In Julius Caesar, what are Cassius' feelings toward Caesar? What does he want of Brutus?

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Cassius certainly does not fear expressing his sentiments about Caesar and he does so with particular relish during his conversation with Brutus in Act l, scene ll. He clearly sees Caesar as weak for he describes an incident in which he had to save the general's life when they went swimming. Caesar grew tired and cried out to him for rescue. He resents the fact that Caesar has gained so much power and that he must bend to his authority. He states:

...this man
Is now become a god, and Cassius is
A wretched creature and must bend his body,
If Caesar carelessly but nod on him...

He recalls other incidents as proof of Caesar's frailty, such as the fact that he has epileptic attacks and behaves, in this condition, like a girl and a coward. He expresses outrage that a man as feeble as Caesar should be so glorified and be asked to alone lead the majestic Rome.

Cassius is clearly resentful, bitter and jealous of Caesar. A reason for his ill-feeling might stem from the fact that he knows Caesar neither likes nor trusts him, for he says:

Caesar doth bear me hard; but he loves Brutus:
If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius,
He should not humour me

We learn, at this stage of the play, that Cassius is plotting against Caesar and wants him out of the way. He realizes that Brutus would be a strong ally in his pernicious venture. Because Brutus is so well-loved and admired, his involvement in the scheme would give it credibility. Furthermore, Brutus is much loved by Caesar and is an honorable man. If he agrees to help, they might secure a greater closeness to the general which can only benefit their cause by making a direct attack much more possible.

In order to win Brutus over to join his scheme, Cassius slyly compares the two of them to Caesar. He emphatically states that there is no comparison and that Caesar is weaker than them, by far, so why should they bow to him? He cleverly flatters Brutus by accentuating his good qualities and contrasts these with Caesar's frailties. He uses shrewd rhetoric to play with Brutus' mind. When Brutus expresses fear at Caesar being crowned emperor, he jumps at the opportunity to draw him into his conspiracy.

Cassius' persistence pays off and without undertaking any firm bond, Brutus promises to consider what Cassius has said and states, in part, the following:

...To-morrow, if you please to speak with me,
I will come home to you; or, if you will,
Come home to me, and I will wait for you.

Cassius is, obviously, overjoyed that Brutus has not rejected his appeal outright and he then makes plans to further influence him to join his cause.

Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Cassius is jealous and envious of Caesar.  He sees Caesar as just an ordinary man, like himself.  He tells the story of a time when he rescued Caesar from drowning, which demonstrates, in his own mind, anyway, that he is even Caesar's superior.  Yet, Caesar, not Cassius, is praised by the Roman crowd and offered a crown by Antony.  Cassius, of course, is also ambitious himself, and is interested in personal gain.

Brutus is Caesar's loyal supporter and a preeminent man of power in Rome.  He has both power and influence.  He is politically of higher rank than Cassius.  Cassius needs his approval in order to go ahead with something as grand as the assassination of Caesar.  Cassius needs Brutus's support. 

Ironically, while Cassius needs support from Brutus to go ahead with his plan, he'd have been much better off leading the conspiracy himself, once the assassination was over.  Cassius makes sound decisions, while Brutus causes the civil war and the eventual destruction of the conspirators.    

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Julius Caesar

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