Julius Caesar Inner Outer Circle Discussion
- I think Caesar was not a real threat to the Roman Republic, and Brutus and mainly Cassius misunderstood him. His friend Marc Antony offers him a crown three times in Act I Scene II, and Casca mentions that “he put it by with the back of his hand” (1.2.221), meaning that he denied the chance to be the king of Rome. While this may have been a plot to gain sympathy and support from the peasants, I believe it was not so because he also offered the public his throat to cut, which proved he was loyal to the people as he would have risked his life by placing it on the hands of the Romans. However, Cassius seems too hungry for power and sympathizes with Pompey, who was murdered. This leads to him wanting to overthrow Caesar and making bold assumptions about him to gain approval of other people to carry out his plan.
- I think that honorable preemptive murder or crime is justified only in some cases, to prevent other people from killing or harming you. However, this should only be in cases where one is absolutely certain that the other person will kill one, which is justifiable in self defense. In the real world, such examples could often happen in wars, where surprise attacks happen before battles start, ending it before they can begin. In Julius Caesar however, I do not think that it is justified. Cassius plots the murder of Caesar based on an assumption that “he doth bestride the narrow world like a colossus” (1.2.135-136), taking all the power to himself. I think Cassius was just jealous of Caesar’s power and wanted it, so he came up with the plot, instead of actually worrying about the future of Rome.
- Today, in the political world, senators often deceive and manipulate people and information in order to have their way in the government and have their party be a majority. Tricks that they often utilize to cause harm to other senators’ careers include the dissemination of fabrications about other political opponents to cause harm to their careers. Additionally, the current Trump-issued government shutdown is a problem, because he closed Congress in order to have his own way, which also manipulates and puts other political opponents at risk because they do not get paid (Collins 2019).
- I believe that in the majority of Acts I and II, women are treated as inferior to the men. Portia and Calpurnia, the wives of Brutus and Caesar, respectively, are similar in that they both provide warnings to the men about the upcoming event. However, Brutus hides his intentions from Portia, who goes so crazy as to stab her thigh in order to protest Brutus not telling her anything even though she can sense something is wrong. Instead of acting like Brutus, Caesar gives in to Calpurnia’s omens and says that “the cause is in my will; I will not come” (2.2.71), as he decides to not go to the Senate purely because Calpurnia does not want him to. However, after persuasion by Decius, he still does go to the Senate, where he gets murdered. Still, him listening to Calpurnia does indeed show that they have a better relationship compared to Brutus and Portia, where Portia needs to self-harm in order to try and get Brutus to talk.
- I feel like other than the part where Brutus and Cassius talk, tradition isn’t really mentioned in Acts I and II. In Act I Scene 2, Cassius manages to persuade Brutus to join him by talking about his ancestors, “a Brutus once that would have brooked / Th’eternal devil to keep his state in Rome / As easily as a king” (1.2.159-161). Cassius talks about the true Roman tradition about abolishing kings and how Brutus’ ancestor would have fought to stop one, thus persuading Brutus to do so as well. I think the main role tradition serves in Acts I and II are to denounce Caesar and his power because Roman tradition is about not having kings and Caesar’s immense power makes it seem to the others that he will take the throne.
- In the play, Cassius defines honor and nobility as doing something for the better of all of Rome. As he gathers the conspirators together for a meeting, he says ”some certain of the noblest-minded Romans / To undergo with me an enterprise / Of honorable-dangerous consequence ” (1.3.122-124). He views the conspirators and himself as doing Rome a favor by killing off Caesar, but in reality I feel like he was selfish and wanted the throne. Brutus also feels the same way, and he is more of a “true Roman” in that he really thinks for the greater good of Rome and not for personal gain like Cassius.
- I think being loyal means listening and being supportive to another person even in their lowest, darkest times, and never giving up on that person. By doing so and giving a hand to those in need of aid, one can prove his or her loyalty. A real world example would be the current government shutdown. Even though many federal workers are not getting paid, some still go to work and help other people such as TSA agents, ensuring the safety of the public and not giving up on them (Collins 2019).
