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Brutus - A Tragic Hero: The Tale of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

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Brutus: Hero or Villain?

Brutus was very close to his father and looked up to him very much. After his father was assassinated by Pompey, Brutus was adopted by his mother’s relative Caepio(Marcus – Livius,1). In 59 BC a man named Vettius alleged that Brutus and many other men were part of a scheme to kill Pompey(Marcus – Livius,1). This turned out to be a false declaration and there was no conspiracy(Marcus – Livius,1). A popular politician and consul of that year, Julius Caesar who was also an ally of Pompey, did his best to get rid of the accusations of Brutus(Marcus – Livius,1). “Caesar had a good reason for this: he had an affair with Brutus’ mother, and he did not want to bring the young man, whom he had often met at the house of his mistress, into troubles.”(Marcus – Livius,1). Brutus is a hero for many reasons. The first reason is he believed that a dictator/emperor of Rome wouldn’t be good for them and that is was Caesar wanted to do. The second reason that Brutus is a hero is he wasn’t fueled by jealousy of Caesar as the others were, but rather wanting what was best for Rome. Brutus also had much better intentions for Rome than Caesar did.

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The first reason that Brutus is a hero is that believed that a dictator/emperor of Rome wouldn’t be good for them and that is was Caesar wanted to do. “I would not, Cassius. Yet I love him well. But wherefore do you hold me here so long? What is it that you would impart to me? If it be aught toward the general good, Set honor in one eye and death i’ th’ other, And I will look on both indifferently, For let the gods so speed me as I love The name of honor more than I fear death.”(I, 2, 85). Brutus states that he may love Caesar very much, but wants to know why Cassius is keeping him here for so long. He also asks Cassius what he wanted to tell him that was so important. If it’s for the good of all Romans, I’d do it even if it meant my death. Let the gods give me good luck only as long as I love honor more than I fear death. This quote shows that Brutus really cares about the people and will do absolutely anything for them. It expresses Brutus’ love for his city and the people in it. Brutus goes as far as to say that he would die for his people because he loves honor more than he fears death. “It must be by his death: and for my part, I know no personal cause to spurn at him, But for the general.”(II, 1, 10) In the first couple of lines Brutus states that he has no personal reason to strike at Caesar but it is in the best interest of the people. This shows that Brutus only wants what is best for the people of Rome.

The second reason that Brutus is a hero is he wasn’t fueled by jealousy of Caesar as the others were, but rather wanting what was best for Rome. “He would be crown’d: How that might change his nature, there’s the question. It is the bright day that brings forth the adder; And that craves wary walking. Crown him?—that;— And then, I grant, we put a sting in him, That at his will he may do danger with. The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins Remorse from power: and, to speak truth of Caesar, I have not known when his affections sway’d More than his reason. But ’tis a common proof, That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder, Whereto the climber-upward turns his face; But when he once attains the upmost round. He then unto the ladder turns his back, Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees By which he did ascend. So Caesar may. Then, lest he may, prevent. And, since the quarrel Will bear no colour for the thing he is, Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented, Would run to these and these extremities: And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg Which, hatch’d, would, as his kind, grow mischievous, And kill him in the shell.”(II,1,30). Brutus believes that once Caesar is crowned that he will abuse his power and harm Rome rather than make it better. He compares Caesar to a poisonous snake because it isn’t dangerous until it hatches from its egg. Brutus was the last person to stab Caesar because he didn’t think that killing Caesar was their only option.

Brutus also had much better intentions for Rome than Caesar did. “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition. Who is here so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country?”(III,2,10). Brutus is saying that he may have loved Caesar but he loved Rome more and so he did what needed to be done to make sure the city wasn’t destroyed. Brutus didn’t want a dictatorship for his people. Brutus also knew much more about how government works, while Caesar had barely any experience.

Caesar did many things that helped Rome. In the ensuing civil war Caesar defeated the republican forces, Caesar was also very ambitious and successful(BBC,1). Caesar was able to defeat the republican forces and protect his city from any harm. “Caesar was now master of Rome and made himself consul and dictator. He used his power to carry out much-needed reform, relieving debt, enlarging the senate, building the Forum Iulium and revising the calendar. Dictatorship was always regarded a temporary position but in 44 BC, Caesar took it for life.”(BBC,1). Caesar too office for life which shows that he took what he got for granted.

Brutus is a tragic hero. The first reason is he believed that a dictator of Rome wouldn’t be good for them and that is was Caesar wanted. Another reason that Brutus is a hero is he wasn’t fueled by jealousy of Caesar as the others were. He also had much better intentions for Rome than Caesar did.

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