Act IV - Scene III

[Brutus' tent.]

CASSIUS:
That you have wrong'd me doth appear in this:
You have condemn'd and noted Lucius Pella
For taking bribes here of the Sardians,
Wherein my letters, praying on his side,
Because I knew the man, were slighted off.(5)
BRUTUS:
You wrong'd yourself to write in such a case.
CASSIUS:
In such a time as this it is not meet
That every nice offense should bear his comment.
BRUTUS:
Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself
Are much condemn'd to have an itching palm,(10)
To sell and mart your offices for gold
To undeservers.
CASSIUS:
I an itching palm?
You know that you are Brutus that speaks this,
Or, by the gods, this speech were else your last.(15)
BRUTUS:
The name of Cassius honors this corruption,
And chastisement doth therefore hide his head.
CASSIUS:
Chastisement?
BRUTUS:
Remember March, the ides of March remember.
Did not great Julius bleed for justice' sake?(20)
What villain touch'd his body, that did stab,
And not for justice? What, shall one of us,
That struck the foremost man of all this world
But for supporting robbers, shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes(25)
And sell the mighty space of our large honors
For so much trash as may be grasped thus?
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon,
Than such a Roman.
CASSIUS:
Brutus, bait not me,(30)
I'll not endure it. You forget yourself
To hedge me in. I am a soldier, I,
Older in practice, abler than yourself
To make conditions.
BRUTUS:
Go to, you are not, Cassius.(35)
CASSIUS:
I am.
BRUTUS:
I say you are not.
CASSIUS:
Urge me no more, I shall forget myself;
Have mind upon your health, tempt me no farther.
BRUTUS:
Away, slight man!(40)
CASSIUS:
Is't possible?
BRUTUS:
Hear me, for I will speak.
Must I give way and room to your rash choler?
Shall I be frighted when a madman stares?
CASSIUS:
O gods, ye gods! Must I endure all this?(45)
BRUTUS:
All this? Ay, more. Fret till your proud heart break.
Go show your slaves how choleric you are,
And make your bondmen tremble. Must I bouge?
Must I observe you? Must I stand and crouch
Under your testy humor? By the gods,(50)
You shall digest the venom of your spleen,
Though it do split you, for, from this day forth,
I'll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter,
When you are waspish.
CASSIUS:
Is it come to this?(55)
BRUTUS:
You say you are a better soldier:
Let it appear so, make your vaunting true,
And it shall please me well. For mine own part,
I shall be glad to learn of noble men.
CASSIUS:
You wrong me every way, you wrong me, Brutus.(60)
I said, an elder soldier, not a better.
Did I say “better”?
BRUTUS:
If you did, I care not.
CASSIUS:
When Caesar lived, he durst not thus have moved me.
BRUTUS:
Peace, peace! You durst not so have tempted him.(65)
CASSIUS:
I durst not?
BRUTUS:
No.
CASSIUS:
What, durst not tempt him?
BRUTUS:
For your life you durst not.
CASSIUS:
Do not presume too much upon my love;(70)
I may do that I shall be sorry for.
BRUTUS:
You have done that you should be sorry for.
There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats,
For I am arm'd so strong in honesty,
That they pass by me as the idle wind(75)
Which I respect not. I did send to you
For certain sums of gold, which you denied me,
For I can raise no money by vile means.
By heaven, I had rather coin my heart
And drop my blood for drachmas than to wring(80)
From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash
By any indirection. I did send
To you for gold to pay my legions,
Which you denied me. Was that done like Cassius?
Should I have answer'd Caius Cassius so?(85)
When Marcus Brutus grows so covetous
To lock such rascal counters from his friends,
Be ready, gods, with all your thunderbolts,
Dash him to pieces!
CASSIUS:
I denied you not.(90)
BRUTUS:
You did.
CASSIUS:
I did not. He was but a fool
That brought my answer back. Brutus hath rived my heart.
A friend should bear his friend's infirmities,
But Brutus makes mine greater than they are.(95)
BRUTUS:
I do not, till you practise them on me.
CASSIUS:
You love me not.
BRUTUS:
I do not like your faults.
CASSIUS:
A friendly eye could never see such faults.
BRUTUS:
A flatterer's would not, though they do appear(100)
As huge as high Olympus.
CASSIUS:
Come, Antony, and young Octavius, come,
Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius,
For Cassius is aweary of the world:
Hated by one he loves; braved by his brother;(105)
Check'd like a bondman; all his faults observed,
Set in a notebook, learn'd and conn'd by rote,
To cast into my teeth. O, I could weep
My spirit from mine eyes! There is my dagger,
And here my naked breast; within, a heart(110)
Dearer than Pluto's mine, richer than gold.
If that thou best a Roman, take it forth;
I, that denied thee gold, will give my heart.
Strike, as thou didst at Caesar, for I know,
When thou didst hate him worst, thou lovedst him better(115)
Than ever thou lovedst Cassius.
BRUTUS:
Sheathe your dagger.
Be angry when you will, it shall have scope;
Do what you will, dishonor shall be humor.
O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb,(120)
That carries anger as the flint bears fire,
Who, much enforced, shows a hasty spark
And straight is cold again.
CASSIUS:
Hath Cassius lived
To be but mirth and laughter to his Brutus,(125)
When grief and blood ill-temper'd vexeth him?
BRUTUS:
When I spoke that, I was ill-temper'd too.
CASSIUS:
Do you confess so much? Give me your hand.
BRUTUS:
And my heart too.
CASSIUS:
O Brutus!(130)
BRUTUS:
What's the matter?
CASSIUS:
Have not you love enough to bear with me,
When that rash humor which my mother gave me
Makes me forgetful?
BRUTUS:
Yes, Cassius, and from henceforth,(135)
When you are overearnest with your Brutus,
He'll think your mother chides, and leave you so.

