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Free Study Guide-Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare-Free Booknotes
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ACT V, SCENE 3

Summary

In another part of the battlefield, Cassius despairingly tells Titinius that his own men are retreating like cowards under the enemy attack. Brutus' soldiers, however, have defeated Octavius' troops; but they foolishly pause to plunder and loot, allowing Antony's army to surround Cassius. Pindarus enters and warns Cassius to retreat since Antony has set their tents on fire. Cassius sends Pindarus to mount the hilltop to observe what is happening; he returns to report more disaster, telling Cassius that the enemy soldiers have taken Titinius captive. In truth, the soldiers are part of Brutus' army, and they are rejoicing in their victory with Titinius. Cassius now despairs, thinking his cause is lost. He begs Pindarus to kill him. The soldier stabs Cassius. He dies gasping and saying, "Caesar, thou art reveng'd, / Even with the sword that kill'd thee."

Titinius returns, eager to tell Cassius the good news that Brutus has defeated Octavius' army. To his dismay, he finds that Cassius has killed himself in despair. When Messala leaves to report this disastrous news to Brutus, Titinius kills himself with Cassius' sword.

Brutus then enters with Messala, Young Cato, Strato, Volumnius, and Lucilius. Seeing the dead bodies of Cassius and Titinius, he remarks, "O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet! / Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords / In our own proper entrails." He bids his wartime companions a sad farewell and eulogizes Cassius as "the last of all Romans." He checks his grief, promising to mourn the death of his friend when the battle is over. The men leave to prepare for the second round of fighting.


Notes

This scene demonstrates the disastrous consequences of Brutus' impetuous decision to attack Octavius. Although he is at first victorious, he foolishly allows his troops to pause and gather the spoils of war. Antony seizes the moment, and his troops encircle Cassius' army. Cassius' soldiers flee under enemy attack, deserting the battlefield like cowards.

When Pindarus mistakenly reports to Cassius that Titinius has been taken captive, the already dejected conspirator despairs of victory and commits suicide with the same sword with which he had killed Caesar. Ironically, Cassius, who has always been a perceptive judge of men's motivations and desires, perishes because of his lack of correct perception about the fighting.

When left alone, Titinus kills himself with the sword of Cassius; now three men have perished from this blade in the play. Brutus soon arrives on the scene. Seeing the bodies, he calls out that Caesar is still mighty, causing death and destruction among the troops of the conspirators.

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