What is the mood of Act II, scene 2 of Julius Caesar?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is an ominous and foreboding mood in Act II, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar.

Certainly, the weather is ominous, as the thunder and lightning threaten in the heavens. Caesar himself observes, 

Nor heaven nor earth have been at peace tonight:
Thrice hath Calpurnia in her sleep cried out,
"Help, ho! They murder Caesar...." (2.2.1-3)

Shortly after his words, Calpurnia enters and reports ominous happenings that the watchman has witnessed--

  • The watchman has seen "horrid sights" of a lioness whelping (giving birth) in the streets.
  • Graves have opened and the dead issued forth with military formations coming from the clouds that then engaged in battle.
  • Blood has drizzled down upon the Capitol and the din of battle clashed in the air.
  • Horses have neighed and dying men groaned.
  • Ghosts have screamed and shrieked in the streets. 

Caesar tells his wife that these omens can apply to rest of the world as well as to them. Yet, he expresses a certain fatalism:

...death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come (2.2.36-37)

There are other omens, as well; for example, a servant reports that the augurers, religious officials in Rome who interpret and foretell events, have reported that a sacrificial animal had no heart in it. But, Caesar retorts that if he were to not go to the Senate House, he himself would be a beast without a heart. Still, Calpurnia begs her husband on this Ides of March to not go forth, but to send word that he is ill instead.

When Decius arrives in order to escort Caesar to the Senate, Caesar tells him of his wife's dream in which she saw his statue bleeding like a fountain while other Romans came toward this fountain, and with smiles on their faces, they bathed their hands in this blood. Caesar tells Decius, that Calpurnia considers this dream as an omen and begs her husband to stay home.
Decius interprets this dream in another manner, 

Your statue spouting blood in many pipes,
In which so many smiling Roman bathed,
Signifies that from you great Rome shall suck
Reviving blood, and that great men shall press
For tinctures, stains, relics, and cognizance. (2.2.85-89)

Decius here suggests to Caesar that people will beg for badges that indicate they are his servants; to the audience, he suggests that people will desire remembrances of his death. He has thus fed Caesar's ego. Further, Decius provokes Caesar into going to the Senate by asking,

If Caesar hid himself, shall they not whisper,
"Lo, Caesar if afraid?" (2.2.100-101)

Influenced by Decius, Caesar rejects Calpurnia's dream, as well as all the omens and disturbances of the heavens.  Therefore, when the others enter, among them Antony and Brutus, he departs for the Senate. 


Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial