In Act 1, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar, how is Caesar portrayed as being pompous and self-assured? Also, how do people treat him and how is "air of authority" shown?

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omconnelly eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I, Scene 2 of the play, Caesar is initially greeted by Antony, and it is evident Antony respects and admires Caesar because when he states, "When Caesar says, 'Do this' it is perform'd." This dialogue also implies that Caesar is aware of his influence on Antony and others in Rome. 

But the second and more important piece of evidence that Caesar is portrayed as pompous and too self-assured appears in the dialogue between the Soothsayer and Caesar. The Soothsayer tries to warn Caesar to "Beware the Ides of March." Rather than listening to the warning, Caesar retorts that, "The Ides of March have come." This implies that he doesn't give any credence to the warning. The Soothsayer replies to Caesar's dismissiveness, "Aye, but they have not gone." This implies that Caesar's ego will be his downfall. He doesn't perceive himself as weak or in danger because he is Caesar. It is also evident that he doesn't respect the Soothsayer's abilities and will do what he wants despite the warning. This is reinforced later by Cassius, who declares that Caesar "doth bestride the narrow world, like a Colossus." 

It is important to remember that Shakespeare's historical plays are based on historical evidence compiled by historians of the era, but they are not meant to educate the masses about the history of the world. Instead, Shakespeare uses historical figures, their tragic flaws, and their subsequent downfalls in order to instruct his audience about themselves and the contemporary world around them. 

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of Act 1 Scene 2 of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Caesar appears only briefly. The first time Caesar talks, he suggests that Calpurnia stand in Anthony's course and that Anthony touches Calpurnia for good luck. This seems rather friendly and helpful, but there is an assumption of power and authority; he tells people what to do rather than requesting that they do things.

Our next intimation of Caesar's character is that he is the center of attention. Casca even tells people to be quiet when Caesar speaks, something that emphasizes Caesar's impotance and authority. Brutus also passes the message of the seer to Caesar, but as Caesar is deaf in one ear, that seems ordinary politeness rather than excessive deference. 

The place where Caesar may appear arrogant is in brushing off the advice of a seer. In Graeco-Roman culture that would have been considered not only arrogant but imprudent. His attitude in the dialogue with the seer does not necessarily seem pompous but it does seem to carry with it a great deal of assurance that he can tell everyone else what to do, and that they will follow his bidding, something that appears more typically dictatorial than appropriate to a republic. The fact that everyone obeys him adds to the impression of inequality.

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Julius Caesar

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