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010 – Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
The play, Julius Caesar, was written in 1599. All the important characters –
Brutus, Caesar, and Antony – and most of the events in the
Republican Government:
play were based on the writings of a Greek historian called
Rome had overthrown the
Plutarch (AD 45-120). Plutarch was a Roman, and was a great monarchy in 508 BC, and
admirer of the Republican form of government, whereas
was divided into republics,
with a complex constitution
most Elizabethans, including Shakespeare, were staunch
outlining how they were run
supporters of the monarchy. These differing political views
may help the reader to understand Shakespeare’s attitude towards the
conspirators who assassinate Caesar (ie Brutus and Cassius).
Julius Caesar is a fascinating example of Shakespeare taking stories from history
and turning them into moving, exciting dramas in which very real and complex
people act out their destinies. Often English-speaking people know their history
better from Shakespeare’s plays than from undoubtedly more accurate historical
1. What about you? Would you say that you know more about certain
historical events that you have seen movies about? (Titanic, Pearl
2. Which is usually more accurate? Hollywood’s version or a text written by
an Historian?
010 – Julius Caesar
3. Before we begin, let’s compare Canada and America’s governments:
Title of the Head of
How is the Head of
Gov’t chosen?
Prime Minister
Voted head of party who got the
most seats in the House of
How much power does
the Monarch have?
Monarch is the Head of State in
Canada (primarily ceremonial
citizens elect the members of
the U.S. Electoral College; these
electors in turn directly elect the
President and Vice President
No power or position
4. How would citizens of Canada or USA feel if the Head of Gov’t stopped
holding elections, then decided to stay in power for life and pass on their
positions to their own children?
010 – Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
A Tragedy
As the play begins…
We are in Ancient Rome, and Julius Caesar is leader
of Rome’s Republican government and head of the
Roman Empire. But some men who used to be his
friends in the Senate, think that the great Caesar is
growing too hungry for power – they think that
secretly he wants to ignore the senators and be
crowned King.
Eight men meet at night to plot how they will rid
Rome of a potential tyrant: Brutus (a man of noble principles), Cassius ( a clever
but discontented man), Casca , and five other conspirators. They plan the most
decisive remedy of all… assassination.
5. Match the following terms with the correct definition:
 A wise group who advises the
 Monarchy
 a person who governs
oppressively, unjustly, and
 the murder of a prominent
person or political figure by a
surprise attack
 a person who takes part in a plot
or scheme
010 – Julius Caesar
6. What do you know about Julius Caesar? Why do you think he is so famous?
Have groups brainstorm facts (no googling allowed!) the group that comes up with
the best facts, wins!
Roman general, politician and Consul (from 49 BC to 44BC):
His full name was Gaius Julius Caesar.
born in 100 BC. His father was also named Gaius Julius Caesar, and his mother was
called Aurelia Cotta.
Very little is known of Caesar’s childhood.
brilliant military general. He successfully conquered Gaul (France) and he twice
invaded Britain (in 55 BC and 54 BC).
Caesar formed an alliance with Pompey and Crassus, gaining support from the public
in opposition to the Roman Senate. Cato the Younger and Cicero opposed them.
Following the death of Crassus, Pompey moved away from Caesar and supported the
Senate. Julius Caesar was ordered by the Senate to give up control of the military.
Caesar disobeyed the order and crossed the Rubicon river with his army. A civil war
took place and Julius Caesar gained control of Rome.
He was married three times. His first marriage was to Cornelia Cinnilla from 83 BC
until she died while giving birth in either 69 or 68 BC. Then, in 67 BC, he got married to
Pompeia, whom he divorced 6 years later, in 61 BCE. He got married for the third time,
to Calpurnia Pisonis in 59 BC, and remained married to her until his death.
Julius Caesar is known to have been involved with three other women in his lifetime.
The first was Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, with whom he had a son called Caesarion.
Cleopatra and Julius Caesar could not ever get married because she was Egyptian, and
he was Roman, and under Roman law, only Roman citizens could get married to each
other. Then, he was also involved with Servilla Caepiones, who just happened to be the
mother of Brutus, one of the people who would assassinate him later on in life. The
third woman that he had an affair with was the queen of Mauritania.
Caesar was a brilliant speaker and he was prolific writer. Only his writings on his
military conquests survive today, but he also wrote different forms, including poetry.
Caesar had enormous political power. As dictator he could veto the Senate, he
controlled the armies of Rome and he was the first Roman to be officially deified (given
the status of a god).
Julius Caesar’s face was depicted on Roman coins.
Caesar introduced the Julian calendar.
In 44 BC Caesar was assassinated by a large group of Roman Senators. He was
apparently stabbed more than 20 times.
