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Why does Brutus ask Lucius if it is the ides of March in Julius Caesar? by William...

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anabear123 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 7, 2012 at 9:46 PM via iOS

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Why does Brutus ask Lucius if it is the ides of March in Julius Caesar? by William Shakespeare?

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

Posted December 8, 2012 at 12:25 AM (Answer #1)

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The Soothsayer warned Caesar to "Beware the Ides of March" in Act I of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.  Brutus heard the warning to Caesar.  Caesar ignored and scoffed the foreshadowing warning of the Soothsayer.  Time has passed, and it has been one month since the Lupercal.

In Act II, Scene i, Brutus is in his garden.  He is still at war within himself about joining the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar.  His confusion comes from the friendship that he has had with Caesar.  Considered to be the greatest Roman general, Caesar has done nothing but good for Rome. 

On the other hand,  he has been offered the crown by Antony to be the supreme Roman ruler. After three times, Caesar did accept the crown.  Brutus wonders how this will change Caesar.  Rome has had dictator before.  In the present rule, the Senate runs the government in a form of parliamentary rule. 

Brutus believes that if Caesar becomes the emperor he might change and forget his friends.  He uses two metaphors in his reasoning:

The ladder of success--

  • When people climb the ladder of success, there are others who push them along the climb.  No one can be successful without others helping them. What happens when the person gets to the top? Many times, that person forgets those who helped him get there. This might happen to Caesar.

The serpent-

  • He twice compares Caesar to a serpent.  First, he states that if one sees a serpent he must avoid him to avert his sting. 
  • Most importantly, he refers to a nest of snake eggs.  While the snakes are in the eggs, they cannot hurt a person. It is only when they hatch that one needs to worry about the snakes.  The idea is to kill the snake while he is in the egg to avoid the sting.  

This is what should happen to Caesar.  Before he can become a dictator and hurt the Roman people and government, kill him.  Strangely, Brutus is going to agree to kill the great Roman General based on possibities and what might happen. 

Brutus is to meet the conspirators to let them know if he will be a part of the plan.  Brutus has forgotten the date.  If it is the Ides of March,this is the day that the conspirators have planned to kill Caesar. 

Brutus awakens his young  servant Lucius.  He first asks him for a candle to read a letter that Cassius has had deceptively thrown into Brutus's house as though it came from a Roman citizen urging him to do something about Caesar.

Then he asks Lucius to check the date:

Brutus: Get you to bed again, it is not day. 
Is not tomorrow, boy, the ides of March?

Lucius:I know not, sir. 

Brutus:Look in the calendar and bring me word. 

Lucius:Sir, March is wasted fifteen days. 

Yes, it is the Ides of March. This is a day to be dreaded.  The omens have shown that there is something that is not right in Rome. It is at that moment that Cassius and the other conspirators arrive sending Brutus, Caesar, and Antony on a collision course in history.

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