Julius Caesar, Act 3, Notes
Scene I
Caesar enters, along with senators and the conspirators. Artemidorus and the Soothsayer are also present. Artemidorus approaches Caesar with his letter, telling Caesar he should read it immediately since it concerns him. He replies that personal matters are the last to be dealt with. Artemidorus insists, and Caesar dismisses him as crazy. By refusing Artemidorus because he believed that the letter was a personal matter, Caesar shows a tragic flaw – he thinks that his public self is so strong, his private self cannot be harmed. One of the senators, Popilius Lena wishes Cassius luck in his enterprise that day, and Cassius fears he knows about the conspiracy. However, he goes to talk to Caesar and they both smile – Lena must have been referring to something else. Trebonius draws Mark Antony away from the Senate room. Metellus Cimber approaches Caesar and employs great flattery. Caesar tells him to desist, for that bowing and scraping will not make him bend Roman law for Metellus’ brothers’ sake. He says that if there is not a good reason for Metellus’ brother to be pardoned from exile, it shall not happen with his permission. Brutus and Cassius now approach Caesar and support Metellus’ plea. Caesar replies that he is “as constant as the northern star” and that none shall move him. He states that he will not change his mind now. In this, Caesar shows that he is arrogant – truly believing that he is a god, that he cannot be persuaded. When Cinna comes forward to plead, Caesar compares their efforts to trying to lift up Mount Olympus. The conspirators gather around Caesar to plead the cause. Suddenly, Casca stabs Caesar first, and they all follow, ending with Brutus. When Caesar sees that Brutus was a part of this, he utters his dying words “Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!” The conspirators proclaim that liberty is here, and Trebonius enters to say that Antony has run away to his house. Brutus tells the conspirators that they were true friends to Caesar because they shortened at least 20 years of fearing death for him. He then says they should bathe their hands in his blood and carrying their swords march to the marketplace proclaiming liberty, peace, and freedom. Cassius agrees, and says that years from now, what they are doing shall be acted out as a celebration. A servant of Antony enters. He comes with a message from Antony – that Antony loved Caesar, but he will serve Brutus if Brutus promises him that he shall not be harmed if he comes to Brutus to learn why Caesar deserved to die. He also says he will follow Brutus faithfully instead of still loving the dead Caesar.


Julius Caesar, Act 3, Notes
Brutus accepts to this gladly, saying that Antony is a wise Roman. Cassius expresses misgivings about Anthony, and states his negative feelings are usually correct. Antony re-enters, and talks of how a man with such a great reputation can be reduced to just a corpse. He tells the conspirators that if they intend to kill him, to do it now, that it would be an honor to lie next to the body of Caesar. Brutus tells him to not beg for death, that what they did was out of love for Rome. He tells him to wait until they calm the citizens of Rome to fully learn of their reasons for killing Caesar. Antony replies that he cannot doubt them, and shakes hands with each of them. He then addresses the spirit of Caesar, and asks for forgiveness for making peace with his murderers over his body. He praises Caesar’s qualities. Cassius then questions Antony as to his loyalty. Antony replies that he merely forgot himself in the presence of Caesar’s body, and that he does mean to be counted among their friends. He emphasizes he will gladly ally with them if they explain why Caesar was killed. Brutus assures him that their explanation will be enough for him in good time. Antony requests that he may speak a funeral oration. Brutus agrees. Cassius then takes him aside and tells him that Antony’s words may turn the people’s opinion against them. Brutus replies that it will do well for the conspirator’s image that they allowed a friend of Caesar’s to participate in his funeral. Brutus tells Antony that he will preface Antony’s speech and will say that Antony speaks only with their permission and explain why Caesar had to be killed. He also tells Antony to speak only well of them, or else he will have nothing else to do with the funeral. Cassius’ doubt proves true in later scenes. Brutus, still believing that the murder was a noble deed, thinks the people will respond to the fact that Antony was allowed to speak at all. He forgets the fickle nature of the people – In the first scene, they were celebrating the death of a leader they once revered. They leave, and Antony is left alone with the body. He asks Caesar to pardon him for dealing with his murderers so gently. He predicts that Rome will be in a state of chaos after Caesar’s death, and he and the goddess of vengeance will roam until he is avenged. Octavius’ servant enters and sees the body on the ground. Antony instructs him to keep Octavius out of the city, since Rome is dangerous for him as of now. Antony urges the servant to come for the funeral oration to see the reaction of the public – then Octavius can better see what to do next after that. This scene can be considered the climax – the conspirators succeed in killing Caesar. The events before led to this one, and the events after are a result of this.


