In William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, what does Caesar believe about power?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Julius Caesar proves from the onset of the play that he thirsts for power and feels that he should possess it.

In the first scene, Caesar returns to Rome from Spain after having defeated Pompey's sons who have tried to avenge the death of Pompey that occurred in Egypt some time earlier when Caesar defeated him. Now, Caesar is a single power as the triumvirate of which he was once part has been reduced to just him who believes that he can seize power himself.

Because it is the feast of Lupercal. Marc Antony prepares to run in a customary race. Also according to custom, Caesar has Antony touch Calpurnia's clothing to shake off the sterility from which she suffers. As the Romans assemble to watch this opening event, a soothsayer steps up to address Caesar, saying before the Roman leader, "Beware the Ideas of March." But, the arrogant Caesar ignores him. Later, Cassius tells Brutus that Caesar is in awe of himself:

                                   And this man
Is now become a god, and Cassius is
A wretch creature, and must bend his body
If Caesar carelessly but nod on him. (1.2. 118-121)

Further, Cassius says that Caesar sees himself as a Colossus who stands over the "petty men." During the ceremonies of Lupercal, Caesar and his train enter. With great dramatic effect the crown of coronets is offered Caesar and he pushes it away, but each time it is offered, he pushes it away with increasing reluctance. Cassius tells Brutus and Casca,

  ....Then he [Antony] offered it to him again; then he put it by again: but to my thinking, he was very loath to lay his fingers off it. (1.2.244-246)

Of course, since Cassius is envious of Caesar, his opinions may not be objective, but Brutus ponders long and hard whether Caesar will continue to be just and honorable if he is given the power and authority of kingship. Certainly, Brutus understands what a much later philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, wrote, "Tyranny and anarchy are never far asunder."Caesar seems greedy for power.

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Julius Caesar

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