Cassius leads the conspiracy to assassinate Julius Caesar. In the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Act I, Scene ii, the Roman citizens observe the Feast of the Lupercal, which takes place on February 15. It is 44 B. C., and the Romans are celebrating in the streets of Rome and in the arena where Antony will offer Caesar the king’s crown.
Cassius encounters Brutus outside of the Arena. He expresses concern for Brutus since he behaving as usual. Brutus tells Cassius that it has nothing to do with anyone else; but, Brutus is at “war with himself.”
When they hear the shouts of the crowd, Brutus tells Cassius that he is afraid that they are offering the crown to Caesar. This pleases Cassius because he would like Brutus to join the conspiracy.
Cassius explains his feelings about Caesar.
Cassius begins to tell Brutus why he does not like Caesar:
- Cassius would rather be dead than be a servant to Caesar. He further compares himself to Caesar:
- He is as free as Caesar.
- They have both been raised in the same fashion.
- Cassius is just as sturdy as Caesar is.
Then, Cassius relates an occurrence between Caesar and himself on the Tiber River. Caesar challenges Cassius to swim to a certain point. Cassius jumps in with his soldier’s gear on and tells Caesar to follow him. They both began to swim when Caesar begins to drown. Caesar cries out,” Help me Cassius, or I sink!” So Cassius saves Caesar’s life.
Sarcastically, Cassius cannot believe that now Caesar has become a god…and Cassius who saved his life has to bow to him.
Cassius relates another incident that he experienced with Caesar. Caesar had a fever and along with it a seizure. He shook like a coward with his pale lips. Cassius cannot believe that this man whose had a fit and groaned is worshiped and feared. His speeches are even written down in books.
Cassius mocks Caesar:
Alas, it [Julius Caesar] cried, “Give me some drink, Titinius,” As a sick girl. Ye gods! It doth amaze me A man of such a feeble temper should.
It dismays Cassius that now this weak, pathetic man is to rule the world alone.
Cassius continues his tirade about Caesar.
He compares Caesar to the statue of the Colossus of Rhodes that spanned a harbor. Caesar spans the whole world, and everyone must walk under him and be subservient to him.
In one of the most famous of Shakespearean quotations Cassius tells Brutus:
Men at some are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Romans must take control of their own lives. In other words, the conspirators must kill Caesar.
His next argument compares Brutus to Caesar and states that their names and worthiness are the same. Brutus can sway people with just as strong a spirit as Caesar. When has there been only one man worthy of ruling Rome?
Brutus reacts to Cassius’s arguments.
Brutus listened to everything that Cassius told him. A sensitive thoughtful man who is not quick to make decisions—Brutus tells Cassius that he does not like the way things are going either. He wants to think about these things. He asks Cassius to come to his house later and he will discuss what should be done.
This has been an important meeting, especially for Cassius. Brutus is well liked among the senators and the people as well. On the Ides of March along with Brutus and several other senators will assassinate Julius Caesar.