of Rome.  Cassius thinks that he has much claim to power as does Caesar.  In addition, he despises Caesar for being a weakling and sickly. All of the others have a personal reason for wanting Caesar dead.  Only, Brutus honestly thinks Caesar could possibly hurt Rome, and therefore he must die. 

It is strange that after Caesar lies dead with over thirty wounds [sounds like butchery to me]; and  that it is Brutus that suggests they bathe in Caesar’s blood up to their elbows and put it all over their knives.  He also wants them take a hair from Caesar’s head as a souvenir of the great man.  This was a gruesome end to an assassination that changed the course of history.  

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