The Play Julius Caesar is in five acts. Given below is a brief summary of the events that happen before Act II Scene II:–
Two Roman tribunes, Flavius and Murellus, see the common people parading in the streets instead of working in their shops. They demand to know why the men are not working. A cobbler informs them that the people are celebrating Caesar’s victory.
Murellus is infuriated and tells them that Caesar has not defeated an enemy, but rather has killed the sons of Pompey the Great. Pompey previously ruled Rome along with Caesar until their alliance fell apart, at which point they went to battle over the right to rule.
Julius Caesar triumphantly returns to Rome on the festival of Lupercalia, celebrated on February 15. He is followed by Antony and Brutus and many followers.
A soothsayer approaches Caesar and calls out for attention. Caesar allows him to speak, and the man tells Caesar to, “Beware the ides of March”. Caesar ignores this warning and calls the man a dreamer.
Brutus remarks to Cassius that he is afraid the people will crown Caesar king. Cassius then tells Brutus that “Brutus” is just as good a name as “Caesar”, and that both names could just as easily rule Rome.
Brutus, afraid that Caesar will become a king, struggles to decide whether to take action with Cassius. Casca remains onstage with Brutus and Cassius and tells them that the three shouts they heard were because Caesar turned down the crown three times. Apparently Antony offered him the crown three times, and Caesar turned it down three times.
Casca then adds that the people forgave Caesar and worshipped him even more for turning away the crown. Cassius informs the audience in a soliloquy that he will fake several handwritten notes and throw them into Brutus’ room in an attempt to make Brutus think the common people want him to take action against Caesar.
Cassius then arrives and Casca tells him that the senators are planning to make Caesar a king the next morning. Cassius draws his dagger and threatens to die before ever allowing Caesar to achieve so much power. Casca shakes hands with Cassius and they agree to work together to prevent Caesar from seizing power.
Cinna, a co-conspirator, arrives and together they then leave to go throw Cassius’ handwritten notes through Brutus’ window. Cassius indicates that he is quite sure Brutus will join them within the next day.
Brutus is in his garden and has made up his mind that Caesar must be killed. His reasons are that Caesar is abusing his power and that he has ascended far too quickly.
Lucius, Brutus’ servant, brings him a letter he has found in Brutus’ private room. Brutus interprets the letter as if it were from all of Rome, telling him to slay Caesar and restore the republic.
Cassius is further of the opinion that Mark Antony should be killed along with Caesar, but again Brutus is against the plan, calling it too “bloody.” They plan to commit their murder of Caesar at the Senate at eight o’clock that morning (it is only three in the morning at this point). However, they are worried that Caesar will not show up because he has become so superstitious over the past few months.
Decius tells them that he knows how to flatter Caesar, and assures them that he will convince Caesar to go to the Senate. Cassius and his followers then depart, leaving Brutus alone.
Caesar, still in his nightgown, is terrified by a dream his wife Calpurnia has had in which she cried out, “Help, ho! They murder Caesar!” He orders a servant to go to the priests and have them sacrifice an animal in order to read the entrails for predictions of the future.
Calpurnia arrives and tells him that he dare not leave the house that day. Caesar acts brave and tells her that he fears nothing, and that he will die when it is necessary for him to die. The servant returns and tells him that the sacrificed animal showed a very bad omen, namely the beast did not have a heart.
Caesar insists on misinterpreting the omens, but Calpurnia begs him to blame her for his absence from the Senate, to which he finally agrees. However, Decius arrives at that moment in order to fetch Caesar to the Senate House. Caesar tells him to inform the Senate that he will not come this day. Decius claims that he will be mocked if he cannot provide a better reason than that. Caesar then tells him about Calpurnia’s dream, which Decius reinterprets in a positive light.
Decius then overwhelms Caesar’s resistance by asking him if the Senate should dissolve until a better time when Calpurnia has more favourable dreams.
Decius also tempts Caesar by saying that the Senate plans to give the crown to him and they may change their minds if he does not go.
Caesar tells Calpurnia that he was acting foolishly, and agrees to go to the Senate. Cassius and the other conspirators arrive at that moment to accompany him to the Senate.
Antony also appears and joins the group of men who then escort Caesar out of his house.
Caesar takes his seat in the Senate and proceeds to allow Metellus Cimber to petition him. The man throws himself down at Caesar’s feet in order to beg for his brother’s release from banishment, but is ordered to get up.
Caesar tells him that fawning will not win him any favours. At this Brutus comes forward and pleads for the man’s brother. Cassius soon joins him.
Caesar tells them his decision is, “constant as the Northern Star” and that he will not remove the banishment. Casca kneels and says “Speak hands for me” .Casca first, and then the other conspirators and Brutus all stab Caesar who falls saying, “Et tu, Brute? – Then falls Caesar.
Antony arrives and laments the death of Caesar. He begs the murderers, specifically Brutus, to tell him why Caesar had to be killed. Brutus tells him that Caesar was destroying the republic and had to be removed from power.
Antony pretends to be convinced by this and asks the conspirators to, “Let each man render me his bloody hand” He then shakes hands with each of them, naming them as he shakes the hand.
