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"•"««•« 'JULIUS CAESAR



4




YOUR KEY TO THE CLASSICS



A NOTE TO THE READER

These Notes present a clear discussion of the action and thought
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WHO SO ATTEMPTS TO USE THEM IS DENYING HIMSELF THE VERY
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The critical evaluations have been prepared by experts with
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however, not incontrovertible. No literary judgment is. Of any
great work of literature there are many interpretations, and even
conflicting views have value for the student (and the teacher),
since the aim is not for the student to accept unquestioningly any
one interpretation but to make his own.

The experience of millions of students over many years has shown
that Notes such as these are a valuable educational tool and, pro-
perly used, can contribute materially to the great end of literature
(to which, by the way, the teaching of literature is itself only a
subsidiary)- that is, to the heightening of perception and aware-
ness, the extending of sympathy, and the attainment of maturity
by living, in Socrates' famous phrase, "the examined life."



JULIUS CAESAR

NOTES



including

Scene by Scene Synopsis — Character Sketches
Selected Examination Questions and Answers



Consulting Editor
James L. Roberts, Ph. D.
Department of English
University of Nebraska



^Cliffs^Mtrs.

INCORPORATED

LINCOLN. NEBRASKA 68501



ISBN 0-8220-0020-2

Revised Printing
©Copyright 1960
by
C. K. Hillegass

All rights reserved
Printed in U.S.A.



CONTENTS



PREFACE 5

SCENE BY SCENE SYNOPSIS
ACT I

Scene 1 7

Scene 2 9

Scene 3 13

ACT II

Scene 1 1 5

Scene 2 21

Scene 3 24

Scene 4 25

ACT III

Scene 1 25

Scene 2 30

Scene 3 34

ACT IV

Scene 1 35

Scene 2 37

Scene 3 38

ACTV

Scene 1 41

Scene 2 43

Scene 3 43

Scene 4 45

Scene 5 46

SUMMARY OF CHARACTERS 47

NOTES AND COMMENTS 54

SOLILOQUIES 58

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS 59



JULIUS CAESAR



PREFACE

Julius Caesar was written some time between 1598 and 1601.
The exact date of composition is unknown, but Shakespearean
scholar E. K. Chambers states that 1599 is the probable date
because it fits in well with the evidence available. The earliest
printing of the play is 1623, publication date of the First Folio.

Besides Titus Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet, the only
tragedy Shakespeare wrote before the end of the sixteenth century
is Julius Caesar. It is partly a tragedy and partly a history play.
Shakespeare's chief source for the play is Sir Thomas North's
English translation (1579) of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians
and Romans. Shakespeare followed his source so closely that most
of the play is North's prose translated into Shakespeare's blank
verse. ^

Although the play is entitled Julius Caesar, it presents the
complete story of the rise and fall of Brutus and only the fall of
Caesar. Shakespeare blackened his source in characterizing Caesar.
His characterization of Brutus is another thing. Brutus is an im-
practical man, but he is a good man, perhaps too good and too great
for his times and his associates.

The theme of the play depends on both of these men, Brutus
and Caesar, because it is the old theme of regicide versus tyrant.
Some critics have questioned the title of the play, pointing out that
the main character is really Brutus, whose personal tragedy is lived
out during the play. Other critics defend Shakespeare's title by
saying that Caesar is the dominating force in the play and that
without him the play would not be.



'Shakespeare includes rhymed couplets and prose, but most of the play is written in
blank verse, less formal than his earlier blank verse.



The historical background of the play had immense appeal for
the Elizabethans, and the story of Julius Caesar himself was very
popular in Shakespeare's England. A short play by Shakespearean
standards, Julius Caesar has been a theatrical as well as a classroom
favorite from Elizabethan times to the present. Because the play
successfully ignores stage precedents, it has proved challenging to
many a talented actor and director for centuries.



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ACT I - SCENE 1

SYNOPSIS

Julius Caesar is celebrating a "triumph" in Rome for the defeat
of Pompey's sons after Pompey's death. It is the end of one of the
terrible destructive civil wars that tore the Roman world about this
time. Up to this time it has not been the custom to celebrate
"triumphs" (triumphal processions through the city) over any
defeated persons but foreigners, and certainly not over Roman
fellow-citizens. Hence, the bitterness of those who are not in
sympathy with Caesar. Here are two tribunes of the people, magis-
trates with very considerable powers and who are traditionally and
legally sacred in their persons, sending off home a number of
humble artisans whose only offence is that they have taken a
holiday from their occupations to be spectators at this triumphal
procession of Caesar's. The Roman citizen of the period had an
even greater delight in all kinds of public pageantry than the citizen
of London, England, today, and that is saying something. These
tribunes are really supposed to be protectors of the rights of the
common people, and their great legal powers have been given
them for that purpose. These two are definitely in sympathy with
the republican aristocratic group who are bitterly criticizing Caesar
and who are even now plotting his murder. They make references
to the way in which these same artisans cheered Pompey's trium-
phal processions when he was the hero and darling of the Roman
people not so long before. Though the artisans are quite saucy,
they obey the tribunes and disperse.

The tribunes then make it their business to snatch off the
decorations (usually crowning wreaths or neck-garlands) from
Caesar's statues and those of his relatives and ancestors.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 1

Flavius

Obviously a person whose habit of authority has grown upon
him. His legal powers are impressive, as are his colleague's. He
makes no secret of his antipathy to Caesar, although it is obvious
that the artisans are at least quite interested in Caesar.



Marullus

He makes a longer speech in justification of their attitude but
does not command in the tone of absolute authority as does his
colleague Flavins.

Certain Commoners

(Mainly Artisans) Shakespeare, as is his custom in all his plays,
transfers the traditions, laws, and regulations of his London to the
common people of any other land and period in his plays. These
artisans were required by the sumptuary laws of the Elizabethan
period to carry some characteristic tool or sign of their trade with
them on Sunday and holidays. It is not necessary today to comment
on the justice or injustice of such a regulation, but it was well known
to the people of Shakespeare's audience. Characteristic of the
people of all classes of that period is the verbal quibbling and
punning which is so noticeable in this scene. The two meanings of
the word cobbler— a mender of shoes, and a bungler in any trade;
sole and soul; 'out with me' meaning angry, and 'out' meaning that
a shoe is worn through; 'all' and 'awl.'

PURPOSE OF SCENE 1

1. It introduces the subject of the play, the dominating position
of Julius Caesar, the enthusiasm of the common people for
fun, and the dissatisfaction of the official classes with his
eminence and power.

2. It commands instant attention from the audience by a
colorful mob scene full of simple, rough humor.

3. It opens the mention of the capital which is to be the scene
of Caesar's murder and which is constantly kept in the
audience's mind.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS

1. What is meant by line 53, "That comes in triumph over
Pompey's blood"?



2. What is meant by line 74 "These growing feathers pluck'd
from Caesar's wing"?

ACT I - SCENE 2

SYNOPSIS

Caesar, accompanied by a crowd of friends and officials, passes
toward the forum to celebrate the festival of the Lupercalia, during
which the younger public officials, stripped to the waist, ran amongst
the crowd with whips striking at women who offered themselves to
the blows because they were childless. The theory was that there
was a magical virtue in the blows struck on this occasion. Caesar
calls upon his wife Calpurnia to stand where she may be struck, and
orders Antony, who is a consul and therefore one of the runners,
not to forget to touch Calpurnia with his whip.

The procession is about to move on when a soothsayer calls to
Caesar to beware the Ides of March (March 15th), Caesar dismisses
him contemptuously as a dreamer, and the procession moves on.

Brutus and his brother-in-law, Cassius, drop out of the company
and admit to each other that they are not willing to be present if a
crown is offered to Caesar, as it is rumored it will be. Cassius probes
Brutus' attitude toward Caesar and when he finds that it is safe
reveals to him his own burning resentment at Caesar's dominance,
and draws Brutus on to confess that although he is fond of Caesar
personally, he does not approve of Caesar's assumption of royal
power. Cassius then develops the theme of his own jealousy of
Caesar, of Caesar's physical weaknesses, and of Brutus' qualities
for leadership against tyranny. He compares Caesar with their
two selves and finds him no more remarkable than they are. It is
their own lack of spirit which has allowed Caesar to grow so
dominating. Though Brutus will not openly agree with all that
Cassius urges, he listens and gives Cassius the impression that he
is more than half persuaded to take Cassius' views and join him in
acting against Caesar.



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While they are conversing they twice hear loud shouts from
the direction of the forum, and each time Cassius becomes more
definite and outspoken against Caesar, and Brutus more ready
to listen.

The games over, the procession returns; Caesar wearing an
angry expression, Calpurnia pale, and Cicero apparently inwardly
raging. Caesar notes Cassius' presence and, obviously suspicious
of him, tells Antony that he distrusts thin, discontented looking
men like Cassius, but feels safe with sleek, fat men. Caesar scorns
to fear him but considers him dangerous. Antony assures him that
Cassius is not dangerous, and the procession moves on.

Casca, at a hint from Brutus, remains behind and tells Brutus
and Cassius what has taken place. Mark Antony three times
oflFered him a crownlike coronet. Each time Caesar put it aside, but
each time more reluctantly, and each time the surrounding crowd
shouted their approval of his rejection of the crown more vocifer-
ously. Casca is contemptuous of the sweaty, evil-smelling mob, but
when Cassius attempts to sound him on his attitude he is too cautious
to commit himself. He relates that Cicero, though, could not resist
commenting on the play before his eyes, for his own security spoke
in Greek to his friends who understood and smiled but did not speak.
Brutus leaves after promising to consider what Cassius has said and
to listen to him again the next day. Cassius, left alone, in a soliloquy,
shows that he is satisfied that he has influenced Brutus and will be
able to win him over. He promises to forge messages in various
styles of hand -writing to the effect that Brutus is expected by many
eminent citizens to take a lead against Caesar's so-called tyranny,
and to throw these messages in his house windows and to leave
them where he will find them.



CHARACTERS IN SCENE 2

Caesar

Though his greatness is not shown here and he is petty, vain
and peevish in his speeches, he does reveal some of the qualities



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that have made him so successful. His judgment of the mob's
reaction to the offer of the crown is correct though it annoys him,
because he knows what use he could make of the name of King in
the eastern parts of the empire. His judgment of men is sure and he
knows Cassius' character and probable action, though he is so con-
fident of himself and his fortune that he despises him. He is aware of
what is going on about him. He is swift in action; Flavius and
Marullus, the two tribunes, have hardly finished their self-imposed
task of undecorating Caesar's statues, when punishment descends
upon them.

He shows superstition in accepting the popular belief about the
efficacy of the touch of the Lupercalian whips, but seems to have
nothing but contempt for the soothsayer's warning, though we are
to see later that it has sunk in. His physical weaknesses are played
up here; he has an epileptic fit in the forum; he reminds Antony of
the deafness in his left ear; and we are told of his illness in Spain and
of his failure years before to swim the Tiber— a comparatively
narrow stream.

Brutus

His main characteristic is his preoccupation with and regard
for honor, that is, nobility of character and behavior. His standards
of life and action are high, and upon this characteristic Cassius goes
to work. He finds Brutus dissatisfied with the state of public affairs
and at war with himself. He approaches Brutus, too, with flattery,
playing on his fierce pride of family. It is plain that Brutus is held in
high regard by all classes in Rome both for his ancestors' sake
and his own.

