Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar Character Analysis

Read our modern English translation.
Julius Caesar is a famous Roman general and husband to Calpurnia. At the beginning of the play, Caesar has just defeated the faction of his rival, Pompey. His followers wish to make him king, though he has rejected Marc Antony’s offer of the crown three times. Others do not want this to happen for fear of Caesar enacting tyranny over Rome, prompting Brutus, Cassius, and the other conspirators to kill him before that can happen. Caesar is a complex character. Belying his reputation for strength, Caesar has epilepsy and is deaf in one ear. Though Caesar's ambition is supposedly the reason he is killed (according to both his murderers and to the rules of tragedy), his ambition is not strongly evident in the play. Caesar is arrogant, even to the point of self-delusion (he convinces himself that omens don’t apply to him and that he’s basically invulnerable to harm), but also displays firm adherence to his principles and is a perceptive judge of character. By the time his assassination is imminent, he seems to accept the likelihood of his death and goes to the Capitol despite Calpurnia’s wishes, reasoning that death comes to everyone when it’s fated to come.

Julius Caesar Quotes in Julius Caesar

The Julius Caesar quotes below are all either spoken by Julius Caesar or refer to Julius Caesar. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Manhood and Honor Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the The Folger Shakespeare Library edition of Julius Caesar published in 1992.
Act 1, scene 2 Quotes

“Beware the ides of March.”

Related Characters: Soothsayer (speaker), Julius Caesar
Related Symbols: Omens
Page Number: 1.2.21
Explanation and Analysis:
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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.

Related Characters: Caius Cassius (speaker), Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus
Page Number: 1.2.146-148
Explanation and Analysis:
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Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

Related Characters: Julius Caesar (speaker), Caius Cassius
Page Number: 1.2.202-205
Explanation and Analysis:
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But those that understood him smil'd at one another, and shook their heads; but for mine own part, it was Greek to me.

Related Characters: Casca (speaker), Julius Caesar
Related Symbols: Rome
Page Number: 1.2.293-295
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 2, scene 2 Quotes

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

Related Characters: Julius Caesar (speaker)
Related Symbols: Omens, Body, Blood, & Pain
Page Number: 2.2.34-39
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, scene 1 Quotes

Caesar: The ides of March are come.
Soothsayer: Aye, Caesar, but not gone.

Related Characters: Julius Caesar (speaker), Soothsayer (speaker)
Related Symbols: Omens
Page Number: 3.1.1-2
Explanation and Analysis:
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Et tu, Bruté? — Then fall, Caesar!

Related Characters: Julius Caesar (speaker), Marcus Brutus
Related Symbols: Body, Blood, & Pain, Rome
Page Number: 3.1.85
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 3, scene 2 Quotes

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest, —
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men, —
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honorable man.

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus
Related Symbols: Body, Blood, & Pain, Rome
Page Number: 3.2.82-96
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 4, scene 3 Quotes

Remember March, the ides of March remember:
Did not great Julius bleed for justice' sake?
What villain touch'd his body, that did stab,
And not for justice? What, shall one of us
That struck the foremost man of all this world
But for supporting robbers, shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes,
And sell the mighty space of our large honours
For so much trash as may be grasped thus?
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon,
Than such a Roman.

Related Characters: Marcus Brutus (speaker), Julius Caesar
Related Symbols: Omens, Body, Blood, & Pain, Rome
Page Number: 4.3.19-29
Explanation and Analysis:
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Act 5, scene 5 Quotes

This was the noblest Roman of all
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought,
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle; and the elements
So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man."

