supporter of the republic who believes strongly in a government
guided by the votes of senators. While Brutus loves Caesar as a
friend, he opposes the ascension of any single man to the position
of dictator, and he fears that Caesar aspires to such power. Brutus’s inflexible
sense of honor makes it easy for Caesar’s enemies to manipulate
him into believing that Caesar must die in order to preserve the
republic. While the other conspirators act out of envy and rivalry,
only Brutus truly believes that Caesar’s death will benefit Rome.
Unlike Caesar, Brutus is able to separate completely his public
life from his private life; by giving priority to matters of state,
he epitomizes Roman virtue. Torn between his loyalty to Caesar and
his allegiance to the state, Brutus becomes the tragic hero of the
Julius Caesar -
great Roman general and senator, recently returned to Rome in triumph
after a successful military campaign. While his good friend Brutus
worries that Caesar may aspire to dictatorship over the Roman republic,
Caesar seems to show no such inclination, declining the crown several
times. Yet while Caesar may not be unduly power-hungry, he does
possess his share of flaws. He is unable to separate his public
life from his private life, and, seduced by the populace’s increasing
idealization and idolization of his image, he ignores ill omens
and threats against his life, believing himself as eternal as the
friend of Caesar. Antony claims allegiance to Brutus and the conspirators
after Caesar’s death in order to save his own life. Later, however,
when speaking a funeral oration over Caesar’s body, he spectacularly persuades
the audience to withdraw its support of Brutus and instead condemn
him as a traitor. With tears on his cheeks and Caesar’s will in
his hand, Antony engages masterful rhetoric to stir the crowd to revolt
against the conspirators. Antony’s desire to exclude Lepidus from
the power that Antony and Octavius intend to share hints at his
own ambitious nature.
talented general and longtime acquaintance of Caesar. Cassius dislikes
the fact that Caesar has become godlike in the eyes of the Romans.
He slyly leads Brutus to believe that Caesar has become too powerful
and must die, finally converting Brutus to his cause by sending
him forged letters claiming that the Roman people support the death
of Caesar. Impulsive and unscrupulous, Cassius harbors no illusions
about the way the political world works. A shrewd opportunist, he
proves successful but lacks integrity.
adopted son and appointed successor. Octavius, who had been traveling
abroad, returns after Caesar’s death; he then joins with Antony
and sets off to fight Cassius and Brutus. Antony tries to control Octavius’s
movements, but Octavius follows his adopted father’s example and
emerges as the authoritative figure, paving the way for his eventual seizure
of the reins of Roman government.
public figure opposed to Caesar’s rise to power. Casca relates to
Cassius and Brutus how Antony offered the crown to Caesar three
times and how each time Caesar declined it. He believes, however,
that Caesar is the consummate actor, lulling the populace into believing
that he has no personal ambition.
wife. Calpurnia invests great authority in omens and portents. She
warns Caesar against going to the Senate on the Ides of March, since
she has had terrible nightmares and heard reports of many bad omens.
Nevertheless, Caesar’s ambition ultimately causes him to disregard
wife; the daughter of a noble Roman who took sides against Caesar.
Portia, accustomed to being Brutus’s confidante, is upset to find
him so reluctant to speak his mind when she finds him troubled.
Brutus later hears that Portia has killed herself out of grief that Antony
and Octavius have become so powerful.
tribune (an official elected by the people to protect their rights).
Flavius condemns the plebeians for their fickleness in cheering
Caesar, when once they cheered for Caesar’s enemy Pompey. Flavius
is punished along with Murellus for removing the decorations from Caesar’s
statues during Caesar’s triumphal parade.
Roman senator renowned for his oratorical skill. Cicero speaks at
Caesar’s triumphal parade. He later dies at the order of Antony,
Octavius, and Lepidus.
third member of Antony and Octavius’s coalition. Though Antony has
a low opinion of Lepidus, Octavius trusts his loyalty.
Flavius, a tribune who condemns the plebeians for their fickleness
in cheering Caesar, when once they cheered for Caesar’s enemy Pompey.
Murellus and Flavius are punished for removing the decorations from
Caesar’s statues during Caesar’s triumphal parade.
member of the conspiracy. Decius convinces Caesar that Calpurnia
misinterpreted her dire nightmares and that, in fact, no danger
awaits him at the Senate. Decius leads Caesar right into the hands
of the conspirators.