Julius Caesar study guide

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soliloquy

a long speech given while a character is alone on stage that reveals the true, private feelings of a character

Hubris

excessive pride or arrogance

Tragedy

a work of literature, especially a play, that tells of a catastrophe, a disaster, or great misfortune, for the main character.

Tragic Hero

the main character whose tragic flaw or weakness is the cause of the tragedy

Julius Caesar

A great Roman general who has recently returned to Rome after a military victory in Spain. He is NOT the main character of the play even though it is the name of the play.But everyone is preoccupied (thinking, talking about, etc) Julius Caesar and if he will be crowned king. To the nobelmen like Cassius and Brutus, it would not be good for Caesar to become king. They believe that their stations or levels in society would be diminished if that happened. They believe they are equal to Julius Caesar so they don't want him ruling over them. Even though Caesar refuses the crown when it is offered, he really secretly wants to accept it. Everything he says and does demonstrates that he regards himself as special and superior to other men. In his own mind, he seems already to be an absolute ruler.

Brutus

A high-ranking, well-regarded Roman nobleman who participates in a conspiracy to assassinate Julius Caesar. Brutus is doing this out of a sense of honor, which requires him to place the good of Rome above his personal interests or feelings (he is a good friend of Julius Caesar). He plots agaisnt Caesar in order to preserve the republic even though he loves and admires Caesar personally. While the other consirators act out of envy and rivalry of Julius Caesar, only Brutus truely believes that Caesar's death will benefit Rome.
His sense of honor is his weakness because he is easily manipulated by others.

Anthony

A loyal friend of Caesar's. In contrast to the self-disciplined Brutus, Anthony is notoriously impulsive and pleasure- seeking. He is unscrupulous (doesn't care what he has to do to others to achieve his goal). He is a dangerous enemy to Brutus and the other conspirators.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's desire to exclude Lepidus from the power that Antony and Octavius intend to share hints at his own ambitious nature.

Cassius

A talented general and longtime acquaintance of Caesar. Cassius resents the fact that the Roman populace has come to revere Caesar almost as a god. HE slyly leads Brutus to believe that Caesar has become too powerful and must die. He sends him letters claiming that the Roman people support the death of Caesar. Impulsive and unscrupulous (doesn't care what he has to do to others to achieve his goal). HE is not truthful - no integrity.

Soothsayer

warns Julius Caesar to beware of March 15th (Ides of March - the day that he is killed). Julius Caesar calls the soothsayer a dreamer and ignores his warnings.

Portia

Brutus's wife and the daughter of a noble Roman (Cato) who took sides against Caesar. Portia is usually Brutus's confidante (he tells her everything), but he doesn't want to share what is on his mind with her and this troubles her.

Calpurnia

Caesar's wife. Calpurnia believes and puts alot of importance in omens and portents (things predicted for the future). She warns Caesar against going to the Senate on the Ides of March, since she has had terrible nightmares and has heard reports of many bad omens. Nevertheless, Caesar's ambition ultimately causes him to disregard her advice

Octavius

Caesar's adopted son and appointed successor (person in line to take over after Caesar dies). Octavius, who had been traveling abroad, returns after Caesar's death. He then joins with Antony and sets off to fight Cassius and Brutus. Antony tries to control Octavius's movements, but Octavius follows his adopted father's example and emerges as the authoritative figure, and he takes the leadership of the Roman government.

Casca

One of the conspirators. Casca is a tribune ( an official elected to represent the common people of Rome). HE resents Caesar's ambition. He is a rough and blunt-speaking man. Casca tells Cassius and Brutus how Antony offered the crown to Caesar three times and how each time Caesar declined it. He believes, however, that Caesar is pretending or acting, and really desires the crown. He believes that Caesar doing this so the common people will think that Caesar is not ambitious..

Decius

A member of the conspiracy. Decius convinces Caesar that Calpurnia misinterpreted her dire nightmares and that, in fact, no danger awaits him at the Senate. Decius leads Caesar right into the hands of the conspirators

Flavius

Tribune who condemns the common people for cheering for Caesar because they cheered for Pompey not long before (Caesar's enemy). He calls them fickle (changable minds). . Flavius is punished along with Murellus for removing the decorations from Caesar's statues during Caesar's triumphal parade.

Murellis

Tribune who condemns the common people for cheering for Caesar because they cheered for Pompey not long before (Caesar's enemy). He calls them fickle (changable minds). . Murellis is punished along with Falvius for removing the decorations from Caesar's statues during Caesar's triumphal parade.

Artemidorus

a loyal Roman, tries to warn Julius Caesar with a letter he has written - telling Caesar of all the people who are against Julius Caesar and want to kill him.

Cicdero

A Roman senator renowned for his oratorical skill. Cicero speaks at Caesar's triumphal parade. He later dies at the order of Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus.

Cinna

A conspirator against Caesar, who plays a key role in enlisting Brutus to their cause. It is Cinna who suggests to Cassius that Brutus join their conspiracy. Also assists Cassius' manipulation of Brutus by placing Cassius' letters responsible for manipulating Brutus where Brutus is sure to find and read them... Indirectly responsible for Cinna, the poet's death; since it is he the mob originally wished to kill...

Titinius

friend of Brutus and Cassius

Strato

servant of Brutus

Triumvir

One of three people share power in a government body

Tribune

Official elected by the common people to protect their rights

Rhetoric

Study of elements, such as style, in writing and speaking

Soothsayer

a fortuneteller

Plebians

Commoners or common people

What was the setting of the play?

Rome, Italy - 44 BC

What is the opening celebration?

Feast of Lupercal & Caesar's defeat of Pompey

Every play/story begins with the conflict. What is the conflict introduced at the beginning of the play?

Caesar's growing power

Who are the 2 characters in the beginning that are not in support of Caesar? Why?

The tribunes Marullus and Flavius are concerned that Caesar is getting too powerful.

Describe the mob. What seems to be its mentality?

They are celebrating and wearing their best clothes on a work day because they support Caesar.

What is the first theme introduced?

Loyalty

What is Caesar's request of Marc Antony?

He wants him to touch his wife Calpurnia as he runs the race. Supposedly this will cure her infertility.

What is the Soothsayer's warning?/ Caesar's response to it?

"Beware the Ides of March." He ignores him and calls him a "dreamer"

What type of conflict is introduced in Brutus? Why?

Brutus is facing internal conflict. He loves Caesar as a friend but thinks he is becoming bad for the republic.

What tactics does Cassius use to persuade Brutus?

He flatters him and points out Caesar's weaknesses

What is hubris?

Characters are concerned with honor.

When is hubris introduced?

During Act 1, Brutus talks of honor.

What do we learn is Cassius's motivation?

He is jealous of Caesar

What does Cassius hope is Brutus's motivation?

He hopes Brutus wants what is best for the republic.

What is Caesar's concern with Cassius?

He has a lean and hungry look and thinks too much.

What do the characters learn of Caesar?

He is arrogant and over-confident.

What became of Marullus and Flavius?

They were removed from office because they removed the decorations from Caesar's statues.

What does Cassius admit in his soliloquy?

He is going to trick Brutus to join the conspiracy. They need Brutus for their plan to work

What is Cassius's plan at the end of scene 2?

He is going to forge letters from Roman citizens to make Brutus think that they too are worried about Caesar's growing ambition.

At the start of scene 3, the weather has changed; what does Casca relate the weather to?

He thinks the weather is a bad omen and proves that the gods are angry about events happening on earth

What are some oddities Casca reports seeing?

An owl in the daytime, a lion that doesn't react to him, slave with his hand on fire that didn't burn

How does the atmosphere contribute to the mood?

It makes it seem more serious and menacing

Why is it so essential that they have Brutus?

The people respect him and his judgment.

Summarize ACT !

Flavius and Murellus, two tribunes, tell all the commoners that have collected in the streets to celebrate Julius Caesar's triumphs, to go home or back to work. They put them down for cheering for Julius Caesar when they used to cheer for Caesar's enemy, Pompey. They go about taking decorations down from statues. Meanwhile, Cassius takes Brutus aside and tries to convince him to be part of the conspiracy against Julius Caesar becoming king/ruler of Rome. He is not completely convinced but is thinking seriously about it. Cassius also persuades Casca to join in the conspiracy to bring down Julius Caesar before he is crowned.

What is the conflict for Brutus in ACT I?

Brutus is conflicted with his admiration of Caesar and his love of Rome. He doesn't believe that Caesar should be crowned and yet doesn't like to be disloyal.

What are the elements of rising action in Act I?

Cassius brings Casca into the conspiracy to kill Julius Caesar. Cassius has Cinna place fake letters of flattery (supposedly from Romans, that name Brutus as a more kingly candidate than Julius Caesar), at places where he knows that Brutus will find them.

