Home » 10th Season (2022-2023) » Julius Caesar: Shakespeare’s Cautionary Tale

Julius Caesar: Shakespeare’s Cautionary Tale

By Arjun Yerabothu

Julius Caesar: Shakespeare’s Cautionary Tale

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

Student-Submitted Note: My paper examined the play Julius Caesar by Shakespeare and how he uses Julius Caesar to comment on the political instability of England in the late 16th century. I also looked at how subsequent productions used the play to comment on the political issues of their respective times.

Caesar salad. Little Caesars. The Julian Calendar. Caesars Palace. Cesarean sections. 

No name in history has carried the influence “Julius Caesar” has. The name “Caesar” has a rich and storied legacy anchored mainly in the Roman Empire. However, it is also strongly felt in many contemporary cultures around the globe. Over the decades, it has been used to define not only the families of rulers, but also a variety of titles and references in literature, trade, and even food. It has come to symbolize not only a powerful ruler but also an ideal of leadership and influence. The term “Caesar” has crossed geographic boundaries and taken on a wide range of cultural applications.

Gaius Julius Caesar has been widely respected and scorned throughout history. Sometimes and in some places Caesar is revered as a hero. In other times and places, he has been viewed as a dictator. Additionally, the name “Caesar” itself refers to Julius Caesar and his legacy in some places, while serving as a synonym for “emperor” in others. Whatever the meaning, the name is widely recognized throughout the world. 

Due in significant part to the Roman Empire’s growth and its influence on so many languages, many words have Latin roots. Some examples of  “Caesar” meaning “emperor” in different languages are Csere in  Old English and Keiser in Middle English. The German and Austrian emperors held the title of Kaiser through the conclusion of World War I. The name “Caesar” also influenced Slavic languages, where rulers acquired the titles “Czar” or “Tsar.” Russian Emperor Ivan the Terrible first used the title in 1547. 


Arjun Yerabothu is a VI form day student from Southborough, MA. Arjun enjoys learning about history and various topics from across the classics.

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