Summary Two patricians Flavius and Marcullus enter. They are confused by the fact that the plebeians are not in their work clothes, and begin to ask some plebeians what their jobs are. A carpenter admits he is a carpenter. Next Marcullus asks a cobbler what his job is, and the cobbler answers in a series of puns (“souls” / “soles”), (“withal” / “with awl”). The cobbler explains that everyone is taking the day off to celebrate Caesar’s victory over Pompey. Marcullus, in high rhetoric, insults the plebeians for being fickle, since they very recently all liked Pompey.
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He tells them all to go back home and feel very sorry for dishonoring Pompey’s memory. The plebeians leave. Flavius suggests that the two of them take down all of the pro-Caesar decorations. Marcullus is worried about getting into trouble since it is the feast of Luprecal after all. Flavius insists, and recommends they that drive all of the plebeians out of the streets. Finally he comments that they must do something to humble Caesar or else he would put himself so far above other men as to make them all slaves. Summary Caesar and his party enter.
Caesar asks that his wife Calpurnia stand in Antony’s way and that Antony touch her while he is running the race. Both agree. A soothsayer warns Caesar of the ides of March. At first Caesar is interested, but then he dismisses the soothsayer. All leaves except Brutus and Cassius. Cassius says that Brutus hasn’t seemed himself recently. Brutus admits that he has been troubled, and has been doing a lot of thinking. Cassius suggests he can tell Brutus what has been troubling him. Brutus mistrusts Cassius’s motives. Cassius assures Brutus he is trustworthy. They hear trumpets and shouting.
Brutus comments to himself that he hopes the people haven’t made Caesar a king. Cassius asks Brutus if he fears the people will do so. Brutus admits he does, and asks Cassius to get to the point. He says if Cassius wants him to do something for the public good he will even if it means his death. Cassius says how upset he is that Caesar has become so popular. He tells how he saved Caesar from drowning when the two of them were children, and how he saw Caesar get very ill while campaigning in Spain. Cassius says Caesar has gotten too powerful, and too proud. Something must be done.
He reminds Brutus that his ancestor of the same name helped establish the Roman republic by driving out the Tarquin kings. Brutus admits he is sympathetic and suggests they meet later. Caesar and company return; they look upset. Brutus and Cassius agree to ask Casca what has happened. Caesar tells Antony that “yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; / He thinks too much: such men are dangerous” (I. ii. 194-5). Antony assures him Cassius is not to be feared. Caesar agrees suggesting that he fears nothing, but continues to criticize Cassius as a brooding and solemn fellow.
Caesar and company leave. Casca explains to Brutus and Cassius that Antony offered Caesar a crown three times, each time Caesar refused it, but each time less fervently, and the third time Caesar went into and epileptic fit, i. e. , “the falling sickness” (I. ii2. 52). Indeed, Caesar was so popular with the crowd that he offered them his throat to cut as a dramatic gesture. After Caesar recovered from his fit the crowd cheered and clapped all the more. Cassius asks if Cicero said anything, and Casca makes several jokes about unable to understand Cicero because he spoke in Greek.
Casca also mentions that Flavius and Marcullus are being put to death for defacing images of Caesar. Cassius invites Casca to dinner the next night, and Casca leaves. Brutus says Casca seemed awfully stupid. Cassius says he is just acting stupid so he can get away with being more honest. Brutus says he will meet Cassius the next day and leaves. In a soliloquy Cassius worries that he won’t be able to persuade Brutus to kill Caesar. He decides to forge some letters encouraging him to do so, and make it look like all of Rome is behind the idea. Act I, Scene iii Summary At night Cicero enters with Casca.
Cicero asks Casca if he brought Caesar home, and why he looks so scared. Casca explains that he has seen several bad omens including fire coming out of the sky, a slave’s hand go unburnt while on fire, and a lion at the capitol. Casca realizes some would explain these things as natural, but he thinks the gods must be angry with each other or with man. Cicero admits things are strange but suggests that people interpret things however they want to interpret them. Cicero asks Casca if Caesar is going to go to the capitol the next day. Indeed he is, Casca answers. Cicero leaves, and Cassius enters.