Enter a Poet.

POET:
Let me go in to see the generals.
There is some grudge between 'em, 'tis not meet
They be alone.(140)
LUCILIUS:
You shall not come to them.
POET:
Nothing but death shall stay me.
CASSIUS:
How now, what's the matter?
POET:
For shame, you generals! What do you mean?
Love, and be friends, as two such men should be;(145)
For I have seen more years, I'm sure, than ye.
CASSIUS:
Ha, ha! How vilely doth this cynic rhyme!
BRUTUS:
Get you hence, sirrah; saucy fellow, hence!
CASSIUS:
Bear with him, Brutus; 'tis his fashion.
BRUTUS:
I'll know his humor when he knows his time.(150)
What should the wars do with these jigging fools?
Companion, hence!
CASSIUS:
Away, away, be gone!

Exit Poet.

BRUTUS:

[Calling out]

Lucilius and Titinius, bid the commanders
Prepare to lodge their companies tonight.(155)
CASSIUS:
And come yourselves and bring Messala with you Immediately to us.
BRUTUS:

[Calling out]

Lucius, a bowl of wine!
CASSIUS:
I did not think you could have been so angry.
BRUTUS:
O Cassius, I am sick of many griefs.(160)
CASSIUS:
Of your philosophy you make no use,
If you give place to accidental evils.
BRUTUS:
No man bears sorrow better. Portia is dead.
CASSIUS:
Ha? Portia?
BRUTUS:
She is dead.(165)
CASSIUS:
How's caped killing when I cross'd you so?
O insupportable and touching loss!
Upon what sickness?
BRUTUS:
Impatient of my absence,
And grief that young Octavius with Mark Antony(170)
Have made themselves so strong: for with her death
That tidings came: with this she fell distract,
And, her attendants absent, swallow'd fire.
CASSIUS:
And died so?
BRUTUS:
Even so.(175)
CASSIUS:
O ye immortal gods!

Enter [Lucius] with wine, and tapers.

BRUTUS:
Speak no more of her. Give me a bowl of wine.
In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius.

Drinks.

CASSIUS:
My heart is thirsty for that noble pledge.
Fill, Lucius, till the wine o'erswell the cup;(180)
I cannot drink too much of Brutus' love.

[Exit Lucius.]

Enter Titinius and Messala.

BRUTUS:
Come in, Titinius!
Welcome, good Messala.
Now sit we close about this taper here,
And call in question our necessities.(185)
CASSIUS:
Portia, art thou gone?
BRUTUS:
No more, I pray you.
Messala, I have here received letters
That young Octavius and Mark Antony
Come down upon us with a mighty power,(190)
Bending their expedition toward Philippi.
MESSALA:
Myself have letters of the selfsame tenure.
BRUTUS:
With what addition?
MESSALA:
That by proscription and bills of outlawry
Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus(195)
Have put to death an hundred senators.
BRUTUS:
Therein our letters do not well agree;
Mine speak of seventy senators that died
By their proscriptions, Cicero being one.
CASSIUS:
Cicero one!(200)
MESSALA:
Cicero is dead,
And by that order of proscription.
Had you your letters from your wife, my lord?
BRUTUS:
No, Messala.
MESSALA:
Nor nothing in your letters writ of her?(205)
BRUTUS:
Nothing, Messala.
MESSALA:
That, methinks, is strange.
BRUTUS:
Why ask you? Hear you ought of her in yours?
MESSALA:
No, my lord.
BRUTUS:
Now, as you are a Roman, tell me true.(210)
MESSALA:
Then like a Roman bear the truth I tell:
For certain she is dead, and by strange manner.
BRUTUS:
Why, farewell, Portia. We must die, Messala.
With meditating that she must die once
I have the patience to endure it now.(215)
MESSALA:
Even so great men great losses should endure.
CASSIUS:
I have as much of this in art as you,
But yet my nature could not bear it so.
BRUTUS:
Well, to our work alive. What do you think
Of marching to Philippi presently?(220)
CASSIUS:
I do not think it good.
BRUTUS:
Your reason?
CASSIUS:
This it is:
'Tis better that the enemy seek us;
So shall he waste his means, weary his soldiers,(225)
Doing himself offense, whilst we lying still
Are full of rest, defense, and nimbleness.
BRUTUS:
Good reasons must of force give place to better.
The people 'twixt Philippi and this ground
Do stand but in a forced affection,(230)
For they have grudged us contribution.
The enemy, marching along by them,
By them shall make a fuller number up,
Come on refresh'd, new-added, and encouraged;
From which advantage shall we cut him off(235)
If at Philippi we do face him there,
These people at our back.
CASSIUS:
Hear me, good brother.
BRUTUS:
Under your pardon. You must note beside
That we have tried the utmost of our friends,(240)
Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe:
The enemy increaseth every day;
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune;(245)
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.(250)
CASSIUS:
Then, with your will, go on;
We'll along ourselves and meet them at Philippi.
BRUTUS:
The deep of night is crept upon our talk,
And nature must obey necessity,
Which we will niggard with a little rest.(255)
There is no more to say?
CASSIUS:
No more. Good night.
Early tomorrow will we rise and hence.
BRUTUS:
Lucius! Enter Lucius. My gown.

