What conflicts emerge from Act I, Scene 1 in Julius Caesar?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act I, Scene 1, two tribunes, Marullus and Flavius, clash with some commoners who have taken the day off from work to await the return to Rome by Julius Caesar.

Marullus and Flavius are concerned that the people do not understand what kind of man Caesar is. For, he was once part of the first triumvirate, composed of Marcus Licinius Crassus, general Pompey, and himself. But, rather than being a real triumvir, their union was a private agreement to serve the three men's individual desires by going around the Senate. After Crassus died, Pompey aligned himself with the nobility, who perceived Caesar as a national threat. Later, Caesar pursued Pompey into Egypt, where he was killed.

Marcellus alludes to Caesar's killing of Pompey when he addresses the commoners, reminding them of how they once cheered this ruler whenever he returned to Rome. Now the tribune questions the people as to why they await Caesar and want to cheer him. 

....Many a time and oft
Have you climbed up to walls and battlements,
                                           ....and have sat
The livelong day, with patient expectation,
To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome,
....Have you not made an universal shout,....
And do you now strew flowers in his way
That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?....
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude. (1.1.39-55)

After they drive away these commoners, Flavius decides to remove the decorations which have been put up for the feast of Lupercal. Marcellus asks if they may do so, but Flavius replies that he wants no images to be "hung with Caesar's trophies" (1.1.69). He tells Marcellus that if they remove these "trophies," Caesar may be brought back down to earth. Otherwise, he may become so egotistical and proud that he will cause everyone else to be in a state of obeisance and fear.




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Julius Caesar

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