Act I, Scene 1
On a street in Rome, two tribunes named Flavius and Marullus are angrily confronting a crowd of commoners. Rome used to be ruled by a triumvirate of three men, but because of the recent civil war, Julius Caesar has emerged as the single most powerful man in Rome. This troubles Flavius and Marullus because they think that Caesar’s growing power will threaten the stability of the Republic. They yell at the commoners for celebrating Caesar’s return, reminding them that they once supported Pompey, one of the triumvirate who was killed in the civil war. After they drive the commoners off the streets, Flavius and Marullus decide to remove all the decorations from statues of Caesar.
Act I, Scene 2
Caesar and a procession of people—including his wife, Calphurnia; his friends; and a few conspirators against him—are on their way to the Coliseum for a celebratory footrace. On the way there, a soothsayer calls out a warning to Caesar, telling him to “Beware the ides of March.” Caesar dismisses the man, and the procession continues to the Coliseum. However, Brutus and Cassius remain behind. Brutus tells Cassius that he has been distracted by conflicting emotions lately, admitting he is afraid that the people have chosen Caesar to be king. Cassius takes this opportunity to start undermining Caesar as a man who is too weak to be a sole ruler. After this conversation, the games end and the rest of the procession return. When Caesar sees Brutus and Cassius together, he feels uneasy, but dismisses the threat because of his vain self-assurance. He and his followers leave, but a sarcastic tribune named Casca stays to tell Brutus and Cassius what happened at the race. Apparently, Antony presented Caesar with a symbolic crown three times, and Caesar refused it each time. When Casca describes how Caesar fainted afterward (he has epilepsy), Casca reveals that he doesn’t approve of Caesar. The scene ends with a soliloquy by Cassius. He reveals that he is conspiring against Caesar and wants to trick Brutus into joining the conspiracy.
Act I, Scene 3
A month later, on the night before the ides of March, there is a storm raging in Rome. Casca meets Cicero, a senator, on the streets and describes all the frightening and unusual signs he has witnessed lately. Then Casca meets Cassius, who is not concerned at all about the storm because he thinks they are divine warnings against Caesar. Cassius tells Casca that the senators plan to make Caesar king and convinces Casca to join the plot to kill Caesar. Another conspirator, Cinna, enters and tells them that the other conspirators are waiting at Pompey’s Theater. They decide to first go to Brutus’s house and give him one last push to join the conspiracy.
(The entire section is 1859 words.)