Why does Cassius say he was compelled? How and by whom was he being forced against his will to fight the battle? Cassius: Messala, Be thou my witness that, against my will, As Pompey was, am I...

Why does Cassius say he was compelled? How and by whom was he being forced against his will to fight the battle?

Cassius:

Messala, Be thou my witness that, against my will,

As Pompey was, am I compell'd to set

Upon one battle all our liberties.

 

 

Expert Answers
amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cassius is a great politician.  Even Julius Caesar said that the man had a "lean and hungry look" meaning Caesar did not trust this man and his machinations.

In the lines above, Cassius says it's against his will to fight against Caesar (just as Pompey didn't want to go and conquer people in his last battle which brought him much love of the Roman people), but it is not.  He truly does not like Caesar and does not want to see Caesar climb higher than Cassius believes Caesar's station should be.  After all, Rome is a democratic society...not to be ruled by an Emperor with too much power.

Cassius is hoping to conquer Caesar in this battle, to "save" the Roman people, with the other conspirators' help--namely Brutus--and then to weasel his way into power due to the love that would be showered on him because of his heroic and selfless act (as Pompey was). 

It is all a set-up.  It is all part of the great plan.  However, the best laid plans often go awry, and Cassius did not have a back-up plan in place.

 

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Julius Caesar

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