Antony quickly recants his agreement with the murderers, and tells Cassius that he almost joined them after shaking their hands; He asks them if he may have permission to take the body to the marketplace and show it to the crowds. Brutus gives him permission to do this, but immediately Cassius pulls Brutus aside and says, “You know not what you do”
Brutus decides to give his speech first, and to allow Antony to speak afterwards, provided that Antony only says positive things about the conspirators. Antony agrees to this.
Left alone with the body of Caesar, Antony says, “O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth / That I am meek and gentle with these butchers” He continues, with his speech
becoming ever more violent, “Domestic fury and fierce civil strife / Shall cumber all the parts of Italy”
Brutus tells the masses that he loved Caesar more than any of them, but that he killed Caesar because he loved Rome more.
Brutus then asks them if they want him to kill himself for his actions, to which the crowd replies, “Live, Brutus, live, live!”
He lastly begs them listen to Mark Antony speak and to let him depart alone. He leaves Mark Antony alone to give his oration.
Antony’s speech begins with the famous lines, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”. His speech continually praises Brutus as “an honourable man” who has killed Caesar for being ambitious.
He then presents all of the images of Caesar in which Caesar has not been ambitious, such as when Caesar thrice refused the crown on the day of Lupercal, or when Caesar filled the Roman treasury with ransom money from victories in war. The plebeians slowly become convinced that Caesar was not ambitious and that he was wrongly murdered.
Antony then pulls out Caesar’s will and tells them he should not read it to them. They beg him to read it, and he finally agrees, but puts if off by descending into the masses and standing next to the body of Caesar.
He shows them the stab wounds and names the conspirators who gave Caesar the wounds. The crowd starts to surge away in anarchy, crying, “Revenge! About! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay!” Antony stops them and continues speaking.
He finally reads them the will, in which Caesar has given every Roman citizen seventy five drachmas. The plebeians react in a frenzy of anger against the men who killed Caesar, and carry away the body.
Antony says, “Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot. / Take thou what course thou wilt”. He has successfully instigated the mob to mutiny.
I. Read the extract and answer the questions that follow:
1.Cowards die many times before their deaths
The valiant never taste of death but once
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard
It seems to me most strange that men should fear
Seeing that death, a necessary end
Will come when it will come
(a) Who is the speaker of the above lines?
(b) What fears has the listener expressed?
(c) What is the basis of the fears expressed?
(b) Calpurnia is afraid that her husband Julius Caesar is in danger.
2. This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
Quite vanquish’d him: then burst his mighty heart;
a) Why was the cut ‘most unkindest’?
i)it was made by Brutus
ii) it was made by Decius
iii) it was made by Cassius
iv) it was made by Cimber.
b) What proved fatal for Caesar?
i) the sword of conspirators
ii) Cassius’s sword
iii) Brutus’s dagger
iv) ingratitude of Brutus
c) These lines are spoken by:
i) Mark Antony
d)What could Caesar’s heart not bear?
i) Being surrounded by traitors
ii) Plot against him
iii) Seeing his best friend among traitors
iv)They did not crown him.
Answers: a.i) b.i) c.i d.iii.
II)Short Answer Questions:
a) Whom does Antony call “the choice and master spirit of this age”? Why?
Ans. Julius Caesar is called “the choice and master spirit of this age”, as he has feathered many conquests, glories, triumphs in his cap. He was humane and one of the noblest persons.
b) Why does Calpurnia say that Caesar’s ‘wisdom is consumed in confidence’? What does she mean?
Ans. Caesar ignores bad omens and warnings and decides to go forth to the Senate. So Calpurnia is forced to comment as above.
III) Long Answer Question:
a) How did Mark Antony outperform even a great orator like Brutus and turn the Roman mob against him?
Ans. Mark Antony proved to be a greater orator than Brutus. He aroused the Roman mob not by cold reason and logic, but their basic passions like pity and sympathy for Caesar. He proved that Caesar was not ambitious as told by Brutus and other conspirators. He worked throughout his life for the welfare of his subjects. He rejected the offer of crown three times before. Even his will showed his love for his people. He directed the anger of the mob towards Brutus and other conspirators by proving that they were liars and murderers.
I. Multiple Choice Questions:
Read the following extracts and answer the questions by choosing the most appropriate option.
1. “What can be avoided?
Whose end is purposed by the mighty Gods?