Following his death, Caesar’s loyal supporter, Mark Anthony and Caesar’s named heir,
Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) successfully fought a series of civil wars. Augustus
Caesar became Rome’s first Emperor, ruling from 27 BC to 14 AD. The Roman Republic
had become the Roman Empire.
In a traditional pack of playing cards the King of Diamonds is meant to represent Julius
010 – Julius Caesar
Read the cast list together, (practice pronouncing the names!) then read the
introduction together.
The Players: Act Three Scene One
Julius Caesar
Soothsayer – one who fortells the future
Artemidorus (ar-tem-ih-dor-us) – teacher of rhetoric (speech making/giving)
Publius (Poo-blee-us)
Popilius (Paw-pill-ee-us)
Antony – Caesar’s successor
Brutus (Broo-tus)
Cassius (Kass-ee-us)
Casca (Kass-kah)
Decius (Dee-see-us)
Metellus Cimber (Meh-tell-us Sim-ber)
Trebonius (Treh-bone-ee-us)
Cinna (Caius Ligarius) (Sinn-ah)
010 – Julius Caesar
As the scene begins…
Strange things have been happening in Rome. Casca has seen a lion in the street, who stared at
him and passed by without molesting him. A hundred fearful women swear they have seen
men walking the streets engulfed in flames. Other people claim the fountains are running
blood. Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, has heard these stories and more, and she has had a terrifying
dream of her own. In the morning she begs Caesar not to go to the Capitol, the ancient temple
where the Senate meets, being sure that all the omens mean doom for her husband. The
augurers, who foretell the future by examining a chicken’s entrails, confirm her worst fears.
But Caesar is Caesar – proud, courageous, and perhaps a little too sure of himself. When the
hour comes, he sets forth from his house for the Capitol, accompanied by the senators he
believes are his friends. Of these men, the one he trusts most is the noble Brutus.
7. What do we learn about Caesar in the above section?
- Caesar is married
- He is proud, courageous and sure of himself
- He trusts Brutus
8. What do we learn about the superstitions some Romans believed?
- Omens, dreams
- Believe in soothsayers (people who tell the future)
Note: A typical day for Julius Caesar – like the one in this scene, included going to the Capitol
and listening to various petitioners. These were often citizens of Rome who wished to ask
Caesar for favors, judgments, or pardons. It was a mark of his great power that he could say
“yes” or “no” to their requests without consulting any advisors.
Before watching the excerpt below, read through the boxes with the students, to give them an
idea of what is happening! start at 1:04 go to 1:13
As we watch the above excerpt, follow along with the script below.
010 – Julius Caesar
Rome. Before the Capitol; the Senate sitting above.
A crowd of People; among them ARTEMIDORUS and the Soothsayer.
PUBLIUS, and Others.
Not long ago, the
Soothsayer warned
Caesar to “Beware
the ides of March”.
document is a letter
to Caesar naming all
of the conspirators
and warning Caesar
about the danger he
is in!
CÆSAR [To the Soothsayer.] The ides
of March are come.
Soothsayer Ay, Cæsar; but not gone.
ARTEMIDORUS Hail, Cæsar! Read this
DECIUS Trebonius doth desire you to
At your best leisure, this his humble
ARTEMIDORUS O Cæsar! read mine
first; for mine’s a suit
That touches Cæsar nearer. Read it,
great Cæsar.
CÆSAR What touches us ourself shall
be last serv’d.
ARTEMIDORUS Delay not, Cæsar; read
it instantly.
CÆSAR What! is the fellow mad?
PUBLIUS Sirrah, give place.
Ides of March – March 15th
Schedule – document
Suit - petition
Touches – concerns
010 – Julius Caesar
CÆSAR What! urge you your petitions in the
Come to the Capitol.
CÆSAR goes up to the Senate-House, the rest following. All the
Senators rise.
POPILIUS I wish your enterprise to-day may
CASSIUS What enterprise, Popilius?
Cassius is alarmed
that Popilius seems
to know about the
assassination. He
alerts Brutus.
POPILIUS. Fare you well. [Advances to
BRUTUS What said Popilius Lena?
CASSIUS He wish’d to-day our enterprise
might thrive.
I fear our purpose is discovered.
Brutus and Cassius
watch Caesar
carefully to see if
Popilius has warned
him of the danger
he is in.
BRUTUS Look, how he makes to Cæsar:
mark him.
CASSIUS Casca, be sudden, for we fear
Brutus, what shall be done? If this be known,
Cassius or Cæsar never shall turn back,
For I will slay myself.
