The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
William Shakespeare
100 B.C.- 44 B.C.
Veni. Vidi. Vici.
I came. I saw. I conquered.
Tragedy: in literature, the series of
unfortunate events by which one or more of
the characters in the story has several
misfortunes, and finally there is a disaster of
“epic proportions.”
Tragedy is build up in 5 stages:
Happy times
The introduction of the problem
The problem becomes a crisis
The characters are unable to prevent the problem from
taking over
5. The problem results in some catastrophic, terrible ending,
which is the tragedy happens
Julius Caesar: Introduction
The setting of this play is ancient Rome.
Shakespeare creates a world full of political
intrigue (interest), magical occurrences, and
military conquest.
Julius Caesar: Introduction
Caesar, the most
powerful man in
Rome, has recently
returned to the city
after months of
fighting abroad.
Roman Territory before Caesar
Roman Territory after Caesar
• Monarchy: King has complete rule over Rome
• Republic: Roman Government ruled by the people.
• Dictatorship: One leader has complete political
The Age of Caesar
• Born 100 B.C.
• Married Cornelia at 18
years old; daughter Julia
• 69 B.C. Cornelia dies; 67
B.C. Caesar marries
Rome was ruled by a “Triumvirate”
(a group of three men)
-a great politician & Caesar’s son-in-law
-the famous general
-the wealthiest man in Rome
What do we have presently
in the U.S. similar to a triumvirate?
Established to restore order to Rome
59 B.C. Pompey marries Caesar’s
daughter, Julia.
Caesar wanted more power and
went after more conquests and
54 B.C. Julia dies; Pompey
jealous of Caesar’s power and
In 54 B.C. Caesar’s
daughter, Julia, dies.
Because she was the
the only real
personal tie between
Pompey and Caesar,
tension flared
between the two
In 53 B.C.
Crassus dies…
This ends the First Triumvirate
and sets Pompey and Caesar
against one another.
Caesar began a military career and
his armies conquered multiple countries.
After Crassus was killed, trouble began
to develop between Pompey and Caesar.
Caesar was fighting Pompey, another powerful
Roman, and his sons.
Pompey, as well as
others in the Roman
senate, was disturbed by
Caesar’s growing
Because he was jealous, Pompey persuaded the
Senate to order Caesar to break up his army and
return to Rome.
Instead, Caesar invaded Rome and took
control and chased Pompey all the way to Egypt.
He was killed there before Caesar could capture him.
Later Caesar defeated and killed Pompey’s
sons in Spain.
Julius Caesar: Introduction
Their fears seem to be valid when Caesar refuses
to enter Rome as an ordinary citizen after the war.
Instead, he marches his army on Rome and takes
over the government.
Julius Caesar: Introduction
But the people don’t
mind—in fact, they love
Caesar is made
“dictator for life.”
Caesar was an ambitious leader…
Julius Caesar gained support of the people by:
Spending money for public entertainment
Establishing laws that freed farmers and
tradesmen from heavy taxes
Promising to improve the overall economy
Suggesting new laws, most of which were
approved by the Senate.
Reorganizing the army.
Improving the way the provinces were governed.
This is where our play
When it opens, we see some citizens in
support of Caesar and some against him.
Many senators, resent
Caesar for having so
much power.
One of the reasons the Senate was concerned by
Caesar’s accumulation of power was Rome’s long
history as a republic.
Julius Caesar: Introduction
Some senators begin to conspire. . .
Brutus, Caesar’s friend who believes that he must act
against Caesar for the good of Rome
Casca, who hates the ordinary citizens of Rome yet is
jealous because they love Caesar and not him
Cassius, a greedy and jealous man who wants
to take drastic measures to keep Caesar from winning any
more power—and to take away any power that Caesar
previously had!
February* 15:
The Feast of the Lupercal
What is that?
Lupercus was the fertility god the Romans
worshipped. They would sacrifice goats and a dog. The
goats’ blood would be smeared on the foreheads of
two young men, then wiped off with wool dipped in
milk. Then young men wearing only strips of goatskin
around their loins, ran around the city striking women
with strips of goatskin. It was believed that pregnant
women would have an easier labor and infertile
women would become fertile.
*februaue actually means “to purify”
During this feast some of the
conspirators discuss Caesar and what
to do about him having too much
The plan to kill him
is developed…
Would you be
worried if
someone told
you something
terrible would
to you in a
Beware the Ides of March...
Julius Caesar is warned to beware the ides of March.
“Ides” means the middle of the month; he was warned that
something bad would happen on March 15th, 44 B.C.
He is, in fact, killed on March 15th.
A tragic figure or hero is one who has a
character flaw which causes them to act
poorly or make poor decisions resulting
in their downfall.
Every Shakespearian tragedy has
one. However, in Julius Caesar, the
tragic hero is not the title character.
a key figure in
the play.
As we read The Tragedy of Julius Caesar…
• We will discuss the conspiracy…
• We will discuss how Rome fell to mob rule after
Caesar’s death…
• We will discuss why history seems to repeat itself
over and over again…
• And we will discuss our own flaws in our
personalities and how we can prevent a tragedy in our
lives by our every day actions…
Veni, vidi, vici
• Veni, vidi, vici means “I came, I saw, I
conquered” – it’s how Caesar summed up
his accomplishments
• His name means “emperor” in at least 2
• The month of July is named after him
• During his life, he was a famous lawyer, a
high priest, a brilliant general, and a major
author before declaring himself dictator of
Julius Caesar : Discussion Starters…
Discussion starter topic 1:
1. How important is loyalty?
• Does your country or do your friends consider
“loyalty” something to value? When can “loyalty”
sometimes cause problems?
• What should people do when loyalty to their
country and loyalty to their friend comes into
• Are there limits to what people should do in
defense of the nation?
Julius Caesar: Discussion Starters
Discussion starter topic 2:
2. What will a person do for the sake of
political ideals?
• Assassinations of political figures are common in
• What political figures do you know of who have
been assassinated?
• What effect did these assassinations have on the
general public, a political party, or a cause at the
time of the assassination?
Julius Caesar : Background
Shakespeare uses
Roman customs and
superstition to create
spooky conditions to
mirror the dangerous
plot being planned.
Julius Caesar : Background
The Romans believed
that omens could reveal
the future.
These omens could
take the form of
unusual weather,
flights of birds, or
other natural
Julius Caesar: Background
Animals were seen as indicators of the future.
The Romans often
sacrificed animals to the
gods, and had their entrails
(guts) examined by an
official called a haruspex.
Any abnormalities or
imperfections indicated the
anger of a god or a
particularly bad event
about to happen.
Julius Caesar: Background
Unusual astronomical
and meteorological
occurrences were also
seen as signs of future
Solar eclipses were
believed to foreshadow
doom, as was lightning.
Julius Caesar : Background
Around 509 B.C., the
Romans ended a
monarchy by rebelling
against the last king of
Rome, Tarquinius.
Julius Caesar: Background
After this revolution, the
Romans established their
famous republic, in which
all citizens were
represented in the Senate.
They were very proud of
their non-king ruled
government, and were
determined to preserve it—
but when Caesar arrived,
they changed their minds!