ACT IV – Scene.iii
Inside the tent, Cassius accuses Brutus of having
wronged him by condemning Lucius Pella for taking bribes, despite Cassius interceding on his behalf. Brutus further accuses Cassius of selling offices. Brutus reminds Cassius that it was for the sake of
justice that they had killed Caesar. The argument heightens and Brutus further reminds Cassius that he has failed to send gold that he needs to pay his troops.
Eventually the two men are reconciled.
Octavius and Antony are marching towards Philippi and back in Rome hundreds
of Senators have been put to death, including Cicero.
It also transpires that Portia has committed suicide by consuming hot coals.
This in part explains the behavior of Brutus.
They discuss their battle plans and Brutus wishes to attack, while Cassius
want to hold their position in a defensive posture. In the end, it is Brutus who wins. Feeling the loss of his wife, he asks the servant Lucius to call some of his men to sleep with him in the tent for
company. They all fall asleep, but Brutus is visited by Caesar’s ghost, who tells him that they will meet again at Philippi.
On the eve of a most important battle, Brutus is
troubled firstly by the death of his wife, and then by Caesar’s ghost, both ill omens.
His wife has suffered a most painful death by swallowing hot coals. By choosing this means of death, Portia attempts to take on the sins of her husband and to extinguish them in the fire.
Shakespeare deliberately delays the news of the death of Portia in order to
give it greater impact. The audience must wonder what ails Brutus. What Brutus does, is to transfer his grief into his feelings towards Cassius, and although their friendship is sorely tested, it remains intact.
Seeking comfort, Brutus asks his loyal friends to stay with him in his tent,
but they fall asleep, which allows Caesar’s ghost to confront Brutus. Up until now, the bulk of the supernatural happenings have been witnessed by women, but here it is Brutus that sees the ghost.
Again there is reference to occult and also fire in the form of Portia’s death. Brutus realizes that the ghost foretells his death in battle.