Julius Caesar thought he had the whole of Rome kneeling at his feet, willing to lend him their blood and heart. This proves true for the most part, but what Caesar is unaware of is that the people who he thought would be as “constant as the northern star” would have the itchiest palms and be willing to stab daggers through his heart. Two of the most prominent back-stabbers that murder to fulfil their divine ambition are the noble Marcus Brutus and the devious Cassius.
The core of these two conspirators are the cause of all their contrasts.
Marcus Brutus was perhaps the most steadfast in his morals and beliefs during the play, which was recognized at his death, ‘His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ” This was a man.” ‘ With elements being pure, this statement regarding the life of Brutus implies that he himself was a pure being, unbeknownst to the methods of manipulation working on him and the evil that he was convinced to carry out.
The nature of Brutus was emphatic and selfless; of all the conspirators, he was the only one who murdered Caesar with the safety of Rome as a key goal, as opposed to greed and envy. He was not infected with any green disease, yet his mental war waging within himself did challenge his beliefs. Throughout the play, his moral compass is jerked back and forth as he tries to decide if he should protect Rome or prevent the guilt- a by-product of murder- from eating him alive.
Even though Brutus was experienced in the forces of evil, he somehow succumbed to the power of it. Through Cassius manipulating Brutus’ need to protect Rome, a great injustice was carried out to Brutus, leaving him with much remorse and regret. For years after the death of Caesar, a shadow of guilt followed Brutus everywhere as he realized that maybe killing Caesar wasn’t the right thing to do. With Caesar’s last words being “Et tu, Brute?”, it is shown that even by the godly figure of Caesar, as well as the conspirators, Brutus was always thought of in high regard. Throughout the play, his powerful oratory skills and deeply sensitive, selfless soul were both his greatest strengths and tragic flaws, which led to his demise.
The key similarity between the noble Brutus and the evil Cassius is the cause of their death. Cassius asked Pindarus to stab him in order to relieve him of the avalanching guilt and regret he felt of Caesar’s death, as well as the certain outcome of Mark Antony capturing him, “Now be a freeman: and with this good sword, that ran through Caesar’s bowels, search this bosom.” Brutus does a similar thing two scenes later when he asked Strato to hold his sword out so he could run through it. In addition to the guilt of killing Caesar, Brutus feels the mental battles he has endured in the past years have led to his death. In Act 5, Scene 5, Brutus has lost the momentum to live after the assassination of his friend; and he no longer believes that Caesar’s death could really be justified to keep Rome safe. He has lost certainty in his beliefs and feels drained of all power, “Night hangs upon mine eyes; my bones would rest, that have but labour’d to attain this hour.”
Where I feel empathy towards Brutus, I feel that justice may have really been served to Cassius. Cassius knowingly manipulated and exploited the deep, pure heart of Brutus for his own self-serving goals. Cassius was being eaten alive by envy of the influence and power Caesar had over Rome, and he used any method and reasoning to stab Caesar out of the world. This included sending Brutus forged letters, which the Romans had supposedly written about their love for Caesar. This had the effect of Brutus realizing that perhaps the power Caesar had could be disastrous, an orchestrated move on Cassius’ part. With this statement in mind, “…not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”, Cassius played on Brutus’ weak points to ensure that Caesar’s death was executed to perfection.
Cassius proved himself evil once again by painting himself as a noble friend of Brutus and later turning against him in the upcoming events of the Battle of Phillipi. Through stealing from the poor and carrying out nasty bribes, Cassius gained a greater amount of wealth than Brutus did using his honest ways. When Brutus asked Cassius to lend him some of his wealth to look after his own matters, Cassius refuses, seemingly without too much remorse, “Do not presume too much upon my love; I may do that I shall be sorry for.” Brutus shares his beliefs about earning wealth honestly and questions Cassius on his motives of killing Caesar: was it for justice and the safety of Rome, or for his own personal gain? Despite all this, Cassius is stubborn in his evil ways and refuses to align his moral compass with that of Brutus.
Through comparing and contrasting Brutus and Cassius, a conclusion can be made that Brutus was the kind counterpart to the cruel Cassius. Both conspirators had the same goal in mind, however their motives were on opposite ends of the moral spectrum. Where the compass of Brutus pointed north, Cassius’ pointed south. This pair, when together, were a mighty duo with a basis formed on a combination of admiration, trickery and deceit. This relationship led to the death of both parts, with their own personal justifications for their actions unable to save them from the guilt coursing through their veins.