Thursday, April 30, 2009

Julius Caesar: Historical Background

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Study Guide
Background Information


Ancient Rome 44 B.C.

The play takes place before Rome developed into an empire. Julius Caesar has just defeated Pompey after a long civil war. He returns to Rome triumphantly and is in a position to take power. Some people are concerned because dictators have taken power before.
Julius Caesar, was a Roman military and political leader and one of the most influential men in world history. He played a critical role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. His conquest of Gaul extended the Roman world all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, and he was also responsible for the first Roman invasion of Britain in 55 BC.
Leading his legions across Rubicon, Caesar sparked civil war in 49 BC that left him the undisputed master of the Roman world. After assuming control of the government, he began extensive reforms of Roman society and government. He was proclaimed dictator for life, and he heavily centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic. This forced the hand of a friend of Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus, who then conspired with others to murder the dictator and restore the Republic. This dramatic assassination occurred on the Ides of March (March 15th) in 44 BC and led to another Roman civil war. In 42 BC, two years after his assassination, the Roman Senate officially sanctified him as one of the Roman deities.
Caesar's military campaigns are known in detail from his own written Commentaries (Commentarii), and many details of his life are recorded by later historians, such as Appian, Suetonius, Plutarch, Cassius Dio and Strabo. Other information can be gleaned from other contemporary sources, such as the letters and speeches of Caesar's political rival Cicero, the poetry of Catullus and the writings of the historian Sallust.


Marcus Junius Brutus (85 BC42 BC), or Quintus Servilius Caepio Brutus, was a Roman senator of the late Roman Republic. Though in popular culture, it is believed that Brutus was the sole assasin of Julius Caesar, historically he was not alone in the dictator's assasination conspiracy, but was among possibly up to sixty men.

Other Brutus Links
1 Life
2 Chronology
3 Brutus in popular culture
3.1 Influence
3.2 Fiction
3.3 Drama
4 Family tree
5 Notes
6 External links


In Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, actors such as James Mason, Jason Robards and Richard Pasco have played the role of Marcus Brutus in television productions and films.

In Julius Caesar he is portrayed by Ian Duncan.

A fictionalised Marcus Junius Brutus appears in the 2005 television series Rome, played by
Tobias Menzies

Marcus Brutus also appears in the highly fictionalised 2005 six-part mini series Empire played by James Frain.


Julius Caesar
A great Roman general who has recently returned to Rome after a military victory in Spain. Julius Caesar is not the main character of the play that bears his name; Brutus has over four times as many lines, and the play does not show us Caesar's point of view. Nonetheless, virtually every other character is preoccupied with Caesar—specifically, with the possibility that Caesar may soon become king. If Caesar were to become king, it would mean the end of Rome's republican system of government, in which senators, representing the citizens of Rome, wield most of the power. To noblemen like Brutus and Cassius, who consider themselves the equals of Caesar or any other citizen, Caesar's coronation would mean they would no longer be free men but rather slaves. Caesar never explicitly says that he wants to be king—he even refuses the crown three times in a dramatic public display—but everything he says and does demonstrates that he regards himself as special and superior to other mortals. In his own mind, he seems already to be an absolute ruler.

A high-ranking, well-regarded Roman nobleman who participates in a conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. Brutus is motivated by his sense of honor, which requires him to place the good of Rome above his own personal interests or feelings. Thus, he plots against Caesar in order to preserve the republic even though he loves and admires Caesar personally. While the other conspirators act out of envy and rivalry, only Brutus truly believes that Caesar's death will benefit Rome. Brutus's sense of honor is also his weakness, as he tends to assume that his fellow Romans are as highminded as he is, which makes it easy for others to manipulate him.

A loyal friend of Caesar's. In contrast to the self-disciplined Brutus, Antony is notoriously impulsive and pleasure-seeking, passionate rather than principled. He is extremely spontaneous and lives in the present moment. As resourceful as he is unscrupulous, Antony proves to be a dangerous enemy of Brutus and the other conspirators.

A talented general and longtime acquaintance of Caesar. Cassius resents the fact that the Roman populace has come to revere Caesar almost as a god. He slyly leads Brutus to believe that Caesar has become too powerful and must die, finally converting Brutus to his cause by sending him forged letters claiming that the Roman people support the death of Caesar. Impulsive and unscrupulous like Antony, Cassius harbors no illusions about the way the political world works. A shrewd opportunist, he acts effectively but lacks integrity.

