Act IV, Scenes 2 and 3: Summary and Analysis
Pindarus: servant to Cassius taken prisoner in Partheia
Lucilius: officer in Brutus’ army
Messala: officer in Brutus’ army
Titinius: friend of Cassius and Officer in his army
Varro: soldier in Brutus’ army
Claudius: soldier in Brutus’ army
Poet: jester who enters Brutus’ tent
The setting is the camp of Brutus in Sardis, Greece. Brutus and his soldiers are awaiting the arrival of Cassius and his army. When Pindarus, a slave to Cassius, brings his master’s greetings, Brutus indicates his misgivings about the course of events. He confides to Lucilius, one of his officers, that he has regrets about killing Caesar.
As soon as Cassius arrives in camp he begins to quarrel with Brutus. Brutus cautions him that they should not fight in front of the troops they will soon lead into battle, so they move into Brutus’ tent to continue their argument.
Cassius is angry because a friend of his, Lucius Pella, has been punished for taking bribes and Brutus ignored letters that Cassius wrote in the man’s defense. Brutus attacks Cassius for defending Pella, and he attacks Cassius’ own reputation for taking bribes. As their tempers flare, they come to the point of drawing swords. Cassius physically threatens Brutus, who dismisses him as a “slight man,” (Sc. 3, 40) and reminds him that they killed Caesar for the sake of justice and not for personal gain.
Brutus is angry because he sent a request to Cassius for money to pay his troops and Cassius refused. Cassius denies refusing the money, and is so disturbed by what Brutus thinks that he offers him his dagger and tells Brutus to kill him. This calms Brutus and he and Cassius shake hands, reaffirming their friendship. Brutus tells Cassius he is distraught because he learned of his wife’s death in letters from Rome. Depressed by Brutus’ flight, she committed suicide.
Messala and Titinius, officers in their armies, enter with news from Rome, confirming Portia’s death, along with the murder of 70 to 100 Roman senators.
Brutus turns their attention back to “our work alive,” a battle plan to meet the advancing enemy armies. Brutus wants to march to Philippi, while Cassius thinks they should remain where they are and have their enemies come to them. Brutus argues that they are in unfriendly territory, at the peak of their strength, and they must seize the opportunity before they weaken. Once again Cassius gives in to Brutus, and the decision is made to set off for Philippi in the morning.
While reading a book in his tent Brutus begins to doze. In this twilight of consciousness, the ghost of Caesar appears to him. The ghost says he is Brutus’ evil spirit, and that he will see Brutus again at Philippi. Before Brutus awakens fully the ghost is gone. Brutus calls Varro and Claudius, soldiers in his army, and tells them to send word to Cassius to move his troops to Philippi at once.
As Scene 1 showed the corrupting effects of power on Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus, these scenes indicate the breakdown in the relationship between Brutus and Cassius. The passage of time, the unexpected chaos that has developed in Rome, the reaction of the Roman people, and Cassius’ behavior have made Brutus wish “Things done undone.” (Sc. 2, 9) Nothing is what he expected.
His meeting with Cassius in the camp at Sardis is a confrontation over money, but there are deeper issues addressed during their fight in the tent. Cassius is angry because he thinks Brutus wronged him when he disregarded the letters Cassius wrote in defense of Lucius Pella. Brutus, however, thinks that Cassius wronged himself to sanction bribery. He questions Cassius’ honesty and accuses him of taking bribes and selling his favors to the highest bidder. Cassius is infuriated, but Brutus, whose motives are always noble, reminds Cassius that they killed Caesar for justice, not for money.
Cassius warns Brutus not to bait him or he may do something he will be sorry for. Brutus responds,...
(The entire section is 1,156 words.)