What happens in the short meeting between Brutus and Ligarius in Act II scene I in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act II, Scene I, from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, the conspirators have met at Brutus’s house. Brutus has agreed to become a part of the assassination. Cassius and the other conspirators along with Brutus make the final plans for the plot to be brought to fruition later on this day: the Ides of March.

As the conspirators leave for the Capitol, Metellus Cimber tells Brutus to expect a visit from a sick man who has issues with Caesar.  This man would like to be included in the conspiracy.

Caius Ligarius is introduced into the garden by Lucius.  Ligarius comes in with a kerchief on his head which was a sign that he was sick.  Recently, Caesar had reprimanded Ligarius for speaking well of Pompey, Caesar’s enemy.

Pompey had once been a friend of Caesar and a part of the government with him.  After a falling out between the two, Caesar and his armies chased Pompey to Egypt and defeated him.  The pharaoh of Egypt brought the head of Pompey and gave it to Caesar.  Many people loved and followed Pompey. They resented Caesar rising to power on the head of Pompey. 

Brutus tells Ligarius that he would like to have him become one of the conspirators if only he were well.  Ligarius tells Brutus that he will be healthy if he can take part in this endeavor.  Ligarius takes off his kerchief to indicate that he is well enough to become an assassin.

Ligarius complements Brutus by calling him “Soul of Rome.”

By all the gods that Romans bow before, 
I here discard my sickness! Soul of Rome! 
Brave son, derived from honorable loins!

Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjured up 
My  mortified spirit

Ligarius tells Brutus his inclusion into the conspiracy against Caesar acts like an exorcism to rid him of his illness.  If Brutus asks him to run, he would be inspired to do so. With new vigor, Ligarius asks Brutus what he wants him to do.

Using the art of punning, Brutus states that they will do something that will make sick men whole.  His meaning comes from the idea that the  conspirators are “sick” with the fear of Caesar having too much power.  By assassinating Caesar, these men will become well again.

Ligarius follows by saying that the conspirators will need to make some that are well sick.  He adds that by murdering Caesar, he will be made sick [dead] when was once well.

Brutus tells Ligarius that he will explain everything to him as they walk toward the Capitol where the assassination will occur. With enthusiasm, Ligarius tells Brutus that he will willingly follow him anywhere.

Read the study guide:
Julius Caesar

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