[Exit Lucius.]

Farewell, good Messala;(260)
Good night, Titinius; noble, noble Cassius,
Good night and good repose.
CASSIUS:
O my dear brother!
This was an ill beginning of the night.
Never come such division 'tween our souls!(265)
Let it not, Brutus.

Enter Lucius, with the gown.

BRUTUS:
Every thing is well.
CASSIUS:
Good night, my lord.
BRUTUS:
Good night, good brother.
TITINIUS AND MESSALA:
Good night, Lord Brutus.(270)
BRUTUS:
Farewell, everyone.

Exeunt [all but Brutus.]

Give me the gown. Where is thy instrument?
LUCIUS:
Here in the tent.
BRUTUS:
What, thou speak'st drowsily?
Poor knave, I blame thee not, thou art o'erwatch'd.(275)
Call Claudius and some other of my men,
I'll have them sleep on cushions in my tent.
LUCIUS:
Varro and Claudio!

Enter Varro and Claudio.

VARRO:
Calls my lord?
BRUTUS:
I pray you, sirs, lie in my tent and sleep;(280)
It may be I shall raise you by and by
On business to my brother Cassius.
VARRO:
So please you, we will stand and watch your pleasure.
BRUTUS:
I will not have it so. Lie down, good sirs.
It may be I shall otherwise bethink me.(285)

[Varro and Claudio lie down.]

Look, Lucius, here's the book I sought for so;
I put it in the pocket of my gown.
LUCIUS:
I was sure your lordship did not give it me.
BRUTUS:
Bear with me, good boy, I am much forgetful.
Canst thou hold up thy heavy eyes a while,(290)
And touch thy instrument a strain or two?
LUCIUS:
Ay, my lord, an't please you.
BRUTUS:
It does, my boy.
I trouble thee too much, but thou art willing.
LUCIUS:
It is my duty, sir.(295)
BRUTUS:
I should not urge thy duty past thy might;
I know young bloods look for a time of rest.
LUCIUS:
I have slept, my lord, already.
BRUTUS:
It was well done, and thou shalt sleep again;
I will not hold thee long. If I do live,(300)
I will be good to thee.

Music, and a song.

This is a sleepy tune. O murderous slumber,
Layest thou thy leaden mace upon my boy

[Lucius falls asleep]

That plays thee music? Gentle knave, good night.
I will not do thee so much wrong to wake thee.(305)
If thou dost nod, thou break'st thy instrument;
I'll take it from thee; and, good boy, good night.
Let me see, let me see; is not the leaf turn'd down
Where I left reading? Here it is, I think.

Enter the Ghost of Caesar.

How ill this taper burns! Ha, who comes here?(310)
I think it is the weakness of mine eyes
That shapes this monstrous apparition.
It comes upon me. Art thou any thing?
Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil
That makest my blood cold, and my hair to stare?(315)
Speak to me what thou art.
GHOST:
Thy evil spirit, Brutus.
BRUTUS:
Why comest thou?
GHOST:
To tell thee thou shalt see me at Philippi.
BRUTUS:
Well, then I shall see thee again?(320)
GHOST:
Ay, at Philippi.
BRUTUS:
Why, I will see thee at Philippi then.

[Exit Ghost.]

Now I have taken heart thou vanishest.
Ill spirit, I would hold more talk with thee.
Boy, Lucius! Varro! Claudius! Sirs, awake!(325)
Claudius!
LUCIUS:
The strings, my lord, are false.
BRUTUS:
He thinks he still is at his instrument.
Lucius, awake!
LUCIUS:
My lord?(330)
BRUTUS:
Didst thou dream, Lucius, that thou so criedst out?
LUCIUS:
My lord, I do not know that I did cry.
BRUTUS:
Yes, that thou didst. Didst thou see any thing?
LUCIUS:
Nothing, my lord.
BRUTUS:
Sleep again, Lucius. Sirrah Claudius!(335)

[To Varro.]

