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Act I, Scene 3: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Cicero: a Roman senator and orator

Cinna: a conspirator against Caesar

It is the night before the ides of March, and a terrible storm is raging. A frightened Casca, with his sword drawn, meets Cicero on a Roman street. Casca describes to Cicero all the unusual things he has witnessed: heaven “dropping fire,” a man with his hand ablaze but not burning, a lion in the Capitol, an owl hooting in the marketplace at noon, and men on fire walking through the streets. Casca interprets all these signs to mean either the gods are engaged in civil war, or they are determined to destroy Rome. They mention Caesar’s plans to be at the Capitol in the morning, and Cicero exits as Cassius enters.

Cassius is unconcerned about the storm and tells Casca that he has been daring the lightning to strike him. When Casca says all these terrible things are signs from the gods, Cassius interprets them as warnings against Caesar. Casca reveals that the senators plan to make Caesar king, and give him a crown that he may wear “every place save here in Italy.” (91) Cassius says he would rather kill himself than see Caesar made king. He tells Casca of a plot to kill Caesar, and convinces him to join the conspiracy.

Cinna, another conspirator, enters and reports to Cassius that the others are waiting for him at Pompey’s Porch, the covered entrance to the theater built by Pompey. Cassius gives Cinna some letters and instructs him to leave them where Brutus will find them. When Cinna leaves, Cassius tells Casca that Brutus is almost convinced to join them, and that one final push “yields him ours.” (161) Casca rightly states that Brutus is well-respected in Rome, and his joining the conspiracy will give it respectability. Act I ends with them heading for Brutus’ house to “wake him and be sure of him.” (169)

A month has passed, and there is a storm raging, symbolizing the political storm unfolding in Rome. Caesar, the head of state, is on the brink of assassination, and the natural order in Roman society is being threatened. Casca, like many Romans, is superstitious. He interprets these unusual events as evil omens. The gods, he thinks, are bent on destroying Rome.

Cassius sees Caesar’s unbridled power as a greater evil and the surest way to destroying the Roman Republic. In his meeting with Casca, he reveals himself to be unafraid and undisturbed by events. Cassius is confident, openly daring the lightning to strike him. His mood is almost joyful as he and the other conspirators plan to rid Rome of a tyrant. Cassius calls the evening “A very pleasing night to honest men,” (46) indicating that he regards his plans to kill Caesar as just and necessary. Cassius uses a similar approach to discover Casca’s feelings toward Caesar and recruit him into his plot as he did with Brutus. He tells Casca that Romans have grown weak...

(The entire section is 741 words.)