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Tragic historical drama
Type of work
Ancient Rome, towards the end of the Roman republic
Serious, proud, virtuous, enraged, vengeful, idealistic, anguished
The Play Julius Caesar is in five acts. Given below is a brief summary of the events that
happen before Act II Scene II:--
Two Roman tribunes, Flavius and Murellus, see the common people parading in the
streets instead of working in their shops. They demand to know why the men are not
working. A cobbler informs them that the people are celebrating Caesar's victory.
Murellus is infuriated and tells them that Caesar has not defeated an enemy, but rather
has killed the sons of Pompey the Great. Pompey previously ruled Rome along with
Caesar until their alliance fell apart, at which point they went to battle over the right to
Julius Caesar triumphantly returns to Rome on the festival of Lupercalia, celebrated on
February 15. He is followed by Antony and Brutus and many followers.
A soothsayer approaches Caesar and calls out for attention. Caesar allows him to speak,
and the man tells Caesar to, "Beware the ides of March". Caesar ignores this warning and
calls the man a dreamer.
Brutus remarks to Cassius that he is afraid the people will crown Caesar king.Cassius
then tells Brutus that "Brutus" is just as good a name as "Caesar", and that both names
could just as easily rule Rome.
Brutus, afraid that Caesar will become a king, struggles to decide whether to take action
Casca remains onstage with Brutus and Cassius and tells them that the three shouts they
heard were because Caesar turned down the crown three times. Apparently Antony
offered him the crown three times, and Caesar turned it down three times.
Casca then adds that the people forgave Caesar and worshipped him even more for
turning away the crown.
Cassius informs the audience in a soliloquy that he will fake several handwritten notes
and throw them into Brutus' room in an attempt to make Brutus think the common people
want him to take action against Caesar.
Cassius then arrives and Casca tells him that the senators are planning to make Caesar a
king the next morning. Cassius draws his dagger and threatens to die before ever
allowing Caesar to achieve so much power. Casca shakes hands with Cassius and they
agree to work together to prevent Caesar from seizing power.
Cinna, a co-conspirator, arrives and together they then leave to go throw Cassius'
handwritten notes through Brutus' window. Cassius indicates that he is quite sure Brutus
will join them within the next day.
Brutus is in his garden and has made up his mind that Caesar must be killed. His reasons
are that Caesar is abusing his power and that he has ascended far too quickly.
Lucius, Brutus' servant, brings him a letter he has found in Brutus' private room. Brutus
interprets the letter as if it were from all of Rome, telling him to slay Caesar and restore
Cassius is further of the opinion that Mark Antony should be killed along with Caesar,
but again Brutus is against the plan, calling it too "bloody."
They plan to commit their murder of Caesar at the Senate at eight o'clock that morning (it
is only three in the morning at this point). However, they are worried that Caesar will not
show up because he has become so superstitious over the past few months.
Decius tells them that he knows how to flatter Caesar, and assures them that he will
convince Caesar to go to the Senate. Cassius and his followers then depart, leaving
Gist of the extract from Class X book
Caesar, still in his nightgown, is terrified by a dream his wife Calpurnia has had in which
she cried out, "Help, ho! They murder Caesar!" He orders a servant to go to the priests
and have them sacrifice an animal in order to read the entrails for predictions of the
Calpurnia arrives and tells him that he dare not leave the house that day. Caesar acts
brave and tells her that he fears nothing, and that he will die when it is necessary for him
to die. The servant returns and tells him that the sacrificed animal showed a very bad
omen, namely the beast did not have a heart.
Caesar insists on misinterpreting the omens, but Calpurnia begs him to blame her for his
absence from the Senate, to which he finally agrees.
However, Decius arrives at that moment in order to fetch Caesar to the Senate House.
Caesar tells him to inform the Senate that he will not come this day. Decius claims that he
will be mocked if he cannot provide a better reason than that. Caesar then tells him about
Calpurnia's dream, which Decius reinterprets in a positive light.
Decius then overwhelms Caesar's resistance by asking him if the Senate should dissolve
until a better time when Calpurnia has more favourable dreams.
Decius also tempts Caesar by saying that the Senate plans to give the crown to him and
they may change their minds if he does not go.
Caesar tells Calpurnia that he was acting foolishly, and agrees to go to the Senate.
Cassius and the other conspirators arrive at that moment to accompany him to the Senate.
