What is the difference between Julius Caesar in Shakespeare's play and Julius Caesar historically?
On the whole, you'd have to say that Caesar comes across as a much weaker character in the play than he was in real life. But there's a reason for this; Shakespeare wants to make him a more vulnerable, more sympathetic character. If he were portrayed as every bit as ruthless and ambitious as he was in real life, then, when it came to the bloody Ides of March scene, the audience might well have been cheering on the assassins as they plunged their daggers in.
Although Caesar dominates the action of the play—even though he's not on stage for very long—he's deliberately under-drawn, to the extent that the other characters in the play can pretty much make of him what they will. We get to know Cassius and Brutus's Caesar, the would-be tyrant who wants to make himself king; we also get to know Caesar the selfless servant of the people, the man who, according to Mark Antony, only wanted to do what was best for Rome.
But what we don't get is a rounded historical portrait of Caesar, the kind...
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