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Probably written in 1599 Julius Caesar was the earliest of Shakespeares three Roman history plays Like Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus Julius Caesar is a dramatization of actual events Shakespeare drawing upon the ancient Roman historian Plutarchs Lives of Caesar Brutus and Mark Antony as the primary source of the plays plot and characters The play is tightly structured It establishes the dramatic problem of alarm at Julius Caesars ambition to become king or dictator in the very first scene and introduces signs that Caesar must beware the Ides of March from the outset Before its mid-point Caesar is assassinated and shortly after Mark Antonys famous funeral oration Friends Romans and countrymen the setting shifts permanently from Rome to the battlefields on which Brutus and Cassius meet their inevitable defeat Julius Caesar is also a tragedy but despite its title the tragic character of the play is Brutus the noble Roman whose decision to ta ke part in the conspiracy for the sake of freedom plunges him into a personal conflict and his country into civil war The play begins in the streets of Rome in a festive mood as the citizens celebrate the return of Julius Caesar from his military campaign against his rival for power Pompey But two tribunes Flavius and Marcellus introduce a note of discord as an omen of things to come They ask a cobbler why he is rejoicing over the defeat of the Roman general Pompey who was once a hero to the citys masses They then begin to tear down decorations hung in Caesars honor Jump to the text of Act I Scene i The leaders of Rome appear in a public square They include the triumphant Caesar and his wife Calphurnia Mark Antony Brutus and his wife Portia along with several of the nobles who are conspiring against their Emperor most notably Cassius In addition to celebrating Caesars
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