In Act I of Julius Caesar, why are the carpenter and the cobbler celebrating?

Expert Answers info

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester


calendarEducator since 2017

write2,161 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

At the beginning of the play, Marullus encounters a cobbler and a carpenter wandering around the streets, without the tools of their trade, celebrating. He demands to know why they are celebrating and not working, given that it isn't a holiday. The cobbler jokes that he is trying to wear his shoes and therefore give himself more work, but then he explains that the pair are making their own holiday to "rejoice in [Caesar's] triumph."

Marullus is angry, asking what great victory Caesar has won to warrant this. He knows, of course, what the pair are celebrating—he demands to know whether they do not remember Pompey, who had previously been celebrated by the citizens of Rome as he passed. Now, he says, these commoners intend to strew flowers in the street to celebrate Caesar's victory over Pompey. This is, for Marullus, an illustration of the fickleness of the common people.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

khenson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write43 answers

starTop subject is Literature

Roman commoners are busy celebrating the Feast of the Lupercal as well as Caesar's return home.  The commoners clearly favor Caesar over the defeated Pompey as Caesar was generous to the lower classes.  He supported the working class by providing them extra food/money from his own pockets.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

jamiekee eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2007

write18 answers

starTop subject is Literature

There were actually two events being celebrated, and it was the celebration itself that began the tension in the play. In Act I Scene I, the citizens were celebrating Julius Caesar's defeat over Pompey's sons after Pompey's death. Normally it was not customary to celebrate military triumphs unless it was over a foreigner. To celebrate the triumph over a fellow citizen was not appropriate. However, the people chose to celebrate anyway because they enjoyed having fun. It was more of an excuse to get out of work. This celebration of the commoners caused a split within Rome, those supporting Caesar and those against Caesar. In Act I Scene II, Caesar, his friends, and officials are celebrating the festival of the Lupercalia.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial