What actions in Julius Caesar demonstrate Caesar's ambition?

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The effect of ambition in Julius Caesar is most notably seen during the assassination of Caesar, for example when Brutus says,"This was the noblest Roman of them all. All the conspirators save only he did that they did in envy of great Caesar; He only, in a general honest thought and common good to all, made one of them." This shows that he feels it's his duty and destiny to kill Caesar because he knows it will be better for Rome.

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Julius Caesar showed he was ambitious by marching on Rome when Pompey was in power and then defeating Pompey’s army in the civil war. Caesar felt he was in the right to do this because he felt Pompey was abusing his power, but it was considered a very unnecessary and...

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brutal action by many of Rome’s important citizens.

Shakespeare shows us the importance of Pompey's defeat — and the triumph that followed — through Marullus’s speech to the craftsmen in the first scene.

And do you now strew flowers in his way
That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood? Be gone!
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude (Act I, Scene 1).

Cassius convinced Brutus that Caesar was ambitious and determined to become king. It was not difficult to do, as Brutus was unhappy about the incident with Pompey. The incident at the Feast of Lupercal just served to reinforce the conspirators' fears. Mark Antony offered a crown to Caesar three times. He refused it three times, but Brutus and Cassius felt the incident seemed staged.


What means this shouting? I do fear, the people
Choose Caesar for their king.


Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so (Act I, Scene 2).

Caesar is certainly ambitious. He is also arrogant, as shown by the way he refuses to listen to the soothsayer's warnings or read Artemidorus's letter. Caesar also doesn’t listen to the suit brought by the conspirators, in which they try to get him to pardon Publius Cimber. Caesar basically tells them that when he makes a decision, he sticks to it. This refusal to listen only reinforces the idea that Caesar is dangerously arrogant.

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What is an example of ambition in Julius Caesar?

The play is set at a time and a place when ambition was everything in politics. Indeed, the Roman Republic was constantly in turmoil because of the ambitions of various individuals and factions. Julius Caesar is himself highly ambitious. He's made his way to the top of the Roman political system due largely to his exceptional achievements on the battlefield. His peerless skill as a general has allowed to him become a dictator, effectively bringing to an end several centuries of republican rule. And it is Caesar's all-consuming ambition that leads directly to his assassination.

Although in terms of substance, the Roman Republic may have been little more than an oligarchy, most citizens still paid lip service to the idea of a republic and all that it symbolized. The Romans had overthrown a king many centuries before; anything that hinted of a return to monarchical rule was to be violently rejected.

This is the main reason why Caesar was murdered: many in the Roman political class genuinely feared that he wanted to make himself king. Although we discover in act 1, scene 2 that Caesar made a public show of refusing the crown three times, few are convinced of his sincerity. In fact, Caesar's participation in this very public charade simply serves to confirm the conspirators' worst fears. Caesar may publicly forswear the trappings of kingship, but the substance of his ambition still remains. King or not, he will act and behave like one unless he is stopped.

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What is an example of ambition in Julius Caesar?

The play Julius Caesar is, to a large degree, about ethics and ambition in politics. Rome had, for many centuries, been a Republic but that form of political organization masked a problem that in fact much of the control of the state was in the hands of a patrician oligarchy dominating the Senate. Caesar, as many of the subsequent emperors, played off the plebeians against the patricians using "bread and circuses" to bribe them to essentially cede the little voice they had in the government. 

The first character who is ambitious is Caesar himself. He is a somewhat ambiguous figure though, as he is actually a decent leader, but his becoming what was essentially a dictator marked the end of a participatory political process, although in Caesar's favor it can be said that the Republic had become essentially dysfunctional when he formed the first triumvirate. The degree to which Caesar was genuinely a champion of the plebeians vs. acting out of personal ambition is debatable.

