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Free Study Guide-Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare-Free Booknotes
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ACT II, SCENE 3

Summary

This scene opens on a street near the Capitol. Artemidorus waits for Caesar, planning to give him a paper with the names of the conspirators.

Notes

This short scene contributes to the element of suspense in the play by heightening the dramatic tension. Artemidorus' letter is another warning to Caesar, but he ignores it. The fact that Artemidorus has detailed knowledge of the plot to assassinate Caesar leads the audience to hope that the tightly woven plot might be thwarted, despite historical knowledge of the event. Interestingly, Artemidorus' paper names Brutus and Caius Ligarius as conspirators, though both resolved to join the conspiracy only the previous night. Shakespeare never indicates how this information makes its way into his hands, nor from where it might have come. One of the conspirators was probably the informant.


Up until this point in the play, most of what is said about Caesar is criticism of him. He has been shown to be vacillating, weak and dictatorial. There is even the suggestion that perhaps the conspirators are correct in planning his assassination, for he does not appear to be the best choice for the leader of Rome. Artemidorus, however, presents a different view of Caesar. He praises him as a virtuous man and is the first person to call the conspirators "traitors." He clearly sees the conspiracy as an evil enterprise. Even though Brutus is associated with the conspiracy, Artemidorus cannot accept that it is guided by noble and honorable motives.

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Free Study Guide-Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare-Free Plot Summary
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