After identifying him Casca reiterates his fears about the weather to Cassius. Cassius coolly explains that he isn’t worried. Cassius claims that Casca is stupid not to see that these omens are the result of someone’s ambitious evil deeds. Casca takes the hint that Cassius is blaming Caesar and admits he has heard a rumor the senate will crown Caesar the next day at the capitol. Caesar is to wear the crown everywhere except Italy. Cassius insists he won’t tolerate tyranny. Casca says, me too. They agree to do something about Caesar. Cinna enters, asks where Cassius has been. Cassius wants to know if the other conspirators are waiting for him.
Cinna says they are, and implores Cassius to persuade Brutus to join the conspirators. Cassius gives Cinna the fake letters to drop off at Brutus’s house, and Cinna leaves. Casca and Cassius discuss how helpful having Brutus’s cooperation would be to make the assassination seem right and proper. Act II, Scene i Summary Not knowing what time it is, Brutus calls for his sleeping servant, Lucius. Brutus asks him for a candle to be put in his study. Next comes a very famous speech by Brutus (II. i. 10-34). He must kill Caesar even though Caesar hasn’t done anything personally offensive to him.
In fact Brutus can’t think of anytime when Caesar acted out of emotion rather than reason. But he must be killed, because like a serpent in the egg he is likely to be poisonous after a while. Lucius returns having found a letter on the windowsill. Brutus wants to know if it is the ides of March. Lucius doesn’t know, and leaves to check. The meteor shower that so scared Casca has given Brutus enough light to read. The letter says “kill Caesar” in veiled terms. Lucius returns to say that it is the ides of march (March 15) just in time to answer the door where Cassius and his pals wait.
Lucius leaves. Cassius presents the conspirators and Brutus welcomes them: Trebonius, Decius Brutus, Casca, Cinna, Metellus Cimber. They all hold hands. Cassius proposes an oath. Brutus says there will be no oath since they are all honest Romans doing honest business. Cassius proposes they add Cicero to the group. This idea gains popularity but is struck down by Brutus. Cassius proposes they kill Antony too, again Brutus says no in a famous speech (II. i. 162-183): “Lets carve him [Caesar] like a dish fit for the gods / not hew him like a carcass fit for hounds” (II. i. 173-4).
Antony is no danger once Caesar is dead. He may kill himself, but that is unlikely since he likes to party. The clock strikes (a frequently commented upon impossibility in Roman times). Cassius says that despite his normal attitude Caesar is superstitious and may not come to the capitol that day. Decius says he can make sure Caesar comes. Cassius insists they all go to meet Caesar at his house at 9 o’clock. Metellus suggests Cais Ligarius be added to the conspiracy. Brutus agrees and tells Metellus to bring Cais Ligarius to Brutus’ house. They all depart after Brutus reminds them to look happy and well slept.
Brutus calls for Lucius, decides to let him sleep, and says how nice it would be to sleep carefree. Portia, Brutus’ wife, enters worried about why Brutus has been so anxious. Brutus says he is sick, but Portia doesn’t believe him and wants to know who the men were that just visited. Each assure the other of how much the love each other, and Brutus agrees to share his secrets, but not right now because someone is at the door. Lucius presents Cais Ligarius who is sick. Ligarius asks if Brutus has a project worth doing. Brutus admits he has. Ligarius recovers from his illness and agrees to participate not knowing what the project is.
Caesar also hasn’t been sleeping well, and takes note of the strange weather. He mentions Calpurnia, his wife, cried three times in her sleep “Help ho! They murder Caesar! ” (II. ii. 3). Caesar has a servant tell the priest to perform sacrifice and report the results back to him. Calpurnia comes and asks that Caesar spend the day at home in light of all the bad omens. Caesar isn’t sure the omens apply to him, and says that if fate will have him die there isn’t much he can do. The priest also recommends he stay, but he doesn’t listen until Calpurnia, kneeling, asks that he stay home just to keep her happy.
