From this link,

DECIUS BRUTUS: Great Caesar,

CAESAR: Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?

CASCAL: Speak, hands for me!

CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR

CAESAR: Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar.


For some reason, the last part of the phrase is always left out when discussing Caesar's death. It is very widely believed that Et tu, Brute? were the last words of Caesar*, and is often used as a joke in common speech. Even Wikipedia ignores the last part, and has an entire page on Et tu, Brute? with no mention of the subsequent phrase.

The reason I bring it up is that I think it brings up a different interpretation of the sentiment Shakespeare was trying to convey. "Et tu, Brute?" sounds like an accusatory statement of betrayal, similar to "how dare you!" Even Wikipedia mentions this interpretation:

It has been argued that the phrase can be interpreted as a curse or warning

On the other hand, the addition of "Then fall Caesar", at least in my opinion, makes it sound more like a disappointment - similar to "how could you?" In a sense, Caesar believes that the fact that Brutus has taken the side against him is reason enough for Caesar to not fight back against his impending death. This is, of course, my interpretation.

Nonetheless, I don't understand why the second part of the phrase is never mentioned, even in literary discussions. Is it just because Latin sounds cooler?

(To be clear, I'm talking about the Shakespeare version of the story, and not the actual series of events. There's some evidence to suggest that Caesar's actual last words may have been "And you, son?" (translated), but that doesn't change the point of the question.)

*From my personal experience. Depending on where you live and who your friends are, this might not be the case.


2 Answers 2


The phrase et tu Brute was in common use among the Elizabethans before Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”. It is a Latin translation of a Greek phrase which Suetonius ascribed to the dying Caesar in his “The Twelve Caesars”.

“Et tu Brute” can be found in a 1584 play in Latin, by Richard Edes, “Caesar Interfectus”; in a 1591 play, “The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of York”, supposedly by Thomas Middleton, but sometimes attributed to Shakespeare; and in Ben Jonson’s “Every Man out of his Humor”, which was first performed in the same year as “Julius Caesar”, 1599.

Thus et tu Brute had a life of its own before Shakespeare. An apt allusion to the betrayal of someone by a friend, it soon became a cliché, to the point where more often than not it was (and still is) used flippantly, rather than seriously.

So, although almost universally attributed to Shakespeare, et tu Brute is just another Latin phrase - like carpe diem and ad nauseum – that has become part of English usage. That is why we do not hear it followed by Shakespeare’s typically ambiguous and meaningful appendage, “Then fall Caesar.”


I see it as Caesar trusting Brutus's choice. If Brutus thinks Caesar needs to die then it is the right thing to do. You too Brutus? Then I must die. I think it's an affirmation. I agree with you that everyone always says et tu brute was the last words of Caesar because when you add "then fall Caesar", the meaning changes from "how could you" to "even you Brutus, then it must be done." Just the way I see it.

  • 3
    This is agreeing with the OP's interpretation of the quote, but the question in the title is why is "then fall, Caesar" often left out by people quoting this line?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 26, 2019 at 9:36

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