Julius Caesar4

Summary Two patricians Flavius and Marcullus enter. They are confused by the fact that the plebeians are not in their work clothes, and begin to ask some plebeians what their jobs are. A carpenter admits he is a carpenter. Next Marcullus asks a cobbler what his job is, and the cobbler answers in a series of puns (“souls” / “soles”), (“withal” / “with awl”). The cobbler explains that everyone is taking the day off to celebrate Caesar’s victory over Pompey. Marcullus, in high rhetoric, insults the plebeians for being fickle, since they very recently all liked Pompey. He tells them all to go back home and feel very sorry for dishonoring Pompey’s memory. The plebeians leave. Flavius suggests that the two of them take down all of the pro-Caesar decorations. Marcullus is worried about getting into trouble since it is the feast of Luprecal after all. Flavius insists, and recommends they that drive all of the plebeians out of the streets. Finally he comments that they must do something to humble Caesar or else he would put himself so far above other men as to make them all slaves.

Summary Caesar and his party enter. Caesar asks that his wife Calpurnia stand in Antony’s way and that Antony touch her while he is running the race. Both agree. A soothsayer warns Caesar of the ides of March. At first Caesar is interested, but then he dismisses the soothsayer. All leaves except Brutus and Cassius. Cassius says that Brutus hasn’t seemed himself recently. Brutus admits that he has been troubled, and has been doing a lot of thinking. Cassius suggests he can tell Brutus what has been troubling him. Brutus mistrusts Cassius’s motives. Cassius assures Brutus he is trustworthy. They hear trumpets and shouting. Brutus comments to himself that he hopes the people haven’t made Caesar a king. Cassius asks Brutus if he fears the people will do so. Brutus admits he does, and asks Cassius to get to the point. He says if Cassius wants him to do something for the public good he will even if it means his death. Cassius says how upset he is that Caesar has become so popular. He tells how he saved Caesar from drowning when the two of them were children, and how he saw Caesar get very ill while campaigning in Spain. Cassius says Caesar has gotten too powerful, and too proud. Something must be done. He reminds Brutus that his ancestor of the same name helped establish the Roman republic by driving out the Tarquin kings. Brutus admits he is sympathetic and suggests they meet later. Caesar and company return; they look upset. Brutus and Cassius agree to ask Casca what has happened. Caesar tells Antony that “yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; / He thinks too much: such men are dangerous” (I.ii.194-5). Antony assures him Cassius is not to be feared. Caesar agrees suggesting that he fears nothing, but continues to criticize Cassius as a brooding and solemn fellow. Caesar and company leave. Casca explains to Brutus and Cassius that Antony offered Caesar a crown three times, each time Caesar refused it, but each time less fervently, and the third time Caesar went into and epileptic fit, i.e., “the falling sickness” (I.ii2.52). Indeed, Caesar was so popular with the crowd that he offered them his throat to cut as a dramatic gesture. After Caesar recovered from his fit the crowd cheered and clapped all the more. Cassius asks if Cicero said anything, and Casca makes several jokes about unable to understand Cicero because he spoke in Greek. Casca also mentions that Flavius and Marcullus are being put to death for defacing images of Caesar. Cassius invites Casca to dinner the next night, and Casca leaves. Brutus says Casca seemed awfully stupid. Cassius says he is just acting stupid so he can get away with being more honest. Brutus says he will meet Cassius the next day and leaves. In a soliloquy Cassius worries that he won’t be able to persuade Brutus to kill Caesar. He decides to forge some letters encouraging him to do so, and make it look like all of Rome is behind the idea. Act I,

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