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Why did Shakespeare call this play Julius Caesar?

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Posted September 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM via web

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Why did Shakespeare call this play Julius Caesar?

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enotes | Valedictorian

Posted September 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM (Answer #1)

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Brutus, not Julius Caesar, is the main protagonist of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and so the play's title appears to be misleading. Caesar dies before the mid-point of the play is reached and Shakespeare does not provide the Roman Emperor with a single memorable speech. On the other hand, it is Caesar's ambition to become absolute dictator of Rome that provides the dramatic conflict for Brutus's participation in the assassination conspiracy, and it is Caesar's decision to disregard the warnings of both his wife Calpurnia and the Soothsayer about the Ides of March that furnishes the conspirators with their opportunity. In the end, however, Shakespeare may have elected to call his Roman tragedy Julius Caesar for commercial reasons. While his audiences may not have been familiar with Brutus, they certainly recognized Caesar's name. Composed at a relatively early juncture in Shakespeare's career, the title of Julius Caesar may well have been chosen to appeal to an audience that was not yet ready to attend a play solely on the basis of Shakespeare's own reputation.

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