Monday, December 14, 2009

Leadership: As Emulated by Brutus (The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.)


Woodrow Wilson once said, “Leadership does not always wear the harness of compromise.” Compromise is an agreement resulting from each party reaching a mutual concession. A leader is one who guides and represents those under him in the most advantageous way possible. A leader does not always compromise, specifically when it is best for those under him. He has a character consisting of attractive qualities, which, when utilized, become beneficial to those he cares for: those under his leadership. In the Tragedy of Julius Caesar, there are two quality leaders who rise above the opposition: Marcus Brutus and Caius Cassius, who are both influential members of the Roman society during this time period. Throughout the tragedy, however, Brutus, the protagonist and tragic hero, proves to be a more effective leader because of his honor, his confident, honest, and trustworthy character, and his selflessness, mostly concerning those under his influence and position.

First of all, Brutus tends to be a better leader than Cassius in that he is an intensely honorable man. He holds a high position in Roman society: a politician. However, he plays more roles successfully throughout the story: as a husband, a military leader, a servant master, and a friend. He is adored by those around him, including Julius Caesar himself. He is influential and well respected. Brutus initially joins the conspiracy because of the deception Cassius manipulatively forces upon him; however, he has selfless intentions. He does everything for the people of Rome. Brutus says, “I love the name of honor more than I fear death.” (Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 82-89.) He knows he is honorable, and so do those around him. Mark Antony speaks of Brutus’ honor multiple times during his speech at Caesar’s funeral. Although he is against the conspirators, he willfully admits that Brutus is one of the most honorable men in all of Rome. Casca excitedly states that Brutus “sits high in all the people’s hearts.” Cassius deprives himself of the ability to be as honorable as Brutus. This is revealed in his galvanizing suggestion to murder Mark Antony along with Caesar. Brutus, being an honorable man, strongly denies this proposal, saying, “[Their] course will seem too bloody.” (Act 2, Scene 1, Line 162.) Another example that exemplifies Brutus’ honor is that of his reasoning behind their conspiracy. He respectfully says, “Let’s be sacrificers, but no butcherers,” (Act 2, Scene 1, Line 166) and he states his desire for the conspirators to be “called purgers, not murderers.” (Act 2, Scene 1, Line 180.) In other words, he wants their legacy to be left as a good one; one recognizing them as healers, not heartless monsters. During the execution of the conspirators’ plan to assassinate Caesar, Caesar is stabbed by each of them. Brutus is the last to pierce the flesh of the desperate, dying Caesar; after he takes his blow, Caesar, in disbelief, says, ”Et tu, Brute?-Then fall Caesar!” (Act 3, Scene 1, Line 77.) This Latin phrase translates into “And you, Brutus?” At this action of Brutus, Caesar is overcome with incredulousness. Brutus has been his friend, and they have never had anything personal against one another, for Brutus is an honorable man. However, he joined the conspiracy for the good of his country. Brutus tells the servant of Mark Antony, who seeks to know if Antony will be safe upon his arrival to the Senate house, where the conspirators have just killed Caesar, that “[His] master is a wise and valiant Roman; I never thought him worse. Tell him, so please him come unto this place. He shall be satisfied and, by my honor, depart untouched.” (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 138-140.) As a result of Brutus’ honor, he will do no more than he is presumed to do in order to stay honorable and to honor others.

