Compare Brutus and Cassius from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. 

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Two of the major characters---Cassius and Brutus--- in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare served as the leaders of the conspiracy to kill Caesar. These two powerful men became comrades in the struggle to survive after they led the assassination to its fruition.  Their diversity spanned the reasons for the assassination to their quarrel over money and power when they meet to combine their armies to fight the triumvirate’s forces.

Cassius was the instigator of the plot.  Serving as an experienced general, Cassius fought with Caesar in the battle against Pompey’s sons.  In addition, he was a powerful senator.  On a personal level, Cassius let his emotions rule his logic in several situations.  Cassius believes that he can manipulate any situation. 

Resentful and jealous of Caesar---Cassius determined to rid Rome and the world of Caesar.  He felt that Caesar’s weakness, sickness, and lust for power necessitate the assassination.  Caesar has been behaving like a god:

Why man he doth bestride the narrow world

Like a Colossus, and we petty men

Walk under his huge legs and peep about…

Cassius knew that Brutus was needed in the conspiracy because of his popularity with the people and the other senators.  Believing that he can manipulate Brutus, Cassius explains his hatred of Caesar and flatters Brutus.  He uses the tactic of falsifying letters to make Brutus believe that the people of Rome want him to do something about Caesar’s lust for power. 

On the other hand, Brutus followed the philosophy of stoicism.  He believed that logic and reasoning must rule over emotions. After Cassius presented his case for the assassination of Caesar, Brutus spent the next month arguing within himself about whether to join the conspiracy.  As a personal friend of Caesar, Brutus had to decide if Caesar was a threat to Rome and its citizens.  More than anything, Brutus served the people of Rome and loved the Republic.

Finally, Brutus made the decision to become a part of the assassination.  His reasons were not personal as were Cassius', but rather for the good of Rome. He then began to assert his authority overruling Cassius in several decisions.  Surprisingly, Cassius did not resent Brutus for usurping his authority.

Brutus established several rules that lead to the downfall of the assassins.

  • Believes that  Marc Antony shoudl live
  • Allows Antony speak at the funeral
  • Trusts Antony to follow the rules
  • Leaves after the Capital after he finishes his own speech

Even when Brutus learns of his beloved wife Portia’s death, he shows little emotion to indicate his devastation.

Read the study guide:
Julius Caesar

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