It has been said of Brutus and Cassius that each lacks what is best in the other. Compare and contrast the personalities of the two rebel leaders from Shakepeare's Julius Caesar.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, conspirators abound. Caeasar has enemies everywhere; yet, he has been offered the crown by Marc Antony. Too much power, too much arrogance---Marcus Brutus fears that Caesar will become a true dictator, ruling with an iron fist.

The conspiracy is led by Cassius.  Like Brutus, he is a Roman senator; however, Cassius is not as well liked and trusted as is Brutus.  Brutus and Cassius have a familial connection because Brutus married Portia who is Cassius's sister.

Cassius wants Caesar dead for more personal reasons than does Brutus.  Once Cassius had to save Caesar from drowning, so he believes that Caesar is weak.

Caesar cried, “Help me, Cassius, or I sink!”
I, as Aeneas our great ancestor
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber(120)
Did I the tired Caesar. And this man
Is now become a god

Cassius is a much harder, more cynical man than Brutus. The qualities that Cassius exhibits stand him in good stead to carry out the assassination. He is clever, more experienced, older, and able to see into the hearts of the men around him.  When observing Antony, Cassius sees that he is dangerous; Antony should be put to death as well.  Caesar rankles Cassius because he believes that Caesar is no better than anyone else. Cassius thought himself to be a great soldier just as Caesar was.

One surprisingly quality that Cassius demonstrates throughout the play comes from a subservient feeling toward Brutus. Time and again, Cassius suggests something that probably should have been done, and Brutus vetoes the idea and interjects his own.  Unfortunately for all,  Brutus never makes good decisions. The conspirators suffer from  Cassius not standing up to Brutus and overruling him.

Brutus is a softer, more sensitive man.  He does think about personal gain or jealousies.  Brutus works for Rome.  His decisions are based almost entirely on what would be the best for Rome.  That is why he joins the conspirancy in the first place.  Not to murder Caesar,  but to save Rome from a dictatorship.

Brutus does not see in to men's hearts.  He trusts people.  Cassius knew that Antony was dangerous.  Brutus will not agree:

And for Mark Antony, think not of him,
For he can do no more than Caesar's arm
When Caesar's head is off.

How wrong can a man be!  Of course, Antony is more dangerous than either man understood.  Brutus repeatedly overrides Cassius's decisions which leads to the downfall of the assassins.

Brutus=sensitive, trusting, wise, popular, lover of Rome

Cassius= cyncial, clever, admiring of Brutus, jealous, greedy

This is what makes these men unlikely partners in the greatest assassination plot in literary history.

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Julius Caesar

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