What do Brutus' last words mean in the play Julius Caesar?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the final scene of the play, Brutus instructs Strato to hold his sword so that he can commit suicide by running into it. Before Brutus runs into his sword, he says,

Farewell, good Strato. Caesar, now be still. I killed not thee with half so good a will. (5.5.55-57)

Brutus is essentially saying that Caesar can rest in peace, and that he did not kill Caesar half as willingly as he killed himself. Towards the beginning of the play, Brutus struggles with his conscience regarding his participation in Caesar's assassination. Cassius had to sway Brutus's opinion of Caesar through clever manipulation and peer pressure. Brutus had always been a supporter of Caesar and gradually came to the realization that Caesar was a potential threat to the Republic. After following through with Caesar's assassination, Antony is able to stir up support from the masses and joins forces with Octavius to challenge Brutus and Cassio. In the final scene of the play, Brutus has come to terms with his fate and expresses that his decision to commit suicide was easier than deciding to participate in Caesar's assassination. Essentially, the decision to take Caesar's life was more difficult for Brutus than deciding to kill himself. 

lsumner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brutus last words indicate that he is still grieving over having had to kill Caesar:

Goodbye, good Strato.

—Now Caesar, be still.
I didn’t kill you with half so good a will.

Brutus is saying that it is easier to run on his own sword than to have had to kill Caesar. Brutus realizes that the enemy has defeated him. Rather than become Antony's prisoner, Brutus would rather die. He runs on his own sword. His last words indicate that he is still upset by having had to kill Caesar. He is stating that he is more willing to kill himself than to kill Caesar. Brutus never wanted anything but peace for all of Rome. He runs on his own sword and finally finds peace. 

When Antony finds Brutus' dead body, he proclaims Brutus as the most honorable of all the conspirators:

This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, except him,
Did that they did out of jealousy of great Caesar;
Only he, in a general-honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man!"

Antony praises him one last time. 

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Julius Caesar

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