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In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, what is Antony's, Brutus' and Cassius' greatest...

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minibezon | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 14, 2012 at 7:18 AM via web

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In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, what is Antony's, Brutus' and Cassius' greatest strength that is also their greatest weakness. (Vise Versa)

Just to clarify, I'm asking the following:

What is it about Brutus that is his greatest strength and at the same time, his greatest weakness.

The same question for Antony and for Cassius.

And, where is this proven in the book, for each of the characters.

The characterisic does not have to be the same for each character, however the strength for one character must be the weakness for that same character.

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted January 14, 2012 at 10:20 AM (Answer #1)

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I believe Brutus' greatest strength is his love for his country. In Act Three, Scene Two, Brutus explains why he rose up against Caesar:

If there is anyone in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar's, to him I say that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his love. If then that friend demands why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer,—Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.

Truly, Brutus has an amazing devotion to his country. He is willing to put himself at great risk just to protect his country from Caesar's ambition. While this is Brutus' greatest strength, it is also his greatest weakness. He is willing to die for his country, but is his country willing to die for him? In other words, he is willing to risk his life for his countrymen, but are they going to be supportive of Brutus in the end? In the end, his countrymen turn against him. They cause Brutus to have to flee for his very life. While Brutus thought he was doing his countrymen a favor by ridding Rome of Caesar's tyranny, in the end, his countrymen seek to kill Brutus for his virtuous actions.

Cassius' greatest strength is his use of persuasive rhetoric. He convinces Brutus that Caesar has become ambitious and must die for it. No doubt, Cassius is very persuasive. Brutus is persuaded to kill Caesar. This proves to be a dangerous action because the people of Rome turn against Brutus and Cassius. Cassius is gifted at persuasion, but his persuasive voice becomes his weakness when he cannot not persuade Brutus to kill Antony as well as Caesar. Cassius' voice fails him when he cannot persuade Brutus not to allow Antony to speak at Caesar's funeral:

Brutus, a word with you. You don’t know what you’re doing; don’t consent that Antony speak at his funeral. Do you know how much the people may be affected by what he’ll say?

No doubt, Antony was quite clever in asking to speak at Caesar's funeral. He shows his great love for Caesar. Antony's greatest strength is loving Caesar. He is totally devoted to the man. He worships Caesar. For this reason, he is blinded to Caesar's ambition. He does not notice that Caesar is becoming tyrannical. He only sees what he wants to see. He idolizes Caesar. This becomes a weakness when he fails to see that Caesar is becoming a dictator. Through his grief and frustration, he speaks at Caesar's funeral. He convinces his countrymen to turn against Brutus and the conspirators. Antony is power hungry himself. He uses his power to destroy Brutus and the conspirators. In Act Three, Scene Two, during his funeral speech, he proclaims that Caesar was dear to him:

I come to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me.

Moments later, Antony turns the people against Brutus. Antony causes the downfall of a great man--Brutus--by holding on to his strong love for Caesar. Rome loses a just man when Brutus falls on his own sword. Rome could have used a man like Brutus to make Rome an even greater country. Antony admits that Brutus is just and honorable as he looks upon the dead body of Brutus:

This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, except him,
Did that they did out of jealousy of great Caesar;
Only he, in a general-honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man!"

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