What is one major conflict in Act IV in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act IV, Scene iii, Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Cassius brings his army to join with Brutus.  They are being chased by Antony and Octavius and their armies.  This scene takes place in Brutus’s tent in his camp near Sardis. 

The Quarrel and a Major Conflict

Both men are angry with the other.  Cassius begins.  He is upset that Brutus has condemned one of Cassius’s friends because he was accepting bribes.  Cassius had written Brutus not to do it, but his letter was ignored.

Brutus answers by telling Cassius that he was wrong to ask him to forgive this man.  In addition, he accuses Cassius of taking bribes himself and having an “itching palm” [wanting money].

Cassius threatens Brutus.  

Brutus reminds Cassius that Caesar was assassinated for justice.  Each man stabbed Caesar for the good of Rome.  These same men cannot now be robbers and contaminate their hands with bribes. 

Brutus then tells Cassius:

I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon,

Than such a Roman.

Cassius counters by again threatening Brutus that he is an older. wiser soldier. He will not be talked to like this. 

Each man verbally abuses the other.

Brutus tells Cassius that he needs to go show his slaves how angry he is. He needs to make his slaves tremble.  Brutus will laugh at Cassius when acts like this.

Cassius begins to realize that the quarrel has gone too far.  He denies that he said that he was a better soldier than Brutus. He claims to have said just an older one.

Brutus is also angry because he asked Cassius to send him gold to pay his soldiers.  Cassius did not respond to his letters. He tells Cassius that this is not how you treat your brother. 

Cassius denies that he has done this and blames the messenger.  He offers his dagger to Brutus to kill him if he has done this. 

Come Antony, and young Octavius cone,

Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius,

For Cassius is weary of the world:

Hated by one he loves; braved by his brother;

Check’d like a bondman…

Both men cool down and apologize to each other.  Finally, Brutus admits to what else has been bothering him. He has been told that Portia, his wife, has committed suicide by swallowing hot coals. 

The two men shake hands and promise to never argue like this again.

They turn to the more important problem of preparing to meet the armies of the new government.

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Julius Caesar

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