Explain Julius Caesar's pride in the narrative?William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In the first act of Julius Caesar, Caesar triumphantly enters Rome after having defeated Pompey.  The crowds cheer him as he approaches, but a soothsayer steps forward and adjures him to "Beward the ides of March."  Caesar dismisses him as a "dreamer," and continues to walk down the streets receiving the adulation of the crowd.  When Marc Antony offers him a crown, Caesar makes a great show of refusing it thrice, in order to display his great humility; however, Cassius and others perceive it as a demonstration of Caesar's arrogance.

In Act II, before he is set to go to the Senate, Caesar is warned by Calpurnia to stay home as she fears he will be murdered, and Caesar responds with his bravado:

The gods do this in shame of cowardice:

Caesar should be a beast without a heart

If he should stay at home today for fear. 

No. Caesar shall not:  Danger knows full well

That Caesar is more dangerous than he.

We are two lions littered in one day,

And I the elder and more terrible,

And Caesar shall go forth. (2.2.41-48)

Ironically, since he has professed disdain for superstitions, Caesar acquiesces to Calpurnia's wishes and agrees to her superstitious fear.  He tells her that Marc Antony will say that Calpurnia is not well.  However, Decius, one of the conspirators, appears and reinterprets Calpurnia's dream to favor Caesar's going to the Senate.  He also appeals to Caesar's pride, saying that the Senators might think he is afraid if he does not attend:

...Besides, it were a mock

Apt to be rendered, for someone to say

"Break up the Senate till another time,

When Caesar's wife shall meet with better dreams."

If Caesar hide himself, shall they not whisper

:Lo, Caesar is afraid"? (2.2.98-103) 

Clearly, Caesar's allowing himself to be induced to attend the Senate by Decius lends verity to the old adage of "Pride goeth before fall."

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