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In Julius Caesar, there is the use of supersitition to foreshadow. What are the strange...

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chocolate975 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted March 10, 2010 at 6:50 AM via web

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In Julius Caesar, there is the use of supersitition to foreshadow. What are the strange phenomena and omens which are reported by Casca in Act I Sc.3?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 10, 2010 at 11:10 AM (Answer #1)

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In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Act 1, superstition and omens reflect the political turmoil in Rome.

Caesar himself introduces superstition in the play when he arranges for Antony to touch Calpurnia while he is running the race (scene 2).  The superstition is that the touch may cure her inability to have children.  This establishes that Rome in the time of the play is a superstitious place.

The Soothsayer then warns Caesar to beware of the ides of march (scene 2).  This is used as foreshadowing.

Finally, in scene 3, Casca describes omens of a major sort:

...never till tonight, never till now,

Did I go through a tempest dropping fire,

Either there is a civil strife in heaven,

Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,

Incenses them to send destruction.

He continues:

A common slave--you know him well by sight--

Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn

Like twenty torches joined, and yet his hand,

Not sensible of fire, remained unscorched.

Besides--I ha' not since put up my sword--

Against the Capitol I met a lion,...

Elizabethans believed that the cosmos and human affairs on earth were connected, were related.  The state of one was reflected in the other. 

These unnatural occurrences reflect the political turmoil in Rome.

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lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted March 10, 2010 at 9:26 PM (Answer #2)

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In Act I Sc.3 a terrified Casca rushes into the street with a drawn sword just as an eathquake is taking place,"all the sway of earth/Shakes like a thing unfirm." Cicero asks him why he is so frightened and upset. Casca atonce tells him all the bizarre and scary incidents that have taken place:

1."A tempest dropping fire," it seemed as though fire dropped straight out of the sky and was being fanned by stormy winds.

2. An ordinary slave's hand caught fire and it burned so brightly, "like twenty torches joined," but yet the slave's hand was not scorched.

3. On his  way to the temple of Jupiter (the Capitol) Casca met a lion on the street, but it so uncharacteristically did not harm him at all.

4. Casca next met "a hundred ghastly women," who told him that they saw men on fire walking up and down the streets.

5. Lastly, Casca says that on the previous  day at noon the owl was heard "hooting and shrieking" at the market place.

Casca is convinced that all these strange events  are bad omens and that  something evil is going to happen in Rome:

A common slave--you know him well by sight--
Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn
Like twenty torches join'd, and yet his hand,
Not sensible of fire, remain'd unscorch'd.
Besides--I ha' not since put up my sword--
Against the Capitol I met a lion,
Who glared upon me, and went surly by,
Without annoying me: and there were drawn
Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,
Transformed with their fear; who swore they saw
Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday the bird of night did sit
Even at noon-day upon the market-place,
Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say
'These are their reasons; they are natural;'
For, I believe, they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon.

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