Fellow thou, awake!
VARRO:
My lord?
CLAUDIUS:
My lord?
BRUTUS:
Why did you so cry out, sirs, in your sleep?
VARRO AND CLAUDIUS:
Did we, my lord?(340)
BRUTUS:
Ay, saw you any thing?
VARRO:
No, my lord, I saw nothing.
CLAUDIUS:
Nor I, my lord.
BRUTUS:
Go and commend me to my brother Cassius;
Bid him set on his powers betimes before,(345)
And we will follow.
VARRO AND CLAUDIUS:
It shall be done, my lord.

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. This is a strangely gruesome metaphor for sleep, and yet it makes sense in context. Even this rare moment of tenderness—in which Brutus cares for the young Lucius—is troubled by the specter of violence: violence done, and violence yet to come. The soft musicality of these lines, rich with “m” and “l” sounds, is striking as well.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Brutus’s reaction to Portia’s death is difficult to read. The news of her death surfaces amidst the much more extensive interpersonal dispute between Cassius and Brutus. At each subsequent mention of Portia’s death, notice how Brutus swiftly changes the subject. Either Brutus’s grief is shallow or he copes with his grief by denying it.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. While both Brutus and Cassius berate the poet for his sappy message of love and communion, it turns out that Brutus and Cassius finally come together over this shared disgust. Indeed, this instance of irony is the turning point in the scene. Note how the two men patch up their disagreements in the lines to follow.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. “Waspish” means wasp-like, irritable, easily offended, choleric. In this passage Brutus displays a delight in provoking and teasing Cassius, which is surprising given Brutus’s serious nature.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Brutus cites the ancient system of medicine in which the human body was understood to be organized by four balancing “humors”: melancholia, cholera, phlegma, and sanguis. Each humor was associated with an element, a bodily fluid, and a temperament. By accusing Cassius of being choleric, Brutus is calling the man irritable and cranky.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Brutus cites the ancient system of medicine in which the human body was understood to be organized by four balancing “humors”: melancholia, cholera, phlegma, and sanguis. Each humor was associated with an element, a bodily fluid, and a temperament. By accusing Cassius of being choleric, Brutus is calling the man irritable and cranky.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. The irony in this exchange is in the infantile nature of the back and forth between Brutus and Cassius. Their dispute is over which man is older and more able, and yet they argue the point much in the way a pair of schoolboys would.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Brutus uses this metaphor to convince Cassius to attack Octavian before their enemy can recruit more forces. He uses the tide to show a natural ebb and flow in war and highlight the importance of timing. If they "take at the flood," or go with the tide, they will more likely be fortunate. If they wait then they will miss the fortunate tide and be left in the "shallows," or miss their opportunity.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. Brutus accuses Cassius of having an "itching palm," an insatiable, greedy desire for money and power. Brutus accuses Cassius of being too compulsive; he does not think, he simply strives to generate money by any means necessary. While these two conspirators are on the brink of battle with Antony and Octavius, their relationship begins to unravel. Brutus's insult shows that he has begun to mistrust Cassius.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Cassius is cunning. He is deliberately changing the subject of the quarrel from money to friendship. He has taken his cue from what Brutus just said:

    When Marcus Brutus grows so covetous
    To lock such rascal counters from his friends...

    Brutus cannot pretend that he doesn't care a bit about money and still be quarreling with Cassius about money. Brutus shows he feels deeply hurt by being denied the money by a friend. It is not the money but the breach of friendship that hurts and angers him. Cassius jumps on the concept of friendship. He sees they are really still friends and that he can patch things up by focusing on their friendship and avoiding the topic of money. In the end Brutus is more or less forced to drop the question of money, and he probably never gets it, since Cassius would have been sure not to bring it with him. Brutus is essentially soft-hearted and easy to manipulate. We have seen how easily his wife Portia was able to manipulate him into telling her all about his involvement in the conspiracy against Caesar. We have seen how easily Antony was able to manipulate him into letting him give his cataclysmic funeral oration. Brutus is very much influenced by what other people think about him. We have also seen how Cassius was able to manipulate him into becoming leader of the assassination conspiracy by making him think that the Roman people expected that of him. Brutus wants to be loved. He himself confesses in this scene:

    O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb,
    That carries anger as the flint bears fire...

    — William Delaney
  11. This question is never settled. But it does not appear that Brutus gets any of the gold he asked for. This could have serious implications, since it would affect the morale of Brutus's soldiers. We can sense that Cassius was never overly generous with his own soldiers. Both Brutus and Cassius are having trouble raising money. The outcome of the battle at Philippi may have been affected by the fact that the soldiers on their side were discontented. 

