In Shakespeare's classic play Julius Caesar, Brutus is depicted as a noble, stoic man who struggles with the decision to join the conspirators against Julius Caesar or passively watch as Caesar continues to gain unchecked authority. Caesar's ascent threatens the Republic.
At the beginning of the play, Cassius approaches Brutus and appeals to his honorable nature. Cassius states that Julius Caesar is nothing more than a fallible human who would tyrannize Rome if given the chance. Cassius recognizes that Brutus is a respected, popular individual and needs his support to successfully assassinate Caesar. Brutus is moved by Cassius's words and begins contemplating joining the conspirators.
In act two, scene one, Brutus reveals his conflicted emotions and internal conflict during his soliloquy by stating,
It must be by his [Julius Caesar's] death; and, for my part,
I know no personal cause to spurn at him,
But for the general... T
he abuse of greatness is when it disjoins
Remorse from power, and — to speak truth of Caesar —
I have not known when his affections swayed
More than his reason...
that what he is, augmented,
Would run to these and these extremities;
And therefore think him as a serpent's egg —
Which, hatched, would, as his kind, grow mischievous —
And kill him in the shell.
Brutus's soliloquy reveals that he does not harbor a personal grudge against Caesar and has never witnessed him being moved by irrational emotions. However, Brutus recognizes the corrupting nature of power and likens Caesar to a "serpent's egg." Essentially, Brutus fears that Caesar will be crowned king, giving him license to disband the Senate and tyrannize Rome.
Brutus is caught between his loyalty to Caesar and his love of Rome. Eventually, Cassius successfully manipulates Brutus into joining the conspirators and participating in the assassination. Following Caesar's brutal murder, Brutus addresses the masses and explains his reasoning by saying,
If then that friend demand
Why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer:
Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved