Act II, Scene 2: Summary and Analysis
It is almost eight o’clock in the morning on the ides of March at Caesar’s house. Caesar is awakened by Calphurnia crying out in her sleep. Caesar orders his servant to have the priests sacrifice an animal and bring back word of the results. Calphurnia asks her husband to stay at home because she is afraid he will be murdered, but the proud and haughty Caesar refuses to take her warning. Caesar’s servant returns with word from the augurers (priests), who want Caesar to remain inside because, “They could not find a heart within the beast.” (43)
Caesar interprets this differently. He says, “The gods do this in shame of cowardice. / Caesar should be a beast without a heart / If he should stay at home today for fear.” (44–46) It is only when Calphurnia kneels and begs him to stay home for her sake that Caesar agrees.
As planned, Decius arrives to escort Caesar to the Senate. Caesar tells him to take word to the senators that he intends to remain home. When Decius presses him for a reason, Caesar tells him of Calphurnia’s dream, where she saw a statue of Caesar oozing blood in a hundred places, with many Romans bathing their hands in it. However, Decius interprets the dream in a favorable way. He says that Caesar is the lifeblood of Rome, and the men bathing in his blood are gaining strength from him. Decius also appeals to Caesar’s pride. He tells him that the senators might think Caesar is afraid if he does not show up because Calphurnia had bad dreams. Decius’ appeal changes Caesar’s mind. He decides to ignore his wife’s fears and go to the Senate. Brutus, Cassius, and the others arrive in time to put more pressure on Caesar. The scene ends with them leaving together for the Senate House.
This scene parallels the preceding scene, where Portia influences Brutus, only to be interrupted by Ligarius. Here Calphurnia convinces Caesar to stay at home, only to have Decius interrupt, changing Caesar’s mind.
Superstition and supernatural forces again play an important part in this scene. In an attempt to convince her husband to stay home, Calphurnia describes fantastic events she has witnessed or heard about, and interprets them as omens meant to warn Caesar. She tells of graves yielding up their dead, a lioness giving birth in the streets of the city, and blood dripping from the clouds onto the Capitol, events similar to those extraordinary occurrences mentioned earlier by Casca. Calphurnia pleads with Caesar to give into her fears. “Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies, / But now they fright me.” (13–14) But because of his pride, Caesar is unmoved. He says, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; / The valiant never taste of death but...
(The entire section is 732 words.)