In Julius Caesar, what personal grief does Brutus relate to Cassius, and how does this news affect Cassius?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act IV, scene iii of Julius Caesar, in Brutus's tent, Brutus confides in Cassius: "O Cassius, I am sick of many griefs." Cassius chastens him for not living by his "philosophy," to which Brutus replies that, in deed, he is living by his philosophy, then implies that his grief is heavy before saying, "Portia is dead." Cassius, like a true friend, replies with great shock with an inarticulate outcry followed by the single utterance of Portia's name. Brutus painfully repeats, "She is dead." At Cassius's urging, Brutus goes on to explain how she died.

It was not by "sickness," as Cassius surmises but by swallowing fire, an action that borders on incomprehensiblity. Brutus also confides in Cassius that Portia was "impatient" (worried) about Brutus's absence and in grief that Antony's and Octavius's forces were growing so strong, then, as a result, "fell distracted" and, when left alone, "swallow'd fire." Cassius and Brutus share a bowl of wine in mourning, and Brutus declares he will not speak more of Portia's death, which is why when Portia's death is mentioned later by Messala, Brutus is so stoical in his response.

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Julius Caesar

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