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Meeting the Characters of Julius Caesar

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Meeting the Characters of Julius Caesar Powered By Docstoc
					             A WebQuest for 10th Grade

                     Designed by

       Rachel Boing, Chris Smith, and Jen Hilbert;;
Et tu, Brute? This famous line is the last breath of the dying Caesar, stabbed
dozens of times on the steps of the Senate house. It is a scene well remembered,
and one worthy of capture on the stage. Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare is
marvelous fiction based in actual historical events. But what is the play’s place in
history? How much is true, and how much is a playwright’s genius? In this
exercise, you will be uncovering which characters actually walked the streets of
Rome, and which traversed only the steps of Shakespeare’s mind.

The Tasks
   1) Identify the following characters from the play. Find out if they were
      actual people or simply characters in the play.
                 Mark Antony
                 Octavius Caesar
                 Cinna
                 Cicero
                 Julius Caesar
                 Caius Cassius
                 Marcus Brutus
                 Terminus
                 Lepidus
                 Casca
                 Portia

   2) Get to know the characters by exploring the websites that pertain to them
      below. Compose a theoretical interview with Caesar, one of the conspirators
      (Brutus, Cassius, Casca, Cinna, Portia, or Terminus) and another character of
      your choice, (Antony, Octavius, Lepidus, or Cicero).
3) Imagine that you are living in ancient Rome under Julius Caesar’s rule at the
   time of Caesar’s death. You are not one of the conspirators responsible for
   killing Caesar, nor are you someone who knows him personally in any capacity.
   Rather, you are a scribe responsible for writing an obituary for Julius
   Caesar. Because you have not spoken to the man personally, the obituary will
   focus upon the man’s political decisions. Let the people know what Caesar
   accomplished during his lifetime, and what tensions led to his death. Include
   the basic information (his birthplace and birthday, the timespan in which he
   ruled) and summarize his life up until his death.

   Remember that you are writing this just after Caesar’s murder. You do not
   know yet how history will remember the man: that part is up to you!
The Process
(Task 1) Using the sites below determine which of the previous characters actually
lived. If they were actual people provide a short description of their role in

(Task 2) Each interview must contain at least five questions. Base each character’s
theoretical answers on how you think they would respond according to what you
learned about them from the websites. Be sure you specify at what time the
interview was conducted (before the play began, during the play, or after the play).

To get you started here is an interview with Calpurnia, wife of murdered Caesar.
This interview happens after the murder, but before the subsequent events:

Calpurnia, the wife of Caesar was from an old aristocratic family. With her
husband dead, she faced many dangers as the widow of a man who many believed a

      Questioner: So now that Caesar is dead, where do you stand? How are
      you concerned for your future?
      Calpurnia: I mourn my husband deeply; his death shakes me to the core.
      I loved him dearly as a dutiful wife. Now with him gone I fear I have
      enemies on all sides. My family however will now protect me. The
      Calpurnii have had a long proud history in this Republic and I plan to
      continue living in that image.
      Q: What do you plan to do now?
      C: There has been a suggestion from those close to me that my
      husband’s will bears reading. If he is not declared a tyrant, his will shall
      stand. He loved the people dearly and they deserve to hear what he had
      to say.
      Q: You speak well of your husband, despite his alleged affair with Servilia,
      mother of Brutus.
      C: I see the media, even in these trying times, has no true feelings of
      sympathy for its victims. My husband was a great man. He conquered
      Gaul and saved the Republic from its enemies, like Pompey. Yet you
      must speak of alleged infidelity. My husband resided in my bed and no
      one else’s. Your childish speculation disgusts me.
  (Task Three) While researching the real Julius Caesar’s career in politics (on
  the websites provided), you may find yourself feeling very strongly about
  Caesar’s death. You might find the murder terribly unjust, you might see it as
  a grim necessity, or you might have another opinion altogether. Feel free to
  let your opinion color your obituary, but please remember to concentrate on
  the facts.

Resources to be used in all tasks:
                  Beginning        Developing Accomplished        Exemplary       Score

                       1                2                3             4

  Task One:                                                         correctly
Identification                                                      identifies
                      n/a                               n/a        characters
                                                                  and provides
                                  are real, but

                 Questions          Questions         Questions
                 (and                  (and             (and        Questions
 Task Two:       responses)         responses)     responses) are      (and
 Interview       are not              are not      appropriate to responses)
                 appropriate       appropriate       characters         are
                 to characters    to characters      chosen, but appropriate to
                 chosen, and        chosen, or     responses are characters
                 dialogue does    dialogue does     surface-level  chosen and
                 not                    not          and do not    appropriate
                 demonstrate       demonstrate      demonstrate      depth is
                 depth/critical   depth/critical       critical   demonstrated.
                 thinking.           thinking.        thinking.
            Student lacks Student does     Student
            understanding    not fully  demonstrates
Task Three:                                                      understanding
             of Caesar’s  comprehend some grasp of
 Obituary                                                         of Caesar’s
                role in   Caesar’s role    Caesar’s
             history, and   in history,  contributions
                                                                 to history and
                fails to   and fails to to history, but
                                                                    ability to
              articulate    articulate      fails to
              view on his  view on his articulate view
                                                                   view on his
                death..       death.     on his death..
Having explored the characters of the play you are now ready to begin its reading.
Julius Caesar is one of Shakespeare’s most famous works, and it is important to
remember its basis in history. As you read the play think about what you have
learned here, who actually lived and were their actions different from those in the
play? Having written the interview, consider, as you read, the motivations of the
characters in the play. Now go countrymen, and lend your ears to Julius Caesar.

Credits & References
Absolute Shakespeare. (2005). Julius Caesar study guide. Retrieved July 1, 2008,
A&E Television Networks. (2008). Retrieved July 1, 2008, from
Livius. (2008). Gaius Julius Caesar. Retrieved July 1, 2008, from
National Geographic. (2008). Ides of march marked murder of Julius
       Caesar. Retrieved July 1, 2008, from
The New York Times Company. (2008). Ancient/Classical history. Retrieved July 1,
       2008, from
The New York Times Company. (2008). Shakespeare. Retrieved July 1, 2008, from
VRoma. (2001). Julius Caesar: Historical Background. Retrieved July 1, 2008, from

              Last updated on August 15, 1999. Based on a template from The WebQuest Page

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