Julius Caesar Seminar Questions 1. When Caesar says that Cassius thinks too much, I agree. Cassius tends to look into the details and over think simple situations. He becomes very meticulous about how the group of the conspirators is organized. Also, while Cassius is the one who originally comes up with the idea of the conspiracy and that he wants Brutus to be in charge, he thinks through the plan, yet does not want to take responsibility. Cassius just about argues with himself, due to too many thoughts running through his mind. He thinks about so vile a thing as Caesar! But, O grief, where hast thou led me?
I perhaps speak this before a willing bondman. Then I know my answer must be made. But I am armed and dangers to me indifferent,” (1. 3. 11-115), proving that his thoughts are all over the place. 2. Brutus does not want the conspirators to swear an oath of allegiance because he feels that it is bad “to think that or our cause or our performance did need an oath; when every drop of blood that every Roman bears, and nobly bears is guilty,” (2. 1. 136-139). Brutus obviously feels that if their intentions and motivations to carrying out the assassination of Caesar, they do not need an oath.
An oath causes people to get lazy because they begin to lean on the idea that, no matter what happens. 3. Caesar’s response to Calphurnia’s fears adds credence to Brutus’ and Cassius’ fears about Caesar because he does not heed warnings. This response might add to the pattern Caesar might follow when other senators bring up new ideas. This can be very serious for others that want to have somewhat of a say when it comes to their opinion on a serious matter. Calpurnia notes that his “wisdom is consumed in confidence,” (2. 2. 49), showing that Caesar has the idea that what he thinks is what is to happen, without any other opinion. 4.
The significance of Caesar’s “north star” speech at the Capitol is that Caesar establishes his ideals around his role in power. Caesar frames his arrogance and stubborn nature by stating “there is no fellow in the firmament,” (3. 1. 62). In his eyes, he walks on water to all of those that are his supporters and followers. Caesar is overly confident, providing reason to the motivations of the conspirators in their quest to assassinate Caesar. 5. The third plebeian’s cry of “Let him be Caesar,” (3. 2. 52) is ironic because, while the people do not know of the truth being the conspiracy, the goal was to take out Caesar, not replace him.
While their quest seems successful, the true hardships have yet to begin. 6. In the play, Shakespeare portrays the common man as almost incoherent. The people constantly seem to be easily swayed by the words of each and every important character. Also, all of the common people are followers. Not one stands up to the officials. At one moment, they are saying, “This Caesar was a tyrant,” (3. 2. 74) and the next they say that they must “tear him to pieces! He’s a conspirator,” (3. 3. 29), now angered with the retaliation against Caesar. 7. Shakespeare portrays the noblemen in the play as gallant but also cowards.
While they follow through with what they originally decide to believe in, in the end, they are left questioning their motives. While I commend them for following through with their original endeavors, they begin to get rather brutal. An example is when Antony creates a hit list and says that, “these many, then, shall die; their names are pricked,” (4. 1. 1-2). The noblemen want to be noble and honorable, yet they go to such brutal extremes. 8. The idea that Brutus never gives in to Cassius shows a little bit of stubbornness, but it also shows determination. Brutus feels that he knows what is best for the conspirators.
The difference between the ways Brutus is resilient and that of Cassius is how firm Brutus is. He makes his point, but shows its advantages to different members. He shows compassion when he says that “when every drop of blood every Roman bears, and nobly bears, is guilty of a several bastardy if he do break the smallest particle of any promise that hath passed from him,” (2. 1. 134-140). Brutus is saying that an oath would be pointless because if a man were held responsible for every promise he ever broke, the consequences would be endless. 9. Calpurnia and Portia both seem like protective and honorable wives.
Calpurnia is more focused on her husband taking his warnings seriously. She is not focused on the details of everything that happens, but is focused on the main idea that Caesar’s, her husband, life is in danger. Portia, on the other hand, is more focused on what Brutus is doing. She wants to be informed of the action rather than simply protecting her husband from what is happening, whether she as an explanation or not. She is angered that, at the moment, apparently, “within the bond of marriage…it is expected I should know no secrets that appertain to you [Brutus},” (2. 1. 280-282). She feels wronged by this.
Portia is driven by facts and information, while Calpurnia is driven by intuition and her feelings. 10. Cassius tells Brutus that if he himself fears the reign of Caesar, that he, Brutus, must stop it. Cassius provides Brutus with logical and emotional factors for reasons as to why Brutus should lead the conspiracy. Cassius informs Brutus that, “There was a Brutus once that would have brooked th’ eternal devil to keep his state in Rome as easily as a king,” (1. 2. 159-160). Cassius makes the point that Brutus would never let Rome fall by the hands of Caesar. Cassius is basically telling Brutus what to think and what to feel.
While this is cleverly manipulative of Cassius, it shows that Brutus has some mental weakness due to the fact that he is even able to be subject to mind games. 11. Brutus and Cassius are both leaders. While Brutus takes charge and responsibility of the conspiracy, Cassius is the one who took responsibility of persuading Brutus to join in and become the leader. While this shows a manipulative side of Cassius, Brutus has the same. He manages to convince all of the conspirators that an official oath is not necessary, when, in reality, it is often used as a sacred promise to follow through with a plan.
In my mind, a sacred oath would have been somewhat important to the success of the plan, but, as Brutus points out, “what other oath than honesty to honesty engaged that this shall be,” (2. 1. 126-128). In Brutus’ mind, honesty and honor is all that is needed in a group decision to proceed with the assassination of Caesar. Cassius strongly disagrees, but, while both men have conflicting ideas, their core values are quite similar, showing in their agreement to create the conspiracy. 12. Cassius wants to create the conspiracy for more personal reasoning.
Cassius, speaking about Caesar, notes that “this man is now become a god, and Cassius is a wretched creature and must bend his body,” (1. 2. 115-117). From this, one can tell that Cassius is more focused on his personal aspirations to be free of Caesar’s grip on politics. Brutus, on the other hand, is more focused on the well being of the people of Rome. He wants them to have a fair, focused, and just ruler. While Brutus and Cassius’ motives for enabling the conspiracy could not be more different, the men find common ground on which they agree to attempt a successful assassination of Caesar.