    — William Delaney
  12. Brutus calls money "trash." He can think of it as trash because money that has passed through many hands is dirty. We can never know where the money in our possession might have come from. It could have been been involved in robberies, murders, prostitution, drugs, or other crimes. A bit later Brutus refers to coins as "rascal counters." He is quite sincere. In Othello, Iago also calls money trash, but he loves money and is being totally insincere. He doesn't care where it comes from or what he has to do to get it. In Act 3, Scene 3, Iago tells Othello:

    Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
    'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him
    And makes me poor indeed.

    Both Brutus and Iago are saying virtually the same thing, that one's honor and reputation are more important than money: yet Brutus really believes it and Iago is only pretending to be an honorable man. 

    It is interesting that Shakespeare, through Iago, calls money "something, nothing." Money is intrinsically worthless. It is either paper or pieces of metal. It is only valuable if someone else will accept it in exchange for something of real value.

    In the Matthew 6 in the New Testament, Jesus tells the multitude in his Sermon on the Mount:

    Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

    And in the same speech he says:

    Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.

    * *

     

     

    — William Delaney
  13. This is totally insincere. Cassius is a cold-hearted, selfish man who only thinks about what is good for himself. He doesn't care at all about Portia but is wondering if he expressed enough of his fake compassion before. He ventures on bringing the subject up again, but Brutus doesn't want to talk about his dead wife, whom he sincerely loved. Brutus may sense that Cassius is not the right person with whom to share his grief. Cassius is probably mainly wondering whether the death of Brutus' wife will have any indirect effect upon himself. For example, if Brutus were to decide to commit suicide too, then Cassius would have to confront Antony and Octavius alone.

    — William Delaney
  14. Cassius is threatening to kill Brutus for insulting him with suggesting "chastisement," but Brutus is also threatening to kill Cassius when he tells him to remember the ides of March. Cassius would, of course, remember seeing Caesar being assassinated, but Brutus evidently expects him to remember that the conspirators were led by Brutus and would not have acted if Brutus had not agreed to be their leader and spokesman, perhaps also the head of their new government. Brutus has the stronger hand. If Cassius tries to kill him he will have to act alone, whereas if Brutus wants Cassius killed he can have it done by the same group of men who killed Caesar. Brutus is well liked. Cassius is not liked, as he well knows. Otherwise he would not have needed to enlist Brutus in the cause he was fomenting. He knew that lots of important people would follow Brutus but few would follow him. He could only recruit new members to the conspiracy by telling them that Brutus was involved. Cassius has, as Plutarch said, an unpleasant personality, a violent temper, and a selfish character. Caesar describes him to Mark Antony in unflattering terms early in the play.

    He is a great observer, and he looks
    Quite through the deeds of men. He loves no plays,
    As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music;(210)
    Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort
    As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit
    That could be moved to smile at any thing.
    Such men as he be never at heart's ease
    Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,(215)
    *And therefore are they very dangerous.   Act 1, Scene 2

    — William Delaney
  15. Cassius is getting sick and tired of Brutus' nearly insufferable "honor" and "nobility," which Cassius must consider his partner's holier-than-thou attitude. He needed Brutus to justify the assassination of Caesar and to make it seem altruistic and patriotic. But now he is stuck with a partner who thinks the dirty work of war can be conducted with honor and rectitude. Cassius knows it takes money to pay soldiers and procure all the military necessities, and he knows that people are not going to give up their money without intimidation and force or else receiving quid pro quo in tangible forms such as public offices.

    — William Delaney
  16. The word "yoked" is especially appropriate to the relationship between Brutus and Cassius. Both know that though they may quarrel, they are tightly bound together out of sheer necessity. Unless they stick together they are bound to be defeated by Antony and Octavius. A yoke is a solid, heavy device that holds two animals, especially oxen, together and forces them to move virtually in lockstep. Cassius was furious when Brutus was berating and insulting him, but he knew that he had to bear with the verbal abuse because he depended on Brutus for military support as well as to provide justification for their cause. Brutus had to put up with Cassius' faults because he also needed military support and also because it appears that Cassius was raising most of the money to pay Brutus' soldiers.

    When the two men first meet before Brutus' tent, Brutus says:

    Cassius, be content.
    Speak your griefs softly. I do know you well.
    Before the eyes of both our armies here,
    Which should perceive nothing but love from us,
    Let us not wrangle. Bid them move away.
    Then in my tent, Cassius, enlarge your griefs,
    And I will give you audience.

    If the soldiers in both armies perceived that their commanders were having serious differences, it would undermine morale. The soldiers might begin to spread the word that the two armies could be forced to fight Antony and Octavius separately, at different times and in different places. From a military standpoint this would be disastrous. Every single soldier might be slaughtered. The quarrel between Brutus and Cassius is therefore very serious. It has already become known to some officers and soldiers and is sure to become the main subject of gossip throughout both armies. 

    It should be noted that the main subject of the quarrel between the two generals was money. Brutus may have won the quarrel but he still hasn't gotten the gold he asked for. If he didn't pay his soldiers before the battle at Philippi, that could help to account for the defeat of the joint forces of Brutus and Cassius.

