Scene 2.1 - Outside Brutus' house
Brutus has been up all night agonizing over what to do about Caesar. He concludes that Caesar must die to prevent the possibility that he will become tyrant. Brutus does not know for sure if Caesar will abuse his power, but no one should have as much power as Caesar wants. Lucius enters with a letter for Brutus (written by Cassius). The letter tells Brutus to wake up and do something about the crisis that Rome is in. Brutus thinks about his great ancestor - how he drove the Tarquin king from Rome to found the Roman Republic - and Brutus promises to kill Caesar if it will save the Roman Republic from another king.
Lucius tells him he has visitors - Cassius and several men who hide their faces. Brutus knows that they are the members of the conspiracy, and he laments that they must be really evil if they can't even show their faces at night. The members of the conspiracy - Trebonius, Decius Brutus, Casca, Cinna, and Metellus Cimber - introduce themselves. Brutus knows and welcomes them all. While Brutus and Cassius take a moment to talk apart, the others debate whether the sun rises from the east. Casca is confident that the sun rises from the south at this time of year, while everyone obviously disagrees.
Brutus and Cassius return, and Brutus asks that they all join hands. Cassius says that they should swear to kill Caesar. Brutus intervenes by saying that they should not swear because there are enough reasons to kill Caesar - the suffering of Rome, Caesar's ambition, and their just cause - without needing the crutch of an oath in order to do it. Cassius wants to recruit Cicero but Brutus doesn't, and so the matter is dropped. Cassius says that they should kill Antony when they kill Caesar because he is just as much of a threat. Brutus disagrees and says that while killing Caesar is a necessity, killing Antony would make their deed seem less like justice and more like carnage.
Cassius expresses his concern that Caesar may heed the signs and warnings and refuse to come to the Capitol. Decius is certain that he can make Caesar come out even if he determined to stay in today. Brutus asks Metellus to fetch Caius Ligarius, an enemy of Caesar but a friend to Brutus. As they all leave, Brutus tells them to be like actors and pretend to be cheerful.
Portia, Brutus' wife, comes out. She complains that Brutus has been acting strangely lately and she wants him to tell her what is wrong. Brutus says that he is simply sick. She says that he would not be outside in the cold if he were sick. Portia begs him to tell her what is bothering him and what those men were doing here tonight. She says that if he doesn't tell her that which she feels she has a right to know - as his partner, wife, and lover - she will feel like his whore instead. He assures her that she is his wife. Portia claims that she is worthy of knowing the truth because she is the daughter of an important Roman who committed suicide rather than bow to Caesar and because she once gave herself a deep wound to prove her loyalty. Brutus is about to tell her, but they are interrupted by a knock on the door. Brutus says that he will explain later, and she departs.
Caius Ligarius enters and he is clearly sick, but he says that he will make himself healthy for a worthy endeavor. Brutus says he will tell him about the plan on their way to meet the others.
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Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Scenes 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4
Scenes 3.2 and 3.3
Scenes 5.1 and 5.2
Scenes 5.4 and 5.5