Based on Plutarch’s Lives of the Novele Grecians and Romans,
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is a political play, the tragic true story of the betrayal and assassination of Roman ruler Julius Caesar in 44 b.c. It is a play about a general who would be king, but who, because of his own pride and ambition, meets an untimely death. Shakespeare deals with why Caesar was murdered and subsequently what happened to his murderers. Shakespeare seems to be saying that good government must be based upon morality. Therefore, political issues are the root of the tragic conflict in the play. In this respect, Julius Caesar has relevance to the politics of the modern world today.

In this play, Shakespeare explores:
  • society in groups and individuals
  • character flaws in humans (tragic flaws)
  • balance of power, use of power, power shifts
  • ambition or honor?
  • Wars, terrorism, mob violence, assassinations
(still problems in today’s society!!)

Julius Caesar: backgroundJulius-Caesar-9192504-1-402.jpg
  • 60BC
  • Julius Caesar was a real person
  • Shakespeare wrote the play in the 1500’s (16th century) for the British royalty/citizens for entertainment purposes
  • Empires = conflict
  • Violence, murder, drama, tension, etc.

Click on Caesar for online version of play:

Some pre-reading discussion questions........
  • Why is the life of an individual less important than the well-being of society? Or is it?
  • What dominates your life, fate or free will? Why do you believe that?

Rhetoric: the art of persuasive speaking; images.jpgquote-rhetoric-is-the-art-of-ruling-the-minds-of-men-plato-146456.jpg
language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.

Logos: the reasonable, logical explanation

Pathos: the appeal to emotions
Ethos: the stature/reputation of the speaker

"Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings." (Act I, Scene 2)

ASSIGNMENT: What does Cassius mean by this quote? Prepare your response based on this tragedy and your own personal experience, do you agree? Please use specific examples / 300 words.
DUE: 3/17