How does the festival of Lupercal tie to the opening of Julius Caesar.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ancient Roman pastoral festival of Lupercal is pivotal to the tragedy of the character Julius Caesar.  This festival is partly in honor of Lupa, the she-wolf who nursed the orphaned Romulus and Remus, who were the founders of Rome.  During this festival, the youth run through the streets, and it is believed that if these virile young men touch the pregnant, they will be helped in their delivery, and the barren will become pregnant.

During the festival in Julius Caesar, Caesar then has Calpurnia, his wife, stand out to be touched so that "their sterile curse" may be shaken, and he may have some heirs because of his ambition to become ruler.  This ambition is also suggested by his actions with regard to the coronet offered him by Marc Antony.  In Act I Scene 2, for instance, Casca recounts to Brutus Caesar's actions,

.... I saw Mark Antony offer
him a crown, yet 'twas not a crown neither, 'twas one of
these coronets and, as I told you, he put it by once. But for
all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it. (1.2.241-244

It is partly because of Casca's recounting of Caesar's histrionics during the festival in refusing the crown and opening his doublet for the crowd to cut his throat that, along with Cassius's words, Brutus seriously considers joining the conspirators who wish to rid Rome of a tyrant. Therefore, the events of the festival are certainly instrumental in effecting Caesar's demise.

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Julius Caesar

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