Caesar's adopted son and appointed successor. Octavius, who had been traveling abroad, returns after Caesar's death, then joins with Antony and sets off to fight Cassius and Brutus. Antony tries to control Octavius's movements, but Octavius follows his adopted father's example and emerges as the authoritative figure, paving the way for his eventual seizure of the reins of Roman government.

One of the conspirators. Casca is a tribune (an official elected to represent the common people of Rome) who resents Caesar's ambition. A rough and blunt-speaking man, Casca relates to Cassius and Brutus how Antony offered the crown to Caesar three times and how each time Caesar declined it. Casca insists, however, that Caesar was acting, manipulating the populace into believing that he has no personal ambition. Casca is the first to stab Caesar.

Caesar's wife. Calphurnia invests great authority in omens and portents. She warns Caesar against going to the Senate on the Ides of March, for she has had terrible nightmares and heard reports of many bad omens.

Brutus's wife and the daughter of a noble Roman (Cato) who took sides against Caesar. Portia, accustomed to being Brutus's confidante, is upset to find him so reluctant to speak his mind when she finds him troubled.

Flavius and Murellus
Two tribunes who condemn the plebeians for their fickleness in cheering Caesar when once they cheered for Caesar's enemy Pompey. Flavius and Murellus are punished for removing the decorations from Caesar's statues during Caesar's triumphal parade.

A Roman senator renowned for his oratorical skill. Cicero speaks at Caesar's triumphal parade. He later dies at the order of Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus.

The third member of Antony and Octavius's coalition. Though Antony has a low opinion of Lepidus, Octavius trusts Lepidus's loyalty.

A member of the conspiracy. Decius convinces Caesar that Calphurnia misinterpreted her dire nightmares and that, in fact, no danger awaits him at the Senate. Decius leads Caesar right into the hands of the conspirators.

Another Look at Key Characters

Julius Caesar
Although Caesar was one of the strongest individuals in history, Shakespeare presents him with a number of weaknesses. In spite of all of these weaknesses, it is the spirit of Caesar that pervades the whole play. At the end of the play, Brutus says, "Caesar, thou art mighty yet."

Brutus is the epitome of all that is gentle and good in man. His sterner qualities make him admirable; his gentler qualities make him lovable. He is one of the finest characters in all of Shakespeare's writing. Had Brutus been less idealistic and less merciful, he no doubt would have been successful in crushing the powerful forces of Caesar. His three mistakes cost him his life, but Brutus feels no enmity, even in death.

If ever Shakespeare presented characters in contrast, he does it in molding the conspiracy around Cassius and Brutus. Cassius is the realist, the shrewd contriver, the ambitious one. He is the clever psychologist who knows just how to manipulate Brutus' thoughts and how to bring him into the conspiracy. Cassius is a strong leader, but he has one weakness—his admiration for Brutus. That admiration overrules his better judgment and culminates in his downfall. Without Brutus in the play, Cassius would have emerged as a much stronger leader.

Marc Antony
At the time of Caesar's assassination, Antony was thirty-seven years old. Never taking life very seriously, he led a pleasure-loving existence. Because he was reckless, careless, and handsome, the people loved him. Antony proves himself to be clever when he addresses the crowd after Caesar’s murder and convinces them that Caesar was not ambitious.

Octavius was nineteen when Caesar was assassinated and only twenty-one when he and Antony defeated the conspirators at Philippi. Eleven years later, he sent Antony and Cleopatra to defeat and death. Shakespeare wrote about that subject in his play Antony and Cleopatra. Octavius ruled Rome for forty-one years (until 17 A.D.). He was called the august, the grand, the magnificent (Augustus).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

English 10B Vocabulary: Unit 3 SAT/ACT Words

3.1 AMBIANCE (AM bee uns) mood, feeling; general atmosphere
Memory Link: Ambulance George did not enjoy the AMBIANCE in the AMBULANCE.

The AMBIANCE of the locker room after the team lost the championship was depressing.

For their daughter's birthday party, the Jeffersons' created an AMBIANCE of gaiety, decorating the gardent with bright balloons and ribbons.

The AMBIANCE in the Italian restaurant was delightful, there was soft music, candlelight and singing waiters.

3.2 GRANDILOQUENT (gran DIL uh kwunt) attempting to impress with big words or grand gestures
Memory Link: Grand Elephant The GRAND ELEPHANT made a GRANDILOQUENT speech.

It was another GRANDILOQUENT political affair; the candidates made the same old promises for lower taxes and more free services.

They may be eloquent, but here is nothing grand about pompous GRANDILOQUENT speakers.

