The Role of Minor Conspirators

In the course of time, the world has seen an abundance of influential men.
Oftentimes, however, the forces behind these men remain unseen. This is shown in William
Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by the supporting role the minor conspirators have on the
major conspirators. Just as women often embolden powerful men of society, the minor
conspirators embolden the major conspirators greatly affecting the outcome of the play.
One of the most important minor conspirators of the play is Decius, who was
responsible for bringing Caesar to the capitol on the day of the assassination. The entire
conspiracy almost failed because on the night before the assassination was to be carried out,
during the storm, Caesar’s wife Calpurnia had a dream about Caesar being killed, and she
had convinced him to remain home the next day. When Decius arrived at Caesar’s home in
the morning to take him to the capitol he realized that he must convince Caesar that he had
misinterpreted his wife’s dream so Caesar would go as planned. Decius needed to make
Caesar realize that his wife, the soothsayer, and all of the omens were purely coincidental
which he did by interpreting Calpurnia’s dream with a double meaning, “Your statue
spouting blood in many pipes, in which so many smiling Romans bathed, signifies that from
you great Rome shall suck reviving blood, and that great men shall press for tinctures,
stains, relics, and cognizance.” (JC. II. ii. 85-90). Decius successfully executed his role in
the conspiracy which led to the assassination of Caesar.
Another very influential minor conspirator was Cinna, who aided in persuading
Brutus to join the conspiracy. Getting Brutus involved in the conspiracy was crucial
because of his close relationship with Caesar and his prominence with both the senators and
the common people. Cinna was assigned, by Cassius, the task of delivering a flattering
letter to Brutus to which he responded, “Well, I will hie, and so bestow theses papers as
you bade me” (JC. I. iii. 150-151). Cassius and the rest of the conspirators realized how
beneficial Brutus would be to their conspiracy, so when Cinna played a large role in getting
him involved, the plot was greatly influenced.
The third minor conspirator who significantly influenced the course of the play was
Casca. Casca was the first person that told the rest of the conspirators of Caesar’s position
with the common people at the opening of the play. Casca told of Caesar being offered the
crown, “I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown--yet ‘twas not a crown neither, ‘twas on of
these coronets--and as I told you, he put it by once; but for all that, to my thinking, he
would fain have had it.” (JC. I. ii. 235-239). He knew the threat that Caesar’s power posed
to the republic of Rome and discussed the problems of Caesar becoming too powerful with
Cassius. If Caesar were to become a tyrant then Casca, as well as the other conspirators,
would lose what they most desired; power.
Throughout the tragedy of Julius Caesar it has been shown that although a minor
character, or conspirator in this case, may seem insignificant, they oftentimes have roles
that greatly affect the decisions of major characters. All great literature has a theme or
idea that can be applied to all people or society, and the concept of unseen supporting
forces behind important people is an excellent example of that rule. The minor conspirators
play a much more important role than meets the eye in this play, and that is what this paper
has illustrated.