     

    — William Delaney
  17. This personification of coins as rascals is brilliant. The coins are rascals because they will do anything at any time for anybody. They can be stolen or obtained by murder, and yet they will go to work for their new owner without any qualms. Money is utterly unscrupulous: it will obey whoever has it. Brutus calls them "counters" disdainfully. They are of no value in themselves but only in what they can be exchanged for; they are like poker chips. 

    — William Delaney
  18. Brutus means that Cassius would never have dared to threaten Caesar the way he had been threatening to kill Brutus thus far in this scene.

    According to Plutarch:

    Cassius had the reputation of being an able soldier, but harsh in his anger, and with an authority largely based on fear....And now it was thought that Cassius, vehement and passionate man that he was, and often swept from the path of justice by his passion for gain, was incurring the perils of war and wanderings principally to establish some great power for himself, and not liberty for his countrymen.
                       Life of Brutus

    — William Delaney
  19. Cassius has a very high opinion of himself. This is what made him envious of Caesar, who understands Cassius very well and says of him in Act 1:

    Such men as he be never at heart's ease
    Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
    And therefore are they very dangerous.

    When Cassius says "...he durst not thus have moved me," he means that Caesar would not have dared to make Cassius angry, as Brutus is presently making him, by treating him with such contempt. And when Brutus replies, "Peace, peace! You durst not so have tempted him," he means that Cassius would have have dared to threaten and rage against Caesar the way he had been doing during their current heated quarrel. 

    Cassius is a bully who gets what he wants from people by displaying his bad temper. But Brutus can see right through him, just as Julius Caesar could see through him. Caesar was a little bit afraid of Cassius, but Cassius was much more afraid of him--and with good reason. Plutarch writes that in his lifetime Caesar was responsible for the deaths of approximately two million men. Caesar may have had physical infirmities, but he had an awesome strength of character. Not only Cassius but everyone was afraid of Caesar because of his military accomplishments. That was why it took such a large number of conspirators to work up their courage to assassinate him.

    There are many people like Cassius in our contemporary world, just as there were in Shakespeare's England. It is not uncommon for such men (and women) to lose their composure when somebody calls their bluff, as Brutus is doing in this pivotal scene.  

    — William Delaney
  20. This suggests that Brutus wanted a showdown at this time and that he fully expected Cassius to rage and threaten as he does.

    — William Delaney
  21. One can imagine Brutus waving his hand as he says this line and then blowing into his open palm as if blowing something as insubstantial as a feather. When Cassius says, "Brutus, bait not me," he may be stating the plain truth. Brutus does appear to be baiting Cassius, that is, deliberately making him angry for some purpose. Brutus has probably already decided what will be their future joint course of action and is not interested in having a conference with Cassius but a showdown in which Brutus will assert his authority and leadership. 

    — William Delaney
  22. This quarrel is really about who is going to become the real leader. Cassius used Brutus as a figurehead in his assassination plot, but he always thought of himself as the real planner and the real leader. This was actually the case, because the assassination never would have occurred if Cassius had not originated and organized it. He pictured himself as the true ruler of Rome if they succeeded in killing Julius Caesar. Cassius is a thoroughly selfish man. He cannot imagine a new order in which he is not the supreme authority. In Act I, Julius Caesar says of him:

    Such men as he be never at heart's ease
    Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
    And therefore are they very dangerous.

    If Cassius came up with the idea of murdering Caesar, he might in time decide to kill Brutus, or have him killed, if they had won the long struggle against Antony and Octavius and were securely seated in power back in Rome. Cassius is already threatening to kill Brutus during this argument in the tent, which shows which way his mind is tending.

    Note how Cassius says he is "abler than yourself to make conditions," to which Brutus replies, "Go to, you are not, Cassius," who reiterates, "I am," and once again Brutus says, "I say you are not." Cassius has believed since the very beginning that he was "abler to make conditions," but it hasn't come out until now. Each man is saying, in effect, "I should be the boss!" This kind of power struggle frequently takes place in partnerships--including in many  marriages!

    Cassius goes as far as threatening to kill Brutus, but Brutus cannot be intimidated. And Cassius realizes that he can't kill Brutus without losing half of their combined armies, in which case he would be certain to be defeated by Antony and Octavius and end up being killed himself. 

    What does Cassius mean by "to make conditions"? The word "conditions" seems to cover everything connected with government and not just military matters. Cassius has been thinking all along that he wants to be the man who does most of the thinking and planning for the present as well as for the future--assuming, of course, that they can defeat Antony and Octavius.

    — William Delaney
  23. This is true. Brutus is characteristically quiet, courteous and considerate. Cassius underestimated him from the beginning. He thought he could manipulate Brutus easily and use him to serve his own ends. Cassius has had a shock. He thought he could put on a display of anger and intimidate Brutus, but Brutus was not to be intimidated, and he displayed even more anger than Cassius. "Still waters run deep." 

