Brutus and Cassius row

Act 4 Scene 2 – Key Scene

In this scene, Cassius accuses Brutus of wronging him. Brutus fights back, accusing Cassius of bribery and reminding him that they killed Caesar to stop him being corrupt, not to become corrupt themselves. The row gets personal and Cassius draws his dagger, daring Brutus to kill him. Brutus calms down and they are reconciled. When Cassius shows surprise at the extent of Brutus’ anger, Brutus admits that Portia has killed herself. Cassius is horrified but Brutus does not want to talk more about her and changes the subject to the battle they must fight.

Take a look at an extract from this scene here. Using the following steps, remember to look at it line by line and if you’re looking at the scene for the first time don’t worry if you don’t understand everything at once.

  • Look
    Take a look at the scene. Who has the most lines? Are they using prose or verse? Actors at the RSC often put the language into their own words to help them understand what they are saying. We’ve added some definitions (in green), questions (in red) and paraphrased some sections (in blue) to help with this. You can click on the text that is highlighted for extra guidance.
    Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself
    Are much condemned to have an itching palm,
    To sell and mart your offices for gold
    To undeservers.

    You are willing to take bribes and are believed to have a greed and desire for money, to sell official jobs and positions to people who aren’t fit for them.

    I an itching palm?
    You know that you are Brutus that speaks this,
    Or, by the gods, this speech were else your last.
    The name of Cassius honours this corruption,
    And chastisement doth therefore hide his head.

    Your name protects this criminal behaviour and that’s the only reason no-one’s getting punished.


    What other things are fuelling this argument for both Brutus and Cassius?

    Remember March; the ides of March remember.
    Did not great Julius bleed for justice’ sake?
    What villain touched his body that did stab
    And not for justice? What, shall one of us
    That struck the foremost man of all this world
    But for supporting robbers, shall we now
    Contaminate our fingers with base bribes
    And sell the mighty space of our large honours
    For so much trash as may be graspèd thus?

    I had rather be a dog and bay the moon
    Than such a Roman.

    Did one of us murder the most powerful man in the world just to support thieves? Shall we now get our hands dirty accepting bribes and selling our titles and jobs for whatever money we can grab hold of?

    Howl at.

    Brutus, bait not me.
    I’ll not endure it. You forget yourself
    To hedge me in. I am a soldier, I,
    Older in practice, abler than yourself
    To make conditions.

    Who do you think is more successful in this argument? Who do we respect more?


    More experienced than you and better at giving orders.

    (Text edited for rehearsals by Angus Jackson)
    In some editions of the text these lines appear in Act 4 Scene 3.
  • Listen
    Read the scene aloud. Are there any words or lines that really stand out? How has the relationship between these two characters changed?
  • Watch
    Take a look at the actors performing this scene. How do the characters come across in this version?
  • Imagine
    Explore some images from past versions of Julius Caesar at the RSC. Which sets and staging choices for the scene feel right to you?