Julius Caesar (Quality Paperback Book Club)

by William Shakespeare

Paperback, 1997







Brutus, best friend of the Roman ruler Caesar, reluctantly joins a successful plot to murder Caesar and subsequently destroys himself. Includes notes and an introduction.

User reviews

LibraryThing member lyzadanger
Forgive me that it took me eight months to finish Shakespeare's shortest play. I kept picking it up, reading the first act, and then forgetting.

It's strange reading about Roman history through compound filters: dramatization, Shakespearean England, what we know of the Roman Republic, modern norms. One gets so twisted around that nary an eyebrow is raised in Act 2 when Caesar asks "What is't o'clock?" (Brutus: "Caesar, 'tis strucken eight.
") Such a tangle that it might not jump immediately to mind that there were probably not a whole lot of chiming clocks in the first century BC. We've got Centurions herein acting like they're on Queen Elizabeth's court. Strange.

This play is brief. Brief enough that it doesn't feel like a story so much as a string of exchanges. Brutus (who refers to himself in the third person and thus puts me in the mind of Tarzan or other deep-voiced simpleton) seems instantly swayed to subterfuge. Caesar is full of lofty exaltations but kind of amounts to nothing when you think about it. Marc Antony does show a bit of craftiness, and Cassius is devious.

I do like the way Casca responds to Cassius' invitation to dinner and I hope I can use it myself sometime: "Ay, if I be alive, and your mind hold, and your dinner worth the eating."

I do feel like that sometimes.
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LibraryThing member Clancy.Coonradt
A wonderful classic that truly speaks to the duality of man and his eternal search for not only power, but those that are truly pure at heart. Amazing how many quotes and sayings have come from this piece of literature.
LibraryThing member subbobmail
I hadn't read Julius Caesar since the ninth grade, when I was forced to recite the "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech from memory in front of the whole class. That was no fun, but I've always liked the play. Soon they'll be staging it at the local drama barn. I hear that the director intends to transform ancient Rome into a comment on the neocons...not sure that's a good idea.
Anyway, what most struck me in re-reading JC was the character of Brutus. He's the anti-Hamlet. His duty tells him to kill the king, and so he does it, straight away. But wait -- was it really his duty, or was he merely duped by backbiting Romans who hated Caesar for his success? In the end, it doesn't matter. "The noblest Roman of them all" ends up dead, and the republic he meant to defend soon falls into the hands of another Caesar.
Brutus reminds me of Robert E. Lee. Both men were greatly admired and honored even by their enemies. But how much does honor matter if you fight for the wrong things? Lee's deep personal integrity and gravity lent a tinge of moral authority to the cause of white supremacy, for frak's sake. Brutus committed murder out of love. Maybe Hamlet wasn't so dumb to hesitate after all.
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LibraryThing member jwhenderson
This is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and one that I have read and reread over the years in addition to seeing several performances of the play. The classic story is informed by history as we know from Roman accounts about the life and death of Julius Caesar. Shakespeare adhered closely to the version of the story in Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. In comparing prominent figures from Greek and Roman history , Plutarch presented history as a compendium of the deeds of great men, portraying the characters with all the ambiguities and idiosyncrasies that were present in their lives. The writings of Marcu Tullius Cicero also informed Shakespeare. Cicero was a staunch republican and his dislike of Caesar preceded the conspiracy that led to his assassination, which conspiracy Cicero did not directly participate in. A final source for Shakespeare was the Roman historian Appian who chronicled the civil wars as part of his longer history of Rome. All of these sources inform the dramatic tension within this play adding a historical realism to Shakespeare's own dramatic genius. I especially like the relationship between Caesar and his wife. I also found the psychology of the characters, particularly Brutus, an important aspect of the drama. This helps make many of the characters from Brutus and Cassius to Mark Antony as memorable as the title character. It is one of the great Roman plays in Shakespeare's works, and it is both an historical and a dramatic achievement.… (more)
LibraryThing member sweetsarah
Wow that Brutus was one sneaky guy he just wanted to be like Caesar. and then the scene when they killed Caesar was like WOW
LibraryThing member TadAD
At this point (I've not yet read King Lear or Othello), this is my favorite of Shakespeare's tragedies. Unlike the essentially silly situation of Romeo and Juliet or the artificially dragged out events of Hamlet, Brutus' struggle to reconcile patriotism and friendship, passion and honor mesmerized me right from the beginning.

