The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, also
known simply as Julius Caesar, is
a tragedy by William Shakespeare,
believed to have been written in
It portrays the 44
BC conspiracy against the Roman
dictator Julius Caesar, his
assassination and the defeat of the
conspirators at the Battle of
It is one of several Roman plays
that Shakespeare wrote, based on
true events from Roman history,
include Coriolanus and Antony and
Date & Text
Julius Caesar was originally
published in the First Folio of
1623, but a performance was
mentioned in September 1599
which is when scholars date the
play as being written.
The text of Julius Caesar in
the First Folio is the
only authoritative text for the
The source used by
Shakespeare was Sir Thomas
of Plutarch's Life of
Brutus and Life of Caesar
Calpurnia: Wife of Caesar
Antony, Lepidus: Triumvirs
after the death of Julius Caesar
Cicero, Publius, Popilius Lena:
Brutus, Cassius, Casca, Treboni
us, Ligarius, Decius
Cimber, Cinna: Conspirators
against Julius Caesar
Portia: Wife of Brutus
Flavius and Marullus: Tribunes
a Sophist of Cnidos
Cinna: A poet, who is not
related to the conspiracy
Although the title of the play
is Julius Caesar, Caesar is not the
most visible character in its
action; he appears in only three
scenes, and is killed at the
beginning of the third act.
Marcus Brutus speaks more
than four times as many
lines, and the central
psychological drama is his
struggle between the conflicting
of honour, patriotism, and frien
Julius Caesar begins with
Caesar returning home
triumphant from a
He is cheered by the
crowds, until a mysterious
old man tells him to
“Beware the Ides of March”
Meanwhile, the others in the
senate fear Caesar’s
increasing popularity, and
believe he may try use his
power to become a
The Plot Against Caesar
Cassius plants false letters in
Caesar’s apartment, which Brutus
finds, to suggest that Caesar is
seeking more power.
Cassius arrives at Brutus’s home
with his conspirators, and
Brutus, who has already been won
over by the letters, takes control of
The men agree to lure Caesar from
his house and kill him.
Cassius wants to kill Antony
too, for Antony will surely try to
hinder their plans, but Brutus
disagrees, believing that too many
deaths will render their plot too
bloody and dishonor them.
Visions & Murder
Caesar prepares to go to the Senate.
His wife, Calpurnia, begs him not
to go, describing recent nightmares
she has had in which a statue of
Caesar streamed with blood and
smiling men bathed their hands in
At the Senate, the conspirators
speak to Caesar, encircling him.
One by one, they stab him to death.
When Caesar sees his dear friend
Brutus among his murderers, he
gives up his struggle and dies.
The murderers bathe their hands
and swords in Caesar’s blood, thus
bringing Calpurnia’s premonition
The murder sets in motion an
unstoppable chain of events,
pitting Brutus against his
former friend, Mark Antony,
and leading the Roman Empire
into Civil War with itself.
Antony sways an angry Roman
crowd with a passionate
speech, turning them against
Later, in a second supernatural
event, Caesar's ghost appears to
Brutus the night before a
deciding battle with a warning
You blocks, you stones, you worse than
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of
Can be retentive to the strength of spirit;
Let's carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds.
Fierce fiery warriors fought upon the
In ranks and squadrons and right form of
Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol.
Cowards die many times before their
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar! (3.1.77)
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me
I come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.
I had rather be a dog, and bay the
Than such a Roman. (4.3.27)
A friend should bear his friend's
But Brutus makes mine greater than
they are. (4.3.86)
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood, leads on
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in
I had rather have
Such men my friends than enemies.
Cry, 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs
of war. (3.1.268)
Passion, I see, is catching. (3.1.283)
As he was valiant, I honour him:
but, as he was ambitious, I slew
This was the most unkindest cut of
For when the noble Caesar saw him
Ingratitude, more strong than
Quite vanquished him: then burst
his mighty heart;
Caesar on Film
Caesar (1950), starring Charlton
Heston as Antony and Harold
Tasker as Caesar.
Caesar (1953), starring James
Mason as Brutus, Marlon
Brando as Antony and Louis
Calhern as Caesar.
Caesar (1970), starring Jason
Robards Jr. as Brutus, Charlton
Heston as Antony and John
Gielgud as Caesar.
Caesar as Entertainment
Despite being a depiction of an
event, Shakespeare was not
interested in teaching a history
lesson to his audiences, instead
he created a heightened drama
to paint characters who were
richly human, and conflicted.
Human qualities such as
honor, friendship, loyalty, decei
t, and revenge are feelings we
still experience, and still speak
to audiences today.
A Nutsy the Squirrel Production
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