Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Julius Caesar
by William Shakespeare
(1564 - 1616)

Type of Work:

Tragic drama


Rome,- 44 B.C

Principal Characters

Julius Caesar, popular Roman general and

Brutus, a prominent and devout Roman,
and close friend to Caesar

Cassius, a conspiring enemy of Caesar

Marcus Antonius, Caesar\'s supporter, a
brilliant politician

Story Overveiw

Rome was in an uproar. General Julius

Caesar had just returned after having defeated his rival, Pompey His many
military triumphs had made him the most powerful man in Rome. The commoners
- blindly cheering whoever was in power - flocked into the streets to hail

As Caesar passed through the city, a soothsayer
caught his attention and called out: "Beware the Ides of March." But the
general ignored the warning; he was too busy refusing the crown offered
to him by his compatriot and fellow politician, Marcus Antonius. This humble
denial of power fanned within the masses an even greater devotion to their
beloved Caesar.

Meanwhile, among the throng stood Cassius,

Caesar\'s avowed political opponent, and Brutus, the general\'s personal
friend. Envious of Caesar\'s growing popularity, Cassius probed to discover
where Brutus\' deepest sympathies lay. He voiced a concern he had: Caesar
was becoming overly "ambitious." Unless something was done to check his
fame, he would soon seize all power for himself. This could, effectively,
turn the Roman Republic into a dictatorship. Cassius then apprised Brutus
of a plot he had hatched : He and a band of other prominent Romans were
planning to assassinate Caesar. Was Brutus willing to join in the conspiracy?

Brutus admitted that he shared the same
inner concern: "I do fear the people choose Caesar for their king." But
still Brutus hesitated to involve himself in such a plot. After all, he
dearly loved and admired Caesar. Even so, he couldn\'t deny that Caesar\'s
rapid rise to power constituted a potential threat to the Republic. Brutus
promised Cassius that he would consider the matter, but would withhold
his decision until the following day.

The dilemma weighed upon Brutus throughout
the night: should be aid in the killing of his beloved friend Caesar, or
should he sit by and watch as Caesar destroyed the State?

The plotting band, hoping to gain the support
of the highly respected Brutus, paid him an early morning visit. Referring
to Caesar as an "immortal god," presenting false evidence of his intentions,
and playing on Brutus\'immense love for Rome, Cassius finally prevailed
on him to help see to the man\'s death; Brutus agreed to take part in his
friend\'s assassination, to "think of him as a serpent\'s egg, which, hatched,
would as his kind, grow mischievous, and kill him in the shell." Assassination
- a certain "righteous treason" Brutus reluctantly decided, was justified
under the circumstances.

Caesar had announced that he would appear
before a vast crowd at the Capitol the next morning - the Ides of March.

There the conspirators planned to attack and dagger him to death.

After an eerie night, filled with reports
of gaping graves and wandering ghosts throughout the city, Caesar set out
early toward the Capitol, despite three separate warnings: an oracle, the
self same soothsayer from before, and finally, his wife, Calpurnia, who
experienced a violent and horrible dream, all prophesied that his life
was in jeopardy.

As predicted, while Caesar stood addressing
the multitude, his conspirators surrounded him and stabbed him, one by
one. As Brutus finally stepped forward to thrus this dagger into his friend\'s
side, Caesar whispered, "Et to, Brute?" ("You too, Brutus?"). The great
general then fell dead from twenty-three knife wounds.

The onlooking Romans were stunned and horrified,
and Brutus immediately arranged for a public funeral where he could placate
the masses by justifying the assassination. Then the conspirators bathed
their hands in Caesar\'s blood and marched through the marketplace, brandishing
their weapons over their heads, crying, "Peace, freedom, and liberty!"

At the funeral, Brutus sought to convince
the angry mourners why it was requisite that Caesar die. Despite his love
for Caesar, he frankly and honestly felt that he had been forced to kill
him in order to save Rome from dictatorship. "Not that I loved Caesar less,
but that I loved Rome more," he began.

As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as
he was fortunate, I rejoice at it, as he was valiant, I honour him; but,
as he was ambitious, I slew him. There are tears, for his love, joy, for
his fortune; honour, for his valor; and death for his ambition ... as I
slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself
when it shall please my country to need my death.

His eloquence won over the heart of every

Roman in the throng.