What message do Octavius’s actions suggest about honor and leadership?

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sagetrieb | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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When Octavius and Antony confront Cassius and Brutus in 5.1, Octavius first says that they should talk before they do battle, “not that we love words better,” but because as a leader he will try first not to spill blood out of anger (29). He would prefer that Cassius and Brutus parley and surrender, and when Antony tells him this is unlikely, Octavius holds his course, telling Antony not to try to act before he commands it, very clearly taking command of the situation.  By the end of Act 5, when both Cassius and Brutus die, Octavius gives Brutus respect (as does Antony by now), and in so doing shows himself an honorable leader.  He says about Brutus, “According to his virtue, let us use him/ With all respect and rites of burial” (82-83). As the new leader, Octavius’s final words in the play offer a possibility for order and harmony:  “and let’s away / To part the glories of this happy day” (86-87)

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