Julius Caesar is quite a macho play, with characters constantly examining their actions in light of their relationship to accepted ideas of manly virtue and strength. Rome is an Empire (though it is not yet ruled by an Emperor), militaristically maintained, and the model of the "good soldier" extends to the citizen and politician as well. Although there's lots of violence in the play, it's not only physical strength and fighting ability that constitute manliness: many characters feel compelled to mask any traditionally "weak" emotions, like fear and sadness, as well as their personal desires and, to an extent, free will. Brutus, for instance, feels compelled to give way to the logic that demands Caesar's death, even though he loves Caesar and is repelled by the idea emotionally. Caesar himself must go to the Capitol even though he suspects his approaching murder, because Caesar feels he must be unwavering, and because death "will come when it will come."
The willingness to abandon self-interest, to brave pain and death for the good of Rome, or to avoid dishonor, is essential to gaining respect. This "virtue" is what demands Brutus's initial complicity in the plot, and his eventual suicide. Portia, as well, ashamed of her female identity, stabs herself in the thigh to prove she can be trusted, and eventually kills herself in the most painful way she can imagine. Ironically, it is the least "manly" of the major characters—Antony, who loves art and parties, weeps openly during his eulogy for Caesar, and symbolically appears naked in his first scene—who emerges victorious at the play's end (though his emotional nature will be his undoing in Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare's "sequel" to Julius Caesar).
Manhood and Honor ThemeTracker
Manhood and Honor Quotes in Julius Caesar
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
Soothsayer: Aye, Caesar, but not gone.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.