William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

Sources for the life of Caesar include biographies by Suetonius and Plutarch. The latter, in a translation written by Thomas North entitled Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, was Shakespeare's source. In June of 1599 the Privy Council had issued an order forbidding the production of English History plays, some of which had been a source of political embarrassment. The Globe Theatre had opened in the early autumn of the same year and Shakespeare's new Roman history play was one of the first to be performed on the new stage.

Julius Caesar (100?-44 B.C.) was a Roman statesman and general. He made Gaul a Roman province and prepared the way for the establishment of the Roman Empire. Caesar was a man of vision and versatility. Caesar wrote commentaries on the Gallic and Civil Wars. As an orator he was excelled only by Cicero. Caesar was born into a patrician family. In 84 he married Cornelia, daughter of an enemy of the dictator Sulla. Deprived of property and rank for refusing to divorce his wife, Caesar fled Rome. He served in military campaigns in Asia and returned to Rome in 78 following Sulla's death. In Rome he plunged into politics and won favour with the populace, who elected him pontifex maximus in 63.

Following a period of valuable military experience as propraetor in Spain, he returned to Rome in 60. The Senate, influenced by Cato the Younger, refused Caesar's request to stand for the consulate, where upon Caesar refused the triumph granted to victorious generals and joined with the great general Pompey and the wealthy Crassus in the First Triumvirate. Caesar secured the consulate in 59. He was granted the governorship of Cisalpine Gaul (northern Italy), Illyricum, and Transalpine Gaul (the huge territory bounded by the Mediterranean, the Pyrenees, the ocean, the Rhine River, and the Alps). The German tribes in Transalpine Gaul were on the verge of seeking mastery of the territory, and for nine years Caesar was occupied with subduing them. He also conducted inconclusive campaigns in Britain in 55 and 54. His defeat of Vercingetorix settled the fate of Gaul, which became an orderly province by 51.

In 54, however, Julia, daughter of Caesar and wife of Pompey, died. Crassus was killed in 53. In league with the Senate, Pompey worked to undermine Caesar's power. In 49 Caesar, with one legion, crossed the Rubicon, a river on the northern boundary of Italy proper. Pompey fled to the East, where he was renowned, and Caesar overran all of Italy. After subduing Pompey's lieutenants in Spain, Caesar sailed to meet Pompey. On the plain of Thessaly his hardened veterans defeated decisively Pompey's larger army. Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was murdered. In Egypt Caesar became involved in the Alexandrine War, which he successfully resolved in favour of Cleopatra. In 47 Caesar defeated Pharnaces II at Zile in Asia Minor and sent to Rome his succinct report, "Veni ,vidi, vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered). In 46 Caesar crushed the Pompeian forces that had united under Scipio in Africa. In Rome, in 46, Caesar celebrated his great triumphs and won the people with festivals, gifts, and games. In the same year he fought Pompey's sons, whom he defeated in Spain in one of his most difficult battles.

Against all Roman tradition, Caesar was made dictator for life in 44. His head appeared on Roman coins of 45 and 44, and he aspired to a monarchy. Because of public disapproval Caesar reluctantly refused the crown placed on his head by Mark Antony in February, 44. On March 15, 44, Caesar fell beneath the knives of conspirators led by Marcus Brutus and Gaius Cassius. Caesar's new government had threatened the old republican institutions. For this reason Julius Caesar was assassinated by the senatorial aristocracy.

Characters from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Crossword Puzzle

Welcome to the Quotations from Julius Caesar Quiz

Type the letter corresponding to the name of the speaker
for each quotation listed below. Press tab to advance from
one question to the next. Make sure your caps lock is off.
Try the quiz and then please explore!

Enter your name please:

1. Identify the speaker:

Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius,
That you would have me seek into myself
For that which is not in me?

a) Brutus
b) Caesar
c) Flavius
d) Marullus

2. Identify the speaker:

Are not you moved, when all the sway of earth
Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero,
I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds
Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen
The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam,
To be exalted with the threatening clouds:
But never till to-night, never till now,
Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.
Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,
Incenses them to send destruction.

a) Brutus
b) Caesar
c) Casca
d) Lucius

3. Identify the speaker:

Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies,
Yet now they fright me. There is one within,
Besides the things that we have heard and seen,
Recounts most horrid sights seen by the watch.
A lioness hath whelped in the streets;
And graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead;
Fierce fiery warriors fought upon the clouds,
In ranks and squadrons and right form of war,
Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol;
The noise of battle hurtled in the air,
Horses did neigh, and dying men did groan,
And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets.
O Caesar! these things are beyond all use,
And I do fear them.

a) Calpurnia
b) Cicero
c) Portia
d) Soothsayer

4. Identify the speaker:

I could be well moved, if I were as you:
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me:
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix'd and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks,
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there's but one in all doth hold his place:
So in the world; 'tis furnish'd well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion: and that I am he,
Let me a little show it, even in this;
That I was constant Cimber should be banish'd,
And constant do remain to keep him so.

a) Antony
b) Artemidorus
c) Caesar
d) Marullus

5. Identify the speaker:

O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.
I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,
Who else must be let blood, who else is rank:
If I myself, there is no hour so fit
As Caesar's death hour, nor no instrument
Of half that worth as those your swords, made rich
With the most noble blood of all this world.
I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Fulfil your pleasure. Live a thousand years,
I shall not find myself so apt to die:
No place will please me so, no mean of death,
As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,
The choice and master spirits of this age.

a) Antony
b) Artemidorus
c) Caesar
d) Marullus

6. Identify the speaker:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

a) Antony
b) Artemidorus
c) Calpurnia
d) Portia

7. Identify the speaker:

I dreamt to-night that I did feast with Caesar,
And things unlucky charge my fantasy:
I have no will to wander forth of doors,
Yet something leads me forth.

a) Antony
b) Brutus
c) Calpurnuia
d) Cinna (the Poet)

8. Identify the speaker:

. . . Hated by one he loves; braved by his brother;
Cheque'd like a bondman; all his faults observed,
Set in a note-book, learn'd, and conn'd by rote,
To cast into my teeth. O, I could weep
My spirit from mine eyes! There is my dagger,
And here my naked breast; within, a heart
Dearer than Plutus' mine, richer than gold:
If that thou be'st a Roman, take it forth;
I, that denied thee gold, will give my heart:
Strike, as thou didst at Caesar; for, I know,
When thou didst hate him worst, thou lovedst him better . . .

a) Brutus
b) Caesar
c) Calpurnuia
d) Cassius

9. Identify the speaker:

Now is that noble vessel full of grief,
That it runs over even at his eyes.

a) Brutus
b) Cinna
c) Clitus
d) Pindarus

10. Identify the speaker:

This was the noblest Roman of them all:
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world 'This was a man!'

a) Antony
b) Brutus
c) Caesar
d) Cassius

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