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Julius Caesar Commentary - Act IV.

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Act IV. Scene I. - Rome. A Room in Antony's House.

The Triumvirs (Octavius, Mark Antony and Lepidus also known as The Second Triumvirate) decide which of the conspirators shall live and which shall will die. Mark Antony assures Octavius that Lepidus does not and will not ever have any serious power... The two men start planning their attack on Brutus' and Cassius' forces.

Antony, Octavius and Lepidus are gathered together around a table. Together they are deciding the future.

With Antony explaining that the conspirator's "names are prick'd" (Line 1), the three have decided on their future course of action. They decide that amongst the conspirators, Publius who is Mark Antony's sister's son will not be spared from death (Line 4).

Lepidus also agrees that his own brother must die (Lines 2-3).

Antony now sends Lepidus off to Caesar's house to fetch Caesar's will and then the three will together decide "How to cut off some charge in legacies" or cut off a part of Caesar's legacy or will presumably for themselves (Line 9).

With Lepidus now gone, Antony reassures Octavius that Lepidus is a harmless man "Meet [fit] to be sent on errands:" (Line 13).

When Octavius now questions the wisdom that a messenger be one third of a group that will rule the world (Line 13), Antony explains that they will put up with Lepidus "as the ass [donkey] bears gold," (Line 21).

Lepidus will be used and respected as a donkey which carries gold. Lepidus will be used while he is useful and like a donkey will be put out to pasture (retired) once he is no longer needed (Lines 17- 27).

Octavius does not completely agree with this. He tells Antony that "You may do your will;" (you may do as you wish), (Line 28), but adds that Lepidus is "a tried and valiant soldier" (Line 28).

Antony replies that so is his horse (Line 29), adding that like a horse, "he must be taught, and train'd," (Line 35) and used accordingly.

Telling Antony that he no longer wants to discuss Lepidus, he adds that he should not talk or think of him as anything more "But as a property" (Line 40).

Now Antony tells Octavius that they must cast their minds on more important matters, namely how they should combine their forces and prepare to fight the forces of Brutus and Cassius (Lines 40-49).

Act IV. Scene II. - Camp near Sardis. Before Brutus' Tent.

Cassius: "Most noble brother, you have done me wrong."

Brutus learns that Cassius has finally arrived. Brutus is angry with Cassius, Cassius saying he has done his friend no wrong. Brutus wanting privacy from his troops, tells Cassius to step into his tent where he will discuss the issue further...

Before Brutus' tent, Lucilius and Pindarus arrive, telling Brutus that Cassius is near. Pindarus gives Brutus a letter which Brutus reads. He announces that Cassius' actions or those by "ill officers," have given him reason to wish certain things were undone, but he will be pleased by Cassius' appearance and more importantly his explanation (Line 7).

Pindarus now tries to smooth things over between Brutus and his master Cassius, suggesting that he is certain his noble master will appear "Such as he is, full of regard and honour" (Lines 10-14).

Brutus asks Lucilius how he was received by Cassius, and learns that Brutus did greet him with the appropriate respect but that it was not with the usual "free and friendly" manner they are used to (Line 17).

Brutus replies that what Lucilius is describing is the cooling of his friendship with Cassius.

Cassius with his army now arrives and Cassius immediately tells Brutus that "Most noble brother, you have done me wrong" (Line 37).

Brutus replies that this cannot be, why would he wrong a brother? (Lines 38-39).

Cassius disagrees, telling him that his noble form hides his wrongs, but Brutus interrupts him. He says they should not argue so publicly in front of their respective armies who should see nothing but love from them (Lines 42-44).

Instead he suggests that Cassius make his complaints in Brutus' tent where he promises to hear him out.

Cassius tells Pindarus to make sure his commanders move their soldiers away from the tent and Brutus tells Lucilius to do the same. Brutus ends the scene saying that Lucius and Titinius will guard the door of their tent (Lines 41-52).

Act IV. Scene III. - Within the Tent of Brutus.

Brutus: "I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon, / Than such a Roman."

Brutus angrily attacks Cassius first for contradicting his order to remove Lucius Pella for taking bribes and then Cassius himself for his own dishonesty. Cassius is upset by this but eventually Brutus chooses to forgive his friend. We learn that Portia, Brutus' wife has died, over one hundred senators have been put to death by the Triumvirs and that a large army led by Mark Antony and Octavius is approaching their position... Brutus is greeted by Caesar's ghost which tells Brutus he will see Caesar again at Philippi.

