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Lepidus in Julius Caesar

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

Lepidus is one of the character's in William Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar.' Since he is not mentioned very often, and only speaks three times, it may be tough to get a good grasp on just who he is. In this lesson, we'll take a look at just what his role is in the play, and we'll extract as much information as we can from what is said about him.

Lepidus is Mentioned in Passing

Since Shakespeare doesn't give us much to go on, we have to look closely at the times when Lepidus' name is mentioned. After Caesar is killed, Mark Antony delivers a rousing speech that convinces the common people to riot and protest the assassination. After the people run off to burn things and beat people up, Antony wants to know where Octavius is. Octavius is Caesar's adopted son and was loyal to Caesar. Antony is told that Octavius is with Lepidus at Caesar's house. This may seem like a very small comment, but when there is no telling who is an enemy and who is a friend, it's important to look closely. Octavius is a Caesar loyalist, so if Lepidus is with him, we can assume that Lepidus too is a loyalist.

Mark Antony and the other Caesar supporters take up the cause of avenging Caesar's assassination. One day, Antony, Octavius and Lepidus are sitting around talking about who they should kill in response to Caesar's death. Octavius tells Lepidus that his brother must be killed. While no one says it directly, we can assume he had a hand in Caesar's death. Lepidus agrees, on the condition that Mark Antony's nephew is also killed for being involved in the assassination. With all the details worked out, Lepidus is sent away.

Gossip Boys

Antony, being the dramatic gossip queen he is, starts talking bad about Lepidus as soon as he leaves. Antony says ''This is a slight unmeritable man, Meet to be sent on errands.'' In other words, Lepidus is worthless and dumb. The only real use for him is being sent on errands. Nice Antony. Real Nice. Octavius stands up for Lepidus pointing out that Antony asked Lepidus' opinion about who should be ''prick'd to die.'' Antony counters this comment by saying that Lepidus is like an animal who needs to be lead from one place to another. Still, Octavius stands up for Lepidus saying ''But he's a tried and valiant soldier.''

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