Stoicism And Empicureanism Essay, Research Paper
The Stoic ethic in practice was mainly a struggle to overcome passion, the great enemy of reason, and hindrance to virtue. Through this Stoics display profound determination and a lack of public emotion. However, the Epicureans believed that the end of human action is to be free from pain and fear; allowing their philosophy of “pleasure is our first and native good . Epicurean philosophy stresses the fact of self-responsibility, and disapproves of the idea of omens and other superstitious acts. Emotion or lack thereof, superstition, and, responsibility are evident in both Brutus and Cassius, and in the way that their philosophies play into their actions.
Both Cassius and Brutus have a strong sense of responsibility. Yet Cassius s sense of responsibility is directed more towards himself, The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves that we are underlings (1.2.140-41). The fact that Cassius believes in personal responsibility is a reference to his belief in Epicureanism, which doubts the existence of higher beings, leaving sole responsibility on the person. Brutus has a much different approach on where his responsibilities lay, It must be by his death; and for my part, I know no personal cause to spurn at him, but for the general (2.1.10-13) Brutus s cause for killing Caesar was for fear of how Rome would become under a dictator, while Cassius was merely thinking for himself and how his person would benefit from the death of Caesar.
In Roman times bad omens and other superstitions were held in high esteem. In scene one, Casca is horrified that Cassius is unafraid of grim natural portents, “But wherefore did you so much tempt the heavens? It is the part of men to fear and tremble when the most mighty gods by tokens send such dreadful heralds to astonish us (1.3.53-56). To an Epicurean, fear of the supernatural is merely something that diminishes one s free enjoyment of life. Brutus, one who is much more superstitious, believes that the sight of Caesars ghost twice foretells that his time on earth has ended. The ghost of Caesar hath appeared to me two several times by night; at Sardis once, and this last night here in Philippi fields. I know my hour is come (5.5.18-21). External goods and circumstances played a part in a Stoics life. Yet to an Epicurean, these other aspects play no part in their life, which is led completely by their own choice of actions.
In particular, Stoics fought off the emotions of pleasure, desire, fear, and melancholy. It is ironic that Brutus first tells Cassius of Portia’s death, in justifying his unkind bitterness in the quarrel, then appears to feign stoic indifference when Titinius brings the news of Portia s death once again. Cassius, true to his belief, has no problem showing any public emotions. This is extremely evident when he and Brutus are having a verbal argument in the middle of scene IV, for Cassius is willing to go to any measures by which to persuade Brutus back again to his side. Brutus and Cassius s views on emotion differ greatly on this aspect, however they work with each other to create a complex fight.
A persons choices in life may be governed by their philosophies, which will ultimately affect their destination in life s course. Epicureanism and Stoicism both are guiding factors to the paths taken by Brutus and Cassius. Cassius s choices in killing Caesar were in the best interests of himself, which follows true to the teachings of Epicures. Brutus s noble and virtuous manner, shows throughout the play that his actions are governed solely through reasoning and what he believes to be the best course possible.