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Julius Caesar
By William Shakespeare
Basic Overview
Written in 1599.
Tragic drama/Historical drama
Believed to have been the 1st play performed
at the Globe Theater.
Centers on the conspiracy against Roman
leader Julius Caesar, his assassination, and
the civil war that ensued following his death.
Shakespeare is thought to have based much
of the play on the English translation of
Plutarch's The Lives of the Greeks and
Several years of Roman history are condensed
into this play, and it is assumed that the audience
would have been familiar with the basic history
surrounding the play's time.
This was true in Elizabethan times.
Let's play history catch up:
Several hundred
Tarquin was defeated
years before the time
in a rebellion led by
of the play:
Lucius Junius Brutus
(ancestor of Marcus
Rome was ruled
Brutus) in 509 BC.
by Tarquin the
Proud, who was
a tyrant.
Rome was then made
a Republic.
Still playing catch up...
The Republic was
ruled by elected
The Senate advised
the consuls.
Tribunes were elected
from the citizenry to
protect the rights of
the commoners and
keep the Senate in
Lots to catch up on...
This system had
This triumvirate =
weakened by the 1st
Pompey, Crassus &
century BC, and a
Julius Caesar
triumvirate had
formed to rule Rome.
Triumvirate = a group
of three people who
share administrative
Almost there...
Crassus was killed
Julius Caesar defeated
fighting the Parthians
Pompey in 48BC and
in 53BC; as the other
then fought and
two fought to gain
defeated Pompey's
control, civil war
broke out.
And so, the play begins with Caesar
returning to Rome after his victory.
Shakespeare's Audience
Relevance to HIS current audience:
Julius was written toward the end of Queen
Elizabeth I's rule, under which England had
experienced relative prosperity.
Shakespeare address this political concern
by writing about a country's apprehension
about what the death of a monarch might
He also wrote about larger themes that refer to
human nature, which is one reason that his
plays are universal and timeless.
They've Got ISSUES... So Do We
Issues found in Julius Caesar, Elizabethan times, and today.
Political Turmoil
Reason vs. Passion
Sacrificing Personal Morals for the
“Greater Good”