Cassius

He is a schemer, and it is obvious from the first that hrs objec-
tion to Caesar's dominance is not consideration for the state but
personal jealousy and hatred. He has an evil skill in taking advantage
of Brutus' weakness and even his good qualities. He is a practical
man of the world, and he knows how to work on the scholar and
dreamer, untrained in public business or in any business.

Caesar's insight into his character is complete. He does not



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like music nor care for popular sports; he has a sardonic manner of
speaking, a discontented expression, an envious disposition, and
an ability to see through the deeds and character of other men.



Casca

He speaks in prose to express his ironic contemptuous mood.
His two calls for silence at the beginning of the scene are probably
ironic too; certainly they do not seem to be necessary. He sneers
at the mob, at Caesar and even Cicero. He is cautious and will not
be trapped by Cassius. The latter, however, is sure that he can win
him when he gets him alone, as indeed turns out later to be the case.
He is blunt and rude in refusing Cassius' first invitation to his house,
and just as rude in accepting the second. He is obviously, however,
a person of some importance.

Antony

Young and athletic, he is taking part in the Lupercalian sports,
and he remained athletic throughout his life, in spite of his reputa-
tion for dissipation, which greatly exaggerated his activities of this
kind. He is not as keen a judge of character as Caesar is, as shown
in his defense of Cassius. Obviously he is devoted to Caesar and
his interests and a willing lieutenant, trusted by Caesar.

Cicero

He merely appears, but is mentioned by Casca. His great
prominence is hinted at as is his genius in debate in the Senate. The
fact that he speaks Greek marks him a cultured man, though it was
at this time becoming a common accomplishment of Roman gentle-
men. His marked disapproval of offering the crown to Caesar is
made clear.

The Mob

In the first scene Shakespeare gives us an accurate and sympa-
thetic presentation of the mob as individuals. It does not matter
that they are thoroughly characteristic English workmen of the
period. Their humanity is universal. Casca's contempt for them
might be echoed, too, by certain members of the titled aristoc-
racy of Shakespeare's own day.



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PURPOSE OF SCENE 2

1. It introduced the principal characters of the play, Caesar,
Antony, Brutus and Cassius.

2. It shows the inception of the plot against Caesar.

3. It makes much of Caesar's weaknesses, both physical and
mental; and reveals immediately Brutus' weakness of
character.

4. It carries on the arresting crowd effects, and heightens it in
color and interest.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS

1. What does Cassius mean by line 77, "That I profess myself
in banqueting to all the rout"?

2. What is the meaning of the reference to Aeneas in line 1 12
and why is he called, "Our great ancestor"?

3. What is the comparison in line 122 and what play on words
is there here?

4. In line 159 what is the reference in, "There was a Brutus
once"?

5. What is meant in line 264, "And I had been a man of any
occupation"?

ACT I- SCENE 3

SYNOPSIS

A fearful storm is raging with thunder and lightning accom-
panied by prodigies, human and animal — a slave's hand apparently
burning up but yet unharmed, lions in the streets. Cicero meets
Casca who is terror struck and has his sword drawn. Cicero is un-
moved and ambiguously agrees that times are strange indeed. Then
he asks whether Caesar will be at the capital the next day to meet
the Senate. Casca informs him that he will, and Cicero leaves him
to get into shelter.

Cassius enters, recognizes Casca by his voice, and finding Casca
so terror struck, goes to work to add him to his conspiracy. First



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he describes how he himself has gone through storm with bare
breast inviting the lightning to strike him. To Casca's incredulous
question as to why he has done so rash a thing to tempt the gods,
he answers that Casca ought to iinow that it is the anger of the gods
over the state of affairs in Rome that is shown in this disturbance
in the heavens, and that he can name the man. Casca, off his guard,
blurts out "Caesar."

Cassius throws away caution and makes a genuinely passionate
speech declaring he will kill himself rather than live in Rome under a
tyranny. Casca agrees and pledges his support to the conspiracy
with enthusiasm.

Cinna, another conspirator, enters and tells Cassius that he is
expected at a meeting in the porch of Pompey's Theatre. Cassius
sends Cinna to distribute his forged letters where Brutus will find
them. Cassius instructs him then to attend at Pompey's porch, and
when Cinna leaves, takes Casca with him to Brutus' house. Casca
is enthusiastic about Brutus as the leader on account of his great
reputation for uprightness which will give the color of patriotism
to all they do. Cassius signifies his intention of finishing the job of
converting Brutus.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 3

Cassius

Here he shows his insight and his skill with men. Finding Casca
unnerved he uses the storm to make him name Caesar as the source
of all that is wrong in the Roman state. The storm means nothing
to him but an instrument to his purpose. When Cinna wants to talk
about the storm he impatiently cuts him off and sends him off
smartly on the business of the conspiracy. Casca won over, he
wastes no more time on him but is off to the next item on his agenda,
the complete conversion of Brutus.

Casca

His terror arises from superstition and throws him out of his
pose of bluntness, plain speaking and sardonic comments. Cassius
handles him through this superstitious terror an(^ he is an easy
victory, committing himself by naming Caesar almost before Cassius
has got down to business on him. His admiration for Brutus clinches



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the matter when he finds that Brutus will be the leader.

Cinna

Like Casca he is terror struck by the storm. Cassius has no
patience with his fears as he had with Casca's, and immediately
sends him on errands. He has just been sent by the other con-
spirators on the errand of finding Cassius. This would indicate that
he was not one of the leaders of the group.

Cicero

His self-possession shows his dignity of character. The storm
does not concern him, except as a nuisance. His only concern is
whether Caesar will attend the Senate meeting the next day or not.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 3

1. Its arresting description of the lightning and the prodigies
keep the audience at tension.

2. It shows the conspiracy well advanced.

3. It exhibits Cassius' psychological insight and his skill in
handling men.

4. It develops also Cassius' superiority to Casca and Cinna.

5. it points forward to the later meeting outside Brutus' house.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS

1. What does the contrasting behavior of Cicero and Casca
show about the character of each?

2. What can Cicero mean in lines 34 and 35 beginning, "But
men may construe things . . ."?

3. Where in his remark to Casca does Cassius again reveal his
personal jealousy and hatred of Caesar?

ACT II -SCENE 1

SYNOPSIS

Brutus is sleepless, making up his mind after his evening's
interview with Cassius. He calls his slave-boy Lucius to light a



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candle in his study, and when Lucius does so he finds one of Cassius'
anonymous exhortations to Brutus. Brutus has found several of
them before. While Lucius is out, Brutus recapitulates his reasons
for joining this conspiracy to murder Caesar. These are that, though
for himself he has no cause to murder Caesar, yet for the good of the
state it must be done, because the absolute power of a king may
change his nature and make him oppressive and tyrannical. There-
fore, he must be prevented from having this chance and this tempta-
tion. The fallacy in his reasoning is that Caesar is to be killed not
for what he has done but for what he may do; and also that Caesar
as King could hardly have any more absolute power than he has
at the moment.

Cassius and five other conspirators arrive and are admitted.
Each of them is presented by Cassius to Brutus, though he is
acquainted with them all. In a whispered conversation Cassius
brings Brutus up to date on the progress of events while the others
discuss the trivial point of where the sun will first be seen at dawn
at this time of the year. Men under tension and forced to wait often
discuss trivialities to ease the tension. Here, too, they do not want
to appear to be listening to Brutus and Cassius.

Brutus and Cassius having finished their conversation, Brutus
clasps the hands of all of them once more, but refuses to hear of
an oath being sworn amongst such a band of high-souled brothers.
He has already assumed the lead with the tacit consent of Cassius
who feels they need Brutus at all costs. Brutus makes his first
mistake in this matter of the oath, because some one of this group
betrays their confidence before daylight and Artemidorus, a teacher
of rhetoric, has the details of the plot and tries to get Caesar to read
a note containing them. It is only luck and Caesar's careless self-
assurance which prevents the whole plot from being exposed then
and there. [

Cassius then proposes that Cicero be included and is seconded
by the others. Brutus makes his second mistake here and vetoes
the suggestion on the grounds that Cicero will have nothing to do
with an enterprise he has not initiated himself. The others quickly
change their tune and fall in line, showing just how important they



17

regard Brutus. So the master-orator of the age is excluded, and they
find out later that they have no one to offset the influence of Mark
Antony's eloquence upon the populace, and that is the beginning
of their downfall.

Cassius then suggests that Mark Antony should be killed at
the same time as Caesar, because, devoted as he is to Caesar, he
may prove a shrewd and dangerous enemy to them later. Brutus
vetoes this suggestion too, on the ground that when Caesar is gone
Antony will be helpless and no menace, and anyway, he is a dissi-
pated trifler and incapable of constituting himself a menace. Later
it is the same Antony who checkmates them and starts them on the
slippery path to their doom.

Cassius is not sure that Caesar will attend the Senate meeting.
Decius volunteers to have him there. He will call and bring him.
Cassius decides that they will all be there, and Brutus names the
time, the eighth hour.

Metellus suggests that Caius Ligarius be included in their
number. Brutus promises to persuade him and Metellus is re-
quested to send him over from his house at once.

It is three o'clock and the conspirators break up to meet at
Caesar's house.

Portia, Brutus' wife (also his first cousin) comes in to complain
to him that she is being excluded from his confidence. He has not
been himself recently, preoccupied, moody, silent to her and sleep-
less. She claims the right as his loyal wife to know what is in his
mind and heart. Is she not Cato's daughter, one of the giants of
Roman public life universally revered, and she is not his wife? She
shows a gash she has purposely given herself in her thigh just to
prove that she can stand pain and exercise self-control as well as a
man. Brutus is deeply touched and promises to share all his secret
with her.

Just at this moment Ligarius is shown with his head bandaged.



18



He has been ill but rises from his sick-bed at the word from Brutus.
The latter mentions an enterprise of vast importance. Ligarius
suspects what it is, and throws away his head bandages. As they go
out Brutus is starting to explain the conspiracy to Ligarius.



CHARACTERS IN SCENE 1

Brutus

A scholar, a thinker, a reader, he is more at home in the
atmosphere of literature and philosophy than in practical politics.
He is not a good judge of character and misjudges Cassius, Cicero
and Mark Antony. He is inexperienced in affairs and both the
motives and the handling of men. His high-souled patriotism and
tremendous reputation for probity are evident, and these are felt to
be invaluable to their cause by all the conspirators. He believes that
the motives of other men, and especially of these conspirators are as
pure and lofty as his own, and that is very far from being the case.

He is courteous to his fellow-conspirators, to his slave-boy,
and especially so to his wife, Portia.

Cassius

He shows his organizing ability, and his practical sagacity. His
only mistake is putting such high value on Brutus' reputation that
he lets him override his best judgment and sound practical sugges-
tions. He tacitly turns over the leadership to Brutus, though he has
done all the organization, and is an older, more experienced hand in
aifairs, including military affairs. It is obvious, too, that though he
is using Brutus as a respectable front for the enterprise, he has
a genuine admiration for him.