What reason does Brutus give for wanting Caesar dead at the beginning of ACT II?

He isn't dangerous now, but after he gets power, he will become worse. He talks about killing a serpent while it's still in the shell.

What ominous sign appears in ACT II?

Meteors in the sky

How do the visitors arrive at Brutus's house?

In the dark of night wearing cloaks to hide their faces

What does Brutus say about secrecy?

He says it is necessary

How does Brutus feel about the other conspirators?

He doesn't think they need to swear on an oath

Who do the others believe they need in their conspiracy? Why?

Cicero—he is old and wise. Brutus says they don't need him, so Cicero is not invited.

Who else does Cassius believe they should murder?

Anthony

How does Brutus respond to the suggestion to kill Anthony too?

He says it is not necessary to kill Antony—he is but a limb of Caesar—and that they would appear too bloody

What does Decius vow to do?

He will persuade Caesar to go to the Capitol. - When Caesar mentioned that there were bad omens and his wife had a bad dream. Decius actually tells Caesar that Caesar's wife had misinterpreted her dreams and the Capitol was safe for Caesar.

Describe the relationship of Brutus and Portia.

They have a good relationship. They usually are honest with each other—however, Brutus is hiding the plans for the conspiracy

What new role does Brutus take on?

Leader of the conspiracy

Describe Calpurnia's dream.

Caesar's statue is spouting blood and the Romans are bathing their hands in it.

Compare and Contrast Calpurnia and Caesar with Brutus and Portia.

Caesar doesn't listen to his wife like Brutus does. He doesn't stay home like she asked him and ignores her warning.

What would you consider to be Caesar's tragic flaw?

His arrogance and over-confidence

What might Artemidorus attempt to do?

Reveal the plan of the conspirators

What might the Soothsayer attempt to do?

Warn Caesar once more to beware March 15

What does Portia want from Brutus?

She wants him to tell her what's troubling him

Critical Reading Questions on p. 936

...

Summarize Act II

The conspirators go to Brutus's home at night (covered in cloaks to hide their faces) and discuss their plans to kill Caesar. They decide that Decius will get Caesar to the Capitol. Caesar's wife begs him not to go to the Capitol because she had a bad dream that was a bad omen for Caesar but he ignores her warning. Decius tells Caesar that his wife must have misinterpretted her dream and says that the capitol is safe. Brutus is troubled but will not share his concerns about the conspiracy with his wife. Artemidorus has written a letter to Caesar to warn him not to go to the Capitol and waits for him to come by. Portia has an idea that something is going on about Caesar. She asks the soothsayer where he is going and he says he is going to warn Caesar of something. She asks Lucius to find out what is happening at the Capitol and to check on Brutus.

What is the setting of ACT III

The capitol

What is Caesar's fatal mistake?

He doesn't listen to the soothsayer, his wife's dream, or Artemidorus.

How do the conspirators address Caesar?

They kneel before him and beg him to release Metellus Cimber's brother from banishment—but they don't really care about that; it is just a way to distract him

Who is the first to strike?

Casca

Who does Caesar address? Why?

He addresses Brutus, saying "Et tu, Brute? Then fall Caesar" He can't believe his friends is part of the murder.

What do the conspirators say is their reason for their actions?

To relieve Rome of Caesar's tyranny

What does Brutus urge the other conspirators to do?

Smear Caesar's blood on their hands and weapons.

Compare and Contrast Cassius's grip on reality with Brutus's.

Cassius is a realist—he fears Antony will stil the crowd with his words. Brutus is an idealist—he thinks the crowd will listen to his logic and reason.

What is shocking about Antony's actions? What might he be doing?

He shakes hands with the conspirators. He is tricking them and trying to get them to trust him.

What is Antony's request? Is it accepted?

He wants to bring Caesar's body to the market and speak at the funeral. Brutus allows him to.

What does Antony's soliloquy reveal about him and his plans?

He is going to stir the crowd to riot against the conspirators.

Discuss the irony of the word "honorable".

It is verbal irony and he means that Brutus is the exact opposite of honorable.

How does the crowd perceive Brutus's speech? Is that what he wants?

They think he should be the next Caesar—no, that isn't what Brutus wanted them to take from his speech at all.

Describe the change in the mob.

They support Antony and grow angry at the conspirators for killing Caesar.

