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100 B.C.E. - 44 B.C.E.
Veni. Vidi. Vici.
I came. I saw. I conquered.
How many words can
you think of that are
associated with
Julius Caesar?
pizza! pizza!
Caesar’s ideas still affect modern times:
● 365 day calendar, with a Leap Day every 4
● Codes, such as Morse Code. He created the
Caesar Substitution Cipher: every letter is
replaced the with the letter 3 places down
(A=D, B=E, etc.)
● Ordered that libraries be built in every
town, to encourage learning
● Used a codex: literature in the form of
books instead of scrolls
Of course, Caesar is most famous for being
a general and leader of the Roman Republic,
which became the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire was huge.
The Roman Empire (117 CE)
William Shakespeare
Lived 1564-1616
Produced plays 1590-1613
- Globe Theater
London, England
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
was the first play performed
in the Globe Theatre.
It had been over 1600 years…
Why would Shakespeare write a story about Caesar?
● Educated English men learned about ancient Rome
and considered the Romans to be their ancestors.
● The Roman playwrights Seneca and Plautus were
popular and admired influences on Elizabethan
● Shakespeare’s audience may have been fascinated
by Caesar’s life and death: the story of a dictator
becoming corrupt and ignoring the other branches of
government, then being assassinated by his own
friends. It might have reminded them of England’s
own civil war, in the 1400s, which finally ended
when Queen Elizabeth and the Tudor family came
into power.
Historical Fiction
● Even Shakespeare had to research for his
● His main source for Julius Caesar was
Plutarch, a Greek philosopher who lived
around 45-130 C.E.
● Although the play is based on historical fact,
Shakespeare made up plenty of details and
probably changed quite a bit.
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
is set in Rome, 44 B.C.
Before we jump in,
we need a little history.
The Roman Republic
● Before 509 BCE: Rome has a Senate which would elect
a king for life.
● 509 BCE: Romans drive out the last king, Tarquin the
Proud, and establish a REPUBLIC.
○ still a Senate - many senators (make laws, control
$$; majority required for votes)
○ Citizens would elect 2 Consuls, who would share
power, for 1-year terms.
○ Tribunal - one or two tribunes (responsible for the
needs of common people)
● Now, all citizens (wealthy, Roman-born men) have a
political voice.
● Other people - including women, slaves, and people
from other places - do not.
The Roman Republic, part 2
● Before 59 BCE: Pompey and Crassus, two
Roman leaders, have been fighting for some
time. Meanwhile, Caesar has been leading the
military, to great success.
● 59 BCE: All 3 are unhappy that the Senate
does not do what they want, so they form an
unofficial and secret FIRST TRIUMVIRATE.
Caesar gets the other two to work together,
and even arranges Pompey’s marriage to his
own daughter, Julia. They agree to support
each other’s goals, and take turns being
● Eventually, the secret is revealed.
In 54 B.C.E.,
Caesar’s daughter,
Julia, dies. Tension
flares between
the two men.
In 53 B.C.E.
Crassus dies.
This ends the First Triumvirate
and sets Pompey and Caesar
against one another.
The Senate supports Pompey and
he becomes sole consul.
Caesar, continues to be a military
hero and a champion of the
people. He’s the commander in
Gaul and had planned on
becoming consul when his term
in Gaul was up.
The senate fears him and wants
him to give up his army.
Caesar wrote the Senate a letter in 50
B.C.E. and said he will give up his
army if Pompey gives up his.
This, of course, made the Senate angry
and they demanded that Caesar
disband his army at once or be
declared an enemy of the people.
Legally, however, the Senate could not
do that. Caesar was entitled by law to
keep his army until his term was up.
Two tribunes--Marc Antony and Quintus Cassius
Longinus--faithful to Caesar, vetoed the bill and
were therefore expelled from the senate. They fled to
Caesar; the men asked the army for support against
the senate. The army called for action and on January
19, 49 B.C., Caesar crossed the Rubicon into Italy.
Civil war began
Caesar says, “Iacta alea est!”
(The die is cast!) when he crosses the stream.
Crossing the Rubicon is a metaphor for deliberately
proceeding past a point of no return.
To sum it up, Caesar
chased Pompey all the
way to Egypt and
“defeated” him.
He got a little
sidetracked and hung
out with Cleopatra
for a while…
When he returned to
Rome, he was now
the “tribune of the
people” and on the
way to becoming
“dictator for life.”
This is where our play begins…
When it opens, we see some citizens in
support of Caesar and some against him.
February* 15:
The Feast of the Lupercal
What is that?
