TK Waters has been an adjunct professor of religion at Western Kentucky University for six years. They have a master's degree in religious studies from Western Kentucky University and a bachelor's degree in English literature and religious studies from Western Kentucky University.
Nightmares and Bad Omens
As Act 2, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar opens, we see Caesar pacing in his nightgown through his house as the storm rages outside. Caesar claims he has had trouble sleeping because ''Thrice hath Calphurnia in her sleep cried out, 'Help, ho! they murder Caesar!''' Calphurnia, Caesar's wife, is having nightmares of Caesar dying which concerns Caesar. He calls for his servant, telling him to have the priests make a sacrifice to the gods and to let him know if it is successful.
Calphurnia enters after the servant leaves, telling Caesar not to leave the house today. She tells him that there are too many bad omens, warnings of something bad that is going to happen, for him to go to the Senate today. Calphurnia says she never pays attention to omens, but her nightmares combined with the sights on the previous night of ghosts roaming the streets and a lioness giving birth make her afraid. Caesar replies that she should not be scared because the omens probably apply to the whole world, not just him, and that the gods' minds cannot be changed if they have decided Caesar should die. Caesar claims that fearing death is ridiculous, and only causes people to live in fear; he says: ''Cowards die many times before their deaths; / The valiant never taste of death but once.''
When Caesar's servant returns from talking to the priests, he reports that Caesar should stay home today because the priests ''could not find a heart within the beast.'' He claims this is an omen that harm will befall Caesar. Though Caesar continues claiming he will go to the Senate anyway, he eventually relents because Calphurnia is extremely worried for his safety.
Flattery and Caesar's Bad Decision
Decius, one of the secret conspirators, enters Caesar's house to escort him to the Senate, as Caesar had originally planned. Caesar, however, tells Decius he will not be going today, and Calphurnia tells Decius to tell the Senate he is sick. Caesar replies that he will not lie and that Decius should tell them: ''The cause is in my will: I will not come; / That is enough to satisfy the senate.'' Nevertheless, he says that since Decius is his friend, he will tell him the real reason he is staying home. He tells Decius that Calphurnia had dreams of Caesar's statue being overrun with blood and that the Romans were bathing their hands in it, celebrating his death.
Decius, trying to encourage Caesar to go to the Senate, tells Caesar that Calphurnia's interpretation of these dreams is wrong. He says: ''It was a vision fair and fortunate,'' and that the Romans were merely celebrating Caesar's rise to power and relishing in the strength he provides them. Knowing Caesar's susceptibility to flattery, Decius reveals to Caesar that the Senate decided to crown him king today, but if Caesar does not show up, then this may not happen. He explains that Caesar will lose the support of the public if they realize he did not come because his wife told him not to or because he was afraid. Caesar, giving in to his strong ego, decides to go despite his wife's reservations.
As the rest of the conspirators and Antony come to meet Caesar and take him to the Senate, Caesar asks that Trebonius stay close to him, thinking him a close friend. Trebonius assures Caesar he will stay near, and in an aside (a play direction that indicates the character is talking to himself/herself so the other characters cannot hear), says that ''…so near will I be, / That your best friends shall wish I had been further.'' Brutus laments that all of Caesar's friends are secretly plotting against him, and says in an aside, ''That every like is not the same, O Caesar, / The heart of Brutus yearns to think upon!'' The scene ends with this statement, and the men head to the Senate with Caesar, who thinks he is about to be crowned king.
In this scene, Calphurnia tells Caesar about her dreams of his statue overflowing with blood and the Romans washing their hands in it, taking this as an omen of his impending death. Though she tries to convince Caesar to stay home and not go to the Senate, Decius is able to change his mind and they depart for the Senate. In several asides at the end of the scene, we learn that none of Caesar's friends are loyal to him.
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