Julius Caesar Act 2 Scene 2 Summary

Instructor: Tommi Waters

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.

We will discuss Act 2, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar in this lesson in which Caesar's wife, Calphurnia, tries to convince Caesar not to go to the Senate because she is worried for his life based on dreams she had.

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.

A Roman denarius with Calphurnia

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.

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