Lupercus was the fertility god the Romans
worshipped. They would sacrifice goats and a dog. The
goats’ blood would be smeared on the foreheads of
two young men, then wiped off with wool dipped in
milk. Then young men, wearing only strips of
goatskin around their loins, ran around the city
striking women with strips of goatskin. It was believed
that pregnant women would have an easier labor and
infertile women would become fertile.
*februaue actually means “to purify”
During this feast some of the
conspirators discuss Caesar
and what to do about him
having too much power.
The plan to kill him
is hatched…
Would you be
worried if
someone told
you something
terrible would
to you in a
Beware the Ides of March...
Julius Caesar is warned to beware the ides of March.
“Ides” means the middle of the month; he was warned that
something bad would happen on March 15th, 44 B.C.
He is, in fact, killed on March 15th.
• Themes
• Misuse of Power
• Corruptive Force of
• Man’s Fallibility
Power Corrupts: Caesar is a dictator
who is suspected of abusing his
power; Cassius is so power hungry
that he assassinates Caesar; Antony,
Octavius, and Lepidus become even
worse than Ceasar!
• The Inherent
Jealousy and
Selfishness of Man
• Themes, Continued
Countless books, movies and other
theatre adaptations have built on the
theme of a “friend’s betrayal”
• Honor found in loyalty
and friendship
• Corruption found in
conspiracy and
• Stability through
political order
• Viability of republic
form of government
• Literary Focus
• Mood
• Setting
• Overcast of impending doom, darkness and
• There is no trust left, only manipulation and
• Julius Caesar is largely set in Rome, 44 B.C.
• Ancient Rome
Tiber River
the Capitol
the House of the Senate
The Forum
A tragic figure or hero is one who has a
character flaw which causes them to act
poorly or make poor decisions resulting
in their downfall.
• Julius Caesar
• An ambitious and
ruthless politician
• Skilled general
• Believes that he is
worthy of more power
than just being the head
of Rome; he wants to
be crowned the leader
of the entire Roman
• His ambition led to his
• Long-time friend Brutus
betrayed and stabbed
him to stop him from
becoming a tyrant.
Every Shakespearean tragedy has
one. However, in Julius Caesar, the
tragic hero is not the title character.
a key figure in
the play.
• Brutus
• Friend of Caesar
and Honorable man
• Feeling of
patriotism, friends
convince him that
Caesar must die
rather than become
a tyrant.
• His strong
principles led him to
allow rival Antony to
speak at Caesar's
• Calpurnia
Calpurnia’s dream
foreshadowed future events
• Julius Caesar's
sensible and loving
• Warned her
husband not to
leave the house
during the Ides of
March after having a
prophetic dream.
• Cassius
• Becomes jealous of
Caesar’s power and
fearful he will abuse
that power
• Urges Brutus to
assassinate both
Caesar and Antony
• Tries to convince
Brutus to not allow
Antony to speak at
Caesar’s funeral
• Marcus Mark Antony
• Soldier and Caesar's
right-hand man
• Calculating and
persuasive with words
• Uses his influence to
turn the people of Rome
against Brutus
• With Caesar slain, he
seizes the opportunity
to take control of Rome
Antony delivers Caesar’s
funeral oration
As we read The Tragedy of Julius Caesar…
• We will discuss the conspiracy…
• We will discuss how Rome fell to mob rule after
Caesar’s death… (remember mob rule in To Kill a
Mockingbird…did that lead to civil unrest in the South?)
• We will discuss why history seems to repeat itself over
and over again…
• And we will discuss our own flaws in our personalities
and how we can prevent a tragedy in our lives by our
everyday actions…
Do you realize it when you
are quoting Shakespeare?
(Yes, you DO quote Shakespeare!)
If you have ever said…
“Catch a cold”
“Laugh it off”
“Disgraceful conduct”
That’s “lousy”
“In a pickle”
I didn’t “sleep a wink”
It won’t “budge an inch”
I’ve “seen better days”
“Knit your brows”
“Vanish into thin air”
“Give the devil his due”
An “eye sore”
“Fair play”
“Foul play”
“Tower of strength”
“Dead as a doornail”
“Send him packing”
“That’s the long and short
of it”
“Be that as it may”
“Fool’s paradise”
“As luck would have it”
“Lie low”
“Without rhyme or
…you are quoting Shakespeare!
• “What the dickens?”
• “Good riddance”
• “Flesh and blood”
• “A laughing stock”
• “For goodness’ sake!”
• “Green-eyed jealousy”
• “If the truth be known…”
“Love is blind”
“Off with his head”
“Have seen better days”
“Wild goose chase”
“Night owl”
“Mums the word”
• “Crack of doom”
“A sorry sight”
“Eaten out of house and
• “By Jove”
…you are quoting Shakespeare!
…and it’s
you knew how
much Shakespeare
has influenced
your life!
Comics related to Shakespeare & Julius Caesar…