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Why does Julius Caesar not trust Cassius?

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marjackson | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted May 20, 2009 at 8:55 AM via web

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Why does Julius Caesar not trust Cassius?

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sagesource | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted May 20, 2009 at 9:39 AM (Answer #1)

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Caesar has noted a restlessness in Cassius that indicates that Cassius becomes easily discontented and jealous when dealing with those who have done better in life than he has. In a long discussion with Mark Antony in Julius Caesar Act I Scene 2, Caesar specifies exactly why he feels Cassius is dangerous. Beginning with the somewhat shallow-sounding observation that Cassius is too lean and "thinks too much," criticisms that make Caesar look silly, he moves into a more substantiative critique:

He reads much,
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men. He loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music;
Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort
As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit
That could be moved to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart's ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
And therefore are they very dangerous.

In short, Caesar claims that Cassius is a jealous and cynical obsessive, who will automatically become restless and hostile when he sees someone who is superior to him. Since earlier in the scene, we have observed Cassius working on Brutus to turn him against Caesar, Caesar's words appear extremely perceptive.

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