In Julius Caesar, Artemidorus and others could prevent the assassination.  What happens?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The conspiracy to assassinate Caesar needed to be veiled in secrecy; however, in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, someone has not kept silent as he promised in the meeting at Brutus’s house.

Cassius  ask the conspirators to shake on the vow of silence; and Brutus [who made poor decisions] went against Cassius’ recommendation. Brutus suggested that there was no need to promise since this was an honorable deed done for the good of Rome.  Yet, someone broke the vow of silence and shared the information.

In fact, several people have found out about the plot.  The first person that lets the audience know that someone has spoken out of turn about the conspiracy comes to the forefront in Act II, Scene iii.  It is Artemidorus, the teacher, who favors Caesar and wants to warn him. He has written a letter that he hopes Caesar will read before he enters the senate. 

In his letter, Artemidorus names the conspirators and informs Caesar that these men are determined to assassinate him. 

Caesar, beware of Brutus; take heed of Cassius;
come not near Casca; have an eye to Cinna; trust not
Trebonius; mark it well Metellus Cimber; Decius Brutus
loves thee not; thou hast wronged Caius Ligarius. There is
but one mind in all these men, and it is bent against Caesar.

Artemidorus suggests that if Caesar reads his letter he will live.  On the other hand, if he does not, the fates are against Caesar, and he will not live. 

When Act III, Scene I begins, Caesar receives a two opportunities to avoid his assassination. 


The Soothsayer sees Caesar again.  Caesar taunts the Soothsayer by saying that he is still alive even though it is the Ides of March.  The Soothsayer remarks that the Ides are not over.


Artemidorus tries to hand his letter to Caesar by telling him that it is in his interest to read it. Caesar rejects the letter by announcing that if the letter is for Caesar’s behalf than he will not read it since the Roman citizens are his primary business.

Another senator, [Popilius], tells Cassius that he is in favor of his project.  This scares Cassius because Popilius should not have known anything about the plot.  When Popilius leaves Cassius, he goes right to Caesar to say something to him.  Cassius is scared to death and threatens to commit suicide; however, when Caesar moves away from Popilius, Caesar is smiling.  Obviously, there has not been any discussion of the assassination.

Caesar ignores warning throughout the play. Even at the last minute, he could have paid more attention and listened to those who tried to warn him.  In a few minutes, Caesar walks into the assassination that changed the course of history.




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Julius Caesar

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