Presentation on theme: "J ULIUS C AESAR A CTING D AY R EVIEWS Ms. Marootian."— Presentation transcript:
J ULIUS C AESAR A CTING D AY R EVIEWS Ms. Marootian
A CT I S CENE I Quote: “Hence! home, you idle creatures get you home: Is this a holiday? what! know you not, Being mechanical, you ought not walk Upon a labouring day without the sign Of your profession? Speak, what trade art thou?” (I.i). Here Flavius is establishing the differences between a plebian (commoner) and a tribune (elected officer). These men represent the working class and they are mistreated by the officials.
B AWDY C OMMONERS Quote: “A trade, sir, that, I hope, I may use with a safe conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles” (I.i). Here the cobbler is using puns to interact with the officials who seem to misunderstand the humor. They assume the commoners are stupid. Yet, puns take an extreme amount of dexterity to create. What might Shakespeare be saying about the common folks?
M AD M ARULLUS Quote: “You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things! O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft Have you climb'd up to walls and battlements…..To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome” (I.i). Marullus is angry because these men are celebrating Caesar’s victory over Pompey in Spain because in the past Pompey was a celebrated man. This comments on the fickle nature of the Roman Public proves particularly relevant to the English political scene of the time. Flavius and Murellus’s interest in controlling the populace lays the groundwork for Brutus’s and Antony’s manipulations of public opinion after Caesar’s death
U NDRESSED S TATUES & C LIPPED W INGS Quote: “Go you down that way towards the Capitol; This way will I disrobe the images, If you do find them deck'd with ceremonies” (I.i). Here Flavius and Murullus are showing their outright dislike of Caesar’s rapid rise to power. They hope taking the decorations off his statues will make him see that he is not special. Quote: “These growing feathers pluck'd from Caesar's wing Will make him fly an ordinary pitch” (I.i). The men hope to regulate Caesar’s popular support so they will be able to regulate his power and bring him back down to earth…
S UPERSTITIOUS C AESAR …. Quote: “Forget not, in your speed, Antonius, To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say, The barren, touched in this holy chase, Shake off their sterile curse” (I.ii). Caesar urges Antony to touch Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, as he runs, since Roman superstition holds that the touch of a ceremonial runner will cure barrenness. Antony agrees, declaring that whatever Caesar says is certain to become fact. Here the audience can notice Antony’s seemingly solid loyalty to Caesar.
K INDA. Quote: “Beware the ides of March” (I.ii). Here the soothsayer is cautioning Caesar to be weary of March 15 th. Yet Caesar dismisses the warning stating, “He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass” and the procession continues. Why do you think he is not believing the soothsayer? What might this say about him as a leader?
M IRROR, M IRROR Quote: “Therefore, good Brutus, be prepared to hear: And since you know you cannot see yourself So well as by reflection, I, your glass, Will modestly discover to yourself” (I.ii). Cassius is trying to get Brutus to see all the good and nobility in himself. Thus begins the manipulation of a weak man.
F EARFUL B RUTUS Quote: “What means this shouting? I do fear, the people choose Caesar for their king” (I ii). Brutus is revealing that he is nervous that Caesar will become king. Brutus adds that he loves Caesar but that he also loves honor, and that he loves honor even more than he fears death.
A LL M EN C REATED E QUAL Quote: “I was born as free as Caesar, so were you. / We both have fed as well, and we can both / Endure the winter’s cold as well as he” (I.ii). Here Cassius is recognizing the fact that Caesar is no different then the other men and therefore does not deserve more power.
A S ICKLY C AESAR Quote: “He had a fever when he was in Spain, And when the fit was on him, I did mark How he did shake: 'tis true, this god did shake; His coward lips did from their colour fly” (I.ii). Here Cassius is helping to construct his argument further about why Caesar would make an awful leader. He lacks stamina and is probably epileptic.
P UBLIC V. P RIVATE Does Caesar’s private life (infirmities) affect his public life? Caesar comments to Antony about Cassius, “He loves no plays, / As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music. / Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort / As if he mocked himself, and scorned his spirit / That could be moved to smile at anything” (I.ii). Cassius remains merely a public man, without any suggestion of a private self. Such a man, Caesar properly recognizes, is made uncomfortable by others’ power
T HANKS, BUT NO THANKS, A NTONY. Quote: “And then he offered it the third time; he put it the third time by: and still as he refused it” (I.ii). Here the men are discussing how Ceasar turned down the crown thee times. Although Casca is certain he was doing it for show. It is clear that Ceasar, like many others, is easily seduced by power because Casca notices his difficulty giving the crown back.