Yet Caesar shall go forth: for these predictions
Are to the world in general as to Caesar”
a) The extract shows that the speaker is
i. a believer in destiny
ii. arrogant and fearless
b) ‘Caesar shall go forth’ refers to Caesar’s plan:
i. to go to the battlefield
ii. to meet the senators
iii. to attend the meeting of the senate
iv. to go ahead
c) According to Caesar the predictions
i. are very general in nature
ii. made for the world
iii. bode ill for the whole world and not him alone
iv. are a reflection of God’s purpose
2. The dream is all amiss interpreted
It was a vision fair and fortunate
a) The speaker of these lines is:
ii. Marcus Brutus
iii. Decius Brutus
iv. Mark Antony
b) The speaker aims to:
i. guide Caesar
ii. mislead Caesar
iii. give Caesar a false sense of security
iv. reveal the reality behind the dream
c) ‘amiss interpreted’ means that the dream:
i. is inappropriate
iii. is wrongly interpreted
iv. is differently construed
3. ‘Cowards die many times before their death
‘The valiant never taste of death but once’
a) The quality of Caesar highlighted through these lines is
b) ‘Cowards die many times before their deaths’ means
i. cowards die several times in their lifetime
ii. cowards are terrified and don’t live their lives properly
iii. cowards lead a death like existence
iv. cowards waste their precious life being afraid of and anticipating death
c) Caesar is speaking to:
i. Marcus Brutus
iii. Decius Brutus
iv. Mark Antony
d) ‘The valiant never taste of death but once’ means
i. the brave are never faced with death
ii. the brave never die
iii. the brave accept death fearlessly
iv. the brave die only once in a lifetime
4. I doubt not of your wisdom
Let each man render me his bloody hand
Gentleman all, – alas what shall I say?
My credit now stands on such slippery ground
a) The speaker of these lines is
i. Marcus Brutus
iv. Mark Antony
b) The speaker’s tone is
i. deceptive and guileful
ii. flattering and indecisive
iii. Sad and troubled
c) The speaker thinks he stands on slippery ground because:
i.he may be regarded as deceitful
ii. he may be considered a coward or flatterer
iii. he is standing on Caesar’s blood
iv. he may be thought of as a fickle-minded person
5. Now let it work, mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt
a) The speaker of these lines is
i. Marcus Brutus
ii. Mark Antony
iv. A citizen of Rome
b) ‘Mischief is afoot’ because
i. Caesar has been murdered
ii. The citizens have been instigated to rebel
iii. The conspirators are playing a prank
iv. A plot is being hatched against Roman citizens
c) The final course taken by mischief was
i. Brutus became the king
ii. Mutiny broke out in Rome
iii. Roman citizens turned against Antony
iv. Antony took revenge for Caesar’s death
6. Not that I loved Caesar less but that I loved Rome more.
Had you rather Caesar was living and die all slaves,
than that Caesar were dead ,to live all free men?
a) Through these words the speaker is:
i. Condemning Caesar’s murder before Roman mob
ii. Justifying Caesar’s death to Roman masses
iii. Instigating Roman crowds
iv. Advising the masses
b) The main aim of the speaker is to prove that
i. Caesar was his friend
ii. Caesar was a tyrant
iii. Caesar’s death has saved them from slavery
iv. His loyalties are towards Rome
c) These lines are addressed to:
i. Mark Antony
iii. Roman masses
7. This was the unkindest cut of all
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab
Ingratitude, more strong than traitor’s arms,
Quite vanquish’d him:
a) The ‘unkindest cut’ refers to:
i. The blow struck by Brutus’ ingratitude
ii. The attack by Brutus
iii. The cruelty of the conspirators
iv. The bloody attack on Caesar
b) The speaker of these lines wants to:
i. Condemn the traitors
ii. Create public opinion against Brutus
iii. Express his anger
iv. Mourn Caesar’s death
c) The speaker is
i. addressing the traitors
ii. talking to himself
iii. addressing the Roman mob
iv. talking to Caesar’s body
8. When beggars die, there are no comets seen,
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
(a) These lines have been written by __________.
(i) Charles Dickens
(ii) Vikram Seth.
(iii) William Shakespeare
(iv) Nadine Gordimer
(b)Beggars here means __________.
(i) ordinary people
(ii) beggars onthestreets.
(iii) beggars attherailwaystation
(iv) none of theabove
(c)The death of princes attracts the attention of __________.
(i) the palace
(iii) the king’s subjects
(iv) even the gods
II. Short answer Questions in about 30-40 words:
1. What commotion is noticed by Calpurnia? What is suggestive ofher?
2. Highlight two most important qualities of Caesar’s character and substantiate them from the text.
3. ‘How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia?’ Bring out the irony behind Caesar’s statement.
4. What does Caesar mean when he says ‘Cowards die many times before their death, the valiant never taste of death but once?
5. How does Decius persuade Caesar to go to the senate in spite of Calpurnia’s best efforts to dissuade him?
6. Why does Cassius object to Antony’s speaking to the Roman Mob? How do his fears come true?
7. Explain why Antony calls Caesar a ‘bleeding piece of earth’?
8. What were the contents of Caesar’s will? Why did Antony elaborate upon them?
9. How does Brutus justify the assassination of Caesar?
10. How was Antony able to provoke the Roman mob through his speech?
11. Antony disproves the conspirators’ claim about Caesar’s ambition with three examples. What are they?
III) Long Answer Questions in about 100-150 words:
1. Bring out the significance of the words- ‘Et Tu Brute’.
2. Compare and contrast the funeral orations of Mark Antony and Marcus Brutus.
3. Write the character sketch of Julius Caesar.
4. Do you think Brutus is close to being an honourable man? Why? Why not?
5. Mark Antony emerges as the true friend to Caesar. Comment with reference to the Play.
6. Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot, Take thou what course thou wilt!
Who says the above lines? How does he succeed in instigating the people of Rome against the conspirators ?