How does Cassius use literary techniques to manipulate Brutus in Act 1, Scene 2?

Expert Answers
mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three important things happen in Act I, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Caesar is warned to "Beware the Ides of March." Antony offers a crown to Caesar three times. Cassius begins to plant the seed of rebellion in Brutus. He does this by using five different literary techniques. First he uses a metaphor. Brutus admits he is at "war" with himself, so Cassius suggests that Brutus use him as a mirror. Cassius says,

And since you know you cannot see yourself
So well as by reflection, I, your glass,
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.
Cassius plays on Brutus's arrogance and inner conflict to tell him that he is much respected by the people of Rome, except for Caesar, and they look to him for leadership.
 
Second, Brutus uses anecdotal evidence and an allusion to point out that Caesar is no better than he or Brutus. He tells the story of the time that Caesar challenged him to swim the Tiber River. Caesar became fatigued before reaching their destination and begged for Cassius to save him. Cassius uses an allusion to Aeneas, the founder of Rome, who carried his father on his back out of the ruins of Troy. Cassius says,
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
Did I the tired Caesar.
Cassius again uses an allusion and a metaphor to show Caesar's tyranny. He compares Caesar to the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of the titan-god of the sun, Helios, which stood over the harbor of the Greek island. Ships passed underneath it:
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
A few lines later Cassius personifies Rome when he refers to the city as female and talks of how only Caesar can walk her streets. He says,
When could they say, till now, that talked of Rome,
That her wide walks encompassed but one man?
Cassius continues to manipulate Brutus by using another allusion. He speaks of another Brutus, Lucius Junius Brutus, who helped rid Rome of its last king and set up a republic in 509 B.C. Finally Cassius uses dramatic irony in his soliloquy after Brutus has exited. He tells the audience that he will forge letters from Roman citizens worried about Caesar's ambitions and throw them through Brutus's window.
Read the study guide:
Julius Caesar

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question