Casca

Both in Act I Scene 2 and Scene 3 he shows himself to be ex-
citable, and yet we find later that he has been chosen to strike the
first blow. He is not hard to persuade to join the conspiracy, but that
apparently is because he has been thinking along similar lines. His
admiration for Brutus is very great and obviously genuine.



19



Decius

His correct Latin name is Decimus Brutus, but Shakespeare
followed North's translation and that is the form of the name used
there and taken by North from the French version of Plutarch which
he translated. Decius is on terms of intimacy with Caesar and is
perfectly confident that he has enough influence with him to assure
his presence in the Senate. He raises the question of the point of
the rising of the sun to occupy his colleagues' attention, and it is he
who raises the practical question of the inclusion of other victims.

Metellus

He backs up Cassius in the question of the inclusion of Cicero,
and is quite eloquent, though practical, in his praise, nor does he
change his opinion to please Brutus. He also suggests that Caius
Ligarius be included, and his suggestion is accepted by Brutus, who
asks him to send him around at once.

Cinna

He does not take a prominent part in discussion and apparently
he is the chore-boy of the group.

Cicero

He is mentioned in the scene without appearing. Cassius and
Metellus both think he would be an asset to their cause, but both
bow to Brutus' veto, Cassius in a curt acquiescing sentence,
Metellus silently. Cicero, the greatest public speaker of his time,
was unaccountable and unstable in action, and this is probably the
ground of Brutus' objection. But he would have been able to cancel
out, in all probability, the effect of Mark Antony's eloquence.

Mark Antony

Like Cicero, he is mentioned though he does not appear. Brutus
seriously mistakes his character and ability. Underneath his friv-
olous and sportive exterior he concealed extraordinary political
and military gifts.

Portia

She is the daughter of Cato who was the brother of Brutus'
mother, Servilia, and therefore Portia is Brutus' first cousin. Cato,



20

a republican of the old school and a famous follower of the stoic
philosophers, had an immense reputation for high principle and
conduct and for patriotism. He has recently committed suicide
rather than fall into Caesar's hands after defeat in the late civil war.

Portia, a follower too of her father's philosophy, is a devoted
wife, tender and loving, and proud of her husband's character and
conduct. She gashes her thigh to prove her self-control and her
power to keep a secret. She has watched with growing distress her
husband's absorption, perplexity and mental struggle. She has left
him alone, fearing to upset him, till now she has seen the con-
spirators visiting him at this early hour in the morning. She claims as
her right, as the wife of his choosing and the daughter of her famous
father, to be taken into her husband's confidence and share his
secret with him. Brutus is so touched that he promises to tell her
everything.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 1

1. It presents Brutus entering the conspiracy and assuming the
command.

2. It points forward to the eventual disaster by showing clearly
Brutus' three initial mistakes.

3. It introduces relief in the form of a domestic scene, showing
the gentler side of Brutus, the nature and quality of the wo-
man who is his wife -entirely worthy to stand beside him.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS

1 . What does Brutus suggest is the only thing that Mark Antony
can do after Caesar's death?

2. Brutus had experienced much kindness at Caesar's hands
and admits it here. Do his reasons to himself really adequately
justify his decision to act in the conspiracy?

3. In line 250 what does Portia mean by "humour"?

4. In line 256 what does Portia mean by "grief"?



21

ACT II -SCENE 2

SYNOPSIS

Having just been present at a domestic scene of particular
charm and sweetness in Brutus' house, we are now spectators at
one in Caesar's house. Caesar, in his dressing gown, has been
awakened by the storm and Caipurnia crying out in her sleep that
Caesar is being murdered. He orders a servant to tell the priests
to present sacrifices and read the auguries.



Caipurnia enters in great agitation and tells Caesar he must
not leave the house this day. She has just been hearing from some-
one who has been out about all the prodigies that have appeared in
the streets and the sky and, contrary to her habit, she is frightened
for Caesar. Caesar pooh-poohs her fears and affirms his intention of
going out no matter what the elements are doing about it.

The servant brings word from the priests that the omens are
unfavorable; they have sacrificed a beast that had no heart, and
Caesar must not stir out of the house. Caesar pooh-poohs these
omens too, but Caipurnia in desperation kneels to him -even as
Portia kneeled to Brutus -and begs that he will do as she asks and
send Mark Antony to the Senate to say Caesar is not well. Caesar
is touched and lifting her up he agrees to take her advice, respect her
fears, and send Mark Antony to say he is not well.

Just then Decius is admitted. Caesar commissions him to tell
the Senate he will not be present this day. To Calpurnia's urging
that Decius say he is sick he replies that he scorns to send a lie.
Decius begs to have some reason to give the Senate. Caesar says
that it is enough to tell the Senate that it is his will, but, for Decius'
private satisfaction, Caipurnia has had a terrible dream that Caesar's
statue spouted a hundred streams of blood and many Romans joyfully
bathed their hands in it. Decius undertakes to interpret the dream
not as a warning of calamity but a good augury that Caesar shall re-
vivify the commonwealth. He adds the news that the Senate intends
to grant him a crown at this session. Caesar runs the risk of being
thought afraid, he says. Caesar changes his mind and makes light to



22

Calpurnia of her dream and her fears. He decides to go to the
Senate house.

A senator named Pubh'us is admitted at the same time as the
rest of the conspirators. Caesar, the most poMshed gentleman in
Rome, thanks them for their courtesy in thus coming to attend him
and sets out for the Senate accompanied by them all.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 2

Caesar

At all times in his extraordinary life he has been ready to take
incredible risks, and having come safely and triumphantly through
so many hair-raising predicaments, he has grown so careless that
he feels self-secure as not to be compelled to take ordinary pre-
cautions. He ought to have known that the recent offering of the
crown to him, in spite of his refusal, might easily nerve an assassins'
arm. Always scrupulous about obtaining the auguries, he does
not pay too much attention to them, relying on his immunity to
ordinary men's hazards. Calpurnia's insistence does move him,
however, and for her sake he reverses his decision and decides to
remain at home. Decius very cleverly works on his credulity and
on his desire for the crown, also on his fear to be thought afraid, and
he changes his mind again and decides to do what he really wanted
to do anyway. This vacillation springs from this carelessness of his
personal safety which is a historical fact of this period. However,
his credulity, the ease with which a plausible, designing man could
alter his decision does not look well, either to the consirators or
the audience.

Calpurnia

Calpurnia, Caesar's fourth wife, has not the hold on him that
Portia has on Brutus, and indeed her character is no match for Por-
tia's. She is badly frightened for Caesar; she believes his life is in
danger, and she has an uncanny gift of premonition. Her first words
sound domineering and somewhat scolding, but that comes from her
fright, and she explains her reasons most impressively and finally
throws herself on her knees to him, as Portia had done to Brutus this
same night. Her concern is for Caesar's life, not for his mental
welfare or his projects and problems. She is willing to have Caesar



23

lie if he will only stay out of danger till it is past, a course which
Caesar at first accepts but immediately after scorns to put into
practice. When Caesar reverses his decision and makes up his mind
to go to the Senate, she is beaten and relapses into dejected silence.

Decius

A man of iron self-control and quick decision, he is also gifted
with great mental skill in manipulating other men, even one so
outstanding as Caesar. His insinuation that Caesar's decision will
be misinterpreted if he, Decius, is unable to give some reason to
the Senate, his quick seizing on Calpurnia's dream and his deft
turning of the interpretation about convinces Caesar and cuts the
ground from underneath her feet. His subtle use of flattery in the
interpretation of the dream, in the news about the crown and in his
insinuation that Caesar will be open to the charge of cowardice
are masterly.

Brutus

In his aside to himself he reveals how poignantly he yearns to
be friends with Caesar, but it is now for him impossible.

Treborius

His muttered reply to Caesar reveals his vengeful attitude.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 2

1. It purposely plays down Caesar's greatness to keep the
audience's sympathy with and interest in the conspirators
at the high level that has been attained so far.

2. It presents a contrasting domestic scene as a relief to the
grim masculine business of the play.

3. It keeps the audience in suspense as to whether Caesar will
give the conspirators their chance or not.

4. It finally presents Caesar as wilfully walking right into the
conspirators hands.



24

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS

1 . How near the truth does Calpurnia come in line 49, "Your
widsom is consumed in confidence"?

2. What does Caesar mean by "humour" in line 56?

3. What is Caesar's meaning in line 49, "Are to the world in
general as to Caesar"?



ACT II -SCENE 3

SYNOPSIS

While Caesar is setting out from his house we are presented
with a street scene near the capitol. Artemidorus, a teacher of
rhetoric, has found out the names of all eight conspirators and he
lists them. Apparently he knows the part assigned each one also,
and this information could only come from one of the eight. He
posts himself in a vantage spot to be able to hand Caesar the note
as he passes.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 3

1. It keeps the audience still in suspense as to whether Caesar
will yet take alarm and refuse to give the conspirators
their chance.

2. It presents a study in carelessness or downright treachery to
his colleagues on the part of one of the conspirators -prob-
ably carelessness, because as a teacher of rhetoric living in
the home of one of the conspirators Artemidorus might get
the opportunity to overhear the make-up of the plot and all
the details.



25
ACT II -SCENE 4

SYNOPSIS

Portia shows in this scene that she has been told the details
of the plot. Her agitation on account of her husband is so acute that
she cannot sit still to await the outcome and sends Lucius off to
the Capitol, though in her excitement and aberration she forgets
to tell him what to do. Finally she gets out the order that he is to
observe how things are going with Brutus and what Caesar does,
and at last to give Brutus her love and say she is merry and bring
back his answer.

The soothsayer enters and is questioned by Portia for news. She
wants to know whether he has been at the Capitol; then the time,
then whether Caesar has gone to the Capitol or not. He answers
that it is the ninth hour and that Caesar has not yet gone to the
Capitol. She wants to know whether he has a favor to ask of him
and when he says he has one which concerns his personal interest
very nearly, she takes alarm at the thought that the secret may be
out. When she realizes from his reply that he does not know of the
plot but fears one, she almost faints from relief. Her next sentence
shows that she knows the details, "Brutus hath a suit that Caesar
will not grant." Finally, she feels herself fainting and goes into
the house.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 4

1. Its main function is to still further heighten the audience's
suspense.

2. It shows further Portia's utter devotion to her Brutus and
her desperate struggle to keep from giving away the plot.

ACT III -SCENE I

SYNOPSIS

The scene is the street just outside the open Senate house. The
Senate can be seen assembled. Caesar, accompanied by Antony,



^



26

Lepidus and two Senators as well as the conspirators, enters passing
through the crowd-lined street where the soothsayer and Artemi-
dorus are waiting.

Fate now gives Caesar two more chances, which key up the
suspense in the audience still further. Caesar notices the sooth-
sayer and remembering his warning remarks rather tauntingly that
the Ides of March have come. The soothsayer answers meaningly
that they have not gone yet. Artemidorus immediately hands Caesar
his list of the conspirators. Decius is quick to step ahead of him to
present a petition from Tredonius. Artemidorus, in despair, calls
out to Caesar to read his first because it is very important to him
personally. He has said the wrong thing to Caesar in his present
mood, for he tucks it away to be considered later and says he will
deal with other people's business before he deals with his own.
Artemidorus gives one more agonized request that he read the
paper instantly, and arouses Caesar's anger, of which Cassius takes
advantage to cut Artemidorus off until after they get to the Capitol.

