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Was Julius Caesar ambitious to a fault? (W.S. Play)

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/13/2018 Category: People
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,468 times Debate No: 106677
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In William Shakespeare"s play "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar", Julius Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius get themselves into some action through the main characters" feelings of jealousy and envy. Cassius"s ambition for the murder is his own jealousy of the powerful man, while Brutus"s motivation for the death is him being afraid that Caesar would become too powerful, in the position that he already is right now. However, these men"s incentives are no match for Caesar"s own actions, and through the plot, he is ambitious to a fault.


Julius Caesar being the ruler of Rome had a duty toward his nation. In order to work for the welfare of his people he had to conquer the neighboring countries and acquire wealth by raiding them. Hence his ambition and thirst to make Rome the supreme power is justified since his ultimate motive was in the best interests of his people. Even after his assassination, during his funeral speech Antony put forward that even after being acknowledged as the supreme ruler, Caesar denied the crown for his ambition was focused all on the welfare of his people. He in his will gave away all of his property to the citizens of Rome. He wanted only the best for his subjects, including Cassius and Brutus. Thus their act of conspiring against Caesar is malicious and the justification of him being ambitious is ridiculous, since all throughout his ambition had only been for their welfare. Hence Julius Caesar throughout the play was not ambitious to a fault.
Debate Round No. 1


Although Antony does clarify that, -"after his assassination, during his funeral speech Antony put forward that even after being acknowledged as the supreme ruler, Caesar denied the crown for his ambition was focused all on the welfare of his people"-, we have to know that Antony says this to sway the crowd to do what he wants and pleases, in this case, betray Caesar's rivals and attack them. On the bottom line, Caesar has a huge ego. There's no denying it, Caesar acts differently in public than he does in private. For example, when Caesar refuses the crowd for the first time, he physically hears the approval from the crowd, and continues to deny the crown, and the cheers grow bigger, hence, Caesar feels better about his position. However, in private, when Decius Brutus decides to o'ersway Caesar to attend Council, Caesar is persuaded into going when Brutus tells him how if he doesn't go, his self-worth will decrease. Not only did he say that, but he also mentioned that there would be a crown for Caesar. All through this information, it is clearly shown that in public, Caesar puts up a facade in order to fool his people into believing on his false motives. Caesar's fault, in this case, is misleading his people, and as his ambition shows, the plot thickening and character interaction clearly indicates that Julius Caesar is ambitious to a fault. Since you mainly focused your argument on Antony"s speech, let me also point out that Caesar"s raids were never in the play and that we don"t know if what Antony said about the will is true. There is no evidence given in the play that this "will" is fulfilled. Readers are allowed to assume whether or not if it was fulfilled, as in history we do know that Marc Antony does fall as the leader of Rome. This assumption is legitimate because readers don"t know what happens to the people after they are put in chaos. Also, Caesar"s raids are meant for conquering, not for the better of his people. There is a reason why he fought for sole consul against Pompey. Let me also point out that Antony"s speech is biased. He was already on Caesar"s side to begin with. He claims he is not trying to push the crowd against Brutus and the other conspirators during the speech and before the speech, but he does claim his intention was to have the crowd turn against Brutus afterwards. In his speech, he also gives claims and evidence as to why Caesar wasn"t ambitious. For that, let me ask you a couple questions. If Caesar was no ambitious for his power, why was he afraid of Casca? Why did Caesar pretend to not be afraid when talking to Antony in the beginning of the poem? (I rather tell thee what is to be feared Than what I fear, for always I am Caesar.) Why did he have a seizure after the people cheered for him for not taking the crown? Why did he have to threaten someone after the people cheered for him for not taking the crown. Why did Caesar fall for Decius Brutus" false statement of offering him the crown? Why did Caesar refuse the crown in public, but want to accept the crown in private? Why did Caesar call himself as straight as the North Star? Why did Caesar attack Pompey? I trust through this, your thoughts, and the play itself, you can figure out why Caesar is ambitious.


I'm not denying the fact that Caesar was ambitious and egoistic but since the motion explicitly states that "Julius Caesar was ambitious to a fault", it clearly implies that the justification given by the conspirators for having assassinated Caesar is legitimate. This is what the real debate is - "Is Caesar's ambition a legit reason for having assassinated him?" And I strongly oppose this. To answer your questions,
1. Caesar was never afraid of Casca but in fact it was Casca who was a hypocrite who criticizes Caesar at the Lupercal in private but then puts on a show of being his follower,
2. Before making that statement to Antony Caesar says "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; such men are dangerous", and by this he is only telling Antony why Cassius shouldn't be trusted, not that he himself is afraid of him. He implies that he isn't afraid of anything by saying "for always I am Caesar",
3. According to historians Caesar suffered from strokes and was often struck by dizziness, limb weakness, headaches, depression and sudden falls,
4. Calpurnia's demand seemed a little too fanatical for Caesar from the beginning but he only agreed to her not on account of the strength of her arguments but on her persistent pleas. So when Decius Brutus provided him with more concrete and stable reasons for going to the senate it was just more likely that Caesar fell for his reasons than those of Calpurnia which to be honest were pretty superstitious and fanatical,
5. Caesar refusing the crown publicly is just proof of the fact that he was a modest king and would rather accept the crown in private than make a huge show of it before all the citizens of Rome,
6. He calls himself as straight as a north star because of the amount of respect he has for the law and establishes the fact that he is a very law abiding person and prioritizes upholding it more than anything and,
7.Caesar attacks Pompeii to expand the boundaries of his nation where the ulterior motive happens to be the well being of his people. Why would any ruler want to expand his kingdom? Only so that they accumulate more land and wealth which is ultimately put into use for the welfare of the citizens, right!
Thus none of these are instances which can justify Caesar's ambition. Since he undoubtedly accomplished great things he might have just had a wisp of superiority but the magnitude to which the conspirators quanta sized his ambition is ridiculous. They proclaim that they assassinated Caesar to uphold the ideals of democracy but they all hide behind a curtain of hypocrisy since the true reason why they carried out with the conspiracy was because they were jealous of Caesar's growing popularity and accolades. They murder him to satisfy their intense resent and envy for Caesar's growing fame. Thus Caesar's ambition though existed had nothing to do with his assassination but the true reason for his death was the covetous nature of the conspirators and the fact that they didn't possess the ability to digest his increasing popularity. Hence I firmly disagree to the premise that Caesar's ambition was to a fault.
Debate Round No. 2


