Julius Caesar

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Marcus Brutus Character Analysis

A high-ranking and well-respected Roman, husband to Portia, and one of Caesar's murderers. An intelligent and self-possessed stoic, Brutus is respected by friend and enemy alike, and even by Caesar as Brutus kills him. Ironically, it is Brutus's admirable qualities—patriotism, reason, self-control—that cause him to participate in Caesar's murder, once these qualities are abused by Cassius. Brutus loves Caesar, but is so opposed to Rome having a king that his reason demands Caesar's death. Brutus's strict moral code also brings about his own undoing, since he refuses to kill Antony, as the more Machiavellian Cassius suggests they should.

Marcus Brutus Quotes in Julius Caesar

The Julius Caesar quotes below are all either spoken by Marcus Brutus or refer to Marcus Brutus. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the The Folger Shakespeare Library edition of Julius Caesar published in 1992.
Act 1, scene 2 Quotes
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Related Characters: Caius Cassius (speaker), Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus
Page Number: 1.2.140-142
Explanation and Analysis:

Talking in private away from the spectacle of "the order of the course," Cassius is carefully convincing Brutus to conspire against Caesar. Displaying skillful use of language, Cassius appeals to Brutus's sense of honor, morality, and love of Rome while belittling Caesar and ironizing his immortality and greatness. In this quote Cassius suggests that he and Brutus are subservient to Caesar not because of fate or any particular excellence in Caesar, but because of their lack of action.

This quote brings up the question of fate and reinforces the ambiguity that comes with attempting to answer it. Cassius does not say definitively that fate is meaningless. Instead he says that "Men at some time are masters of their fates." In this particular case, he argues, reason, action, and free will determine the outcome instead of fate and the stars. Cassius pairs this suggestion with an appeal to Brutus's sense of honor and duty to Rome in order to persuade Brutus to act and join the conspiracy.

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Act 2, scene 1 Quotes
I grant I am a woman; but withal a woman that Lord Brutus took to wife; I grant I am a woman; but withal a women well reputed, Cato's daughter. Think you I am no stronger than my sex, being so father'd, and so husbanded? Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose'em. I have made a strong proof of my constancy, giving myself a voluntary wound here, in the thigh: can I bear that with patience, and not my husband's secrets?
Related Characters: Portia (speaker), Marcus Brutus
Related Symbols: Body, Blood, & Pain
Page Number: 2.1.315-325
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Brutus has decided that Caesar must die, and he and the other conspirators have planned to commit the murder at the Capitol the next morning. Portia (Brutus's wife) notices that her husband has been acting strangely, getting up at all hours of the night and seemingly pacing and musing at random. She sees that he is not physically ill, but rather has some "sick offense within [his] mind." She begs him to open up to her, and to share what is causing him and his many visitors (the other conspirators who have just come and left in the middle of the night) to act so strangely.

Portia tells Brutus that as his wife, she can be trusted with his secrets. In order to prove herself, she gives the men around her as references for her status as a special woman. She concedes the contemporary belief that women are inferior to men, but claims that as the wife to Brutus and daughter to Cato (a famous Roman), she is "stronger than [her] sex." What's more, she stabs herself in the thigh to prove her manliness and her "constancy" (trustworthiness). This self-inflicted wound foreshadows both her suicide and her husband's eventual suicide at the end of the play.

After this display, Brutus consents to share his secrets with her, telling her to go back to bed and that he'll tell her everything soon.

Act 3, scene 1 Quotes
Et tu, Bruté? — Then fall, Caesar!
Related Characters: Julius Caesar (speaker), Marcus Brutus
Related Symbols: Body, Blood, & Pain, Rome
Page Number: 3.1.85
Explanation and Analysis:

The conspirators have surrounded Caesar, each kneeling before him, pretending to plea for the reversal of Publius's banishment. Despite their pleas, Caesar refuses to change his mind, remaining "constant as the Northern Star." Beginning with Casca and ending with Brutus, the conspirators then rise one by one and stab Caesar. Supposedly, Caesar stopped defending himself when he realized that Brutus was in on the plot. Caesar then utters the beginning of this line in Latin, shocked at the betrayal of his dear friend Brutus. The Latin translates to "and you, Brutus?" or "You too, Brutus?" Caesar's final living sentence is the dramatic proclamation of his fall. He dies after speaking this line.

