Why did Caesar have to die in Julius Caesar?

According to Brutus and the other conspirators, Julius Caesar was a threat to the Republic and had to die because he was ambitious. They believed that Caesar had plans to usurp power and become the emperor of Rome. They were also afraid that Caesar would tyrannize the masses and did not want to give up their political power.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Shakespeare's classic play Julius Caesar, the conspirators feel that it is only a matter of time before Caesar usurps power, disbands the Senate, and becomes emperor of Rome. At the beginning of the play, Cassius and the senators are aware of Caesar's growing popularity and recognize that they will no longer hold political power or influence if he is crowned emperor, which motivates them to begin plotting his assassination. Similarly, Brutus also realizes that Caesar's popularity and authority threaten the Republic and fears that Caesar will tyrannize the population. In act 1, scene 2, Cassius brilliantly encourages Brutus to entertain the possibility of joining the conspirators.

In act 2, scene 1, Brutus struggles with his decision to join the conspirators and participate in Caesar's assassination. Eventually, Brutus convinces himself that Caesar's ambition will motivate him to usurp power and likens him to a "serpent's egg," which will become "mischievous" once it is hatched. Despite several reservations, Brutus joins the conspirators and assassinates Caesar on the Senate floor. Whether or not Caesar deserved to die is a complicated question. While Brutus and the conspirators argue that killing Caesar was necessary to preserve the Republic and protect the population from tyranny, Mark Antony argues that Caesar was a benevolent, gracious leader, who had no intentions of usurping power. Overall, Julius Caesar died because the senators viewed him as a threat to their authority and the stability of the Republic. Brutus also believed that it was necessary to kill Caesar to protect the population from suffering under his potential tyranny.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team