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Shakespeare: The Power of Rhetoric - Julius Caesar


An exploration of the role of rhetoric in Ancient Rome through the study of key speeches in Julius Caesar. Pupils will explore how rhetoric was used as an important tool of government, law and philosophical debate. Pupils to find inspiration from Julius Caesar’s play to write a speech that uses engaging rhetoric to change an opinion of the people.

Unit aims:

  • Use William Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ as a stimulus text to teach the power of rhetoric
  • Identify and analyse rhetorical devices
  • Develop select and retrieve skills, gathering evidence from the play
  • Surface the relevance of a Shakespeare play within a modern context; how does rhetoric feature in the 21stCentury?
  • Understand the concept/importance of audience and purpose
  • Consider rhetoric through the historical lens of the Roman Republic

Example Key Words


An official in ancient Rome chosen by the plebeians to protect their interests.


A state in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president rather than a monarch.


A person who takes part in a conspiracy.


A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.


The art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.


The state council of the ancient Roman republic and empire, which shared legislative power with the popular assemblies, administration with the magistrates, and judicial power with the knights.

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