Act III of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare begins on March 15, 44 B.C. in Rome. It is the day that Caesar may be offered the crown in the Roman senate. There have been warnings and omens attempting to forestall Caesar from going to the Capitol on this day. He had made the decision not to go based on his wife’s pleas. However, the conspirators and Antony come to Caesar’s house to accompany him. He feels that he has to go with them.
When Caesar arrives at the Capitol, a teacher who has found out about the plot tries to warn him about the conspirators. He is manipulated away from the teacher Artemidorus. Caesar tells him that what is important are the problems of the people.
Cassius and some of the other conspirators worry that people know about the plot. Brutus calms them down. Caesar goes into the senate. Metellus Cimber comes to Caesar to ask for Caesar to take away the decree that his brother Publius is banished from Rome. Caesar refuses.
Brutus also asks for a reprieve for Publius. Caesar is surprised by Brutus. Caesar stands to make a speech about his being above the fray and that his word endures. Ironically, he states that he is as constant as the northern star, and he will not change his mind.
As Caesar speaks, the conspirators move closer to him. Caesar thinks that they are still pleading for Publius. The conspirators have surrounded Caesar, and now is the time for the murder.
Suddenly, Casca stabs Caesar first. Except for Brutus, all the others begin to stab Caesar over and over. Caesar turns to Brutus who pulls out his dagger and stabs him. Surprised in his last moments by the blow of his “loyal” friend, Caesar states: Et tu, Brute! [And you too, Brutus!]
Caesar is stabbed over 35 times. When he dies, he falls at the base of Pompey’s statue. This is also ironic because Caesar started a civil war with Pompey. They fought into Egypt where Pompey was defeated. The Pharaoh gave Caesar the head of Pompey as a gift.
After Caesar dies, the assassins try to assuage the other senators that they are safe.
Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!
Run Hence, Proclaim, cry it about the streets
Some to the common pulpits and cry out
Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!
People, and senators, be not affrighted
Fly not! Stand still! Ambitions debt is paid.
The conspirators discuss what has happened as they stand around Caesar’s body. Cassius feels that they have given twenty good years to Rome with the death of Caesar.
Another irony comes when both Cassius and Brutus ask the rhetorical question: How many times will this scene of the death of Caesar be re-enacted? [This play was written in 1599, and it is still performed and studied today.]
Brutus tells the assassins to bathe in Caesar’s blood. They are to smear his blood up to their elbows and cover their swords in blood. Then, they will walk out into the public and cry: Peace! Freedom! Liberty!
The assassination is over. The conspirators now must convince the people that this was necessary for the good of Rome. Both Cassius and Brutus will speak to the public. Antony will come and seemingly be ready to listen to an explanation. Actually, Antony will wreak revenge on the murderers on behalf of the greatest Roman: Caesar.