Julius Caesar By William Shakespeare Summary and Analysis Act IV: Scene 2

Summary

Outside of his tent at a camp near Sardis, Brutus greets Titinius and Pindarus, who bring him word that Cassius is approaching. Brutus complains that Cassius has offended him, and he looks forward to hearing Cassius' explanation. Pindarus, Cassius' servant, is certain that the explanation will satisfy Brutus. Lucilius says that Cassius has received him with proper protocol, but he qualifies his statement, adding that Cassius' greeting was not with his accustomed affection. Brutus says that Lucilius has just described a cooling friendship and he suggests that Cassius may fail them when put to the test. Cassius arrives then with most of his army and immediately accuses Brutus of having wronged him. Brutus responds that he would not wrong a friend and suggests that they converse inside his tent so that "both our armies" will not see them quarreling. The two men then order their subordinates to lead off the armies and guard their privacy, and they all exit.

Analysis

Just as powerful men have struggled for supreme power in the previous scene, here you see the struggle of men as they fall out of love. (It is important to remember that when male Shakespearean characters speak of love, they mean friendship.) Note the type of passionate language used to describe how Brutus and Cassius feel. Brutus says, "Thou hast describ'd / A hot friend cooling. Ever note, Lucilius, / When love begins to sicken and decay / It useth an enforced ceremony." In addition, the imagery of sickness and decay in this quote underscores the potential destructiveness of emotion. The question of how to reconcile passion and reason — the mind and the body — are ultimately unresolved.

Note that this scene stands in contrast to the previous scene, especially in the use of horse imagery. In the previous scene, Antony speaks of Lepidus as a horse as a way of indicating the latter's inferior position. Here, Brutus denounces Cassius as a hollow man, who like a horse "hot at hand, / Make[s] gallant show and promise of [his] mettle." Antony's use of the imagery indicates control; Brutus', a loss of control.

Glossary

he greets me well sends a good man to greet me.

hath given me some worthy cause . . . be satisfied Brutus is saying that he feels he has been wronged by Cassius and that the latter ought to explain himself.

regard and honor respect and affection; here, both that Cassius has high regard for Brutus and is himself a man of integrity.

familiar instances tokens of intimacy.

conference conversation.

hollow empty or worthless; here, insincere.

hot at hand lively in the beginning.

fall drop.

jades worn-out or worthless horses.

the horse the cavalry.

gently in a gentle manner; here, slowly.

griefs historically, grievances.

give you audience hear you out with the extra connotation of Brutus as leader hearing the grievances of an inferior.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

After discovering Cassius’ body, Brutus decides to




Quiz