Act II, Scene 1
Brutus calls for his servant, Lucius, who was sleeping soundly. Brutus wants a candle lit in his study, so Lucius runs off, leaving Brutus alone with his thoughts. Brutus acknowledges that he has no personal reason for killing Caesar. However, he worries what crowning Caesar will do to his nature. Great power often changes people, makes them dangerous. He has never known Caesar to act without reason, but would power corrupt him? He fears that Caesar’s ambition will lead. Him to the crown and then make him look back with scorn on those he used to get there. Brutus thinks of killing Caesar like killing a dangerous snake before it hatches.
Lucius returns with a paper he found. Brutus tells him to go to bed, but first he needs to know if tomorrow is mid-March. Lucius doesn’t know, which means he has to run off and look for a calendar. While Lucius goes to check the date in the middle of the night, Brutus reads the letter. It tells him to open his eyes and see what is happening to Rome and to do something about it. He recalls how his ancestors drove a king out of Rome years before. Now he is called to do the same. He decides to act. Lucius returns to inform him that it is, in fact, mid-March.
Someone knocks at the door. Lucius has to go answer it before he can go to bed. Brutus thinks on the fact that he hasn’t slept since Cassius first planted the thought of killing Caesar. Lucius informs Brutus that Cassius and a bunch of men with hidden faces are at the door. Brutus tells him to let them in. Brutus contemplates how conspiracy and dark deeds tend to happen at night.
Cassius comes in and introduces Brutus to the other conspirators. He welcomes them all to his home. While Cassius and Brutus discuss something off to the side, the others argue about whether or not the sun is rising. Brutus comes over and asks for each man’s hand. Cassius thinks this is a great idea, to swear an oath. Brutus does not want them to swear an oath though. He thinks that if they need an oath to strengthen their resolve and hold them to their word, then they’re reasons for killing Caesar aren’t good enough.
Casca wonders if they should involve Cicero in their plot. Metellus thinks they should because Cicero’s age will lend legitimacy to their youthful plot. Brutus, however, doesn’t think this is a good idea because Cicero never goes along with a plan that someone else came up with. They also discuss whether or not to kill anyone else alongside Caesar. Mark Anthony’s names comes up, but, again, Brutus is the voice of reason. He fears that if they start killing others alongside Caesar, they will be seen as brutes and murderers, not valiant protectors of the republic.
The clock (the ancient Roman clock) strikes three and the conspirators prepare to depart. Casca wants to sort out the last bit of business: there is no guarantee that Caesar will leave his house today. Decius quells any fears by explaining that all he has to do is flatter Caesar and he’ll come. They all decide to go and fetch him, just in case. Metellus wants to involve Caius Ligarius. Brutus agrees and tells Metellus to send Ligarius to him.
Once the other conspirators have gone, Brutus calls for Lucius again, but he is asleep. His wife, Portia, comes to find him. She’s worried about him because he keeps leaving their bed and the night before he just got up and started pacing around during dinner. She asked him what was wrong, but he just got irritated and waved her away. She went because she didn’t want to irritate him anymore, but she wants to know what’s troubling him. He tries to say he is sick, but Portia isn’t buying it. If he was sick, he wouldn’t be walking around in the cold night air. Also, a bunch of men covering their faces just left and that’s not normal. She insists, as his wife, that he tell her. She cites the name of Brutus and her father as reasons that she should be trusted beyond that of a normal woman. She can keep a secret.
There’s a knock at the door. Brutus send Portia back to bed with a promise that he will tell her everything.
Ligarius comes in and he actually is sick. Brutus says he has a plan that he wants to involve Ligarius in. Ligarius casts aside his illness and swears to stand by Brutus’ side no matter what the plan is.
Act II, Scene 2
Caesar can’t sleep. Calpurnia keeps crying out in her sleep that he’s been murdered. He sends a servant to have the priests sacrifice an animal and tell him what the day will hold.
Calpurnia is hopeful that this means Caesar won’t go out. Caesar will do no such thing. He’s not afraid of a little mortal danger. Calpurnia normally isn’t this superstitious, but some crazy things have been happening in Rome. A lioness gave birth in the street, there was a ghost battle in the heavens (probably thunder), and it rained blood. Calpurnia, like a crazy-person, finds this all rather frightening. Caesar can’t stop fate and he’s going to go out. These crazy happenings are about the world in general, not him specifically. Calpurnia points out that signs from the heavens typically apply to important people, not nobodys. Caesar refuses to be a coward.
The servant returns with news from the priests. They don’t think Caesar should go out. They couldn’t find a heart in the animal they sacrificed. Caesar thinks the gods are shaming cowardice and Caesar is no coward. Calpurnia, probably exasperated, points out that Caesar’s confidence is clouding his judgement. She begs him to stay home. She tells him to blame it on her. She asks him to send Mark Anthony to tell the senators that Caesar is not well. He agrees.
Cue Decius to take him to the senate-house. Caesar explains that he will not go. It is not that he cannot go or dare not go, he just won’t. Decius asks for a reason. Caesar insists that he owes no explanation to the senators, but he will tell Decius because they’re buds. Calpurnia had some bad dreams where Caesar’s statue started bleeding profusely and some smiling Romans bathed in the blood. She’s all worried, so Caesar is staying home for her comfort. Decius interprets the dream in a different way: that Caesar will provide Rome with the lifeblood it needs to thrive. Also, the senators might rethink crowning Caesar if he stays home at the whims of a woman. This sounds MUCH more logical to Caesar and so he decides to go out. Silly woman.
All the conspirators enter and Mark Anthony to take Caesar to the capital. He invites them all in for wine before heading out.
Act II, Scene 3
Artemidorus knows about the plot and has written a letter warning Caesar of the plan. He intends to stand by the side of the road to give it to Caesar as he passes by.
Act II, Scene 4
Portia tells Lucius to go to the senate-house. He hesitates because she doesn’t provide a reason or task for him. She explains that he should just go and come back and tell her what is going on. He is still confused, so she tells him Brutus wasn’t feeling well, so she wants to know if he’s okay.
She hears a soothsayer coming. She asks what he’s doing and if Caesar is heading to the Capital. He doesn’t know, but he intends to wait for Caesar. He has a favor to ask. Portia, not so subtly, asks if he knows of any harm coming to Caesar. He doesn’t, so he goes off to see Caesar. Portia chides herself for almost spilling the beans.
Act III, Scene 1
Caesar proceeds down the street. He tells the soothsayer that it’s the ides of March and he’s still kicking, The soothsayer Cooley points out that the day isn’t over yet. Artemidorus asks Caesar to read his letter. Decius asks him to read Trebonius’ petition first, Artemidorus insists his is more important to Caesar. Caesar will hear those most important to him personally last. Artemidorus insists again. Caesar calls him mad and Casca insists he come to the Capital with his petition. Popilius wishes Caesar well on his enterprise. Caesar doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Popilius walks up to speak with Caesar.
The conspirators are afraid that their plot has been discovered and Popilius is telling Caesar everything. Caesar is smiling though, so it seems unlikely he is being informed of his murder. Trebonius pulls Mark Anthony away. They prepare to back Metellus in his suit.
Caesar is now open to speaking with his senators. Metellus asks that his brother be allowed to return from exile. Caesar stops him before he can even start. He won’t watch Metellus debase himself for a useless cause. He will not allow Cimber to return. Metellus asks for help from his fellow senators. Brutus speaks up in favor of Metellus. This surprises Caesar. Cassius speaks out as well. This doesn’t really surprise Caesar. He refuses to be moved. The conspirators all move in on Caesar and stab him to death. His final words being shock that Brutus stabbed him too.
They send men out into the streets to tell people that Caesar, the tyrant, has been killed to free the people of Rome. Brutus and Cassius will make speeches to the people.They take count of everyone who is there. They assure Publius, who is quite shocked at what just went down, that he will be safe and protected. Trebonius comes in with the news that Anthony fled. Also, the people of Rome are freaking out like it’s the apocalypse. The conspirators fear that this whole thing may backfire on them. Brutus tells them to bathe their arms and swords in Caesar’s blood. They will show pride in what they have done. Cassius wonders if they’re actions will be reenacted for years to come (spoiler alert: yes, yes it will). They prepare to meet the people.
A servant of Anthony’s comes in. Anthony would like to speak to Brutus, but he wants assurances that he will be safe. Brutus assures him that they have no quarrels with Anthony. In fact, Brutus hopes to get Anthony on their side.
Anthony does not hide the fact that he loved Caesar greatly. He tells Brutus that is someone else is to die, then it should be him. He could think of no better time to die than by Caesar’s side. Brutus assures Anthony that they have no desire to kill him. While they may seem brutal, all covered in blood, they did what they did for the good of Rome. Cassius even hopes he will help convince the people, but Brutus wants him to wait until they get the chance to explain everything first.
