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Julius Caesar was a celebrated general and public figure. His battle victories brought territories, slaves, captives, and money to Rome. His primary opponent, Pompey, was once a member of the government with Caesar. Through greed and ambition, Caesar started a Civil War with Pompey chasing him into north Africa. Pompey was murdered. Eventually, Caesar pursued Pompey’s sons into Spain where he defeated them as well.
There were still many followers of Pompey who despise Caesar for ascending to power from the death of Pompey. Each of the conspirators had his own reasons for wanted Caesar to be assassinated.
In Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Caesar is offered the crown by Marc Antony three times but refuses to take it. Caesar hopes that the Senate will make him emperor of Rome on the Ides of March. Caesar wanted absolute power over Rome.
Three of the primary conspirators give their reasons for taking the life of Julius Caesar.
Act I, Scene ii
Cassius encounters Brutus. Cassius has instigated a plot to assassinate Caesar. Cassius explains to Brutus is reasons for wanting Caesar killed.
Cassius believes that he is equal to Caesar. He tells Brutus that he saved Caesar’s life. Caesar challenged Cassius to jump into the ocean with their armor on and swim to distant point. Half away across Caesar cried out to Cassius to save him. “Help me, Cassius, or I sink!” Cassius pulled Caesar out of the water.
Caesar had a fever fighting in Spain. He also had a seizure. This man who is proclaimed a god shook like a weak woman. His lips were pale and he moaned and groaned.
Cassius feels that he is an equal to Caesar. When has Rome only had one man, who deserved to have all the power to rule.
Cassius fails to understand that Caesar’s real power is not affected by his illnesses, but rather rests in his public persona, whose strength is derived from the goodwill and good opinion of the people.
Act I, Scene ii
Casca is a Roman senator who takes part in Caesar's assassination. His primary worry is that Caesar will be crowned king. To him, this goes against the primary ideals of the Roman Republic. He thought the offering of the crown by Antony was distasteful.
Casca believes that Caesar’s fainting spell and the refusal of the crown are used to gain sympathy from the common people.
Why, there was a crown offered him, and being offered him;
he put it by with back of his hand, thus
And then the people fell a-shouting.
Act II, Scene ii
The reasons for Brutus agreeing to the assassination are completely different than Cassius’s reasons. He sincerely wants the best for the Roman people. His decision is based on possibilities. Brutus determines that Caesar might become too powerful and forget those around him who helped him. He compares Caesar to a poisonous snake. If a person is smart, he will avoid it.
Brutus also compares Caesar to a serpent’s egg. As long as the snake is in the egg, it can hurt nothing. However, when it comes from the shell, it could be deadly. Consequently, kill the snake in the egg and eliminate the possibility of it harming anyone.
Brutus embarks on a journey that will take not only Caesar’s life but the lives of all the assassins. There are still many followers of Pompey who despise Caesar for ascending to power from the death of Pompey. Each of the conspirators had his own reasons for wanted Caesar to be assassinated.
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