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William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar begins with the Feast of the Lupercal in 44 B.C. On this day, Julius Caesar will be offered the crown three times by Marc Antony in the arena. All of the citizens of Rome will attend the celebration. Caesar has already named himself Dictator of Rome for life.
Standing outside of the arena, Cassius sees Brutus. They are friends, and Brutus has not been acting like himself. Cassius goes to Brutus to question what is wrong with him.
Does Cassius trick Brutus? The answer to the question is “no.” There are several reasons for this choice.
Cassius despises Caesar. He believes that Caesar is no better than he is. In addition, Cassius has seen Caesar at his weakest: almost drowning, ill with a fever, and having an epileptic seizure.
Brutus tells the audience that he has no personal grievances against Caesar.
Brutus: It must be by his death, and, for my part, I know no personal cause to spurn at him,
But for the general…
In fact, he has never witnessed Caesar doing anything but in the best interest of the Roman citizens. Caesar trusts and considers Brutus a friend.
After Cassius gives his reasons for wanting Caesar out of the way, Brutus tells him that he will need to think about everything that Cassius has said.
Brutus: What you have said
I will consider; what you have to say
He asks Cassius to come to his house later which is really about a month later, and he will give him his answer. The time element in the play is condensed. Between the time of the Lupercal [February 15] to the Ides of March [March 15], a month as gone by. Through dramatic license, Shakespeare makes it seem as though it is the next day.
Brutus tells the audience that he has spent many sleepless nights trying to decide what to do. Brutus was intelligent, independent, and decisive. He would never rely on someone else’s opinion in order to make such an important decision.
Brutus: Nor construe any further my neglect
Than that poor Brutus with himself at war
Forgets the shows of love to other men.
Brutus was already disturbed about the situation before Cassius said anything to him. That is why he does not go into the arena. He does not want to be a part of the return of Rome of living under the rule of a dictator. It has nothing to do with Caesar; rather, he wants to continue as a republic with the senate being the ruling party.
Cassius may have influenced Brutus. In fact, Brutus does believe that Cassius killed Caesar not only for personal reasons but also for the good of Rome. Brutus was not weak; he made his own decision to join the conspiracy for the good of Rome.
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