M ANIPULATIVE C ASSIUS Quote: “I will this night, In several hands, in at his windows throw, As if they came from several citizens, Writings all tending to the great opinion That Rome holds of his name” (I.ii). Cassius reveals his plan to turn Brutus against Caesar by planting forged letters in Brutus’s house. Cassius has astutely perceived that Brutus’s internal conflict is more likely to be influenced by what he believes the populace to think than by his own personal misgivings.
S TORMY S IGNS New Characters: Cicero: a Roman senator and orator Cinna: a conspirator against Caesar In Act I, scene iii, a terrible storm is brewing outside, symbolically reflecting the growing conspiracy afoot to murder Caesar. It is the night before the ides of March, and a terrible storm is raging. BUT- The storm outside isn't anything of the ordinary type; it's raining fire! What's more, is there is a lion roaming the streets, a man with a flame the size of twenty torches.
C ASCA ’ S R ESPONSE Fear He I terrified by the storm. His fear causes him to think the storm is an omen that nature is warning them about their intent to kill Caesar and his fear of the storm signifies his fear of killing Caesar
C ASSIUS ’ S RESPONSE Exhilaration When he sees lightning, he puts himself right in its path, daring it to strike him, perhaps, or just to absorb its power and energy. He does not fear the storm, just as he does not fear killing Caesar. He is confident and perhaps arrogant as well.
C ONNIVING C ASSIUS Cassius says “I know where I will wear this dagger then: / Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius” (I.iii). Ideas of right and wrong are closely tied to masculinity, as well as to tradition. Notice that Cassius is still only strongly hinting, rather than directly stating, that they should kill Caesar.
M ORAL O BLIGATION TO UM … MURDER ? Cassius says that Caesar could never have risen so high if other Romans were not so weak, and that Rome is “trash” if it will “illuminate / so vile a thing as Caesar” (I.iii). Phrasing it in terms of slavery and weakness makes it seem like a moral duty to kill Caesar. Cassius continues gradually changing his description of Caesar from “immortal,” to equal, to weak, to “vile.”
W E NEED B RUTUS ON OUR TEAM ! This scene highlights the difference between the other conspirators and Brutus: While they suspect that their plans are ignoble, and are complicit in Cassius’s trickery, Brutus must be “fooled.” Also, getting Brutus involved is essential to fooling the people, since everyone knows that Brutus is so morally upright.
B RUTUS V. B RUTUS Brutus says, “He would be crown'd: How that might change his nature, there's the question.” Here he is showing his fear that Caesar will change with newly gained power. Yet, he has never known Caesar to let his emotions get the better of his reason. Nonetheless, he needs to think of him “as a serpent's egg which, hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mischievous” and therefore must be killed “in the shell.”
T HE “L ETTER ” “Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake, and see thyself. Shall Rome, & Speak, strike, redress! The letter Cassius forged shows that the citizens of Rome see Brutus as sleeping while Caesar takes over. It challenges Brutus to “speak, strike, fix the wrongs!” Again, like the storm, he interprets the letter how he wants. He also interestingly enough, never questions the origins of the letter, nor questions their authenticity: Why?
E VERYBODY W RITES How do people act differently out in the open and behind closed doors? Make a list of thoughts.
N O O ATH ? Cassius wants to swear an oath for their plan, yet Brutus refuses and says “No, not an oath. If not the face of men, The sufferance of our souls, the time’s abuse— If these be motives weak, break off betimes. And every man hence to his idle bed.” He feels oaths are for dishonest and untrustworthy men. Why does Brutus say this? Is there some truth to this? If the sad faces of our country men, the suffering of our own selves, and the corruption of the present time aren’t enough to motivate us, let’s break it off now and each of us go back to bed (ie. Why do we need an oath?)
S ORRY, C ICERO In response to their desire to include Cicero, Brutus says “O, name him not. Let us not break with him/For he will never follow anything/That other men begin.” Brutus thinks that Cicero would never follow the popular vote. What does this say about a man?
T O B E OR N OT TO BE …… A BUTCHER Brutus says, “Let us be sacrificers but not butchers” because he is against a bloody execution. He adds “let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods, not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds.” We shall be called surgeons, not murderers. Why does Brutus feel this way? Is killing, killing? Or does the manner mean something?
