Confucius said that, “People with virtue must speak out; people who speak are not all virtuous.” Confucius lived in China around 500 BCE and voiced novel opinions on virtue, politics, ethics, and other abstract ideas. Even today, thousands of years later, many people believe in Confucianism. Confucius was very vocal. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar no man is more vocal than Brutus. He assassinates Caesar, pleads to the people for their support, and conducts war with Octavian and Marc Anthony. But is he virtuous? Brutus is not necessarily virtuous; he does all of these actions to gain glory and to show his virtue. Everyone should aspire to be virtuous. However, as seen by Marc Antony and Cassius manipulating Brutus and Brutus’s death, excessive pursuit of virtue can be detrimental. Brutus’s excessive obsession for virtue leads to his failure.
Brutus loves Julius Caesar; however Cassius manages to turn Brutus against Caesar by taking advantage of Brutus’s obsession with virtue. Cassius urges Brutus to “think of the world” and kill Caesar for the good of Rome (1.2 329). Cassius explains to Brutus that Caesar must be killed in order to preserve Rome, and not because of any other reason, like Cassius’s jealousy. Cassius explains that Caesar is unfit, saying that “Caesar cannot even swim”, and unworthy to rule Rome, saying that Brutus is more fit. Brutus does not respond to the statements made by Cassius, and draws more attention to the “general shout[s]” of the people (1.2 139). Brutus avoids the questions and must “recount hereafter” of Cassius’s reasoning, Brutus needs time to consider if the conspiracy is virtuous or not (1.2 174). If virtuous, then he will act. Although Brutus does admit that “Brutus had rather be a villager / than to repute himself a son of Rome / under these hard conditions at this time / is like to lay upon us” (1.2 181-184). Brutus dislikes the dishonor that the tyranny of Caesar brings to Rome. He thinks...
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