What possession of Caesar's does Antony claim to have? How does he use it to his advantage?

His will—he holds off on reading it right away. He claims that Caesar has left them money and parks.

How does the revealing of the body affect the crowd?

? It makes them feel more emotional and sad about Caesar's murder.

What has happened to the leaders of the conspiracy?

They must flee Rome because the crowd is after them and plans to burn their houses.

What is the tone at the end of Act 3?

Complete chaos—the tide has shifted toward Antony's power ( the crowd believes in Anthony now and hates the conspirators)

Critical Reading Questions on p. 962**

...

Summarize ACT III

Caesar enters the capitol area where there are lots of people. The soothsayer tries to warn him again but Caesar ignores him. Artemidorus gives Caesar his letter, but Caesar says he will answer him last and continues on. Metellus asks Caesar to pardon his brother and the other conspirators join in the request. They are trying to distract Caesar. They all stab him and Caear is dead. When Anthony comes in, he pretends to understand why they killed Caesar and shakes their hands but he is really planning something else. He asks them if he can bring the body of Caesar out to marketplace. They do and help him bring Caesar's body out to the marketplace. Then Anthony has sent for Caesar's son, Octavius, who is coming to Rome. When everyone gets to the marketplace, Anthony tells the crowds of the conspirators and how Caesar was brutally murdered. The crowd is so upset and angry, they decide to kill the conspirators and burn their homes.

Discuss the Turning Point

Anthony has pretended to understand why the conspirators killed Caesar but really ends up telling the crowd of Romans in the marketplace of the conspiracy and the conspirators have to run for their lives because the crowd wants to kill them and burn their houses.

What does the new side of Anthony reveal?

He is ruthless and willing to kill anyone who opposes his power, including his own family members. He is also greedy because he is looking at how to cut people from Caesar's will.

What is revealed about Brutus and Cassius's relationship?

They're fighting because Brutus claims that Cassius has denied him the money he needs to pay his troops. Cassius is mad at Brutus because Brutus publicly criticized a man whom Cassius favored.

What does the poet enter?

He gives comic relief. He tells Brutus and Cassius to be friends again.

What has happened to Portia?

She has committed suicide because she was distraught not knowing where her husband was or what would become of her.

What actions are being committed by the other side?

They have killed up to 100 senators, some of whom are innocent (Cicero wasn't even part of the conspiracy and was murdered)

What actions does Brutus say they should do?

He says they should march on toward Phillipi and meet the enemy there.

Describe the confrontation between Brutus and the spirit of Caesar.

Brutus awakens from sleep and talks to a spirit (of Caesar)

What is Caesar's spirit's warning? Why?

"I shall meet you at Phillipi." This is foreshadowing—Brutus is probably going to die.

Critical Reading Questions on p. 982**

...

Summarize ACT IV

Anthony and Octavius are planning who will be killed but Octavius is not following the orders of Anthony and is losing control of Octavius. Meanwhile, Cassius and Brutus are arguing because Brutus claims that Cassius has denied him the money he needs to pay his troops. Cassius is mad at Brutus because Brutus publicly criticized a man whom Cassius favored. They calm down and Brutus tells Cassius of Portia's death and that she killed herself. They greave. They have learned of Anthony and Octavius marching to Philippi and decide to get rest. Brutus dreams of Caesar, who warns that Brutus will meet him at Philippi - an omen that Brutus will probably die at Philippi. When Brutus cries out in the night, he wakes his servants and they take a message to Cassius that Brutus wants Cassius to head out right away in the morning and that Brutus and his army will follow.

Where is the setting for ACT V?

Philippi in Greece

Describe the military stragegies of both sides.

...

What is Cassius's fate? Why?

He commits suicide because he believes he will be captured. Romans viewed suicide to be more honorable than defeat. He misinterpreted the information—believed that Titinius had been captured

What happens to Titinius? Why?

He comes back (victorious) and sees Cassius his friend dead. He is so distraught he too commits suicide.

What does Brutus continue to do? (Scene 4)

He continues to fight on

Who tries to help Brutus? How is he received?

Lucilius tries to buy him time—when he is captured he pretends he is Brutus. They believe him for a while until Antony sees him and knows he is not Brutus.

What is Brutus's fate?

He commits suicide

What is Antony's closing comment about Brutus?

He was the "noblest Roman of them all" because he truly cared about Rome as a republic and his motives were not from jealousy.

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