In act 1 of Julius Caesar, what does Caesar say about Cassius?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Immediately after Cassius has a private conversation with Brutus, where he attempts to persuade him into joining the conspirators, Caesar and his followers enter the scene. Caesar proceeds to call Antony to his side and tells him that he prefers to have fat, healthy-looking men around him. He then draws Antony's attention to Cassius and says,

"Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous" (Shakespeare, 1.2.195-196).

Caesar's comments reveal that he is an intuitive man, who is relatively cautious and aware of his surroundings. He notices that Cassius has an intense, unsatisfied look on his face, which is both threatening and suspicious. Given the fact that Cassius has just finished venting about Caesar to Brutus and is plotting his assassination, Caesar's words are shockingly accurate and his thoughts regarding Cassius are rational. Unfortunately, Antony tells Caesar not to worry about Cassius and refers to him as a noble, harmless Roman.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Shakespeare uses his first acts to introduce characters and the central conflict of his plays.  In Julius Caesar, Act 1, the audience not only witnesses the tension between former supporters of Pompey and Caesar's minions, but they also meet Cassius who was a Pompey supporter and who holds a personal grudge against Caesar.  In Cassius's conversation with Brutus, he tirelessly advocates assassinating Caesar.  All of this occurs while Caesar celebrates with the people and watches a race.

When the scene switches to Caesar and Antony, Caesar mentions that Cassius has "a lean and hungry look" and that he would rather be surrounded by fat men.  Through Caesar's comments, Shakespeare establishes that neither man trusts the other.  Cassius believes Caesar to be overly ambitious and corrupt. Caesar knows that Cassius is a schemer who is "hungry" for control and who cannot be satisfied.

 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial