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Julius Caesar Act 2 Scene 3 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.

In this lesson, we will discuss Act 2, Scene 3 of ''Julius Caesar'' in which Artemidorus reads a letter to himself that he is planning to give to Caesar to warn him of the plot against Caesar's life.

Artemidorus' Letter

Act 2 Scene 3 of Julius Caesar begins with Artemidorus, one of Caesar's few true supporters, waiting for Caesar on a street near the Capitol. Artemidorus holds a letter he has written to Caesar and reads it to himself, a plot device Shakespeare uses to let the audience know what Artemidorus wrote. Artemidorus is one of the only people left who actually supports Caesar, rather than pretends to be Caesar's friend. Being aware of the conspirators' plot against Caesar's life, Artemidorus writes a short letter that contains the names of many of these conspirators. He writes, '''Caesar, beware of Brutus; take heed of Cassius.''' He continues, listing the other conspirators: Casca, Cinna, Trebonius, Metellus Cimber, Decius Bruts, and Caius Ligarius. This letter not only functions within the plot to warn Caesar of his endangerment but also serves to clarify to the audience who Caesar's friends and foes are.

Artemidorus warns Caesar that '''There is but one mind in all these men, and it is / bent against Caesar.''' Despite what the audience has learned about Brutus' struggle with going through with the assassination, Artemidorus claims that all of the conspirators are merely out to get Caesar. He implores him that, as a mortal, he should be careful for his life. He writes, '''look about you: security gives way to conspiracy,''' meaning that Caesar's feeling of safety and trust towards his fellow Romans gives the conspirators an easy way to plot against him. Artemidorus signs his letter to Caesar as '''Thy lover''' to indicate he is a lover or supporter of Caesar.

The Fates' Decision

After he finishes reading his letter, Artemidorus explains how he will give the letter to Caesar. He plans to wait in the street near the Capitol until Caesar walks by on his way to the Senate. He plans to give him the letter ''as a suitor,'' or as someone who wants to petition Caesar for something. He says, ''my heart laments that virtue cannot live / Out of the teeth of emulation,'' meaning he is sad that a virtuous man like Caesar cannot live without other people being jealous of him and plotting against him.

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