What does Calpurnia tell Caesar about going to the Capitol in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare?

2 Answers

carol-davis's profile pic

carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

On the morning of the Ides of March, 44 B. C., Caesar intends on going to the Capitol. It is his plan to accept the crown as emperor of Rome. 

In Act II, Scene 2, in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar is worried because of the stormy night.  In addition, Calpurnia cried out in her sleep: “Help, ho! They murder Caesar!”

Caesar then begins the day by sending his servant to have the priests perform some sacrifices. The priests will then examine the insides of the animals and report on the expected success of Caesar’s day at the senate.

Calpurnia enters the scene.  The audience first saw Calpurnia in Act I when Caesar asks Antony to touch her as he ran the race at the feast of the Lupercal.  Caesar would like to have an heir by Calpurnia to assume his rule when he dies.  Caesar and Calpurnia were married in 59 B.C.  She has maintained her fidelity and loyalty to Caesar despite his many affairs. 

Calpurnia tells Caesar that he should not go to the Capitol.  She declares that she never believed in omens, but now she is afraid.  Calpurnia and Caesar have also heard about the weird sights that were seen in the streets of Rome. 

Now, some man has come to their house to give more insight into what the guards have seen.  There was a lion that gave birth in the streets; graves opened up and the dead have arisen. Warriors were seen on fire fighting among the clouds;  and as they fought, blood dribbled down onto Rome. The noise of the battles was heard: horses and men dying and groaning.  Ghosts screamed in the streets.  Calpurnia was beside herself with fear.

Caesar replies that he would go out because these omens were not just for him. Calpurnia asserts that when ordinary men die there are no strange signs in the heavens because they only mark the death of nobility.

In his hubris, Caesar states:

Cowards die many times before their deaths;

The valiant never taste of death but once…

It seems to me most strange that men should fear

Seeing that death, a necessary end,

Will come when it will come.

Caesar correctly emphasizes that man should not worry about death because it comes to all.

The servant returns with the results of the priest and the sacrifice.  In the sacrificial animal, the priests could find no heart in it.  Caesar interrupts this as a sign that he needs to go to the senate because without him the senate would be without its leader.

Again, Calpurnia implores Caesar to stay at home and blame it on her fear.  Her plan is that Marc Antony will say that Caesar is not feeling well.  Calpurnia gets down on her knees and begs him to stay at home.  He agrees. 

Decius Brutus, one of the conspirators, enters. Caesar tells Decius that he will not go out today since Calpurnia has had horrifying dream that showed Caesar’s statue had a hundred opening with blood running out from each. Romans were coming by and bathing their hands in the blood.

Decius reinterprets the dream saying that it meant that the people want to touch Caesar and praise him.  This shames Caesar into going to the Senate.  Calpurnia’s begging has done no good. Caesar never sees his wife again as he leaves for the Capitol and his assassination.

jvbellon's profile pic

jvbellon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Calpurnia warns Caesar to not attend the gathering at the Senate, because of what Caesar calls superstitious wiles.  She pays attention to all of the negative omens set forth (ominous dark skies, the soothsayer's calling, the dreams) and begs him not to go.  Yet, duty calls...Caesar is both too proud and paradoxically too humble to stay at home.  He is so proud that he won't listen to his wife, and so humble that he refuses to neglect his duty to country.