Julius Caesar | Study Guide

William Shakespeare

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Julius Caesar | Act 2, Scene 3 | Summary

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Summary

Artemidorus, a teacher of rhetoric, reads a letter aloud on the street near the Capitol. The letter names all the conspirators and warns Caesar to beware of each one. The letter's signed "Thy lover, Artemidorus."

Artemidorus tells the audience that he plans to give the letter to Caesar as a petition. He laments the fact that friends turn into traitors and rivals. If Caesar reads the letter, he says, he will live; if not, the fates will see him dead.

Analysis

This brief scene takes a break from the dramatic action and introduces the audience to an apparently omniscient observer. How did Artemidorus learn about the conspiracy? Again, Shakespeare isn't interested in providing the details; he simply injects an air of mystery and authority.

The letter seems to raise more questions than it answers. Here is a citizen, a teacher, invested in keeping Caesar alive. If Caesar is such a tyrant, it is unclear why someone like Artemidorus would love and respect him. Artemidorus detests treachery and evil. His presence is a sort of rational portent, another sign that Caesar can choose to accept or decline.

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