He agrees not to leave, but the conspirators arrive. By reinterpreting Calpurnia’s nightmares, and telling Caesar of the rumor he will be given a crown, Decius persuades him to go to the capitol. Brutus comments to himself it is a pity Caesar is so trusting of his enemies. Summary A guy named Artemidorus looks over a warning note he is going to give to Caesar. He comments to himself how much he hopes Caesar will read it in time. Summary Portia asks Lucius to go to the Capitol. He wants to know why. She is nervous and has trouble explaining. She tells him to go see what happens and especially to watch Brutus and Caesar.
The soothsayer enters. Portia asks, where he has been, what time it is, and is Caesar going to the Capitol? The soothsayer explains that he comes from his home, it is nine o’clock, and Caesar is very soon to come, and he fears Caesar is in some danger. He says goodbye to Portia explaining he wants a better place to stand in order to talk to Caesar. Before gong back home Portia reminds Lucius of his task. Summary On his way to the capitol Caesar tells the soothsayer that the ides of March have come. The soothsayer reminds him that the day isn’t over yet. Artemidorus tries to give Caesar his letter of warning.
Decius also tries to present a suit, but Artemidorus argues that his is more important, and that Caesar should read it first. Caesar says he will save what pertains most to him till last. Artemidorus cries for his suit to be read, and Caesar thinks he is acting a bit weird. In terms of the conspiracy, Popilius wishes Cassius well, implying he knows about the plot. Cassius and Brutus start to worry about the success of their plot, as Trebonius distracts Antony. Metellus asks Caesar to revoke the banishment of his brother. The other conspirators join in asking.
Caesar is surprised that they all want him to release Metellus’s brother but insists that though they petition well, he won’t change his mind. He, unlike other men, is constant. They all stab Caesar at Cassius’s word. His final words are “Et tu Brute” meaning “you too Brutus? ” The conspirators celebrate, and assure the senators they mean no one else harm. Casca and Brutus mention that they have done Caesar a favor by cutting short the time he will fear death. Cassius and Brutus predict that Caesar’s death will be acted out many centuries in the future. A servant of Antony’s asks if Antony can talk to Brutus.
Brutus says that’s fine and Antony enters. Antony is sad that Caesar is dead and asks Brutus to kill him. Brutus and Cassius assure Antony they mean him no harm. Brutus says he will explain why they did this after he addresses the crowd. Antony shakes hands with the conspirators and apologizes to Caesar’s body for doing so. He goes on and on about how sad he is. Cassius asks Antony if he is going to cause them trouble. Antony promises them friendship but asks to speak at Caesar’s funeral. Brutus agrees. Cassius doesn’t want Antony to speak in case he sways the favor of the crowd.
Brutus assures Cassius, saying that he will speak first, but Cassius is still worried. Everyone but Antony leaves. In a very famous speech (III. i. 254-275). Antony apologizes to Caesar for being nice to the conspirators and then predicts that the country will soon be ravaged by a terrible civil war. A servant of Octavius enters saying that Octavius is coming, upon Caesar’s request. Then the servant notices Caesar is dead. Antony says Octavius should wait before he comes to Rome, because Rome isn’t safe. Antony says he will try to sway public opinion against the conspirators during his funeral oration. They both leave.
Summary Brutus and Antony will both address the crowd. First, Brutus’s speech: He says he loved Caesar dearly but loved Rome more. Just as Brutus appropriately responded to Caesar’s triumphs and valor with rejoicing and honor, he responded to his ambition by slaying him. If he has offended someone that person loves tyranny and clearly there is no such person. Brutus says he will die for Rome whenever it is necessary, just as it was necessary for Caesar to die. The crowd is very pleased with Brutus and even suggests he be crowned. Brutus asks that everyone stay to hear Antony’s very famous speech (III. ii. 74).
