What is Calpurnia's dream and how does Caesar react when she shares it with him in Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene 2?

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andrewnightingale eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of act 2, scene 2 Calpurnia sees Caesar getting ready to leave their home. She questions his desire to go and tells him that he should stay. She informs him that many portentous events have been witnessed and that, although she has "never stood on ceremonies," they now frighten her. She names some strange and frightening incidents and noises that she believes spell danger. She cries out that these occurrences seem purposeless but that they fill her with fear. 

Caesar believes that Calpurnia's fears are unfounded because, as he says, these portents of doom apply equally to the general public and do not specifically relate to him alone. He decides that he will leave. His wife, however, insists that comets do not blaze when beggars are about to die; they foretell the death of princes. She desperately wants Caesar to understand that these omens warn about his doom. 

The general stubbornly refuses to heed Calpurnia's advice and believes that only cowards are overwhelmed by their fear. As such, they die many deaths while those who are brave only meet one death, for they do not fear the possibility of dying. He is alluding to himself and does not deem himself a coward.

Caesar's servant informs him that his soothsayers have studied the entrails of an offering and could not find its heart. Their advice is that he should stay indoors since this unnatural discovery predicts danger. Caesar, however, stubbornly refuses to heed this warning and instead sees it as a comment about cowardice. He believes that he should go forth and face whatever dangers he may encounter. He arrogantly states that he is, after all, more dangerous than danger itself.

Calpurnia's insistence, however, wears him down. He finally relents and decides to follow her advice. He will send Mark Anthony in his place and instruct him to inform the senators that he is unwell.

Decius Brutus's arrival changes everything. When Caesar informs the conspirator that he is not going to the Senate, Decius wishes to know why. Caesar then tells him about his wife's portentous dream. He mentions that Calpurnia had seen his statue spouting blood from numerous gashes and that she believes her dream spells danger. He states that she, therefore, begged him not to leave. 

It is ironic that Decius, who Caesar does not suspect is conspiring against him, manages to persuade the general to accompany him to the Senate House after providing an entirely different interpretation of the dream. He informs the general that the blood spurting from his statue in Calpurnia's dream signifies his power and strength. He convinces the gullible general that the citizens bathe themselves in his blood to be invigorated and that the greatest of men will want to be revived by washing in his blood. Caesar is flattered by Decius's exposition and decides that Calpurnia's understanding is foolish. In an act of supreme irony, he decides to leave. He is oblivious to the fact that he has allowed his vanity to lead him to his doom.    

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Having experienced an ominous dream, Calpurnia enters the scene declaring to  Caesar, "You shall not stir out of your house today." Naturally, mighty Caesar refutes her, "Caesar shall forth"; he adds that whatever threatens him always runs when he faces the threats. But, Calpurnia is persistent, claiming she has never believed in omens before, but is frightened this day, the Ides of March; furthermore, there is a man relating bizarre occurrences in the night such as a lioness has given birth in a street, and graves have opened and ghosts have screamed.

But, she herself has had a dream that greatly disturbs her because she fears that it portends grave danger for Caesar. In her dream, Calpurnia has seen Caesar's statue as though it were a fountain, pouring blood from a "hundred spouts; many "lusty Romans" came up to this statue, and they bathed their hands in this blood, all the time smiling.

Decius, one of the conspirators himself, re-interprets this dream so that Caesar will be persuaded to accompany him to the Senate. As a further incentive, Decius tells Caesar that the Senate means to crown him this day. Persuaded by Decius's interpretation and having learned that he will be made emperor, the ambitious Caesar ignores Calpurnia's warnings, "How foolish do your fears seem now,Calpurnia," and he departs with Decius.

amysor | Student

Calpurnia's dream was seeing the statue of Caesar, and blood spilling from it. Also, the citizens washed their hands in the blood. Calpurnia feared that this meant that Caesaer will die, and convinced Caesar to stay home. At first, Caesar was relucant to listen to her, but finally gave in to the superstition. Although, when Decius comes, he changes the interpretation of Calpurnia's dream, and convinces Caesar to go to the senate.

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Julius Caesar

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