What were Brutus's and Cassius's motives for killing Caesar?

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Brutus is motivated by noble intentions in joining the assassination plot against his good friend Julius Caesar. This doesn't make his involvement in murder and treachery any more justifiable, but it's true all the same.

Brutus passionately believes in the Roman Republic and has come to the conclusion that it is under serious threat from Caesar's overweening ambition. Caesar has already turned himself into a dictator. As far as Brutus is concerned, it's just a matter of time before he turns himself into a king, a total repudiation of everything that Rome has stood for since the Etruscan kings were expelled from the Eternal City all those centuries ago. So Brutus becomes embroiled in the plot to murder Caesar, firmly believing that this is the only way to save the Republic.

As for Cassius, his motives are much less noble. Like most of the conspirators, he just wants power. He's not so much concerned with saving the Republic as making sure that it continues to serve the interests of aristocrats like himself. Most Roman aristocrats resent Caesar, seeing him as a traitor to his class in his constant appeals for support to the Roman mob. Cassius is deeply offended by this. He wants to restore what he sees as the natural order of things, where the aristocrats are firmly in charge and the plebs or common people know their place.

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Cassius and Brutus have dramatically different motives for assassinating Julius Caesar. Cassius is motivated to assassinate Caesar in order to advance his political status and authority in Rome. He is selfishly motivated and fears that Caesar will disband the Senate, which would negatively affect him. Cassius is aware that Brutus is an honorable man and formulates a plan to convince him to join the group of conspirators. In contrast, Brutus is led to believe that Caesar poses a threat to Rome's Republic and ambitiously wishes to become Rome's emperor. Brutus initially has reservations about becoming a conspirator and hesitates to join them. In one of Brutus's soliloquies in act one, scene two, he explains his reasoning for assassinating Caesar by comparing him to a "serpent's egg" that will eventually hatch and wreak havoc on Rome. Brutus is motivated to assassinate Caesar in order to protect the Roman population from becoming servants under his tyrannical rule. He does not wish to advance his political status like Cassius and has honorable intentions. Unfortunately, Brutus is gullible and believes that Caesar is an ambitious man who wishes to disband the Senate and tyrannically rule Rome.

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In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, the two conspirators Cassius and Brutus have drastically different reasons for planning to kill Caesar.

Cassius's main reason for planning Caesar's murder is his envy of Caesar's power. Cassius believes that he is just as fit, if not more so, to rule Rome, and his desire to kill Caesar stems from this belief. At one point of the play, Cassius recalls a time during childhood in which Caesar nearly drowned in the river and Cassius saved him. Cassius pays specific attention to the image of Rome's mighty leader drowning amongst the torrents, and he cites bitter anguish at his political power:

And 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.

Brutus's main reason for killing Caesar is his own undying love for Rome. He becomes entirely torn between these two loves but is ultimately convinced by Cassius that Rome is the more important of the two. His reluctance to betray his closest friend is slowly worn away.

Both of these two men die shortly after killing Caesar, as the assassination sets forth an onslaught of violence.

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Cassius appears to envy Julius Caesar, while Brutus is fearful for the Roman Republic. Cassius points out that Caesar has grown too powerful, though he is not more worthy than anyone else: “Brutus and Caesar: what should be in that 'Caesar'? / Why should that name be sounded more than yours?” Cassius condemns Caesar’s weakness as a human, emphasizing that he is nothing more than a man who may aspire to be dictator. Caesar describes Cassius’s ambition and jealousy: “Such men as he be never at heart's ease / Whiles they behold a greater than themselves.”

Brutus, on the other hand, cares about Caesar: “I know no personal cause to spurn at him, / But for the general.” However, he worries about how power will corrupt Caesar and believes it necessary to nip his aspirations in the bud. At Caesar’s funeral, Brutus emphasizes how much he loved and mourns for Caesar: “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” He slew Caesar for his ambition, which he considered a threat to Rome. As far as Brutus is concerned, a monarchy would make them all slaves.

Both Cassius and Brutus worried about Caesar’s growing popularity. Caesar was a proud and strong-willed man, so their fears were very valid. Their conflicting motives result in some irreconcilable contradictions in their coup, which ultimately falls to Mark Antony and Octavius Caesar. Octavius would usher in the Roman Empire, the exact fate Brutus was hoping to avoid.

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