Though Antony will ultimately defend Brutus at the end of the play, this deep betrayal of Caesar is the reason that Dante puts Brutus in the deepest circle of hell in his famous poem Inferno. The conspirators justify the murder by reason and logic, seeing it as political necessity for the public good, but Caesar's last line suggests that he felt it instead as a private betrayal. This "rational" murder is also extremely bloody. After the conspirators stab Caesar in excess, they literally bathe in his blood, smearing it all over their arms and their swords to take ownership of the assassination.

The scene is also extremely meta-theatrical, meaning that it shows awareness of itself as theatre. The quote, Caesar's final line, is dramatized by the use of Latin and the climatic final sentence. While the conspirators are bathing in Caesar's blood, Cassius says "How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over in states unborn and accents yet unknown!" The line calls out attention to the fact that it is being spoken in a scene in a play. At the same time, it also shows how the characters felt during the historical events, reinforcing the idea they lived in the public stage of Rome, and that their actions would be recorded and remembered as history.

Finally, note that even though the play is named for Caesar, he dies at around the halfway point. The remainder of the play must work out tragic deaths for the conspirators.

Act 3, scene 2 Quotes
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest, —
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men, —
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honorable man.
Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus
Related Symbols: Body, Blood, & Pain, Rome
Page Number: 3.2.82-96
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote is excerpted from one of the most famous speeches in Shakespeare. Brutus has already spoken to the public, beginning with "Romans, countrymen, and lovers." Brutus says that he loved and honored Caesar, but killed him because he loved Rome more. The public responds well, even to the point of wanting to crown Brutus. But Brutus makes the crucial mistake of leaving before Antony speaks. Antony, a powerful orator, makes an incredibly skillful speech in which he appeals to emotion, and turns the public against Brutus and the conspirators.

He begins by referring to the public as his friends, stressing immediately his difference from Brutus. Antony then goes on to "bury Caesar," seeming to respect the wishes of the conspirators but actually reminding the public of their love for Caesar while simultaneously casting doubt on "Brutus and the rest." Antony repeats Brutus's name many times, and ironically suggests that Brutus is "honorable." By using his skill with language and making public displays of his private emotions—at one point he pauses in his speech theatrically because he is overcome with emotion and tears—Antony is able to refute Brutus and turn the populace against him, beginning the civil war he predicted in his soliloquy. He carefully reveals Caesar's will and describes the murder with gruesome detail, even displaying Caesar's bloodied body, until the people are so riled up that they begin to riot. All the while, Antony maintains a show of innocence, claiming that he is a bad speaker and doesn't want to cause a commotion.

Act 5, scene 1 Quotes
But this same day
Must end that work the ides of March begun;
And whether we shall meet again I know not.
Therefore our everlasting farewell take:
For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius!
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why, then, this parting was well made.
Related Characters: Marcus Brutus (speaker), Caius Cassius
Related Symbols: Omens
Page Number: 5.1.123-129
Explanation and Analysis:

Brutus has been haunted by the ghost of Caesar, and the opposing armies are about to meet. Brutus and Cassius and Antony and Octavius have exchanged taunts; the battle is about to begin. In private, Cassius says that though he has never before believed in omens, he now believes that the crows circling above are a bad sign. In this line, Brutus is saying his goodbye to Cassius in case they never meet again. Brutus once more evokes the Soothsayer's prophesy and the assassination of Caesar. The two are afraid, fearing bad omens and Fate, but are at peace with one another.  Brutus acknowledges his uncertainty, not knowing how Fate and his own actions will impact the results of the day. This is also their final interaction, as both of them die in the war that follows.

