Julius Caesar


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First written between the years 1600-01, first performed in 1623.

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, approx. 47 BC (an Early Tragedy)



Marcellus and Flavius criticize the commoners for celebrating Caesar's recent military defeat of Pompey since they feel it's actually a sad day. During a victory march, a soothsayer warns Caesar to "Beware the Ides of March" (March 15); Caesar ignores him. A race is run, wherein Marc Antony, in the course of competing, touches Caesar's wife Calphurnia in hopes of curing her infertility. During the race, Cassius tries to convince Brutus that Caesar has become too powerful and too popular. Brutus neither agrees nor disagrees. Caesar confers with Antony that he fears Cassius is evil and worth fearing. Casca explains to Brutus and Cassius that shouting they heard was caused by Caesar's thrice refusal of a crown offered to him by Antony (though confusing, the commoners rejoiced that he had refused it for it indicated he is a noble man). At the third offering, Caesar collapsed and foamed at the mouth from epilepsy. Afterwards, Caesar exiled/executed Flavius and Marcellus for pulling scarves off of Caesar's images (statues). In a thunderstorm, Casca meets Cicero and tells him of many ominous and fearful sights, mostly of burning images, he has seen. Cassius then meets Cicero and tells him the storm is a good sign of the evil he and his other cohorts plan to do to Caesar. It seems the senators plan to crown Caesar King, but Cassius aims to prevent it, or else commit suicide. Casca agrees to help Cassius. Cinna informs Cassius that Decius Brutus (actually Decimus), Trebonius, and Metallus Cimber will help them to kill Caesar.

Cassius is trying to convince Brutus to join too. Brutus, unable to sleep, tells himself that he fears Caesar will become a tyrant if crowned king. Cassius et al. come to Brutus and resolve to murder Caesar the next day (March 15). Metallus also convinces Caius Ligarius to join their cause. The men leave and Portia (Brutus' wife) begs Brutus to tell her what is happening, but he does not (though he does tell her before he leaves for the Senate). At Caesar's house, Calphurnia begs Caesar to stay home for fear of danger (based on a foreboding dream and the night's storm). Holy priests pluck the entrails of an animal and find no heart in it, another bad sign. Caesar declares he will stay home, to calm his wive's fears. Decius, though, convinces Caesar to come to the senate. On the way, the soothsayer Artemidorus tries to warn Caesar of impending death, to no avail. At the Senate, Trebonius leads Antony away from Caesar, then the conspirators murder Caesar. They cover themselves in his blood and go to the streets crying, "Peace, freedom, and liberty." Antony comes back and mourns Caesar's murder. Antony pretends to support the clan, yet yearns for great havoc to occur as a result of the death. Brutus explains to the crowd that they killed Caesar because he was too ambitious. Antony replies with reverse psychology to incite the commoners to riot in grief over Caesar's murder. Antony also reads them Caesar's (supposed) will, wherein he leaves money to all the citizens, plus his private gardens. In the ensuing riots, Cinna the poet is wrongly killed by a mob that believes him to be Cinna the conspirator.

Antony forms a triumvirate with Octavius Caesar and Lepidus, to rule Rome. However, Brutus and Cassius are raising an army to defy them. Brutus learns that his wife Portia kills herself by swallowing hot coals. Messala tells Brutus that the triumvirate has killed 100 senators. Titinius, Messala, Brutus, and Cassius decide to confront Antony's army at Phillipi. At Brutus' tent, the ghost of Caesar comes and tells Brutus he will see him at Phillipi. The battle indeed ensues at Phillipi. Cassius confers to Messala that it is his birthday and that he fears defeat. In battle, Titinius is captured by Octavius. Cassius convinces Pindarus to help him commit suicide. Pindarus, in grief, flees after the deed is done. In a twist, Brutus overthrows Octavius and Cassius' army, defeating part of Antony's army. Titinius, in grief over Cassius' death, kills himself with Cassius's sword. The battle turns again, this time against Brutus' army. Cato is killed and Lucilius is captured, while pretending to be Brutus. Brutus successively asks Clitus, Dardanius, and Volumnius to help him commit suicide, yet all refuse. Brutus finally convinces Strato to hold the sword while he (Brutus) runs onto it and dies. Thus, Antony and Octavius prevail, while Cassius and Brutus both commit suicide, assumedly partly in grief over murdering Caesar.

