ACT I – Scene.i
The people of Rome await with anticipation the arrival
of their hero, Julius Caesar, who is fresh from his victories over the sons of Pompey in Spain.
Two Roman Tribunes, Flavius and Marullus are concerned at the ecstasy of the
people who clearly think Caesar is a god. They notice that some of the statues of Caesar are now adorned with crowns, and they remove these ornaments, chastising the people and accusing them of having short
memories, for it was just a short time ago that they cheered Pompey.
Like most of Shakespeare’s plays, if the reader can
understand the opening scenes, then he will establish Shakespeare’s main theme.
Flavius and Marullus, Tribunes of Rome, are concerned that there has been a
breakdown of civil order.
They fear that their world is running out of control and becoming dangerous. They fear Caesar, for he grows in power, thus reducing the influence of the Senate. This is the age-old conflict between the Republican movement and the absolute power of monarchs. This will not have been lost of Elizabeth I, and despite the fact that Shakespeare indicates that Caesar may have been a tyrant it is the old monarchy regime that survives at the end of the play.
The Senate is comprised of the ruling class, but the people view Caesar as a
benefactor because he thinks more of them than he does of the Senators.
In Roman society, statues were associated with the gods.
The fact that the citizens of Rome adorn the statues of Caesar with crowns, symbolizes their belief that he should become overall ruler of the Empire.
The Tribunes are concerned at this and wish to remove these political signs,
which can be akin to modern day advertised.
Indirectly, the common people are trying to persuade the Senate to elect Caesar as their King. The theme of persuasion is an important part of this play and runs heavily throughout it.
There are many similarities between Elizabethan England, and the Roman
Empire as interpreted by Shakespeare, one of these being the use of celebrations as a means of maintaining social order and general well being.
The adulation that Caesar receives from the people undermines his
relationship with the Senate.