BRUTUS Cassius, be constant:
Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes;
For, look, he smiles, and Cæsar doth not
CASSIUS Trebonius knows his time; for, look
you, Brutus,
He draws Mark Antony out of the way.
[Exeunt ANTONY and TREBONIUS. CÆSAR and the Senators take
their seats.
010 – Julius Caesar
DECIUS. Where is Metellus Cimber? Let him
And presently prefer his suit to Cæsar.
With Caesar’s friend
Antony out of the
way, the
conspirators press
closer to Caesar.
Metellus Cimber
kneels to him,
asking that his
brother be brought
home from exile.
BRUTUS He is address’d; press near and
second him.
CINNA Casca, you are the first that rears your
CASCA Are we all ready? What is now
That Cæsar and his senate must redress?
METELLUS Most high, most mighty, and
most puissant Cæsar,
Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat
A humble heart,— [Kneeling.
Caesar replies:
“Don’t kneel to me.
I won’t change my
mind just because
you try to flatter
CÆSAR I must prevent thee, Cimber.
These couchings and these lowly courtesies,
Might fire the blood of ordinary men,
And turn pre-ordinance and first decree
Into the law of children. Be not fond,
To think that Cæsar bears such rebel blood
That will be thaw’d from the true quality
With that which melteth fools; I mean sweet
Low-crooked curtsies, and base spaniel
Thy brother by decree is banished:
If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him,
I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
Know, Cæsar doth not wrong, nor without
Will he be satisfied.
Presently prefer – immediately present
Couchings – bowings
address’d - ready
lowly courtesies – low bows
fond - foolish
010 – Julius Caesar
METELLUS Is there no voice more worthy
than my own,
To sound more sweetly in great Cæsar’s ear
For the repealing of my banish’d brother?
Brutus and Cassius
also approach
Caesar to plead for
Metellus Cimber’s
BRUTUS I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery,
Desiring thee, that Publius Cimber may
Have an immediate freedom of repeal.
CÆSAR What, Brutus!
CASSIUS Pardon, Cæsar; Cæsar, pardon:
As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall,
To beg enfranchisement for Publius Cimber.
Repealing – recall
Enfranchisement - freedom
010 – Julius Caesar
CÆSAR. I could be well mov’d if I were as
Caesar says he will
not change his
If I could pray to move, prayers would move
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumber’d
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place:
So, in the world; ’tis furnish’d well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshak’d of motion: and that I am he,
Let me a little show it, even in this,
That I was constant Cimber should be
And constant do remain to keep him so.
CINNA O Cæsar,—
CÆSAR Hence! Wilt thou lift up Olympus!
DECIUS Great Cæsar,—
CÆSAR Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?
Pray to move – beg favors of a superior
resting – stable
Apprehensive – intelligent
holds on his rank- maintains his position
Bootless – in vain/ useless
010 – Julius Caesar
Speak, hands, for me! [They stab Cæsar.]
CÆSAR Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Cæsar!
CINNA Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!
Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.
Proclaiming that the
death of Caesar
means the
beginning of liberty,
the conspirators
prepare to spread
out through the city
to explain their
violent actions to
the people. They
promise that no
harm will come to
any other person.
CASSIUS Some to the common pulpits, and
cry out,
‘Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!’
BRUTUS People and senators be not
Fly not; stand still; ambition’s debt is paid.
CASCA Go to the pulpit, Brutus.
DECIUS And Cassius too.
BRUTUS Where’s Publius?
CINNA Here, quite confounded with this
METELLUS Stand fast together, lest some
friend of Cæsar’s
Should chance—
BRUTUS Talk not of standing. Publius, good
There is no harm intended to your person,
Nor to no Roman else; so tell them, Publius.
Et tu Brute – You too, Brutus?
Abide – take the consequences of
Common pulpits – public platforms (for public speaking)
010 – Julius Caesar
CASSIUS And leave us, Publius; lest that the
Rushing on us, should do your age some
BRUTUS Do so; and let no man abide this
But we the doers.
CASSIUS Where’s Antony?
TREBONIUS Fled to his house amaz’d.
Men, wives and children stare, cry out and
As it were doomsday.
BRUTUS Fates, we will know your pleasures.
That we shall die, we know; ’tis but the time
And drawing days out, that men stand upon.
The conspirators
themselves that in
shortening Caesar’s
life they have done
him a favor – he has
twenty years less to
fear death.
CASCA Why, he that cuts off twenty years
of life
Cuts off so many years of fearing death.
Abide – take the consequences of
stand upon – regard as important
010 – Julius Caesar
BRUTUS Grant that, and then is death a
So are we Cæsar’s friends, that have
His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans,
And let us bathe our hands in Cæsar’s blood
Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords:
Then walk we forth, even to the marketplace;
And waving our red weapons o’er our heads,
Let’s all cry, ‘Peace, freedom, and liberty!’
