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Julius Caesar

"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." Explore blog posts, podcast episodes, and items from the Folger collection that shed light on the characters, plot, themes, and history of Julius Caesar, one of Shakespeare's best-known Roman tragedies.

Jump directly to these Julius Caesar resources:

Plot synopsis

Caesar's assassination is just the halfway point of Julius Caesar. The first part of the play leads to his death; the second portrays the consequences. As the action begins, Rome prepares for Caesar's triumphal entrance. Brutus, Caesar's friend and ally, fears that Caesar will become king, destroying the republic. Cassius and others convince Brutus to join a conspiracy to kill Caesar.

On the day of the assassination, Caesar plans to stay home at the urging of his wife, Calphurnia. A conspirator, Decius Brutus, persuades him to go to the Senate with the other conspirators and his friend, Mark Antony. At the Senate, the conspirators stab Caesar to death. Antony uses a funeral oration to turn the citizens of Rome against them. Brutus and Cassius escape as Antony joins forces with Octavius Caesar.

Encamped with their armies, Brutus and Cassius quarrel, then agree to march on Antony and Octavius. In the battle that follows, Cassius, misled by erroneous reports of loss, persuades a slave to kill him; Brutus's army is defeated. Brutus commits suicide, praised by Antony as "the noblest Roman of them all."

Character map

Click the image preview below to see the full map of character connections.

Julius Caesar Character Connections Map

Related blog posts

Beware the Ides of March
What are “the ides of March” and why is that phrase associated with this play?

Related podcasts

Paterson Joseph: Julius Caesar and Me
Listen to an interview with Paterson Joseph, the actor who played Brutus in the 2012 Royal Shakespeare Company all-black production set in Africa.

Phyllida Lloyd and All-Female Shakespeare
Julius Caesar was part of a trilogy of all-female Shakespeare productions directed by Tony Award-nominated director, Phyllida Lloyd. Listen to an interview with her.

Famous quotes

Beware the ides of March. (Soothsayer 1.2.21)

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars
But in ourselves… (Cassius 1.2.147–48)

But for mine own part, it was Greek to me. (Casca 1.2.294–95)

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste death but once. (Caesar 2.2.34–35)

Et tu, Bruté?—Then fall, Caesar. (Caesar 3.1.85)

Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war… (Anthony 3.1.299)

Romans, countrymen, and lovers, hear me for my
cause… (Brutus 3.2.14–15)

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 often interréd with their bones. (Antony 3.2.82–85)

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. (Antony 3.2.101)

This was the most unkindest cut of all. (Antony 3.2.195)

There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune… (Brutus 4.3.249–50)

This was the noblest Roman of them all…
His life was gentle and the elements
So mixed in him that nature might stand up
And say to all the world “This was a man.” (Antony 5.5.74,79–81)

Early printed texts

Julius Caesar was published for the first time in the 1623 First Folio, and that text is the source of all later editions of the play. 

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Item Title: 
Works. 1623] Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories, & tragedies : published according to the true originall copies.
Item Call Number: 
STC 22273 Fo.1 no.68
Item Creator: 
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Item Date: 
1623

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Item Title: 
Mr. VVilliam Shakespeares comedies, histories, and tragedies. : Published according to the true originall copies.
Item Call Number: 
STC 22274 Fo.2 no.07
Item Creator: 
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Item Date: 
1632

Picturing Julius Caesar

As part of an NEH-funded project, the Folger digitized thousands of 18th-, 19th-, and early 20th-century images representing Shakespeare’s plays. Some of these images show actors in character, while others show the plays as if they were real-life events—telling the difference isn't always easy. A selection of images related to Julius Caesar is shown below, with links to our digital image collection.

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Edward Loomis Davenport as Brutus (1875)
Edward Loomis Davenport as Brutus (1875)
Item Title: 
[Edward Loomis Davenport as Brutus in Julius Caesar by Shakespeare] [graphic] / [Sarony].
Item Call Number: 
ART File D247 no.9 PHOTO part 2 (size XS)
Item Creator: 
Sarony, Napoleon, 1821-1896, photographer.
Item Date: 
[New York : s.n., 1875]

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Brutus with Caesar's ghost (Act 4, scene 3; 19th century)
Brutus with Caesar's ghost (Act 4, scene 3; 19th century)
Item Title: 
[Julius Caesar, IV, 3, The ghost of Caesar with Brutus] [graphic] / [Alexandre Bida].
Item Call Number: 
ART Box B584 no.12 (size S)
Item Creator: 
Bida, Alexandre, 1813-1895, artist.
Item Date: 
[19th century]

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Antony with Caesar's body (Act 3, scene 2; mid- to late 19th century)
Antony with Caesar's body (Act 3, scene 2; mid- to late 19th century)
Item Title: 
[Julius Caesar, act III, sc. II, Antony & Caesar's body] [graphic] / Heinrich Spiess, del. ; A. Krausse, sc.
Item Call Number: 
ART File S528j1 no.38 (size M)
Item Creator: 
Krausse, A. (Alfred), 1829-1894, printmaker.
Item Date: 
[Germany? : s.n., mid to late 19th century]

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Promotional program for 1953 film of Julius Caesar

Promotional program for 1953 film of Julius Caesar

Item Title: 
Julius Caesar. (Film) MGM Promotional Program
Item Call Number: 
Ball Collection, J.C.1953, Folder 3.
Item Date: 
1953

More images of Julius Caesar can be seen in our digital image collection. (Because of how they were cataloged, some images from other plays might appear in the image searches linked here, so always check the sidebar to see if the image is described as part of a larger group.)

Teacher & student resources

Created by teachers and curated by the Folger, these teaching modules can help you with Julius Caesar in the classroom:

More teaching modules and other teacher and student resources can be found in our Teach & Learn section.