Julius Caesar Plot Summary
Julius Caesar returns to Rome, victorious from battle. The crowd in Rome is ecstatic, and they attempt to crown him King three times. A group of generals in his army become concerned about Caesar's power and his penchant for extreme and tyrannical actions. That night, huge storms surround Rome, and strange, supernatural things happen all over the city. Cassius, Cinna, and Casca meet during the night and discuss their desire to overthrow Caesar from the throne. They believe they should kill him. The three involve Decius Brutus, Trebonius, Ligarus, and Metellus Cimber in the growing conspiracy. They all, except for Casca, go to Marcus Brutus' house and convince him to join. The group hatches a plan to kill Caesar at the Senate the next day, each man drawing his sword on Caesar at the same time. Cassius pushes the group to kill Mark Antony, Caesar's constant companion and ally, as well. Marcus Brutus argues against this action, saying that the bloodshed should be kept to a minimum, and vengeful actions should be avoided by the group.
Later in the same scene, after an impassioned speech in which Brutus' wife Portia reveals that she has gashed her thigh to prove that her strength is equal to that of her husband, Brutus is compelled by his love and respect for her to tell her what is troubling him. He promises to tell her what is going on after he meets with his co-conspirators.
The next morning, Calphurnia, Caesar's wife, initially convinces Caesar to stay home because she had nightmares about what his fate would be today. Caesar remains proud, though, and one of the conspirators, Decius Brutus, comes to his house and reinterprets Calphurnia's dream and convinces Caesar to go to the Capitol and Senate after all. Before Caesar makes his away to the Senate, a sophist named Artemidorus reads aloud a warning that he will attempt to pass off to Caesar before he enters the Senate, but he is never able to present the scroll to Caesar. The document names all of the conspirators and warns Caesar to stay away from them today.
When he arrives at the Senate, Caesar sees a soothsayer who had warned him the day before to beware of the ides of March, and says to him, "the ides of March are come," but the soothsayer responds ominously, "Ay, Caesar, but not gone." As Caesar goes to the front of the Senate, the conspirators follow him and begin to argue for a pardon for Metellus Cimber's banished brother. This way, they are able to get close to Caesar, who arrogantly refuses to consider the request. At this, Casca begins by stabbing Caesar in the back of the neck, followed by the rest of the group, and, finally, by Marcus Brutus, who stabs him in the heart.
Meanwhile, Trebonius has taken Antony aside so he cannot protect Caesar. The crowd in the Senate panics. Antony re-enters as the conspirators are standing over Caesar's body, and expresses his grief to Caesar before approaching the conspirators to pledge his allegiance to them, the new leaders of Rome. Antony makes a simple request: that he be allowed to bear Caesar's body to the center of Rome and make a eulogy for Caesar before the crowd. When Brutus agrees to this concession, Cassius takes him aside and expresses his worry that Antony may still do something to hurt the conspirators. Brutus brushes these concerns aside, saying that he will speak to the crowd first, saying that he killed Caesar out of concern for the citizens of Rome.
After Brutus' speech, Antony proceeds to incite the crowd against Brutus and his co-conspirators with irony and mockery.
In the next scene, the poet Cinna is accosted by the crowd that was incited by Antony's speech just because he shares a name with the conspirator. After this, the Triumvir that was supposed to include Caesar, but now includes Mark Antony, Octavius and Lepidus plan their revenge on Marcus Brutus and his group of conspirators, in order to regain control of Rome, which they had planned to rule together.
They plan to meet Brutus and Cassius, who are camped with Brutus' army outside of Sardis. In the next scene, Brutus is waiting to greet Cassius, who has just arrived with his army. We find out that Cassius is insulted by Brutus' condemnation of Lucius Pella for taking bribes. Cassius had pleaded for clemency for Pella. It turns out that the argument is a misunderstanding, partly caused by the pain Brutus suffers when he hears that his wife, Portia, has killed herself by swallowing hot coals. After this argument, the two men decide to advance to Philippi before battling Antony and Octavius, hoping to catch them when they are at their weakest. That night, while reading, Brutus is distracted by a ghost who appears in his tent. The others remain asleep while Caesar's ghost warns Brutus that they will meet again tomorrow at the plains of Philippi.
The next day, Brutus and Cassius go to speak with Antony and Octavius before they go into battle. After they leave, Cassius and Brutus speak one last time before the battle, and Brutus states that he will never be led through the streets of Rome as a captive; he will kill himself instead. In the next scene, Brutus commands Messala to give the message to charge to Cassius and his troops, because he fears that Octavius has approached too quickly. Cassius is worried by this rash move, and Cassius and his servant Pindarus retreat to a high hill while Pindarus narrates the action below and Cassius hides. When Pindarus misinterprets what he sees below, and tells Cassius that Titinius has been captured, Cassius despairs and commands Pindarus to kill him. Afterward, Titinius returns to claim victory, and expresses grief over Cassius' death, and kills himself with the same sword. Brutus enters with his officers, including Messala, Young Cato, Strato, Voluminus and Lucilius. Brutus sees the two men dead and proclaims that Caesar is still mighty because of what has resulted from his death.
The soldiers leave and return to battle, but Brutus goes off to the side with some close friends. After most of them have been persuaded to go back into battle, Strato, who Brutus has asked to stay, shakes Brutus' hand out of respect, and holds his sword as Brutus stabs himself with it. Octavius and Antony find Brutus' body, and both proceed to complement Brutus and recognize his pure motives for killing Caesar.