Act 5, scene 5 Quotes
This was the noblest Roman of 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."
Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus
Related Symbols: Body, Blood, & Pain, Rome
Page Number: 5.5.74-81
Explanation and Analysis:

Cassius is dead, and the conspirators' armies are defeated. Believing that he deserves to die, Brutus runs on his sword and commits suicide. He justifies his death saying that it is not to avoid capture, but is rather honorable and a just punishment for his crimes. In the quote, Antony speaks having discovered Brutus's corpse. Antony claims that Brutus was the only conspirator who truly believed he was acting with honor and for the good of Rome, saying that the others only envied Caesar.

While he previously referred to Brutus as honorable ironically, here Antony is being genuine, and Brutus is given an honorable death rite. These lines make a good case that this play can be seen not as the tragedy of Julius Caesar, but rather as the tragedy of Brutus, as his death and failure are in ironic contrast to his virtuous character. Antony praises Brutus, saying that the elements were mixed in him especially well. By elements, Antony refers to the Renaissance belief in bodily "humors"—substances that governed one's temperament and character. His final sentence, attributed to nature, is enigmatic: "This is a man." Brutus is not a great man, or a much beloved one like Caesar, but nor is he described as evil. In the end, Brutus is characterized as simply a man. Recalling his desire to be a dog over a dishonorable Roman, Antony's characterization of Brutus as an honest man leaves Brutus's virtue and philosophy in tact, though his army has fallen and his life over.

Act 4, scene 3 Quotes
Remember March, the ides of March remember:
Did not great Julius bleed for justice' sake?
What villain touch'd his body, that did stab,
And not for justice? What, shall one of us
That struck the foremost man of all this world
But for supporting robbers, shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes,
And sell the mighty space of our large honours
For so much trash as may be grasped thus?
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon,
Than such a Roman.
Related Characters: Marcus Brutus (speaker), Julius Caesar
Related Symbols: Omens, Body, Blood, & Pain, Rome
Page Number: 4.3.19-29
Explanation and Analysis:

The two sides are preparing their armies, Octavius and Antony against Brutus and Cassius. But Cassius and Brutus are losing trust and getting frustrated with each other. In this quote, Brutus and Cassius are speaking in private: Cassius is mad at Brutus for punishing one of their officers for a small offense, and Brutus is accusing Cassius of taking bribes. Here he evokes the prophesy of the ideas of March and the ideals for which they murdered Caesar: justice, honor, and the good of Rome. Brutus claims that they assassinated Caesar for being corrupt, and that it would be extremely hypocritical for them to be corrupt in turn. A man of honor and principles, especially Roman principles, Brutus claims he would rather be a dog than a hypocritical man.

Like Caesar, who died in part because of his unwillingness to change his principles or sacrifice his self image of invulnerability, Brutus begins to hurt himself by sticking so firmly to his principles. His insistence on being honorable and his firm belief that the killing was purely logical and justifiable is the reason that Antony was allowed to live, despite Cassius's objections. Now Antony has turned the people against the conspirators, and Brutus and Cassius are fighting amongst themselves because of Brutus's stubborn honor.

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Related Characters: Marcus Brutus (speaker)
Page Number: 4.3.249-255
Explanation and Analysis:

Brutus and Cassius have both apologized to one another, and Brutus reveals that Portia, afraid that he would lose, committed suicide. Brutus is reminded of her death, but acts unaffected. In this quote, Brutus and Cassius are arguing again, this time about military tactics. Brutus thinks that they should strike now, while Cassius thinks they should allow the enemy to come to them.

Here, Brutus makes an extended metaphor about Fate, comparing it to the tides and a swelling ocean. He suggests that human lives are governed by Fate, and that without good fortune men would live only in misery. Since fate is now in their favor, they need to strike now, before the tide turns on them. He also argues that waiting will allow Antony and Octavius to recruit more troops and grow their armies.

Though he claims that he is unaffected by his wife's suicide, Brutus seems to be changed. Instead of arguing for the idealized, moral side, he is now using pragmatism (Cassius's usual domain). Brutus also now speaks of Fate as if events are predetermined, even though he was previously focused on reason and his own actions as he decided whether or not to kill Caesar. Ironically, though he turns towards Fate and suggests that fortune is on his side, Brutus will ultimately loose the war and commit suicide.

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Marcus Brutus Character Timeline in Julius Caesar

The timeline below shows where the character Marcus Brutus appears in Julius Caesar. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 2
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Caesar enters with Antony, Calpurnia, Portia, Decius, Cicero, Brutus, Cassius, and Casca, followed by a Soothsayer and many Plebeians, and Murellus and Flavius. Caesar... (full context)
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The procession passes, except for Brutus and Cassius, two high-ranking Romans. Brutus has no interest in watching the festivities, and says... (full context)
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Cassius remarks that Brutus has acted strangely lately, and wonders whether they are still friends. Brutus says that he's... (full context)
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Cassius says that Brutus is greatly admired by all of Rome, and that everyone—"except immortal Caesar" (1.2.62)—wishes Brutus knew... (full context)
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They hear cheering, and Brutus says he fears that Caesar is being crowned king. Cassius says that this possibility must... (full context)
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Brutus admits he is against the idea, although he loves Caesar, and asks Cassius to get... (full context)
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...be dead than bow to Caesar, since Caesar is no better than they. He tells Brutus about the time he saved Caesar's life while swimming, and about how Caesar once fell... (full context)
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...cheering. Cassius says that they cannot blame fate for their subservient positions: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings" (1.2.141-2). He... (full context)
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Brutus says he understands what Cassius is getting at, and that it's been troubling him too,... (full context)
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...(1.2.177) were effective, and suggests they ask Casca what they missed, as Caesar's procession returns. Brutus says Caesar looks angry, and the others look like they've been scolded. (full context)
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...Cassius, telling him to speak into his good right ear. The procession exits, leaving Cassius, Brutus, and Casca. (full context)
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Once Caesar is gone, Casca tells Brutus and Cassius that Antony offered Caesar a crown three times, and that Caesar refused it,... (full context)
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Cassius makes arrangements to meet with both Casca and Brutus the next day, and the others exit. Alone, Cassius says that though Brutus is too... (full context)
Act 1, scene 3
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...enters and says the other conspirators are assembled. Cassius gives him letters to plant where Brutus will find them. Casca and Cassius discuss how Brutus is essential to their plan, because... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
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Brutus, unable to sleep, paces in his courtyard. He orders his servant Lucius to light a... (full context)
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Lucius returns and hands Brutus a letter he found. Brutus asks him to go check whether the next day is... (full context)
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...that the next day is indeed the ides of March. There is a knock and Brutus sends Lucius to the door. Alone, he says that he hasn't slept since Cassius brought... (full context)
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Cassius is admitted, with Casca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus, and Trebonius. Cassius whispers with Brutus, and then suggests they all swear an oath to follow through with their plans. Brutus... (full context)
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...them, and Metellus says that Cicero's venerability and known wisdom will make them look better. Brutus says that Cicero is too proud to take part in any plan that was someone... (full context)
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...be killed, Cassius suggests they kill Antony as well, since he may oppose them afterwards. Brutus says that without Caesar, Antony will be harmless, and more likely to kill himself out... (full context)
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...how to persuade him. Metellus suggests that Ligarius should be brought into their confidence, and Brutus says that he'll take care of this. The conspirators part. (full context)
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Brutus's wife Portia enters, and questions him about the visitors and his strange behavior. He makes... (full context)
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There is a knock. Brutus promises to reveal his secrets to Portia, who goes inside. Ligarius enters, and seems to... (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
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Caesar decides to go to the Capitol after all. Cassius, Brutus, Ligarius, Metellus, Casca, Trebonius, and Cinna enter to escort him. Antony enters a moment later,... (full context)
Act 2, scene 4
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At Brutus's house, Portia, nearly hysterical, orders Lucius to run to the Capitol. She wants news of... (full context)
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...he doesn't know anything specific, only fears. The Soothsayer continues on. Portia sends Lucius after Brutus with only a greeting, and then goes inside. (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
