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In Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Marcus Brutus is a Roman senator, popular not only with the people but with other senators as well. Cassius talks to Brutus in Act I, Scene ii, in an effort to see why Brutus appears so lost in his thoughts. In addition, Cassius needs to enlist Brutus in the plot to kill Caesar because of the esteem that people hold for Brutus.
Cassius asks Brutus if there something wrong with their friendship since Brutus has been not acting as he usually does. Brutus tells him that he has been lost in his thoughts, but he cannot share those with Cassius at this time.
But let not therefore my good friends be grieved—
Nor construe any further my neglect
Than that poor Brutus with himself at war
Forgets the shows of love to other men.
Brutus is at war with himself. He is concerned for Rome. If Caesar becomes the emperor of Rome, will he gain too much power and be corrupted by that power? This is at the heart of Brutus's worry. Brutus loves Caesar though historically there had been problems between them in an earlier time.
As a man, Brutus is intelligent, sensitive, introspective, and incapable of making good decisions. He chooses to listen to Cassius's talk of treason. Cassius finds that Caesar does not deserve to be in this high place no more than Cassius himself. Brutus does not necessarily agree with Cassius, but promises to think over what he has said.
Brutus knows what Cassius wants from him. Realizing that Cassius needs him to carry out the plot, Brutus holds that he will consider what Cassius wants from him and will give him an answer on the next night.
Brutus had rather be a villager
Than to repute himself a son of Rome
Under these hard conditions as this time
Is like to lay upon us.
Brutus concludes with this startling almost treasonous statement that he would rather not be a Roman than live under the conditions of a dictator's rule. His decision has already been made for him.
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