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Caius Ligarius in Julius Caesar

Instructor: David Boyles

David has a Master's in English literature and is completing a Ph.D. He has taught college English for 6 years.

In William Shakespeare's ''Julius Caesar'', Caius Ligarius is one of the conspirators who participates in the assassination of Caesar. He is at first reluctant to participate in the assassination but is convinced by Brutus. In this lesson, we explore this character and his purpose in the play.

The Reluctant Assassin

Caius Ligarius, often referred to just as Ligarius, is one of the assassins who conspires to kill Caesar in William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. He is often referred to as the reluctant assassin, as he first wavers in his commitment to the assassination plan. But his commitment to the cause is restored by Brutus.

Role in the Play

In Acts I and II of Julius Caesar, the senators Brutus and Cassius try to convince their fellow senators that Julius Caesar must be assassinated before he claims too much power and becomes a dictator. Ligarius is one the senators who takes part in the assassination.

Ligarius has a very small speaking part in the play, consisting of only 15 lines. He appears in Act II, Scene 1, meeting with the other assassins in Brutus' orchard. At the very end of this scene, Lucius brings Ligarius in and tells Brutus Ligarius is having second thoughts, describing him as a 'sick man'.

Ligarius asks Brutus to swear that the assassination is honorable and as soon as he does, Ligarius gets over his 'sickness' and is on board. The scene shows how much respect the honorable Brutus commands among his fellow senators.

Ligarius also appears onstage in Act III, Scene 1 during the assassination of Caesar, but has no lines in this scene.

Key Quotations

Though Ligarius' part is small, he has a few memorable lines. When he is first brought before Brutus and called a 'sick man' by Lucius, Ligarius greets Brutus with this line:

'Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble tongue' (II.i.946).

Ligarius, by describing himself has having a 'feeble tongue', is admitting he is a coward. Continuing the theme introduced by Lucius, he treats his cowardice as a sickness that has overcome him, as opposed to a conscious decision that he has made.

But after he asks Brutus to swear the task before them is honorable, and Brutus does so, he quickly changes his tune:

'By all the gods that Romans bow before,

I here discard my sickness! Soul of Rome!

Brave son, derived from honourable loins!

Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjured up

My mortified spirit. Now bid me run,

And I will strive with things impossible;

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