Act 1 Scene 3 Cassius says of Caesar, "I know he would not be a wolf/but that he sees the Romans are but sheep." Explain what he means. 

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this scene from The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Casca and Cassius are concerned about Caesar’s rise to power. The conspiracy is still in its early stages, and the conspirators have not yet decided what to do.

In this scene, Cassius says:

I know he would not be a wolf

But that he sees the Romans are but sheep.

He is expressing his contempt for the common people of Rome by calling them sheep. Sheep are generally considered to be unintelligent animals at are easily led. Cassius believes that Caesar has fooled the people into supporting his ambitions to grab dictatorial power. Their support will allow him to assume power and become dangerous, like a wolf. Of course, Cassius is concerned that Caesar will be a danger to him, rather than to the common people who support him.

Notice that in the same monologue Cassius also calls the people “hinds” (dogs), weak straws, trash, rubbish, and offal. This is consistent with the senators’ view of the people throughout the play.

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Julius Caesar

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