P ORTIA K NOWS B RUTUS Portia begs her husband, “Brutus. Dear my lord, Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.” Yet his response is “I’m not feeling well—that’s all.” What does this show about Brutus and his thoughts towards the plan? What does it show about public v. private life?
P ORTIA <3 C AESAR “Why you are heavy, and what men tonight have had to resort to you. For here have been some six or seven who did hide their faces even from darkness.” What does this show about Portia and Brutus’s marriage?
L OYALTIES IN J ULIUS C AESAR To be loyal means “giving or showing constant allegiance to a person or institution” Who are you loyal to? Make a list. How are loyalties shown in in Julius Caesar ? Do they shift? If so, what accounts for this shift?
T HEME T RACKER : P UBLIC V. P RIVATE How does Brutus act when he is in the public eye? How does he act when he is in private? How does Caesar act when he is in the public eye? How does he act when he is in private? Find a quote to represent each
C ALPURNIA ’ S P REMONITION What is Calpurnia’s dream? How does Caesar interpret it? How does Decius?
C ALPURNIA N AGS What mean you, Caesar? Think you to walk forth? You shall not stir out of your house today. This humanizes the couple. Shakespeare does an amazing job of showing Caesar as a great emperor, but also a human.
NOT A SOFTIE? “Most high, most mighty, and most puissant Caesar, Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat/An humble heart—” (III). “Be not fond, To think that Caesar bears such rebel blood/That will be thawed from the true quality/With that which melteth fools—I mean, sweet words/ Low-crookèd curtsies, and base spaniel fawning” (III). How do these lines show that pathos does not work on Caesar?
R EAL W ORLD C ONNECTION ( WRITE FOR 5 MIN ) Can politicians have a soft spot and still be effective? Or would a soft spot speak weakness? What are your thoughts?
I RONIC A S A LMOST F INAL W ORDS “But I am constant as the Northern Star, Of whose true fixed and resting quality There is no fellow in the firmament” (III.i). Comparing himself to the North Star, Caesar boasts of his constancy, his commitment to the law, and his refusal to waver under any persuasion. He thus again demonstrates a split between his public and private selves, endangering himself by believing that his public self is so strong that his private self cannot be hurt. North Star is the star by which sailors have navigated since ancient times, it guides them in their voyages, just as Caesar leads the Roman people. Could suggest he will be a constant even after death (ie. His ghost).
E T TU, B RUTÉ ? —T HEN FALL, C AESAR. Caesar’s final words are “Even you, Brutus? Then die Caesar” (III). What do you think this means?
E XALTATIONS IN DEATH CINNA Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead! Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets. CASSIUS Some to the common pulpits, and cry out, “Liberty, freedom, and democracy!” What are these men genuinely thinking/feeling?
R EASON FOR C AESAR ’ S M URDER Brutus says, “People and senators, be not affrighted/Fly not. Stand still. Ambition’s debt is paid” (III.i). What does this mean? What explanation does he offer his people as to why they killed Caesar? How can this be seen as a good and bad thing?
D EATH IS G OOD ? Cassius says, “Why, he that cuts off twenty years of life/Cuts off so many years of fearing death.” Brutus responds, “Grant that, and then is death a benefit./So are we Caesar’s friends, that have abridged/His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop,/And let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood/Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords./Then walk we forth, even to the marketplace,/And waving our red weapons o'er our heads/Let’s all cry, “Peace, freedom, and liberty!” (III.i). Why does Brutus consider Caesar his “friend” here?
B LOOD B ATH - L ITERALLY As the conspirators wash themselves in Caesar’s blood, he Cassius says says “How many ages hence/Shall this our lofty scene be acted over/In states unborn and accents yet unknown!” The murders think that their deed will be looked up to for years to come, what do you think?
M ISSING : A NTONY Why does Antony flee? List reasons. Why does he send his servant to pledge allegiance to Brutus when he returns?
W HAT IS HE A NTONY A SKING B RUTUS TO “P ROVE ” HERE ? “If Brutus will vouchsafe that Antony/May safely come to him and be resolved/How Caesar hath deserved to lie in death,/Mark Antony shall not love Caesar dead/So well as Brutus living, but will follow” (III.i).
A NTONY ’ S L OYALTIES TO C AESAR “I shall not find myself so apt to die./No place will please me so, no mean of death,/As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,/The choice and master spirits of this age” (III.i). Why does Antony say this? “I doubt not of your wisdom./Let each man render me his bloody hand./ (shakes hands with the conspirators) (III.i). Why does Antony say this?
