These personalities were characterised by intelligence, honour, passion and
nobility. All these qualities describe Julius Caesar and Brutus, both of whom are unable to escape their fate, bringing about their own destruction or having it inflicted on them.
Shakespeare relied on Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch’s Lives for historical events and characters in Julius Caesar. In Shakespeare’s play Brutus and Caesar are equally noble and driven by their love of duty and the Roman people.
Written and first performed in 1599, Shakespeare engages the audience through characters who appealed to the Elizabethans who also valued honour and valour. Shakespeare’s characterisations of Brutus, Caesar, Antony, Cassius and Octavius resembled Elizabethan values more closely than those Plutarch represented as the Roman valuing of virtus. This valour is shown to be open to interpretation as when in Act 1, Sc 1, Marullus confronts the jubilant plebeians with the rhetorical question ‘What conquest brings he home?’ equating valour with military glory and conquests.
In this way, Shakespeare foreshadows the debate about valour from the