Discuss the element of superstition in Julius Caesar.

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coachingcorner's profile pic

coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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In the play "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare, the author combines two very interesting and contrasting ideas. The first is the Roman civilization with it's logical and practical way of accomplishing projects of epic proportions - a method based on fact and cold analysis. The second idea contrasts this sceptical and logical society with the idea of imagination and surmise or superstition and fear - an idea the Romans couldn't quite let go of when they beheld it in the peoples they conquered. The Romans would leave nothing to chance and preferred to have all bases covered - even if there was nothing in the native religions or superstitions. So in "Beware the ides of March" we have a soothsayer trying to warn Caesar that bad things might happen if events were scheduled on a certain day. The Muslim festival of Ide at that time is worth researching too.

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Rome in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is a superstitious place. 

Caesar demonstrates his superstitious beliefs when he arranges for Antony to touch the barren Calphurnia while he runs the race in Act 1, because superstition suggests that the touch may cure Caesar's wife of her inability to have children. 

Caesar makes the mistake, however, of ignoring superstition when he fails to follow the Soothsayer's advice to beware the ides of March. 

Furthermore, the chaotic state of human affairs in the play is reflected by bad omens.  A slave's hand appears to be consumed by fire one minute, but not at all burned the next.  A lion is loose in the city by the capitol.  Caesar's ghost appears to Brutus on the eve of battle. 

Superstition in the play reflects the state of Roman politics, highlights Caesar's refusal to accept advise and accept his fragility, and foreshadows events to come. 

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