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Certain quotations seem to encapsulate the main thematic concerns of William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. One of the most interesting is quite simple. The soothsayer has warned Caesar to "Beware the Ides of March." In Act III Scene 1, on the Ides of March, Caesar encounters the soothsayer as he makes his way to the Senate House and they have this quite short exchange:
Caesar: [To the Soothsayer] The ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar; but not gone.
In context, this suggests that Caesar believes a sufficiently strong-willed individual can change fate. As Caesar is assassinated a few minutes later, that play shows that Caesar cannot evade fate. On a general thematic level, this applies as well to nations as to rulers, for the assassination of Caesar was an attempt to turn Rome back into a Republic, and yet the eventual outcome was simply replacing a benevolent ruler, Caesar, with his even more powerful nephew Augustus.
Another important quotation is Anthony's final assessment of Brutus at the end of the play:
This was the noblest Roman of them all:
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
This summarizes that the central conflict between Brutus and Caesar was tragic because they were both noble and decent men, and good friends, but led to opposite sides of a political battle by their beliefs. Brutus especially is a fascinating character because the portrait of him in Shakespeare shows how a morally good person can end up doing something bad out of good motives.
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