Why Won't Brutus Swear An Oath

Why won’t Brutus swear an oath in act 2, scene 1 of Julius Caesar, and what does this reveal about Brutus?

Expert Answers

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

Brutus has not been eager to join the plot to kill Caesar, and in act 2, scene 2 we see him weighing the pros and cons. While they haven't yet seen him act dictatorial, he may develop a taste for power and become a tyrant. Brutus likens him to an adder still within its egg, and thinks they should "kill him in the shell."

Reading the letter Lucius brings him, he seems unaware that Cassius is manipulating him. The key to his final decision seems to be a line from the letter: "Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe?”

Brutus believes in Rome as a concept. A patriot, he wants what is best for Rome.

When the conspirators arrive, he thinks they should pledge as Romans. Cassius wants them to take an oath. This seems to separate them from the greater good of Rome itself.

Brutus says he is not ambitious but in his conflict with Cassius, he may be reasserting his position to emphasize that he does not follow him or see him as their leader.

Brutus refuses to swear an oath in act 2, scene 1 because he...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 621 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team