Related Characters: Mark Antony (speaker), Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus
Related Symbols: Body, Blood, & Pain, Rome
Page Number: 5.5.74-81
Explanation and Analysis:
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Julius Caesar Character Timeline in Julius Caesar

The timeline below shows where the character Julius Caesar appears in Julius Caesar. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, scene 1
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...the streets of Rome. After a pun-filled exchange, the cobbler reveals that they are celebrating Caesar’s triumphal return. (full context)
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Murellus asks why they celebrate Caesar—do they not remember Pompey? Didn’t they once anticipate Pompey’s triumphal procession with equal joy, yet... (full context)
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...part ways, Flavius encourages his friend to remove any decorations he finds on images of Caesar. Murellus hesitates, given that it’s the feast of Lupercal, but Flavius tells him that doesn’t... (full context)
Act 1, scene 2
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Caesar, Antony, Brutus, Cassius, and others enter. Caesar tells his wife, Calpurnia, to stand in Antony’s... (full context)
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Caesar hears someone calling shrilly in the crowd—it’s a soothsayer, telling him, “Beware the ides of... (full context)
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They hear shouting, and Brutus fears that the people have hailed Caesar as king. When Cassius says that it sounds as if Brutus is against that possibility,... (full context)
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...discuss with Brutus. Both he and Brutus, he argues, were born just as free as Caesar. He recalls a story about racing Caesar across the Tiber River and having to rescue... (full context)
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.../ But in ourselves”; that, in other words, it’s their fault if they are beneath Caesar. He argues that the people of Rome should be ashamed if they only have enough... (full context)
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The Lupercalia race has ended. Brutus points out to Cassius that Caesar, Calpurnia, and Cicero look angry and distraught. Meanwhile, Caesar tells Antony that he wishes he... (full context)
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Caesar and his train exit, but Brutus tugs on Casca’s cloak, detaining him. He asks Casca... (full context)
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Casca says that when Caesar perceived that the people were glad he’d refused the crown, he asked Casca to cut... (full context)
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...letters for Brutus, as if written by different citizens, praising Brutus’s reputation and hinting at Caesar’s ambition. Cassius this thinks this will surely help cause against Caesar. (full context)
Act 1, scene 3
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Casca mentions the rumor that the Senators are going to crown Caesar as king tomorrow. Cassius says that, in that case, he will commit suicide sooner than... (full context)
Act 2, scene 1
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...sleep, paces in his orchard. He talks to himself, reasoning that he has nothing against Caesar personally. However, kingship might change Caesar, leading him to abuse his power. Caesar, then, should... (full context)
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Cassius suggests that Mark Antony be killed as well, since he’s so close to Caesar. Again, Brutus objects, arguing that they must be “sacrificers, but not butchers.” They must kill... (full context)
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The clock strikes three. Cassius says that it’s doubtful whether Caesar will go to the Capitol today—he’s grown so superstitious lately. Decius offers to make sure... (full context)
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...of work that will make sick men whole.” He and Brutus set off together in Caesar’s direction, the sound of thunder in the background. (full context)
Act 2, scene 2
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There’s more thunder and lightning. Julius Caesar enters in his nightgown, unable to sleep. Calpurnia has been talking in her sleep, dreaming... (full context)
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Calpurnia enters and tells Caesar that he mustn’t leave the house today. Although she has “never stood on ceremonies,” she’s... (full context)
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...returns with a worrying omen—the  sacrificed animal was found to contain no heart, indicating that Caesar shouldn’t leave the house. Caesar rebuffs this interpretation, saying the heartless sacrifice is a warning... (full context)
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Decius arrives to accompany Caesar to the Senate House. Caesar tells Decius to inform the Senate that he chooses not... (full context)
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The rest of the conspirators enter, followed by Antony. Caesar greets them all and teases Antony about his late-night partying. Then he invites them all... (full context)
Act 2, scene 3
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Artemidorus enters, reading a paper. He’s written a letter to Caesar, warning him to beware of Brutus and the other conspirators. He will offer the paper... (full context)
Act 2, scene 4
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The soothsayer passes by. He tells Portia that he fears harm to Caesar, though he doesn’t know for sure that it will come to pass. He goes on... (full context)
Act 3, scene 1
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With a flourish of trumpets, Caesar, Antony, the conspirators, the soothsayer, senators, and petitioners enter. Caesar observes that “the ides of... (full context)
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Caesar asks what business he and the Senate must address. Metellus Cimber kneels before Caesar to... (full context)
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The rest of the conspirators kneel, and Casca strikes first, stabbing Caesar. As the rest of the conspirators stab him, too, Caesar addresses Brutus—“Et tu, Bruté?”—and dies. (full context)
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...will befall anyone else. Brutus suggests that the conspirators bathe their hands and weapons in Caesar’s blood and walk through the marketplace proclaiming “peace, freedom, liberty!” As they wash themselves with... (full context)
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...Brutus if he is allowed to safely approach and be given a satisfactory explanation for Caesar’s death. Brutus readily grants this, although Cassius doesn’t entirely trust Antony. (full context)
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Antony enters and is moved by the sight of Caesar’s body. He tells the conspirators that if they intend his death as well, there’s no... (full context)
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Antony shakes hands with the conspirators, while apologizing to Caesar’s spirit for making peace with his murderers. Cassius interjects to ask whether they can rely... (full context)
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...by Antony’s funeral speech. Brutus replies that, by speaking first, he’ll explain the reason for Caesar’s death and also that Antony only speaks by permission—thus Antony’s speech will turn out to... (full context)
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After the others leave, Antony speaks over Caesar’s corpse, prophesying that brutal civil war will break out across Italy, urged on by Caesar’s... (full context)
Act 3, scene 2
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...honor, and to use their wisdom to judge him. He explains that he rose against Caesar not because he loved Caesar less than anyone present, but because he loved Rome above... (full context)
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...better not speak ill of Brutus, and that Rome is blessed to be rid of Caesar. Antony begins, “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. / I come to bury Caesar,... (full context)
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...the “honorable” Brutus and Cassius by stirring the public to mutiny. Then he shows them Caesar’s will, but declines to read it aloud, claiming that Caesar’s love for them would inflame... (full context)
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Antony tells the people to get ready to cry. He points out Caesar’s mantle and recalls the first time Caesar ever wore it, pointing out the rips in... (full context)
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Antony reminds the people that they haven’t heard the will yet. He reads it: Caesar has left each man some money, as well as all of his property, to be... (full context)
Act 3, scene 3
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Cinna the poet enters, on his way to Caesar’s funeral, followed by the plebeians. The plebeians interrogate Cinna, and when they learn his identity,... (full context)
Act 4, scene 1
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...the conspiracy ought to be executed. When they send Lepidus on an errand to fetch Caesar’s will—they’re planning to change some of the provisions it contains—Antony explains to Octavius that Lepidus... (full context)
Act 4, scene 3
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...letting people off for offenses in exchange for bribes. He says that since they killed Caesar for justice’s sake, they shouldn’t “contaminate” their cause by accepting bribes now—Brutus would “rather be... (full context)
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...abler soldier than Brutus. Brutus disagrees, saying he is not afraid of Cassius. Cassius says that even Caesar never insulted him this way, and Brutus says that Cassius was too afraid of Caesar to... (full context)
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...everyone but Brutus is soon asleep. Brutus settles down to read, but the Ghost of Caesar suddenly appears, calling himself “Thy evil spirit, Brutus.” The ghost tells Brutus that they will... (full context)
Act 5, scene 3
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...stab him to death. Pindarus does so, with the same sword Cassius used to stab Caesar. Then, in grief, he flees Rome forever. (full context)
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...several others enter. When they discover both Cassius’s and Titinius’s slain bodies, Brutus laments that Caesar’s ghost “walks abroad and turns our swords / In our own proper entrails,” and that... (full context)
Act 5, scene 5
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...and Volumnius—asking each of them in turn to kill him. To Volumnius, Brutus explains that Caesar’s ghost has appeared to him again, and that he knows his hour has come. They... (full context)
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...all,” since he was the only conspirator who did not act out of envy of Caesar; instead, he acted from lofty ideals. Octavius agrees, making plans for Brutus’s honorable burial. They... (full context)