The procession moves on to the Senate chamber. Popilius, the
Senator, gives the conspirators a start by whispering to Cassius'that
he wishes him luck. They think their plot is discovered and Cassius
decides to commit suicide on the spot if it is. Popilius has only been
teasing them, however, for though he speaks to Caesar it is evident
he is not revealing anything, for Caesar is smiling. The conspirators
now go into action according to plan. Tredonius draws Mark
Antony to a distance outside where he will be unable to interfere,
with the assassination. Metellus Cimber, with exaggerated humility,
kneels to present a feather to Caesar, who, anticipating that it is for
the repeal of his brother's banishment, and disgusted at this un-
Roman show of abasement, rudely and arrogantly refuses to alter
the decree. Mettellus, as part of the plan, calls in the others. Brutus,
Cassius and Casca crowd in, each reinforcing Metellus Cimber's
appeal. They are even more arrogantly repulsed. Then Casca, in
seeming desperation strikes the first dagger-blow at the back of
Caesar's neck. He bungles his aim through excitement, but the
others press in and stab Caesar repeatedly, who, when he sees
Brutus among them, ceases to resist, and takes the blows.



27

As Caesar dies Cinna and Cassius let out hysterical cries about
liberty and freedom but there does not seem to be any definite plan
of action for the next step. Apparently the conspirators have
thought the senators would remain transfixed with horror or rejoicing
in their seats, and Brutus makes a futile attempt to keep them there
so he can address them, but they have been tumbling over one
another to get outside and away, and the only one he can find to
reassure is the aged Publius. Tredonius reports Antony to have fled
to his house in consternation.

The conspirators expect to be attacked and in the meantime
bolster their consciences and courage with high-flying words
theatrically foreshadowing their eternal fame as liberators.

Mark Antony's servant enters to present his respects, assure
them of his good will, and requests safe conduct to come to the
conspirators to learn why Caesar deserved this fate. Brutus sends
a verbal safe-conduct. Cassius has grave misgivings about this but
Brutus is certain Antony can be retained as friend.

Antony appears, and making no attempt to conceal his grief
addresses Caesar's body, and tells the conspirators that if they
intend to kill him there can be no place or time more fit than here
and now. Brutus reassures him, and Cassius seconds Brutus. Brutus
promises Antony a full explanation later when the populace have
been quieted, and Antony, somewhat ironically shakes their hands
all around as a bond of friendship, and explains his delicate position.
They must look upon him either as a coward or a flatterer. From
these words he goes into a panegyric on Caesar which ends up
with the subtle comparison of Caesar as a deer driven to bay and
pulled down by a pack of dogs.

Cassius is business-like. He interrupts Antony to ask what he
intends to do. Will he be enrolled amongst their friends or shall
they proceed without him? Antony replies that he will be their friend
when they have given him their reasons for this deed. They promise
to do so, and Antony requests to be allowed to speak at Caesar's
funeral. Cassius, in consternation, objects but Brutus overrules him
and makes his fourth and most serious mistake. Brutus poses con-



28

ditions for Antony's speaking: first Brutus will speak before he does;
secondly he shall not blame the conspirators; thirdly he shall speak
all the good he can of Caesar; fourthly he shall make the point that
he is speaking with the conspirators permission; and fifthly he shall
speak from the same platform as Brutus does. Antony accepts. The
conspirators leave. Antony, alone with Caesar's body, addresses it
in an eloquent speech, an earnest of what he will do later in the
forum, and asks pardon for his seeming condonation of these
murderers' bloody deed.

A servant of Octavius Caesar arrives to say that his master is
only twenty miles out of Rome. Antony sends him back to tell his
master that Rome is not safe for him yet and to stay where he is.
On second thought he retains the servant to hear his speech in the
forum and then carry the news to his master. He bids him help
remove the body of Caesar.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 1

Caesar

Throughout this scene he speaks quite out of historical char-
acter. He is rude and abominably arrogant, though actually he was
perhaps the most polished gentleman of his time. Shakespeare's
purpose is, by playing down Caesar, to play up the conspirators, give
them some visible justification, and keep up the audience's interest
in them. Once that purpose has been achieved he lets Antony
present a true picture of the real Caesar in his addresses to the
corpse.

Antony

Here he immediately belies his reputation of dissolute living
and dissipation. He is swift and decisive in action, possessed of
insight into human character, recklessly bold, and movingly
eloquent in his sincere grief and admiration for Caesar. He is subtle,
and an accomplished flatterer. The conspirators miss his irony, but
the audience is intended to get it. His personal magnetism blinds
the conspirators to the impossibility of his becoming their friend
over the dead body of his adored friend and master, Caesar. He
first gives a hint here of his distrust of Octavius by trying to keep
him out of Rome.



29



Brutus

He shows capacity in directing the actual assassination, but
serious incapacity immediately afterward. There is no clear-cut
plan of action, whereas from his point of view the situation calls for
swift action. He makes his most serious mistake of all in accepting
Mark Antony so suddenly as a friend and equal and especially in
allowing him to make an oration at Caesar's funeral. He shows him-
self the scholar and dreamer by his rhapsody about the conspirators'
place in the regard of the remote future when he should be acting,
not making speeches to his colleagues. His dignity does not suffer;
he does not kneel to Caesar as the others do, and his treatment of
Mark Antony, however foolish, fundamentally is dignified.

Cassius

He is the practical man of action. He ends Artemidorus' chance
of warning Caesar. He sees that Trebonius and Metellus are carry-
ing out the duties assigned them. Caesar, who has been suspicious
of Cassius for some time, is very bitter and contemptuous of him
when he kneels to add his request to Metellus'. After the assassina-
tion, instead of himself going wild and shouting about liberty and
freedom, he disperses his colleagues to take possession of the public
speaking place and to do their shouting there where it will do the
most good. His insight into character is proven by his misgivings
about Antony all through the scene.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 1

1 . This is the climax of both physical and emotional action of
the play, the turning point, the accomplishment of the con-
spirators' purpose in the assassination of Caesar.

2. It shows up the mistakes of Brutus, particularly with regard
to Antony, which were to cost him and his colleagues dearly.

3. It gives more than one foretaste of Antony's eloquence which
is to be so powerful in the next scene.

4. It is an exciting and moving spectacle in itself, and is the
climax of the play.



30

5. It reveals the lack of purpose and organization of the con-
spirators after the assassination.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS

1. What other mistakes did Brutus make in this scene besides
the too-trustful treatment of Antony?

2. What does Antony prophesy for the Roman empire in his
last address to the corpse of Caesar?

3. What process of reason allowed Brutus to give permission
to Antony to speak at Caesar's funeral?

4. In line 178 what is Cassius' reason for accepting Antony so
generously when he has just voiced his misgivings of him?



ACT III -SCENE 2

SYNOPSIS

Brutus and Cassius appear in the forum which is seething
more than usual with an excited populace to whom Julius Caesar
was a beloved benefactor and a hero. They are angrily demanding
an explanation of his death. Brutus deems it wise to split up the
mob between himself and Cassius to facilitate their hearing and to
keep the masses as small as possible. So the people divide and
Brutus begins his speech in his dry, formal, disjointed antithetical
style, purposely appealing to the reason and avoiding stirring the
emotions. Historically, this was Brutus' style of public speaking,
commonly called laconic, or Spartan. His great reputation for
uprightness and his dignified presence get him a hearing and replies
when he asks for them. He tells them his love for Caesar was as
great as any friend's of Caesar's was, but that he loved Rome and
the freedom of her citizens more, and because Caesar was ambitious



31

and about to make all Romans slaves, it was necessary to remove
him.

The citizens have been impressed and they shout for him as a
deliverer, and they want to honor him by forming a noisy procession
and conducting him home. He puts a damper on their enthusiasm
by telling them to let him go alone and to stay to hear Mark Antony
who speaks with his permission.

Antony starts speaking to a mildly hostile crowd still remem-
bering something of what Brutus has said. He disarms them from
the first by his humility and reasonableness. He describes the
assassins as noble and honorable men and repeats that word honor-
able until the ironic use he is making of it has sunk consciously or
unconsciously into the very system of his hearers. His insistence on
the words ambition and ambitious is in the same vein and to the
same effect. Consummate actor as he is, he allows the crowd to
see him apparently utterly overcome with grief for his friend
Caesar. Such emotion is infectious. He knows now he has them.
Their comments during his pause for effect assures him they are
with him now. It remains only for him to inflame them to madness.

He goes about it systematically, using every device known to
oratory -irony, passion, flattery, ridicule, and finally appeal to
self interest and material betterment. He displays a document which
he says is Caesar's will which has made provision for them; but he
must not read it to them. They shout to have it read. He puts
them off to inflame their curiosity. He flatters them, and when they
again demand the will, he comes down from the platform and, rising
to his highest pitch of emotional appeal, shows them the bloody,
mutilated body of Caesar, reminds them by means of the mantle
of Caesar's greatest military triumphs, which all Romans more or
less felt a share in, and finally connects the individual assassins with
the various holes in the cloak. This is all pure acting, both the
identification of the cloak and the identification of the holes in it-
quite unscrupulous purposeful acting.

Now that he has suggested mutiny sufficiently to make his
hearers think of mob action, and has roused their passion, he wants



32

to add self-interest and personal gratitude. The time has come to
read the will. He tells them briefly that Caesar has left each man of
them a legacy of seventy-five drachmas (about the face value of
fifteen dollars of today, but with twelve to fifteen times the purchas-
ing power, or a value of perhaps $225.00), and for their public use
all his famous gardens across the Tiber surrounding that villa of his
where Cleopatra had been living for the last two years, and from
which she was even at the moment fleeing home to Egypt.

Thoroughly roused now, the crowd has become a mob. They
seize benches, chains, anything wooden from the buildings round
about, heap them high, place Caesar's body on this pyre and snatch
lighted torches from the pile with which they rush to set fire to
the assassin's houses.

Antony, thoroughly satisfied with a job well done, remarks to
himself, "Now let it work."

A servant enters to tell him Octavius is in Rome, with Lepidus,
at Caesar's house, waiting for him. He goes with the servant.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 2

Brutus

This scene shows, as is shown nowhere else, his dignity,
personal probity, and honor, and his utter impossibility as a prac-
tical politician, or statesman. It is an honorable thing in him to insist
that the crowd should stay and listen to Anthony but it is disastrous
to his affairs. He has no insight into the characters of the men he
deals with, even Cassius, and no judgment concerning the effects
of his acts and decisions. He is listened to respectfully by the crowd
and has them moderately with him, but the next moment he throws
all his advantage away in a quixotic gesture. His speech is cold
stiffly reasoned, but clear. It scrupulously avoids emotional appeal,'
and is heard by the crowd merely because Brutus speaks to them'
all and flatters them enough to take them into his confidence in
such scholarly language. It is noteworthy that the speech is in prose-
poetry would be too emotional.