CASSIUS Stoop, then, and wash. How many
ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted o’er,
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!
BRUTUS How many times shall Cæsar bleed
in sport,
That now on Pompey’s basis lies along
No worthier than the dust!
CASSIUS So oft as that shall be,
So often shall the knot of us be call’d
The men that gave their country liberty.
DECIUS What! shall we forth?
CASSIUS Ay, every man away:
Brutus shall lead; and we will grace his heels
With the most boldest and best hearts of
Pompey’s basis – pedestal of the statue of Caesar’s predecessor
If the conspirators had known what would happen as a result of Caesar’s assassination, they
might have been less eager to take history into their own hands. For violence leads to more
violence, and winners may become losers with just one turn of Fortune’s wheel.
010 – Julius Caesar
9. For each of the following words bolded, fill in the bracket with a word that
expresses the same meaning today.
a. POPILIUS: I wish your enterprise ( plan, business
) today
may thrive.
b. CASSIUS: Casca, be sudden, (quick
) for we
fear prevention. ( being delayed, prevented from finishing )
c. BRUTUS: Cassius, be constant:… ( firm, calm
d. BRUTUS: He is address’d; press near and second him. (support his
e. CINNA: Casca, you are the first that rears your hand. ( strikes / stabs)
f. CASCA: What is now amiss, ( wrong
Senate must redress? (Set right
) / That Caesar and his
g. METELLUS: Most high, most mighty, and most puissant (powerful)
Caesar, …
h. CAESAR: Thy brother by decree is banished (exiled from Rome
i. CAESAR: I spurn thee like a cur ( dog
) out of my way.
j. CAESAR: But I am as constant as the northern star, … ( Polaris – also
called the North Star… it never moves out of sight)
k. CAESAR: Hence! ( Away! ) Wilt thou lift up Olympus! ( a mountain in
Greece on which the gods dwelled )
l. BRUTUS: Fly not; stand still; ambition’s debt is paid. ( Ceasar has
received the punishment he deserves for being ambitious)
010 – Julius Caesar
m. TREBONIUS: Men, wives and children stare, cry out and run / As it
wer doomsday. (Day of judgement / the end of the world
n. BRUTUS: Fates, (in Roman Mythology, these are the three goddesses who
govern human destinies
) we will know your pleasures.
o. CASSIUS: How many ages hence / Shall this our lofty scene be acted
o’er. ( our noble actions be repeated in future history / reenacted in theaters)
10. Did Caesar say or do anything in this scene that made you feel he
deserved to be murdered? Why do you think this?
11.Do you think that Brutus and Cassius sincerely believed they were doing
the best thing for Rome when they assassinated Caesar? Why do you think
12. Which lines / moments in this scene impressed you as very dramatic or
010 – Julius Caesar
ANTONY Act 3 Scene 1 (after Caesar’s death)
O mighty Caesar! Dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.
—I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,
Who else must be let blood, who else is rank.
If I myself, there is no hour so fit
As Caesar’s death’s hour, nor no instrument
Of half that worth as those your swords, made rich
With the most noble blood of all this world.
I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Fulfill your pleasure. Live a thousand years,
I shall not find myself so apt to die.
No place will please me so, no mean of death,
As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,
The choice and master spirits of this age.
Is this spoken by a man or a
Is this meant to be serious or
funny? _________________
Summary: _______________
Oh, mighty Caesar! Have all your
conquests, glories, triumphs,
achievements, come to so little?
Gentlemen, I don’t know what you
intend to do, who else you intend to
kill, who else you consider corrupt. If
it’s me, there’s no time as good as
now, and no weapon better than
your swords, covered with the
noblest blood in the world. I ask you,
if you have a grudge against me, to
kill me now, while your stained hands
still reek of blood. I could live a
thousand years and I wouldn’t be as
ready to die as I am now. There’s no
place I’d rather die than here by
Caesar, and no manner of death
would please me more than being
stabbed by you, the masters of this
new era.
010 – Julius Caesar
Act 1 Scene 2
I will do so. Till then, think of the world.
Well, Brutus, thou art noble. Yet I see
Thy honorable mettle may be wrought
From that it is disposed. Therefore it is meet
That noble minds keep ever with their likes,
For who so firm that cannot be seduced?
Caesar doth bear me hard, but he loves Brutus.
If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius,
He should not humor me. I will this night,
In several hands, in at his windows throw,
As if they came from several citizens,
Writings all tending to the great opinion
That Rome holds of his name, wherein obscurely
Caesar’s ambition shall be glancèd at.
