William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Guided Reading Full Text and Modern Translation

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William Shakespeare’s

Julius Caesar

Guided Reading

Full Text and Modern Translation


Short non-fictional History

Of Julius Caesar


Act 1 Scene 1

  1. How does Shakespeare use humor in the opening scene?

  2. A pun is a play on words, two words that sound alike but have different meanings. Find two examples of puns in the opening lines of the scene.

  3. How does Shakespeare show the political conflict in Rome?

  4. What is the reason the cobbler tells Flavius and Marullus he is leading the people through the street?

  5. What is the real reason the people are out in the street?

  6. What about Pompey is revealed in this scene?

  7. What information is given about Caesar?

  8. How does the scene show the fickleness of the crowd?

  9. Shakespeare often uses comparisons (metaphor and simile) and figurative language. What is the comparison Flavius makes in the final lines of the scene?

  10. What are the intentions of Flavius and Marullus as the scene ends?

Short Essay

  1. Read through Caesar’s Commentaries, an account of his battles in Europe and write a brief history of Caesar’s rise to power.

  2. Research the first triumvirate-Caesar, Crassus and Pompey. What happened to it? What were the causes and the results of Roman Civil War?

  3. The tribunes Flavius and Marullus are concerned about Caesar’s rise to power. Research the role of the tribunes in Roman society and discuss their duties and responsibilities.

Act 1 Scene 2

  1. How is Caesar’s power indicated in the scene?

  2. What was the soothsayer’s warning?

  3. What reason does Brutus give Cassius for his coolness towards his?

  4. What two stories does Brutus tell about Caesar?

  5. What does Cassius compare Caesar to in lines 142-145?

  6. What reasons does Caesar give Antony that Cassius is dangerous?

  7. Why does Casca say Caesar fell?

  8. What does Brutus mean when he says Caesar has the ‘falling sickness’?

  9. What does Cassius mean when he says, “But you, and I,/And honest Casca, we have the falling –sickness”?

  10. How does Cassius plan to trick Brutus into joining the plot against Caesar?

Act 1 Scene 3

  1. Why does Casca have his sword drawn?

  2. What two ‘supernatural’ events does Casca describe to Cicero?

  3. What unusual ‘natural’ event does he tell about?

  4. Why does Casca think these unusual things are happening?

  5. What information about Caesar is revealed in their conversation?

  6. How is Cassius’ conduct in the storm different from Casca’s?

  7. How does Cassius interpret all that is happening in Rome?

  8. What news does Cinna bring to Cassius?

  9. Why does Casca think it is important for Brutus to join with them in the plot against Caesar?

  10. How does Cassius plan to put extra pressure on Brutus at the end of Act 1?

Short Essay

  1. Superstition is an important part of the play and a significant factor in Roman life. Examine the superstition and the supernatural events described in this scene. Research Roman mythology and Roman superstitions. What did the Romans believe and what were they afraid of?

  2. Compare the character of Casca as he is depicted in Scenes I and II. How has he changed? What does the audience learn from him and why is he an important character in the play?

Act 2 Scene 1

  1. What reason does Brutus give in his soliloquy for killing Caesar?

  2. What do the letters addressed to Brutus say?

  3. Why can’t Lucius identify the men with Cassius?

  4. Why does Brutus oppose the idea of swearing an oath?

  5. Why does Brutus object to Cicero joining the conspiracy?

  6. Why does Brutus oppose killing Mark Antony?

  7. How does Decius plan to get Caesar to the Capitol?

  8. What advice does Brutus give the conspirators as they leave his house?

  9. Why does Portia think she is strong enough to share in Brutus’ plans?

  10. How does Caius Ligarius prove his high regard for Brutus?

Short Essay

  1. A ‘tragic flaw’ is a weakness of personality in a character that makes the character vulnerable, and leads to his destruction. What were Caesar’s and Brutus’ ‘tragic flaws’ and how do these flaws make them vulnerable?

Act 2 Scene 2

  1. Why is Caesar concerned when the scene begins?

  2. What is Calphurnia’s request of Caesar?

  3. What is Caesar’s response to Calphurnia’s concern he might be killed?

  4. What was the result of the sacrifice performed by the augurers?

  5. What reasons does Caesar give Decius for staying home?

  6. What was Calphurnia’s dream?

  7. How does Decius use flattery to get Caesar to change his mind?

  8. How does Decius interpret Calphurnia’s dream?

  9. What does Trebonius say when Caesar tells his to stay by?

  10. What is the irony in Caesar’s last lines in the scene?

Short Essay

  1. Compare Caesar in Act 1, Scene 2 to the Caesar that appears in this scene. How is he the same? How is he different? What does he fear and what are the forces that influence him?

