"Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more." Brutus says this as he justifies to the Romans why they assassinated Caesar. Do you agree with Brutus, and how does this support his...

"Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more."

Brutus says this as he justifies to the Romans why they assassinated Caesar. Do you agree with Brutus, and how does this support his position?

Expert Answers
Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brutus makes a sound argument. He was close to Caesar, and he wrestled over the decision to assassinate him. Brutus asserts that he possesses honor, but wisely tells the people at the funeral to “censure me in your wisdom.” He gives them the power to judge his actions. Brutus claims that there were no personal motives in the killing; it was for the good of the citizens and state.

Brutus humanizes himself by expressing emotions for Caesar without standing down: “There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition.” He even challenges the crowd to condemn the killing, suggesting that those who speak against Caesar’s death “would be bondmen” and are not loyal Romans.

However, there is the possibility that Brutus has killed Caesar partly out of latent ambition. He often contradicts and undermines Cassius, unconsciously taking control from others. Cassius also uses flattery to manipulate Brutus into murdering Caesar. Brutus is wary, but Cassius successfully draws him in, referring to Brutus’s “virtue” and “worthiness.” On top of that, Brutus gives his personal reasons for killing Caesar; he does not speak for the cunning Cassius or others with baser motives.

Considering Brutus refuses to kill Marc Antony and even lets him speak at Caesar’s funeral, Brutus’s justification for stabbing Caesar seems sincere. However, Caesar has not actually enslaved Romans or taken the crown, so Brutus has murdered Caesar for a crime he has not yet committed. His reasons are both sensible and dubious, as shown by the crowd’s total support of his statements and their dangerously sudden reversal of judgment.

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Julius Caesar

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