I can as well be hanged as tell the manner of it. It was mere foolery. I did not mark it. I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown. . . and, as I told you, he put it by once. . . And then he offered it the third time. He put it the third time by. And still, as he refused it, the rabblement hooted. . . and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Caesar refused the crown that it had almost choked Caesar— (1.2.234-244)
Casca is describing to Brutus and Cassius the scene when Caesar was offered the crown. He explains how Caesar acted as though he didn’t want the crown when really he did. Casca explains that Caesar putting on a “show” for the crowd smelled of deception or “foolery.” This quote speaks to how Caesar is viewed by these men, especially Casca.
I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life, but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
I was born free as Caesar. So were you. (1.2.95-99)
In this quote, Cassius is questioning how Caesar, a man at the same level as himself, can be the ruler of Rome. According to Cassius, Caesar is an ordinary man given powers more worthy of someone greater. Cassius also reveals his belief that one must be honorable and worthy of ruling Rome to hold such a position, qualities he does not think Caesar possesses.
For once upon a raw and gusty day,
The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,
Caesar said to me, “Darest thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood
And swim to yonder point?” Upon the word,
Accoutred as I was, I plungèd in
And bade him follow.
With lusty sinews, throwing it aside
And stemming it with hearts of controversy.
But ere we could arrive the point proposed,
Caesar cried, “Help me, Cassius, or I sink!” (1.2.102-113)
Here, Cassius tells the story of when Caesar dared Cassius to dive into rough waters. Cassius describes how they both dived into the water but Caesar was too weak to get out alone, and Cassius had to bring him to shore. Cassius tells Brutus this story to describe Caesar as a weak character, unworthy of the position he was given in Rome.
And why should Caesar be a tyrant then?
Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf
But that he sees the Romans are but sheep.
He were no lion were not Romans hinds.
Those that with haste will make a mighty fire
Begin it with weak straws. What trash is Rome,
What rubbish and what offal, when it serves
For the base matter to illuminate
So vile a thing as Caesar! (1.3.104-112)
In this scene, Cassius speaks of Caesar’s character, describing Caesar as so weak that Rome chose him as king to “make a big fire.” In other words, Rome wanted a man they could manipulate and control. Cassius’s words not only speak poorly of Caesar, but also of Rome for giving Caesar this position of power.
If he be so resolved,
I can o'ersway him. For he loves to hear
That unicorns may be betrayed with trees,
And bears with glasses, elephants with holes,
Lions with toils, and men with flatterers.
But when I tell him he hates flatterers,
He says he does, being then most flatterèd.
Let me work. (2.1.210-217)
In these lines, Decius describes how he can easily sway Caesar to do what he asks. He explains that Caesar is very trusting and easy to persuade through flattery. Again, Caesar is not painted in a positive light by those around him. Clearly, Decius sees Caesar as an easy target. However, the audience may wonder if killing Caesar is necessary if he is “weak” and easily swayed by flattery.
I could be well moved if I were as you.
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fixed and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumbered sparks.
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place.
So in the world. 'Tis furnished well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive,
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion. And that I am he
Let me a little show it even in this:
That I was constant Cimber should be banished,
And constant do remain to keep him so. (3.1.63-78)
Caesar explains why he must deny several pardon requests. He says that, in order to show strength, he must remain fixed in his decisions or constant like “the northern star.” Ironically, moments after Caesar makes this declaration, he falls at the hands of these conspiring men. While Caesar tells the men that his power comes from standing his ground, the audience sees him literally fall directly after this stand.
With this I depart: that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself when it shall please my country to need my death. (3.2.42-44)
After Caesar’s death, Brutus addresses the people of Rome. During his speech, he clarifies that Caesar had positive qualities and that Brutus loved him. He continues to explain that the people’s fear of Caesar’s presumed ambition is what led to Caesar’s death. In a way, Brutus claims that Caesar sacrificed his life for Rome just as Brutus is willing to do.
Caesar shall forth. The things that threatened me
Ne'er looked but on my back. When they shall see
The face of Caesar, they are vanishèd. (2.2.10-12)
Caesar responds to Calpurnia after she questions whether he should leave the house in light of the warnings he has received. Caesar responds with an ignorant confidence, saying that once the people who threaten him see his true intentions, they will disappear. Caesar’s words demonstrate the pride and ignorance that become Caesar’s downfall. By ignoring the warnings, his false confidence leaves him open to attack.
How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,
That now on Pompey’s basis lies along
No worthier than the dust! (3.1.124-126)
Brutus proclaims that the fall of Caesar will be celebrated for years and in many countries because the conspirators have given their country liberty. Therefore, Brutus claims that Caesar will be more important in death than in life. However, Brutus also refers to the fact that right now, Caesar lies in “the dust” as if he is worthless, so Brutus can only hope his proclamation is true.
O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet!
Thy spirit walks abroad and turns our swords
In our own proper entrails. (5.3.100-102)
Brutus speaks these words after discovering that Titinius has also killed himself mourning Cassius’s death. Even though Caesar has been dead since Act III, Brutus recognizes that Caesar’s death has had a trickle effect. The death of Caesar lead to the power struggle between Brutus and Cassius and Antony and Octavius. While Caesar’s power in Rome was short in life, his effect on these men and Rome was great.