Very well worded. I have to admit, I did make a huge mistake saying Caesar was afraid of Casca. You"re right, it"s Cassius. However, let me say that you are stating your ideas over again, but with just complicated wording. And let me also point you just basically destroyed your own argument by stating "I'm not denying the fact that Caesar was ambitious." This debate is about whether or not if Caesar was ambitious! "Is Caesar's ambition a legit reason for having assassinated him?" only has to do with Brutus" and the other conspirators" perspectives about Caesar. You just tried to change the whole debate. This debate is whether or not if Julius Caesar"s ambition was to a fault that he is purposely misleading the people for his own good. Since you"ve made your own rebuttal, let me rebuttal your rebuttal.
1. I won"t rebut this since it"s true and I"ve already admitted my mistake.
2."Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look; such men are dangerous." Caesar may be telling Antony why Cassius shouldn"t be trusted, but that doesn"t mean Caesar is not afraid of Cassius. There is no reason for a ruler as powerful as Caesar to want men that are fatter (satisfied), unless if they are afraid that person is up to something. The fact that Caesar pays so close to Cassius in extreme detail means that Caesar is suspicious of Cassius. He calls Cassius dangerous because he is afraid of what Cassius is thinking. "I rather tell thee what is to be feared than what I fear, for always I am Caesar." This quote from Caesar leads back to Caesar"s ego and facade. He wants to seem brave and strong to the people. He wants the people to not know his weaknesses. He is scared to the point he has to act as if he is not afraid. "For always I am Caesar" is an attempt to cover his fear of Cassius. Why? Because being Caesar does not mean he cannot be afraid.
3. You used outside information. You did not use the evidence given from the text. In the play, Caesar immediately got a seizure when he noticed the people are happy that he doesn"t want the throne. Though history does state he had seizures, the question is, why does Caesar have the seizure right when he notices the people are happy he is not going to be a tyrant? He offers his throat to be cut, then falls to the floor. If you want to go with outside information, let me point out that heavy emotions are one of the causes of seizures. Seizures do not happen without a reason. They occur because something that has to do with the brain has caused the brain to over conduct electricity. This is supported by the heavy emotion because when looked in the text, there are no signs of other causes of the seizure.
4.You are correct, Decius Brutus does come up with good reasons, but those good reasons are what make Caesar go because they benefit his ego and facade. A crown would not just add more power, but it would also show supreme power and leadership, making the people follow him. Remember, Caesar always wants the better for himself, that"s why he went with Decius Brutus" reasons. Not only did he go to the Senate because of Decius Brutus, but he also was planning to go in the first place. When there was no heart found in the beast, Caesar himself mocked the gods. He thinks the gods are trying to make him look like a coward. It is his love and trust of Calpurnia that makes him resist once. In the end, Caesar goes to the Senate to not look like a coward and to keep up with his ego and facade by following his duties as consul.
5.Caesar refusing the crown is proof he may be a modest king, but what about his ego and facade? Who rides a throne back to his city after winning a battle? Who would celebrate his victory in becoming sole consul in the public after winning a battle? Who offers his neck as the sacrifice after rejecting the crown three times? If he was to be a modest king, why would he be enthusiastic with Decius Brutus about going to the Senate and accepting the crown? If Caesar were to be a modest king, he wouldn"t be easily flattered for the better of his personal appearance to everyone around him.
6. He calls himself as constant as the north star can mean he has respect for the law, but this also goes back to his ego and facade. Any action or statement by Caesar is always seen or heard by the people. Any flaw that Caesar has will weaken his ego and facade. "I could be well moved if I were you." shows that if he were someone else, he would be moved and that he would not be as constant as the north star. If you"re calling yourself something important, isn"t that also you representing yourself as a higher power than others? Calling yourself something important does not define yourself as a "very law-abiding person" and definitely does not give anyone "amounts of respect".
7. Caesar attacks the volcano of Pompeii?! To expand the boundaries of his nation?! What?! I have no clue what you mean! I think you are talking about Pompey! And Pompey had no extra land! He was originally co-consul of Rome with Caesar! There is no point of fighting Pompey except for more power! There is nothing given to the people! Yet the people are not even reliable because they used to support Pompey! Once Caesar defeats Pompey, they jump on the bandwagon and support Caesar! And just because when a ruler expands his kingdom, doesn"t meant it"s for the welfare of the citizens. I"m pretty sure you can google that kings who were absolutists and taxed the nation to the point that the king himself is the only one rich!

Thus our instance can justify Caesar"s ambition. Your argument is based on repetition and reason, no supporting facts. You countered yourself by stating that Caesar is not ambitious and then saying Caesar is ambitious. You tried to change the debate when we weren"t even talking about Brutus! We were talking about Caesar himself and his ambition! If we were talking about how Brutus"s reasons were justified in killing Caesar, it would"ve stated been the topic. But Brutus was never mentioned in the topic and it only asked for whether or not Caesar was ambitious. Therefore, I am firm that your argument is invalid as you led us off topic and tried to restate your ideas using different words with the same reasoning, but with no supporting facts. You went from Caesar is not ambitious to saying you"re not saying he is not ambitious in saying he is not ambitious. I don"t mean to say you are not a good debater, but you destroyed your own argument.


