Discuss the arguments Cassius uses in reducing Caesar and in flattering Brutus. What are the arguments, and are they acceptable?
The answer should be found in Act I Scene ii when Cassius discusses Caesar's past with Brutus. Cassius flatters Brutus and "puts down" Caesar in Julius Caesar.
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First, Cassius declares that Caesar in all his glory is actually just as ordinary as Cassius is. Cassius reveals Caesar’s flaws, proclaiming that he had to save Caesar from drowning once. He adds that Caesar was sick with a fever and groaned as any ordinary man would groan.
The point Cassius is making is that Caesar has become too ambitious when he is just as ordinary as the next man is. Cassius fears that Caesar is becoming a tyrant who will Lord himself over others. Cassius is searching Brutus to see what his thoughts are as to Caesar’s ambition of becoming emperor or king. Cassius would not have it so, and, now, he searches to see what Brutus’ thoughts are in reference to Caesar crowning himself king or Lord over others.
Cassius compares Brutus to Caesar and says that the name of Brutus is just as honorable as Caesar’s name:
"Brutus" and "Caesar.” What is in that name, "Caesar?"
Why should that name be sounded any more than yours?
Write them down together; your name is just as good;
Say them out loud; your name sounds just as good;
Think about their importance, yours is just as important;
Cassius is using flattery to seduce Brutus into his way of thinking. Flattery sets a trap, and Cassius would have Brutus join a conspiracy to ensure that Caesar does not in fact crown himself king. Indeed, Cassius lists Brutus' honorable qualities, hoping to convince Brutus to consider being in a position of power rather than Caesar. Cassius is acting as Brutus' mirror, explaining what he sees in Brutus:
It’s a morally upright face.
And it’s very much lamented, Brutus,
That you don’t have any mirrors that will
Let you see your own hidden worthiness,
Any mirrors that you might let you see your shadow.
I have heard that many of the best-respected men in Rome,—
Except immortal Caesar!— speak about Brutus,
And groaning underneath the political burden of this age,
Have wished that noble Brutus could see what they see.
Cassius sees leadership qualities in Brutus. Of course, this would mean that Caesar would have to be stripped of his power. This would involve removing Caesar from power, even if it means death to Caesar.
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