Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar: Shakespeare's 1599 play dramatizes the 44 BC conspiracy against and assassination of Roman dictator Julius Caesar. Caesar's close friend Marcus Brutus reluctantly joins a group of political conspirators, encouraged by his brother-in-law Senator Caius Cassius. Though Brutus loves Caesar, he fears that the charismatic leader will turn the republican Rome into a monarchy. As Brutus questions his own conscience, he alienates his wife Portia. Meanwhile, Caesar's wife Calpurnia, fearing the political landscape and bad omens, begs her husband to stay home on the Ides of March. Manipulated to ignore her warnings by conspirator Decius, however, Caesar attends the Senate and is assassinated. The conspirators, convinced of their political and ethical righteousness, do not flee but arrange for Brutus to speak at Caesar's funeral. Marc Antony, presumably one with the conspiracy, gives a speech after Brutus, famously opening with "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." Antony deftly manipulates the crowds, inspiring them to grief and anger. Soon it is war between the conspirators and Caesar's adopted son Octavius, aided by Antony.

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