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Julius Caesar Act 2, Scene 2 Summary

  • Caesar's also up late, pacing around in his nightgown, lightning and thunder as the backdrop. His wife Calphurnia has cried out "Help, ho! They murder Caesar" three times in her sleep, which he's taken as a bad sign.
  • Caesar tells a servant to order the priests to make a sacrifice and see if they can rustle up a good omen.
  • The now-awake Calphurnia approaches Caesar and demands that he not leave the house that day. Caesar of course refuses her. He claims that danger can't look him in the eye. (It's like he invented Chuck Norris!)
  • Still, Calphurnia is pretty dead-set against Caesar leaving. She's not a superstitious lady, but she's seen lions walking around, the dead rising from their graves, and warriors in the sky, and she's dreamt of the Capitol covered in blood. All of this makes her worry.
  • Caesar points out that the gods will get their way, no matter what he does. Here he delivers the famous line, "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the Valiant never taste of death, but once." He sees no reason to fear death, since death comes to everyone in the end.
  • Caesar then gets word that the sacrifice didn't go so well: the beast they killed didn't have a heart! Caesar – maybe arrogant, maybe brave – takes this to mean that he would have no heart (or courage) if he stayed home today. He then claims he's more dangerous than danger itself (very Johnny Bravo).
  • Calphurnia pleads with Caesar to stay home. If anyone asks, he can say it's his wife that kept him home so he won't look like a coward for not showing up at the Capitol. He doesn't agree until she's gotten down on her knees. He decides to humor her and have Antony cover for him with some excuse about feeling ill.
  • It's about morning now, and Decius shows up as promised to take Caesar to the Capitol. Calphurnia asks Decius to tell the Senate that Caesar is sick. Caesar points out that he's conquered nations and is not worried about some old senators knowing why he had to stay home.
  • Caesar tells Decius to just tell the Senate he won't come – they don't deserve any more of an explanation than that. Still, Caesar says, because he loves Decius, he'll tell him the real reason he's staying home. (Definitely a bad move.)
  • He confides in Decius that Calphurnia had a dream in which Caesar's statue poured blood from a hundred spouts, like a fountain, and that happy Romans surrounded the statue bathing their hands in the blood.
  • Decius is a quick thinker, and he knows he's got to get Caesar to the Capitol to kill him. So he deliberately misinterprets the dream. He says that of course Caesar had blood spilling all over happy Romans. Decius claims the dream means Rome will be revived by Caesar's blood, and everybody will want a little bit of that wonderful infusion. (Decius really means that Rome will be sustained by Caesar's spilled blood – not his current, happily circulating blood.)
  • To end all discussion on the topic, Decius offers Caesar the cherry on top: today the Senate is planning on crowning Caesar king, and if he doesn't show up they might change their minds. They'll make fun of him for being a scaredy-cat and staying home because of his wife's dreams. Decius claims he only says these things out of love.
  • Caesar takes the bait, calls Calphurnia foolish, and heads off with Decius to the Capitol.
  • It's 8 in the morning by this time, and all the other conspirators have gathered at Caesar's house to make small talk as promised.
  • Caesar invites them all to have a friendly morning drink with him before they go, and Brutus privately laments that Caesar can't tell that his supposed friends are his soon-to-be murderers.

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