The new teacher's GRANDILOQUENCE didn't fool the class one bit. She really knew very little about South American History.

3.3 GOSSAMER (GOSS uh mer) delicate floating cobwebs; a sheer gauzy fabric; something delicate, light, flimsy
Memory Link: CUSTOMER The spider's GOSSAMER captured many unhappy CUSTOMERS.

The bride wore a white silk wedding dress which touched the floor as she proceeded up the aisle to the altar. A GOSSAMER of fine Italian lace gently touched her face.

Between the audience and the actors on the stage hung a thing GOSSAMER of fabric, heightening the feeling that the actors were in a dream-like setting.

3.4 HARROWING (HARE roe ing) extremely distressed; disturbing or frightening
Memory Link: HARE ROWING A HARROWING experience for a HARE ROWING.

After the HARROWING experience when Eddies main parachute didn't open, and his emergerncy chute save him only at the last minute, he vowed never to jump again.

(HARRIED is to be troubled or bothered while HARROWING is to be frightened to the extreme.) At first we were HARRIED by the gang members and insulted, but later it became a HARROWING experience as they chased and threatened us with knives.

3.5 IRASCIBLE (i RAS uh bul) easily angered, irritable
Memory Link: WRESTLE BULLS When he became IRASCIBLE, the Masked Marvel would WRESTLE BULLS.

Normally, Rose was a pleasant wife and mother but if a member of her family prevented her from watching her favorite "soaps," she could become quite IRASCIBLE.

Uncle Tim was a real grouch, even on his birthday he would find a way to become so IRASCIBLE as a spoiled child.

The school principal became so IRASCIBLE even his teachers avoided speaking to him.

3.6 LASSITUDE (LAS uh tood) listlessness; torpor, weariness

After eating three servints of Thanksgiving dinner, George succumbed to a feeling of LASSITUDE and fell asleep on the couch.

Having worked for the cannery for twenty years without a raise, Charles became discouraged with his employers and approached his daily work with unenthusiastic LASSITUDE.

3.7 LACONIC (luh KAHN ik) brief, using few words
Memory Link: Grandma was laconic when giving grandpa his TONIC.

3.8 MYRIAD (MIR ee ud) an extremely large number
Memory Link: The trick MIRROR ADDs a myriad of reflections.

3.9 NOXIOUS(KNOCKS ee us) physically or mentally destructive, or harmful to human beings
Memory Link: Her overdose of perfume was so noxious that it knocked us off the bench.

3.10 QUEUE (Q) to form or to wait in line
Memory Link: The "Q's" formed a Q to jump into the alphabet soup.

Monday, April 20, 2009

In-Text Citation Examples & Resources

"How To" Appropriately Use MLA In-Text Citations in a Variety of Documented Writing Situations from Your Valuable Research & Research Cards

Your research cards should contain the information that you need to handle the "in-text" citation appropriately. I recommend that you not only provide a "slug" or "sub-headling" but--eventually--where this information will fit into your MLA Outline (i.e. II.A.1.) Notice that this sample is numbered in the right hand corner and that they page number(s) are in the bottom right hand corner. This card is a tad too thin in the amount of information that is included on it. Moreover, types of support include: direct quotations, an indirect quote, a paraphrase or a summary. Remember, though, that types of evidence include: facts, inferences, expert opinions, charts/graphs, statistics, personal experiences, interviews, and much more. I suggest that researchers include what type of evidence is being researched in the bottom right hand corner.

SAMPLE NOTECARD (ABOVE) TAKEN FROM:Denny, Rialta. "" 13 Jan 2007.

NOTE: After the first line of an MLA Work's Cited entry, the author is to indent the subsequent lines. This blog will not allow me to do so for you.
Correct Ways to Handle "In-Text" Citations

Single author named in parentheses.
Example: The tendency to come to terms with difficult experiences is referred to as a "purification process" whereby "threatening or painful dissonances are warded off to preserve intact a clear and articulated image of oneself and one’s place in the world" (Sennett 11).

Note: The punctuation here uses a direct quotation. Notice that the end quotation mark ends prior to the "in-text" citation in parentheses. Notice that there is no commo, nor an abbreviation for page number. Also notice that the parentheses are followed by the appropriate punctuation mark.
Single author or Sinlge Source named in a signal phrase.

Example: Social historian Richard Sennett names the tendency to come to terms with difficult experiences a "purification process" whereby "threatening or painful dissonances are warded off to preserve intact a clear and articulated image of oneself and one’s place in the world" (11).

