Act IV


Antony, Octavius and Lepidus have banded together in a counter-conspiracy to destroy the men who killed Caesar. Antony has a paper with names on it and he says, "These many, then, shall die; their names are pricked" (4.1.1). The men then mark more names of people who must die, including the brother of Lepidus and the son of Mark Antony's sister. Antony states that, "He shall not live. Look, with a spot I damn him" (4.1.6).

Antony then sends Lepidus to Caesar's house to fetch the will. He hopes to somehow reduce the amount of money that needs to be paid to the beneficiaries. After Lepidus leaves, Antony tells Octavius that Lepidus was a poor choice to form the second triumvirate with. Octavius says, "You may do your will; / But he's a tried and valiant soldier" (4.1.28). Antony implies in his speech that he will eventually remove Lepidus from rule, but that they should keep him a while longer.


Brutus has brought his armies to Sardis (now in Western Turkey) and set up camp there. A messenger whom he sent to Cassius informs him that Cassius is not as friendly anymore. Brutus remarks, "Thou hast described / A hot friend cooling" (4.2.18-19). At that moment Cassius' army arrives and Cassius himself appears. He is angry with Brutus and starts to accuse him of wronging him, but Brutus makes him enter the tent so that they do not appear to be fighting in front of their men.

Cassius is upset that Brutus publicly disgraced a friend of his for taking bribes from the Sardians. Apparently Cassius had sent several letters to Brutus urging him to release the man, but Brutus refused. Brutus is furious that Cassius would even consider defending a man for taking bribes, arguing that Caesar was killed for exactly that reason. He states, "What, shall one of us, / That struck the foremost man of all this world / But for supporting robbers, shall we now / Contaminate our fingers with base bribes" (4.2.73- 76). Cassius and Brutus end up threatening each other, with each man convinced he is better able to lead the armies than the other man. The two men continue arguing, and Brutus finally tells Cassius that he is upset that Cassius refused to send him gold with which to pay his soldiers. Brutus says, "I did send / To you for gold to pay my legions, / Which you denied me" (4.2.130-132). Cassius denies it, and in exasperation pulls out his dagger and offers it to Brutus. He tells Brutus to kill him if he is such an awful man, but Brutus recants and they finally embrace in friendship.

A poet forces his way into the tent and demands that the generals (Cassius and Brutus) not be left alone. He argues that there is a grudge between them. They however, having already resumed their friendship, order him taken away.

Brutus finally informs Cassius that Portia is dead. Cassius, not knowing this beforehand, is surprised by the news and asks how it happened. Brutus tells him that Portia, left alone in the city after he fled, was upset that Octavius and Antony had seized control of Rome. She therefore took live embers and swallowed them, thus killing herself. Titinius and Messala arrive and Brutus immediately changes the subject. Cassius takes him aside and asks, "Portia, art thou gone?" (4.2.218). Brutus tells him not to speak of her anymore.

Brutus and Messala compare letters they have received informing them that Antony and Octavius are marching towards them from Greece. Messala tells Brutus that over one hundred senators have been put to death, but Brutus says his letter only mentioned seventy, including the orator Cicero. Messala then asks Brutus if he has heard anything about Portia, to which Brutus replies, "Nothing, Messala" (4.2.236).

Brutus and Cassius must then decide whether to wait for Antony and Octavius in Sardis or march to meet the opposing army in Philippi. Cassius would prefer to wait and keep his men fresh, but Brutus thinks that the enemy is gaining in power every day and therefore needs to be stopped as soon as possible. Cassius finally agrees with him and leaves for his tent to go to bed before leaving in the morning.

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