What was in Caesar's will for the Roman citizens in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare?

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In Caesar's will, he gives seventy-five drachmas to every Roman citizen and bequeaths his private gardens and newly planted orchards on both sides of the Tiber River to the public.

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Caesar's generosity to the common people of Rome, the plebs, shows just why they loved him so much. According to Mark Antony, the late dictator has bequeathed in his will the princely sum of seventy-five drachmas to every Roman citizen. That this is a substantial sum of money can be seen by the reactions of the second and third plebeians:

Most noble Caesar! We'll revenge his death.

O royal Caesar! (III, ii, 235–236)

But in the words of a thousand infomercials, “But wait, there's more!” Not only has Caesar generously splashed the cash to the plebs who adored him, he's also left to the common people of Rome his walkways, private gardens, and newly-planted orchards. From now on, what was once private property will be public pleasures that the plebs and their descendants will enjoy forever.

This particular part of Caesar's will is important because it attempts to show his identification with the Roman people. In giving the plebs unfettered access to what were once his private walkways and gardens, he's consciously effacing the distinction between himself and the people upon which his power was largely based.

The plebeians always believed that Caesar, despite his aristocratic background, was really one of them. The particulars of his will merely confirm them in the truth of their convictions.

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Following Julius Caesar's assassination, Mark Antony intends to incite a riot at the funeral and stir the crowd to mutiny against Brutus, Cassius, and the other conspirators. During Mark Antony's moving oration, he portrays Julius Caesar as a benevolent, selfless ruler, which contradicts Brutus's claim that he was a self-serving, ambitious politician. Throughout Antony's oration, he creates sympathy for Caesar by highlighting his positive attributes and depicting him as a generous, humble man. One of Antony's tactics is to use Caesar's will to persuade the crowd to revolt. He recognizes that Caesar's will is solid proof of his love for Rome and will win over the crowd when they discover that they are his heirs.

Antony creates suspense before reading Caesar's will by stating that he has no intention of reading it aloud because it would influence the citizens to "kiss dead Caesar’s wounds / And dip their napkins in his sacred blood" (3.2.131–132). When the crowd begs to hear it read, Antony responds by saying it isn't appropriate for them to know how much Caesar loved Rome because it would only make them mad. Antony brilliantly manipulates the crowd's emotions by displaying false modesty and suggesting that they mutiny when they listen to the will. After Antony instructs them to make a circle around Caesar's corpse and shows them the specific wounds inflicted by the senators, he finally reads the will. According to Antony, Caesar's will gives seventy-five drachmas to every citizen and bequeaths his private gardens and newly planted orchards on both sides of the Tiber River to the public. Once the crowd discovers that they are Caesar's heirs, they immediately revolt, and chaos ensues.

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In Act III, Scene ii, of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Marc Antony gives his powerful funeral oration for Julius Caesar. His purpose was to expose the assassins as murderers and to incite the people of Rome  to not be supportive of the conspirators. 

He used several tactics in accomplishing his goals.  One of the powerful tools was Caesar's will.  In an effort to prove that Caesar loved Rome and its citizens, the will would should that he was giving a great deal to the people. Antony entices the crowd several times with the will until they are begging him to read it: 

Why, friends, you go to do you know not what.
Wherein hath Caesar thus deserved your loves?
Alas, you know not; I must tell you then.
You have forgot the will I told you of.
Here is the will, and under Caesar's seal.

In the will:

  • Caesar gave every man seventy-five drachmas. [In today's economy, the seventy-five drachmas would be worth about $277.00.]
  • Caesar bequeathed his newly planted orchards and arbors to the people.

In other words, Caesar donated all of the land that he owned on the Rome side of the Tiber River that had been made into parks and gardens.  These would be used for the people to have recreation. This would be much like the parks that are found in large cities that are devoted to the enjoyment of the public. 

The people were shocked and angered by the murder of such a great man that would share his wealth with the common man. They set out to find and kill the assassins. 

The will was not just made up by Shakespeare for his play.  There actually was a will of Caesar. It was retrieved by his father-in-law and brought to be read by Antony.  The people of Rome were given a percentage of his wealth. 

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