Act III, Scene 1: Summary and Analysis
Lepidus: one of the three rulers of Rome after Caesar’s death
Publius: elderly Roman senator who escorts Caesar to the Senate
Popilius Lena: senator who wishes success to Cassius
Servant: messenger from Octavius
Caesar arrives at the Senate House on the ides of March. Artemidorus tries to give Caesar his warning letter, as Decius offers Caesar a petition. Artemidorus presses Caesar to read his letter first because it “touches Caesar nearer.” (7) Caesar responds, “What touches us ourself shall be last served.” (8) In other words, he ignores the letter because it is of a personal nature. Cassius is afraid that their plans are known when Popilius, a senator, says to him, “I wish your enterprise today may thrive.” (14)
Cassius tells Casca to act quickly. Trebonius, as prearranged, removes Antony from the scene. Under the pretext of begging repeal of a banishment decree imposed by Caesar on Publius Cimber, brother of Metellus, they surround Caesar and isolate him from the rest of the senators. As Caesar rejects each of their appeals, the conspirators tighten the circle around him. Casca is the first to strike, and, after each of the conspirators attack Caesar, Brutus is the last to stab him. Mortally wounded, Caesar says his last words, “Et tu, Brutè?—Then fall, Caesar,” (85) and dies.
Panic ensues as the senators run from the Senate House. Under the direction of Brutus, the conspirators bathe their hands and swords in Caesar’s blood and prepare to go into the streets. But before they can tell the Romans what has happened, Antony’s servant enters and begs for permission for his master to come and speak to all of them. Brutus agrees, but before Antony’s arrival, Cassius again considers the possibility of killing Antony.
When Antony arrives he tells the conspirators that he is ready to die, if that is their plan. Brutus assures Antony that there is no harm intended toward him, or anyone else. Reassured by Brutus, Antony shakes their bloody hands and asks for permission to bring Caesar’s body to the marketplace and to speak at Caesar’s funeral. Again Brutus is quick to agree, and again Cassius objects. Brutus overrides the objection and tells Antony that he may speak, but only with certain restrictions. Antony may not blame the conspirators for killing Caesar, although he may say good things about Caesar. He must say he speaks by permission from the same pulpit after Brutus speaks.
After they leave, Antony declares his true feelings in a powerful soliloquy. He predicts a violent and bloody civil war, and he vows revenge for Caesar’s death. A messenger arrives with news that young Octavius, Caesar’s nephew, has arrived outside of Rome. Antony tells the messenger to wait until after his funeral speech, and then return to Octavius with news as to whether or not it is safe or not for him to enter Rome. Together they carry Caesar’s body to the marketplace.
Time is running out for Caesar, but there are still two possibilities that may save his life. The first is the soothsayer and the other is Artemidorus. Caesar dismisses the soothsayer when he sees him with his mocking, “The ides of March are come.” (1) Then, he ignores Artemidorus’ letter because it is personal business. Ironically, this man who regards himself as a god, who identifies himself as the center of Rome, who uses the words “us ourself” when he refers to himself, cuts himself off from possible salvation by putting himself last.
Fearing detection because their security has been compromised, Cassius indicates he will kill himself rather than live under Caesar. But it becomes clear that Popilius, a senator who wishes Cassius well, does not intend to warn Caesar, and the conspirators are free to carry out their plan. Trebonius is the only conspirator who doesn’t stab Caesar. His purpose is to lead Antony off and prevent him from coming to Caesar’s aid.
As he begins the day’s proceedings, Caesar’s ego is...
(The entire section is 1,265 words.)