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This play is a story primarily about a conspiracy to murder Ceasar. The conspirators' plan has many flaws and they must struggle with the aftermath of what they have done. Brutus the "noblest roman" is the leader and the prime driver is Cassius who is both dangerous, ambitious, and manipulative, and turns Brutus away from Ceasar, for, who "Tis not that I don't like him, but for the general" kills Ceasar in the name of Rome. Brutus must fight the ghost of Ceasar for the rest of the play and Shakespeare makes it clear that although Brutus's action may have been justified and Ceasar may have become a tyrant, he is still the tragic hero of the play. Shakespeare also entertains humanic proportions for all characters, in this endeavour to not merely label characters bad guys-good guys but rather fully human and fragile to manipulation and flattery. He also uses contrasts between characters and relationships such as Cassius and Brutus, Octavius and Antony. Portia, Brutus, Calpurnia, and Ceasar also paint a picture of severe differences, strengths, and weaknesses. Cassius is always having to submit to Brutus's demands and leadership shortfalls, and Ceasar's complete self-absorption when dealing with Calpurnia. The play is extremely thick with magnificent speeches and supernaturalism and is a great read. I would recommend anyone to read the play even if you can't understand it, because it entertains an insight into the human manipulative world that Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in.--Submitted by tim clark.

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Recent Forum Posts on Julius Caesar

Forum Speeches

Hey Shakespeare Community, why do Brutus and Cassius speek separately to the people after Caesar's death? Why do we not get to hear what Cassius has to say? This is Scene2 The Forum "Cassius, go you into the other street, And part the numbers. Those that will hear me speak, let 'em stay here; Those that will follow Cassius, go with him; And public reasons shall be redered of Caesar's death." Looking forward to your thoughts!


Persuasion At It's Best

Persuasion At Its Best Persuasion affects us everyday. It is a tool in the hands of the user, and only the person wielding it can decide how to use it. In the play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, a woman named Portia is trying to persuade her husband Brutus to tell her his tightly held secret. Portia successfully persuades Brutus, using persuasive techniques such as reasons, evidence, name calling, and loaded words. First, she successfully persuades Brutus is her use of reasoning. She says that because of her respectable rank she is adept and deserves to know the secret that Brutus is carrying: “I grant I am a woman; but withal / a woman that Lord Brutus took to wife. / I grant I am a woman; but withal / a woman well reputed, Cato’s daughter,” (2.1.291-294). Her lineage to Cato, who is her father and also a “respected man who was famous for his integrity,” and her relation with Brutus qualifies her to know all his thoughts. Portia proficiently coaxes Brutus using the logical appeal reasoning. Next, Portia effortlessly wheedles Brutus in her practice of evidence. Portia had previously given herself a cut and no one knows about it, so she proclaims that it provides evidence of her trustworthiness: “I have made strong proof of my constancy, / giving myself a voluntary wound / here in the thigh; can I bear that with patience, / and not my husband’s secrets?” (2.1.299-302). She points out that her ability to withhold intense information from all those around her proves her reliability as a confidant. Using evidence, Portia successfully convinces Brutus. Third, Portia, by application of name calling, is able to inveigle her husband. Her approach of attacking herself with harsh names did exactly what she wanted it to do. Make Brutus feel bad. “Dwell I but in the suburbs / of your good pleasure? If it be no more, / Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife,” (2.1.285-287). Portia says that if Brutus does not confide in her, she is just a slut there for his entertainment rather than his wife. She successfully wields persuasion on Brutus by applying offensive names to herself. Fourth, Portia again uses name calling to smoothly influence Brutus. She verbally attacks him to make him feel bad, causing him to want to make himself right again in her eyes and “clean the slate.” “It should not need, if you were gentle Brutus.” (2.1.279). She calls Brutus ungentle, causing him to feel terrible about not telling her, so he proceeds to tell her his deeply held secret. By using name calling, Portia effectively persuades Brutus. Fifth, Portia loads some words which contributed to the success of her endeavor to persuade Brutus. Portia lays down an intense array of vocabulary to guilt trip him: “Yet I insisted, yet you answered not, / But with an angry wafter of your hand / gave sign for me to leave me. So I did. / Fearing to strengthen that impatience / which seemed too much enkindled, and withal / hoping it was but an effect of humor.” (2.1.245-250). Using such passionate dialogue as, “angry, fear, strength, impatience,” and “enkindled,” allowed her to guilt trip him enough to make him tell her his secret. Loading words played an important role in Portia’s successful attempt of swaying Brutus. In conclusion, Portia smoothly convinces Brutus because of her effective persuasive techniques to learn the secret that he clutches so securely which was that he and his comrades were going to assassinate Julius Caesar. Portia reasons that her honorable stature qualifies her to know his secret. She provides evidence of her ability to keep secrets by showing him a cut she gave herself that no one knows about. Name calling is another persuasive technique she applies to herself in order to make Brutus feel bad. She practices the use of loaded words to condemn him for his previous actions to make him feel guilty. Portia loads some more captivating words to remind him of oaths he took when taking her hand in marriage. Name calling is once more applied in order to make him feel blameworthy and make him want to “clean the slate.” Persuasion is a powerful weapon, how you choose to use to wield it will determine who you are.


