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Intro

Masters of our fates

I'm Cassius. I'm politically savvy and manipulative, and I totally resent the way the Roman people treat Julius Caesar like a rock star. And you know what I think?

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Brutus and Caesar: what should be in that 'Caesar'?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a name;
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with 'em,
Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Caesar.
Now, in the names of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed,
That he is grown so great? Age, thou art shamed!
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
When went there by an age, since the great flood,
But it was famed with more than with one man?
When could they say till now, that talk'd of Rome,
That her wide walls encompass'd but one man?
Now is it Rome indeed and room enough,
When there is in it but one only man.
O, you and I have heard our fathers say,
There was a Brutus once that would have brook'd
The eternal devil to keep his state in Rome
As easily as a king. (1.2.134-160)

Who Said It and Where

His name might be Cassius, but we'll just call him "the ringleader." That's because he knows how to rally the troops in support of a cause—even if that cause includes murder with a side of war. The truth is that Cassius hates the way Caesar is running around town acting like a god, and he wants it to stop. Pronto.

So what does he do? Cassius convinces Brutus to join him in getting rid of (read: murdering) Caesar with an impassioned speech. First, he says his good friend Brutus hasn't seemed very friendly recently. Brutus reassures Cassius that "it's not you, it's me," claiming that he's been preoccupied with some thoughts that he'd rather keep to himself.

Cassius then starts to suggest things that Brutus's own humbleness won't let him acknowledge. Cassius hints that Brutus has a reputation for being a really honorable guy, and that everybody agrees about this except Caesar. As Brutus begins to catch the whiff of treachery in Cassius's talk, Cassius assures Brutus he's being serious about the whole "noble" thing and not just flattering him. Without saying so, Cassius suggests that a lot of respected Romans think it would be really nice if someone like Brutus led Rome, even though it would mean "disposing" of Caesar.

Their conversation is interrupted by shouts, and Brutus ends by pointing out that even though he loves Caesar, he hopes the Roman people haven't crowned him king. (Remember, they live in a republic, which has no place for monarchs.) Brutus adds that he loves honor more than he fears death, which spurs Cassius to continue suggesting they do something to stop Caesar.

Cassius harps on the fact that Caesar isn't any better than them, so they have no reason to be his subjects. In fact, Cassius says, Caesar is nothing but a gutless wonder. Cassius tells a story of how Caesar challenged him to a race on the Tiber River, but Caesar got so tired that Cassius had to rescue him from drowning. Cassius describes how Caesar became sick in Spain, had a seizure, and whimpered. Cassius is clearly implying that Caesar is a Wimp with a capital W. In other words, dude ain't fit to be king.

There's some more shouting that seems to imply that the people are crowning Caesar, which only helps Cassius's cause. Cassius drives his point home: Brutus is just as good as Caesar, and they would be cowards if they didn't do something to stop Caesar becoming the "first man" of Rome. Cassius then appeals to Brutus's family history. Apparently one of Brutus's ancestors helped establish the Roman Republic by fighting the tyrant Tarquin. Cassius is basically calling for Brutus to uphold the family name.

Brutus promises he's not suspicious of Cassius's motives or flattery but asks him to lay off trying to get him to kill Caesar for a little bit. Brutus will think about whatever Cassius has to say, and he gives Cassius hope with the final thought that he'd "rather be a villager" than call himself "a son of Rome" if things continue on the current path (meaning, if Rome ceases to be a republic). Which would be fine, except Brutus has no interest in being a villager.

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