    But the virtues of Brutus, as we are told, made him beloved by the multitude, adored by his friends, admired by the nobility, and not hated even by his enemies. For he was remarkably gentle and large-minded, free from all anger, pleasurable indulgence, and greed, and kept his purpose erect and unbending in defence of what was honourable and just.           Plutarch,* Life of Brutus*

    — William Delaney
  24. Cassius calls Brutus "brother" because they are brothers-in-law.

    — William Delaney
  25. Brutus and Cassius call each other "brother" because Cassius is married to Brutus' sister, making the two men brothers-in-law.

    — William Delaney
  26. This is one of the most famous observations in all of Shakespeare. It is important because it applies to all of us. There is a tide in most of our lives which would lead us on to success if only we recognized it as such and took advantage of the opportunities it offered. Unfortunately, many of us do not recognize these golden opportunities until after we have failed to take advantage of them. Shakespeare was thinking in terms of tides because there were only certain times to embark on the Thames, which was strongly influenced by ocean tides. When the incoming tide filled the river, that was the time to embark on important enterprises. The ambitious voyager would have deep water and an strong outgoing tide to carry him out to sea.

    — William Delaney
  27. Cassius is revealing his own character in asking this. Plutarch describes him as having the reputation of being "harsh in his anger," and he certainly displays this trait in his heated argument with Brutus. Cassius might have killed someone who crossed him at the wrong time, but Brutus would never have done such a thing. Brutus is described by Plutarch in his "Life of Brutus" as completely different in temperament from Cassius:

    But the virtues of Brutus, as we are told, made him beloved by the multitude, adored by his friends, admired by the nobility, and not hated even by his enemies. For he was remarkably gentle and large-minded, free from all anger, pleasurable indulgence, and greed, and kept his purpose erect and unbending in defence of what was honourable and just.

    — William Delaney
  28. Plutarch writes in Life of Brutus:

    Cassius had the reputation of being an able soldier, but harsh in his anger, and with an authority largely based on fear....And now it was thought that Cassius, vehement and passionate man that he was, and often swept from the path of justice by his passion for gain, was incurring the perils of war and wanderings principally to establish some great power for himself, and not liberty for his countrymen.

    — William Delaney
  29. Brutus and Cassius have both realized that their quarrel could be disastrous. Their situation is precarious enough already. They only have each other for help in the inevitable showdown with Antony and Octavius. The quarrel has made them see how vulnerable each would be without the other.

    — William Delaney
  30. This is a delicate and considerate euphemism for the way Cassius has been reacting, with his threats of extreme violence. But Brutus is a kind-hearted and sensitive man.

    — William Delaney
  31. Cassius here is offering a veiled apology for his character, which is greedy, selfish, cunning, envious, and temperamental. He is saying, in effect, that he can't help himself from being the kind of person he is, and in blaming his mother he is really blaming all his ancestors. He is suggesting implicitly that none of us can be blamed for being who and what we are. 

    — William Delaney
  32. There are many gems in Shakespeare that are easy to overlook because they are so simple and natural, so characteristically "Shakespearean." "Idle" is a wonderful adjective to apply to the wind, which is not serving any purpose or going anywhere in particular and is often soft and gentle along with being invisible.

    — William Delaney
  33. Cassius has succeeded in pacifying Brutus by changing the subject from money to love. The analogy here is to a flint stone that gives off fiery sparks when struck but is basically without real fire. No doubt Brutus does not understand himself much better than he understands Cassius. 

    — William Delaney
  34. Once Cassius has gotten his cue from Brutus's words, "...to lock such rascal counters from his friends," he uses "friends" and "friendship" relentlessly in order to divert the argument away from the subject of money and to quell Brutus's anger. What is really happening here is that Cassius has realized that Brutus wants to be loved and that he, Cassius, can bring this argument to a satisfactory conclusion by making it appear that he loves Brutus very much. 

    — William Delaney
  35. What bothers Brutus the most is that Cassius would do such a thing to a friend. Brutus cannot logically maintain that money means nothing to him and then be angry because of being denied money. Friendship means a lot to Brutus but not to Cassius. However, Cassius will pick up on that word "friends" and use it for his own purposes to divert the argument away from the subject of money. The cunning Cassius sees that Brutus is saying, in effect, that friendship is vastly more important than money. Cassius can take this as his cue to bridge from money to friendship. There is no further talk about money in the rest of this scene. Brutus--like many of us on many occasions--thinks he is feeling anger when he is actually feeling hurt.

    — William Delaney
  36. Cassius is cunning. He is trying to change the subject. He doesn't want to talk about denying Brutus the money. Cassius is amoral. He uses other people's morals for his own purposes. 

    — William Delaney
  37. In Act III, Scene 1, when Brutus and Cassius are trying to persuade Mark Antony to join them in forming a new government, Cassius tells Antony:

    Your voice shall be as strong as any man's
    In the disposing of new dignities.

    Cassius, in contrast to Brutus, is motivated by greed and selfishness. Evidently he was thinking about disposing of his offices for gold when he first conceived the idea of organizing a conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. Cassius assumes that Antony will be similarly motivated. 

