"I Know That Virtue To Be In You Brutus"

Character CASSIUS Language Form Blank Verse
Gender Male Popularity
Age Elder Length 70 Lines


Military generals have been fighting for control of Rome and its territories for years. The most recent disputes have been between Julius Caesar and Gnaeus Pompeius (a.k.a. Pompey), who at first ruled together but were soon vying for control. Cassius originally supported Pompey, but once it looked as though Caesar was going to prevail, he switched sides. Cassius has just returned from Spain (part of Rome’s territory), where he and his forces helped defeat Pompey’s sons, the last holdouts against Caesar. Cassius is disturbed to see Caesar’s increasing power. Caesar is already Rome’s dictator, and now the people want to crown him emperor. Cassius, a dyed-in-the-wool republican, can’t bear to see the long-standing government of Rome—in which all noble families share power—destroyed. If that were to happen, he and the entire nobility would be no better than slaves. He intends to stop Caesar, but to pull it off he must enlist the support of Brutus, who is revered by patricians and plebeians alike. Cassius sets out to win Brutus over.

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I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,

As well as I do know your outward favor.

Well, honor is the subject of my story.

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.

We both have fed as well, and we can both

Endure the winter’s cold as well as he.

For once, upon a raw and gusty day,

The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,

Caesar said to me, “Dar’st thou, Cassius, now

Leap in with me into this angry flood

And swim to yonder point?” Upon the word,

Accoutred as I was, I plunged in

And bade him follow; so indeed he did.

The torrent roared, and we did buffet it

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!”

I, as Aeneas, our great ancestor,

Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder

The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber

Did I the tired Caesar. And this man

Is now become a god, and Cassius is

A wretched creature, and must bend his body

If Caesar carelessly but nod on him.

He had a fever when he was in Spain,

And when the fit was on him, I did mark

How he did shake—’tis true, this god did shake;

His coward lips did from their color fly,

And that same eye whose bend doth awe the world

Did lose his luster. I did hear him groan;

Ay, and that tongue of his that bade the Romans

Mark him and write his speeches in their books,

“Alas,” it cried, “give me some drink, Titinius,”

As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me

A man of such a feeble temper should

So get the start of the majestic world

And bear the palm alone.


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, ’til now, that talked of Rome

That her wide walks encompassed 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 brooked

Th’ eternal devil to keep his state in Rome

As easily as a king.