Julius Caesar minimized

Two tribunes, elected by the plebeians (the common people) to serve the plebeians, are upset with some of those they serve, asking one “why dost thou lead these men about the streets?”  The plebeian responds “we rejoice in Caesar’s triumph.” We learn that “Caesar’s triumph” is the fact that he has killed two of his potential adversaries. The time is 32 B.C. The place is Rome.

1. Caesar enters Rome. A soothsayer warns him to “beware the ides of March.” Caesar ignores him.  Two Roman statesmen, Cassius and Brutus, are in the crowd. Cassius thinks Caesar is overrated, having known Caesar since they were youths.  Brutus is aware that the Roman Senate has plans to crown Caesar king, and he’s worried.  Cassius forms a group of Conspirators, Casca and Cinna the first to join.  They plan to meet with Brutus that night.

2. The Conspirators meet with Brutus in his home. He joins their cause. Decius lets the others know that in the morning “I will bring him to the Capitol,” referring to Caesar. Rome is enduring a terrible storm; Caesar and his wife up most of the night.  She thinks the storm is a bad omen, suggesting he stay home. Decius, a good salesman, convinces Caesar that he should attend the Senate that morning.  Caesar knows he may be crowned king.  He decides to go.  The day is the ides of March.

3. Cassius, Brutus and Casca draw in close to Caesar on the steps of the Senate.  Casca stabs him. When Brutus stabs him, Caesar famously says “Et to Brute? Then fall Caesar.” He dies. All but the Conspirators flee. Antony, Caesar’s principal aide, returns asking to speak at the service for Caesar.  Brutus agrees. Cassius is the more suspect. Brutus speaks at Caesar’s service and leaves. Mark Antony, in one of history’s most famous speeches, charms the crowd, most of the plebeians turning on the Conspirators. Octavius Caesar and Lepidus wait for Antony at Caesar’s home.  The three of them become the triumvirate, the rulers of Rome.

4. Cassius and Brutus have formed an army and find themselves camped at Sardis. They both are stressed and tense.  Portia, Brutus’ wife, has just died, “with grief that young Octavius and Mark Antony have made themselves so strong.” They bury the hatchet over “a bowl of wine.” They decide to attack Antony and his forces on the Plains of Philippi.

5. At Philippi, Cassius takes his own life, having been told mistakenly that Antony is about to overrun his position.  Losing his second battle with Octavius Caesar, Brutus takes his own life. Mark Antony enters and says Brutus was “the noblest Roman of them all” and that “This was a man.”



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