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Publius Cimber 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.

If you are confused about Publius Cimber in William Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' look no further. In this lesson, we'll explore who he is and why he is important to the play.

Mystery Man

Publius Cimber is a tough character to understand, but he plays an important role in the plot against Caesar. One of the reasons for this challenge is that there is another character named Publius in the play. It is never quite explained whether or not they are the same person. In most performances and film versions of the play, the roles are given to different actors. Additionally, most scholars agree that it is two different characters.

Another reason for the confusion about Publius Cimber is that he does not speak in the play. The other Publius says a whopping total of six words, where he says good morrow to Caesar and then asks someone to move out of his way. Publius Cimber is only mentioned in passing. In fact, the name Publius Cimber is only spoken twice by other character's in the play. To understand the importance of this character, we must take a close look at the circumstance in which his name is brought up.

Means to an End - Caesar's End

The only time the audience can be certain that Publius Cimber is being discussed in Act 3, Scene 1. Since this is the scene in which Caesar is assassinated, anyone mentioned is important. In fact, the conspirators use Publius Cimber's name to distract Caesar. Caesar had banished Publius Cimber for reasons the audience will never know. The men use the cover of asking for a pardon as an excuse to all gather around Caesar.

Metellus

When Caesar arrives at the Senate, Metellus (who is Publius' brother) kneels in front of Caesar and begins to say ''Most high, most mighty, and most puissant Caesar, Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat.'' Caesar interrupts him and says that ''Thy brother by decree is banished'' and that ''Caesar doth not wrong.'' In other words, stop begging Metellus. Your brother is banned, and it was the right thing to do.

Brutus

Next, Brutus uses the same reason to get close to Caesar and asks '' that Publius Cimber may Have an immediate freedom of repeal.'' Caesar denies this request as well and is shocked that even Brutus would be involved in this lowly begging. Interestingly, when Brutus stabs Caesar, he also has the same reaction of shock that even his close friend Brutus is involved. This is an example of foreshadowing. Caesar is shocked by the appeal for Publius Cimber, just as he is shocked by the attack on his life.

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