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Julius Caesar, Act 5, Notes
Octavius and Antony enter with their army. Octavius says their prayers are answered – the enemy is responding to them before they attack. Antony says he knows them, and they just want to seem brave while they would much rather be in another place. Antony bids Octavius have his army enter on the left. Octavius replies he will enter on the right, and Antony can enter on the left. Antony asks why Octavius defies him, and Octavius answers that he is not defying him, but that’s where he will enter. Brutus and Cassius enter with their armies. Octavius asks Antony if they should attack first, and Antony says they should wait. They go to meet Brutus and Cassius. The two sides insult each other for a while. Octavius states that he will draw his sword to fight until all of Caesar’s wounds have been avenged and he kills all the traitors. They part, and ready their armies for battle. Brutus calls Lucilius to talk privately, and Cassius calls Messala to talk privately. Cassius tells Messala that it is his birthday, and also tells him of some bad omens. Previously, two eagles landed on their military banners and fed from their soldiers’ hands. Today, they are gone and ravens, crows, and kites are in their place, circling over the men as if they were sickly prey. Cassius goes to talk to Brutus. He says if they lose this battle, this may be the last time they will ever speak to each other. Cassius asks Brutus if they lose, if he will he be content to be led as a captive through the streets of Rome. Brutus says he would rather die than do so. Brutus declares that this day must end the work that the ides of March began. This battle is the final stage of the power struggle that began when they killed Caesar in the Roman forum. Brutus and Cassius depart
Brutus bids Messala ride and give Cassius’ side some written commands. He senses that there is a weakness in Octavius’ army, and a quick surprise attack will overthrow them.
Cassius and Titinius enter. Cassius tells Titinius that their own soldiers, the villains, are fleeing before the enemy. One of his standard-bearers began to, so he had to kill him and take the banner from him. Titinius says that Brutus gave the word too early in trying to take advantage of Octavius. The tide of battle is now against them. Pindarus enters, and says that Cassius should retreat, Antony is in their camp. Cassius says this hill is far enough, and asks Pindarus of those tents burning
Julius Caesar, Act 5, Notes
are his. Titinius confirms that they are. Cassius then asks Titinius to ride up to a group of advancing troops to see whether they are friends or enemies. Titinius obeys. Cassius asks Pindarus to climb a higher hill and report on Titinius’ progress. He reports that Titinius is surrounded by unknown horsemen who cheer. Cassius bids Pindarus come down and tell him no more. Cassius is disgusted at himself, to see his best friend taken by the enemy. He reminds Pindarus that he took Pindarus prisoner once, and Pindarus must obey whatever Cassius bid him do. So Cassius covers his eyes, hands Pindarus his sword, and asks Pindarus to kill him. Pindarus complies, and Cassius says that Caesar is now revenged, with the same sword that he was killed with. Cassius dies. Pindarus, now a free man, plans to go far from this country, where Romans will not take note of him again. Messala and Titinius re-enter, and the discuss how the battle is going. Brutus’ army is defeating Octavius’, even though Antony’s army was winning over Cassius’ army. They then discover Cassius’ body. Titinius immediately knows what happened – Cassius must have thought he was captured. Messala goes to tell Brutus of Cassius’ death. Titinius speaks to Cassius’ dead body, asking why did Cassius have to send him forth. It turns out that Titinius was greeted by Brutus’ soldiers, and they embraced him, shouting as friends, not as enemies taking someone captive. Titinius mourns over Cassius’ body and is dismayed that he died because of a simple mistake. He commits suicide with Cassius’ sword. Brutus, Messala, and Cato enter. They find now find two bodies. Brutus comments that even in death, Julius Caesar is reaping revenge. Brutus orders that Cassius’ body be removed and sent to Thasos, and they leave to battle Octavius and Antony.
Brutus prepares for battle. Cato and Lucilius are out on the field, fighting enemy soldiers. Cato is slain. Lucilius cries out that he is Brutus, and he is captured by the soldiers. The soldiers tell Antony, and Antony recognizes Lucilius. Lucilius tells Antony that the noble Brutus can never be taken alive. Antony orders his soldiers to see whether the real Brutus is alive or dead.
Brutus, Dardanius, Clitus, Strato, and Volumnius enter, the few friends remaining. Brutus requests of Clitus and Dardanius that they kill him. They respond that they would rather kill themselves to do such a deed.
Julius Caesar, Act 5, Notes
Brutus tells them that the ghost of Caesar appeared to him again last night in the fields, and he knows he is about to die. Volumnius says that is surely not true. Brutus asks him to hold his sword so that he may run on it. Volumnius replies that such a deed is not for a friend to perform. The alarms are still going off, and Clitus, Volumnius, and Dardanius urge Brutus to escape with them. Brutus bids them all farewell, and says he is glad that he has never found a man that was disloyal to him. Brutus says he will have glory by this losing day. The three exit and urge him to follow. Brutus says he will. He asks one of them, Strato, to stay and hold the sword while he runs upon it. Strato, agreeing, bid him farewell and they shook hands. Brutus impales himself upon the sword, declaring that Caesar should now consider himself revenged, and he is acting on motives twice as honorable as when he killed Caesar. Antony, Octavius, Messala, Lucilius, and the army enter. Mesalla asks where Brutus is. Strato replies that he is free and the conquerors could only make a fire of him now, because he overcame himself and met death. Lucilius is glad that Brutus was not captured alive. Octavius takes Brutus’ men into his own service. Antony speaks over Brutus’ body, proclaiming him the “noblest Roman of all” and while all the other conspirators acted in envy of Caesar’s power, Brutus acted for what he believed was the common good. He was a worthy citizen, and a good man. Octavius says they should bury him with all respect in rites of burial, and they can keep his bones in his tent tonight. The men depart to celebrate their victory. In the end, it is Brutus who is the real hero of the play, brave until the end. Whereas Cassius covered his face and had his slave kill him, Brutus decides on his own death and impales himself on his own sword. Upon his death, he is celebrated as a true Roman. Throughout the play, Brutus was torn between his love for Caesar and his love for a free republic. His tragic flaw was his infallible sense of honor.