Julius Caesar


Act 1

Summary: Act I, scene i

On a street in ancient Rome, a group of Roman workers are confronted by the tribunes Flavius and Murellus. The tribunes demand to know why the commoners are not at work. A witty cobbler responds to Murellus with a series of clever puns, which Murellus does not understand. It does become clear, however, that the workers are out of their homes in order to witness the victory parade of Julius Caesar, who has just returned to Rome triumphant after defeating the sons of Pompey, a now deceased Roman general, in a series of battles in Spain. Murellus chastises the commoners, suggesting that they should not worship Caesar for he has done nothing to increase the glory of Rome. He also points out their fickleness, for not so long ago they were just as likely to celebrate Pompey’s victories. He orders them all to return to work. After they have gone, Flavius tells Murellus to remove any crowns and decorations he finds on the statue of Caesar at the Capitol. He suggests that they both go through the city, discouraging the commoners from attending Caesar’s parade.

Analysis: Act I, scene i

The first scene of the play establishes the current political situation in Rome. Flavius and Murellus, elected officials, are angry about the civilians’ admiration for Caesar because it is close to the kind of respect given to a monarch. Civil order is threatened, and the tribunes are attempting to restore it. Caesar’s attempt to centralize power threatens the freedom of the republican citizens, which is why Flavius points out that the working class cobbler and carpenter should not be celebrating. Rather, he says, “weep your tears/ Into the channel” (I.i.58-59), suggesting that Caesar’s triumphant parade should be seen as a source of sorrow to the working class.

Murellus’s long speech chastises the common people for the ease with which they switch allegiance, pointing out that they used to admire Pompey as much as Caesar, but now they are celebrating Pompey’s...

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Essays About Julius Caesar