When the play opens, it is February 15, the Feast of Lupercal. How much time has passed when the second act begins in Julius Caesar?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When the second act begins, it is March 15 and a month has passed since the Feast of Lupercal.

At the beginning of the play Julius Caesar, dictator of Rome, is celebrating his victory over his rival Pompey during the Feast of Lupercal in February.  During the festivities, Brutus and Cassius have a conversation about Caesar’s ambition and Mark Antony offers Caesar a crown three times, which he refuses.  At this time, Antony and Caesar also discuss whether or not Cassius is dangerous.  When Caesar comments that Cassius might be dangerous, Antony replies that he is not.

Fear him not, Caesar; he’s not dangerous.

He is a noble Roman, and well given (Act 1, Scene 2)

Caesar replies that he does not fear Cassius though he knows that he should “avoid” him.  He is basically saying that although Cassius is a dangerous man, Caesar is Caesar and fears no one.  He is said to have been well aware of some of the plots against him, but in his arrogance refused to acknowledge them and even use heavy guard (though he usually made sure Mark Antony was by his side).

The soothsayer warned Caesar to beware the ides of March, which is March 15.  When the second act begins, Brutus is pondering what to do about Caesar and it is March 15.  Lucius says, “Sir, March is wasted fifteen days.” (Act 2, Scene 1).  Technically, it is 3 o’clock in the morning when the conspirators arrive after Brutus gives the soliloquy in which he explains why Caesar needs to die.  What would happen if he were “crowned,” according to Brutus?

How that might change his nature, there’s the

It is the bright day that brings forth the adder,

And that craves wary walking. Crown him that,

And then I grant we put a sting in him

That at his will he may do danger with. (Act 2, Scene 1)

Although Cassius has helped to convince him, Brutus had already had misgivings about Caesar’s ambitions.  The two men had been very close, like father and son, so it was a difficult decision for Brutus to make.  He wanted to make sure that the decision was seen as an honorable one, and he also wanted to make sure that he maintained tight control of the conspiracy and its actions.  If they were going to kill Caesar, it was going to be in the right way and for the right reasons.  Therefore it is not Cassius Caesar needs to fear, but Brutus.

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