March 15, 44. B. C.---This is the day that Julius Caesar hopes that the Senate will crown him the emperor of Rome. Shakespeare’s drama Julius Caesar portrays the assassination of Caesar. In Act II, Scene ii, Caesar awakes to his wife Calpurnia’s screaming in her sleep.
During the night, there was a terrible storm. Caesar comments that nothing was peaceful. He remarks that Calpurnia had cried out that “Help, ho! They murder Caesar!”
Because of the unusual events of the night and morning, Caesar decides to send his servant to the augers or priests to sacrifice an animal and read its entrails which would give indications about the future.
Calpurnia comes into find Caesar getting ready to go to the Senate. As his wife, Calpurnia feels comfortable in telling the great Caesar not to go out of the house on this day. He has already received warnings about this day. Why take a chance?
Caesar in his arrogance tells his wife that he has never turned his back on his enemies. When he turns to face them, the threats run away.
Calpurnia tries again to persuade him not to go. She recounts what happened in the streets of Rome on the previous day. Someone has come to the house to tell about the things that happened.
- A lioness gave birth in the streets
- The dead have risen from their graves
- Soldiers on fire were fighting in the clouds in battle
- The soldier’s blood rained down on the city
- The noises of battle could be heard from the sky—horses and dying men
- Ghosts screeched through the streets
Calpurnia tells Caesar that she is afraid. The signs indicate that a great man is going to die.
The servant returns with the results of their prophecies:
They would not have you to stir forth today.
Plucking the entrails of an offering forth,
They could not find a heart within the beast.
Caesar interprets the prophecy which means that the government is missing its leader. He must go and assume his place of leadership. After further discussion and for the sake of his wife’s well being, Caesar agrees not to go.
One of the conspirators comes to Caesar’s house to make sure that he is ready to go to the senate. Caesar tells him that he is not going. Decius questions Caesar about why he will not attend. This irritates Caesar; but he tells him his reasons:
He tells Decius that Calpurnia had a dream and that she asked him to stay at home. She recalled that she saw Caesar’s statue which had a hundred holes spouting blood. The Roman senators were bathing their hands in Caesar’s blood. Calpurnia took this as a sign that it would be dangerous for Caesar to go out today.
…On her knee
hath begg’d that I will stay at home today.
To make sure that Caesar comes to the Senate, the quick-witted Decius reinterprets the dream. He tells Caesar that this is a favorable dream. Caesar’s statue pouring out blood from the many pipes with smiling Romans bathing their hands in it signifies that Rome draws its life blood from the great Caesar. Many Romans will want to bathe their hands in this blood because of its healing powers.
Signifies that from you great Rome shall suck
Reviving blood, and that great men shall press
For tinctures, stains, relies, and cognizance.
This by Calpurnia’s dream is signified.
Immediately, the other conspirators arrive which encourages Caesar to join them. After their hospitality at Caesar’s house. They set out then for the assassination that changed the Roman world.