Cassius immediately gets to the point of his frustrations. He tells Brutus that "you have wrong'd me" (Line 1) adding that Brutus has condemned and noted Lucius Pella for "taking bribes" from the Sardians here whilst his letters of support for Pella were brushed off and ignored (Lines 1-5).

Brutus replies by telling Cassius that he was wrong to write on Pella's behalf in the first place (Line 6).

Cassius replies that in times like these (with the threat of Mark Antony and Octavius), they should not bother over such minor matters (Line 8).

Brutus disagrees, saying "Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself / Are much condemn'd [condemned] to have an itching palm; [to take bribes and sell positions] / To sell and mart your offices for gold / To undeservers" (Line 9-11).

Cassius is infuriated at being called an "itching palm;" adding that were it not Brutus who calls him this, any other man who would call Cassius this would soon be dead (Line 12).

Brutus argues that Cassius' name is legitimizing corrupt activities asking Cassius to remember that Caesar was killed for the sake of justice, (Lines 17-27) and wondering why they killed Caesar for justice only to now become corrupt themselves by selling "the mighty space of our large honours / For so much trash as may be grasped thus?" (Line 25).

Brutus again asserts his honesty when he says, "I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon, / Than [become] such a Roman" who like Cassius would sell status and honour to others for money (Line 27).

Cassius reminds Brutus that he is a soldier, stronger than Brutus and a man who should not be restricted by Brutus who forgets who he is dealing with (Lines 28-31).

Brutus says he cannot be speaking to the Cassius. The two argue and Cassius asks if their friendship has "come to this?" (Line 50).

The two bicker when Brutus says Cassius said he was a "better" soldier yet does not act like one. Cassius says he said "elder" not "better" (Lines 51-60).

Again the two argue, Brutus explaining that he is not afraid of him. Brutus also attacks Cassius for refusing him gold which he requested to pay his legions, adding that he is not capable of raising money by vile and corrupt means unlike Cassius (by implication), (Lines 70-82).

Cassius denies this. Brutus refuses to believe Cassius, telling him that "I do not like your faults" (Line 88).

Now remorseful that his friend Brutus does not respect him, Cassius prepares to take his life, saying that he is "Hated by one [Brutus] he loves;" (Line 94 and 92-105).

Brutus tells Cassius to "Sheathe your dagger:" (Line 106) deciding to forgive him (Lines 112-125).

Lucius, Titinius, Lucilius, and the poet all learn of the Brutus' and Cassius' reconciliation (Lines 122-159).

With their reconciliation complete, Brutus drinks wine saying that he buries all his unkindness with his drink. Cassius replies saying "I cannot drink too much of Brutus' love" (Line 160).

Titinius and Messala arrive with news. We learn that Portia, Brutus' wife is dead, but Brutus does not seem to care (Line 166) and that Young Octavius and Mark Antony are approaching with a large force towards Philippi. Additionally we learn that a "hundred senators" have been put to death by these two, Cicero being one of them (Lines 165-177).

Cassius now suggests that they hold back their forces and not attack immediately and instead march to Philippi at once. This way the enemy will be exhausted by searching for them, increasing their chances of success since their soldiers will be well rested (Lines 196-211).

Brutus overrides this decision, arguing that their enemy continues to gain strength in numbers while they are at their peak and will soon be weaker than their enemy. Cassius agrees and the two retire to their separate tents to rest before battle (Line 224).

Now alone, Brutus orders Lucius, his servant to call Claudius and several other men into his tent to sleep on cushions (Lines 240-243).

Brutus tells Varro and Claudius to lie in his tent and sleep despite the two wanting to stand guard over Brutus instead. He asks Lucius to play some soothing music, but Lucius soon falls asleep (Lines 256-268). Brutus is now alone, reading the book that he found in his nightgown.

Brutus is now interrupted from his reading by the Ghost of Caesar. Brutus uncertain of what he is seeing, asking the Ghost if it is "some god, some angel, or some devil," (Line 278).

Brutus asks why this Ghost has appeared. Caesar's Ghost answers that it was "to tell thee [you, Brutus] thou shalt see me at Philippi" (Line 283). By this, Caesar's Ghost means that he will see Brutus once more at Philippi.

Brutus now accuses Lucius, Varro and Claudius each of speaking in their sleep. The servants all plead that they did nothing of the sort (Lines 285-305).

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