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Julius Caesasr

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Julius Caesar (play), tragic play about political rivalries, written by English playwright William Shakespeare in about 1599. The play's full title is The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. It was probably one of the first of Shakespeare's plays to be performed at the Globe Theatre by his acting company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, following their move to the theater in 1599. The play is based on translations of Plutarch's Parallel Lives (1579), specifically from the passages on the lives of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), Marcus Brutus (Brutus), and Julius Caesar, whose military and political exploits and subsequent assassination were subjects of considerable interest during the Renaissance. Although Caesar himself is not the hero of the play, he is the catalyst of the action and the person around whom the plot revolves.


Julius Caesar opens on the eve of Caesar's assassination. Caesar is already one of Rome's highest officials and is about to be crowned king. Jealous of Caesar for personal reasons, Roman senator Cassius convinces another senator, Brutus, that Caesar must die. The lofty-minded, idealistic Brutus fears that Caesar will destroy the Roman republic by having himself crowned king. After Brutus joins the conspiracy against Caesar, Cassius, despite his sounder judgment, defers to Brutus's wishes and makes the mistake of sparing the life of Mark Antony, Caesar's protйgй.

As Caesar walks to the Senate forum the next morning, a soothsayer attempts to alert him, warning "Beware the Ides of March." Caesar ignores the message. At the forum the conspirators stab Caesar to death. A dying Caesar sees Brutus among the killers and delivers the famous line, "Et tu, Brute?" (thou too, Brutus?).

At Caesar's funeral, the conspirators try to rationalize their reasons for slaying Caesar. Brutus addresses the populace in a fine, reasoned tone, giving a sound but uninspired explanation of his reasons for killing Caesar. He says that it is not that he "loved Caesar less," but that he "loved Rome more." The crowd is swayed by the obvious purity and sincerity of Brutus's motives, but unfortunately for the conspirators, his restrained prose is followed by Mark Antony's impassioned speech.

Over the objections of Cassius, Mark Antony has gained permission from Brutus to speak at Caesar's funeral.

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him,"

he exclaims. With mounting sarcasm Mark Antony gradually turns Caesar's faults into attributes and belittles the motives of the conspirators by repeatedly referring to them as honorable men, until the epithet becomes a curse. He sentimentalizes Caesar's blood-soaked cloak until he has the multitude weeping with sorrow. With masterful ease and without offering a single rational argument against Brutus's calm statement, Mark Antony turns the populace



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