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Brutus was widely regarded as noble, honest, and patriotic. By joining in the conspiracy, he made the cause seem honorable and necessary. This gave the conspirators confidence that their assassination of Caesar would not bring reprisals against them. They would not only be able to get rid of Caesar, but they would be able to set up a government to their own liking with Brutus as an exemplary popular senior official. What was true of Brutus was not true of the other conspirators, but they needed him to give them the appearance of dignity and righteousness. As Mark Antony says of Brutus and the other conspirators at the very end of the play:

This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, “This was a man!”

Brutus can be seen instructing and correcting the conspirators in Act 2, Scene 1. If he is going to be the leader, he expects all of them to adhere to his own high principles. For example, when Cassius suggests killing Mark Antony along with Caesar, Brutus shows his idealism:

Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius,
To cut the head off and then hack the limbs
Like wrath in death and envy afterwards;
For Antony is but a limb of Caesar.
Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar,
And in the spirit of men there is no blood.
O, that we then could come by Caesar's spirit,
And not dismember Caesar! But, alas,
Caesar must bleed for it! And, gentle friends,
Let's kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
Let's carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds;
This shall make
Our purpose necessary and not envious,
Which so appearing to the common eyes,
We shall be call'd purgers, not murderers.

Brutus is a poor judge of human character. He believes that Cassius and all the other conspirators are motivated by the same patriotic ideals as himself. This leads him to make many mistakes. Since they are all concerned about what will happen after the assassination, assuming it is successful, they know they need Brutus to represent them and dignify their motives. Cassius is selfish and greedy. He is only concerned about his own interests, but he is continually forced to go along with Brutus for fear that Brutus might have a change of heart at the last minute and refuse to participate in the assassination plot. If that were to happen, the conspirators couldn't be sure that Brutus might not go directly to his friend Julius Caesar and warn him about the plot, naming names and thereby assuring the speedy executions of Cassius and all the other conspirators.

So Brutus motivated the conspirators to act decisively and courageously because they believed his sterling reputation would be a bulwark in the aftermath. But at the same time, his bungling leadership led to Antony's marvelous funeral oration, which started a mutiny and forced the conspirators to flee from Rome. They wanted Brutus because he was such a good man, but his goodness, kindness, generosity, and all his other fine qualities led to ultimate disaster. "Nice guys finish last." Brutus must have had the wrong idea about why they all wanted him for their leader. He thought they valued his learning and wisdom, whereas they really wanted to use him as a figurehead to make their cause seem more worthy than it actually was.

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