In Julius Caesar, how are Marullus and Flavius characterized?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Flavius and Marullus are two Roman tribunes who appear in the first scene of the play. Their characters are similar in that both men have remained loyal to Pompey in his defeat and detest that the commoners have filled the streets to celebrate Caesar's return after his victory over Pompey's sons.

Marullus seems especially emotional in his attempts to drive the crowds from the streets, reminding them of their former love for Pompey and of the manner in which they once cheered him, so loudly that "Tiber trembled underneath her banks." He holds Caesar in contempt:

Wherefore [do you] rejoice? What conquest brings [Caesar] home?

What tributaries follow him to Rome,

To grace in captive bonds his chariot wheels?

Marullus feels bitterness that Caesar's return has become a holiday in Rome.

Of the two, Flavius assumes leadership and authority. It is he who organizes a plan to diminish the celebration of Caesar's return. He tells Marullus they will go their separate ways to take down any decorations they might find. When Flavius questions if they may do that, considering it is also the feast of Lupercal in Rome, Marullus dismisses the his concern: "It is no matter." He is adamant in his resistance to Caesar: "[L]et no images / Be hung with Caesar's trophies." Marullus considers Caesar to be a political threat to freedom in Rome, someone who would "keep us all in servile fearfulness." He is bold in his actions to prevent that from happening, and Marullus follows his lead.

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Julius Caesar

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