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Home » , » Discuss Julius Caesar as a historical play
William Shakespeare derived his historical material for the writing of the play, Julius Caesar. He had taken the name of this play from a translation called The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans by Plutarch. He changed altered and modified the historical material to suit his own purposes. Really, he depicts in his play the main historical events. The assassination of Caesar, the civil war that followed, and the defeat of the republican forces are some of the outstanding events of history. These events occur in the play too. In certain cases, Shakespeare employed some historical personages.

To discuss Shakespeare's treatment of the historical facts first, the celebration of Caesar's victory over Pompey's sons occurs in the play on the same date as the celebration of the feast of the Lupercalia. But historically, these events occurred over several days. Here Shakespeare combines several separate incidents in such a way that they appear to have taken on the same day. Similarly, in the play, the only battle is shown as having been fought on the plains of Philippi. Historically two battles occurred at this place.

Julius Caesar is a historical play

Shakespeare has chosen historical personages who are common in history. Shakespeare's portrayal of Caesar differs greatly from the historical Caesar. The historical Caesar portrayed by Plutarch was a great conqueror and a heroic personality. According to Plutarch, his portrayed Caesar is intellectually brilliant,  high-minded, and exceptionally intelligent. On the other hand, Shakespeare's Caesar is suffering from several physical infirmities. He is deaf in one ear. He suffers from falling sickness. He seems to be a man of a wavering mind, superstitious, and highly prone to flattery. Plutarch mentions one or two physical infirmities of Caesar, but Shakespeare has added to them.

Historically the murder of Caesar took place on the porch of the Senate-house but Shakespeare makes the murder occur inside the Senate-house. In Plutarch's book, Antony is depicted as vulgar and immoral. On the other hand, Shakespeare has imparted a certain dignity to Antony to raise him in our estimation. Similarly, Shakespeare represents the character of Cassius as being nobler than it is in Plutarch's history.

To sum up, we can say that Shakespeare has depicted the historical events and historical personages very nicely in his play, Julius Caesar, Shakespeare has been able to preserve the historical spirit of the times. His present play depicts the truth of history very ably, and with dramatic effect.


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