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4.4 out of 5 stars
Julius Caesar
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on June 14, 2015
great book
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on June 9, 2015
Good book.
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Gaius Julius Cæsar is the Caesar we think of when we hear the word "Caesar" -- he conquered Gaul, bedded Cleopatra, and died a pretty dramatic death. And while he only appears in a few scenes of "Julius Caesar," he's the nucleus that William Shakespeare's taut conspiracy play revolves around -- his murder, his legacy, and the bitter jealousy he inspired.

Julius Caesar is returning to Rome in triumph, only to be stopped by a strange old soothsayer who warns him, "Beware the ides of March." Caesar brushes off the warning, but he has no idea that a conspiracy is brewing under his nose. In a nutshell, a group of senators led by the creepy Cassius are plotting against Caesar because of his wild popularity, suspecting that he wants to become KING.

And Cassius' latest target: Brutus, one of Caesar's best buddies. Brutus is slowly swayed over to the conspiracy's side, beginning to believe that Caesar as a great man corrupted by power. Everything comes to a a devastating assassination on... guess when... the ides of March, which will elevate some men to greatness and destroy others.

Though the story is supposedly about Julius Caesar, Caesar himself only has a few scenes -- but his charismatic, dominating presence hangs over the play like a heavy tapestry. What he does, what he plans, what he thinks and who he is are constantly on people's minds, and even after his death he is a powerful presence in the memories of the living.

And Shakespeare cooks up a dialogue-heavy play that is a bit on the slow side, but whose speeches are so powerful and intense that you don't quite notice. There's a lot of those speeches here -- not only Antony's famous speech to the Roman people ("The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones"), but Brutus' impassioned argument with Portia ("You have some sick offence within your mind") and Cassius' oily slanted editorials about Caesar.

Shakespeare's depiction of Brutus is also a beautifully nuanced one -- Antony calls him the "noblest Roman of them all" at the very end, despite the fact that Brutus calmly murdered his friend and leader. He's basically a gullible guy who follows his passions rather than his brain, and bounces into the conspiracy rather than trying to find out the truth about Caesar. You feel sorry for him, and at the same time you want the much smarter Antony to kick him like a soccer ball.

"Julius Caesar" is rather slow-moving, but Shakespeare's powerful writing and nuanced depiction of Brutus more than make up for that. Friends, Romans, countrymen...
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on January 8, 2007
"Julius Caesar" was written by William Shakespeare (1564-1616), and even though it is not as well-known as some of his other plays, it is a classic that should be read with the attention it deserves.

The main character is, of course, Julius Caesar, and this play tells us about his assassination. The plays also highlights how those who survived him tried to earn the approval of the fickle plebeians. In my opinion, one of the best scenes is that in which Brutus, and then Mark Anthony, speak to the plebeians. Brutus, depicted as an idealistic man that loved Caesar but feared his ambitions, stands by his actions and seems to be respected for taking a stand on behalf of the republic. However, soon enough Anthony starts his eulogy to Caesar, pointing out that Caesar cared for Rome above everything and that he had remembered the people of Rome in his testament. As a result of Anthony mastery of words, the plebeians turn their back on Brutus, and start a riot.

Truth to be told, "Julius Caesar" doesn't end there, but that scene is a turning point in the story, and perhaps more importantly, an excellent way to realize that words can be as dangerous as weapons, when wielded with expertise.

All in all, I can say that I liked this play. Yes, it is true that it is not overly easy to read, due to the fact that the language in which it is written is quite dated, but you can always buy a reading companion to "Julius Caesar", or an edition with good footnotes. And even though Shakespeare's English isn't "your" English, I think you will manage!

In my opinion, you should try to overcome that small inconvenient. The reasons for that are at least two. First, the story is interesting. Secondly, it is always a good idea to remember how important a good mastery of language is, and this play helps you to do exactly that. On the whole, recommended!

