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Who is the hero in the play "Julius Caesar"- Brutus or Julius Caesar?

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adhish-knows | Student, Grade 10

Posted June 26, 2009 at 7:14 PM via web

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Who is the hero in the play "Julius Caesar"- Brutus or Julius Caesar?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 27, 2009 at 12:54 AM (Answer #1)

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Yours is a question that has long been debated, and arguments can be made for both characters.  For, Caesar and Brutus of "Julius Caesar" both demonstrate hubris, arrogance as a result of his pride or passion; they both make tragic mistakes, or commit harmartia; and they both die as a result of their tragic mistakes,

However, it would seem that Brutus commits his "act of injustice," hamartia, more closely to definition, having killed Caesar through the conviction that a greater good will be served.  His act is a criminal one and Brutus is responsible for it throughout the play whereas Caesar is gone by the end of Act III. 

Another argument for Brutus as the tragic hero is in the gravity and number of his tragic mistakes. 

  • His first mistake, of course, is believing that Caesar is too ambitious and

It must be by his death...He would be crowned. III,i,10-12)

  • At the same time, Brutus also mistakenly believes that Cassius and the others have the same noble intentions as he.  After the assassination, Brutus does not follow the counsel of Cassius who tells him not to let Marc Antony speak, but Brutus believes that his rational argument of his having "loved Rome more" will sustain the crowd against Antony's rhetoric. This error leads to Antony's swaying of the Roman crowd as well as his becoming a military and political opposing force to Brutus and the other conspirators. 
  • As a result of this grave error,Brutus is responsible for the country's being thrown into civil strife, a condition far worse than Caesar's having been "crowned."
  • In his military endeavors against the triumvirate of Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus, Brutus blunders gravely at the battle of Phillippi.  Again, he does not listen to Cassius and moves too quickly, his final tragic mistake as this error causes his suicide, a death chosen over being dragged through the streets of Rome as the defeated. 
  • And, tragically, the resulting reign of the triumvirate becomes far more tyrannical than that of Caesar.
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impeccable | College Teacher

Posted July 4, 2009 at 3:36 PM (Answer #2)

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This world had been miserably wrong in understanding shakespeare in the past.  The enquirer is advised to forget the names to begin with and concentrate on the main source of conflict and the conflict is between the two ideologies.  one being the love for republicanism and the other for the monarchy.

The Romans have suffered a lot under the reign of Torquin the Proud and have resolved to stick to republic texture of governance.  who raised his voice against possible monarchy first?  who gathered like minded people to join hands and won over Brutus by opening his eyes and spurring him into action?  who is the foremost champion to lead the mission to save republicabism though meekily or stealthily?  is not Cassius?  Is he not the initiator of all that had followed?  what is the definition of the word HERO if this be the deadlock?

You be the better judge.

 

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brandih | eNotes Employee

Posted July 8, 2009 at 4:36 AM (Answer #3)

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