Julius Caesar, Act 3, Notes
Scene II
Brutus and Cassius enter with a crowd of Plebeians. Cassius exits to speak to a different part of the crowd. Brutus begins his speech and tells him that his love of Caesar was no less than Caesar’s love for him. He continued that he rose against Caesar because he loved Rome more: he was concerned that the Romans would become slaves under Caesar’s rule. He asks if any disagree with him – that a love for the country must be greater than love for any one person. None disagree. He concludes that he has offended no one then, and Caesar’s faults and virtues in life have been given due attention. Antony and others enter with Caesar’s body. Brutus says that Antony had no part in the conspiracy, but he shall be a part of the new government. He continues that when it would please his country to have his death, he would follow through. The plebeians cheer Brutus and say that the best parts of Caesar were in him. Brutus quiets them and bids them listen to Antony. At this point, Brutus has won over the plebeians – they believe that Caesar was a tyrant and Brutus was right to kill him. They wait to listen to Antony. Antony agrees with Brutus that Caesar was ambitious. He also says that he was a friend of Caesar, and reminds them that Caesar brought many important captives to Rome, which accumulated money for the people through ransom. Caesar also sympathized with the poor, and reminded the plebeians of the day when Caesar refused the crown three times. He asks if this is ambition. He continues that he is not trying to disprove Brutus’ words, just to say what he knew so that they may mourn him. The plebeians pause, and wonder at Antony’s words, thinking that it is true, Caesar was not ambitious and more ambitious men have taken his place. Antony’s weeping for Caesar also moves the plebeians. Antony continues, saying that he would do Brutus and Cassius no wrong, but that he would stir their minds to mutiny and rage if he could. He then takes out Caesar’s will. The plebeians tell him to read it, but Antony says that it would make them angry. Antony says that he has acted without proper judgment to even show them the will, and he has been speaking too long – he has wronged the honorable men (conspirators). The crowd cries out those were traitors, not honorable men, they were murderers and villains. They tell Antony to read the will. Antony then asks them to form a circle around Caesar’s corpse, and he will show them who made the will. The plebeians gather around. Antony begins, showing them Caesar’s cloak and where the conspirators ran him through. He mentions how Caesar loved Brutus,


Julius Caesar, Act 3, Notes
yet Brutus so stabbed him. He tells how Caesar died when he saw that Brutus was part of the plot to kill him, and his blood ran down the steps of the Senate. The plebeians are now enraged, and are against the conspirators. Antony’s skill in manipulating the crowd resulted in them doing exactly what he wanted to: mutiny against the conspirators. Antony tells them that he did not intend for them to mutiny, and he is not as good an orator as Brutus. He speaks only what he knows – while Brutus could incite them to rebel, he could not. At the mention of the word, the plebeians rally to burn the houses of the conspirators and search them out. Antony asks them to pause, that he shall read the will to them. They agree to wait. Antony reads out that Caesar gave every Roman citizen 75 drachmas. The plebeians are touched by this generosity, and swear to avenge his death. Antony continues that Caesar left his private gardens to them, so that they may walk about in them and refresh themselves whenever they like. The plebeians can take no more, and charge off to burn the conspirator’s houses and burn Caesar’s body in the holy place. Antony is left alone, and he wonders at the course this mischief will take. A servant enters to tell him that Octavius has come to Rome and is at Caesar’s house. The servant also reports that Brutus and Cassius have been run out of Rome. Antony goes to speak to Octavius.

Scene III
Cinna the poet enters, followed by the Plebeians. They question him as to who he is, where he is going, and if he is married. He answers that he is a bachelor, and is going to Caesar’s funeral as a friend. When he says that his name is Cinna, the citizens think that he is Cinna the conspirator. Cinna the poet insists that he is not Cinna the conspirator, but the citizens drag him off and beat him nevertheless. Rome is currently in a state of anarchy, with citizens searching for the conspirators.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful