Julius Caesar Act 1 Scene 2 Summary

Instructor: Tommi Waters

TK Waters has a bachelor's degree in literature and religious studies and a master's degree in religious studies and teaches Hebrew Bible at Western Kentucky University.

This lesson will cover the events of Act 1, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar in which we meet Caesar himself, see many of the Romans support him, and learn of threats to Caesar's leadership.

Caesar and His Train

Julius Caesar triumphantly enters a ''public place'' in Rome with his followers. Marcus Antonius (Antony), one of Caesar's friends and supporters, is about to run the traditional race for the feast day Lupercal. Caesar asks him to touch Caesar's wife, Calphurnia, because ''The barren, touched in this holy chase, / Shake off their sterile curse.'' We thus learn that Calphurnia is unable to bear children. It is problematic if a ruler has no heirs, because continuing to reign after his death may fall outside of the family.

After Antony exits to run the race, a soothsayer, or a person who is believed to be able to predict the future, tells Caesar to ''Beware the ides of March.'' Caesar asks Casca to bring the man closer and, after looking at his face, Caesar determines that the man is just ''a dreamer'' and dismisses his warning. This incident acts as foreshadowing (a hint or warning of a future event in the plot) for the audience. Caesar's quick dismissal shows the audience that he does not believe the soothsayer's prediction that he should be careful on the ''ides'' or fifteenth of March.

Bust of Julius Caesar
Bust of Julius Caesar

Cassius and Brutus: Beginnings of Conspiracy

Everyone exits the scene except Cassius and Brutus, friends of Caesar. Cassius asks Brutus about his uncharacteristic behavior, and Brutus replies: ''Vexed I am / Of late with passions of some difference,'' telling Cassius he is concerned with his conflicting thoughts. Cassius says: ''Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?'' to which Brutus replies that he cannot. Cassius tells Brutus that if he could see himself as everyone else in Rome does, that he would realize how respected and worthy he is. Cassius offers to be a ''mirror'' to Brutus to show him how worthy he is of leadership.

When Brutus hears the people of Rome shouting, he says: ''I do fear the people / Choose Caesar for their king.'' Brutus tells Cassius that although Caesar is his friend, he is concerned for his rise to power as a dictator rather than the country being run as a republic based on the votes of senators. Cassius recognizes Brutus' discomfort with Caesar's current role and tries to take advantage of this worry as a way of subverting Caesar. He tells Brutus that there is no reason for Caesar to dominate them because ''I was born free as Caesar; so were you.'' Brutus tells Cassius that he will think about what Cassius has told him.

Caesar's Discomfort

Caesar and his followers reenter the scene. Seeing Cassius, Caesar tells Antony: ''Cassius has a lean and hungry look; / He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.'' Antony reassures Caesar that he need not worry about Cassius, but Caesar is still uncomfortable. As they leave, Caesar asks Antony to tell him what he truly thinks about Cassius.

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