Antony also appears and joins the group of men who then escort Caesar out of his house.
Caesar takes his seat in the Senate and proceeds to allow Metellus Cimber to petition
him. The man throws himself down at Caesar's feet in order to beg for his brother's
release from banishment, but is ordered to get up.
Caesar tells him that fawning will not win him any favours. At this Brutus comes forward
and pleads for the man's brother. Cassius soon joins him.
Caesar tells them his decision is, "constant as the Northern Star" and that he will not
remove the banishment. Casca kneels and says “Speak hands for me” .Casca first, and
then the other conspirators and Brutus all stab Caesar who falls saying, "Et tu, Brute? -
Then falls Caesar.
Antony arrives and laments the death of Caesar. He begs the murderers, specifically
Brutus, to tell him why Caesar had to be killed. Brutus tells him that Caesar was
destroying the republic and had to be removed from power.
Antony pretends to be convinced by this and asks the conspirators to, "Let each man
render me his bloody hand" He then shakes hands with each of them, naming them as he
shakes the hand.
Antony quickly recants his agreement with the murderers, and tells Cassius that he almost
joined them after shaking their hands; He asks them if he may have permission to take the
body to the marketplace and show it to the crowds. Brutus gives him permission to do
this, but immediately Cassius pulls Brutus aside and says, "You know not what you do”
Brutus decides to give his speech first, and to allow Antony to speak afterwards,
provided that Antony only says positive things about the conspirators. Antony agrees to
Left alone with the body of Caesar, Antony says, "O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of
earth / That I am meek and gentle with these butchers" He continues, with his speech
becoming ever more violent, "Domestic fury and fierce civil strife / Shall cumber all the
parts of Italy"
Brutus tells the masses that he loved Caesar more than any of them, but that he killed
Caesar because he loved Rome more.
Brutus then asks them if they want him to kill himself for his actions, to which the crowd
replies, "Live, Brutus, live, live!" (3.2.44).
He lastly begs them listen to Mark Antony speak and to let him depart alone. He leaves
Mark Antony alone to give his oration.
Antony's speech begins with the famous lines, "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me
your ears". His speech continually praises Brutus as "an honourable man" who has killed
Caesar for being ambitious.
He then presents all of the images of Caesar in which Caesar has not been ambitious,
such as when Caesar thrice refused the crown on the day of Lupercal, or when Caesar
filled the Roman treasury with ransom money from victories in war.
The plebeians slowly become convinced that Caesar was not ambitious and that he was
Antony then pulls out Caesar's will and tells them he should not read it to them. They beg
him to read it, and he finally agrees, but puts if off by descending into the masses and
standing next to the body of Caesar.
He shows them the stab wounds and names the conspirators who gave Caesar the
wounds. The crowd starts to surge away in anarchy, crying, "Revenge! About! Seek!
Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay!" Antony stops them and continues speaking.
He finally reads them the will, in which Caesar has given every Roman citizen seventyfive
drachmas. The plebeians react in a frenzy of anger against the men who killed
Caesar, and carry away the body.
Antony says, "Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot. / Take thou what course thou
wilt”. He has successfully instigated the mob to mutiny.
A Few Interesting Facts About The Play Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar was first published in the First Folio in 1623. The play's source was Sir
Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Life of Brutus and Life of Caesar.
To celebrate his victory over Pompey, Julius Caesar gave a banquet at which 150,000
guests were seated at 22,000 tables. It lasted for 2 days. He also proclaimed a rent-free
year for every poor family in the Empire.
Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March - March 15, 44 B.C.
A soothsayer tells Caesar who is already on his way to the Senate (and his death),
"Beware the ides of March." Caesar replies, "He is a dreamer; let us leave him.
Pass."(What an irony!)
Artemidorus offered a letter to Caesar warning him about the conspiracy in the street but
Caesar refused to read it (Irony)
Caesar's enemies assassinated him at the foot of Pompey's statue, where the Roman
Senate was meeting that day in the temple of Venus. (Irony)
The sixty conspirators, led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Caius Cassius came to the
meeting with daggers concealed in their togas and struck Caesar at least 23 times as he
stood at the base of Pompey's statue.
After his death, all the senators fled, and three slaves carried his body home to Calpurnia
several hours later.
Brutus and Cassius finally committed suicide.
Both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony had affairs with the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.