Of the conspirators, Cassius especially and most of the others, are members of the patrician faction whose opposition to Caesar has to do with personal ambition, greed, and jealousy, as Brutus points out in the lines:

Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself
Are much condemned to have an itching palm,
To sell and mart your offices for gold

The one exception among the conspirators is Brutus, "the noblest Roman of them all", who acts out of a sense of ethics and a belief in the ideal of the Republic. 

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What is an example of ambition in Julius Caesar?

The clearest example of ambition in the play can be found in Caesar. Julius Caesar is assassinated, in large part, because of what the conspirators saw as his great ambition. He wanted to become the supreme ruler of Rome and to end its democracy, while "...the conspirators are champions of popular rule."

The conspiracy aimed to end this ambition and to ensure that the political body of Rome remained democratic in principle. 

Immediately after Caesar is slain, Brutus proclaims to his fellow conspirators that "ambition's debt is paid" (III.i.82).

Caesar's goal is the first and most clear example of ambition in the play, but not the only act that can be read as a symptom of ambition. 

The conspiracy seeks to ensure that the republic remains democratic in nature, however, those who lead the conspiracy stand to gain considerable power for themselves after Caesar is killed. Brutus is talked into participating via a play upon his principles and his vanity. 

Brutus feels that he is capable of leadership and he expects to gain some power for himself when Caesar is removed. 

Finally, Marc Antony acts on his own ambitions, grasping the mantle of leadership and using the conspiracy's actions as a convenient launch for his own vault into leadership. 

...the most ambitious of the play's characters is not Caesar or Brutus, but Mark Antony, who exploits the situation at hand...

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What are some examples of effects of ambition in Julius Caesar?

The most notable effect of ambition in the play is, of course, Caesar's assassination. Caesar had already made himself dictator of Rome; Brutus and the other conspirators thought he wanted to go one better and make himself king, thus destroying the Republic and making slaves of the Roman people. Brutus's ambition is to save the Republic before it's too late, and there's an element of personal ambition here, too, because Brutus sees it as his destiny to save it. Cassius plays upon this overriding sense of destiny to get Brutus involved in the plot to murder Caesar.

Cassius is also driven by personal ambition, but, unlike Brutus, he isn't at the same time motivated by more noble considerations. He sees the overthrow of Caesar as a golden opportunity for enrichment and personal advancement. For Cassius, getting rid of Caesar will make him a very powerful and influential figure in the restored Roman Republic, and so he's not about to lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Mark Antony and Octavius are interesting characters in that, like Brutus, personal ambition is inextricably linked with political ambition. Both men desperately want to avenge Caesar's murder, but they're also firmly focused on the bigger picture, on what kind of political system will be established once the civil war has been won and the traitors dealt with.

It's no surprise to find Mark Antony and Octavius already dividing up the political spoils of victory between them before the war's even been won. Nor, for that matter, is it strange to see them drawing up proscribed lists of those men they deem politically unreliable and who will have to be executed once the new order has been established.

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What are some examples of effects of ambition in Julius Caesar?

There is ambition at work in many of the characters in the play.  Julius Caesar is assassinated because many of the other characters feel that he is too ambitious.  Their ambition, on the other hand, is what leads them to assassinate him.  They are ambitious enough to believe that they can do it and have that right.

Brutus, Cassius, and the other conspirators believed that Caesar wanted to make himself king of Rome. They were concerned that if they did not stop him he would continue grabbing power.  His march on Rome and the civil war against Pompey shook them.  Shakespeare alludes to this in the beginning scene with the commoners and Marullus and Flavius.

After killing Caesar, Brutus does not desire to replace himself as king.  He just wants to explain to the people that Caesar was too ambitious to live. He explains how much he loves Rome.

I weep for him;
as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was
valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I
slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his
fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his
ambition. (Act 3, Scene 2)

Brutus’s ambition is to rule Rome as a republic, as it was designed to be.  He is an idealist.  His speech, noble and ambitiously naïve, is followed by Mark Antony’s bombastic patriotism.  Antony does not excuse Caesar.  He carefully accuses Brutus and the others, and questions their charges of Caesar’s ambition, reminding the citizens what Caesar did for Rome. 