Antony starts by saying he will not disagree with Brutus, but quickly he says Caesar wasn’t ambitious. The comment he repeats “And Brutus is an honorable man” is seen to be ironic. Every time Antony pauses in his speech the comments of the plebeians are more spiteful toward the conspirators. Antony reads Caesar’s will where Caesar gave a lot to the public. He also displays Caesar’s body. The crowd is turned into an angry mob out to get the conspirators. The crowds depart to burn and pillage. Octavius’s servant comes and says that Octavius and Lepidus are at Caesar’s house. Antony says he will meet them there.
The servant mentions that Brutus and Cassius have left the city in fear. Summary Cinna the poet (no relationship to Cinna the conspirator) is walking along the street. He recalls a dream where he had dinner with Caesar. He says he doesn’t want to be outside but “something leads me forth” (III. iii. 4). Four plebeians ask him his name, his destination, where he lives, and if he is married. He jokes with them a little and reports that he lives near the capitol, is a bachelor, is going to Caesar’s funeral, and his name is Cinna. They think is Cinna the conspirator. He explains that he isn’t but they kill him anyway.
Summary Antony, Octavius and Lepidus are making a list of whom to kill. Octavius says they have to kill Lepidus’ brother. Lepidus says OK as long as they kill Antony’s nephew. Antony sends Lepidus to fetch Caesar’s will so they can change it in order to get some money. Lepidus Leaves. Antony says that Lepidus is only good for doing busy work, and he is no longer useful. Octavius defends Lepidus but says Antony can have it his way. Antony says Brutus and Cassius are raising an army, and suggests to Octavius that the two of them have to do strategic planning. Summary Lucius tells Brutus that Cassius and his army are coming.
Lucius says that Cassius was a bit cold to him when they met. Cassius and his army arrive. Cassius is angry with Brutus and wants to talk to him. Brutus says that he doesn’t want their armies to see them angry with each other and suggests they talk in his tent. Summary Cassius is angry because Brutus punished Lucius Pella for taking bribes even though Cassius had written letters on his behalf. Brutus criticizes Cassius for taking bribes himself. Cassius is angry and offended. Brutus reminds Cassius that they killed Caesar for justice’s sake, so they would be hypocrites if they were unjust now.
The two of them threaten each other and begin to bicker like children. Cassius says Brutus doesn’t love him, and offers Brutus a dagger and his naked chest. Now they start to calm. They make up. A poet enters with some guards; he tries to make everyone feel better by singing, but is quickly shown the door. Brutus tells Cassius that he is sad. Cassius says that Brutus isn’t being very stoic as he usually is, if he lets ordinary misfortunes upset him. Brutus tells Cassius that Portia has killed herself. Lucius brings a bowl of wine. Brutus says not to mention Portia anymore, and they pledge friendships to one another.
Cassius is clearly upset by Portia’s death. Titinius and Messala enter to bring news. Antony and Octavius are bringing their armies to Phillipi. They have killed 70 (according to Brutus) or 100 (according to Messala) senators including Cicero. Messala asks if Brutus has heard from Portia and then regretfully reports that she is dead. Brutus says too bad; we all must die sometime. Cassius and Messala comment about how well Brutus is handling Portia’s death. Returning to business, Brutus suggests they meet the enemy at Phillipi. Cassius prefers waiting. Each presents his arguments, and they agree to go to Phillipi.
It’s time for bed. Cassius, Titinius and Messala leave. Varro and Claudius come to be by Brutus while he sleeps, in case he needs something. Lucius plays some music for Brutus. Caesar’s ghost enters. Brutus is scared and asks what it is. The ghost says it is Brutus’ evil spirit, and will meet him again at Phillipi. Brutus says: OK, I’ll see you then. Brutus wakes his servants and asks them if they saw anything. They say no. Brutus tells Varro and Claudius to go tell Cassius to get his troops on the move. Summary Octavius is happy to see that Brutus and Cassius’s army is coming to meet them.
