I finished this book yesterday. This particular Shakespeare play is set in 44 BC starting at the time of the great Feast of Lupercal. A festivity in Rome conducted annually on February 15. The origins of the festival are obscure, although the name is possibly derived from lupus (Latin: “wolf”) - It is further suggested there is a connection or correlation with an ancient deity who protected herds from wolves and with the legendary she-wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus. As a fertility rite, the festival is also said to be associated with the god Faunus.
The play concludes shortly after the Battle of Phillipi. The source of the play is most likely the histories written by Plutarch. Shakespeare has dramatized many elements and added such memorable lines as: "Et tu Brute?" The play was written c1599, a time when the aging ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth had not yet named her successor and the nation was on the verge of civil war. The drama and emotions noted in the play actually reflect much of the tensions of the time. It was at once a success with the audiences.
Here is the abbreviated plot summary: Julius Caesar is a highly successful leader of Rome whose popularity seems to model that of a king's. Although Caesar is loved and supported by his citizens, some begin to grow concerned of his increase in power. Soon, these suspicious citizens conspire to assassinate Caesar before he becomes king thereby turning their republic into a monarchy. Cassius, the leader of the conspirators, convinces Marcus Brutus, Caesar's most trusted friend, to join the conspiracy. During a celebration, Caesar is warned by the Soothsayer that he must "beware the Ides of March". The next morning, despite his wife Calpurnia's appeals, Caesar travels to the Senate House where the conspirators stab him to death. Caesar's friend Mark Antony provides the famous funeral oration and incites the crowd to riot leading to a civil war. Antony and Octavius, Caesar's heirs, join the fight against the conspirators. Antony and Octavius defeat the conspirators avenging Caesar's death and restoring order back to Rome.
Notable quotes for me were: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings". – Gaius Cassius (Act I, Scene II)
"Cowards die many times before their deaths, The valiant never taste of death but once".
– Julius Caesar (Act II, Scene 2)
"The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones". – Mark Antony (Act III, Scene 2)
26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England
Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica. Lupercalia. Nov, 8 2018. Oct, 27 2020
“It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”
–C.S. Lewis, “Introduction” in St. Athanasius, De Incarnatione Verbi Dei (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1944/1993),