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Premonitions in “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare
The play starts with the triumphant return of Julius Caesar from the war. During the ceremonies of the triumph, Cesar receives a warning from a prophet, or soothsayer telling him to be careful on the Ides of March. In a further scene, Cassius and Brutus discuss their fears on Caesar’s ambitions, as they think he wants to be king; despite being told he had given up the crown the people of Rome offered him. In a night full of omens and presages Casca; Cassius, and Cinna meet and agree that they need to attain Brutus’ favor to be able to eliminate Caesar. Since Brutus was also pondering the perils of Caesar’s possible crowning, he accepts the conspirers’ offer. The conspirers manage to kill Caesar, and Brutus justifies his actions in the light of keeping the Roman Republic. He receives the support of the people but Antony, mad for the conspiracy sides against the conspirers and makes them flee Rome. Antony, along with Octavius and Lepidus forms a triumvirate and fight the killers. Both armies clash, and believing they have been defeated Cassius orders his servant to assassinate him. A further battle seals the conspirer’s fate, and Brutus kills himself. After the struggle, Antony and Octavius decided to honor Brutus and offer him a state funeral.
Julius Caesar (100 BCE – 44 BCE) was a Roman general, and statesman who rose to power after his conquest of the Gallia, and the Gaul people. Caesar’s major contribution to history was to turn the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. A conspiracy that followed a coup ended with his assassination on the Ides of March
In this essay, we shall discuss, and analyze the issue of premonitions in the play and how it presents it on three occasions. The first, when Cassius and Brutus meet to plot Caesar’s death; the second when the soothsayer approacher Caesar in the Senate; and the third, when Cassius and Brutus speak again on the issue of their defeat.
The subject of premonitions is evident in this scene where Cassius and Brutus are starting to plot against Caesar. In the dialogue, Cassius reflects that people should not see Caesar as divine since he was born as Roman, as they are. Then he asks Brutus, why Caesar’s name should be more valuable than theirs. The issue of omens and premonitions can be found here because they are both plotting their friend’s death. By mentioning the stars he is considering their mission as somewhat sacred, and something that although sad, must be done “Men at some time are masters of their fates:/The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,/But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” (Shakespeare 1,2)
The issue of premonitions also becomes evident when we see the soothsayer approaching Cesar as to tell him something when he approaches he beware Caesar about the Ides of March. Caesar disregards him, and the soothsayer retorts against his asseveration. Here we can see a foreshadowing of the man’s destiny, as he is warned that something can happen on that day. However, as the powerful man he is, he disregards the soothsayer’s warning. Believing them as the words of a madman, instead of taking them into account as he should have. The prophet’s words reveal the importance of fate in a man’s life. “CAESAR: [To the Soothsayer] the ides of March are come. Soothsayer: Ay, Caesar; but not gone.” (3,1)
In this scene, Cassius, and Brutus are speaking on the possible outcome of what they started in the Ides of March. The whole rebellion, and their battles against the triumvirate. In the dialogue, Cassius asks Brutus if he would let them lead him in a triumph as Romans did with their vanquished enemies, and Brutus responds that he would rather die than be captured. In this scene, we see how fate has elaborated a plot that enthralls all men, regardless of their condition. Premonitions plays an important role on this scene as it seems that although the problems they have faced, they never stopped believing in their luck, and after it had run out, they decided to die by their hands instead of being captured. Brutus’ fate is to die but to die a Roman, as a free men, not bound and gagged as his enemies intended. That is why he decided to take his own life before something took his freedom “No, Cassius, no: think not, thou noble Roman,/That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome, /He bears too great a mind. However, this same day/Must end that work the ides of March begun;/And whether we shall meet again I know not.” (5, 1)
The Bard filled the play with foreshadowing and premonitions and created a play that is full of double entendres and twists. In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare goal was to create the illusion of fate taking part in every man’s life, and that it did not matter how powerful you are, or how much you try to run away from it, fate is not something we can push aside. In the same way, superstition, and premonition fill a man’s life and sometimes it is better to hear what it has to say.
Shakespeare, W. Julius Caesar: Entire Play.Julius Caesar: Entire Play. Web.
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