Cassius Quotes from Julius Caesar: Meaning & Analysis

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Cassius is the main force behind the plot to kill Caesar in Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar'. Cassius' many memorable lines reveal the character's methods and motives as he considers a bold plan to assassinate a political opponent.

Lean and Hungry

As Julius Caesar begins, a jubilant crowd greets Julius Caesar as he returns victorious from battle. The Roman citizens clearly idolize Caesar, a fact that concerns Cassius and Brutus. Both Brutus and Cassius are Senators. Brutus fears that the citizens will want to reestablish a monarchy with Caesar at its head. He believes, instead, that the citizens should govern themselves.

Cassius, perhaps, has other reasons for opposing Caesar's ascension to the throne. His voice dripping with venom, Cassius gestures toward Caesar and remarks, 'And this man/Is now become a god, and Cassius is/A wretched creature and must bend his body,/If Caesar carelessly but nod on him.'

Caesar proves that his political instincts are spot on when he confides his suspicions about Cassius to his friend Antony. 'Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look,' Caesar says. He recognizes in Cassius' physical demeanor the kind of cold, yearning ambition that can topple a throne. 'He thinks too much,' Caesar adds, 'such men are dangerous.'

Brutus Joins the Plot

Cassius knows that Brutus is well-respected and getting Brutus to turn against Caesar will lend legitimacy to Cassius' plans. Brutus is torn about what to do. On the one hand, he believes government should reflect the people's will. On the other hand, if the people want Caesar to rule them, then Brutus is reluctant to challenge Caesar.

Cassius tries to convince Brutus that the reason they are both reticent about trying to stop Caesar's rise to power is that they are weak. '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.'

Cassius thinks on the matter and realizes that Brutus will join the plot to overthrow Caesar if he believes it is the will of the people. A plan occurs to Cassius: 'I will this night,/In several hands, in at his windows throw,/As if they came from several citizens,/Writings all tending to the great opinion/That Rome holds of his name.' Cassius will appeal to Brutus' vanity by forging letters that attest to the writers' high regard for Brutus. Cassius' plan works beautifully, and Brutus agrees to join the plot to kill Caesar.

Bloody Plans

Cassius' anger grows when he hears that the Senate intends to name Caesar king the next day. He vows that if such a thing happens, he will commit suicide. 'Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius,' he says.

Cassius blames Caesar's rise to power on the weakness of the people. 'And why should Caesar be a tyrant then?/Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf,/But that he sees the Romans are but sheep:/He were no lion, were not Romans hinds.'

As the conspirators discuss their bloody plan to assassinate Caesar on the next day, Cassius suggests that Caesar's friend Antony should be killed as well. 'Let Antony and Caesar fall together,' he says, but Brutus convinces him that this course will be too bloody for the citizens to accept.

Caesar's Funeral

The conspirators converge on Caesar the next day and stab him to death.

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