Who is the sole hero of Julius Caesar?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In several respects, Brutus is the play's only hero. He is developed as one of Shakespeare's tragic heroes (like Macbeth, Hamlet, Lear, and Othello) by fulfilling Shakespeare's conventions for that role. Brutus is an admirable man who falls from great power and is destroyed as the result of a fatal flaw within his own character.

Putting aside these characteristics of the tragic hero, however, Brutus still stands as the play's hero. As Antony points out in the play's conclusion, Brutus acted out of conscience, trying to save freedom in Rome. His motives were honorable, and all his subsequent actions showed his devotion to Rome. He sacrificed his home, his marriage, and his life in doing what he believed was his duty.

Unlike Cassius, once Brutus had an army behind him, he did not abuse his power by profiting from it, making money at the expense of peasants. Unlike Antony, once Brutus had power, he did not cheat (Antony's treatment of Lepidus) or steal from the Roman citizens to enrich himself. (Remember that Antony changed Caesar's will to keep the Roman citizens from the inheritance Caesar had intended for them.)

As for considering Caesar as the play's hero, he is not presented as such in the drama. Caesar had fought bravely in his role as Roman general to protect Rome from enemies and to enlarge its territory, but once he had secured power in Rome, Caesar behaved with arrogance, preserving his power and seeming to seek even more.

Of all the major characters, only Brutus maintained his integrity and acted with courage to achieve what he perceived to be honorable ends.


brandih eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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imrul23 | Student
With due respect,I do not agree with mshurn's answer.It is my personal thought that the character of Brutus has been highlighted a tad more than Shakespeare himself intended.Remember,both historically and in the play,Caesar is by far the more powerful character. Shakespeare would never have gone against the general sentiment by downplaying Julius Caesar. Brutus is a wreck of a man.He makes a barrage of mistakes and causes his own downfall.Brutus lacks the strength of character,the generosity and goodness that has to be present in a Shakespearean hero.It is important to remember that a hero has to influence the turning out of the play and all the characters associated with it.In that regard,it is only Julius Caesar who does that. Even though Julius Caesar dies in the first part of the play,he affects all the characters.Everything centers around him.All the characters are influenced by his 'spirit' for the dead Caesar is more powerful than the living one ever was.Remember Anthony's proclamation? '...Shall with a monarch's voice cry havoc,and let slip the dogs of war...' The important word here is 'MONARCH.'Who referred to himself in the third person,to whom is this post applicable? Caesar and no one else.Therefore it is safe to assume that Caesar's spirit 'begs the utterance' of Anthony's tongue. Caesar promises vengeance and he carries it out. Brutus and Caesar die with Caesar's name on their lips. 'Caesar now be still,I killed not thee with half so good a will..' When his enemies die with his name on their lips,what else can you conclude about his character? mshurn wrongly states in her answer that Caesar craved more power and behaved arrogantly.Arrogance was it when he drank with those he knew were probably conspiring against him? Power hungry was he when he refused the crown THRICE?It is not Caesar but Brutus who craved power,dear.Not Cassius,not Anthony and definitely not Brutus who deserve the accolade of the hero of the play. The following is a copy-paste of an above answer: "Of all the major characters, only Brutus maintained his integrity and acted with courage to achieve what he perceived to be honorable ends." Again I beg to disagree.Brutus did not maintain his integrity.To the untrained eye his apparent patriotism may seem honest,but look closely.This was a man who ruined the very essence of trust and friendship,the foundations of the play itself.Brutus first betrays his mentor Caesar ,then quarrels with Cassius and behaves in a most un-gentlemanly fashion.Moreover , he LIES about hearing of his wife's demise.Integrity is it to lie to your colleagues?If it is,then why deny Cassius and all the other conspirators? Lastly,Caesar is the hero for one very simple reason.He stands out.Read between the lines,EVERY action,EVERY death and EVERY betrayal is a direct consequence of Caesar's death.Caesar INFLUENCES the play where Brutus does not.