- I think loyalty to friends is the most important out of the three. In the play, someone who demonstrates this is Caesar. The oblivious Caesar goes with the conspirators saying “Good friends, go in,, and taste some wine with me; / And we, like friends, will straightway go together” (2.2.127-128). His frequent repetition of the word “friends” shows how he is loyal to them and believes they are truly good contrasts with how the other conspirators feel towards him as they plot his murder. A real world example of loyalty to friends would be the friendship between Joshua Speed and Abraham Lincoln. As a member of the House of Representatives for Kentucky, despite disagreeing with Lincoln on the issue of slavery, he managed to keep Kentucky on the side of the Union, proving to be a strategic move in the Civil War (Strozier 2016). Real world examples of loyalty to a country include Justinian the Great, emperor of the Byzantine Empire. His actions in creating a new law code and expanding the Hagia Sophia revitalized the Byzantine Empire and brought it to a golden age (Hussey 2019). In the play, this would be represented by Brutus, who always wanted the best for the city of Rome. An example of loyalty to oneself would be Edgar Allan Poe, whose father wanted Poe to join his business. However, Poe was loyal to himself and wanted to be a writer, leading his father to disown him (Garner 2015). In the book, someone who is loyal to himself is Cassius, who was selfish and hungry for power, thus starting the plot to murder Caesar.
- I think for me, personally, conscience does not play as big of a role as emotions do in my decisions and actions. I tend to do things based on how I feel and not as much about if I know what is right or wrong, but conscience does still play a role, and I try to analyze if what I’m doing is right for me. In Julius Caesar, a major character that is motivated by their conscience is Brutus. He truly believes that he is doing what is right, and really considers the plot before joining it, and is still skeptical and sympathetic for Caesar until the end, saying “that every like is not the same, O Caesar, / The heart of Brutus yearns to think upon!” (2.2.129-130). People who are not motivated by their conscience but mainly for power and wealth include Cassius and possibly some of the other conspirators.
- I think it is very possible that one’s conscience could be wrong. In the play, Brutus’ conscience is horribly wrong when he decides that killing Caesar was the right thing to do. In reality, Caesar only thought he was a friend, and didn’t want to harm him. Caesar says “Good friends, go in,, and taste some wine with me” (2.2.127), referring to the conspirators, showing his innocent and oblivious side. In the real world, an example is Napoleon’s invasion into Russia. Napoleon’s conscience believed that he would win within 20 days, but his overconfidence and poor decision making skills were shown when more than ⅚ of his troops died in battle (Larned 1911).
- In the play, going against his own conscience leads to Caesar’s own death. He decides to listen to Calpurnia’s omens at first but is convinced by Decius’ explanation of the omen, saying that it “signifies that from you great Rome shall suck / reviving blood, and that great men shall press for tinctures, stains, relics, and cognizance” (2.2.87-89), leading him to reverse his decision. Personally, I go against my conscience often when my emotions override my conscience. While I try not to let this happen much, there are still times where my anger or sadness gets to me and I act against my conscience.
- Having a guilty conscience means when you know you have done something that violates your moral compass, you feel bad for it. This affects Brutus in Julius Caesar the most. When the conspirators meet up after Brutus receives the fake letter, Brutus feels bad and convinces the conspirators not to kill Antony (2.1.163-184), because he feels that in doing so, they would be deviating away from the original purpose of stopping Caesar’s rise to power, but instead they would be killing people for personal gain. A guilty conscience can persuade people to act well and not do wrong things so that they will not feel bad for their own actions.
- In what ways could Calpurnia’s omens, such as a lioness giving birth and graves opening, be interpreted?
- Do you think Cassius really wanted to kill Caesar for the better of Rome or was Cassius just jealous of Caesar’s power?
- How do Brutus’ actions relate to or follow his belief in stoicism?
- Garner, Nicole. “15 Famous People Who Picked Careers Their Parents Disapproved Of.” Mental Floss, Mental Floss, 16 Dec. 2015, mentalfloss.com/article/72361/15-famous-people-who-picked-careers-their-parents-disapproved.
- Prisco, S., III. “Strozier, Charles B.: Your friend forever, A. Lincoln: the enduring friendship of Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed.” CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, Nov. 2016, p. 441. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A469640815/AONE?u=j101914&sid=AONE&xid=6bdca8d1. Accessed 23 Jan. 2019.
- Collins, Michael, et al. “Today Should Be Payday for Hundreds of Thousands of Government Workers. But the Shutdown Means They’re Not Getting Paid.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 11 Jan. 2019, www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/01/11/government-shutdown-paychecks-hold-thousands-federal-workers/2538807002/.
- Hussey, Joan Mervyn. “Justinian I.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1 Jan. 2019, www.britannica.com/biography/Justinian-I.
- Larned, Josephus Nelson. “Napoleon: a Prodigy, Without Greatness.” A Study of Greatness in Man, by Josephus Nelson Larned, Houghton Mifflin, 1911, p. 37. LitFinder, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/LTF0000386784WK/GLS?u=j101914053&sid=GLS&xid=40bbc6de. Accessed 23 Jan. 2019.
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