List three animal metaphors used in Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene iii by William Shakepeare?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Act I, Scene iii, in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, begins on the night of March 14. It is a strange night filled with lights, ghosts, phantoms, and omens from the gods.  Cassius is out this night to meet with the other  conspirators to finalize the plans for the assassination. 

There have been many eerie sightings around Rome which Cassius ascribes to the gods supporting the assassins' cause. Shakespeare employs animals and oddities to inspire the conspirators to act:

1. A night bird [most likely an owl] which is nocturnal and only seen at night has been sighted at noon in the marketplace.  Remember that owls are identified with wisdom. The conspirators would translate this to mean that the gods support the wisdom of the plot.

2. Casca saw a lion who glared at him but passed on by him.  This may have been Caesar who as newly crowned emperor of Rome would only look at him but is unable to harm him.

3. Another reference is made to a lion [Caesar] in the Capitol who is no better than Casca or Cassius but been provided with  too much power.

Most like this dreadful night,
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars         As doth the lion in the Capitol,
A man no mightier than thyself or me
In personal action, yet prodigious grown

4. Cassius states that Romans have become sheep or female deer and are prey to Caesar's lion. If the Romans would stand up for themselves instead of being so weak, than Caesar would not have so much authority over Rome.

Each of the metaphors build toward the climatic meeting and the joining of the conspiracy by Brutus.  This night begins the end of Caesar and essentially of all the conspirators as well.


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Julius Caesar

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