What is a condensed summary of what happens in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare from Acts 1-3? 

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The first three acts of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare focus on the assassination of the great Roman.  The time is 44 B.C.  Caesar has just returned from battling and winning a victory over the sons of Pompey.  This has led to discussion of Caesar being named the Emperor of Rome. 

Act I, Scene i- February 15, 44 B.C. and the streets of Rome

The tribunes Flavius and Marullus encounter a group of workmen who are going to see the parade for Caesar.

There is a humorous encounter between the tribunes and a cobbler. In addition, the tribunes are not followers of Caesar.  They plan to take down all of the decorations from his statues.

Act I, Scene ii-The same time as and the streets of Rome

The soothsayer warns Caesar about the Ides of March

Cassius probes Brutus to find out if how he feels about Caesar.  Cassius shares why he despises Caesar. From Casca, they learn that Antony offered Caesar the crown, and he refused it three times. Caesar also fell down and had a seizure.  Brutus tells Cassius that he will need to come to his house in order for him to have time to think about what he wants to do.

Act I, Scene iii-Later that evening in the streets of Rome

Casca runs into Cassius.  Cassius tells Casca that he has opened his chest to the gods asking to be struck if he were not doing the right thing.  

Casca joins the plot.  All of the conspirators are meeting at the statue of Pompey to finalize the plans for the assassination. Then, they will go to Brutus’s house to include him.

Act II, Scene i-Brutus’s house and the eve of the Ides of March

Brutus explains why he will join the conspiracy.  It is because of what Caesar might do—not what he has done. The conspirators come and plans are sealed.

Portia, Brutus’s wife, comes out and begs him to tell her what has happened and who were these men. Brutus promises to tell her later. One of the conspirators shows up to accompany Brutus to the Senate.

Act II, Scene ii-Caesar’s house and early in the Ides of March

Caesar is awakened by his wife Calpurnia who has had a bad dream. She begs Caesar not to go to the Senate.  He agrees to please her.  One of the conspirators Decius Brutus shows up and indicates that Caesar will sound womanish if he does not come; Caesar has to go with him. All of the other conspirators arrive, and they all leave for the senate.

Act III, Scene i-Outside and inside the Capitol and Senate

Caesar goes inside the senate.  As Caesar is speaking, the conspirators surround him with Casca making the first stab and Brutus the last.  Caesar falls dead at the base of Pompey’s statue.

Antony arrives and is grief stricken.  Antony is left alone with the body and promises Caesar that he will gain his revenge.

 Pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,

That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!

Thou art the ruins of the noblest man

That ever lived in the tide of times.

Woe to the hand that she this costly blood!

 Act III, Scene ii-The steps of the Capitol

Brutus gives a speech to the crowd listing the reasons why Caesar was assassinated.  He convinces the audience that it was for the good of Rome. In addition, he describes the conspirators as honorable men.

Antony presents his oration.  Using logic and emotional appeals, Antony’s speech overwhelms the audience.  They have become a riotous mob.  At the end of the speech, the mob leaves to cremate Caesar’s body and look for the houses of the conspirators to burn as well.



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Julius Caesar

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