33



Antony

He displays his ability as a practical politician, his unscrupu-
lousness and his mastery of powerful oratory. He is bold, yet
cautious to take just the necessary steps in calculated sequence.
His succeeding in getting in front of that audience and being given
the chance he wants, shows a masterly plan nicely considered and
carefully followed. He lies, he has no intention of keeping his
promises to these men whom he regards as assassins, to whom he
does not owe truth or the keeping of promises. They have put
themselves outside the pale and are moral outlaws anyway, no
matter what their excuses. He will use whatever weapons he can
find against them, he whom they thought disarmed. As for waiting
for legal processes to punish the assassins, if he were to do that, he
would simply give them a chance to consolidate their hold on the
machinery of government.

The Mob

This is probably the finest, most sharply and realistically drawn
picture of a mob in English or any drama. The individuals seem to
be reasonable, but are easily swayed. The last man who speaks to
them, if he uses emotional appeal will hold them. Having no fixed
standards they are fickle. Brutus finds them hostile, for Caesar was
popular. He temporarily persuades them with his show of reason
which flatters their vanity, though Brutus has no idea of flattering
them. Antony finds them hostile and goes to work on them with all
the arts of the seasoned demagogue and rouses them to fury and
violent action.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 2

1. The falling action of the drama, which began with Antony's
approach to the assassins, is given tremendous impetus by
Antony's speech.

2. It points out the contrast between the scholar and the prac-
tical politician, between Brutus and Antony by the contrast
between their speeches.

3. It presents a masterly picture of a mob which has definite



34

influence on the action of the play by chasing the assassins
out of Rome.

4. At the end it prepares the audience for the alhance of Antony,
Octavius and Lepidus.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS

1. What does Brutus mean in line 36 when he says, "The
question of his death is enrolled in the Capitol"?

2. What does he mean in line 37 by. "His glory not extenuated-,
nor his offences enforced"?

3. What would one call the oratorical device which Antony
employs in line 215 beginning, "I am no orator"?

4. When the mob hears of their legacy from Caesar, in their
surge of gratitude, what is it about his death they never for a
momeni think of? Is it natural that this should never enter
their minds?



ACT III -SCENE 3

SYNOPSIS

This is the mob in action with all its consequential action and
unreasonmg fury. Cinna, a poet and friend of Caesar's, having had a
disturbmg dream of refusing a dinner invitation of Caesar's and
being compelled by Caesar to go. goes into the streets to watch
Caesar's funeral. The mob discovers his name is Cinna, also the
name of one of the conspirators, and though he protests desperately
that he is another Cinna. a poet, they tear him limb from limb
anyway. Then they rush ofl" to burn Brutus', Cassius', Decius',
Casca's, and Ligarius' houses.



35
PURPOSE OF SCENE 3

1. It gives a vivid view of the sequence to Antony's success in
rousing the rabble.

2. It gives a picture of the grim whimsicality of an irrational
mob.

3. It ends the episode of Caesar's murder and its immediate
results and furnishes a break indicating a lapse of time and
totally different circumstances.

ACT IV- SCENE 1

SYNOPSIS

It does not matter that historically the events of this scene
occurred more than a year after the events of the last. Unity of
theme and action was all that Shakespeare usually cared for.

The three triumvirs who now rule Rome and Italy are making
up their infamous proscription list of persons who are to be pushed
outside the protection of the law and whom anyone may kill. Each
puts down the names of the people he dislikes most and these
include Lepidus' brother and Antony's nephew (really it was his
uncle) with the consent of Lepidus and Antony in each case. It
is a shameless bargaining in lives.

Lepidus, who is a first-class general but not an influential
politician, is sent off by Antony to Caesar's house to fetch Caesar's
will so that they can do some paring of Caesar's legacies to the
poor. While he is gone Antony enlarges to Octavius on Lepidus'
futility as one of their number, a man fit only to be sent on errands
for the other two. Octavius defends him as a splendid soldier,
remembering, no doubt, his military record and that he was a close
friend of Julius Caesar. This does not impress Antony who intends
to use him as a tool and then fling him away.



36

It then develops that Brutus and Cassius are recruiting armies
and are about to threaten the position in Rome of the three triumvirs
They must arrange to meet this challenge. Octavius reveals that
their position is perilous, ringed around with foes, and with a host of
false friends in their midst.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 1

Antony

At this period the dominating personality of the triumvirate He
IS older than Octavius who is 20, and an experienced general trained
under Julius Caesar. Octavius does not yet assert himself as he will
later. Yet he stands up to Antony and will not accept his opinion of
Lepidus, who IS contemptuous of Lepidus for lack of political weight.

Octavius

He is about twenty years old at the time, grand nephew
adopted son and heir of Julius Caesar. He has already stood up
to Antony and forced him to disgorge Caesar's house and property
which he had seized. At this time he is still deferential to the older
Antony, but showing a firm will of his own and no fear of Antony
His cold, reserved nature is indicated, and his part in this pro-
scription IS equally infamous with the other colleagues.

Lepidus

His military ability, great as it is, does not impress Antony
unduly who himself is the greatest general of his time now that
Caesar is dead. Lepidus lacks the political backing and connections
as well as the aptitude of the other two, but he has considerable
influence which is valuable.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 1

1. Octavius is introduced.

2. It reveals a rift in the relations of the triumvirs which is to be
developed m another play, Antony and Cleopatra, which
Shakespeare will write seven years later.



37

3 It shows the inhuman atmosphere and practice to which the
constant succession of civil wars had reduced Roman
leaders.

ACT IV -SCENE 2

SYNOPSIS

This short scene introduces us to the camps of the conspira-
tors Brutus and Cassius are in command of the armies which they
have recruited separately in the various Roman provmces and tribu-
tary kingdoms of Asia Minor. They are joining forces at Sardis on
their way to meet Antony and Octavius who are advancmg across
Macedonia eastward. Things in the Roman world have come to a
crisis and this time it is to be a "show-down."

Brutus halts his army. His officer Lucilius is returning from a
visit to Cassius' approaching army bearing a letter and accompanied
by Pindarus, a servant of Cassius'. Brutus reads the letter and then
makes the unpardonable mistake of criticizing Cassius betore his
own servant, who loyally but courteously supports his master.
Brutus makes a further mistake of asking his own officer, Lucihus
about his reception by Cassius, and then criticizing him in front ot
Lucilius These lapses are not only unwise in common sense, but
serious breaches of military etiquette in any age or army.

Lucilius says Cassius is close at hand and he shortly appears.
Without waiting to greet or receive greetings, Cassius, who is very
angry accuses Brutus on sight of having done him wrong. Brutus
invites Cassius into his tent so that they shall not be seen quarrelling
in front of their two armies. The armies are led to a distance and
Brutus and Cassius enter the tent.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 2

Brutus ^ ^ .,

Obviously laboring under a severe strain, Brutus is not the
calm, dignified stoic that we have seen before. Both he and Cassius



38

are in a dangerous and difficult position, mainly on account of his
own mistakes. His stoic philosophy, however, does stand by him
and he knows enough yet to refrain from staging a quarrel with
Cassius m full view of both armies.

Cassius

He is no stoic, but a practical man who believes in going
straight to the point. He does not attempt to conceal his very real
anger, and it may be that he is blaming to himself the mistakes of
Brutus for all their misfortunes.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 2

1. It is an introduction to the next scene, the quarrel scene.

2. It begins to work up suspense as to the outcome of Brutus'
and Cassius' fortunes.

3. It reveals a lack of unity in Brutus' and Cassius' camp similar
to the lack of unity shown in the preceding scene amongst
the triumvirs.



ACT IV- SCENE 3

SYNOPSIS

This, the quarrel scene, is perhaps the most famous single
scene in Shakespeare's plays. It ranges in tone from cold fury
through hot anger, to scorn and defiance and threat, and eventually
comes out a resurgence of warm friendship and, at last, cool calcula-
tion for strategic battle action.

Cassius accuses Brutus of punishing a friend of his for taking
bribes in Sard.s in spite of Cassius' representations on his behalf
Brutus insists that the guilty should be punished; that is what they
killed Caesar for: that justice might survive. Brutus charges Cassius
with unjust methods of raising money from the people of the country
but in almost the same breath accuses him of refusing to send him



39



some of that very money to pay his troops. With Brutus coldly
indifferent to Cassius' violent threats, Cassius' old admiration and
love finally get the better of him and he breaks down in heart-
broken mortification because Brutus has lost all affection for l^m.
This brings Brutus quickly around, and they make up their ditter-
ence and are back on then u.... footing of deep friendship,
perhaps a footing of deeper friendship. Brutus, to answer Cassius
upbraiding about being unable to bear his vexations, mentions that
Portia is dead, having committed suicide by swallowing live coals.
Cassius is astonished at Brutus' self command. A meddling pseudo-
philosopher forces himself in, in spite of the sentries, to get the
generals to make up. They both turn on him and turn him out. Then,
with their officers, they plan future action. Once more Brutus over-
rules Cassius and makes his last big mistake, insisting that they
advance across the Dardanelles to Macedonia and meet Antony
and Octavius at Philippi. Cassius and the others leave.

Left alone Brutus sits down to read while his boy, Lucius,
plays to him for a moment or two till he falls asleep. Just then the
ghost of Caesar appears to Brutus and promises to meet him at
Philippi. Brutus awakens Lucius and his two sentries, but though
they cry out in their sleep thay cannot remember having dreamed
of anything.



CHARACTERS IN SCENE 3



His anger is deep but slow to rise and express itself, but when
it has risen to its peak he becomes reckless in his scornful con-
temptuous insulting language. It cools down, too, more slowly
than that of Cassius which is gone almost in a flash, when wounded
affection replaces it.

Brutus shows the influence of his stoic philosophy -a religion
to him-in his self-command over the news of Portia, and over
the appearance of the ghost.

He is still the scholar as the incident of the book shows; and he



40

is still over-riding the better judgment of Cassius, this time with a
ratal error.

His courtesy to his officers, his sentries and Cassius after the
quarrel are noteworthy as indicating the gentleman, as is also his
consideration for his boy, Lucius.

Cassius

Cassius shows himself to better advantage here than anywhere
else m the play. Almost unable to endure them, he shows remark-
able self-control under the lash of Brutus' scorn and insult. He has
good grounds for his anger, and he has endured a great deal in the
past from Brutus' errors. He finds Brutus visionary and academic
where he should be practical, and petty where he should overlook
the lesser thmgs. His anger passes more swiftly than Brutus' and
merges mto wounded affection. His sympathy on hearing of Portia's
death and his admiration for Brutus' self-control on account of it
are intense.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 3

1. In itself it is arresting in its human interest and the clash of
personalities. It provides a note of pathos which acts as
relief between the strictly battle actions, and the pathos is
accompanied by charm and affection.

2. It sets the stage for the action at Philippi.

3. It reveals more of the inmost souls of both Brutus and
Cassius than is seen elsewhere in the play.

4. The appearance of the ghost of Caesar reminds the audience
that nemesis is still pursuing the assassins, and gives the
audience a foreboding as to what the outcome will be.

SUGGESTED QUESTIONS

1 . What characteristic is strong in Brutus' speeches in the scene^^
What IS the main characteristic of Cassius' speeches?



