What is the ending to Julius Caesar?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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As is typical of tragedies, death is the ending of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar;  it is death with honor that Cassius and Brutus experience as Romans of dignity who do not allow the enemy to take them alive.  In Act V Scene 3, after Brutus leaves Cassius's army to the mercy of Marc Antony's forces, Cassius realizes that he is overpowered. Yet, he does not trust in Brutus and, fearing the omens he has seen, he entreats his servant Pindarus to guide his sword into him, saying,

O, coward that I am to live so long,

To see my best friend ta'en before my face! (5.3.34-35)

Then, in Scene 5, Brutus, recognizing his defeat, asks his servant Volumnius to hold his sword while he runs upon it.  He tells Volumnius that he will have "glory" on this "losing day" because Octavius and Antony who have caused civil war in Rome already will gain an evil victory--"this vile conquest"--that will cause the downfall of Rome. After Brutus dies, ironically, it is Marc Antony who gives his eulogy. This time he speaks sincerely of Brutus's honor:

This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar....
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, “This was a man!” (5.5.74-81)

Octavius, too, acknowledges the character of Brutus, giving him a proper and respectable burial.


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