Julius Caesar Summary Act I, Scene i 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. Act I, Scene ii 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, Scene iii Summary At night Cicero enters with Casca. Cicero asks Casca if he brought Caesar home, and why he looks so scared.
Casca explains that he has seen several bad omens including fire coming out of the sky, a slave’s hand go unburnt while on fire, and a lion at the capitol. Casca realizes some would explain these things as natural, but he thinks the gods must be angry with each other or with man. Cicero admits things are strange but suggests that people interpret things however they want to interpret them. Cicero asks Casca if Caesar is going to go to the capitol the next day. Indeed he is, Casca answers. Cicero leaves, and Cassius enters.
After identifying him Casca reiterates his fears about the weather to Cassius. Cassius coolly explains that he isn’t worried. Cassius claims that Casca is stupid not to see that these omens are the result of someone’s ambitious evil deeds. Casca takes the hint that Cassius is blaming Caesar and admits he has heard a rumor the senate will crown Caesar the next day at the capitol. Caesar is to wear the crown everywhere except Italy. Cassius insists he won’t tolerate tyranny. Casca says, me too. They agree to do something about Caesar.
Cinna enters, asks where Cassius has been. Cassius wants to know if the other conspirators are waiting for him. Cinna says they are, and implores Cassius to persuade Brutus to join the conspirators. Cassius gives Cinna the fake letters to drop off at Brutus’s house, and Cinna leaves. Casca and Cassius discuss how helpful having Brutus’s cooperation would be to make the assassination seem right and proper.
Act II, Scene i Summary Not knowing what time it is, Brutus calls for his sleeping servant, Lucius. Brutus asks him for a candle to be put in his study. Next comes a very famous speech by Brutus (II.i.10-34). He must kill Caesar even though Caesar hasn’t done anything personally offensive to him. In fact Brutus can’t think of anytime when Caesar acted out of emotion rather than reason. But he must be killed, because like a serpent in the egg he is likely to be poisonous after a while. Lucius returns having found a letter on the windowsill.
Brutus wants to know if it is the ides of March. Lucius doesn’t know, and leaves to check. The meteor shower that so scared Casca has given Brutus enough light to read. The letter says “kill Caesar” in veiled terms. Lucius returns to say that it is the ides of march (March 15) just in time to answer the door where Cassius and his pals wait.
Lucius leaves. Cassius presents the conspirators and Brutus welcomes them: Trebonius, Decius Brutus, Casca, Cinna, Metellus Cimber. They all hold hands. Cassius proposes an oath. Brutus says there will be no oath since they are all honest Romans doing honest business.
Cassius proposes they add Cicero to the group. This idea gains popularity but is struck down by Brutus. Cassius proposes they kill Antony too, again Brutus says no in a famous speech (II.i.162-183): “Lets carve him [Caesar] like a dish fit for the gods / not hew him like a carcass fit for hounds” (II.i.173-4). Antony is no danger once Caesar is dead. He may kill himself, but that is unlikely since he likes to party. The clock strikes (a frequently commented upon impossibility in Roman times).
Cassius says that despite his normal attitude Caesar is superstitious and may not come to the capitol that day. Decius says he can make sure Caesar comes. Cassius insists they all go to meet Caesar at his house at 9 o’clock. Metellus suggests Cais Ligarius be added to the conspiracy. Brutus agrees and tells Metellus to bring Cais Ligarius to Brutus’ house. They all depart after Brutus reminds them to look happy and well slept. Brutus calls for Lucius, decides to let him sleep, and says how nice it would be to sleep carefree. Portia, Brutus’ wife, enters worried about why Brutus has been so anxious.
Brutus says he is sick, but Portia doesn’t believe him and wants to know who the men were that just visited. Each assure the other of how much the love each other, and Brutus agrees to share his secrets, but not right now because someone is at the door. Lucius presents Cais Ligarius who is sick. Ligarius asks if Brutus has a project worth doing. Brutus admits he has.
Ligarius recovers from his illness and agrees to participate not knowing what the project is. Act II, Scene ii Summary Caesar also hasn’t been sleeping well, and takes note of the strange weather. He mentions Calpurnia, his wife, cried three times in her sleep “Help ho! They murder Caesar!” (II.ii.3). Caesar has a servant tell the priest to perform sacrifice and report the results back to him. Calpurnia comes and asks that Caesar spend the day at home in light of all the bad omens.
Caesar isn’t sure the omens apply to him, and says that if fate will have him die there isn’t much he can do. The priest also recommends he stay, but he doesn’t listen until Calpurnia, kneeling, asks that he stay home just to keep her happy. He agrees not to leave, but the conspirators arrive. By reinterpreting Calpurnia’s nightmares, and telling Caesar of the rumor he will be given a crown, Decius persuades him to go to the capitol. Brutus comments to himself it is a pity Caesar is so trusting of his enemies.
Act II, Scene iii Summary A guy named Artemidorus looks over a warning note he is going to give to Caesar. He comments to himself how much he hopes Caesar will read it in time. Act II, Scene iv Summary Portia asks Lucius to go to the Capitol. He wants to know why. She is nervous and has trouble explaining. She tells him to go see what happens and especially to watch Brutus and Caesar.
The soothsayer enters. Portia asks, where he has been, what time it is, and is Caesar going to the Capitol? The soothsayer explains that he comes from his home, it is nine o’clock, and Caesar is very soon to come, and he fears Caesar is in some danger. He says goodbye to Portia explaining he wants a better place to stand in order to talk to Caesar. Before gong back home Portia reminds Lucius of his task. Act III, Scene I Summary On his way to the capitol Caesar tells the soothsayer that the ides of March have come.
The soothsayer reminds him that the day isn’t over yet. Artemidorus tries to give Caesar his letter of warning. Decius also tries to present a suit, but Artemidorus argues that his is more important, and that Caesar should read it first. Caesar says he will save what pertains most to him till last. Artemidorus cries for his suit to be read, and Caesar thinks he is acting a bit weird. In terms of the conspiracy, Popilius wishes Cassius well, implying he knows about the plot. Cassius and Brutus start to worry about the success of their plot, as Trebonius distracts Antony.
Metellus asks Caesar to revoke the banishment of his brother. The other conspirators join in asking. Caesar is surprised that they all want him to release Metellus’s brother but insists that though they petition well, he won’t change his mind. He, unlike …