Julius Caesar Power Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Riverside edition.
If the tag-rag people did not
clap him and hiss him, according as he pleased and
displeased them, as they use to do the players in
the theatre, I am no true man.
Marry, before he fell down, when he perceived the
common herd was glad he refused the crown, he
plucked me ope his doublet and offered them his
throat to cut. An I had been a man of any
occupation, if I would not have taken him at a word,
I would I might go to hell among the rogues. And so
he fell. When he came to himself again, he said,
If he had done or said any thing amiss, he desired
their worships to think it was his infirmity. (1.2.11)
Casca knows that Caesar's dramatic refusal of the crown and fainting spell are just cheap tricks used to curry favor with the "hoot[ing]" and "clap[ing]" crowd. Casca also describes Caesar's adoring crowd as though they are an audience watching a performance at an Elizabethan playhouse, which suggests that political leaders like Julius Caesar are like actors on a very public stage. Check out "Themes: Art and Culture" if you want to know more about this.
We're also interested in Julius Caesar's dramatic fainting spell. We're not sure whether he really swooned or faked the whole thing, but for someone who's supposed to be such a threat to Roman freedom, Caesar sure does have a lot medical problems, don't you think (epilepsy, deafness in one ear, etc.)?
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? (1.3.8)
Here Cassius doesn't specifically blame Caesar for his would-be tyranny. He believes it's the responsibility of the people to show they won't be subjugated like "sheep." Cassius reasons that if a political leader behaves like a "wolf" or a "lion," it's only because the people have allowed him to do so. According to Cassius, it's the people's job to keep their leaders in check.
He would be crown'd:
How that might change his nature, there's the question.
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder;
And therefore think him as a serpent's egg
Which, hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
And kill him in the shell. (2.1.3)
Here Brutus compares Caesar to a "serpent's egg" that should be destroyed before it hatches and becomes dangerous. This suggests that the conspirators see in Caesar a future threat to Rome. They're afraid of Caesar not because he is a tyrant, but because he might become one if he is crowned king.