What does Cassius compare Caesar to in Act I, Scene 2, lines 142-145 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Act I, Scene 2 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Cassius begins his campaign against Caesar, pointing to his power and the attitude of others around him, saying "this man is now become a god." For instance, Caesar is handed a crown, but refuses it three times.  He tells the crowd that they can cut his throat if he displeases them, but they all refused to harm him. Then, in lines 145-147 to emphasize the idea that Ceasar thinks of himself as a god, Cassius compares him to Appollo, whose gigantic statue, Colossus, was set at the entrance to the harbo of Rhodes in 280 B.C.:

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world

Like a Colossus, and we petty men

Walk under his huge legs and peep about

To find ourselves dishonorable graves. 1.2.145-147)

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mercut1469 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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In Shakespeare's tragedy Julius Caesar, Cassius is a Roman senator and one of the co-conspirators against Caesar. Cassius and Brutus lead the assassination of Caesar in order to preserve the Roman Republic. In Act I, Scene 2, as Cassius attempts to convince Brutus to join him in the conspiracy, he proclaims that Caesar has become too powerful and thinks of himself as superior to other men such as Cassius and Brutus. Cassius rejects this idea and relates the story of the time when he had to save Caesar from drowning. Despite the evidence that Caesar is just like any other mortal man, Cassius believes Caesar has become arrogant and will eventually wield his power to the detriment of the senate and people of Rome. At one point in his discussion with Brutus he likens Caesar to the Colossus of Rhodes:

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
The Colossus was one of the eight wonders of the ancient world. It was a huge statue of Helios, the Greek titan god of the sun, which straddled the harbor on the island of Rhodes.

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