Julius Caesar

In the play of Julius Caesar, we see a brief picture of Roman life during the time of the First Triumvirate. In this snap shot, we
see many unfortunate things. Shakespeare gives us the idea that many
people try to circumvent what the future holds, such as unfortunate
things, by being superstitious. Superstition seems to play a role in
the basic daily life of most Roman citizens. For instance, the setting
of the first scene is based upon superstition, the Feast of Lupercal.

This feast is in honor of the god Pan, the queen of fertility. During
this time, infertile females are supposed to be able to procreate, and
fertile ones are supposed to be able to bear more. It is also a
supposed time of sexual glorification and happiness. Other scenes
depict how throughout Rome, roaming the streets are mysterious
sooth-sayers, who are supposedly given the power to predict the
future. Dictating what is to come through terse tidbits, these people
may also be looked upon as superstitious. In the opening scene, one
sooth-sayer, old in his years, warns Caesar to "Beware the Ides of

March," an admonition of Caesar\'s impending death. Although
sooth-sayers are looked upon by many as insane out of touch lower
classmen, a good deal of them, obviously including the sayer Caesar
encountered, are indeed right on the mark. Since they lack any formal
office or shop, and they predict forthcomings without fee, one can see
quite easily why citizens would distrust their predictions.

Superstition, in general elements such as the Feast of Lupercal, as
well as on a personal level such as with the sooth-sayers, is an
important factor in determining the events and the outcome of Julius

Caesar, a significant force throughout the entire course of the play.

Before the play fully unravels, we see a few of signs of

Caesar\'s tragic end. Aside from the sooth-sayer\'s warning, we also see
another sign during Caesar\'s visit with the Augerers, the latter day"psychics". They find "No heart in the beast", which they interpret as
advice to Caesar that he should remain at home. Ceasar brushes it off
and thinks of it as a rebuke from the gods, meaning that he is a
coward if he does not go out, and so he dismisses the wise advice as
hearsay. However, the next morning, his wife Calphurnia wakes up
frightened due to a horrible nightmare. She tells Caesar of a battle
breaking out in the heart of Rome, "Which drizzled blood upon the

Capitol," with Caesar painfully dying, such that "...The heavens
themselves blaze forth the death of princes." Although Caesar realizes

Calphurnia is truly concerned about his well-being, he seeks another
interpretation, coming to the conclusion that the person who imagines
the dream may not be the wisest one to interpret it\'s meaning. Later

Caesar tells his faithful companion Decius about it, and he interprets
it quite the contrary, "That it was a vision fair and fortunate," and
indeed, today is an ideal day to go out, since this is the day "To
give a crown to mighty Caesar." Perhaps Decius is implying here that
today is a day where much appreciation and appraisal will be given to

Caesar, surely not the endangerment of his well-being as Calphurnia
interprets it. Caesar predictably agrees with him, as most citizens
enjoy believing the more positive of two interpretations.

After Caesar\'s assasination at the hand of Brutus, Cassius, and
the rest of the conspirators, Brutus and Cassius are chased into the
country side, where we see a few superstitious signs of their
forthcoming painful death in battle. In a dream, Brutus sees

Caesar\'s "ghost", interpreted as an omen of his defeat. He also looks
upon the ensign, and instead of the usual stock of eagles, ravens and
kites replace them, construed as another sign of their loss at

Phillipi. Not surprisingly, Caesar\'s death is avenged in the end, with
the two of the conspirators\' double suicide. As superstition is
inter-twined within the basis of the entire play, we can reasonably
conclude that it is because of this irrational belief of why certain
events occur and how to avoid them, that Caesar is retired and
eventually avenged. In the words of Caesar\'s devoted follower and
companion Mark Antony, "His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed
in him that Nature might stand up and say to the world, \'This was a
man!\'"