Antony suggests that Octavius lead the left flank. Octavius suggests the opposite. Antony is upset that Octavius contradicts him. Octavius says he isn’t contradicting him, but he will have his way. Brutus and Cassius enter and exchange taunts with Octavius and Antony. Octavius and Antony depart to prepare for battle. Brutus leaves to talk with Lucius. Cassius tells Messala that it is his birthday, and even though he usually doesn’t credit omens, the day before he saw two eagles eating from his soldiers’ hands. Today there are ravens instead. Messala tells him to credit the omen.
Brutus and Cassius say their final good-byes. Summary Brutus perceives a weakness in Octavius’s army, and sends order to Cassius. Summary Antony has done very well against Cassius. Cassius send Titinius to see how Brutus’s side is doing. Pindarus watches Titinius from a hill; he sees him surrounded, taken off his horse, and hears a shout. Cassius and his servant Pindarus assume that Brutus has lost. Cassius gives Pindarus his freedom. Pindarus helps Cassius kill himself. Pindarus runs off. Titinius and Messala come to tell Cassius the good news that Brutus has defeated Octavius. They discover Cassius dead.
Messala goes to report the bad news to Brutus. While Messala is gone, Titinius crows Cassius’ corpse and kills himself. Brutus, Cato, and Messala discover the two bodies. Brutus says that Caesar’s ghost still walks and caused this confusion. Next, Brutus stoically says that he will find time to mourn his two good friends, but now he will engage in second battle. Summary Brutus leaves for another part of the battlefield. Brutus’s friends Cato and Lucilius charge the enemy. Lucilius shouts that he is Brutus. Cato is killed, Lucilius taken prisoner. Antony’s soldiers present Lucilius to Antony thinking he is Brutus.
Antony realizes that Lucilius isn’t Brutus, and tells his men to be very nice to Lucilius. Antony tells his men to report to Octavius that the battle is going well. Summary Brutus is trying to convince various members of his army to help him kill himself. No one agrees saying that they might still win, and that it isn’t a nice thing to ask a friend. Everyone runs because Antony and Octavius are coming. After saying his good-byes to life, Brutus gets one of his servants Strato to hold his sword while he runs into it. Antony and Octavius enter with Lucilius and Messala captive. Octavius says any of Brutus’ servants can serve him now.
With Messala’s permission Strato become Octavius servant. Antony gives a nice, and famous, speech about how noble Brutus was (V. v. 68-76). Octavius ends the play by saying that because Brutus had a good reputation if they give him an expensive funeral it will make them look good. Julius Caesar – The titular character is a loving husband, a devoted statesman, and a trusting friend. Childless and deaf in one ear, at home he is a feeble and superstitious, but kind man. At work he is strong, powerful, and stubborn. He lets power go to his head and suffers for it.
Brutus – Brutus is “the noblest Roman of them all” (V. v. 68). A devoted stoic, he always puts the good of the state first. Also a good husband and an accomplished orator, Brutus is a bit too trusting, and learns his lesson the hard way. Some consider Brutus to be the play’s protagonist. Mark Antony – Always man number two, Mark Antony is great to have as a friend and bad to have as an enemy. Perhaps not as bright or honest as Brutus, he may be the most passionate character of the play. Cassius – A sly and cynical manipulator, Cassius betrays Caesar for personal motivations. Although he has “a lean and hungry look” (I. . 194) in the end he too is shown to be a human being worth empathy.
Octavius – Octavius is the soulless strong man who puts everything right in the end. Caesar may have been ambitious, but at least he had a family, and a softer side. Octavius is a terse and single minded power seeker, just the sort of thing necessary to get things back in order after a civil war. Casca – A not very bright, and often mercurial conspirator. Portia – Brutus’s wife. Calpurnia – Caesar’s wife. Lucilius – A servant of Brutus Cinna, Ligarius, Trebonius, Decius Brutus, Metellus Cimber – Other conspirators.