Julius Caesar Act II Study Guide

You are required to memorize Mark Antony’s eulogy of Julius Caesar; (pages 121-123, lines 82-17), included is a copy of the lines that you are responsible to memorize:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1754: Beware the Ides of March: Soothsayer warning Julius Caesar of the Ides of March – the day on which he was assassinated. Illustration for Julius Caesar from an edition of William Shakespeare’s works published 1858. Wood engraving (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)


PART I  Explain who each of the following characters is according to their appearance in Act I

Decius Brutus                       

PART II  Indicate who expressed each of the following quotes from Act II and indicate the apparent significance of each quote.

That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,
Whereto the [climber-upward] turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round,
He then unto the ladder turns his back… 

You are my true and honorable wife,
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
That visit my sad heart.

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.

Danger knows full well
That Caesar is more dangerous than he.
We are two lions littered in one day,
And I the elder and more terrible.


PART III  Address the following questions with your interpretation from the events in the play.

  1. Why does Cassius place letters in the praetor’s chair? What does his action indicate about his cause?
  2. Decius defies Cassius’ command to arrive at Caesar’s home together; why does he do so?
  3. What does the conversations between Brutus and Portia, and Caesar and Calphurnia indicate about their character in respect to their wives?