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And Then The End Is Known.

Taylor Downs
The comparison of Brutus and Cassius is that of the comparison of

bravery and cowardice. Both characters are vital to Shakespeare’s The

Tragedy of Julius Caesar, and in putting their words and actions alongside

each other, the dissimilarities in their motivation, decisions, and morals are

evident. Including even their suicides, Marcus Brutus reveals bravery in each

of his conquests, while Caius Cassius walks the path of cowardice.

One can prove bravery by their honesty, for one cannot be honest

without also being brave. One of Brutus’ morals is honesty, he would much

rather be straight about what he is doing to everyone than hide behind a

false pretense. This is shown by his unwillingness to make an oath with the

other conspirators, “And what other oath / Than honesty to honesty engaged

/ That this shall be or we will fall for it?” (Act 2, Sc. 1, 137-139) In

comparison, Cassius proves his wish of secrecy and manipulation over the

given honesty on many occasions; one of which his expectancy for the

conspirators to take the oath, “And let us swear our resolution.” (Act 2, Sc. 1,

124) The instance of deciding how to attack the Roman Republic reveals both

Brutus’s and Cassius’s moral values.

Brutus

Well, to our work alive. What do you think

Of marching into Philippi presently?

Cassius

I do not think it good.


Brutus

Your reason?

Cassius This it is:

‘Tis better that the enemy seek us;

So shall he waste his means, weary his soldiers,

Doing himself offense whilst we, lying still,

Are full of rest, defense, and nimbleness. (Act 4, Sc. 3, 224-232)

While Brutus would prefer to straight-out attack the oncoming forces,

Cassius’s idea is to manipulate the army into finding them instead, to

weaken them; and therefore, to give themselves a higher hope of winning

the unavoidable battle.

To hold one’s trust in another’s hands, one’s wellbeing and life, takes

courage. Although it is a major flaw in him, Brutus unconditionally trusts

others; often, laying more confidence in them than they deserve. He expects

every man to act as he would, and this fact alone shows not only idealism,

but nativity. Cassius has a more accurate and clearer grasp on humanity, and

as his expectations are lesser, his trust in man is far lesser as well. The

debate of letting Antony speak to the people exposes Cassius’s realism, as

well as Brutus’s fatal flaw.

Antony That is all I seek;

And aim, moreover, suitor that I may

Produce his body to the marketplace,

And in the pulpit, as becomes a friend,

Speak in the order of his funeral.

Brutus

You shall, Mark Antony


Cassius Brutus, a word with you.

You know not what you do, Do not consent

That Antony speak in his funeral.

Know you how much the people may be moved

By that which he will utter? (Act 3, Sc. 1, 248-259)

Brutus is fixed on believing that Antony believes what they did was the right

thing, that he would put his love for his friend aside for the greater good of

Rome – like he, himself did. The only problem is one that Cassius sees well,

that most do not do what is right, per say, but what their emotions

communicate to their minds; and most would want revenge for those that

brutally murdered their best friend.

Finally, to sacrifice one’s self takes debatably the most, or least,

amount of bravery of all. Both Brutus and Cassius commit suicide nearing the

end of the tragedy, but they do so in very different manners. Cassius did not

have the courage to kill himself, but made his slave Pindarus stab him with

the sword that he had used to killed Caesar, “Now be a freeman, and with

this good sword, / That ran through Caesar’s bowels, search this bosom. /

Stand not to answer. Here, take thou the hilts, / And, when my face is

covered, as ‘tis now, / Guide though the sword. / Caesar, though art

revenged / Even with the sword that killed thee.” (Act 5, Sc. 3, 44-51) Brutus,

on the other hand ran upon his own sword, using his own courage to take his

life, not that of an oath taken by a slave, “I free form the bondage you are in,

Messala. / The conquerors can but make a fire of him, / For Brutus only
overcame himself, / And no man else hath honor by his death.” (Act 5, Sc. 5,

60-63)

Though it would seem as though neither bravery nor cowardice is the

path to take, for both meet their ends in death, both Octavius and Antony

reward Brutus’s courage in the end, remarking upon how Brutus was the

“noblest Roman of them all.” As opposing are bravery and cowardice, are

Marcus Brutus and Caius Cassius.