Julius Caesar and the Ides of March

So the Ides of March are come. Every year at this time I commemorate the spirit of Caesar by reading Julius Caesar. I find that this is one of those plays that really divides people, you either love or hate it. So for those who have read or seen it, what are your thoughts?


adaptation advice: Shakespeare vs. Zombies

Hi there, A small theatre group (about 12-20) at my school want to stage a 15 minute scene from Shakespeare for a Shakespeare festival. They have picked Julius Caesar, Act 5. They have tasked me with editing the scene to fit their needs, i.e. cutting the number of speaking characters down to 8, sharing out some of the lines more, and also... setting the battle as a zombie apocalypse. Would I be able to get feedback on my edited scene? It would please me very much to have criticism and some extra pairs of eyes to make sure I haven't butchered The Bard's original intentions too much Cheers, C~


Rhetoric devices in Antony's speech

Hi everyone! Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is a tragedy I love passionately. I'm sweating on it and on other Shakespeare's plays (namely, Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra) for an exam I have to take a second time due to bureaucratic reasons (an exam I had got through with flying colours, which is all the more annoying). There was a question I was asked, however, that I struggled with, and still do (to my shame): it was about the rhetorical devices Antony uses in his funeral speech strategy. The only thing that came to my mind was the modesty topos he uses when he says he's not so good an orator as Brutus... I'm likely to be asked the same question again, so I want to avoid being caught unprepared once more (you know, to err is human but to persist is devilish). I have the Arden edition of the play, but it doesn't help. I know how tiresome some "homework questions" can be to you, still, I hope you'll help me. Even a link to a web page on the subject would be great help! Thanks


True leader of the conspiracy

After the meeting of the conspirators in Act 2, Scene 1, the role of leader in the conspiracy seems to shift from Cassius to Brutus. I've always found this as an interesting part of the drama. Where is the turning point of this change. At what point does Brutus undoubtedly take over as the new leader? I believe it is when Cassius, Casca, Cinna and Metellus all believe that Cicero should be included. Brutus then speaks, offering his opinion to keep him out. After he says this, Casca and Cassius both seem to agree with Brutus, displaying his power among the men. How and why did this power-shift occur?


Help With Metaphor

Someone smarter than me recently started talking to me in metaphors about our troubled past. Ugh. I got some of them, but not this one... "Ceasar, on the senate floor; Scipio, when the blade fell." If someone said that to you, what would it mean? This would be in the context of love and deception. lol Thanks. =)


i need help with julius

i am having trouble understanding what cassius has against caesar that makes him so much hate for caesar? Please help me understand this concept.


Tragedy of Julius Caesar

I am having trouble understand what Cassius is saying to Brutus about Caesar being weak and an ineffective leader. What evidence does Cassius provide to Brutus to demonstrate his claim that Caesar is an ineffective leader?


this would be fun!!!!

hey guys all of u hu hav read jc can recollect that brutus did sum serious mistakes which lead to his downfall ! LET US DISCUSS THEM AND TELL WHAT ACTUALLY WENT WRONG! FOR START I WOULD SAY THAT allowing antony to speak to the crowd(funeral speech) was a big mistake as he could influence the crowd and win them on his side................ur turn now.....:thumbs_up


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