When Caesar sees Cassius, he tells Antony, "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look./ He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous" (1.2.204-205). And Antony replies: "Fear him not."
As John McLaughlin might say – Wrong!
When Cassius and Brutus are plotting against Caesar, Cassius argues that, "I think it not meet/ Mark Antony, so well beloved of Caesar,/ Should outlive Caesar. … / Let Antony and Caesar fall together" (2.1.168-170, 174). And Brutus replies, "for Mark Antony, think not of him,/ For he can do no more than Caesar's arm/ When Caesar's head is off."
And poor Calphurnia has had a dream in which Caesar is murdered and the Capitol and a statue of Caesar run red with blood that bathes the hands of smiling Romans. She recommends to Caesar that "You shall not stir out of your house today" (2.2.9). Caesar, after Decius suggests this is his only chance to earn a crown from the senate, says "How foolish your fears seem now, Calphurnia!/ I am ashamed I did yield to them./ Give me my robe, for I will go."
In all three cases, good advice is overlooked. What does this say about the characters of those who fail to heed such words of wisdom? And is it a function of tragedy that they do so? In Romeo and Juliet, such moments suggested the intercession of Fortune, Fate, or mere coincidence, but in Julius Caesar, the events that lead characters to their doom are significantly human. Has Shakespeare freed himself from concerns about Fate?
(Quotes from Folger edition)
A Bully Pulpit for Shakespeare
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