Cassius had a personal animosity and a "peculiar bitterness" against Caesar. Brutus was
pestered, by anonymous appeals calling upon him to rid the state of the tyrant.
Cassius gathered a conglomerate of senators willing to assassinate Caesar but all agreed
that the conspiracy could not succeed without the idealistic glamour that Brutus'
participation would bring to it; he was the essential man to give the enterprise
When Caesar saw that he was beset on every side by drawn daggers, he muffled his head
in his robe, and at the same time drew down its lap to his feet with his left hand, in order
to fall more decently, with the lower part of his body also covered. He uttered not a word,
but merely a groan at the first stroke, though some have written that when Marcus Brutus
rushed at him, he said in Greek, 'you too, my child?' "
When Caesar's will was opened it was discovered that he had left a considerable legacy to
each Roman citizen, and when the people saw his body, all disfigured with its wounds,
being carried through the forum, they broke through all bounds of discipline and order.
Julius Caesar takes place in ancient Rome in 44 B.C., when Rome was the centre of an
empire stretching from Britain to North Africa and from Persia to Spain.
Rome suffered from constant infighting between ambitious military leaders and the far
weaker senators to whom they supposedly owed allegiance.
The empire also suffered from a sharp division between citizens, who were represented
in the senate, and the increasingly underrepresented plebeian masses.
A succession of men aspired to become the absolute ruler of Rome, but only Julius
Caesar seemed likely to achieve this status. Those citizens who favoured more
democratic rule feared that Caesar’s power would lead to the enslavement of Roman
citizens by one of their own.
Therefore, a group of conspirators came together and assassinated Caesar. The
assassination, however, failed to put an end to the power struggles dividing the empire,
and civil war erupted shortly thereafter.
The plot of Shakespeare’s play includes the events leading up to the assassination of
Caesar as well as much of the subsequent war, in which the deaths of the leading
conspirators constituted a sort of revenge for the assassination.
In 1599, when the play was first performed, Queen Elizabeth I had sat on the throne for
nearly forty years, enlarging her power at the expense of the aristocracy and the House of
Commons. As she was then sixty-six years old, her reign seemed likely to end soon, yet
she lacked any heirs (as did Julius Caesar). In an age when censorship would have limited
direct commentary on these worries, Shakespeare could nevertheless use the story of
Caesar to comment on the political situation of his day.
First performed in 1599. It was probably the first play performed in the Globe Theatre,
the playhouse that was erected around that time in order to accommodate Shakespeare’s
increasingly successful theatre company.
However, the first authoritative text of the play did not appear until the 1623 First Folio
Caesar has defeated the Roman general Pompey, his archrival, in battle.
Caesar enters with his entourage, including the military and political figures Brutus,
Cassius, and Antony.
Cassius hatches a plot to draw Brutus into a conspiracy against Caesar.
That night, Rome is plagued with violent weather and a variety of bad omens and
Caesar prepares to go to the Senate. His wife, Calpurnia, begs him not to go,
describing recent nightmares she has had in which a statue of Caesar streamed with
blood and smiling men bathed their hands in the blood.
Caesar refuses to yield to fear and insists on going about his daily business.
Finally, Calpurnia convinces him to stay home—if not out of caution, then as a
favour to her.
But Decius, one of the conspirators, then arrives and convinces Caesar that Calpurnia
has misinterpreted her dreams and the recent omens. Caesar departs for the Senate in
the company of the conspirators.
At the Senate, the conspirators speak to Caesar, bowing at his feet and encircling
him. One by one, they stab him to death.
When Caesar sees his dear friend Brutus among his murderers, he gives up his
struggle and dies.
The murderers bathe their hands and swords in Caesar’s blood, thus bringing
Calpurnia’s premonition to fruition.
Antony, having been led away on a false pretext, returns and pledges allegiance to
Brutus but weeps over Caesar’s body.
He shakes hands with the conspirators, thus marking them all as guilty while
appearing to make a gesture of conciliation.
When Antony asks why they killed Caesar, Brutus replies that he will explain their
purpose in a funeral oration.
Antony asks to be allowed to speak over the body as well; Brutus grants his
permission, though Cassius remains suspicious of Antony.
The conspirators depart, and Antony, alone now, swears that Caesar’s death shall be
Brutus and Cassius go to the Forum to speak to the public.
Cassius exits to address another part of the crowd.