Note: If you introduce the author or source in the text of your paper (and there is no duplicate in the author's name or a book with the same exact title (not likely but possible), you need only include the page number of that source and not the source itself.
Two or more authors.

Example. Certain literacy theorists have gone so far as to declare that "the most significant elements of human culture are undoubtedly channeled through words, and reside in the particular range of meanings and attitudes which members of any society attach to their verbal symbols" (Goody and Watt 323).

Corporate author (organization, association, etc.).

Example. The federal government has funded research concerning consumer protection and consumer transactions with online pharmacies (Food and Drug Administration 125).

Works with no author.
Example. Several critics of the concept of the transparent society ask if a large society would be able to handle the complete loss of privacy ("Surveillance Society" 115).

Two or more works by the same author.

Example. In his investigation of social identity, The Uses of Disorder, Sennett defines adulthood as a stage where people "learn to tolerate painful ambiguity and uncertainty" (108).

Note: The author can identify which of the two works is being referenced by signaling it in his or her writing.
In a surprising move, Richard Sennett combines the idea of power with that of virtue: "the idea of strength is complex in ordinary life because of what might be called the element of its integrity" (Authority 19).

Note: In this situation, the author signifies which of the two works is being referenced--not in the text of the writing--but by using the title of the source in the in-text citation.
Work found in an anthology or edited collection.

Note: For an essay, short story, or other document included in an anthology or edited collection, use the name of the author of the work, not the editor of the anthology or collection, but use the page numbers from the anthology or collection.
Lawrence Rosenfield analyzes the way in which New York’s Central Park held a socializing function for nineteenth-century residents similar to that of traditional republican civic oratory (222).

Bible passage.

Unfortunately, the president could not recall the truism that "Wisdom is a fountain to one who has it, but folly is the punishment of fools" (New Oxford Annotated Bible, Prov. 20-22).

Note: The author needs to include the specific Bible in the in-text citation.
Secondary source of a quotation (someone quoted within the text of another author).

As Erickson reminds us, the early psychoanalysts focused on a single objective: "introspective honesty in the service of self enlightenment" (qtd. in Weiland 42).

Note: If one author is quoted by another, this is the appropriate way to handle it.

Web page.

Abraham Lincoln's birthplace was designated as a National Historical Site in 1959 (National Park Service).

Note: Internet citations follow the style of printed works. Personal or corporate author and page number should be given ONLY if they exist on the website itself.

Other Awesome Online Sources for In-Text Citations and Work's Cited Style

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Works Cited Entries & Source Card Style

Works Cited Entries & Source Card Style

Duke Universities Libraries Site

This is a great site to help you understand how to handle "in-text" citations and "works cited" entries. Please make sure that you choose the Modern Language Association (MLA) entry. This site shows students how to handle "works cited" entries for a variety of other styles: APA, Chicago, Turabian and CSE. Scroll down for web-site link.

Pay close attention to the guidelines given at the bottom of each entry for specific important information that you must gather for each of the different types of sources.

Note: I would recommend that you letter and not number each of your souces. I think it is easier to keep them separate. Then, when you tie a notecard to a source you can use a letter and a number in the upper, right hand corner to indicate "which" source your note cards came from. Also note that the second line (and all others after it) of this MLA Entry should be indented. I also find it important to list the ISBN number, call number or location in the bottom left corner if one needs to find the source again for reference.

Printed Journals, Journal Article with Multiple Authors, Information from an Online Journal, Full-Text Article from a Database.

Magazines: Printed Magazines, On-Line Magazines, Full-Text Article from a Database.

Books: Book with a Single Author, Book with Two Authors, Book with Three or More Authors, Electronic Book, Article from Within a Book, Encyclopedias and Other Multi-Volume Books.

Newspaper Articles: Printed Newspapers, Online Newspapers, Full-Text Article from a Database.

Primary Sources: Letters, Interviews, Motion Picture, Online Digitized Collection.

Other Materials: Web Page, Online Posting, Email Message, Book Reviews, Government Documents

Do you want even more help? See Noodle Tools and Son of Citation Machine below.

Noodle Tools

Noodle Tools is a free tool to easily create MLA Works Cited pages. You need to go to the homepage, sign up for a free account and the site will take you through all of the other steps. Try it! You'll love it.

Son of Citation Machine

Citation Machine is one of many on-line cites that will assist a student who has gathered all of the "vital" information about sources: journals, books, newspapers, primary sources, other sources. Please have all of the important information collected if you want this "short-cut" to work for you. Also, make sure that you choose MLA as your "style".