In Act 2.2.13-107 of Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, why does Caesar find Decius’s argument more persuasive than Calpurnia’s?

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Noelle Matteson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this scene, Calpurnia’s fears have so overwhelmed her that she warns Caesar about going out. Even Caesar finds the world’s upheaval to be foreboding. He asks the priests to sacrifice a beast to give him direction. However, to Calpurnia, he shows a strong front:

… the things that threaten'd me
Ne'er look'd but on my back; when they shall see
The face of Caesar, they are vanished.

Calpurnia reports the horrors that she has seen and points out that these pertain to him, because he is no common man but a kind of “prince.” Caesar continues to brush off her fears because “death, a necessary end, / Will come when it will come.” He even interprets the fact that the sacrificed animal has no heart to mean, “Caesar should be a beast without a heart, / If he should stay at home to-day for fear.”

Caesar eventually agrees to stay at home only for Calpurnia’s sake. This way, he can appear to be brave while remaining safe. Unfortunately, Decius arrives and tells Caesar what he wants to hear. Decius reinterprets Calpurnia’s dream, which correctly predicted Caesar’s bloody assassination, as a sign that “Rome shall suck / Reviving blood” from Caesar.

Caesar prefers Decius’s interpretation because the alternative would be too terrible. Decius dismisses Calpurnia’s fears and also suggests the dream foretold Caesar’s crowning, an idea that Caesar finds difficult to resist. Decius knows how to play Caesar’s vanity, and, as Calpurnia says, Caesar’s “wisdom is consumed in confidence.” The great man cannot appear weak in front of his fellow senators or even his wife. Thus, Caesar is led to his death.

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Julius Caesar

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