Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar begins on the Feast of the Lupercal on February 15, 44 B.C. In one month, Caesar will be assassinated. On this day, most of the Roman citizens are out in the streets to celebrate fertility and the triumphant return of Caesar from his battle in Spain with the sons of Pompey.
Pompey was also been defeated by Caesar. Their disputes ended with a civil war and the decapitated body of Pompey. Many of the senators and tribunes liked Pompey and disliked Caesar’s lust for power.
Flavius and Marullus are tribunes. Their responsibility was to care for the interests of the common man. When they find the workers in the streets, they try to stave off the commemoration of Caesar’s exploits.
The tribunes were avid supporters of Pompey and resented the fact that not too long ago these same people yelled and threw flowers in the path of Pompey. Now, Caesar comes in triumph from the death of Pompey and his sons.
Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft
Have you climb'd up to walls and battlements, To towers and windows, yea, to chimney tops,
Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
The live-long day with patient expectation
To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome
Another problem about which the tribunes are troubled is the Roman Republic. They fear just as the assassins that Caesar will allow his power to negatively impact Rome and its citizens. When Flavius and Marullus decide to pull the decorations from Caesar’s statues, their hope is that they will weaken the popular support for Caesar.