  2. Wives play a key role in Act II, Scenes 1 and 2. How do the wives of Brutus and Caesar try to influence their husbands? Are they successful?

Act II, Scenes 3-4

  1. How does Shakespeare add the element of suspense in these two short scenes?

  2. What is Artemidorus’ warning?

  3. What does Artemidorus mean when he says, ‘Security gives way to conspiracy”?

  4. How does he plan to give Caesar his letter?

  5. Why doesn’t Lucius carry out Portia’s request?

  6. What does Portia mean in her aside, “O constancy, be strong upon my side!/Set a huge mountain ‘tween my heart and tongue!/I have a man’s mind, but a woman’s might./How hard it is for women to keep counsel!”?

  7. What does she tell Lucius to do?

  8. What does the soothsayer tell Portia he plans to do?

  9. What is Portia’s wish for Brutus?

  10. How does Portia try to cover up being overheard by Lucius?

Short Essay

  1. Rome was a republic that depended on slavery similar to the United States until the 1860’s. Research the history of slavery in Rome. Where did the slaves come from? What roles did they play in the Republic? What was a slave’s life like? What rights and responsibilities did they have? What were the rights and responsibilities of the Roman citizens?

  2. Compare the characters of Calphurnia and Portia in terms of how they are portrayed by Shakespeare in this act. How are the two women similar? Compare the two scenes involving these two wives and their husbands. What purpose do the scenes serve?

Act III, Scene 1

  1. Why does Caesar not read Artemidorus’ letter?

  2. Why does Cassius think their assassination plan has been discovered?

  3. Why does Caesar get angry at Metellus?

  4. What does Brutus tell the frightened senators after Caesar’s assassination?

  5. How does Calphurnia’s dream come true?

  6. What does Antony want from the conspirators?

  7. What restrictions does Brutus place on Antony when he allows him to speak at the funeral?

  8. What does Antony predict in his soliloquy?

  9. What information does the messenger bring to Antony?

  10. What are Antony’s intentions as the scene ends?

Short Essay

  1. A soliloquy is an important device to expose information and give the reader insight into a character. In a soliloquy the character speaks the truth. Read Antony’s soliloquy in this scene again. What truth does it reveal about Antony who has just apparently reconciled with the men who killed his friend, Caesar?

  2. How does Caesar’s “tragic flaw” of pride and ambition enable the events in this scene to occur? How could these events have been prevented?

Act III, Scene 2-3

  1. How does Brutus justify the killing of Caesar to the people of Rome?

  2. What is the crowd’s reaction to Brutus’ speech?

  3. What two reasons does Antony give to prove Caesar wasn’t ambitious?

  4. How does Antony use irony in his funeral speech?

  5. What is the pun Antony uses in this line from Scene II: “O judgement! Thou are fled to brutish beasts,”?

  6. How does Antony use Caesar’s cloak to manipulate the crowd?

  7. How does Antony say that Caesar died?

  8. What is the news that the messenger brings to Antony at the end of the scene?

  9. Why is Cinna out on the streets?

  10. What is the excuse the mob uses to kill Cinna?

Short Essay

  1. Compare the funeral speeches of Brutus and Antony. What are their purposes? How effective is each speech? How does each speech reveal important aspects of both characters?

  2. The fickleness of the crowd is an important issue in the play. Brutus and Antony both depend on it. How are they able to manipulate the crowd in this scene? What other devices do they use in their funeral speeches to win the support of the crowd? Which speech is more effective and why? Give reason for your opinions.

Act IV, Scene I

  1. Why are Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus together in the scene?

  2. How doe Shakespeare show their callousness?

  3. Why does Antony send Lepidus to Caesar’s house?

  4. What is Antony’s true opinion of Lepidus?

  5. Why did Antony pick Lepidus as one of the new leaders of Rome?

  6. What does Antony compare Lepidus to?

  7. What is Octavius’ assessment of Lepidus?

  8. What is Antony’s response to Octavius?

  9. What news does Antony tell Octavius about Brutus and Cassius?

  10. Why does Octavius agree with Antony’s plan to go after Cassius and Brutus?

Short Essay

  1. What does this scene reveal about Octavius? What new insight does it give into Antony’s character, and how does that effect your opinion of him?

