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Interactive Curriculum Resource: HomeThemesAuthorsTexts • Sample Series

Julius Caesar - Shakespeare

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Themes: JealousyJusticeLeadership, Tyranny


The killing of Julius Caesar can be considered a murder or an assassination of a tyrant. Much depends on uncovering the motives of Caesar, Brutus, Anthony, and Cassius to understand how to react to the killing of Caesar. Is Caesar a tyrant? Does he perform the deeds of a tyrant, or does he have tyrannical thoughts? No doubt he is ambitious, but what is the textual evidence of his tyranny?


Brutus has affection for Caesar, but he also fears that he will overreach his authority and threaten the good of the community. Cassius, on the other hand, seems to have more of a personal animosity towards Caesar. He sees Caesar as an equal, and does not think it right that he should have the authority that he does. Anthony is a more complex person. He might be considered a Machiavellian character. In act I, scene IV, line 232 he offers Caesar the crown. His concern does not seem to be the good of Rome. And his famous eulogy for Caesar, he stirs up the crowd with his rhetoric and suggestions that Caesar loved the people and left gifts for them in his will. What are Anthony’s motivations? Does the play suggest the danger of political assassination and intrigue?


Opening questions:


How does the play portray the killing of Caesar?


Anthony says in act V, scene V, line 70: “All the conspirators save only he [Brutus] did that they did in envy of great Caesar.” Is Anthony correct in this claim?


Was Caesar a tyrant?

Suggested Pairing:


Leadership - Shakespeare, Julius Caesar; Thomas Aquinas, On Kingship;
Machiavelli, The Prince; Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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