Julius Caesar: Background Knowledge Is Needed To U

nderstand PlayHaving 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.

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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.

Category: English