I admit I phrased my previous speech wrong. I'd just like to clarify in this speech of mine that what I meant by saying that Caesar was ambitious was that he may have been a little overconfident. And I would again like to remind you that Caesar's assassination does have to do with his so claimed ambition and also with Brutus since the main reason that Brutus gave for having murdered Caesar was his ever growing ambition. Thus Caesar's ambition, his assassination and Brutus are interlinked throughout the story. Hence Caesar's ambition does have to do with the conspirators assassinating him under the pretext of him being ambitious. Again I'd like to clarify these certain points of clash:

1.Caesar may have some fears but then again which man doesn't. Claiming that Caesar's fear of Cassius is a proof of him being ambitious is not fair on your part. And even if I am to take you at your best case "He wants to seem brave and strong to the people. He wants the people to not know his weaknesses. He is scared to the point he has to act as if he is not afraid." I feel that as a ruler he has certain expectations to fulfill and no kingdom can function if the public views their own ruler to be weak. Thus as their king Caesar is obligated to make them feel secure even if it means hiding that small amount of fear that he might have in him. Thus your argument of Caesar being scared of Cassius to prove his ambition just seems too unfair.

2. I accept the fact that I used outside information to justify Caesar's seizure at the time of the Lupercal but that was just to highlight the fact that seizures can occur due to various reasons and imposing the idea that the sole reason for this is Caesar's ambition is like trying to ignore the various other possibilities and clearly shows your inability to view the bigger picture. And since you yourself pointed out the fact that heavy emotions are one of the causes of seizures there always exists the possibility that Caesar might have had a huge wave of thrill when he saw all his subjects cheering for him at the Lupercal. And since your rebuttal also relies only on the possibility that the heavy emotion could have been his fear that the people don't want him as a leader anymore I really don't see how it holds any water over mine since both rely only on the possibilities. But mine has higher chances of being the truth since people were cheering and screaming for him and their admiration for him are definitely more likely to have caused intense happiness than the fear that you claim.

3. I would like to remind you that Caesar already had been accepted as the supreme ruler by the people and I really don't see why he needed a crown to add more power since he already had a lot of power. Decius Brutus's reasons seem more legitimate to Caesar than those of Calpurnia's because Brutus's reasons are based on logic and the real life possible consequences that may follow if he decided not to go to the senate that day while Calpurnia's reason were all just too superstitious and were based on no logic whatsoever but rather on the dreams that she and the watchman had seen. Since Caesar is already a huge critic of superstitious beliefs and practices ( "Yet Caesar shall go forth; for these predictions are to the world in general as to Caesar) it is just more probable that he pays heed to Brutus's advice rather than to those of Calpurnia's for Brutus manages to appeal to Caesar's sense of thinking rather than what he believes in (unlike Calpurnia). Caesar ends up going to the senate mainly because it is not just a place where people just hand out crowns but at that time was somewhat like a parliament where policies were debated and as a king it would be his duty to set aside his family obligations and pay more attention to the functioning of his state which could be done by implementing laws after being thoroughly debated in the parliament/senate.

4. You are just ignoring so many other instances which show that Caesar was a modest king and had the capability to refuse the crown in front of the public for he was a humble man. If he really were arrogant then why did he refuse the crown THREE times?! Why did he spend his own property to free the Roman men and bring them back to their country? Why did he give freedom to his people to move to any country for education and well being in his will? Because he didn't want to enslave anybody - right! And most importantly he also wept when the poor cried, and to quote Antony "Ambition should be made of sterner stuff"!

5. Caesar just uses the words "I could be well moved if I were you." as a comparative to show people that he is unable to change his mind and bend the law unlike other people because of the huge amount of respect that he has for the law and claims to be as constant as the northern star only to use it as analogy to strengthen his case.

Thus Caesar if really were as ambitious as you claim him to be he definitely would have implemented extreme policies and enslaved people instead of bringing home the Roman prisoners by spending his own property and wealth. He wouldn't have given people the right and freedom to move to any country in his will. He might have been a little overconfident but certainly not ambitious thus I conclude highlighting how your facts and reasons are only based on your narrow-minded perception of why Caesar did all those things where you claim him to be ambitious, completely ignoring the vast possibilities while all that I've done is show you the other possible ones and explain why are they more likely to be the truth whereas you have only thrown your interpretation of the facts with no justification for them on your side. Hence I very strongly feel that I've won this debate! I rest my case.
Debate Round No. 3
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