Furthermore, Brutus proves to be a more effective leader in his outward illustration of his confident, honest and trustworthy character qualities. Throughout the tragedy, Cassius and Brutus disagree on very significant decisions. One disagreement occurs when Cassius wants to include Cicero, a wise acquaintance of theirs, in the conspiracy. Brutus fears that he will be a burden; he knows from personal experience that Cicero is upright in behavior and therefore too difficult to work with, due to his inability to successfully work with others in accepting ideas other than his own. In this, Brutus is entirely confident and overpowering, as a leader should be. Cassius and the others easily give in. Another disagreement between the two concerns the assassination plot of Julius Caesar. Cassius feels strongly on his own opinion and suggests that they “let Antony and Caesar fall together.” (Act 2, Scene 1, Line 161.) Brutus intuitively responds by saying, “Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius, to cut the head off and the hack the limbs, like wrath in death and envy afterwards; for Antony is but a limb of Caesar.” (Act 2, Scene 1, Lines 162-165.) Brutus shoots his assumption towards Cassius that Antony will not have the ability to properly function and retaliate if Caesar is annihilated, for he is only a part of Caesar, not a full, blown out threat. He intends to curtail the violence as much as possible, so that the act may appear honorable. Brutus takes initiative and confidently states his opinion and analysis. Once again, Cassius and the others agree and yield to his argument. Another disagreement between the two occurs during the meeting at Brutus’ house. Cassius inadvertently calls for an oath, or swearing of their resolution to their conspiring cause. Brutus is convinced by their honest faces; he feels that should be enough in such a serious matter. Brutus and Cassius disagree on a battle plan, as well. By this time, the triumvirate, or ruling body, which consists of Antony, Octavius, Caesar’s heir, and Lepidus, is moving in with a plan to avenge Caesar’s death and directly combat the armies of the conspirators. After the flame of Cassius’ and Brutus’ argument, which is lit when Cassius accused Brutus of wronging him, is acclimatized, Brutus proposed that they make a strategic move to approach the armies of Octavius and Antony presently. Cassius immediately responds with a sheer rejection of the idea, and, when asked for reasoning, says, “‘Tis better that the enemy seek us; so shall he waste his means, weary his soldiers, doing himself offense, whilst we, lying still, are full of rest, defense, and nimbleness.” (Act 4, Scene 3, Lines 196-200.) Brutus responds with a self-conceived, shrewd description that captivates those present and flaws their perceptions, specifically Cassius’. This intelligent, strategic machinery present in Brutus’ mind and the ways which he comprehends methodology all insinuates his dominant leadership on the battlefield; this is but another key aspect of a person that, when combined with the other present aspects of Brutus, creates an ideal leader. Once again, Cassius and all other parties are fully submissive to the wise Brutus’ ideas. Brutus is entirely confident in his decisions, and he is obviously trustworthy and honest, for those around him accept his reforms without question.

Finally, Brutus is presented as a more desirable leader due to his selfless ambitions, more prevalently concerning those under his position and influence. Brutus feels that Caesar is too ambitious, and is therefore a threat, especially if he becomes king. From the beginning, Brutus feared Caesar’s crowning. Brutus states that he has nothing personally against Caesar, but he inquisitively reasons with himself constantly, and arbitrarily persuades himself that it is best to conspire against Caesar and abolish him as a threat to Rome. The fact that he is quite selfless is presented in his motive for such an act; he states that it is for the “general,” or the people of Rome. He cares for the people of Rome, obviously; enough to kill for their safety and well-being. Brutus is also thought to favor an established republic. This gives the people a say in government affairs and development. Also, Brutus’ compassion is unleashed when Cassius promotes his proposal to kill Antony along with Caesar. Brutus does not agree at all, saying that Antony cannot rise without Caesar. Contrarily, he argued to keep Antony safe and offer protection and friendship. When Antony’s servant arrives at the Senate house to attain information on whether or not it is safe for Antony to make an appearance, Brutus says to the servant, “Thy master is a wise and valiant Roman; I never thought him worse. Tell him, so please him come unto this place. He shall be satisfied and, by my honor, depart untouched.” (Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 138-140.) Brutus also lends Mark Antony the privilege of speaking at Caesar’s funeral in the market place. Cassius, however, does not agree with Brutus’ decision; Cassius fears Mark Antony deep inside himself, and he is afraid of being oppressed. With this decision set, Brutus cannot speak the last word, and thus cannot calm the plebeians; rather Antony will utter the last word and enrage the plebeians and persuade them to avenge Caesar’s death. During the deliverance of Brutus’ speech at Caesar’s funeral, he justifies his act with heart-felt, righteous cause, saying, “If there be...any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say that Brutus’ love for Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.” (Act 3, Scene 2, Lines 17-22.) Brutus truly feels for those below him, especially due to his honor. He cares for Rome and the good of the people, and he joins the conspiracy for the honest benefit of the people of Rome.

These things, honor, confidence, honesty, trustworthiness, and selflessness, a leader must possess, or he is not a leader, rather he is a ruler. A ruler exercises dominion, while a leader guides by example. Leaders set the standard of greatness for their followers to emulate. Leaders literally illustrate the way in which people should go. In Psalms 32:8, God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go. I will counsel you with my eye on you.” To this, we are to submit; a person should seek God’s guidance so that he can lead according to God’s will. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no wise guidance, the nation falls, but in the multitude of counselors there is victory.” In this, God desires for everyone to be leaders in a sense; and for everyone to act according to His will. In the Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus attempts to emulate a leader, and he accomplishes his goals for the most part. He truly overpowers Caius Cassius in his leadership. Brutus is entirely honorable, he strives to be honest and trustworthy in everything, he is confident and ready to take on anything, and he is selfless and positively ambitious in his actions to help others. John Maxwell once said, “A great leader's courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.”


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