Oh, Julius Caesar, Thou Art Mighty Yet: Meaning & Analysis

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

The words Brutus utters as he stands above the body of the dead Cassius show just how ironic, and just how pointless, the death of Julius Caesar really was.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare wrote the tragedy, Julius Caesar, in 1599. This play recounts the assassination of Julius Caesar by Marcus Brutus and other conspirators. This lesson will focus on the quote, 'O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet,' and what it means in the context of Shakespeare's tragedy.

Synopsis

Julius Caesar returns to Rome, triumphant after defeating his enemies in battle. His victory pleases the common people of Rome, but it worries the powerful, especially the senator Cassius. Cassius is concerned that Caesar will become too powerful, so he hatches a plot to kill him. Cassius enlists Brutus, Caesar's good friend, and the two plan.

Brutus isn't initially sure he wants to have any part in the assassination, but he finally agrees to act for the good of his beloved Rome. The conspirators, Cassius and Brutus, ambush Caesar and stab him 33 times, ending his rule.

The Death of Caesar
The Death of Caesar

But Caesar's loyal followers, Antony and Octavius, vow to avenge Caesar's death, so they gather armies. Toward the end of Julius Caesar, the armies are gathered in Philippi, where the battle is about to begin. When it seems the battle has turned against them, Cassius commits suicide.

Brutus continues to fight, but his heart is not in it. The battle is lost, and Brutus, too, kills himself. At the very end, Antony mourns the death of Brutus, who is the only one of the conspirators who acted for the good of Rome.

Act 5, Scene 3

The famous quote, 'O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet,' is uttered by Marcus Brutus as he stands over the dead bodies of Cassius and Titinius, another soldier who was fighting on their side. When the tide of battle turned against them, Cassius ordered his slave, Pindarus, to stab him. Titinius saw the body of Cassius and also committed suicide.

This is the scene Brutus walks in to. He stares at the bodies, then utters the famous line:

'O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet!

Thy spirit walks abroad and turns our swords in our own proper entrails.'

A Bust of Marcus Brutus
A Bust of Marcus Brutus

Then, Brutus mourns the loss of Cassius and Titinius. He says they are the last true Romans, and that the entire world will be poorer for their loss. Brutus knows that he should do more than weep at their loss, but the battle is still raging around them and he needs to go and fight. There will be time later for their funerals.

Importance of 'O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet'

Brutus was initially convinced that Julius Caesar had to die because he was too mighty, too powerful. He would take over Rome and forget that power was meant to be shared. This is Brutus's biggest fear, and Cassius plays off it when he convinces Brutus to kill Caesar, who was his good friend.

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