A NTONY L OSES I T FOR A SECOND When Antony sees Caesar’s dead body, he comments that he looks so frail and fragile in death. His emotions begin to carry him away. But he quickly catches himself. He says, “Therefore I took your hands, but was indeed/Swayed from the point by looking down on Caesar./Friends am I with you all and love you all/Upon this hope: that you shall give me reasons/Why and wherein Caesar was dangerous (III.i).
P ERSUASIVE R HETORIC IN A NTONY ’ S F UNERAL S PEECH
A SSIGNMENT : P ERSUASIVE T OOLS You will examine the different tactics of persuasion they use in their own lives and see how those tactics are used in the language of Julius Caesar. Separate your students into groups of 3 or 4 and give them the following prompts. Ask one student to play the part of the persuader, and another the object of the persuasion. The remaining students in the group should try to note three different tactics and tones used by the persuader(s). Prompt 1: Persuade your best friend to loan you money. Prompt 2: Persuade your parents to let you stay out later. Prompt 3: Persuade a teacher to take your late homework. Prompt 4: Persuade a potential boyfriend/girlfriend to go out with you.
C ASSIUS ’ S P ERSUASIVE T OOLS What worked? What didn’t? How does Cassius persuade Brutus? Egos: Appeal based on the character of the speaker Logos: To appeal to someone’s logic or reason. Pathos: To appeal to sympathy or emotion
J ULIUS C AESAR ’ S A SSASINATION T HROUGH A RT Ms. Marootian
Q UESTIONS TO C ONSIDER : What is happening in this image? What is the significance of the colors or shades? What is the significance about the positioning or angle of the images? Do you think it is an “accurate” depiction? Why did the artist choose to represent the scene this way? Does it go along with or against the text?
A RISTOTLE ’ S T HEORY OF T RAGEDY Ms. Marootian
A RISTOTLE ’ S D EFINITION OF T RAGEDY Tragedy depicts the downfall of a basically good person through some fatal error or misjudgment, producing suffering and insight on the part of the protagonist and arousing pity and fear on the part of the audience.
S IX P ARTS OF A T RAGEDY WHICH DETERMINE ITS QUALITY ( IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE ) Plot Characters Diction Thought Spectacle Melody
P RINCIPLE #1: P LOT ( MOST IMPORTANT ) Aristotle defines plot as “the arrangement of the incidents”: i.e., not the story itself but the way the incidents are presented to the audience, the structure of the play. Tragedies where the outcome depends on a tightly constructed cause-and-effect chain of actions are superior to those that depend primarily on the character and personality of the protagonist.
P LOT S HOULD BE : The plot must be “a whole,” with a beginning, middle, and end The plot must be “complete,” having “unity of action.” The plot must be “of a certain magnitude,” both quantitatively (length, complexity) and qualitatively (“seriousness” and universal significance). The plot may be either simple or complex, although complex is better.
P RINCIPLE #2: C HARACTER Characters in tragedy should have the following qualities: “good or fine.” Aristotle relates this quality to moral purpose and says it is relative to class. “fitness of character” (true to type); e.g. valor is appropriate for a warrior but not for a woman. “true to life” (realistic) “consistency” (true to themselves). Once a character's personality and motivations are established, these should continue throughout the play. “necessary or probable.” Characters must be logically constructed according to “the law of probability or necessity” that governs the actions of the play. “true to life and yet more beautiful” (idealized, ennobled).
C HARACTER E LEMENT #1: A TRUE TRAGIC CHARACTER SHOULD EVOKE PITY AND FEAR ON THE PART OF THE AUDIENCE Pity and fear are the natural human responses to spectacles of pain and suffering that can strike anyone at any time. The effect is that we feel relief in the end through catharsis, and are purged of these feelings.
E LEMENT #2: T HE T RAGIC H ERO MUST BE A DMIRABLE OR G OOD The fall of a scoundrel or villain evokes applause rather than pity. Audiences cheer when the bad guy goes down. We feel compassion for someone we admire when that character is in a difficult situation. The nobler and more admirable the person is, the greater our anxiety or grief at his or her downfall.
E LEMENT #3: T HE HERO ’ S DEMISE MUST COME AS A RESULT OF SOME PERSONAL ERROR OR DECISION There is no such thing as an innocent victim in tragedy Nor can a genuinely tragic downfall every be purely a matter of blind accident or bad luck. The tragic hero must always bear at least some responsibility for his own doom.
