Julius Caesar Essay Research Paper The storyof

Julius Caesar Essay, Research Paper

The story

of Julius Caesar’s assassination has been told both historically and

fictionally. Historical sources focus on the facts of the assassination, while

fictionary works focus more on the characters and the drama of the story.

Because of the different purposes of the sources, there are many differences

between the historical and fictional stories. William Shakespeare’s Julius

Caesar adds certain details and dramatic elements to make the story more

interesting and to make the play more enjoyable. Historical sources such as

Roger Bruns’s Caesar and Manuel Komroff’s Julius Caesar present an more

accurate account of the events that occurred on and around the Ides of March.

There are however, because all of the sources are telling the same story, even

more similarities. Reading all of the sources can give a reader an

understanding of not only what really happened and why, but also what the

people involved were probably like. The time

before Caesar’s death has many differences in how events happened rather than

if events happened. Both historical accounts record that Caesar had recently

returned from a long military campaign that sent him to the far reaches of the

Roman Empire. Shakespeare’s account tells of a recent victory over Pompey but does

not say that Caesar returned from a massive campaign. In Komroff’s account, The

conspirators had planned for much longer than the other authors recorded.

Komroff wrote that the conspirators convinced the Senate to offer Caesar the

crown. The conspirators then placed a crown on a statue of Caesar that was

quickly torn down by Caesar’s friends. "Then, a few days later, as he was

riding through the streets of Rome, a crowd of people who had been led on by

the Aristocrats hailed him as King" (Komroff 161-162). The final offer of

the crown occurred before a large crowd of Romans, when a crown was placed on

Caesar’s head he took it off and said "The Romans have no kings but their

gods" (Komroff 162). Caesar refused the title every time because he knew

that the second he did, the people would turn against him. Caesar also knew

that the conspirators were behind these offers and was not about to play right

into their hands. In both Shakespeare’s and Bruns’s works, Mark Antony was the

one who offered the crown to Caesar. He did not do it to harm Caesar but out of

respect for Caesar. The Number of conspirators is the same in both historical

works. Both say that at least sixty men were involved in the conspiracy, most

of them senate members. Shakespeare’s work says that only about eight men were

part of the conspiracy, probably to cut down on the number of actors for the

play. While there are many differences in the time before Caesar’s death, there

are just as many similarities. All three

sources agree that Caesar fought and killed Pompey. Some of the senators were

alarmed at this because Pompey was a Roman and they questioned Caesar’s honor.

Upon Caesar’s return from battle, many celebrations were held. In Bruns’s

account, a series of "triumphs" or extravagant celebrations were held

in Caesar’s honor, one for each of his triumphs. In Shakespeare’s account, a

large celebration was held in Rome in Caesar’s honor. The motive for killing

Caesar is similar in all three accounts. The conspirators were afraid that

Caesar was "ambitious," that he wanted to become king. The

conspirators feared a monarchy because they did not want a heir to gain the

throne, they wanted to maintain a republic where leaders were voted into

office. Many of the conspirators did not trust Caesar, "Yet, Caesar still

provoked in many deep resentment and distrust" (Bruns 102). Because Caesar

was a leader of the people, the conspirators, who were of the aristocratic

class, "hoped to regain control of the government" (Komroff 163). All

of the sources also agree on when Caesar was killed. He was killed on March 15,

the Ides of March. In the

time that Caesar was killed many details are different in the two types of

accounts. In the historical account of Komroff, The conspirators crowded around

Caesar when he was seated at the head of the Senate. The conspirators engaged

in conversation with Caesar, "They talked freely together. Some had favors

to ask. Others had stories to tell" (Komroff 166). Then the conspirators

began to carry out the fatal stage of their plan. A scroll

was then placed in Caesar’s hand and as he unrolled it and began to read its

contents, his toga was suddenly grabbed and torn from his shoulders. He was

stabbed in the throat by a dagger. He rose to

his feet with a cry and caught the arm of the one who struck him. Then he was

stabbed again by another. He looked around and saw that he was surrounded by a

ring of daggers. There was no chance of escape. He lifted the folds of his toga

over his head. The daggers struck him from every side (Komroff 166-167). In

Shakespeare’s account a man named Metellus was petitioning Caesar to repeal the

banishment of his brother. Caesar refused, saying, "…I am constant as

the northern star…" (Shakespeare, 715). The conspirators used this as an

excuse to get closer to Caesar. The conspirators came close to Caesar to plead

for Metellus’ case, first Brutus and Cassius then the rest of the conspirators

joined them as Caesar’s side, all but Casca who was waiting behind Caesar.