This is a high point in my quest to read/re-read all of Shakespeare's plays.… (more)
LibraryThing member hlselz
Had to read the play, cause I love the history. Im not a big fan of Shakespeare, but the loved the play because of the charectors.
LibraryThing member rfewell
I read this play during my Sophomore year of high school. I loved it! "Et tu, Brute!" I thought of it again because I'm reading "A Long Way Gone", and this play is referenced frequently.
LibraryThing member bibliophile26
I read this due to my interest in HBO's Rome series (which has been cancelled after only 2 seasons - why TV gods, WHY???). Anyway, as an English major I read tons of Shakespeare, so it wasn't a challenging read for me and I found my mind analyzing language/passages as I would have been required to do in school. Let's just say the history plays have never been my favorites; maybe knowing the ending spoils the play?… (more)
LibraryThing member ausie7
This is the best William Shakespeare that I have ever read. I haven't read much but this one was really appealing to me. Even though I knew the ending, I couldn't put the book down until the end.
LibraryThing member shawnd
"Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look." This was one of Shakespeare's more excellent books in my opinion. While historical it wasn't as bad as one of the Richard books--it had a timeless story without being too historical or too political, especially British-ly political. One of the original eponymous tragedy, a story of a man's success and betrayal. A wonderful masterpiece and underrated.… (more)
LibraryThing member Smiley
Not one of his best. A few great lines, but tired? Have only read alone. Brando's version on film is best.
LibraryThing member carterchristian1
I hope to see this again soon. The first time I saw it as a high school play, the next time in 1997 at a Pub theater (more members of the cast than the audience) next to the railroad station in Greenwich England...with a wonderful redo as a Mafia,
Chicago script.
LibraryThing member AliceAnna
So dry. What a mistake to cram this down 15-year old throats just because it's short. How many 10th graders have been completely turned off by Shakespeare because this is over their head. I really didn't care much for this. Many of his history plays are far superior. Should've been called "The Rise and Fall of Brutus" because Caesar is such a minor character -- no development either.… (more)
LibraryThing member mbmackay
History play of the death of Caesar. Brutus and Mark Antony are the main characters, not Caesar. More action than analysis, but the bad guys are portrayed as more complex than just being bad – nicely nuanced. Read March 2008
LibraryThing member milti
One of the most powerful of his plays. Yes, the characters are set in black and white in true Shakespearean style and there is no room for hman error, but therein lies the beauty and power of this drama.
LibraryThing member MsNikki
Great Play, could easily see this as a modern re-telling set in the Italian Mob or as hotile financial take over...I see Macbeth the same way.

But betrayal is a hell of a thing.
LibraryThing member john257hopper
I read this play just after finishing Goldsworthy's excellent biography of Caesar. The play focuses much more on the conspirators, especially Brutus and Cassius, rather than the titular subject, who indeed hardly appears in person and is only about three scenes, one of them as a ghost. It is splendid stuff, largely, at least in the initial acts based on the premise that the conspirators were freeing Rome of a tyrant through their act; only, when Antony makes his famous "friends, Romans, countrymen" speech does a more nuanced view of Caesar's positives and negatives enter the scene. Not one of the meatier plays, but a good supplement to other reading about the period.… (more)
LibraryThing member SeraphinaC.B4
In the book Julius Caesar, a group of conspirators lead by a man named Brutus plot to kill Julius Caesar. After succeeding in killing him, Brutus sees Julius Caesar's ghost who promises to see him in Philippi. On a battlefield in Philippi, Brutus fights with Cassius's army. Cassius being overthrown, commits suicide. When one member of Cassius's army finds Cassius dead, he then also kills himself. Brutus is defeated and runs upon his sword. Conflict in Rome is at an end.

As a twelve year old this wasn't the best book I've ever read. It was a little confusing with a lot of characters and action. I thought the book was going to be about Julius Caesar but it was more about the conspirators getting rid of him. One of the morals was don't murder anyone because you will have to live with the guilt the rest of your life. This play taught me a little about Rome and war. I really enjoy reading Shakespeare. Overall this was a good book.
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LibraryThing member locriian
My favourite part of this play is the "Antony is an honest man" speech. Excellent.
LibraryThing member mstrust
Cassius is quickly able to plant the idea of overthrowing Julius Caesar in the mind of Brutus, a man who claims to love Caesar. Cassius and Brutus gather a group of the Caesar's friends, who they join together to murder the leader, then tell each other that they did the man a favor and will be remembered for their courage in removing a tyrant. But then Marcus Antony gives a clever eulogy at the funeral, which causes the public to question the motives of the assassins, the conspirators no longer trust one another and Brutus finds his position threatened.

A good example of how power corrupts, as even the good guy, Antony, tries to manipulate his friends to gain more for himself.
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LibraryThing member cbl_tn
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. Et tu, Brute. Beware the ides of March.” I'm a little embarrassed to admit that this is all I knew of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar up to this point in my life. There's so much more to this play. Shakespeare captures the tension and drama of the last years of the Roman Republic and the role of Julius Caesar's ambition in hastening its end. The L.A. Theatre Works audio production is outstanding. The cast includes Richard Dreyfuss, Kelsey Grammar, Stacy Keach, John De Lancie, and JoBeth Williams. I will listen to this recording again. Next time I will plan to do my listening when I'm able to follow along in the printed text.… (more)
LibraryThing member Coach_of_Alva
Shakespeare’s dissection of the damage that idealism can do in politics is still relevant.
LibraryThing member therebelprince
Just a marvelous edition - the new Arden Shakespeares really are incomparable. The editions as a whole are designed more at the serious academic, but their "Julius Caesar" will cater for people of all levels.
LibraryThing member MartinBodek
'Tis happened upon chance that mine eyes have read the tale of Julius Caesar. For sooth, a great tragedy were 't. Yet happiness was clutch't betwixt mine hands that such wordsmithings are imbued into my corpus of knowledge. Brutus was not a noble understood, know that I now. It has cometh to pass that Royal Antony's quotes sitteth in upon my vernacular at the ready. What pleasure shall I give mine eyes to scan upon next? Be it, I prayeth, one of Sir William's comedies, for these tragedic readings have ravaged vexings upon my soul. Twelfth Night? Much Ado About Nothing? Instruct me, fellow plebeians.… (more)


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