Philosophy in Shakespear's Julius Caesar

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Anthony Giagiari
Mr. Dinely
April 26th, 2012
Philosophy in Julius Caesar
William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a play containing many characters of many different personality types. Brutus and Cassius, considerably the two main characters of the play, are very different in their personalities, as well as the philosophies they claim to follow. These two characters can be shown to practice the philosophies of Stoicism and Epicureanism to an extent, and it can be shown that in the end their beliefs in these philosophies fail and result in their suicides. Throughout this play Brutus can be considered to be a stoic, as despite things in the play that would bother anyone else arise, he shows no reaction, the main instance of this being when Portia kills herself. Stoicism is the belief in hiding one’s negative destructive emotions. It is believed that only the most honourable men of men can contain these emotions, and it is weak and unfit for one to let these emotions control them. This can be most prominently shown when Portia’s death is announced, as Brutus shows almost no emotion towards it. He says, “Speak no more of her. – Give me a bowl of wine. –/ In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius.” (4.3.163-164), basically brushing off the fact that his wife has just killed herself, and asks for some wine to enjoy. The audience learns that Brutus has known about Portia’s death for a decent amount of time, in fact, and simply has not said anything because his philosophy is simply not to show that he cares. Furthermore, Cassius says to Brutus, “I have as much of this in art as you, /But yet my nature could not bear it so.” (4.3.200-201). This is Cassius after he claims that he has converted to stoicism, saying that although he now believes in it and claims to follow it, even he would not be able to bear such news as well as Brutus does. This statement by Cassius, along with the fact that Brutus simply ignores his wife’s suicide, are proofs that Brutus does in...