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The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare has five acts. This is a drama based on actual facts from 44 B. C. His background for the play came from Plutarch, a Greek historian.
Act I— February 14, 44 B.C., the streets of Rome and the Arena
There are really two factions involved in the story: Those that oppose Caesar and his lust for power and those that support Caesar. The tribunes detest Caesar because he was responsible for the death of Pompey. Most of the major characters are introduced in this act.
The conspiracy is introduced to Brutus who is somewhat receptive but must think things over.
A soothsayer warns Caesar about the Ides of March with Caesar ignoring his warnings. Caesar is offered the crown three times by Antony and refuses it; then, he has a seizure because he has epilepsy.
In the last scene, Cassius, Casca, and Cinna meet on March 14. A terrible storm covers the city. Casca relates the omens that foreshadow the events of tomorrow. The conspirators are to meet to discuss the plans of the assassination.
Brutus joins the conspiracy.
Calpurnia fears the outcome of the day’s events and begs Caesar to stay at home. Finally, he agrees. Decius Brutus, a conspirator, shames Caesar into going to the Capitol. All of the other assassins come to Caesar’s house to make sure that he comes to the senate.
When Caesar arrives at the senate, he begins to speak. During that time, the assassins close in on him and stab him over 30 times. The assassins wash their hands in his blood.
Antony comes in and is shocked by the gruesome scene. He deceptively acts like he is willing to hear what the murderers have to say. After they leave him alone with the body, Antony promises to gain revenge for Caesar.
The funeral orations begin with Brutus speaking first and logically explaining why Caesar was killed. After his speech, Antony gives his fantastic speech which moves the citizens to riot and kill the conspirators.
The new triumvirate---Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus---make a list of those that oppose their new government. These people will be murdered. It is also obvious that Antony and Octavius are in a power struggle for who will actual reign in Rome.
Brutus and Cassius have formed armies and are ready to fight. There is a terrible quarrel between the two conspirators which is resolved with a handshake and a drink. Plans are made to march to Philippi to battle with Antony and Octavius.
Brutus has an encounter with the ghost of Caesar who warns him about seeing him in Philippi.
The battle begins with both sides winning at different stages. Communication is poor. When Cassius thinks that his army is losing [his soldiers had really won the battle], he has one of his men stab and kill him.
When Brutus learns of the death of Cassius, he too decides to kill himself rather than be taken in chains to Rome. He can find no one to kill him, so he asks one of his servants to hold the sword while he runs up on it.
Antony and Octavius find the body of Brutus. Antony ends the play with the great compliment to Brutus:
This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great…
And say to all the world, “This was a man!”
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