Julius Caesar Act 5 Scene 1 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

As the two factions, the loyal Antony and Octavius and the conspirators Brutus and Cassius, meet on the battlefield, events are put into action that will finish what was started on the Ides of March.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare wrote the tragedy Julius Caesar around 1599. Based on true events from Roman history, this play tells the story of the assassination of Julius Caesar at the hands of his good friend, Marcus Brutus. This lesson will focus on the summary of Act 5, Scene 1.

Bust of Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar

In Acts 1-4

After defeating Pompey's sons, Caesar has returned to Rome. However, not everyone is thrilled about his power. Cassius in particular is worried. While at the Lupercal, festival, a soothsayer tells Caesar to 'beware the Ides of March', and Cassius hints that Brutus, one of Caesar's good friends, would be a better leader than Caesar. Meanwhile, Antony has offered Caesar the crown.

Time passes and strange signs are seen all over Rome. Cassius thinks that means Caesar needs to be taken out, Cassius tricks Brutus into agreeing to kill him. Brutus, Cassius, and the other conspirators have a meeting and make a plan to kill Caesar. A man tries to warn Caesar, but he ignores him. When Caesar gets to the Capitol, he is stabbed 33 times and dies. Antony plans revenge.

Brutus and Cassius flee the city, and the loyal Octavius and Antony raise an army against them. The two armies meet at Philippi.

Pretend Bravery

Act 5 starts with Octavius and Antony, talking on the fields of Philippi. Octavius tells Antony he's surprised that the army of Brutus and Cassius has showed up. Antony thinks that the enemy is there to pretend to be brave. Antony tells Cassius that it's fake and they are not brave. A messenger warns them that the other army is approaching. Instead of making a clear battle plan, Antony and Octavius argue about which side each will attack from.

John Wilkes Booth in an 1864 performance of the play
John Wilkes Booth in an 1864 performance of the play

Meeting of the Enemies

They are interrupted by the arrival of Brutus and Cassius, who want to negotiate terms before the battle. Brutus argues for reason, but Antony and Octavius tell him his words mean nothing. They remind him that he yelled out 'Hail Caesar!' right before stabbing his good friend in the heart.

Then Cassius insults both Octavius and Antony, calling them respectively inexperienced and full of talk and no action. Octavius tells them that he wasn't meant to die on Brutus's sword.

They argue. Octavius pulls out his sword and tells them he won't put it down except under two conditions. Either he's killed or the 33 stab wounds Caesar got from Brutus and Cassius are repaid.

Antony taunts Brutus and Cassius, telling them to prove their cause is right with their swords. Then Antony and Octavius leave the meeting and go back to their armies.

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