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What are some omens in Julius Caesar?

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beezybaby | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 11, 2013 at 11:30 AM via iOS

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What are some omens in Julius Caesar?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 11, 2013 at 4:40 PM (Answer #1)

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One very famous omen is provided by a soothsayer, who warns Caesar, who is participating in a procession for Luepercal, to "beware the Ides of March." Caesar dismisses the man as a "dreamer," and the procession goes on. Of course, Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March (March 15) so like many omens in the play, this one should have been heeded, or correctly interpreted. 

A number of evil omens are described in the third scene of Act I, when Cassius begins to outline his plot against Caesar. First, there is a horrible thunderstorm that rocks the city, "raining fire" on Rome. Casca then describes several other frightful omens, including a slave whose hand burns yet remains "unscorch'd," a lion walking through the streets, a "hundred ghastly women" who described "men in fire" walking through the city, and a "bird of night" that sat in the city marketplace at noon, "howling and shrieking." Casca fears these omens, but Cassius seems to attribute them to Caesar's apparent usurpation of power in the Republic, and claims not to be afraid of them. In retrospect, however, they are clearly omens that Caesar's murder will bring unnatural consequences. 

Still more omens are described when Caesar hears his wife, Calpurnia, screaming in her sleep the night before the ides of March. According to Caesar, she shouts "Help, ho! They murder Caesar!" When Calpurnia awakes, she beseeches Caesar not to leave his house, citing many terrible omens witnessed by Romans that evening: 

A lioness hath whelped in the streets; 
And graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead; 
Fierce fiery warriors fight upon the clouds, 
In ranks and squadrons and right form of war,
Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol; 
The noise of battle hurtled in the air, 
Horses did neigh and dying men did groan, 
And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets. 
O Caesar! These things are beyond all use,
And I do fear them.

When Caesar asks the priests to perform a sacrifice to determine what these events augur, they inform him that they could not find a heart among the entrails of the bull they sacrificed. Caesar determines not to leave his house, but is persuaded to do so by Decius, who claims that the omens, including a dream Calpurnia had in which Romans bathed their hands in Caesar's blood, were actually good omens. Caesar's decision to go to the Senate, of course, costs him his life.

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amysor | Student , Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted March 26, 2014 at 5:16 PM (Answer #2)

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There are many omens that foreshawdow Caesar's death in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. First was the soothsayer who warned Caesar about the Ides of March. Also, there were many accounts of omens throughout the city. Such as a slave's hand that didn't burn while in the fire, a lion was on the steps of the capital, owls seen during the day, etc. Although, the most significant omen was Calpurnia's dream. Calpurnia, Caesar's wife, dreamt that blood spilled from Caesar's statue. She took this dream as a omen that will foreshawdow Caesar's death. Despite all these bad omens and signs, because of his arrogance, Caesar goes to the senate and dies.

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