Compare Brutus and Cassius. How are they the same, and how are they different? Compare and contrast the two characters in Julius Caesar.

In Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius are the same in that they are committed to getting rid of Caesar and saving the Roman Republic. The main difference between them lies in their motivations. Whereas Brutus has a genuine commitment to the Republic, Cassius's involvement in the plot to murder Caesar is largely self-serving.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Brutus and Cassius are leading members of the plot to assassinate Julius Caesar when he attends the Senate on the ides of March. Both are prominent men in Roman public life with a correspondingly high opinion of themselves. As such, they regard themselves as having the right to determine the future direction of Rome, even if it means resorting to murder.

Brutus is passionately committed to the Roman Republic. Like many prominent politicians in Rome, he's genuinely concerned that the Republic is under threat from Caesar's political ambitions. Caesar has already turned himself into a dictator; to the likes of Brutus, it's just a matter of time before he crowns himself king, thus bringing the Republic to an end.

Brutus's motivations for joining the plot to murder Caesar are largely selfless. Caesar may be his friend, and there's no doubt that he loves him, but he loves Rome more. Hence his decision to get involved in the assassination plot. For Brutus, the Roman Republic is bigger than any one individual, be it himself or Caesar.

Cassius's involvement in the plot, however, is entirely self-serving. In becoming embroiled in Caesar's murder, this man with the “lean and hungry look” is simply out for what he can get.

As a member of the patrician class, Cassius deeply resents Caesar's shameless populism, the way he goes out of his way to appeal to the plebs, the ordinary people of Rome. There's also more than a hint of jealousy about Cassius's resentment towards Caesar. Cassius may be able to manipulate people to do his bidding—Brutus being an obvious example—but Caesar has gone one better in manipulating the people of Rome, and Cassius hates him for it.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The most obvious similarity between Brutus and Cassius is the fact that they both want to be rid of Caesar, albeit for different reasons. Furthermore, both are respected senators and have garnered much honor for their bravery. It is obvious that each of the two men deserve their status. Both of them have a following and are much admired by those they lead. 

The main contrast between the two men lies in their different ambitions. Cassius' desires are clearly self-serving, while Brutus cares more about Rome than his aspirations. Caesar himself comments about Cassius having a "lean and hungry look" in Act l:

Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

This metaphor suggests that Cassius is a predator looking to pounce, and Caesar is correct in his assessment of his character. Cassius seeks power, and it is, therefore, easy to assume that he will attack anyone—in this case, Caesar—to achieve his selfish goal. 

When Brutus addresses the citizens after Caesar's murder, he makes the reason for the assassination clear.

Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved
Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and
die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live
all free men?

Furthermore, Cassius is clearly jealous of Caesar and is bitter of the position the general has attained. He consistently reminds Brutus about Caesar's weaknesses and cannot understand why he has to receive such praise and admiration when, as Cassius believes, he is a weakling and a coward. Cassius is resentful of the fact that he and others should bow to the authority of one so feeble and inept. 

Brutus, conversely, has only love for his leader. He states as much in his address to the crowd:

If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of
Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar
was no less than his.

Brutus' only fear is that Caesar might become a tyrant and harm Rome if he should gain too much authority. He is afraid that, as emperor, Caesar would enslave them all. His fear of oppression is the reason he gives for Caesar's assassination.

Cassius, unlike Brutus, is also sly and manipulative. It is easy to see how he manipulates Brutus by consistently commenting on his noble character and his courage. His flattery has a hidden purpose—he wants Brutus to join his scheme. To further this end, he asks Cinna to plant letters urging Brutus to become involved in the conspiracy to rid Rome of Caesar. 

Brutus, unlike Cassius, is quite naive and does not, for example, see any danger in allowing Antony to address the multitude. When he decides to give Antony permission to speak to the citizens, Cassius tells him:

You know not what you do: do not consent
That Antony speak in his funeral:
Know you how much the people may be moved
By that which he will utter?

Brutus, however, ignores his warning and, to their fatal detriment, allows Antony to speak at Caesar's funeral. It is this belief in the virtue of others that also separates the two men. Brutus is somewhat gullible while Cassius is sly, scheming and sees only the worst in others. Brutus is noble and honorable while Cassius is insidious.  

In the end, it is a combination of Cassius' ruthless ambition and Brutus' lack of guile and his innocent belief in the good of others that brings about their destruction.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Cassius is ruthless and manipulative. It is easy for him to manipulate Brutus and some of the others because he is so smart. I do not consider Brutus manipulative. I think he really felt that he was doing the best thing for his country. He did not see it as a betrayal.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

 Brutus and Cassius are both quite ambitious. I would say that is where their similarities stop. Cassius is manipulative and is motivated by his own desires for power. Brutus, however, truly wants what is best for Rome and thinks carefully about any of his actions to be sure that what he is doing is for the good of the Roman people.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

For an in-depth answer, this would be a very good question for the Enotes Q&A section. Briefly, they are alike in their desire to be free of the potential tyranny of Caesar. They differ in how they approach the problem of Caesar. Cassius is willing to resort to any tactics to get what he wants. Brutus always wants to do things in an honorable and noble manner.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team