    — William Delaney
  38. Brutus, as usual, is mistakenly judging others by himself. At the end of the play Antony states the truth when he says of the dead Brutus:

    This was the noblest Roman of them all.
    All the conspirators save only he
    Did that they did in envy of great Caesar.
    He only in a general honest thought
    And common good to all, made one of them.
    (Act 5, Scene 5)

     

                                                  

     

     

    — William Delaney
  39. This has a many meanings. Cassius is saying that he loves Brutus too much to think of killing him. But he is also thinking to himself that he needs the name and reputation of Brutus to collect money, recruit soldiers, and to give credence to his cause. Furthermore, in saying "You know that you are Brutus," Cassius is suggesting that Brutus is unafraid of Cassius, as Cassius thinks he should be, since Brutus knows how much Cassius loves him. And underneath this meaning is Cassius's hidden thought that Brutus is well aware that he is indispensable to Cassius and to all the conspirators because of his sterling reputation as symbolized by his famous name.

    — William Delaney
  40. Brutus considers himself too noble to use what he calls "vile" means, yet he needs money to pay his troops. Cassius knows how to get money through force, intimidation, and graft. Brutus considers him corrupt but doesn't mind taking his money while maintaining his lofty, holier-than-thou attitude. Cassius considers Brutus a fool who believes money grows on trees or will fall out of the sky just because he needs it. Cassius is a realist. Brutus is an idealist. 

    — William Delaney
  41. The partnership between two men of such unequal characters is beginning to put a strain on both of them. Cassius here is controlling his naturally volatile temper. He seems to be speaking this entire sentence through clenched teeth. Try it.

    — William Delaney
  42. Shakespeare continues to characterize Brutus as a bookish, unworldly, kindly, idealistic man who is absent-minded because he is preoccupied with abstract ideas, mainly philosophical ideas. He is not worldly wise like Cassius and Antony. He tends to assume that other men are like himself, when this is not the case. Men like Brutus (at least as conceived by Shakespeare) are easily deceived and manipulated. 

    — William Delaney
  43. No, of course not. Brutus would have given Cassius anything he asked for. These two men are very different.

    — William Delaney
  44. This question is unintentionally ironic. It might have evoked some laughter among members of Shakespeare's audience. Was it like Cassius to deny Brutus gold? Of course it was done like Cassius. That's exactly the kind of person he is--although Brutus is only now beginning to realize it. People tend to judge others by themselves, and Brutus is generous and idealistic.

    — William Delaney
  45. Brutus has known Cassius since they were boys together and has probably been to his house many times. What Brutus says about Cassius taking his anger out on his slaves and bondsmen is probably based on his personal observation. We can imagine what kind of a household Cassius lives in, with servants who look frightened and half-starved. Cassius is selfish, mean-spirited, and treacherous. Brutus by himself would never have thought of organizing a big group of men to stab Caesar to death, but it was just the sort of thing that Cassius would not only think of but actually carry out. He needed Brutus, however, because he knew people disliked him and liked Brutus, just as he was well aware that Julius Caesar disliked him but loved Brutus. Cassius is not likable and he knows it and probably doesn't even care. In The Prince, Machiavelli says it is better for a ruler to be feared than liked.

    — William Delaney
  46. This marks the end of the big quarrel between Cassius and Brutus. It is noteworthy that Brutus still hasn't gotten the gold he requested. Cassius is cunning. He has changed the subject, the gold, by creating an uproar as a distraction. (People will often do this in quarrels and arguments, and we should learn to recognize the tactic.) Among other distractions, Cassius threatens to kill Brutus, then invites Brutus to kill him--all without a grain of sincerity. The fact that Brutus may be unable to pay his soldiers may contribute to his ultimate defeat in the battle at Philippi.

    — William Delaney
  47. Cassius is characterized as greedy, stingy, and miserly throughout the play. The big quarrel with Brutus was because Cassius withheld the gold Brutus requested. A miser is typically a freeloader. Cassius cannot drink too much of Brutus's love-- or of Brutus's wine. Brutus probably provides better wine than Cassius is accustomed to buying for his own consumption or for his family or guests. Caesar tells Antony that Cassius has "a lean and hungry look." No doubt misers are typically lean and hungry-looking because they hate to spend money even for what they consume themselves.

    Cassius made a mistake by persuading Brutus to become the leader of the conspiracy against Caesar, but Brutus made a mistake by joining it with Cassius. 

    — William Delaney
  48. This appears to be a double anachronism. There were no such things as "books" in the time of Julius Caesar. Long works were written on scrolls and came rolled up. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that Brutus would be wearing a gown with deep pockets on the sides, like most contemporary men's bathrobes. Shakespeare and his contemporaries did not have the benefit of all the detailed knowledge about ancient civilizations that has been accumulated for us over the centuries by dedicated scholars and scientists. Now if we see a movie about ancient Rome, we can feel confident that the costumes and other details are authentic.

    — William Delaney