Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, or just Julius Caesar, is believed to have been written in 1599 and is one of Shakespeare's works based on true historical events. Though Caesar is the title character, his role is not as large as that of Marcus Brutus, the conspirator who takes Caesar's life.

The play begins as Caesar triumphantly returns from a battle in the battle of Munda. As he parades throughout Rome he encounters a psychic who tells him to "beware the ides of March." This line, one of Shakespeare's most famous, warns Caesar to stay away from danger when the middle of March comes along. He disregards the message however, and Marcus Brutus and another conspirator, Cassius, discuss killing Caesar and stopping his path to ascension without the Roman kingdom.

As act three develops, Caesar does not have concern for his wellbeing, despite the warnings for his safety that have been relayed to him. A ruse amongst several men has been devised; they tell they need his review of an important petition within which one brother pleads for lenience on behalf of his banished brother. Caesar does not favor the petition, as is to be expected, but finds himself surrounded by a group of conspirators that stab him, one by one.

As the group murder reaches the final men, Caesar sees that even his old friend Brutus has betrayed him. He utters the famous line "Et tu, Brute?" Then adds "Then fall, Caesar," indicating that Brutus' treachery no longer gave him will to love.

Though the group of conspirators maintains that Caesar's assassination was for the best of the entire Roman community, the powerful Mark Antony quickly steps up and vilifies the assassins. His speech over Caesar's dead body brings the common people to tears and mourning, and persuades them to form into a mob that drives the conspirators from Rome.

As Brutus and Cassius quarrel over the new misfortune that has befallen them after their regicide, they discover that their intentions truly did align and agree that they did mean to kill Caesar to promote justice within Rome. As they reconcile, they also prepare for war. Caesar's adopted son Octavius and Mark Antony are ready to battle them for their transgressions.

As Brutus sleeps that evening, Caesar's ghost comes to him in a dream and warns him of his impending defeat, his apparition telling Brutus "thou shall see me at Philippi." As the conspirators prepare for battle, Cassius and Brutus know they will both die. They smile and show each other their last kindnesses before their demise.

When Cassius hears that his best friend Titanius has been captured and killed, he asks his servant Pindarus kill him in despair. Yet, Titanius was not yet deceased and subsequently, when he sees Cassius dead he commits suicide. As Brutus fights on through that stage of the battle and on into the next day of fighting. Heartbroken from losing his allies, he finally commits suicide by running upon his own sword.

Brutus dies still believing that his action to kill Caesar was in fact noble. Because of Brutus' conviction, Mark Antony proclaims that Brutus was the only noble conspirator, because he was the only one to act, as far as he was concerned, for the good of Rome.

Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, was in essence a historical piece but with some main variations made to compress the timing of the events into a stageable play. The tragedy surrounding Caesar's death is condensed into only a few scenes to further create a sense of urgency and drama. It achieves at masterfully recreating the tension and political strife history indicates from Caesar's era.