Julius Caesar Acts 1-5 Summary

Act 1 – on February 15, the Feast of Lupercal, the people take a holiday to celebrate Caesar’s victory over Pompey in a civil war.- Marullus and Flavius, two government officials who supported Pompey, attempt to discourage celebrating workers.- same day, Caesar attends the traditional race at the festival of Lupercal and receives a warning from a soothsay to beware the ides of March.- Cassius tries to persuade Brutus to turn against Caesar.- Caesar returns and mentions to Antony his distrust of Cassius.- Casca tells Brutus and Cassius the details of Caesar’s rejection of a crown offered to him by the people of Rome.- on the night of March 14, a terrible storm brings different reactions.- Casca believes that the storm and other omens mean that the future will bring evil.- Cassius believes that these same signs mean that Caesar must be stopped.- the two agree that Caesar must not be allowed to continue to rule, and when Cinna joins them, they plot to convince Brutus to join their conspiracy.
Act 2 – shortly before the Ides of March, Brutus is thinking whether he should or he should not join the conspiracy.- Brutus receives an anonymous letter (from Cassius) urging him to act on Rome’s behalf. Cassius and the conspirators visit Brutus and finalize their plans.- shortly after dawn on March 15, Caesar and his wife Calpurnia are both awake because of the storm. Caesar intends to go to the Capitol, but Calpurnia urges him to stay home because of the many threatening omens.- Caesar agrees to stay home for her sake, until Decius, one of the conspirators, convinces him that he must not seem to be afraid of his wife’s superstitions and interoperates the dream as something good.- other conspirators meet at Caesar’s house to make sure he does not decide to stay at home.- Artemidorus, one of Caesar’s supporters, has learned about the plot against Caesar. He reads a letter of warning he has written, then waits in the street for Caesar to pass by.- Portia, uneasy about the plot, sends the servant Lucius to go and see what is happening at the Capitol.She then meets the soothsayer, who increases her concern as he predicts danger for Caesar.
Act 3 – both the Soothsayer and Artemidorus try to warn Caesar outside the Capitol, but he refuses to listen to them.- once Caesar goes into the Capitol, the conspirators gather around him, pretending to plead a case. Then, without warning, they all stab Caesar to death.- Mark Antony flees, but Brutus persuades the conspirators to let him live. Brutus plans to explain the reasons for the killing to the Roman people.- Antony returns and pretends to be an ally of the conspirators. Secretly, however, he plans to strike back with help from Octavius Caesar, who is now on his way to Rome.- Brutus speaks before a group of “citizens,” or common people of Rome. He explains why Caesar had to be slain for the good of Rome.- then, Brutus leaves and Antony speaks to the citizens. A far better judge of human nature than Brutus, Antony cleverly manages to turn the crowd against the conspirators by telling them of Caesar’s good works and his concern for the people, as proven by the slain ruler’s will. He has left all his wealth to the people.- as Antony stirs the citizens to pursue the assassins and kill them, he learns that Octavius has arrived in Rome and that Brutus and Cassius have fled.- this scene involves a famous Roman poet named Cinna. (He is not the same Cinna who participated in the assassination.)- the angry Roman mob comes upon the poet, believing he is Cinna the conspirator. Soon, they realize this is the wrong man, yet they are so enraged that they slay him anyway.- then, they rush through the city after the true killers of Caesar.
Act 4 – Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus meet to discuss which people should be included on their list of condemned people who will be executed.After Antony sends Lepidus on an errand to bring back Caesar’s will, Antony explains that Lepidus is useful only as a tool, someone to be used.- Antony and Octavius decide to increase their preparation for battle with the armies of Brutus and Cassius. The men plan to discuss how to deal with the many enemies they have, both secret and open.- Brutus waits for Cassius to meet him at his military camp. Brutus expresses his belief that Cassius is not as friendly as he was before.- when Cassius arrives, he begins to confront Brutus about the way Brutus has treated him, but Brutus insists that they discuss this inside his tent where the soldiers will not hear their argument.- inside Brutus’ tent, Brutus and Cassius argue about the way each has treated the other. As their argument ends, a poet arrives to urge them to get along.- Brutus, Cassius, Titinius, and Marullus discuss the recent news of the enemy as well as the death of Portia. The men decide, at Brutus’ urging, to meet the enemy army at Philippi.- after the others leave, Caesar’s ghost appears to Brutus and promises to meet him at Philippi.
Act 5 – the army of Antony and Octavius and the army of Brutus and Cassius arrive at the field of battle. The four generals meet and exchange insults.- after their meeting, Cassius reflects on the possible outcomes of this day, mentioning an omen that he interprets as predicting their loss. Brutus and Cassius discuss their plans if the battle is lost and make their final farewells to each other.- Brutus gives Messala instructions for the army to attack Octavius’ forces, believing those forces are faltering and can be defeated with a sudden attack.- Cassius’ forces are losing their battle, and Antony’s troops have set Cassius’ tents on fire. Some troops are still among Cassius’ tents, so Cassius sends Titinius to get a closer look and come back to report on whether they are friend or enemy.- Cassius believes that Titinius has been captured by the enemy, so he asks Pindarus to stab him. Cassius dies, and Pindarus runs away.- Titinius returns with Messala. He had actually met Brutus’ men, not the enemy. They find Cassius’ body, and while Messala goes to notify Brutus, Titinius stabs himself. Messala returns with Brutus and others to find Cassius dead. They mourn him briefly, then return to the battle.- young Cato is killed in battle, and Lucilius, pretending to be Brutus, is captured. Antony meets Lucilius and instructs his men to treat him with respect as an honorable prisoner, even though he is not really Brutus.- Brutus tries, one by one, to persuade his companions to help him end his life, but each refuses. The enemy’s forces approach, so Brutus’ friends must retreat. Brutus stays behind with Strato, who does help him to kill himself.- Antony, Octavius, and others find Strato with the body of Brutus. Octavius takes Strato into his service. Antony eulogizes Brutus as a noble Roman, and Octavius agrees to give him an honorable burial.

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