What was in Caesar's will for the Roman citizens in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In Act III, Scene ii, of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Marc Antony gives his powerful funeral oration for Julius Caesar. His purpose was to expose the assassins as murderers and to incite the people of Rome  to not be supportive of the conspirators. 

He used several tactics in accomplishing his goals.  One of the powerful tools was Caesar's will.  In an effort to prove that Caesar loved Rome and its citizens, the will would should that he was giving a great deal to the people. Antony entices the crowd several times with the will until they are begging him to read it: 

Why, friends, you go to do you know not what.
Wherein hath Caesar thus deserved your loves?
Alas, you know not; I must tell you then.
You have forgot the will I told you of.
Here is the will, and under Caesar's seal.

In the will:

  • Caesar gave every man seventy-five drachmas. [In today's economy, the seventy-five drachmas would be worth about $277.00.]
  • Caesar bequeathed his newly planted orchards and arbors to the people.

In other words, Caesar donated all of the land that he owned on the Rome side of the Tiber River that had been made into parks and gardens.  These would be used for the people to have recreation. This would be much like the parks that are found in large cities that are devoted to the enjoyment of the public. 

The people were shocked and angered by the murder of such a great man that would share his wealth with the common man. They set out to find and kill the assassins. 

The will was not just made up by Shakespeare for his play.  There actually was a will of Caesar. It was retrieved by his father-in-law and brought to be read by Antony.  The people of Rome were given a percentage of his wealth. 


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