Video SparkNotes: Shakespeare's Julius Caesar summary

Julius Caesar was an important figure in

the history of Rome because he helped to

bring about the end of the Roman

Republic for 450 years Rome had not been

ruled by a single person but instead had

elected officials a Senate a system of

checks and balances and a political

system that kept one person from having

all the power Julius Caesar was a

successful general who conquered

territories outside of Rome and helped

turn Rome into a large Empire he became

such a powerful figure that after

defeating his political rivals he took

on the role of dictator so that he

picked all the candidates for the Senate

and decided personally which laws would

be passed he didn't have a title such as

Kanger Emperor and Rome was technically

still a republic but it wasn't working

like one anymore it had become a

permanent dictatorship Julius Caesar was

assassinated in 44 BC he was stabbed by

a group of senators as he was on his way

to the Senate the assassin said they

were killing him to bring back the

Republic Shakespeare's play Julius

Caesar isn't about Julius Caesar the

character so much as it is about the

assassination and what happened

afterward the two people responsible for

the assassination are Casius and Brutus

Cassius's motives are pretty simple

he hates Caesar because Caesar doesn't

like him and he resents Caesars power so

his motives are personal but he knows he

can only get away with killing Caesar if

he can get enough people to believe that

the assassination is for the good of

Rome in order for that to happen

he needs his brother-in-law Brutus

Brutus is the central figure in the play

he's from an old and famous family and

he has a reputation for being Noble in

fact one of his ancestors 400 years

earlier was responsible for overthrowing

the last king of Rome and founding the

Roman Republic in the first place so

it's partly Brutus's family name that's

important but Brutus is helped it's

easier for the conspirators to say the

assassination was for the good of the


another reason Casius needs Brutus is

that Caesar loves Brutus Brutus and

Caesar are friends while Casius is

obviously not Caesars friend

so if Brutus is the leader it won't look

like he's doing it for personal motives

at the beginning of the play crowds of

people are in the streets celebrating

because he

Cesar has returned from beating his

rival Pompey in a civil war two of the

elected officials Flavius and Marella's

go around driving these people off the

streets and removing decorations from

the statues what they say to the people

is look Caesar didn't come back from

conquering a foreign enemy he just beat

Pompey another Roman leader so he could

be dictator what's to celebrate about

that later we find out that Caesar has

them removed from office for doing this

next we see Caesar and his followers on

their way to a celebration and a

footrace whenever we see Caesar he seems

very arrogant he gives orders to those

around him and speaks about himself as

if he's invincible Calpurnia Caesars

wife is with him here so is Mark Antony

Caesars most loyal supporter Mark Antony

loves games sports parties and drinking

Caesar trusts Mark Antony because he

thinks someone like that who enjoys life

is less likely to threaten him than

someone who's always brooding and

thinking like Casius Casius makes Brutus

hang back from this crowd so he can try

and convince Brutus that a lot of people

in Rome think Brutus is just as good as

Caesar and wish he would stand up and

challenge Caesars power this is a lie

Casius is just trying to manipulate

Brutus later Casius even throws rocks

with notes attached through Brutus's

window and leaves notes on his chair in

the Senate so Brutus will think multiple

people are trying to get him to stand up

to Caesar Brutus agrees to be part of a

conspiracy against Caesar and the rest

of the conspirators gather at his house

late at night we can tell two things

about Brutus already one he's idealistic

and two he's a fool a series of dramatic

events occurs leading up to the

assassination a soothsayer or

fortune-teller warned Caesar to beware

the Ides of March the day he actually

does die that's marked 15 a massive

thunderstorm moves over Rome with so

much lightning it seems to be raining

fire people see a lion in the Capitol

building another see the lion giving

birth Brutus his wife Portia tries to

convince him to tell her what he's up to

since she's his wife he almost does but

gets distracted at the last minute

Calpurnia has a dream in which caesar is

spouting blood from many wounds she

tries to convince him not to go to the

Senate that day and he agrees but

the conspirators Decius convinces him

he'll look weak if he doesn't go

a man named artem odorous gives caesar a

paper telling him about the plot but he

can't get caesar to read it all of these

events suggest two different

interpretations the first is that even

though all of these things might have

stopped the assassination it's as if

there are higher powers that are moving

events towards Caesar's murder meaning

its fate the second interpretation is

that Caesar could have avoided being

killed his fate wasn't predetermined but

his arrogance caused him to ignore all

these warning signs so his death was his

own fault

the way the assassination occurs is that

Caesar is on his way to the Senate

together with a crowd of people

including the conspirators who are going

to the Senate to because their senators

before they get there a conspirator

named Metellus gets down on his knees

and asks Caesar to bring back his

brother whom Caesar banished Caesar

refuses and Brutus and the others crowd

around Caesar and kneel then they all

stab Caesar one after the other starting

with the senator named Casca and ending

with Brutus Caesar says at tu brute a

meaning you too Brutus and then dies the

populace goes wild as the news spreads

Mark Antony first runs away but then

sends a servant to ask if he can safely

come and ask them the reasons for the

assassination Casius and the other

conspirators all want to kill Mark

Antony too but Brutus says no that will

seem too violent now that Caesar is dead

Mark Antony won't stay loyal to him this

is a big mistake

Mark Antony asks for permission to speak

at Caesars funeral again Casius and the

others say no way but Brutus says to let

him as long as he doesn't say anything

bad about them and if he's doing it with

their permission nothing can happen this

is another big mistake

Brutus gives a speech explaining that he

loved Caesar but Caesar was ambitious

meaning he wanted to be a king and so

Brutus killed him because he loved Rome

more the populace likes the speech then

Anthony speaks he says he's not going to

criticize the conspirators but he

reminds them how much Caesar did for

them and how he offered Caesar a crown

and Caesar refused then he shows them

Caesars cloak and all of the holes

stabbed through it pointing out how

Caesar loved Brutus and trusted the

others who turned on him

he also read them Caesars will in which

Caesar left a huge amount of property to

the people of Rome the crowd goes wild

and decides to burn the houses of the

conspirators mob rule ensues and Brutus

and Casias flee for their lives

three people take over in Rome

Antony Julius Caesar's nephew Octavius

and Lepidus they raise armies to fight

Cassius and Brutus and make lists of

people to be killed because they support

Brutus Cassius and Brutus each lead an

army as they fight a civil war against

Antony Octavius and Lepidus the next

time we see them their meeting together

with our armies and they get in a big

fight in their tent

Brutus criticizes kasia's harshly for

taking bribes and then he criticizes him

for not sending Brutus money to pay his

own soldiers because Brutus is too pure

to take bribes himself

they eventually make up and become

friends again but once again we can see

that Brutus is idealism and poor

judgment our big weaknesses he

absolutely needs Casius to win this war

so it's foolish firm to criticize Cassy

it's the way he does and he's

hypocritical he needs money too but he

won't do what he needs to do to raise it

Brutus wants them to take their armies

to fight Antony and Octavius at Philippi

Casius points out some flaws in this

plan but Brutus insists caesar's ghost

appears to Brutus that night telling

Brutus he'll see him at Philippi the

armies meet and have a battle Antony's

army defeats Cassius's army but Brutus

as army defeats octavius's cassia sends

his friend to tinniest to investigate

and he thinks he sees two tinniest being

captured even though titanius actually

meets friendly soldiers but Casias

commits suicide because he thinks he

sent his best friend to be captured the

armies fight again and this time Brutus

loses before he can be captured he kills

himself by running on to his sword while

one of his soldiers straight Oh holds it

when Antony discovers Brutus's body he

says that he was the noblest Roman of


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