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Literature Study GuidesJulius CaesarAct 5 Scenes 2 3 Summary

Julius Caesar | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Act 5, Scenes 2–3

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Act 5, Scenes 2–3 of William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar.

Julius Caesar | Act 5, Scenes 2–3 | Summary



Brutus and Messala charge into battle. Brutus plans to attack Octavius, in whom he perceives a lack of spirit. Cassius and Titinius are soon encircled by Antony's forces. Titinius fears Brutus attacked too early.

Cassius sees tents on fire from a distance. He sends Titinius to the tents to see if they belong to a friend or an enemy. Meanwhile, Cassius is convinced he has lost and prepares to die. At his request the servant Pindarus goes to check on Titinius. Pindarus reports that Titinius has been taken captive. Grieving Titinius, Cassius asks Pindarus to kill him, saying as he dies, "Caesar, thou art avenged." Pindarus, now a free man, runs from the battlefield.

Titinius and Messala approach with good news—Brutus's forces have conquered Octavius. They see Cassius on the hill, dead. Titinius figures out that Cassius didn't trust his success. The gathering Cassius saw was not Titinius being taken captive but Titinius in the middle of a celebration. Titinius puts the crown of victory on Cassius's head and slays himself in grief.

Brutus sees the two men dead. He says sorrowfully that Julius Caesar's spirit is still mighty, turning men against themselves. He resolves to fight again the next day.


The tragic misunderstandings that mark these scenes show fate's power—Brutus and Cassius are destined for failure.

Scene 2 gives the important information that Brutus is attacking Octavius, leaving Cassius vulnerable to Antony. Brutus continues the aggressive strategy he began by marching to Philippi. This time it's a mistake. Why this change in the formerly cautious Brutus? Again, the acceptance of fate plays a role. Brutus can't afford to take the long view, as he did when contemplating the good of Rome in Act 2. He knows now that things won't end well. His new priority is saving himself, even if it means leaving Cassius's forces open to attack.

Cassius, meanwhile, abandons his previous belief in man's ability to change his fate. The misinformation he receives from Pindarus—that he has lost against Antony—leads him to suicide. The irony is that by believing this loss to be true, Cassius actually creates it: had he stayed alive, he would have had a chance at overcoming Antony's forces and joining in Brutus's victory. Once he dies, his troops are vulnerable—leading to defeat for his troops and for Brutus.

Messala's lament, "O hateful error ... Why dost thou show to the apt thoughts of men the things that are not?" harkens back to the misinterpretation of omens and warnings throughout the play.

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