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Act II, Scenes 3 and 4: Summary and Analysis

New Character:
Artemidorus: teacher and friend of some of the conspirators; he has learned about the plot against Caesar

The setting is a Roman street on the ides of March shortly before the planned assassination. Artemidorus, a teacher and friend of some of the conspirators, has learned about the plot to kill Caesar. He has written a letter naming each man and warning Caesar to be on his guard. He plans to wait for Caesar to pass and then present the letter as a suitor looking for a political favor.

At the same time, on another part of the street, an agitated Portia tells Lucius to run to the Capitol and report back to her everything his master, Brutus, says and does. The confused boy is unsure of what the distracted Portia wants him to do and he hesitates. When Portia sees the soothsayer passing by his way to the Capitol, she asks him if he knows about any harm intended toward Caesar. The soothsayer responds, “None that I know will be, much that I fear may chance.” (Sc. 4, 38) He tells her that he plans to speak to Caesar when he passes.

In an aside, Portia wishes Brutus success in his enterprise and she sends Lucius off on his errand.

How Artemidorus learned about the plot is not explained, but his information is correct and up-to-date. His list of conspirators includes Ligarius, who joined Brutus only recently. His letter cautions Caesar against overconfidence. “If thou beest not immortal, look about you. Security gives way to conspiracy.” (Sc. 3, 6–7) It is precisely Caesar’s sense of his own immortality, his attitude that he is a god, that makes him so vulnerable.

Portia’s behavior in Scene 4 indicates that she knows what is about to occur. Because Shakespeare does not say exactly how she knows, we must assume she has either been told by...

(The entire section is 482 words.)