Julius Caesar

How does Brutus respond to Cassius's attack on Caesar?

Act 1, Scene 2

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Cassius tells Brutus that he has noticed Brutus acting more serious lately. Brutus tells him that he is "with himself at war" (1.2.48) and that Cassius should not worry about it. After a shout and cheering from offstage, Brutus remarks he is afraid the people will crown Caesar king. Cassius is thrilled to hear this, and tells Brutus that they were both born as free men the same way Caesar was. He tells Brutus a story in which he and Caesar were holding a swimming contest across the Tiber river, and Caesar started to drown. Cassius claims that he rescued Caesar and carried him to the shore. He then complains that Caesar has become so powerful that even though he once saved Caesar's life, he must now bow before him.

Cassius then tells Brutus that "Brutus" is just as good a name as "Caesar", and that both names could just as easily rule Rome. He invokes the image of Brutus' ancestor who founded the Roman Republic and expelled the former kings. Brutus, afraid that Caesar will become a king, struggles to decide whether to join Cassius in taking action against Caesar, but ultimately decides against it.