41

2. Put briefly in your own words Cassius' cause of anger and
his defense of his actions. Has this defense any validity?

3. Is there any fallacy in Brutus' arguments in accusing Cassius?

4. What mistake does Brutus make in line 5 1 beginning, "You
say you are . . ."?

5. Is Brutus right in line 59 beginning, "Peace, peace!"?



ACT V- SCENE 1

SYNOPSIS

In the manner of mediaeval armies and their leaders, the latter
conducted a parley before engaging in actual fighting. These parleys
resulted usually in bitter recriminations and the throwing of acid
taunts across the intervening ground — and nothing more. This
parley runs true to that form. Though Brutus seems willing at the
start to consider a compromise, there is no thought of this in the
minds of the opposing generals. The parley degenerates into a
high-sounding, "mud-slinging" match. Antony charges Brutus and
Cassius with the wanton murder of Caesar. Cassius, stung by
Antony's words, twits Brutus with not having followed his advice
about Antony. Octavius and Antony leave to take their position,
and Brutus confers apart with Lucilius, his second in command,
while Cassius confers with Messala. Then follows a noble and
touching farewell between Brutus and Cassius, in case they do not
see each other again. One gathers that they are highly uncertain
as to the outcome of the day. They agree that both will commit
suicide on the field rather than be taken prisoner. Altogether, not
a bright and auspicious mood in which to go into battle.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 1

Antony

A far more experienced soldier than Octavius, in fact, the
greatest general of his age after the death of Caesar, he is crossed



42

by the headstrong boy in his battle-arrangements but is too careful
of the cause to come to an open break. Octavius insists on taking
the senior position leading the right wing. To Antony and Cassius
these parleys are an old story. To Octavius they are new, as they
must be to Brutus who has never had an independent command
before.

Octavius

Obviously engaged in establishing himself as the political as
well as the financial heir of Julius Caesar, that is to say the recog-
nized head of the Caesarian or popular party. He insists, therefore,
in taking precedence of Antony, who is unwilling to break with him
yet, or until things in general are more settled. He twits Antony
with having wrongly prophesied the course of action that Brutus
would take. Antony is this far right, however; he knows that Cassius
is a first-class general and relies on him to do the correct military
thing, not dreaming that he would let Brutus over-rule him in so
vital a matter. Octavius displays his ruling motive in the war-
revenge upon the assassins for Caesar's death.

Brutus

His dignity does not desert him even in the acrimonious petti-
ness of the parley. He is not hopeful of the outcome of the battle,
and, if defeated, will desert his stoic principles and will commit
suicide, though he has formerly condemned his uncle-father-in-law
for this kind of action in defeat.

Cassius

Though he makes few speeches in the parley they are sharp,
and one of them is to remind Brutus of his error in allowing Antony
to live, and to give the funeral speech.

He, too, will desert his principles, though they are Epicurean
and not stoic, and commit suicide if defeated, but he has given voice
to that resolution twice before in the play.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 1

1. It shows the leaders on both sides, but particularly on
Brutus' side, uncertain of victory.



43

2. It shows Octavius peremptorily taking precedence over
Antony.

3. It presents Octavius relentlessly pursuing the assassins to
avenge his great uncle, Julius.

4. It shows Brutus and Cassius, feeling a strong premonition
of defeat and death.



ACT V- SCENE 2

SYNOPSIS

Shakespeare usually meets the almost insuperable difficulty
of presenting battle action on the stage, by having a series of short
scenes each depicting a small corner of the field and of the action.
Brutus sends Messala, who is liaison officer from Cassius' wing, off
with dispatches to bring Cassius' forces in against Antony's wing,
for he himself has broken Octavius for the time.

ACT V- SCENE 3

SYNOPSIS

This scene is a collection of short episodes in the fight. Cassius
with Titinius is appraising the field. Cassius has had to take the
drastic action of slaying his own standard-bearer to prevent a rout
of his wing by Antony's wing. Titinius reports that Brutus has given
the command too soon, and that his men have defeated Octavius'
wing and are plundering his tents, oblivious to the rest of the battle.
Pindarus, Cassius' servant, rushes in to urge Cassius to get away
quickly or he will be surrounded and taken, for Antony's men are
plundering his tents. Cassius gets far enough away for a view and
sees his tents on fire and a body of cavalry approaching in the
distance. He sends Titinius to find out who they are. Pindarus gets
to a higher point of vantage to see what happens. He reports that
Titinius is surrounded by horsemen and evidently taken prisoner.



44



Cassius gives up hope and forces Pindarus to run him through with
his own sword, the one with which he stabbed Caesar. Pindarus, a
captive Parthian, lights out for home and is never seen again by
the Romans.

It is all a mistake. It was Brutus' troops that surrounded
Titinius excitedly telling him of their victory over Octavius' wing.
Titinius and Messala find Cassius slain and grieve over the sad
misunderstanding that has obviously been the cause of this. When
Messala leaves, Titinius stabs himself with Cassius' sword.

Messala brings in Brutus and the others to see Cassius corpse.
Brutus' immediate comment is much the same as was Cassius' just
before he died, that Julius Caesar's spirit is strong and stalking the
assassins for vengeance. Grieving, Brutus makes arrangements to
have Cassius' body sent to Thasos where his funeral will not
dishearten the army, and goes back to take command.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 3

Brutus

He is now obsessed with the idea that Julius Caesar's spirit is
on the field directing affairs. His eulogy on Cassius is very touching
— "The last of all the Romans, fare the well!"

Cassius

Swift in decision and action, he kills his standard-bearer to
stop the flight of his troops. Depressed, he is too ready to accept
Pindarus' mistaken report without corroboration and takes the
hasty fatal step unnecessarily.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 3

1. It reports the initial stage of the battle, Brutus' defeat of
Octavius' wing, and Antony's defeat of Cassius'.

2. It presents the unnecessary death of Cassius.

3. It heightens the sense of nemesis relentlessly pursuing, by



45



showing Cassius' death, and by the words which both Brutus
and Cassius speak identifying the spirit of Julius Caesar
seeking revenge as the direct cause of Cassius' death.



ACT V- SCENE 4

SYNOPSIS

This is another episode in another corner of the field. Brutus,
young Cato, and Lucilius are closely engaged in hand-to-hand fight
with the enemy. Brutus and Cato get away. Lucilius is taken prisoner
and representing himself as Brutus, tries to bribe the enemy soldiers
to kill him. They refuse, and Antony, entering, recognizes Lucilius,
whom he orders to be well treated, for he wants him as his friend.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 4

Brutus

Fighting desperately in the thick of the battle, he is trying to
retrieve the day.

Antony

It was Antony's way to attach good officers from enemy Roman
armies to himself. He was implacable only to the leaders.

Young Cato

Portia's brother and Brutus' brother-in-law is the last of the
Cato family, old-fashioned republicans.

Octavius

Though not present in this scene, it is obvious he has, for the
time at least, established his ascendancy over Mark Antony, for
Octavius' tent is the battle headquarters.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 4

1. It shows the beginning of the end for Brutus and his cause.



46

2. It presents the devotion of his officers to Brutus in Lucilius'
willingness to be killed so that Brutus may escape.

ACT V- SCENE 5

SYNOPSIS

This scene shows us the final stroke of nemesis in the death of
Brutus. He is certain now of defeat. He tries to persuade one after
another of his men to run him through but they all refuse. There is
an alarm and they all retreat to a safer spot, except Brutus who
detains Strato and persuades him to hold his sword while he runs
upon it. Strato reluctantly consents, and Brutus runs upon his own
sword and gives himself a fatal wound. As he dies, once again the
fateful words come from his lips, "Caesar, now be still: I killed not
thee with half so good a will."

It is a historic fact that the assassins of Caesar and all who were
in on the secret were dead within three years of the event.

Octavius comes up, guided by Messala and Lucilius, both
prisoners. They find Brutus' body. Lucilius rejoices that Brutus
would not be taken prisoner. Octavius promised to take into his
service all who were Brutus' servants, and takes on Strato on the
spot.

Antony pronounces a brief but arresting eulogy, "This was the
noblest Roman of them all."

Octavius promises a soldier's funeral with all honors for Brutus
and they leave the field.

CHARACTERS IN SCENE 5

Brutus

He is fearless to the end, but obsessed with the idea of Caesar's
spirit relentlessly stalking them all. Dying, he realizes that he has



47

failed. His enemies give him credit, however, for unselfish patriot-
ism; in the words of Antony:

"He only, in a general honest thought and common good to all,
made one of them."

Octavius

Occupying the senior place, he is satisfied now that the last of
the conspirators has been tracked down, and, following Julius
Caesar's example, enrolls the faithful followers of Brutus in his own
service instead of putting them to death. His last speech closes the
play and this may be taken as symbolical of his coming dominance
of the world.

Antony

He it is who admits the greatness and single-heartedness of
Brutus, the first tribute from the enemy side. He displays here some
of that generous insight which won him so many powerful friends
in later years.

PURPOSE OF SCENE 5

1 . It completes the march of nemesis by the defeat and death
of the last conspirator.

2. It marks the end of the old-fashioned Roman republican
spirit and practice.

3. It completes the denouement of the play's action.

4. It shows Octavius about to dominate the Roman Empire.



SUMMARY OF CHARACTERS

Caesar

Historically J ulius Caesar was one of the greatest men who ever
lived. He was a great general, a great statesman, a great writer and
a powerful public speaker. European civilization, which will cover



48

all American civilization too, still owes him a great debt in the Julian
calendar and in his influence on Roman law. He was, too, one of
the most polished gentlemen of Rome and a humanitarian.

Shakespeare, as a dramatist, belittles him in his appearances in
this play to play up Brutus, but gives him his rightful place through
the words of others after the assassination.

Caesar's physical weaknesses are made much of by Cassius.
We hear of his fits of epilepsy. We hear him mention his deafness in
the left ear.

The fact that he has suddenly grown superstitious is emphasized
by Cassius. He is represented as vain, arrogant, rude, and cruel.
This seems to justify the conspirators.

After his death, however, Antony presents him as the noblest
man that ever lived.

Antony

Historically, Antony was a very great military commander. He
was a man of enormous strength and vitality and could endure
extremes to which other men could never physically aspire. His
dissoluteness was highly exaggerated in his own day and much more
after his day. He could never have performed the amazing feats of
physical endurance which he did perform if he had been one-tenth
as dissipated as rumor had it. Yet on occasion, he could drink the
whole company under the table and go out hunting early in the
morning as fresh as a flower.

An opportunist, and therefore unscrupulous, he did have fixed
principles and loyalties in his life and the main one of the latter was
his devotion to Julius Caesar and his memory. He is a shrewd judge
of character, a consummate and a very powerful actor in the
play, as he was historically. Like most educated Romans, he has
been trained in rhetoric but adds to that a natural ability of a high
order. His nature is at bottom frank and genial, and historically he
was the idol of all the troops he ever led.



49



This grand-nephew of JuUus Caesar, legally adopted as his son
and heir, is nineteen years old when the assassination occurs. He is
able to look after his own interests against Antony and quickly
establishes himself as an equal, and before the play ends, as the
senior partner in the triumvirate.

He is a quiet, self-controlled youth, but showing touches of
arrogance before the play ends. His passion is the tracking down of
the assassins who murdered Julius Caesar. At first he defers o
Antony's years and experience but speaks to him frankly and freely
as an equal; afterwards he gives him orders. After the victory he
appears as acknowledged commander giving orders and controlling
arrangements.

