A Comparison of Plutarch's The Lives of the Ancient Grecians and Romans and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

660 Words 3 Pages
A Comparison of Plutarch's The Lives of the Ancient Grecians and Romans and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

When closely evaluating the two texts: Plutarch's The Lives of the Ancient Grecians and Romans and Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, there are stark differences of the theme and characters. While Plutarch's text is mostly informative, as describing a series of historical events, Shakespeare incorporates a wide variety of dramatic conventions as well as changing many events to entertain an audience. It is important to note that Shakespeare's play was based on Plutarch's text, which is why many of the differences are because of Shakespeare's revision. Shakespeare changes the tone of many important characters such as Marcus Brutus and Mark
…show more content…
Shakespeare writes of Brutus's constant pangs of regret after he joined the conspiracy and after he took part in Caesar's assassination. "[Brutus] was the noblest Roman of them all: all the conspirators save only he did that they did in envy of great Caesar." (Shakespeare 5.5.69-71). Overall, Plutarch's tone about Brutus is opposite of Julius Caesar compared to Shakespeare's passionate tone about Brutus's honor and love for Rome.

Another difference between Plutarch's text and Julius Caesar, other than the tone is the content. Shakespeare omits many events from his play such as Porcia's proving of herself by self-inflicting a wound on her thigh. On the other hand, Plutarch does not go into Brutus's and Portia's conversation of Brutus's troubles. Plutarch describes Antony's great speech at Caesar's funeral, but does not capture the emotional struggle Antony went through to win the hearts of Roman citizens. Shakespeare intensely writes of the crowd's reactions to Antony's speech. "Most noble Caesar, we'll revenge his death." (Shakespeare 3.2.236). This shows that Shakespeare is displaying Antony as a heroic and brilliant defender of Caesar while Plutarch merely states that Antony was not meant to speak at all but was sent to speak after a day of discussion between the conspirators.

Shakespeare also skips events, which were supposed to take place in
Open Document