And after this let Caesar seat him sure,
For we will shake him, or worse days endure.
Is this spoken by a man or a
Is this meant to be serious or
funny? _________________
Summary: _______________
I’ll do so. Until then, think about the
well-being of Rome. (Brutus leaves)
Well, Brutus, you’re noble. Yet I see
that your honorable character can be
bent from its usual shape, which
proves that good men should stick
only to the company of other good
men, because who is so firm that he
can’t be seduced?
Caesar resents me, but he loves
Brutus. If I were Brutus now and
Brutus were me, I wouldn’t have let
him influence me. Tonight I’ll throw
through his window a few letters in
different handwriting—as if they
came from several citizens—all
testifying to the great respect
Romans have for Brutus, and all
alluding to Caesar’s unseemly
ambition. And after this, let Caesar
brace himself, for we’ll either
dethrone him or suffer even worse
than now.
010 – Julius Caesar
BRUTUS Act 4 scene 3
You have done that you should be sorry for.
There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats,
For I am arm'd so strong in honesty
That they pass by me as the idle wind,
Which I respect not. I did send to you
For certain sums of gold, which you denied me:
For I can raise no money by vile means:
By heaven, I had rather coin my heart,
And drop my blood for drachmas, than to wring
From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash
By any indirection: I did send
To you for gold to pay my legions,
Which you denied me: was that done like Cassius?
Should I have answer'd Caius Cassius so?
When Marcus Brutus grows so covetous,
To lock such rascal counters from his friends,
Be ready, gods, with all your thunderbolts;
Dash him to pieces!
Is this spoken by a man or a
Is this meant to be serious or
funny? _________________
Summary: _______________
You’ve already done something you
should be sorry for. Your threats
don’t scare me, Cassius, because I’m
so secure in my honesty and integrity
that they pass me by like a weak
breeze. I asked you for a certain
amount of gold, which you wouldn’t
give me. I myself can’t raise money by
unethical means. I’d rather turn my
heart into money and my drops of
blood into coins than use crooked
tactics to wring petty cash from the
hardworking hands of peasants. I
asked you for gold to pay my soldiers,
and you wouldn’t give it to me. Was
that the Caius Cassius that I knew?
And would I have ever done that to
you? If I ever get so greedy that I
hoard such petty cash from my
friends, may the gods dash me to
pieces with their thunderbolts!
010 – Julius Caesar
Calpurnia Act 2 Scene 2
Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies,
Yet now they fright me. There is one within,
Besides the things that we have heard and seen,
Recounts most horrid sights seen by the watch.
A lioness hath whelped in the streets;
And graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead;
Fierce fiery warriors fought upon the clouds,
In ranks and squadrons and right form of war,
Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol;
The noise of battle hurtled in the air,
Horses did neigh, and dying men did groan,
And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets.
O Caesar! these things are beyond all use,
And I do fear them.
Is this spoken by a man or a
Is this meant to be serious or
funny? _________________
Summary: _______________
Caesar, I never believed in omens,
but now they frighten me. A servant
told me the night-watchmen saw
horrid sights too, but different ones
from what we heard and saw. A
lioness gave birth in the streets, and
graves cracked open and thrust out
their dead. Fierce, fiery warriors
fought in the clouds in the usual
formations of war—ranks and
squadrons—until the clouds drizzled
blood onto the Capitol. The noise of
battle filled the air, and horses
neighed, and dying men groaned, and
ghosts shrieked and squealed in the
streets. Oh, Caesar! These things are
beyond anything we’ve seen before,
and I’m afraid.
010 – Julius Caesar
Antony: Act 3 Scene 2
But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there.
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
But here's a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet, 'tis his will:
Let but the commons hear this testament—
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read—
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.
Is this spoken by a man or a
Is this meant to be serious or
funny? _________________
Summary: _______________
Only yesterday the word of Caesar
might have stood against the world.
Now he lies there worth nothing, and
no one is so humble as to show him
respect. Oh, sirs, if I stirred your
hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I would offend Brutus and Cassius,
who, you all know, are honorable
men. I will not do them wrong. I
would rather wrong the dead, and
wrong myself and you, than wrong
such honorable men. But here’s a
paper with Caesar’s seal on it. I found
it in his room—it’s his will. If you
could only hear this testament—
which, excuse me, I don’t intend to
read aloud—you would kiss dead
Caesar’s wounds and dip your
handkerchiefs in his sacred blood,
and beg for a lock of hair to
remember him by. And when you
died, you would mention the
handkerchief or the hair in your will,
bequeathing it to your heirs like a rich