Belen Alcat
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on June 19, 2004
This is one of Shakespeares most famous plays. I was required to read this play for school and I found that it was best when it was read aloud than when I read it too myself. It has been debated on whether Brutus or Caesar was the main character of the play and having read it i can see why. Julius Caesar is an essential role in the play as the dictator of Rome but Brutus is also a very important character. It is Brutus' internal conflict on whether or not he should betray his friend for the good of Rome that is the main subject of the beginning of the play. Also, many of Brutus' flaws like his bad judgement of character fuels the plot of the play. The lanuage is a little difficult to read but it enhances the play and the story. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in history or wants to read a compelling classic.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 2003
I loved "Romeo and Juliet", "Hamlet" and other Shakespeare novels, so I thought that I might try a history Shakespeare had written for my advanced English class. However, I wasn't very impressed. I had thought that Shakespeare's beautiful poetry would add much needed excitement to the book, but, alas, it prevailed. However, if one does not try to interpret what Shakespeare is saying and just reads the words aloud in rhythm, it sounds so eloquent and put together. Thus, I give it three stars.
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on October 27, 2003
Not much is more sensational than the assassination of a major public figure; reading Act 3, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," in which the title character is stabbed and hacked to death by half a dozen conspirators, I feel like I'm depriving myself of a thrilling theatrical spectacle that must be seen to be appreciated. It is not necessary to know much about Caesar to sense the power of the drama; the play provides just enough background and information about Caesar's personality to suggest the reason for his murder and its consequences.
In historical actuality, Caesar's murder was in some ways the pivot around which Rome transformed from a republic into an empire, and the play, which Shakespeare bases faithfully on Plutarch's histories, is ultimately about the political struggle that drives this transformation. The main conspirator against Caesar, and the one to deal him the final blow, is Brutus, who foresees nothing but tyranny if Caesar is made a king. There is something atavistic about his attitude, for he is descended from the family that was instrumental in turning the kingdom of Rome into a republic five centuries earlier.
The scenes leading up to Caesar's murder build with forceful tension. We see Brutus discussing with his co-conspirator Cassius the dangers of Caesar's ascension and Cassius's sympathetic response, the conspirators meeting at night to plan their attack on Caesar in the Capitol, Caesar's disregard of a soothsayer's prophecies of doom, and then the bloody climax, even after which the drama loses not a bit of momentum: Brutus appeals to the people (the Plebeians) that the assassination of Caesar, whom they loved and did not at all consider a potential tyrant, was only for their own good; while Mark Antony, one of Caesar's triumvirate and an eloquent orator, cajoles the people with demagogic irony into suspecting the murder happened for no reason other than malice.
Shakespeare fashions Caesar and Brutus more or less as two sides of the same denarius. Caesar is physically frail and deaf in one ear, but that doesn't preclude his triumphant success as a general and a military strategist. He is also pompous and fatuously vain -- there is nothing he fears more than to appear cowardly to his peers. Brutus is cut out of the same stock of hubris, but his motivations are purely altruistic. He loves Rome -- as a republic -- and will do anything to save it from a dictator, even kill a man he considers a friend and attempt to ally himself with foreign nations to wage a civil war against the armies of the now-empowered Roman triumvirate. Shakespeare brings all of this to light in a humanistic portrait of one of the most fascinating figures from history and his idealistic destroyer.
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on September 22, 2003
When it comes to Shakespeare, there really isn't a discussion about how good the play is...they are all fantastic and are all worth devoting time to read. When you buy, it comes down to the edition. The Folger library is the most obvious choice: they have very detailed introductions and on every left-hand side of the page, they explain certain phrases that have become phased out of the language. They also have a huge library on everything Shakespeare. This edition of Julius Caesar is certainly the best out there, and I reccomend you buy it. Oh, did I mention it's a great play?
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on June 4, 2003
Julius Caesar was a play of epic proportions. Even though much of it was drawn out and needed more action, other parts were emotionally inspirational and uplifting. The portrayal of the character's visages was very acurate, and almost made me wonder if these were the true emotions of the people who's story was told.
I was a bit confused with the self sacrifice made by Portia to convince Brutus to confess to her his inner feelings, and was disgusted with every single one of the conspirators
I suggest that you should read this book. yes. YOU SHOULD. Even if you are familiar with the muder and slaughter of Caeasr, this book gives you an inside look at the inspirations of the conspirators.
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on May 29, 2003
The book Julius Caesar was a very interesting and good book. Although the language was hard to understand in the beginning, you end up getting used to it and the book basically flows. I liked this book because it was very historical and interesting. One reason I did not like this book is because it did not give enough detail as to what was going on at a particular time in the book. When Shakespeare wrote this book it really captured the language that he was trying to use. It was a well written play and you could tell. This play was like no other play that Shakespeare had written in his career; it is very original. All of the characters in this play have an important role in the play also. Such as Brutus and Cassius; the play would not be such a work of art without the characters in Julius Caesar. The betrayal and determination in this play is extensive making it a wonderful book. I recommend this book to all people who love to read a good book. It takes time to read and understand, but in the end you end up reading something that is a big part of Shakespeare's career. This is a book that is to be read with time to properly understand and value what is being said and to take into count the hardship and time put into the book.
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