What is significant about the way Caesar opens the senatorial session?

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goreadabook's profile pic

goreadabook | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Caesar opens the senatorial session in Act III Scene I by saying, "Are we all ready?  What is now amiss that Caesar and his Senate must redress?"  The significance of this bit of dialogue is that Caesar is referring to the senate as belonging to him.  This is an indirect way of saying that he believes himself to be above the Republic of Rome and, therefore, more powerful than the body of senators who assist him.  This very attitude is what the conspirators fear most about Caesar.  They believe his ambition will eventually cause him to become a tyrant, and that particular phrase almost foreshadows what may come if Caesar were to remain in power.

andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In his opening address in Act 3, Scene 1, Caesar asks two questions which are significant in that they not only indicate his frame of mind and his attitude at this particular instant but are also a form of both situational and dramatic irony.

Caesar opens the session by asking, "Are we all ready?" It is ironic that he should ask this question. He obviously wants to know whether the senators are prepared to start proceedings. What he does not know is that Cassius, Brutus, and the other conspirators have planned to assassinate him during this very meeting. They have made sure that they are all in a position to attack him as soon as the opportunity presents itself, and his question ironically alludes to their readiness to launch their assault.

The situational irony lies in the fact that Caesar thinks that he is safe since he is surrounded by men of influence, authority, and integrity. He trusts the majority of the senators, and he does not perceive any threat. He is, however, in the greatest danger at this moment. This is dramatically ironic because the audience knows about the conspirators' malicious intent.

Caesar's second question,

What is now amiss
That Caesar and his senate must redress?

is significant because, firstly, it indicates that things in the state of Rome are not all well. Rome has problems that need resolution. The use of "now" also signifies a somewhat annoyed tone as when a displeased parent asks a bothersome child, "What is it now?" Furthermore, Caesar's use of illeism (referring to himself in the third person) indicates a superior attitude. Caesar sees himself as a demigod who is both beyond reproach and invincible. The use of the possessive "his" when he refers to the Senate accentuates his dictatorial and supercilious approach. Caesar seems to believe that the Senate belongs to him and that its members will bend to his will. It is patently ironic that the general should have this view, because it is exactly this attitude that has moved the plotters to get rid of him. They fear his tyranny if he should become emperor.

In the final analysis, then, it is Caesar's attitude that makes him his own worst enemy, for he gives his enemies enough fodder to feed their hate.