Mark Anthony expresses his trust in the conspirators and shakes all of their hands. He admits that this looks bad in pretty much every way. Either he is a coward or a flatterer. He loved Caesar and worries that Caesar’s ghost is shocked that Anthony was making peace with his murderers. He might even be more upset about that than he was about his own death. If he could weep as much as Caesar bleeds, then he would look more appropriate. He laments again how Caesar lies there, bleeding.
Cassius interrupts and Anthony explains that he is just expressing what others will say of him. Cassius doesn’t blame Anthony for praising Caesar, but wonders what he intends: will he join their ranks or should they proceed without them. Anthony just wants to know why they killed Caesar. Brutus assures him that they will give their very just reasons. Anthony only asks for a reason and to be allowed to take Caesar’s body to the marketplace and speak. Brutus agrees, but Cassius thinks that is a bad idea. Brutus is confident he can frame it in such a way that they will come out looking good. Cassius still doesn’t like the idea. Brutus tells Anthony that he can’t blame them in his speech and he has to make it clear that they let him speak, or he can’t be involved in Caesar’s funeral at all. Anthony agrees.
They leave Anthony to prepare the body. Anthony begs Caesar’s forgiveness for being kind to the men that murdered him. He plans to rile up the people with his speech. He predicts that civil war will follow for many years after this.
A servant for Octavius Caesar comes in to tell Caesar he is on his way. Then, he spots Caesar’s body and begins to weep. Anthony also weeps. He tells the servant to tell Octavius to hold off coming to Rome for a little bit. It’s not a great time. Anthony gets the servant to help him take the body to the marketplace.
Act III, Scene 2
The people of Rome are freaking out. Brutus tells the people that he will explain everything at a pulpit on this street and Cassius will explain it on the other street. You know, for crowd control reasons. Brutus prepares to speak and the people listen.
Brutus loved Caesar as much, if not more, than any man. However, he loved Rome more and that’s why he killed Caesar. He would not see the people of Rome be slaves to any man, even Caesar. He weeps because he loved Caesar. He feels joy for Caesar’s successes. He honors Caesar’s valor, but he killed Caesar because of his ambition. If he offended anyone, he offended those who want to be slaves or hate Rome. He waits to see if anyone fits those categories…they don’t. No one has any reason to be mad at Brutus. However, if he was wrong, they can go ahead and kill him. Look here comes Anthony with the body. He didn’t play any hand in killing Caesar, but he’ll still get a nice reward. Anyway, if anyone wants it, Brutus is ready to die. They don’t want Brutus dead. Brutus leaves them alone to listen to Anthony, who he let speak. (Big mistake).
Anthony prepares to speak, but the people don’t want to listen to any praise of Caesar or criticism of Brutus. Anthony assures them that he doesn’t want to praise Caesar. Bad deeds live on after death, but good ones tend to be forgotten. Brutus said that Caesar was ambitious and Brutus is an honorable man. But…Caesar did bring home many captives whose ransoms filled the coffers of Rome. He also wept for the poor and one would think someone so ambitious would be less compassionate. But Brutus said he was ambitious and Brutus is a good man. Caesar did just refuse the crown no less than three times, but Brutus said he was ambitious. Now, Anthony isn’t saying that Brutus is a liar, but a lot of things just don’t add up to Caesar being ambitious. Anthony has to pause because he’s pretty upset about Caesar being dead.
The people are starting to come around to Anthony’s side. He starts again. Everyone loved Caesar yesterday, but now no one will defend him in death. Anthony doesn’t want to get everyone all worked up, especially to the point that they want to mutiny or something, because that would be a problem for Brutus and Cassius. Anthony refuses to wrong anyone. He does have Caesar’s will though. That has some juicy stuff in it. He won’t read it though.
The people demand to hear it. Anthony doesn’t want to read it though. It will incense the people to violence when they find out he left them everything (whoops…spoiler alert). Now the people simply HAVE to hear the will. Anthony agrees, but he’ll only do it around Caesar’s body. Anthony prepares them all to cry. He remembers when Caesar got the clothes he is wearing. He points out all of the stab wounds. Brutus’ crime was especially terrible because Caesar loved him so much. Look at all those wounds. The people are now swearing revenge.
Anthony doesn’t know why they did what they did. He’s sure they had good reasons. He’s just a plain spoken Roman unlike Brutus. He’s pretty sure that if their roles were reversed, Brutus would get everyone to rise up. The people are now ready to riot. That’s when Anthony drops the bomb. Caesar left each Roman seventy-five drachmas and opened up his private lands and gardens for the people of Rome to enjoy. Cue full on riot.
Act III, Scene 3
The citizens of Rome kill Cinna the poet instead of Cinna the conspirator…whoops.