Brutus declares to the masses that though he loved Caesar, he loves Rome more, and
Caesar’s ambition posed a danger to Roman liberty. The speech placates the crowd.
Antony appears with Caesar’s body, and Brutus departs after turning the pulpit over
Repeatedly referring to Brutus as “an honourable man,”
Antony’s speech becomes increasingly sarcastic; questioning the claims that Brutus
made in his speech that Caesar acted only out of ambition, Antony points out that
Caesar brought much wealth and glory to Rome, and three times turned down offers
of the crown.
Antony then produces Caesar’s will but announces that he will not read it for it would
upset the people inordinately. The crowd nevertheless begs him to read the will, so he
descends from the pulpit to stand next to Caesar’s body. He describes Caesar’s
horrible death and shows Caesar’s wounded body to the crowd.
He then reads Caesar’s will, which bequeaths a sum of money to every citizen and
orders that his private gardens be made public.
The crowd becomes enraged that this generous man lies dead; calling Brutus and
Cassius traitors, the masses set off to drive them from the city.
1. Caesar: pompous, fatalistic, easily flattered, feared
2. Cassius: jealous, manipulative, unscrupulous, perceptive, realistic
3. Brutus: honourable, ambitious, idealistic
4. Antony: revengeful, manipulative
5. Crowd/Mob Characteristics: fickleness, loss of individuality, inability to deal with
intellect and reason, emotionally hyped, capability to perform cruel and inhuman acts
Marcus Brutus -
A supporter of the Republic who believes strongly in a government guided by the
votes of senators.
While Brutus loves Caesar as a friend, he opposes the ascension of any single man to
the position of dictator
He fears that Caesar aspires to such power.
Brutus’s inflexible sense of honour makes it easy for Caesar’s enemies to manipulate
him into believing that Caesar must die in order to preserve the republic.
While the other conspirators act out of envy and rivalry, only Brutus truly believes
that Caesar’s death will benefit Rome.
Torn between his loyalty to Caesar and his allegiance to the state, Brutus becomes the
tragic hero of the play.
Brutus emerges as the most complex character in Julius Caesar and is also the play’s
He is a powerful public figure, but he appears also as a dignified military leader, and
a loving friend.
In a moment of naïve idealism, he ignores Cassius’s advice and allows Antony to
speak a funeral oration over Caesar’s body.
Julius Caesar -
A great Roman general and senator recently returned to Rome in triumph after a
successful military campaign.
While his good friend Brutus worries that Caesar may aspire to dictatorship over the
Roman republic, Caesar seems to show no such inclination, declining the crown
Seduced by the populace’s increasing idealization and idolization of his image, he
ignores ill omens and threats against his life, believing himself as eternal as the North
Caesar declares: “It seems to me most strange that men should fear, / Seeing that
death, a necessary end, / Will come when it will come” (II.ii.35–37). In other words,
Caesar recognizes that certain events lie beyond human control; to crouch in fear of
them is to enter a paralysis equal to, if not worse than, death
Addressees himself in third person. Sees no difference between his powerful public
image and vulnerable human body—thinks of himself as the great Caesar who knows
Compares himself to the North Star which is permanent and immovable—shows his
The conspirators charge Caesar with ambition, and his behaviour substantiates this
judgment: he does vie for absolute power over Rome
At first, he stubbornly refuses to heed the nightmares of his wife, Calpurnia, and the
supernatural omens pervading the atmosphere. Though he is eventually persuaded not
to go to the Senate, Caesar ultimately lets his ambition get the better of him, as the
prospect of being crowned king proves too glorious to resist.
A friend of Caesar. Antony claims allegiance to Brutus and the conspirators after
Caesar’s death in order to save his own life.
Later, however, when speaking a funeral oration over Caesar’s body, he spectacularly
persuades the audience to withdraw its support of Brutus and instead condemn him as
a traitor. With tears on his cheeks and Caesar’s will in his hand, Antony engages
masterful rhetoric to stir the crowd to revolt against the conspirators.
Antony proves strong in all of the ways that Brutus proves weak.
Persuades the plebeians of the conspirators’ injustice, thus gaining the masses’
Not too scrupulous to stoop to deceit and duplicity
Antony proves himself a consummate politician, using gestures and skilled rhetoric to
In his eulogy for Caesar, Antony is adept at tailoring his words and actions to his