  2. Antony and Octavius will become the focus of attention for the remainder of the play and Shakespeare will write about them in Antony and Cleopatra. Little is said or know of Lepidus. Research the life of Lepidus. What is his background? Where did he come from, what happened to him after the civil war with Brutus and Cassius?

Act IV, Scenes 2 and 3

  1. Wh is Brutus concerned about Lucilius’ account of his meeting with Cassius?

  2. Why does Brutus tell Cassius to come into his tent?

  3. Why is Cassius angry with Brutus?

  4. Why is Brutus angry with Cassius?

  5. Why does Brutus say he is not afraid of Cassius’ threats?

  6. What is the advice given to Cassius and Brutus by the poet?

  7. What is the news from Rome?

  8. What are Brutus’ and Cassius’ battle plans?

  9. What reasons does Brutus give for his plan?

  10. What does the ghost of Caesar tell Brutus?

Short Essay

  1. Critics have said that Caesar has a stronger influence on the events, the outcome, and the characters in the play after his death than he did when he was living. Explain why you agree or disagree with this, and give reasons to support your opinions.

  2. The critic G. Wilson Knight has described the importance of sleep in Julius Caesar. Sleep is mentioned by Brutus in his soliloquy in the first scene of Act II. It is brought up by Portia, and Calphurnia’s dream is very significant. Discuss the sleep imagery in the play and show how it is important.

Act V, Scene I

  1. What does Octavius report to Antony in the opening lines of the scene?

  2. What is the cause of the disagreement between Antony and Octavius?

  3. How does Antony insult Cassius and Brutus?

  4. What is Cassius’ response to Antony’s insult?

  5. Why is Cassius reluctant to fight the battle?

  6. What are the omens he has observed?

  7. Why would it be ironic if Cassius dies in the battle?

  8. What is Brutus’ attitude concerning suicide?

  9. What is Brutus’ response when Cassius asks if he is “contented to be led in triumph/Thorough the streets of Rome?”

  10. Why is Brutus anxious for the battle to begin?

Short Essay

  1. In literature the climax is defined as the highest point of the action in a story, where the conflict is resolved. The battle between Cassius and Brutus and Antony and Octavius would seem to be the climax of the play, but this confrontation never takes place. When do you think the climax of the play occurs. Give reasons for your opinions.

  2. Write a character sketch of Brutus, Cassius, Antony, Octavius and Caesar based on their actions, what they say, and what others say about them. What are their strong points and their weaknesses? Which character is the most interesting in your opinion and why?

Act V, Scenes II-III

  1. What order does Brutus give Messala in the battle?

  2. How does Cassius try to prevent the retreat?

  3. What news does Pindarus bring the retreating Cassius?

  4. Why does Cassius ask Pindarus to describe Titinius’ ride instead of doing so himself?

  5. What does Pindarus describe?

  6. What request does Cassius make of Pindarus?

  7. What is ironic about the way Cassius dies?

  8. What is the message Titinius has for Cassius?

  9. How does Titinius show his high regard for Cassius?

  10. Why does Brutus plan to send Cassius’ body to Thasos for burial?

Short Essay

  1. Caesar considered Cassius a threat, a dangerous man who thought too much. Brutus called his brother-in-law “the last of all the Romans.” Research the life of Cassius. Whose evaluation of Cassius is closer to the truth? Who is the real Cassius?

  2. Who do you think makes a better leader, a pragmatist (a practical, political person like Cassius) or an idealist (a man of principle such as Brutus)? Can a leader ever be both? Support your conclusion with specific references to the events of the play?

Act V, Scenes IV and V

  1. What happens to young Cato?

  2. How does Lucilius try to confuse the enemy troops?

  3. What does Lucilius request of the two soldiers?

  4. What does Antony do when he recognizes Lucilius?

  5. Why does Brutus say he wants to commit suicide?

  6. What is the one thing Brutus says he is happy about before he dies?

  7. How does Brutus die?

  8. How does Strato answer Messala’s inquiry about Brutus?

  9. How does Octavius restore order to Rome after the battle?

  10. How does Antony regard Brutus at the end of the play?

Short Essay

  1. Some critics contend the play should have been titled Marcus Brutus instead of Julius Caesar because he is the real tragic hero of the play. Discuss this idea in a short essay and give your reasons why you agree or disagree.

  2. Caesar and Brutus had a great deal in common. Both men were misled and manipulated by their friends. Show how this is true in terms of what happens to each of them in the course of the play.

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