Julius Caesar

by: William Shakespeare

Cassius

Characters Cassius

Cassius is the most shrewd and active member of the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. He functions in some respects as the conspirators’ leader, although Brutus later takes this role. Both Cassius and Brutus are concerned by Caesar’s rise to power, but Cassius’s motivations are not nearly as honorable as Brutus’s. While Brutus worries about what Caesar’s power could mean for the Roman people, Cassius resents how Caesar has become a god-like figure. Further, Cassius repeatedly suggests that tyrants come to power when the people allow their power to be stolen. At the heart of his resentment and willingness to assassinate is Cassius’s deep jealousy of Caesar’s rise to power.

From the very beginning, Cassius is pleased with himself for his ability to manipulate others. The audience sees this manipulation in terms of Cassius’s treatment of Brutus and his use of flattery and reassurance to bring Brutus into the conspiracy to kill Caesar. Later, the audience learns that Cassius is willing to gain money by means that Brutus finds dishonorable and unacceptable, though the specifics are not fully revealed. Cassius is at various times petty, foolish, cowardly, and shortsighted. On the other hand, Cassius offers Brutus the correct advice that Brutus should not allow Antony to talk to the Roman citizens after Caesar’s death. Had Brutus taken Cassius’s advice, the conspirators might have succeeded in convincing the Roman people that Caesar had to die. Despite his villainous tendencies, Cassius remains a complex character with hostile yet impressively passionate traits.