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Julius Caesar Summary Essay, Research Paper
Julius Caesar Summary
Julius Caesar opens with conflict, the plebeians versus the tribunes. The plebeians are celebrating Caesar’s
victory over Pompey. The tribunes yell at the people for their fickleness in celebrating the defeat of a man who was
once their leader.
Caesar enters Rome with his supporters and a crowd of citizens. It is the feast of Lupercal, a day when two
men run through the street and strike people they meet with goatskin. Caesar orders Mark Antony to strike his wife
Calpurnia so that she can have children.
A soothsayer yells out to Caesar as he passes and says beware the ides of March. Caesar ignores the man
and thinks he is just a crazy old man. When he sees Cassius, Caesar tells Antony that he would rather be surrounded
by men who are fat and happy than thin men like Cassius. He is worried that Cassius is dangerous because he “thinks
too much.” Antony tells him not to worry about Cassius.
Meanwhile, Brutus and Cassius meet and talk about how Caesar has gained a great deal of power. During
their conversation they are interrupted three times by cheers from the crowd. Cassius tells Brutus that he is forming a
plot against Caesar and wants Brutus to join it. Brutus tells him he cannot commit to anything immediately. Casca soon
joins them, and informs them that the cheers they heard were Caesar turning down the crown. Antony apparently
offered him a crown three times, and three times he refused it.
Casca meets with Cicero and tells the speaker that there are many strange things happening in Rome that
night, such as a lion in the streets and an owl screeching during the day. Cicero tells him that men see things they way
they want to. Cassius eventually arrives and hears from Casca that the senators are planning on making Caesar a
king the next morning. He starts to tell Casca about the plot to kill Caesar, but Cinna shows up and interrupts him. He
hands Cinna some letters to deliver to Brutus and invites Casca to dinner that night in order to convince him to join the
Brutus receives the letters from Cinna without knowing who wrote them. He reads one of the letters and
thinks it means that he should prevent Caesar from getting power. Brutus reads the letter to Rome as a whole, saying,
“O Rome, I make thee promise” that he will carry out what he thinks the Roman people want.
Brutus meets with Cassius and the other conspirators and shakes all their hands, agreeing to join their plot.
He convinces them to only kill Caesar because he does not want them to “seem too bloody”. After the other men
leave, Brutus is unable to sleep that night. His wife Portia finds him awake and begs him to tell her what is troubling
him. After she stabs herself in the thigh to prove her strength and ability to keep a secret he agrees to inform her.
Caesar’s wife Calpurnia has had a dream during all of this in which she saw a statue of Caesar bleeding
from a hundred stab wounds. Caesar, who is superstitious, orders the priests to kill an animal and to see if he should
go to the Senate that day. The priests tell him that the animal did not have a heart, a very bad sign. However, Decius,
one of the conspirators, arrives and tells Caesar that Calpurnia’s dream to mean that all of Rome sucked the blood of
Caesar for help. Caesar finally agrees with him that it is crazy to stay home because of a dream. The other
conspirators, including Brutus and Cassius, show up at his house to escort him to the Senate House.
On the way to the Senate House Caesar is approached by the same soothsayer that had warned him about
the ides of March. He again refuses to listen to the man and continues. A man named Artemidorus then comes up to
him and tries to give him a letter to read which says everything about the conspiracy. Decius tells Caesar the
Trebonius has a suit he would like Caesar to read instead. Caesar refuses to look at what Artemidorus gives him.
The conspirators arrive at the Senate House and Caesar takes his position. A man named Metellus kneels in
front of him and petitions to have his banished brother returned to Rome. Caesar refuses, but is surprised when Brutus
and then Cassius come forward and also beg for the brother. However, he continues to refuse to change the sentence
even as all of the conspirators gather around him. Right when Casca makes the comment, “Speak hands for me” they
all attack Caesar and stab him to death.
The conspirators dip their hands in his blood and prepare to run to the street crying out “peace, freedom, and
liberty”. Antony arrives and begs them to let him take the body and give Caesar a public eulogy. Brutus agrees. They
move out into the streets of Rome and Cassius and Brutus split up to speak to the plebeians.
Brutus defends his murder of Caesar on the grounds that he was removing a tyrant who was destroying the
freedom of all Romans. He ends his speech by asking the crowd if they want him to commit suicide for what he has
done, but they say, “Live, Brutus, live, live!”. Then allows Antony to speak alone and returns home.
Antony takes full advantage of his speech and informs the crowd that Caesar was a selfless man who cared
for Rome more than anything. He then pulls out Caesar’s will and reads from it, telling the citizens that Caesar has
given every Roman a part of his inheritance. The plebeians seize Caesar’s body and carry it off.
Brutus and Cassius are forced to leave the city, and in the meantime Octavius arrives and teams up with
Antony. He, Antony and Lepidus prepare to get rid of anyone who is against them. They create a list of names and
mark the names of the people they want to kill, including relatives and friends.
Cassius and Brutus set up a camp in Sardis. Cassius shows up with his army at the campsite where Brutus
is waiting for him, but is very angry with Brutus for ignoring some letters he sent asking Brutus to release a prisoner.
Brutus has instead punished the man for accepting bribes. Cassius and Brutus argue for a while until Cassius pulls out
his sword and tells Brutus to kill him if he hates him so much. Brutus of course refuses and the two men make up.
Brutus then informs Cassius that his wife Portia is dead. She apparently swallowed hot coals after Antony
and Octavius took power. When two men enter the tent, Brutus immediately stops talking about Portia and instead only
focuses on the military matters at hand. When one of the men asks him about his wife, he said he didn t know anything
about it. Brutus convinces Cassius during the strategy meeting that it would be best for them to march to Philippi to
defeat them before they get too strong. Cassius to his plan and leaves for the night.
Brutus calls some men into his tent in case he needs to send them away as messengers that night and
makes them go to sleep. He stays up reading, but he is disturbed by the ghost of Caesar who appears. The ghost tells
Brutus that he he will be on the battlefield at Philippi. Brutus is so scared by this that he wakes up all the men in his tent
and sends them to Cassius with orders that Cassius should leave before him the next morning.
On the battlefield at Philippi, Antony and Octavius agree to their battle plans. They meet with Brutus and
Cassius, but other but are unable to accomplish anything. All four men return to their armies to get ready for war.
In the middle of the battle Brutus sees a chance to destroy Octavius’ army and rushes away to attack it. He
leaves Cassius behind who quickly starts losing to Antony. Cassius believes he is completely defeated and commits
suicide by running onto a sword held by one of his soldiers. Brutus arrives, sees his friend dead and remarks, “O
Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet”.
Brutus gets a man to to hold a sword for him. He runs onto the sword and kills himself.
Antony and Octavius arrive and see Brutus dead upon the ground. Antony says, “This was the noblest
Roman of them all”. Octavius ends the play with the lines, “So call the field to rest, and let’s away, to part the glories of
this happy day”.
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