Cast of Characters Act I Scene II
A great Roman general and senator returned to Rome in triumph after a successful military campaign. Some fear that Caesar aspires to dictatorship over Rome but Caesar shows no inclination, declining the crown several times. While Caesar does not seem unusually power-hungry, he does possess his share of flaws. He is unable to separate his private life from his public life, and, is seduced by the populace’s increasing idealization and idolization of his image, he ignores ill omen and threats against his life, believing himself as eternal as the North Star.
Casca is the most important character of the minor characters in the play. He is a public figure opposed to Caesar’s rise to power. Casca relates to Cassius and Brutus how Antony offered the crown to Caesar three times and how each time Caesar declined it. He believes, however, that Caesar is an actor, lulling the population into believing that he has no personal ambition. Casca is very superstitious. Unnatural disturbances in nature unnerve him. Casca strikes the first blow to Caesar from the back.
Caesar’s wife. She is very superstitious and terrified of portents; though not for herself but for her husband. She is also a loving and dutiful wife. She invests great authority in omen and portends. She warns Caesar against going to the Senate on the ides of March, since she has had terrible dreams and heard reports of many bad omens. Nevertheless, Caesar’s ambition causes him to disregard her advice.
A friend of Caesar’s. Antony claims allegiance to Brutus and the conspirators after Caesar’s death in order to save his own life. Later, however, when speaking a funeral oration over Caesar’s body, he persuades the audience to withdraw its support of Brutus and condemn him as a traitor. With tears on his cheeks and Caesar’s will in his hand, Antony engages masterful rhetoric to stir the crowd to revolt against the conspirators. Antony’s desire to exclude Lepidus from the power that Antony and Octavius intend to share hints at his own ambitious nature.
Warns Caesar of the approaching danger, but is unable to save Caesar’s life.
A supporter of the republic who believes strongly in a government guided by the votes of senators. While Brutus loves Caesar as a friend, he opposes the ascension of any single man to the position of dictator, and he fears Caesar aspires to such power. Brutus’s inflexible sense of honor make it easy for Caesar’s enemies to manipulate him into believing that Caesar must die in order to preserve the republic. While the conspirators act out of envy and rivalry, Brutus truly believes Caesar’s death will benefit Rome. Torn between his loyalty to Caesar and his allegiance to the state, Brutus becomes the tragic hero of the play.
A talented general and longtime acquaintance of Caesar. Cassius dislikes the fact that Caesar had become godlike in the eyes of the Romans. He slyly leads Brutus to believe that Caesar has become too powerful and must die; finally converting Brutus to his cause by sending him forged letters claiming that the Roman people support the death of Caesar. Impulsive and unscrupulous, Cassius harbors no illusions about the way the political world works. A shrewd opportunist, he proves successful but lacks integrity.