Though Julius Caesar pervades the play before and after his
death and is the focal point of the action, yet the play is Brutus
play He is the hero of the play, and the theme of the tragedy is the
meddling of a great soul with things that he does not understand, so
that out of the highest motives he works the greatest evil and finally
brings down himself and all those about him in ruin as the result ot
a train of the grossest errors on his part. The essence of honor and
probity, a practicing stoic, a scholar and a gentleman, he has no
aptitude for practical affairs, especially the swirling and niudd ed
politics of his day. He allows himself to become the tool of the
aristocrats and the plutocrats who hate Caesar for his curbs on their
oppressive activities, in defense of the common people. He believes
in the possibility of the restoration of the old republican spirit and
virtue to the governing of Rome, little realizing that it is gone forever
and that he himself is perhaps the last real believer in it and its
practicability.

He has had military experience under Pompey, but he was in
the army but not of it, hence his military mistakes.

He inspires great respect in his enemies in contrast to their
opinions of his colleagues, and Antony can eulogize him after his
death, "This was a man!"



50



Cassius



fnrr.. Th ^ ul ^Tjf ^' ^^' '"''"" ^^ ^^^^^'^ '^^'^ ^is military
fo ces, though he had fought against him under Pompey Caesar
w,il not trust him to any extent, however, in the civil government
though he backs him for a minor office. ernment.

His aristocratic background disposes him to distrust and hate

cZ7J l"' "^ "''��" "^'' ��'"'^''"' ^"'^ ^^' ��^" ^"vious nature
completes h.s mcentive to the assassination. Unscrupulous
treacherous to friends and superiors, and oppressive and dishonest'
m money affa,rs, he himself feels his moral inferiority to Brutu

r^nnb. r ^^'^^'-'"��'^"' ^"'' ^^^^ have a common aristocratic
repubhcan background. This holds them together in their opposition
to Caesar s establishment of dictatorial control for the cleaning up

Hfe of IT'" V u '"'f '"''" ""'^ '^^ ''^''"^ "f 'he legal and social
life of the people. But Cassius is not motivated, as Brutus is by an
unselfish regard for the state, but by his private jealousy and rancor

oth."^ '��'^^ 'Shrewd judge of character, and adept in playing on
other people's weaknesses. ^ ^

His ability in action is undoubted, quick and decisive Yet he
is sagacious and willing to wait, as at Sardis. If he could have
managed the assassination and the subsequent civil war alone the
outcome, we feel, would have been very different. HisTraciical

Epicurean in philosophy, he has not the same incentive to
sel -control as Brutus has in his stoicism, and he goes to ex em s
of eelmg, outbursts of fury, passionate patriotism and grief whTch
Brutus would not allow himself.

Portia

Her appearance but two brief times in the play is yet unforeet
able_ Her own high character and tender devofion^re'r sponsfb le
own H '" TrV^'"'^ ^'' '"'''''"''"- '' ��' g^""^-- edition of Bru u

hrseme'" ."�� ^"'" '" '''" ' f^"""^ P"*""^ --" renowned for
h.s selfless patnot.sm and high idealism and practicing stoicism as



51

was her husband. She has been brought up in that stoic atmosphere
that pervades her home still after her marriage to her cousm
Brutus.

Her intense desire to share her husband's burdensome secret
and his confidence; her proving herself as to self-control by gashmg
her thigh; her sweet insistence that she is worthy of confidence and
can keep a secret, print an indelible picture of the highest type of
feminine charm upon the audience's mind. Yet, in the second scene
in which she appears, we glimpse just how much that husband s
fortunes mean to her, and how terribly difficult it is for her to
maintain her self-control in her over-mastering excitement. That
terrible intensity of excitement in her nature eventually leads to
her suicide, the manner of which is by no means clear.

Calptirnia

Not the high stoic type that Portia is, nevertheless she is very
much in love with and disturbed for her husband. Her opening
words have a domineering sound but her agitation is the cause of
that For once she would like, for his own good, to have Caesar do
as she so desperately wishes. When Caesar puts his foot down
eventually and reverses his decision not to attend the Senate, she
is beaten and relapses into dejected, hopeless silence.

A believer in dreams and omens, she has, at least superficially,
infected the hard-headed sceptical Caesar with some superstition.
Supreme intelligence as he has, he is not deeply affected that way,
but rather toys with it than allows it to impress him deeply. He easily
shakes it off, but to Calpurnia it is very real.

His appearance in the play is only slight, but his importance is
out of all proportion to this. The foremost orator of his time, the
foremost exponent in the Senate of republican principles, and
previously the savior of the republic from overthrow, he cannot
help but be opposed to Caesar's policies. It was doubtless a mistake
not to take him into the band of conspirators, from their point ot
view However, he was well known as a person difficult to handle
and one who found it almost impossible to play second fiddle. Also,



52



he was a very cautious person at times, though he could be reck-
lessly outspoken.

Casca

Underneath his assumption of a cynical manner and a blunt
directness of speech, he is excitable and nervous. The storm
frightens h.s pose away from him, and his excitement at the moment
of assassmat.on makes him bungle the first blow. He is impression-
able, as IS shown by Cassius' quick conversion of him to the plot
Antony calls him ironically, "My valiant Casca." In spite of his
superstition, we are told by Cassius that he had been a high-
spirited youth.

Lepidus

An excellent general, he has not the political weight or influence
of his two colleagues in the triumvirate. Antony is openly con-
temptuous of him behind his back, but he is too wealthy and he has
enough political friends to make it necessary to have him with them
tor a while.

Decius Brutus

Next to Casca he is the most important of the conspirators His
role ,s to see that Caesar attends the Senate. He is confident he can
manage this by flattery, and he does. His quick, clever re-interpre-
tation of Calpurnia's dream as meaning the opposite of what it seems
to mean ,s eff-ective and his subtle playing on Caesar's fear of
ridicule and the imputation of being afraid accomplishes his object
He adds to his eff-ectiveness in the plot by heading Artemidorus
off and presenting a petition from Trebonius which causes Artemi-
dorus list to be side-tracked by Caesar.

Metelhts Cimber

He is important as the decoy that provides the excuse for the
conspirators to crowd around Caesar. When his petition for his
brother ,s indignantly rejected by Caesar, he calls to the others for
help and they crowd in to reinforce his plea, thus surrounding
Caesar and cutting him ofl^ from help.



53



Trebonius

His task in the conspiracy is to entice Antony far enough away
for him to be unable to help Caesar physically, for he is a very
powerful and athletic man.

Cinna • �� c .

He is used as a messenger by Cassius. His name is significant
for it provides the irrational mob with a pretext for tearing the poet
Cinna to pieces.

Ligarius

Though known to the mob as a conspirator, apparently he is
too ill to take part. Brutus, no doubt, converts him and escorts him
home before he returns to tell the secret to Portia.

Flavius and Marullus r. ., j

Two tribunes of the people, but of aristocratic family and
sympathy, they are bitterly opposed to Caesar's policies and his
appealing to the common people.

Publius

A senator, a popular old man who not only is not in the con-
spiracy, but is very much upset by it.

Popilius Lena

Apparently he knows of the plot and gives the conspirators a
bad moment when he wishes them luck and then goes over to speak
to Caesar. Their anxiety passes when they see that he has not
betrayed them.

Lucilius, Volumnius, Messala

Senior officers in Brutus' and Cassius' armies, they are appar-
ently well known for their military merits to the opposite side and
take service under Octavius and Antony, a common occurrence in
these Roman civil wars.

Titinius , . • , j

One of Cassius' officers and particularly devoted to his leader,
he commits suicide when he has found that Cassius has ended his
own life.



54



Young Cato

Son of the famous Cato, he is Portia's brother and Brutus'
brother-in-law. In the last stages of the defeat, he sets out with
bravado, shouting his name and his father's, to get himself killed.

Lucius

Brutus' slave-boy, to whom he is considerate and courteous
is apparently attractive and a good attendant.

Pindarus

A Parthian prisoner whom Cassius has made his personal
attendant. It is he who mistakes Titinius' welcome by Messala's
troops for capture by the enemy. He accedes to Cassius' request to
kill him, and then deserts, en route to Parthia.

The Mob

In this play Shakespeare does his best portrayal of a mob
mdividually and acting en mass. His portrayal of individuals is'
sympathetic but when the individual is becoming submerged in the
mass, he is not sympathetic and is savage in his picture



NOTES AND COMMENTS

TIME IN THE PLAY

Historic Time

Although Caesar's triumph over the sons of Pompey was cele-
brated in October, 45 B.C., Shakespeare telescopes the time to
bring it to the feast of the Lupercalia, February 15th 44 B C
Historically there was a lapse of several days between Caesar's
assassination and the delivery of Antony's funeral oration, but
Shakespeare brings it on immediately after the death of Caesar In
the play Octavius arrives in Rome immediately after the funeral
oration. Actually, Octavius did not arrive for two months. It was
really not until November 43 B.C. that the triumvirs held the
meeting to draw up the list of the proscribed, and it was not until
the autumn of 42 B.C. that the two battles of Philippi were fought



55

twenty days apart. These telescopings of historic time were dra-
matically necessary to present the action on the stage at all, and they
do no damage whatever to the essential sequence of events.

Dramatic Time

The historical events of about three years are compressed on
the stage into six distinct days. Following is the distribution over
the five acts:

First day -Act I, Scenes 1 and 2

INTERVAL

Second day -Act I, Scene 3
Third day- Act II, Scene 3

INTERVAL

Fourth day -Act IV, Scene 1

INTERVAL

Fifth day -Act IV, Scenes 2 and 3
INTERVAL

Sixth day -Act V

THE PLACES IN THE PLAY

Shakespeare cared not a whit for the so-called unity of place, so
dear to dramatists of the latin countries. Unity of theme and action
were his concern.

From the beginning to the end of Act IV, Scene 1, Rome is
the place of the action. Sardis in Asia Minor is the setting for
Act IV. Scenes 2 and 3. Philippi in Macedonia is the setting for

Act V.



56

Historically, the triumvirs held their meeting at Bonouia (now
Bologna) on an island in the river Rhenus (now Reno), but to the
action that fact is immaterial.

DRAMATIC CONSTRUCTION

The regular symmetry of a Shakespearian tragedy plot is
followed here, marked off into five defined movements.

1. The exposition or introduction- Aci I, Scene 1 to Act 1
Scene 2, line 304.

2. The complication or rising action -Act I, Scene 2 line
305-319to Act II, Scene4.

3. The climax or turning point- Act III, Scene 1, lines 1-122.

4. The falling action or consequence- Act III, Scene 1 line
123-298 to Act V, Scene 2.

5. The denounement or catastrophe- Act V, Scene 3 to Act
V, Scene 5.

USE OF PROSE AND POETRY

Iambic pentameter unrhymed (blank verse) is the normal
vehicle of Shakespeare's plays, but as the years went on, his tendency
was to use more prose, and, of course, the proportion of blank verse
decreased. In this play there are three uses for prose:

1. In the talk of the common people.

2. The imparting of serious information as in Casca's relation
of the offer of the crown to Caesar and in Brutus' speech
after the assassination.

