In the play, Julius Caesar, many characters are objected to possible failure. Two of the
most prominent of these characters are Cassius and Caesar. They both react to this
possibility of failure similarly, and in such a way that is in acquiescence with other theories
of relating with failure and its tendency in humans.
Cassius’s non-belief in fate changes when nearing his death. During the beginning
of the play, he felt that he was in charge of his own destiny, “Men at some times are
masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in
ourselves…”(I.ii.146-147). This belief, came from Epicureanism which Cassisus was a
follower of, “You know that I held Epicurus strong and his opinion” (V.i.85-86).
Epicureanism does not require the belief of a god nor does it believe in an after life, an
aversion from common Roman philosophies who believed in fate, and gods. Cassius also
did not believe in omens and fate until Act V, while nearing the battle at Phillipi. Cassius
believes that the actions of birds he sees on the way to Phillipi are omens and tells a friend
that he is starting to believe in fate. His invalidation of previous principles that he once
held so strong have been starting to deteriorate. This complete change in belief is human
tendency when dealing with failure or death. It is easier and more satisfying to believe that
fate has lead you to failure rather than yourself; blaming your mistakes on others is easier
than holding yourself responsible.
Caesar, the pompous ruler of Rome, changes his beliefs when nearing death also.
Caesar thinks he is almost god-like and just as powerful. However, it is said by Cassius
that Caesar, is superstitious grown of late'(II.i.195). He also succumbs to his wife’s
entreaty to stay home because she suspects he will die. However, Caesar, like Cassius
eventually dies, despite recent feelings of superstition. Nevertheless, Caesar does show
that he has veered from his usual presumptuous self, to a slightly paranoid, and
superstitious man; his principals and philosophies have altered. Here, Caesar is doubting
his previous beliefs because of the suspicion that has rouse from the premonitions of his
Toward death, it is clear that many humans have a tendency to modify or change
their previous beliefs. It is said by Vivian Thomas in Twayne’s New Critical Introduction
to Shakespeare, “Rather than fate governing events, what we see is that human tendency,
in any crisis, to feel that there is some intangible force at work” (23). Caesar’s and
Cassius’s conversion of beliefs is justified because of a human’s proclivity towards
solutions which help satisfaction of the ego and mind. Thomas also states, regarding
Cassius that, “…as they draw near to death they lose faith in the philosophical principles
that have guided their lives”(104). This quote also reaffirms the character’s change in
In conclusion, it is evident that Caesar and Cassius, throughout the course of the
play, have experienced the decay of past morals because of prospects of failure. Both
characters, especially Cassius, show little resilience to potentially dangerous situations,
and changed beliefs to satisfy the ego, behavior quite contrary of Roman creed; Cassius
and Caesar weren’t as competent as they appeared; things aren’t always what they seem.