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

Summary

An unfortunate poet named Cinna is wandering the streets of Rome when he is suddenly confronted by a huge mob; they demand to know his name and where he is headed. When he tells them that he is on his way to Caesar's funeral and that his name is Cinna, they mistake him for one of the conspirators, who has the same name. They move forward to kill him, but the poor man finally convinces them he is not the conspirator. The incensed crowd than vows to kill him "for his bad verses."


Notes

This brief scene shows the destructive nature of the chaos let loose by Antony. In the previous scene, Antony skillfully inflamed the Roman mob, transforming them into an irresponsible, chaotic and murderous group, bent on avenging Caesar's assassination. Thirsty for the blood of Caesar's murderers, they attack an innocent man, whom they believe to be a conspirator; when they are proven wrong, the crowd then vows to kill the man because of his bad poetry. The unfortunate and unnecessary murder of Cinna, the poet, foreshadows the ruthlessness and brutality that will from now onwards determine the course of events in the play.

The black humor of this scene provides some needed comic relief, reducing the intensity of the tension that has been building since Caesar came to the Capitol. It is a fairly common occurrence in Shakespearean plays for bad writers to receive some form of punishment; it is the playwright's way of elevating himself among contemporary poets and playwrights of the time.

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