Conspirators in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Many Romans participate in the conspiracy to kill Caesar in William Shakespeare's ''Julius Caesar''. Although their motives vary, each man who plays a role in the assassination is publicly called out by Antony and marked with Caesar's blood.

Many Killers

At least a half dozen people participate in the political assassination of Julius Caesar, a play written by William Shakespeare and based on historical events. Although some of the conspirators have other reasons, most of them are driven to kill by the ambition they see in Caesar. Like Brutus, a Roman politician and friend of Caesar, most of the conspirators do not want to see Rome ruled by an emperor. They fear this is what Caesar desires and although they may like him personally, they are determined to thwart his political ambitions.


Caesar calls attention to Cassius, sensing that he is up to something. Caesar tells Antony, Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. Caesar sees the striving look of ambition in Cassius and he is rightfully nervous about what Cassius may do. Cassius then manipulates Brutus by sending him forged letters claiming the Roman people support a move to kill Caesar. Cassius is a shrewd political theorist, and he knows that having a well-respected man like Brutus in the conspiracy will lend credence to the assassination plot.


Brutus is torn about joining the conspirators. He loves Caesar and he believes the Roman citizens should determine for themselves what kind of government they want. Cassius' letters, however, convince Brutus that the citizens do not desire to be ruled by an emperor, and so he joins the plot to kill his friend, Caesar. Brutus is last to stab Caesar and as Caesar dies he remarks on Brutus' surprising betrayal. Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar, he cries.


Casca joins the plot after watching in disgust as Caesar and Antony act out a scene for the benefit of the crowd. Casca sees Antony offer the crown three times to Caesar. Caesar refuses the crown each time, an act designed to hide his true ambition of becoming emperor from the ragged crowd watching the spectacle.


Decius plays an important role in Caesar's murder as well. Calpurnia, Caesar's wife, has a nightmare and convinces Caesar to stay home from the Senate on the Ides of March (or the 15th of May). When Decius arrives to escort Caesar to the Senate, he is able to convince him to set aside superstition and go to the Senate as planned. Decius, of course, knows that the assassins await Caesar and thus leads him to his death.

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