In Julius Caesar, what are the supernatural events and which characters are affected by them?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shakespeare's audiences were fascinated with supernatural events, frequently believing in them as reality rather than acts of imagination. Shakespeare gave his audiences what they enjoyed; many of his plays include supernatural presences, such as the ghost of Hamlet's father and the witches in Macbeth.

In Julius Caesar, Act II is rife with supernatural events. The night before Caesar's assassination, strange occurrences break out in Rome. A terrible storm shakes the city; warriors do battle upon the clouds; blood rains down on Rome; a lioness gives birth in the city streets; graves have opened up and "yielded up their dead." Ghosts have appeared to "shriek and squeal about the streets." Calpurnia is terrified by these supernatural events, seeing them as signs that Caesar is headed for destruction. She tells Caesar, "The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes." Caesar dismisses her fears and goes to the Senate where he is assassinated.

Calpurnia's strange dream may also be viewed as a supernatural event since it came true. Her dream of Caesar's statue pouring blood while Romans bathe in it becomes reality when his body bleeds from many wounds after being mortally wounded by the conspirators. They cover their arms "up to the elbows" in Caesar's blood.

Another important supernatural event occurs when the ghost of Caesar appears to Brutus in his tent before Brutus and Cassius meet Antony and Octavius in battle at Philippi. Caesar's ghost tells Brutus "thou shalt see me at Philippi." Brutus is shaken by the ghost's appearance, wanting to hear more before the ghost disappears. When no more information is forthcoming, Brutus orders that Cassius lead his forces to Philippi immediately, with Brutus to follow. Brutus will not wait for his fate to come to him. He seeks it.

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Julius Caesar

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