When the play first begin Julius Caesar, the man himself is entering Rome, returning from battle. He has defeated Pompey, and the crowd is happy. However, not all citizens are happy. Already there is conspiracy being planned. Marullus and Flavius make fun of the commoners, because did they not cheer for Pompey the same way that they cheer Caesar. Marullus angrily yells:
“O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft Have you climb’d up to walls and battlements, To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops, Your infants in your arms, and there have sat the livelong day, with patient expectation, To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome... And do you now strew flowers in his way, That comes in triumph over Pompey’s blood? Be gone!” (I: i)
Pompey’s defeat is crucial to Caesar’s rise to power. Many men volunteered to fight, unpaid, under the general Caesar. There was not a single deserter during the Civil War. Julius destroyed the few episodes of insubordination. He was a firm, yet fair leader. His troops were never addressed as “My soldiers”, but as “Comrades”. His attitude was much different then Pompey’s. “Whereas Pompey declared that all who were not actively with the government were against it and would be treated as public enemies, Caesar announced that all who were not actively against him were with him.” (Suetonius, pg. 45) Caesar was favored among his men, but this favor was soon lost entirely. The senate soon awarded Ceasar with many awards. Julius Caesar did not rise to greet them. the senate considered this an act of arrogance. The Senators began to feel the beginnings of a murderous hatred for Caesar. This feeling was increased by another incident. Upon returning from the Alban Hill, a member of the crowd placed a wreath of laurels and white fillet upon the statue of Caesar. Epidius Marullus and Caesetius Flavius demanded that the wreath be removed. Caesar dispatched these tribunes, who we met quickly in Julius Caesar, instantly. It is not known why this was done. One reason might have been that Caesar was angry that the thought of his becoming king was such an easily dismissable one. Another reason may be that ceaser was mad that he was not given the chance to demand the removal of the laurels himself. Either way, the main thought was that he had tried to bring back the crown. The tide was now almost fully against him, though the next event would certainly turn it completely. When addressing the populous at the Rostra during the Lupercalian Festival, Marc Antony tried several times to offer the crown to Caesar, and was several times denied, but Caesar then sent the crown to the Capitol to be dedicated. Shakespeare also tells of this, though in a different manner. He failed to tell you about those who were paid to cheer or hiss at specified signals. In Plutarch’s version of this event, he states that at each offering of the crown, a very small group of people cheered loudly, and at each declination of the crown, the rest of the population cheered. Shakespeare only mentions the cheering of the declinations. Though Caesar never accepted the title of king, he acted as one. This frightened the republican Senators greatly. Plans of assassination began to grow with a force more strong that before. Small groups of two or three conspirators now joined together. This phrase was written on Old Brutus’ statue: “If only you were alive today!” The general populous voiced their unhappiness loudly. They sang this popular song frequently: “Caesar led the Gauls in triumph, Led them uphill, led them down, To the Senate House he took them, Once the glory of our town. ‘Pull those breeches off’ he shouted, ‘Change into a purple gown!’”(Suetonius, pg. 53) Over sixty men were actively conspiring against Caesar. They established two plots that were considered seriously until Caesar called for a Senate meeting at the Pompeian Assembly Room on the Ides of March. This, they decided. Would be the time and place. Caesar did have fair warning of this. Shakespeare tells us of horrible thunderstorms, lions parading the streets, corpses rising from their graves and of people walking in flames. Suetonius