Reading Guide Name Meet the Characters



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William Shakespeare’s
Julius Caesar

Reading Guide


Name _____________________________

Meet the Characters

Julius Caesar (Ruler of Rome)- He has become so popular and powerful that some citizens fear that he will convince the public to make him a king, changing Rome's government from a republic to a monarchy.

Calpurnia (Caesar's wife)- She begs her husband not to go to the Senate on the day of his assassination because of a dream she had foretelling the event.

Mark Antony (Senator and loyal friend of Caesar)- He uses reverse psychology to turn the Romans against the conspirators during his famous funeral speech. He is a member of the ruling Triumvirate after Caesar's death.

Octavius Caesar (Caesar's adopted son)- He is a member of the ruling Triumvirate after Caesar's death and convinces Mark Antony to begin the war against the conspirators.

Aemilius Lepidus (A general in Caesar's army and Caesar's ally)- He is a member of the ruling Triumvirate after Caesar's death but holds less power than the other members.
The Conspirators Against Caesar

Marcus Brutus (Caesar's closest friend)- He joins the conspiracy in killing Caesar because he strongly believes in keeping Rome a government ruled by the people.

Caius Cassius (An ambassador for Caesar and the instigator of the conspiracy against Caesar)- He and Brutus lead the army against the ruling Triumvirate in the civil war following Caesar's death.

Casca (A Roman Senator)- He is the first to stab Caesar. He does so from behind.

Decius Brutus (A Roman senator)- He is sent to accompany Caesar to the Senate on the day of Caesar’s assassination.

Cinna (A Roman senator)- He assists Cassius' manipulation of Brutus by planting anonymous letters around Brutus’ house.

Trebonius (A Roman senator)- He supports Brutus' decision to spare Mark Antony's life and is the only conspirator who doesn’t stab Caesar.

Metellus Cimber (A Roman Senator)- He distracts Caesar so the others can attack him. Caius Ligarius (A Roman Senator)- At first he hesitates in joining the conspiracy against Caesar, but joins once he knows Brutus is also convinced.
Family and Followers of the Conspirators

Portia (The wife of Marcus Brutus)-She feels Brutus is hiding something from her and pleads with him to confide in her.

Lucius (Brutus' servant)

Pindarus (A servant to Cassius)- He delivers an inaccurate report to Cassius regarding the death of one of his men.

Strato (A servant and friend to Brutus)- He holds the sword on Brutus' behalf so that Brutus may run upon the it.
Other Romans

Cicero (A Roman senator and well known orator)

Publius (A Roman senator)- He travels with Caesar to the Senate House the day of the assassination. He also tries to calm the angry crowd.

Popillius Lena (A Roman senator)- He frightens Cassius by wishing him well on his "enterprises" just before Caesar enters the Senate House on the day of Caesar's assassination.

Soothsayer (A soothsayer is someone who foretells events or predicts the future)- He warns Caesar to "beware the Ides of March."

Artemidorus (A Roman writer and philosopher)- He presents Caesar with a letter warning him about the assassination. Caesar does not heed this warning.

Flavius (A commoner of Rome)- He is skeptical of Caesar's power.

Murellus (A commoner of Rome)- He criticizes the other commoners for praising Caesar without enough reason.

Carpenter (A commoner of Rome)

Cobbler (A commoner of Rome)- He teases the other commoners with word play.

Cinna the Poet (A artisan of Rome)- He is killed during the crowd's riot when he is mistaken for the conspirator of the same name.
Plot Summary at a Glance

Julius Caesar is a highly successful leader of Rome whose popularity seems to model that of a king's. Although Caesar is loved and supported by his citizens, some begin to grow wary of his increase in power. Soon, these wary citizens conspire to assassinate Caesar before he becomes king thus turning their republic government into a monarchy. Cassius, the leader of the conspirators, convinces Marcus Brutus, Caesar's most trusted friend, to join the conspiracy. During a celebration, Caesar is warned by the Soothsayer that he must "beware the Ides of March". The next morning, despite his wife Calpurnia's pleas, Caesar travels to the Senate House where the conspirators assassinate him. Caesar's friend Mark Antony provides the famous funeral oration and incites the crowd to riot leading to a civil war. Antony and Octavius, Caesar's heirs, join the fight against the conspirators. Antony and Octavius defeat the conspirators avenging Caesar's death and restoring order to Rome.


Plot Summary

Act I

Having defeated his archenemy, Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar returns to Rome in triumph. Before Caesar arrives for his celebration, some Roman commoners discuss Caesar's growing power in the streets. When Caesar arrives in the town, the Soothsayer stops him and warns him to "Beware the Ides of March." Caesar disregards the Soothsayer's warnings and continues to celebrate his victory.


Act II

Cassius and some other Roman senators, known collectively as the Conspirators, are wary of Caesar's popularity and have begun to plot against him. They aim to recruit Caesar's good friend, Marcus Brutus, as a member of their group in order to reinforce their cause. After much deliberation, Brutus decides to join the conspirators in order to protect Rome and its citizens from Caesar's ambitions to become king. They decide to assassinate Caesar on March 15th. After the meeting, Brutus' wife, Portia, tries to get her husband to tell her what is happening. Brutus will not answer her.