P RINCIPLE #3: T HOUGHT Thought is found “where something is proved to be or not to be.” Aristotle says little about thought, and most of what he has to say is associated with how speeches should reveal character. This category would also include what we call the themes of a play.
P RINCIPLE #4: D ICTION Diction is word choice or “the expression of the meaning in words” which are proper and appropriate to the plot, characters, and end of the tragedy. Aristotle discusses the stylistic elements of tragedy; he is particularly interested in literary devices such as similes and metaphors
P RINCIPLE #5: S ONG OR M ELODY Song, or melody, is fifth, and is the musical element of the chorus. Aristotle argues that the Chorus should be fully integrated into the play like an actor; choral odes should not be “mere interludes,” but should contribute to the unity of the plot (context).context
P RINCIPLE #6: S PECTACLE ( LEAST IMPORTANT ) “the production of spectacular effects depends more on the art of the stage machinist than on that of the poet.” Although Aristotle recognizes the emotional attraction of spectacle, he argues that superior poets rely on the inner structure of the play rather than spectacle to arouse pity and fear; those who rely heavily on spectacle “create a sense, not of the terrible, but only of the monstrous.”
ANAGORISIS Tragic recognition or insight. A moment of clairvoyant insight or understanding in the mind of the tragic hero as he suddenly comprehends the web of fate in which he is entangled.
HAMARTIA Tragic error. A fatal error or simple mistake on the part of the protagonist that eventually leads to the final catastrophe. A metaphor from archery, hamartia literally refers to a shot that misses the bullseye.
HUBRIS Violent transgression. Hubris is the sort of insolent daring that gets a person in deep trouble. Sometimes translated as ‘ false pride ’, hubris is a daring overstepping of cultural codes or ethical boundaries.
NEMESIS Retribution. The inevitable payback or cosmic punishment for acts of hubris.
PERIPATEIA Plot reversal. A pivotal or crucial action on the part of the protagonist that changes the situation from seemingly secure to vulnerable.
CATHARSIS Transformation through transaction. A feeling of emotional purging on the part of the audience during a tragedy. The audience feels pity and fear at first, only to feel relief and exhilaration at the end through catharsis.
M EAN ON L EPIDUS He’s an unremarkable man, fit only to be sent on errands. Does it really make sense, once we divide the world into three parts, that he should be one of the three rulers? Antony’s abuse serves as another illustration of Antony’s sense of political expediency: while he does not respect Lepidus, he still uses him for his own purposes.
L EPIDUS : A H ORSE He must be taught and trained and bid go forth, A barren-spirited fellow, one that feeds/ On objects, arts, and imitations,/Which, out of use and staled by other men,/Begin his fashion. Do not talk of him but as a property.
C ASSIUS SUICIDAL ? “Strike as thou didst at Caesar; for I know / When though didst hate him worst, thou loved’st him better / Than ever thou loved’st Cassius”
F ICKLE B RUTUS ? The audience sees that Brutus speaks against corruption, but when he has no other means of paying his army, he quickly consents to unscrupulousness, if only indirectly.
P ORTIA DIES ….2 X ? HOT C OALS ! First he is alone with Cassius, he admits that his distress at the loss of his wife, but before his men, he appears indifferent or dispassionate. Perhaps the latter reaction is merely a facade, and Brutus simply has too much pride to show his true feelings in public.
B REAK UPS TO M AKE UPS Cassius and Brutus drink wine together. Cassius expresses his surprise at Brutus’s earlier rage. Brutus explains that he has been under many emotional burdens lately, the foremost of which has been the death of his wife, Portia
C LASH OF THE IDEAS Cassius says that he would rather let the enemy come to them Brutus suggests that they march to Philippi to meet the enemy to build an army. Brutus protests that they are at the peak of their readiness and should seize the opportunity.
F ATE V. F REE W ILL We at the height are ready to decline. There is a tide in the affairs of men Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures. (IV.ii.269–276) Throughout the play, the theme of fate versus free will proves important: here, Brutus suggests that both exist and that one should take advantage of fate by asserting one’s will.
C AESAR ’ S G HOST Brutus cannot sleep—perhaps because he is brooding internally on his guilt This phantom’s identification of himself to Brutus as “thy evil spirit” could mean either that the Ghost is an evil spirit appearing to Brutus’s eyes only—a spirit that is “his” alone—or that the Ghost represents Brutus’s own spirit, which is secretly evil (IV.ii). However one interprets the arrival of the specter, the event can only foreshadow despair for Brutus in the battle to come.
