Julius Caesar: Synopsis

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Follow Julius Caesar with our scene by scene synopsis.

A printable version of this synopsis is available in the downloads section below.


Julius Caesar 
wife to Caesar
Servant to them

Marcus Brutus
wife to Brutus
Lucius servant to them

Caius Cassius Patricians who join with Brutus against Caesar
Casca Patricians who join with Brutus against Caesar
Cinna Patricians who join with Brutus against Caesar
Decius Brutus Patricians who join with Brutus against Caesar
Caius Ligarius Patricians who join with Brutus against Caesar
Metellus Cimber Patricians who join with Brutus against Caesar
Trebonius Patricians who join with Brutus against Caesar

Cicero Senators
Publius Senators
Popilius Lena Senators

Flavius Tribunes
Murellus Tribunes

Mark Antony Triumvirs who rule Rome after Caesar’s death
Lepidus Triumvirs who rule Rome after Caesar’s death
Octavius Triumvirs who rule Rome after Caesar’s death

Lucilius officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Titinius officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Messala officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Varrus officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Claudio officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Young Cato officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Strato officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Volumnius officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Dardanius officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Clitus officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Flavius officers and soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius

the poet
Another poet 
slave to Cassius


Scene by Scene

Act 1 Scene 1 – ‘We make holiday to see Caesar’
The people of Rome crowd the streets in celebration of Julius Caesar’s victorious return from battle against the sons of Pompey. But they are reprimanded by two tribunes – Roman officials whose job is to protect the ordinary people of the city – who remind them that they once supported Pompey, and warn Caesar should not be allowed to become too powerful.
Act 1 Scene 2 – ‘Beware the Ides of March’
Caesar’s triumphant procession arrives. He is met by a soothsayer, who warns him to ‘Beware the Ides of March’ (the 15th day of that month). Caesar dismisses the warning and his procession continues. Two of Caesar’s followers, Brutus and Cassius, stay behind and discuss Caesar’s ever-increasing power. Caesar returns and, seeming out of sorts, promptly departs, leaving one of his followers to explain what has happened; Mark Antony offered Caesar the crown three times, and each time, despite the crowd’s encouragement, Caesar refused it, before then falling into an epileptic seizure. The three men discuss the political situation and, when left alone, Cassius announces that he intends to overthrow Caesar in favour of Brutus.
Act 1 Scene 3 – ‘It is a strange-disposed time’
Caska informs Cicero of a terrible storm that has sent the city into a state of chaos: people walking through the city with their bodies on fire; a lion roaming the streets; and nocturnal owls screeching throughout the day. Cassius arrives and interprets these events as omens of what will happen should the Senate hand Caesar the crown the following day. He tells Caska that he has been conspiring with other noble Romans to overthrow Caesar. Cinna, one of his co-conspirators arrives, and Cassius gives him a letter for Brutus. Cassius and Caska decide to visit Brutus and convince him to join their plot.
Act 2 Scene 1 – ‘Let’s be sacrificers but not butchers’
It is the night before the Ides of March – the day that Caesar was warned of. Alone, Brutus confesses that he has not been able to sleep since Cassius planted the idea in his head of overthrowing Caesar. Cassius arrives with the other conspirators: Caska, Decius, Cinna, Metellus and Trebonius. Cassius suggests that Mark Antony should also be killed, but Brutus is wary of too much bloodshed. The conspirators depart, and prepare to carry out their plot. Brutus’s wife Portia enters and asks her husband about his troubled behaviour, and he promises to tell her of his plan. Brutus is then visited by another Roman, Caius Ligarius, who agrees to join their plot.
Act 2 Scene 2 – ‘Caesar shall go forth’
Caesar’s wife, Calphurnia, wakes from a dream about her husband’s murder and begs him not to go to the Senate. Caesar acknowledges her fears, but insists that he is not afraid. Caesar’s servant brings word from a priest about what the future holds for his master: the omens reported are not good. Calphurnia begs Caesar to send Mark Antony in his place, and Caesar finally agrees: he will send a message that he is not well. Decius – one of the conspirators – arrives and persuades Caesar not to be swayed by his wife’s bad dreams. They are joined by the other conspirators, and Caesar invites them in for wine before they depart for the Senate.
Act 2 Scene 3 – ‘Beware of Brutus’
Artemidorus enters with a letter for Caesar, containing the names of those conspiring against him. He vows to ensure that Caesar receives it in time.
Act 2 Scene 4 – ‘Is Caesar yet gone to the Capitol?’
Portia urges their servant Lucius to run to the Senate House and report on the situation with Caesar. 
Act 3 Scene 1 – ‘Et tu, Brute?’