The next morning, Caesar's wife, Calpurnia, awakes from terrible nightmares about his death and civil war. She pleads with Caesar to stay home. Caesar ignores her warnings and departs to the Senate House with Decius Brutus, one of the conspirators. In the streets, Portia and the Soothsayer speak about their feelings of impending danger as they wait for Caesar to pass by on his way to the Senate House.
Act III

As Caesar proceeds to the Senate House, he passes by the Soothsayer. He addresses her by saying, "The Ides of March are come." The Soothsayer responds with, "Ay, but not gone." Caesar disregards this final warning and steps inside the Senate House where the conspirators surround him and stab him to death. Brutus delivers the final blow. When Casear recognizes Brutus he utters-- in total disbelief-- the famous phrase, "Et tu, Brute?" (i.e. "You too, Brutus?"). Caesar dies. Mark Antony, Caesar's close friend, witnesses the assassination, but manages to remain calm. He requests to speak at Caesar's funeral. The Conspirators agree and run into the streets crying, "Liberty, Freedom, Tyranny is dead!" Alone, Mark Antony swears to avenge Caesar's death. At Caesar's funeral, Brutus speaks first, telling the citizens that Caesar was killed because his ambition threatened their liberties. Brutus is pleased with the approving reaction of the crowd and steps down for Antony to give his eulogy. Antony subtly incites the crowd to turn against the conspirators, reminding them of Caesar's goodness. By the end of his speech, Antony manipulates the citizens to riot and the conspirators flee the city.


Act IV

Mark Antony, Octavius, and Aemilius Lepidus become allies. The three men declare themselves the Second Triumvirate of Rome and propose to jointly rule. They also declare a civil war against Brutus, Cassius, and the Conspirators. Brutus and Cassius become generals of their army, but struggle with sharing their joint power. Late one night, Brutus is visited by Caesar's ghost who warns him that they will meet again at the battle of Phillippi.


Act V

Cassius, worn down by Mark Antony's army, sends his soldier and friend, Titinius, across the field to learn the identity of some nearby troops. When Cassius' slave, Pindarus, mistakenly reports that Titinius has been captured, Cassius loses all hope of victory. He asks Pindarus to stab him and Pindarus consents, killing Cassius with the same sword Cassius used to stab Caesar. In another part of the battlefield, Brutus continues to fight until his troops are defeated. He despairs and asks his servant, Strato, to hold the sword while Brutus runs on it. Upon finding the body, Antony expresses his admiration for the fallen Brutus, saying, "This was the noblest Roman of them all." With Cassius and Brutus dead, the Triumvirate takes control of Rome and order is restored.Act I

1. In Scene I, what do Flavius and Marullus want the commoners to do?

2. What is the Soothsayer's advice to Caesar?

3. Explain the difference between the views of Caesar held by Cassius and Brutus.

4. Caesar clearly gives his thoughts about Cassius. What does he say?

5. Summarize Casca's explanation of why Caesar looked so sad.

6. At the end of Scene II in lines 312 - 326, Cassius makes plans. What plans does he make? Why?

7. Casca says, "For I believe they are portentous things/Unto the climate that they point upon." What does he mean? What is this an example of?

8. Why does Cassius want Brutus to join the conspiracy?

 
Act II

1. To what decision does Brutus come in his orchard? Why?

2. What does Lucius give to Brutus in Scene I?

3. Why doesn't Brutus want to swear an oath with the conspirators?

4. Why does Brutus decide not to ask Cicero to join them?

5. Brutus is against killing Mark Antony. Why?

6. Why did Brutus say, "Render me worthy of this noble wife!"?

7. Of what does Calphurnia try to convince Caesar?

8. Caesar yields to Calphurnia's wishes at first. Why does he change his mind and decide to go to the Senate meeting?

9. What does the note Artemidorus wants to give to Caesar say?

 

Act III


1. What is ironic about the timing of Caesar's murder (in relation to the preceding events)?

2. In the moments following Caesar's death, what do the conspirators proclaim to justify their deed?

 3. Antony's servant brings a message to Brutus. What does he say?

4. Antony wants to speak at Caesar's funeral. What reaction does Brutus have? Cassius?

5. Under what conditions will Antony speak at the funeral?

6. What did Brutus say to the people at the funeral?

7. What did Antony say to the people at the funeral in his now famous "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" speech?

8. Why did Brutus and Cassius flee Rome?

9. What is the point of Act III Scene III?

Act IV


1. What did Antony, Octavius and Lepidus gather to discuss?

 2. To what does Antony compare Lepidus?

3. What problem has developed between Cassius and Brutus? How is it resolved?

4. What news did Messala bring Brutus?

5. For what reasons does Brutus want to lead his armies to Philippi?

6. What message did Caesar's ghost bring Brutus?

 

Act V


1. Why did Pindarus stab Cassius?

2. What causes Titinius to say, "The sun of Rome is set!"?

3. Who do the soldiers believe they have captured in Scene IV? Who is it really?

4. How does Brutus die?



5. Why did Antony say Brutus was the "noblest Roman of them all"?


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