O CTAVIUS THE F IRM ? ANTONY Octavius, lead your battle softly on, Upon the left hand of the even field. OCTAVIUS Upon the right hand I. Keep thou the left. Here Octavius is sticking to his guns about what he feels is the right thing to do. This reminds us of Antony in Act I. What did he say of Caesar? ANTONY No, Caesar, we will answer on their charge. Here Antony even calls Octavius by Caesar’s name to emphasize the comparison even clearer.
L IFE FATHER L IKE S ON This mirrors Caesar’s first appearance in the play. In Act I, scene ii, Antony comments, “When Caesar says ‘Do this,’ it is performed”; such authority is the mark of a powerful leader (I.ii). Octavius, now has this authority too—his word equals action. Antony, noticing this similarity between adopted son and father, begins calling Octavius “Caesar.” Perhaps Caesar will continue to live on through his adopted son?
B AD O MENS Cassius tells the soldier that it is his birthday and informs him of recent bad omens: two eagles alighted on the banners of their army and perched there, feeding from the soldiers’ hands. But, this morning, they are gone. In their place, ravens, crows, and other scavenger birds circle over the troops as if the men were diseased and weak prey. What might this mean?
D OESN ’ T L OOK G OOD FOR C ASSIUS “This hill is far enough. Look, look, Titinius; Are those my tents where I perceive the fire?” Cassius standing on a hill with Titinius, watching the battle and crying over their failures. What might be going through Cassius’s head here?
B YE, B YE C ASSIUS Distraught at this news of what he takes to be his best friend’s capture, Cassius tells Pindarus to cease watching no and instructs him to kill. Dying, Cassius’s last words are: “Caesar, thou art revenged, Even with the sword that kill'd thee.” Slave stabs him while he covers his face. Thoughts on this type of death?
C OMPARISON TO C AESAR ? No loyal friend delivers a remarkable, tearful eulogy celebrating his life. Rather, the only witness, Pindarus, a lowly slave, flees to his freedom, “where never Roman shall take note of him” (V.iii). Pindarus’s idea of escaping notice reflects upon Cassius and his treasonous deeds, for which history will remember him a wretched fiend, not a celebrated hero.
M ORE DEATHS …F OR ALL THE WRONG REASONS.. Titinius mourns over Cassius’s body, anguished that a man whom he greatly admired died over such a mistake. Miserable, Titinius stabs himself and dies. This idea of miscommunication has been prevalent throughout. Where else have we seen it?
F OREVER C AESAR ? “O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet”: even in death, Caesar is reaping revenge; he seems to turn events against his murderers from beyond the grave (V.iii.93). What might this quote mean? The deaths of Cassius and Brutus demonstrate that Caesar, even in death, is as strong as ever. His spirit dominates in the battle. Cassius' last words are, "Caesar, thou art revenged, / Even with the sword that killed thee" (5.3.44-45). Brutus also invokes the image of Caesar, not only when dying, but also when he sees Cassius dead on the ground. He says, "Oh Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet" (5.3.93). As he commits suicide he again mentions Caesar, saying, "Caesar, now be still. / I killed not thee with half so good a will." (5.5.50-51).
B YE, B YE N OBLE B RUTUS Killing himself with a sword, Brutus declares that he acts on motives twice as pure as those with which he killed Caesar, and that Caesar should consider himself avenged: “Caesar, now be still. / I killed not thee with half so good a will” (V.v.50–51). What might this mean for Brutus?
T HEY THINK HE SHOULD … Antony speaks over the body, stating that Brutus was the noblest Roman of all: while the other conspirators acted out of envy of Caesar’s power, Brutus acted for what he believed was the common good. Brutus was a worthy citizen, a rare example of a real man. Octavius adds that they should bury him in the most honorable way and orders the body to be taken to his tent. The men depart to celebrate their victory.
A FTER THE S HOW … Caesar does not stop the Roman republic from becoming a dictatorship, for Octavius assumes power and becomes a new Caesar. Brutus’s beliefs may be a holdover from earlier ideas of statesmanship. Unable to shift into the new world order, Brutus misunderstands Caesar’s intentions and mistakes the greedy ambition of the conspirators for genuine civic concern. Thus, Brutus kills his friend and later dies himself. In the end, Antony, the master rhetorician, with no trace of the sarcasm that suffuses his earlier speech about Brutus, still honors him as the best Roman of them all.