Julius Caesar: Novel Summary: Act 4, Scene 3
Cassius explains that Brutus accused a man named Lucius Pella of taking bribes. Cassius wrote to him, saying that he knew Lucius Pella was innocent. But Brutus just ignored him.
Brutus says it was unnecessary for Cassius to intervene in such a small matter. Then he says that Cassius himself sometimes allows unworthy people to buy offices in his service. Cassius, angered, says that if anyone other than Brutus made such a remark, he would kill him. But Brutus is not intimidated. He says that they killed Caesar in the name of justice. Should one of them now accept bribes?
Cassius warns him to stop, and says he is more experienced than Brutus and therefore able to make management decisions. They fall to quarreling. Brutus tells Cassius he is hot-tempered and should control his anger. But Brutus will not let it disturb him. They quarrel further over whether Cassius said he was a better soldier than Brutus. Cassius says that even Caesar would not have dared to anger him in this way, and Brutus responds by saying Cassius would not have dared to have provoked him to anger.
Brutus then goes to the heart of the matter. He wrote to Cassius, asking for money so he could pay his soldiers, because he could not bring himself to raise it by taxing the peasants. But Cassius refused.
Cassius denies the charge and blames his messenger. He protests that Brutus exaggerates his faults. He gives a despairing speech in which he says he is weary of the world, and he invites Brutus to kill him with his own dagger. This breaks the tension, because Brutus realizes that it is better just to let Cassius be angry when the mood takes him. It is soon over. Brutus confesses that he spoke in anger too. They are reconciled. Brutus promises that if Cassius should be angry with him in the future, he will not take it so seriously.
There is a disturbance outside as a poet urges the two men to be friends. After this, Brutus explains to Cassius that he is weighed down by grief, and that is why he became angry. His wife Portia, distressed by his absence and the strength of Octavius and Antony, committed suicide by swallowing burning coals. Brutus and Cassius drink wine to forget their sorrows.
Titinius and Messala enter and describe the military situation. Octavius and Antony are marching on them with a large army. They have put a hundred senators to death. Brutus has different information, that only seventy senators were killed.
Brutus raises the question of whether they should march to Philippi to meet the opposing army. Cassius says it would be better not to. They should let Antony's army advance, so they get exhausted, while Brutus and Cassius's forces stay fresh. Brutus disagrees. He warns that as the opposing army advances, they may pick up new recruits from the towns they pass through, where Brutus and Cassius are unpopular. But if Brutus and Cassius march on Philippi, they can prevent this happening. He insists that the time is right for them to strike. Their forces are at their strongest. If they wait, their strength may decline, while the enemy's will increase. Cassius accepts Brutus's argument and they part on good terms.
Brutus's servant Lucius plays some music. After Lucius falls asleep, Brutus reads a book. He is startled by the appearance of the ghost of Caesar. The ghost says that he will reappear to Brutus at Philippi. Then he disappears. Brutus awakens his servants, but none of them saw the ghost.
This scene shows the instability of the alliance between Brutus and Cassius. First, their personalities clash. Cassius is hot-tempered, but Brutus, although calmer, becomes tiresome in his insistence on his own honesty and rectitude. Second, the two men rarely agree on strategy. Cassius again makes the mistake of deferring to Brutus's judgment. But the scene also shows Brutus's decency, in his gentle concern for the welfare of his servants. We are also reminded that although Caesar is dead, his ghostly presence still dominates the play.
Julius Caesar Study GuideChoose to Continue
- Julius Caesar
- Act 1, Scene 2
- Act 5, Scene 5
- Act 1, Scene 3
- Act 2, Scene 1
- Act 2, Scene 2
- Act 2, Scene 3
- Act 2, Scene 4
- Act 3, Scene 1
- Act 3, Scene 2
- Act 3, Scene 3
- Act 4, Scene 1
- Act 4, Scene 2
- Act 4, Scene 3
- Act 5, Scene 1
- Act 5, Scene 2
- Act 5, Scene 3
- Act 5, Scene 4
- Character Profiles
- Metaphor Analysis
- Theme Analysis
- Top Ten Quotes
- William Shakespeare