Caesar arrives, and smugly tells the soothsayer that the Ides of March have arrived; the soothsayer points out that they are not yet over. Artemidorus tries, but fails, to deliver the letter to Caesar. Metellus approaches Caesar with a petition to reverse his brother’s banishment, which he refuses. To his surprise, Brutus joins the petition, along with the other conspirators. When Caesar refuses again, they stab him. As the conspirators celebrate, a servant from Marc Antony arrives, promising peace and requesting that his master be allowed to safely visit Brutus and hear his justification of Caesar’s assassination. Brutus agrees.
When he arrives, it is agreed that Brutus and Antony will both speak to the people to explain the situation. When he is alone, however, Antony swears revenge. A servant arrives from Octavius Caesar, whom Julius Caesar had invited to visit the Capitol. Antony sends him a message informing him of the morning’s events, and advising caution.
Act 3 Scene 2 – ‘Brutus is an honourable man’
Brutus addresses the plebeians, acknowledging Caesar’s virtues but insisting that he took the action he did because of Caesar’s ambition, and for the good of Rome. Mark Antony brings out Caesar’s body, and Brutus promises that – should his own ambition ever come before his better judgement – he will accept the same fate as Caesar. The people, seemingly convinced, praise Brutus’s good judgement. He departs, insisting that the people stay to listen to Antony too. Antony begins his speech by praising Brutus, and agreeing that if Caesar was ambitious he deserved his fate. He says repeatedly that ‘Brutus is an honourable man’, though as the speech progresses this rings less and less true. Antony notes Caesar’s good deeds, his empathy for the people, and the fact that Caesar refused the crown three times: are these the actions of an ambitious man? The crowd, convinced by Antony’s honesty, begins to doubt Brutus’s actions. Though feigning reluctance at first, Antony agrees to read Caesar’s will, in which he left money to every Roman citizen and all his property to the public. The people, now enraged with Brutus, vow to avenge Caesar and kill the conspirators. Hearing of this, Brutus and Cassius flee Rome.
Act 3 Scene 3 – ‘I am Cinna the poet!’
The angry plebeians encounter and brutally murder a poet named Cinna, after mistaking him for the conspirator of the same name.
Act 4 Scene 1 – ‘A barren-spirited fellow’
Antony meets with Octavius and Lepidus. In private, Antony seems considerably less generous than when addressing the public, sending Lepidus to fetch Caesar’s will in the hope of reducing the value of some of the gifts. When alone with Octavius, Antony confesses that he does not wish Lepidus to rule alongside them in the long term: he will be a useful presence in the forthcoming battle against Brutus and Cassius, but no more.
Act 4 Scene 2 – ‘Speak your griefs softly’
Relations between Brutus and Cassius seem to be deteriorating: each feeling offended by the other, they meet in private to discuss their plans.
Act 4 Scene 3 – ‘Thy evil spirit’
Brutus and Cassius argue over various points of military management. Their argument is eventually resolved, both blaming their own bad tempers, and their friendship is renewed. Brutus tells Cassius that his wife Portia, distressed by his absence and afraid of Antony’s rise to power, has killed herself. Brutus and Cassius debate how and when to meet Antony’s approaching army. When Cassius has gone, Brutus is visited by the ghost of Caesar, who promises to appear again at the battle against Antony’s army. Once the ghost has left, Brutus sends word to Cassius to go ahead with his troops – he will follow soon after.
Act 5 Scene 1 – ‘If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed’
Octavius reports to Antony that Brutus and Cassius’s army is marching toward them rather than waiting for their arrival. Cassius and Brutus part on good terms, wishing each other well but acknowledging that this may be their last meeting.
Act 5 Scene 2 – ‘Let them set on at once’
In the middle of the battle, Brutus orders one of their legions to attack Octavius’s troops, who appear to be weakening.
Act 5 Scene 3 – ‘O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet’
Cassius’s soldiers are in disarray. Seeing his men fleeing, Cassius kills his own standard-bearer in anger. His men blame Brutus for giving an order too early, allowing Antony’s troops to surround them. Realising that he has lost, Cassius orders his servant Pindarus to kill him, offering him his freedom in exchange, and Pindarus does so. Messala enters with better news – Brutus’s soldiers have defeated Octavius’s – but he is too late. While Messala goes to find Brutus, Cassius’s supporter Titinius – devastated by Cassius’s death – kills himself. When Brutus arrives and sees both the bodies, he is in awe of the power that Caesar’s spirit continues to exercise over them. He vows to fight on.
Act 5 Scene 4 – ‘No enemy shall ever take alive the noble Brutus’
Some of Brutus’s soldiers are captured by Antony’s troops. 
Act 5 Scene 5 – ‘This was the noblest Roman of them all’
Brutus has again been visited by Caesar’s ghost and, with Antony’s troops approaching, he asks his friends to kill him. They all refuse him, but Brutus eventually persuades one of his followers to assist him by holding out a sword which Brutus runs on to, killing himself. Antony, Octavius and their followers arrive. Antony pays tribute to Brutus, believing he did what he thought was right, and orders Brutus’s body to be buried honourably. 


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