"Speak, hands, for me!" (Shakespeare 716). This was Casca’s cry as he

dealt the first blow to Caesar. The others then set upon Caesar and all but

Brutus stabbed Caesar. Caesar tried to fight the conspirators but when he saw

Brutus about to stab him he surrendered. "Et tu, Brute? Then fall

Caesar!" (Shakespeare 716). The historical account says that the

conspirators were already right next to Caesar but the fictionary account says

that the conspirators needed an excuse, Metellus, to creep up to Caesar.

History records that Caesar was stabbed 23 times, fiction says that Caesar was

stabbed "thirty and three" times or 33 times. The differences during

Caesar’s death show the different purposes of the author but the similarities

show the reader the facts of the story. In all of

the accounts Caesar receives warnings about his death. The same soothsayer who

warned him the first time warned him again with the phrase, "Beware of the

Ides of March" (Komroff 166). Caesar ignores this warning and heads on to

the senate. Artemidorus hands Caesar a scroll with the names of the men in the

conspiracy and the details of the plot. Caesar places the scroll in a pile of

petitions that he was to review at the senate thinking that it was another

petition when it was really a scroll that could have saved his life. "If

thou read this, O Caesar, thou mayest live; if not, the Fates with traitors do

contrive" (Shakespeare 711). History and Fiction also agree that Caesar

fell dead at the base of a statue of Pompey, the one whom Caesar had conquered

and killed. The time after Caesar’s death was a dramatic time in Roman history.

Because of the already tense situation, few things needed to be changed for

Shakespeare’s play. In

Shakespeare’s account Brutus spoke to the Roman people and for a time they were

sided with him but in Komroff’s record the people did not side with the

conspirators at all, in fact they were against the conspirators. On the night

of Caesar’s death, the conspirators met to talk and scheme. Their plan that had

seemed so perfect the night before had fallen apart and they had lost the

support of the people that they needed so desperately so as not to seem like

senseless murderers. In Shakespeare’s story, the conspirators spoke to the

people only hours after Caesar’s death and after Antony turned the people

against the conspirators they were forced to leave right away and did not even

have time to meet that night because they were all either fleeing or dead.

There are many more similarities in the time after Caesar’s than differences. Immediately

after Caesar’s death was a time of panic and fear. The senate, after seeing the

murder of Caesar, was panicked and they ran from the senate house in fear that

they were next. The conspirators surrounded Caesar’s body and raised their

hands in victory proclaiming that "Liberty is now restored" (Komroff

167). In both accounts the conspirators address the Roman people to try to gain

their support and approval. When Mark Antony speaks to the people he rallies

them against the conspirators. He shows the people Caesar’s body and

Shakespeare wrote that Antony even pointed out the place that each of the

conspirators stabbed Caesar to give the people a picture of the murder. Antony

read Caesar’s will to the people to make the people feel personally involved in

the situation. The people were so riled by Antony that they began to march

through the streets of Rome calling for the death of the conspirators.

Shakespeare wrote that the mob even killed a man who had the same name as one

of the conspirators. This goes to show how angry the people were and how hungry

they were for revenge. In all of the accounts the conspirators were hunted down

and killed, thus avenging the murder of Julius Caesar. When

Shakespeare presented the story of Julius Caesar’s death he made it entertaining

because, as a playwright, it was his job to present a story in an entertaining

fashion. He added elements that may or may not have had any part in what

actually happened. Historical authors like Komroff and Bruns have to make their

works historically accurate to give readers the real story. They do not have to

make history sound exciting by adding elements or by developing characters.

Because these authors had different purposes so they wrote the story from

different perspectives. This causes differences in the story’s development and

the effect it leaves on a reader or viewer.



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