Julius Caesar Background Knowledge Is Needed To

Julius Caesar: Background Knowledge Is Needed To Understand Play Essay, Research Paper

Julius Caesar: Background Knowledge Is Needed To Understand Play

Having a good background and knowledge of the history of Rome is very

helpful to understand Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. The setting of this

play took place hundreds of years ago, so if one knows a little bit of Roman

history, it would help very much in understanding what is going on in the play.

It is important to know about the connection, or relationship that there

once was between Caesar and Pompey. When Crassus died, Pompey and Caesar were

left as twin rulers of Rome. As one could imagine, each wanted to be the only

ruler, so a struggle broke out between them. Caesar defeated Pompey and his army

in an important battle, and went on later to defeat Pompey’s two sons. It is

after that fifth and last triumph, at the time they are celebrating, when the

play opens. To understand the play even better, one should be aware of Brutus’

(one of the conspirators against Caesar) ancestors, the Tarquins. Nearly five

hundred years before Caesar was even born, a cruel, unscrupulous leading family

had seized the riens of power and had set themselves up as kings. From that

point on, the people of Rome hated kings, and they bounded themselves together

by a solemn oath never to tolerate a monarch, and it was formally enacted into

law that if any man wish that the monarchy should be restored, he was to be

declared a public enemy and be put to death.

Brutus and the rest of the conspirators had killed Caesar, but they made

an error, which was letting Mark Antony, one of Caesar’s friends live. Antony

later united with Bepidus and Octavius, to go against Brutus, Cassius, and the

other conspirators. At the battle of Philippi, in Thrace, Brutus and Cassius

took their own lives when their army was destroyed. Just as Caesar and Pompey

had struggled for the world when Cassus died, so now when Bepidus died, Antony

and Octavius were left confronting each other. Octavius held Rome and Europe;

Antony held the East. Antony allied with Cleopatra and were planning to rule the

world from Alexandria, Cleopatra’s capital. Their navies met Octavius’ off the

shore of Actium, in Greece. Octavius conquered decisively, and both Antony and

Cleopatra, even as Brutus and Cassius had done eleven years before, took their

own lives rather than grace a Roman triumph. Again the blood of Caesar had


All this information is very important for the true understanding of the

play. Without knowing some of this information, it is almost impossible to know

why all this is happening, and what all this means. That’s why before reading

this play, one should first have a little background information about the

setting, plot, and have read a short summary of the play.

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