He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?(Act 3, Scene 2)

We can’t talk about ambition without mentioning Octavius.  He is by far the most ambitious character in the play.  Most of his actions are subtle.  He is young, but he does not bow to Antony and follow his lead.  He takes most of Brutus and Cassius’s soldiers after his side wins the battle.  The fact that he has the last lines at the end of the play indicates that his plans are far-reaching.  Notice that he takes Brutus’s body, countering slightly Antony's comments about Brutus being the noblest Roman.


According to his virtue let us use him,
With all respect and rites of burial.
Within my tent his bones to-night shall lie,
Most like a soldier, order'd honourably.
So call the field to rest; and let's away,
To part the glories of this happy day. (Act 5, Scene 5)

Octavius will later be extremely important to the history of Rome, and world history.  He was Rome’s first emperor.  His efforts to eliminate the competition, especially Mark Antony, are chronicled in Antony and Cleopatra.

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What are some examples from the text and explanations showing Julius Caesar's ambition?

In Julius Caesar, when Caesar espies Cassius, he becomes anxious about his power being threatened; he tells Antony,

Let me have men about me that are fat,

Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep a-nights.

Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;

He thinks too much:  such men are dangerous....Such men as he be never at heart's ease

Whiles they behold a greater than themselves (l.2.198-215)

In Act I, also, Casca tells Brutus that Caesar refused a crown three times when Marc Antony offered it to them.

...I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown--and, as I told you, he put it by once; but for all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it.  Then he offered it to him again; then he put it by again; but to my thinking, he was very loath to lay his fingers off it.  And then he offered it the third time.  He put it the third time by; and still as he refused it, the rabblement hooted, and clapped their copt hands, and threw up their sweaty nightcaps....(1.2.241-250)

If Caesar were not hungry for power, he would not make such a show of refusing the crown, Casca argues.  Casca states that Caesar has fallen in the market place, but

before he fell down, when he perceived the common herd was glad he refused the crown, he plucked me ope his doublet and offered them his throat to cut.....When he came to himself again, he said, if he had done or said anything amiss, he desired their worships to think it was his infirmity.(1.2.267-274)

Cassius contends that Caesar's theatrics are meant to trick the people, in his desire to win the people over in his desire for property.  Cassius blames the people for allowing Caesar to become so powerful:

...if Caesar had stabbed their mothers, they would have done no less. (1.2.277)

Anxiety about anyone else who looks eager for advancement, dramatic about being the "mighty Caesar" of the people--these are the arguments that Cassius and Casca use to convince Brutus that Caesar desires to be powerful, words to convince Brutus that Caesar will become a tyrant.

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What are some examples from the text and explanations showing Julius Caesar's ambition?

In Act 2.2 of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Caesar at one point decides not to go to the Senate today.  His wife doesn't want him to go, and a dream she has seems to be a bad omen.  The conspirators are planning to assassinate him on his way to the Senate, of course, so they need Caesar to go.

Decius accomplishes this by appealing to his ambition.  He tells Caesar:

...the Senate have concluded

To give this day a crown to mighty Caesar.

If you shall send them word you will not come,

Their minds may change.  Besides, it were a mock

Apt to be rendered, for someone to say

"Break up the Senate till another time,

When Caesar's wife shall meet with better dreams."

If Caesar hide himself, shall they not whisper

"Lo, Caesar is afraid"?

Pardon me, Caesar, for my dear dear love

To your proceeding bids me tell you this,

And reason to my love is liable.  (Act 2.2.97-109)

Caesar, convinced, answers:

How foolish do your fears seem now, Calphurnia!

I am ashamed I did yield to them.

Give me my robe, for I will go.  (Act 2.2.110-112)

This demonstrates Caesar's ambition.  The thought of being crowned is just too much to pass up.  This also shows that when Caesar three times rejected the crown offered him by Antony, he was just posturing and appearing to reject it.  He wants the crown, or he would not be so quick to change his mind and go to the Senate in the above passages.

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