3. The prose of documents or letters as in Artemidorus' list
of the conspirators.



57
RHYME

In Shakespeare's earlier plays many rhyming couplets are
found, especially as endings to scenes -in Love's Labours Lost
more than a thousand. His tendency was to use them less and less;
in Julius Caesar there are only thirty-four; in The Winter's Tale,
perhaps his last play, there is not a single rhyme.

SUPERSTITION

Various superstitions were current in Rome at the time,
though it may well be questioned whether any of them had much
effect on Julius Caesar. However, he was careful to give no impres-
sion that he ridiculed popular beliefs and especially well-established
religious observances. Most of the others in the play, with the
exception possibly of Brutus, did believe, however, in super-
stitions and Brutus succumbs to his obsession of Caesar's ghost.

Dreams auguries from the entrails of animals, storms, unusual
natural phenomena, the flights of birds, and the general actions of
birds of different species -these, along with ghosts -formed the
stuff of these superstitions.

STOIC PHILOSOPHY

To appreciate Brutus' character we should consider his stoic
philosophy. It was a substitute for religion and taught that the
supreme end of life is virtue, and that virtue must seek expression
in action. It taught, further, that the performance of duty is the
result of wisdom, and that joy and grief should not be outwardly
shown The wise man, while not without feeling, must be without
passion, and in performance of duty he must spare neither himself
nor others. In matters of opinion he is his own judge. The Stoics
were the Puritans of the ancient Greek and Roman world.

EPICUREAN PHILOSOPHY

To understand Cassius we should know something of his
Epicurean philosophy. It taught that pleasure is the chief good,



58



that IS to say freedom of the body from pain and the soul from
anxiety; the greatest evil is fear, especially fear of death; prudence
IS the great means to these ends. There are no gods and there is no
after-life.



SOLILOQUIES

1. Act I, Scene 2, line 305-Cassius begins, "Well, Brutus."

2. Act II, Scene 1, line 10-Brutus begins, "It must be by
his death."

3. Act II, Scene I, line 44 -Brutus begins, "The exhalations."

4. Act II, Scene 1, line 61 -Brutus begins, "Since Cassius
first."

5. Act II, Scene 1, hne 77 -Brutus begins, "They are the
faction."

6. Act II, Scene 2, line 1 -Caesar begins, "Nor heaven nor
earth."

7. Act II, Scene 3, line 1 -Artemidorus begins, "Caesar
beware of Brutus."



go m.



8. Act II, Scene 4, line 39 -Portia begins, "I must

9. Act III Scene 1, line 255-Antony begins, "O, pardon
me. (This IS m form of an address to Caesar's corpse
but nevertheless it is a true soliloquy.)

10. Act III, Scene 2, line 259-Antony begins, "Now let it
work."

11. Act IV, Scene 3, line 267-Brutus begins, "This is a
sleepy tune."



59

12. Act V, Scene 3, line 47-Pindarus begins, "So, I am free."

13. Act V, Scene 3, line 80-Titinius begins, "Why didst
thou send."

SOLILOQUY

A soliloquy is a device very useful to the dramatist in the
past It is the presentation of a man musing or speakmg aloud to
himself It allows the audience to see the inmost soul of the man, his
hopes, fears and intentions, and to give news at times. Modern
dramatists do not use it because modern audiences consider it
unnatural or artificial.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

1. Question:

Were I a common laughter, or did use
To stale with ordinary oaths my love
To every new protestor."

Name the speaker and explain his meaning.

Answer ^

Cassius is speaking to Brutus. He means, If I were an
ordinary laughing-stock of the community and cheapened
my friendship with ordinary thread-bare oaths for each
new acquaintance."

2. Question „

"That I do profess myself in banqueting to all the rout.
Who is the speaker, to whom he is speaking and what
is his meaning?

Answer

Cassius is speaking to Brutus, and he means, "If you
know that 1 make myself the maudlin bosom friend of
everybody."



60



3. Question

"Is it physical to walk unbraced, and suck up the humours
of the dank morning?" Name the speaker, the circum-
stances of its utterance and explain it.

Answer

Portia is upbraiding Brutus for being out in the damp
early mormng, smce he says he is not well. She means
Is It wholesome for you to be wandering out here
without proper clothes on and exposing yourself to
this dank morning air?"

4. Question

"Be angry when you wili, it will have scope." Name
the speaker, the circumstances of the speech and explain
the meaning.

Answer

Brutus is addressing Cassius toward the end of their
quarrel at Sardis. He means, "I will hear your anger
without grudging you the privilege whenever you want
to be angry."

5. Question

Why is young Cato introduced in the last act?

Answer

To provide an example, closely related to Brutus of the
type of old Roman republican party which is disappear-
ing m just such fashion, one of the last of his kind.

6. Question

On what occasions did Caesar's ghost appear? For what
reasons is it introduced into the play?

Answer

The ghost appeared to Brutus after the quarrel with
Cassius at Sardis, and the night before the battle of
Hhilippi. The reason it is introduced is to keep the



61

audience reminded of the reason for Brutus' downfall -
the crime against Caesar. Also it answers Brutus'
remark, "We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar,"
spoken so long before to the conspirators. It is the
answer also to Antony's prediction that "Caesar's
spirit, ranging for revenge shall come hot from hell."

7. Question

What is meant by dramatic irony? Give two instances

of where it is used.

Answer

This term applies to situations where the audience has
information the speaker does not possess and can better
appreciate the situation than he can. It is used in the
interpretation of Calpurnia's dream; and in Brutus'
inability to realize the failure of his oration.

8. Question

What features of Antony's character are found in the

second scene?

Answer

He is loyal and devoted to Caesar. He appears to be
unable to judge character as well as Caesar, as in the
case of Cassius. He is fond of sport and athletic exercise.

9. Question

Point out five errors in Brutus' judgment and show how
each later turns out to be an error.

Answer

1) Brutus' first error was in mistaking the spirit of the times
and the necessity for Caesar's dictatorship; with the
belief that he could turn the clock back by killing Caesar.

2) The refusal to have the conspirators take an oath. The
plans leaked out to more than one person.



62



3) The refusal to have Antony put to death with Caesar.
It was Antony's oration that ruined their plans, caused
their flight from Rome and their ultimatic downfall.

4) His vetoing the inclusion of Cicero, the one orator who
might have neutralized the effect of Antony's oration.

5) The allowing of Antony to speak at Caesar's funeral.
That speech was the conspirators' ruin.

10. Question

What purpose is served by letting Octavius make
the funeral speech of the play?

Answer

It foreshadows his final dominance of the world, and
marks his present ascendancy.



NOTES



NOTES



TITLES CONTINUED FROM BACK COVER:



O'Neill's Plays

Our Town

Paradise Lost

A Passage to India

The Pearl

Pere Goriot

Phaedra & Andromache

Pickwick Papers

Pilgrim's Progress

The Plague

Plato's The Republic

Point Counter Point

Portrait of the Artist

as a Young Man
Portrait of a Lady
The Prelude
Pride and Prejudice
The Prince
Pygmalion



The Red and the Black
Red Badge of Courage
Return of the Native
Rise of Silas Lapham
The Rivals &

School for Scandal
Scarlet Letter
Sense and Sensibility
A Separate Peace
Silas Marner
Sir Gawain and the

Green Knight
Sister Carrie
Sons and Lovers
The Sound and the Fury
Steppenwolf &

Siddhartha
The Stranger
The Sun Also Rises



T.S. Eliot's Major

Poems and Plays
Tale of Two Cities
Tartuffe & The Miser
Tess of the O'Urbervilles
To Kill a Mockingbird
Tom Jones
Tom Sawyer
Tristram Shandy
Ulysses
Vanity Fair
Vicar of Wakefield
Victory
Volpone
Walden

War and Peace
Way of the World
Worldly Philosophers
Wuthering Heights



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NOTES ON SHAKESPEARE








Ibsen's Plays 1,


Antony and Cleopatra


Brothers Karamazov


A Doll's House &


As You Like It


Caesar and Cleopatra


Hedda Gabler


Coriolanus


Candide


Ibsen's Plays II,


Hamlet


Canterbury Tales


Ghosts, An Enemy


Julius Caesar


Catcher in the Rye


of the People


King Henry IV Part 1


Concerning Human


& The Wild Duck


King Henry IV Part II


Understanding


The Idiot


King Henry V


Concerning the


Idylls of the King


King Lear


Principles of Morals


The Iliad


Macbeth


Crime and Punishment


Invisible Man


Measure for Measure


The Crucible


Ivanhoe


Merchant of Venice


Cry, the Beloved Country


Jane Eyre


Midsummer Night's


Cyrano de Bergerac


Joseph Andrews


Dream


Daisy Miller &


Jude the Obscure


Much Ado


Turn of the Screw


The Jungle


About Nothing


David Copperfield


Kafka's Short Stories


Othello


Death Comes for


Keats & Shelley


Richard II


the Archbishop


King Oedipus,


Richard III


Death of a Salesman


Oedipus at Colonus


Romeo and Juliet


The Deerslayer


& Antigone


Sonnets


Different Drummer


Last of the Mohicans


The Taming of


Divine Comedy-I,


Le Morte Darthur


the Shrew


Inferno


Leaves of Grass


Tempest


Divine Comedy-ll,


Les Miserables


Troilus and Cressida


Purgatorio


Light in August


Twelfth Night


Divine Comedy-Ill,


Lord of the Flies


NOTES ON OTHER


Paradise


Lord Jim


CLASSICS


Doctor Faustus


Lost Horizon


Absalom, Absalom!


Don Juan


Madame Bovary


Adam Bede


Don Quixote


'Magic Mountain


Aeneid


Electra & Medea


Main Street


Aeschylus' Oresteia


Emma


Man and Superman


The Alchemist


Ethan Frome


Manchild in the


All the King's Men


The Faerie Queene


Promised Land


All Quiet on


Far from the


Mayor of Casterbridge


Western Front


Madding Crowd


Middlemarch


The Ambassadors


A Farewell to Arms


Mill on the Floss


The American


Fathers and Sons


Misanthrope &


Animal Farm


Faust Pt. 1 & Pt. II


Bourgeois Gentleman


Anna Karenina


The Federalist


Moby Dick


Arms and the Man


For Whom the


Moll Flanders


Arrowsmith


Bell Tolls


Mrs. Dalloway


As 1 Lay Dying


The Gallic War


My Antonia


The Assistant


Giants in the Earth


Nana


Autobiography of


Glass Menagerie &


Native Son


Malcolm X


Street Car


New Testament


Babbitt


Grapes of Wrath


Nicomachean Ethics


Barchester Towers


Great Expectations


1984


Beowulf


Great Gatsby


Notes from Underground


Berkeley's Works


Green Mansions


The Odyssey


Billy Budd & Typee


Gulliver's Travels


Of Human Bondage


Black Boy


Hard Times


Of Mice and Men


Black Like Me


Heart of Darkness &


Old Testament


Bleak House


Secret Sharer


Oliver Twist


Brave New World &


Herzog




Brave New World


House of Seven Gables


TITLES CONTINUED


Revisited


Huckleberry Finn


ON INSIDE BACK COVER



J

4



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