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The conspirators stab Caesar—Casca first, Brutus last. Caesar's last words are "Et tu, Bruté?—Then fall Caesar" (3.1.76). The conspirators attempt to... (full context)
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Antony's servant enters with a message. Antony sends word that he will support Brutus if he may safely approach and be given a satisfactory explanation for Caesar's death. Brutus... (full context)
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...they should do it now, as seeing Caesar dead has made him ready to die. Brutus and Cassius tell Antony that they mean him no harm, and that he'll have an... (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
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...assembled Plebeians demand an explanation for Caesar's death. Cassius leads half of them away while Brutus stays to address the others. Brutus explains that he loved and honored Caesar, but loved... (full context)
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Antony has entered with Caesar's body in a coffin. Brutus departs, turning the pulpit over to Antony. The crowd denounces Caesar and continues to laud... (full context)
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Antony regains his composure, and says he has no intention of wronging the honorable Brutus and Cassius, or inciting the mob to riot. He mentions that he's found Caesar's will,... (full context)
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...not wish to incite them to violence, and that he is not as well-spoken as Brutus. (full context)
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...in Rome, and is waiting for Antony with Lepidus at Caesar's house. He adds that Brutus and Cassius have fled Rome. (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
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...too weak to share power, and should be gotten rid of once the struggle with Brutus and Cassius is over. They then discuss raising an army to meet the enemy. (full context)
Act 4, scene 2
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Encamped near Sardis, Brutus, Lucius, Lucillius, and other Soldiers meet Titinius and Pindarus. Brutus talks with them about a... (full context)
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Cassius arrives with his soldiers. He says that Brutus has done him wrong, and Brutus responds that this is impossible, as he is not... (full context)
Act 5, scene 1
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Antony and Octavius wait on the battlefield. Antony says that Brutus and Cassius are only attacking to make themselves look braver than they are. A messenger... (full context)
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Brutus and Cassius speak with Antony and Octavius before the battle. They taunt each other. Brutus... (full context)
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Brutus speaks apart with Lucillius. Cassius tells Messala that, though he never previously believed in omens,... (full context)
Act 5, scene 2
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In the thick of the battle, Brutus sees a weak point in Octavius's lines. He sends Messala to his troops on Cassius's... (full context)
Act 5, scene 3
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Titinius enters with Messala. It turns out the other horsemen were allies bringing news of Brutus's victory over Octavius. Titinius is bearing a wreath of victory from Brutus to Cassius. They... (full context)
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Brutus enters with Messala, Young Cato, Strato, Volumnius, Lucillius, Labio and Flavius. On seeing the bodies,... (full context)
Act 5, scene 4
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During the resumed battle, Brutus passes by with Messala and Flavius, leaving Lucillius and Young Cato on stage. Enemy soldiers... (full context)
Act 5, scene 5
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Brutus and his attendants stop to rest, with Antony's men closing in. Knowing that he is... (full context)
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...and Lucillius and Massala captive. Strato is made a servant to Octavius. Antony says that Brutus was "the noblest Roman of them all" (5.5.67), because he killed Caesar out of genuine... (full context)
Act 4, scene 3
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Cassius is angry that Brutus punished an officer for a small offense, even though he'd written to him asking that... (full context)
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Cassius is insulted, and says that he's an abler soldier than Brutus. Brutus disagrees, saying he is not afraid of Cassius. Cassius says that even Caesar never... (full context)
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Brutus softens, and apologizes. Cassius apologizes too, saying that he inherited his temper from his mother.... (full context)
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...with Lucillius, who is trying to keep him out. The Poet rhymes badly, saying that Brutus and Cassius should not be arguing. Brutus and Cassius mock him and have him sent... (full context)
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When they are alone, Cassius says that Brutus's recent anger was uncharacteristic of him. Brutus tells Cassius that Portia, afraid that Octavius and... (full context)
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...say that Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus have executed many senators. After some hesitation, Messala tells Brutus of Portia's death, thinking he does not know yet. Brutus makes a show of acting... (full context)
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Brutus suggests they march to Philippi to meet the triumvirate's army immediately. Cassius says they should... (full context)
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Brutus orders Lucius to play music and Varrus and Claudio to sleep in his tent, in... (full context)