Explain the differences in the deaths of Cassius and Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

Expert Answers
carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The last two conspirators die in Act V in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. Cassius was a great general and leader of the conspiracy.  After Brutus became a part of the conspiracy, Cassius succumbed to Brutus’s poor decisions.  He became less decisive and relied on others to do what he should have done himself. 

Brutus persuaded Cassius to march to Philippi to fight against Marc Antony and Octavius. Just as Cassius thought, their armies are tired and are being trounced by the opposition.

Even in his death, Cassius listens to others and ends his life too soon.  He sends Titinius toward the battle scene; Pindarus reports that Titinius is taken prisoner. Actually, it is a victorious encircling of the horseman. 

Thinking that Antony will be nearby and that the battle is lost,  he asks Pindarus to stab him with the sword that Cassius used to kill Caesar.  Pindarus follows the orders of his general.  After Pindarus kills Cassius, he then yells out that he is free and runs away.  Obviously, he did not mind killing Cassius since he was his slave.  Again, Cassius trusts the wrong man.

When Brutus finds that Cassius is dead, he is grief stricken.  Brutus tells the others around Cassius that this was the last of the Romans and that he will grieve for him at a later time. 

 Friends, I owe more tears

To this dead man than you shall see me pay.

I shall find time, Cassius, I shall find time.

Foolishly, Brutus decides to lead another charge rather than wait for his men to rest and recoup their strength.

During the battle, one of the dead soldiers is thought to be Brutus.  It is a ploy.  Brutus tells one of his soldiers that he has seen the ghost of Caesar two times.  He feels that it is his time to die. He asks his friend Volumnius to hold his sword hilt while he runs on it. Volumnius refuses by saying that is no job for a friend.

Antony’s soldiers are coming closer.  Strato was asleep and wakes up in time for Brutus to ask him to hold the sword while he runs on it to commit suicide.

Brutus’s last words convey his belief that the men around him had been loyal to him:

My heart doth joy that yet in all my life

I found no man but he was true to me.

I shall have glory by this losing day,

And Antony and Octavius will find evil.

Strato holds the sword while Brutus runs up on it.

When Antony finds the body of Brutus, he gives him the great compliment of saying that Brutus was the noblest Roman of them all.  He was the only that killed Caesar for what he thought was the good of Rome.  Antony ends by saying “This was a man.”

Cassius was killed by a slave. Brutus killed himself to keep from being dragged back to Rome as a slave and killed in more torturous way. 


Read the study guide:
Julius Caesar

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question