A WebQuest for 10th Grade
Rachel Boing, Chris Smith, and Jen Hilbert
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
1) Identify the following characters from the play. Find out if they were
actual people or simply characters in the play.
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!
(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
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
Resources to be used in all tasks:
Beginning Developing Accomplished Exemplary Score
1 2 3 4
Task One: correctly
n/a n/a characters
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
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). Biography.com. 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 http://ancienthistory.about.com
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