What are the main events in Acts 1 to 3 of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare?

Expert Answers info

Carter Westfall eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookB.A. from University of the Western Cape, South Africa

calendarEducator since 2014

write1,246 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Act I focuses on the displeasure expressed by a number of senators, particularly Cassius, Marullus, Flavius, Casca, and Cinna, about Caesar becoming emperor. They believe he is unfit for such a lofty position and fear he may become a tyrant. As a result, they want him permanently removed. We also learn of the soothsayer's warning to Caesar about the ides of March and Cassius's fervent attempt to draw Brutus into their conspiracy.

The central issue in Act II relates to Caesar's initial stubborn refusal to heed his wife Calpurnia's request that he not go to the Capitol, as she dreamed of terrible things and fears for his life. He also ignores the priests' urgings that danger is afoot, instead listening to Decius Brutus, who persuades him to go to the senate. We are also informed of Brutus's decision to join the conspiracy and the plotters' meeting at his house to formulate their plan to murder Caesar.

Act Three deals mainly with Caesar's brutal assassination and the speeches made by Brutus and Antony later in the Forum, where they both address the citizens of Rome. Brutus's logical discourse makes it plain that they acted in the interests of Rome, and he is supported by the crowd. Then, Antony delivers a much more powerful and emotive oration which is first laden with subtle criticism of the plotters and later more direct denunciation of the murder. He is so effective that he invigorates the crowd and turns it against the conspirators. They become an unruly, vengeful mob so inflamed by a desire for retribution that they even kill innocent people.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write6,976 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

 Act 1, Scene 1: Tribunes worry about growing power of Caesar.

 Act I, Scene 2: Caesar celebrates triumph, Cassius tries to persuade Brutus to join conspiracy. Soothsayer warns Caesar to:

“Beware the ides of March.” (March 15)

 Act I, Scene 3: There is a dramatic storm  on the night of March 14. Casca describes frightening omens to Cicero. Cassius, Casca, and Cinna are involved in conspiracy to overthrow Caesar and still trying to persuade the well-respected Brutus to join them.

Act II, Scene 1: Brutus finally decides to join conspiracy.

 Act II, Scene 2: Ides of March have arrived. Caesar is debating whether, despite his wife's dreams and other disturbing omens, he should go to the forum. He decides to go.

 Act II, Scenes 3 and 4: Artemidorus attempts to warn Caesar. Portia is worried about her husband Brutus.

Act III, Scene 1: Conspirators kill Caesar but not Anthony.

 Act III, Scenes 2 and 3: After death of Caesar, Brutus speaks to crowd and explains why it was necessary to kill Caesar to preserve the Republic. Next is Marc Anthony's famous speech which turns the crowd against the conspirators. It begins:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial