The Tragedy of Julius CaesarThe Complete Annotated Text on One Page
Annotated by Michael J. Cummings
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is based on the text in the authoritative 1914 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare's works, edited by W. J. Craig. The Craig text numbers the lines, including those with stage directions such as "Enter" and "Exit." Please note that the character list (dramatis personae) below includes descriptions and comments that did not appear in the original manuscript of the play or in the Oxford edition.
Julius Caesar (Gaius Julius Caesar): Triumphant general and political leader of Rome. Although he is highly competent and multi-talented, he is also condescending and arrogant. In his conversation, he frequently uses the third-person "Caesar" instead of the first-person "I" to refer to himself and also sometimes substitutes the kingly "we" for "I." He depicts himself as a man of unshakable resolve, but he proudly and recklessly ignores warnings about his safety. Rumors abound that he plans to be crowned king. Historically, evidence to support the view that Caesar sought elevation to a throne is inconclusive.
Brutus (Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger): Roman senator and praetor who helps plan and carry out Caesar's assassination. Historically, Marcus Junius Brutus (84-42 BC) enjoyed a reputation in his day among Roman republicans as a noble and fair-minded statesman. However, his opponents—notably supporters of Caesar—regarded him as a traitor. First, Brutus sided with Pompey the Great against Caesar when the Roman Civil War started in 49 BC. After Caesar defeated Pompey at Pharsalus, Greece, in 48 B.C., he pardoned Brutus and appointed him governor of Cisalpine Gaul in 46 BC. and a praetor of Rome in 44 BC. But Brutus turned against Caesar a second time, helping to lead the conspiracy that led to Caesar’s assassination in 44 BC. Brutus believed the action was necessary to prevent Caesar from becoming dictator-for-life, meaning that all power would reside in Caesar and not in the delegates representing the people. In Shakespeare’s play, Brutus’s nobility and idealism gain the audience’s sympathy. But in the ancient Roman world of power politics, characterized by perfidy and pragmatism, it is his virtues that doom him. His downfall and death are the real tragedy of the play, not the death of Caesar.
Mark Antony (Marcus Antonius): A member of the ruling triumvirate after the assassination of Julius Caesar. Marcus is also known as Mark Antony, or simply Antony. He is cunning and pragmatic, a thoroughgoing politician who can wield words just as effectively as he wields weapons. Antony is a main character in another Shakespeare play, Antony and Cleopatra.
Cassius (Gaius Cassius Longinus): Clever and manipulative senator who persuades Brutus to join the assassination conspiracy. Unlike Brutus, Cassius is no idealist; his primary motivation for conspiring against Caesar appears to be jealousy. Though small-minded and mean-spirited early in the play, he later displays courage and a modicum of honor on the field of battle.
Calpurnia: Julius Caesar's wife.
Portia: Brutus's wife.
Octavius Caesar (birth name: Gaius Octavius): Grandnephew of Julius Caesar and a member of the ruling triumvirate after the assassination of Julius Caesar. In his will, Julius Caesar made Octavius his adopted son and heir. Octavius, also identified in history books as Octavian, later became emperor of Rome as Augustus Caesar.
Lepidus (Marcus Aemilius Lepidus): Member of the ruling triumvirate after the assassination of Julius Caesar. Because he is weak, he is easily pushed aside.
Cicero, Publius, and Popilius Lena: Roman senators. Cicero, a supporter of republican government, is killed by the supporters of Caesar in the aftermath of Caesar's assassination. However, Cicero did not take part in planning or carrying out the assassination.
Casca (Publius Servilius Casca): One of the leading conspirators against Caesar. According to the Greek biographer Plutarch (AD 46?-120?), Casca was the first of the conspirators to stab Caesar, plunging a dagger into his back.
Trebonius, Ligarius, Decius Brutus, Metellus Cimber, Lucius Cornelius Cinna: Citizens who join Cassius and Brutus as conspirators. (Note: At least 59 conspirators participated in the actual assassination of Caesar in 44 BC.)
Publius Cimber: Exiled brother of Metullus Cimber. Publius is spoken of, but does not appear in, the play.
Flavius and Marullus: Tribunes suspicious of Julius Caesar. They chase commoners away when Caesar parades triumphantly through Rome in the first act of the play. A tribune was an elected official charged with protecting the rights of ordinary citizens.
Artemidorus: Teacher of rhetoric who attempts to warn Caesar that Brutus, Cassius, and others have turned against him.
Soothsayer: Seer who warns Caesar to beware of the ides of March (March 15). Shakespeare does not name the soothsayer. However, in ancient texts by Plutarch and Suetonius (AD 75-150), the soothsayer is identified as an astrologer named Spurinna.
Cinna (Gaius Helvius Cinna): A poet who was not related to Cinna the conspirator. However, because Roman citizens mistook him for Cinna the conspirator, they killed him.
Lucilius, Titinius, Messala, Young Cato, Volumnius: Friends of Brutus and Cassius.
Lucius Pella: Acquaintance of Cassius who accepted bribes. Cassius speaks of him, but Pella does not appear in the play.
Servants of Brutus: Varro, Clitus, Claudius, Strato, Lucius, Dardanius.
Servant of Cassius: Pindarus.
Minor Characters: Senators, citizens, commoners, soldiers, guards, attendants, messenger.
Annotations by Michael J. CummingsAct 1, Scene 1: Rome. A street.
Act 1, Scene 2: Rome. A public place.
Act 1, Scene 3: Rome. A street.
Act 2, Scene 1: Rome. Orchard of Brutus.
Act 2, Scene 2: Rome. Caesar's house.
Act 2, Scene 3: Rome. A street near the Capitol.
Act 2, Scene 4: Before the house of Brutus on another part of the same street.
Act 3, Scene 1: Rome. Before the Capitol; the senate sitting above.
Act 3, Scene 2: Rome. The Forum.
Act 3, Scene 3: Rome. A street.
Act 4, Scene 1: Rome. A room in Antony's house.
Act 4, Scene 2: Camp near Sardis. Before the tent of Brutus.
Act 4, Scene 3: Within the tent of Brutus.
Act 5, Scene 1: The plains of Philippi.
Act 5, Scene 2: The field of battle on the plains of Philippi.
Act 5, Scene 3: Another part of the field.
Act 5, Scene 4: Another part of the field.
Act 5, Scene 5: Another part of the field.
Enter FLAVIUS, MARULLUS, and certain Commoners.
FLAVIUS: Hence! home, you idle creatures, get you home:
Is this a holiday? What! know you not,
Being mechanical [being laborers or craftsmen; using hand tools], you ought not walk 5
Upon a labouring day without the sign
Of your profession? Speak, what trade art thou?
FIRST COMMONER: Why, sir, a carpenter.
MARULLUS: Where is thy leather apron, and thy rule?
What dost thou with thy best apparel on? 10
[What . . . on?: Why are you wearing your best clothes?]
You, sir, what trade are you?
SECOND COMMONER: Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, I am but, as you would say, a cobbler [maker of footwear].
MARULLUS: But what trade art thou? Answer me directly.
SECOND COMMONER: A trade, sir, that, I hope, I may use with a safe conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.
[A trade . . . soles: The second commoner is having a little fun by using a play on words (pun). To the listener "mender of bad soles" can be taken as "mender of bad souls."
MARULLUS: What trade, thou knave? thou naughty knave, what trade? 15
SECOND COMMONER: Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out [angry] with me: yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.
MARULLUS: What meanest thou by that? Mend me, thou saucy fellow!
SECOND COMMONER: Why, sir, cobble [mend; repair] you.
FLAVIUS: Thou art a cobbler, art thou?
SECOND COMMONER: Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl: I meddle with no tradesman’s matters, nor women’s matters, but with awl. I am, indeed, sir, a surgeon to old shoes; when they are in great danger, I recover them. As proper men as ever trod upon neat’s leather have gone upon my handiwork. 20
[Truly . . . but with awl: An awl is a hand tool resembling an icepick. Cobblers use awls to make holes in leather. Here, the second commoner uses awl with all for comic effect.]
FLAVIUS: But wherefore [why] art not in thy shop to-day?
Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?
SECOND COMMONER: Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself into more work. But, indeed, sir, we make holiday to see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph.
MARULLUS: Wherefore [why] rejoice? What conquest brings he home?
What tributaries [captured enemies] follow him to Rome 25
To grace in captive bonds his chariot wheels?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome,
Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft
Have you climb’d up to walls and battlements, 30
[battlement: Topmost part of a walled fortress. It resembles a row of teeth with wide gaps between each tooth.]
To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
The livelong day, with patient expectation,
To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome:
And when you saw his chariot but appear, 35
Have you not made a universal shout,
That Tiber [the river flowing through Rome] trembled underneath her banks,
To hear the replication of your sounds
Made in her concave shores?
And do you now put on your best attire? 40
And do you now cull out [declare] a holiday?
And do you now strew flowers in his way,
That comes in triumph over Pompey’s blood?
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees, 45
Pray to the gods to intermit [prevent; halt] the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.
FLAVIUS: Go, go, good countrymen, and, for this fault
Assemble all the poor men of your sort;
Draw them to Tiber banks, and weep your tears 50
Into the channel, till the lowest stream
Do kiss the most exalted shores of all. [Exeunt all the Commoners.
[till . . . shores of all: Till the lowest stretches of the river run over their banks]
See whe’r [wherever] their basest metal be not mov’d;
They vanish tongue-tied in their guiltiness.
[See . . . guiltiness: Observe, Marullus, that my scolding made even the most hard-hearted of those commoners feel ashamed and remorseful. They go away speechless and guilt-ridden.]
Go you down that way towards the Capitol; 55
[Capitol: Capitoline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome and the most important religious, political, and commercial gathering place in the ancient city. It symbolized ancient Rome's view of itself as the "caput mundi," or capital of the world.]
This way will I. Disrobe the images
If you do find them deck’d with ceremonies.
[Disrobe . . . ceremonies: If you see any statues draped with festoons or other adornments to honor Caesar, remove the decorations.]
MARULLUS: May we do so?
You know it is the feast of Lupercal.
FLAVIUS: It is no matter; let no images 60
Be hung with Caesar’s trophies. I’ll about [go around]
And drive away the vulgar [common folk] from the streets:
So do you too where you perceive them thick.
These growing feathers pluck’d from Caear’s wing
Will make him fly an ordinary pitch, 65
Who else would soar above the view of men
And keep us all in servile fearfulness. [Exeunt.
[These growing . . . fearfulness: Caesar's popularity is like a bird soaring into the heavens. But if his feathers are plucked from his wings, he will fly closer to earth. Who else but Caesar would try to fly far above the view of ordinary men while making them fearful of his actions and subservient to his will?]
Enter, in procession, with music, CAESAR; ANTONY, for the course; CALPURNIA, PORTIA, DECIUS, CICERO, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and CASCA; a great crowd following, among them a Soothsayer.
CASCA: Peace, ho! Caesar speaks. [Music ceases.
CAESAR: Calpurnia! 5
CALPURNIA: Here, my lord.
CAESAR: Stand you directly in Antonius’ [Antony's] way
When he doth run his course.
ANTONY: Caesar, my lord.
CAESAR: Forget not, in your speed, Antonius, 10
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.
[The barren: Women unable to have children]
ANTONY: I shall remember:
When Caesar says ‘Do this,’ it is perform’d. 15
CAESAR: Set on; and leave no ceremony out. [Music.
[Set on . . . out: Go to it, then, and don't leave out any of the rituals that are part of the traditional ceremony.]
CAESAR: Ha! Who calls?
CASCA: Bid every noise be still: peace yet again! [Music ceases.
CAESAR: Who is it in the press [people pressing together; crowd] that calls on me? 20
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry ‘Caesar.’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.
SOOTHSAYER: Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR: What man is that?
BRUTUS: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March. 25
CAESAR: Set him before me; let me see his face.
CASSIUS: Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
CAESAR: What sayst thou to me now? Speak once again.
SOOTHSAYER: Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR: He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass. [Sennet. Exeunt all but BRUTUS and CASSIUS. 30
CASSIUS: Will you go see the order of the course [race]?
BRUTUS: Not I.
CASSIUS: I pray you, do.
BRUTUS: I am not gamesome: I do lack some part
Of that quick spirit that is in Antony. 35
Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires;
I’ll leave you.
CASSIUS: Brutus, I do observe you now of late:
I have not from your eyes that gentleness
And show of love as I was wont to have: 40
You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand
Over your friend that loves you.
[Brutus, I do . . . loves you: Brutus, I have been keeping an eye on you lately. I have noticed that you do not seem to show the love and cordiality toward me that you once did. You are stubbornly distant toward a friend who values your companionship.]
Be not deceiv’d: if I have veil’d my look,
I turn the trouble of my countenance 45
Merely upon myself. Vexed I am
Of late with passions of some difference,
[with passions . . . difference: With conflicting ideas and emotions]
Conceptions only proper to myself,
Which give some soil [defect] perhaps to my behaviours;
But let not therefore my good friends be griev’d,— 50
Among which number, Cassius, be you one,—
Nor construe any further my neglect,
Than that poor Brutus, with himself at war,
Forgets the shows of love to other men.
CASSIUS: Then, Brutus, I have much mistook your passion; 55
By means whereof this breast of mine hath buried
Thoughts of great value, worthy cogitations.
Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?
BRUTUS: No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself,
But by reflection, by some other things. 60
CASSIUS: ’Tis just [right; true; just so]:
And it is very much lamented, Brutus,
That you have no such mirrors as will turn
Your hidden worthiness into your eye,
That you might see your shadow. I have heard, 65
Where many of the best respect in Rome,—
Except immortal Caesar,—speaking of Brutus,
And groaning underneath this age’s yoke,
Have wish’d that noble Brutus had his eyes.
BRUTUS: Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius, 70
That you would have me seek into myself
For that which is not in me?
CASSIUS: Therefore, good Brutus, be prepar’d to hear;
And, since you know you cannot see yourself
So well as by reflection, I, your glass, 75
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.
[I, your glass . . . not of: I, your mirror, will show you what you cannot see about yourself.]
And be not jealous on me, gentle Brutus:
[And . . . me: And do not suspect my motives.]
Were I a common laugher [jokester; jester], or did use
To stale with ordinary oaths my love 80
To every new protester; if you know
That I do fawn on men and hug them hard,
And after scandal them; or if you know
[or did use . . . scandal them: Or if I pledged my friendship to everyone who came along, or if I flattered and hugged men one moment and criticized them behind their backs the next]
That I profess myself in banqueting
To all the rout, then hold me dangerous. [Flourish and shout. 85
[that I profess . . . rout: That I pledge my friendship to every Tom, Dick, and Harry while dining out]
[Flourish: Fanfare of trumpets or other brass instruments]
BRUTUS: What means this shouting? I do fear the people
Choose Caesar for their king.
CASSIUS: Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so.
BRUTUS: I would not, Cassius; yet I love him well. 90
But wherefore [why] do you hold me here so long?
What is it that you would impart to me?
If it be aught [anything] toward the general good,
Set honour in one eye and death i’ the other,
And I will look on both indifferently [without fear]; 95
For let the gods so speed me as I love
The name of honour more than I fear death.
CASSIUS: I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,
As well as I do know your outward favour [appearance; qualities].
Well, honour is the subject of my story. 100
I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life; but, for my single self,
I had as lief [soon] not be [not be alive] as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
[In awe . . . myself: In awe of an ordinary person like me]
I was born free as Caesar; so were you: 105
We both have fed as well, and we can both
Endure the winter’s
cold as well as he:
For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,
Caesar said to me, ‘Dar’st thou, Cassius, now 110
Leap in with me into this angry flood,
And swim to yonder point?’ Upon the word,
Accoutred [wearing armor] and as I was, I plunged in
And bade him follow; so, indeed he did.
The torrent roar’d, and we did buffet it 115
With lusty sinews, throwing it aside
And stemming it with hearts of controversy;
[we did buffet . . . controversy: We did swim through the raging waters with strong arms, mastering the river with our competitive spirit.]
But ere [before] we could arrive the point propos’d,
Caesar cried, ‘Help me, Cassius, or I sink!’
I, as Aeneas, our great ancestor, 120
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber
Did I the tired Caesar. And this man
Is now become a god, and Cassius is
A wretched creature and must bend his body 125
If Caesar carelessly but nod on him.
He had a fever when he was in Spain,
And when the fit [epileptic fit] was on him, I did mark
How he did shake; ’tis true, this god did shake;
His coward lips did from their colour fly, 130
[His coward . . . fly: His lips turned pale.]
And that same eye whose bend [hypnotic gaze] doth awe the world
Did lose his [its] lustre; I did hear him groan;
Ay, and that tongue of his that bade the Romans
Mark him and write his speeches in their books,
Alas! it cried, ‘Give me some drink, Titinius,’ 135
As a sick girl. Ye gods, it doth amaze me,
A man of such a feeble temper should
So get the start of the majestic world,
And bear the palm alone. [Flourish of trumpets. Shout.
[palm: Leaf of a palm tree. A palm leaf was a symbol of victory.]
BRUTUS: Another general shout! 140
I do believe that these applauses are
For some new honours that are heaped on Caesar.
CASSIUS: Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
[Colossus: Name of a gigantic bronze statue erected in 280 BC on the Greek island of Rhodes to commemorate a military victory over a Macedonian army. The statue—depicting the Titan sun god Helios—was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. The Colossus of Rhodes was nearly one hundred feet tall.]
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about 145
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Brutus and Caesar: what should be in that ‘Caesar?’ 150
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a name;
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure [invoke a supernatural being] with ’em,
‘Brutus’ will start a spirit as soon as ‘Caesar.’ 155
Now, in the names of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed,
That he is grown so great? Age, thou art sham’d!
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
[Age, thou . . . bloods: The age we live in should be ashamed. It lacks the kind of noble leaders who guided Rome in an earlier time.]
When went there by an age, since the great flood, 160
But it was fam’d with more than with one man?
[When went . . . man?: When was there a time since the great flood (as described centuries later in Genesis 5-9 of the Bible) that did not have many great men instead of just one exalted over all?]
When could they say, till now, that talk’d of Rome,
That her wide walls encompass’d but one man?
Now is it Rome indeed and room enough,
When there is in it but one only man. 165
[Now is . . . only man: Now, it seems, Rome has room enough for only one man, Julius Caesar.]
O! you and I have heard our fathers say,
There was a Brutus once that would have brook’d
Th’ eternal devil to keep his state in Rome
As easily as a king.
[O! you . . . as a king: O! You and I have heard the old stories about your ancestor, also named Brutus, who would let the devil rule Rome rather than allow a man such as Caesar to become its king.]
BRUTUS: That you do love me, I am nothing jealous; 170
[That you . . . jealous: I don't doubt that you love me as a friend.]
What you would work me to, I have some aim:
[What you . . . aim: I now have some understanding of what you are trying to get me to do: help you overthrow Caesar.]
How I have thought of this and of these times,
I shall recount hereafter; for this present,
I would not, so with love I might entreat you,
Be any further mov’d. What you have said 175
I will consider; what you have to say
I will with patience hear, and find a time
Both meet to hear and answer such high things.
Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this:
Brutus had rather be a villager 180
Than to repute himself a son of Rome
Under these hard conditions as this time
Is like to lay upon us.
CASSIUS: I am glad
That my weak words have struck but thus much show 185
Of fire from Brutus.
BRUTUS: The games are done and Caesar is returning.
CASSIUS: As they pass by, pluck Casca by the sleeve,
And he will, after his sour fashion, tell you
What hath proceeded worthy note to-day. 190
[What hath . . . to-day: What events took place today that support our suspicions of Caesar.]
Re-enter CAESAR and his Train.
BRUTUS: I will do so. But, look you, Cassius,
The angry spot doth glow on Caesar’s brow,
[angry spot: Blemish; inflamed swelling]
And all the rest look like a chidden train [scolded group of followers]:
Calpurnia’s cheek is pale, and Cicero 195
Looks with such ferret and such fiery eyes
[ferret: Small, furry mammal related to the weasel. Some types of ferrets have red eyes.]
As we have seen him in the Capitol,
Being cross’d [debated; argued with] in conference by some senators.
CASSIUS: Casca will tell us what the matter is.
CAESAR: Antonius! 200
CAESAR: Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights.
Yond [yonder] Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much: such men are dangerous 205
ANTONY: Fear him not, Caesar, he’s not dangerous;
He is a noble Roman, and well given.
CAESAR: Would he were fatter! but I fear him not:
Yet if my name were liable to fear,
I do not know the man I should avoid 210
So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much;
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men; he loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music;
Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort 215
As if he mock’d himself, and scorn’d his spirit
That could be mov’d to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart’s ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
And therefore are they very dangerous. 220
I rather tell thee what is to be fear’d
Than what I fear, for always I am Caesar.
Come on my right hand [side], for this ear is deaf,
And tell me truly what thou think’st of him. [Sennet. Exeunt CAESAR and his Train. CASCA stays behind.
[Sennet: Stage direction for sounding a trumpet]
CASCA: You pull’d me by the cloak; would you speak with me? 225
BRUTUS: Ay, Casca; tell us what hath chanc’d [happened] to-day,
That Caesar looks so sad.
CASCA: Why, you were with him, were you not?
BRUTUS: I should not then ask Casca what had chanc’d.
CASCA: Why, there was a crown offered him; and, being offered him, he put it by with the back of his hand, thus; and then the people fell a-shouting. 230
BRUTUS: What was the second noise for?
CASCA: Why, for that too.
CASSIUS: They shouted thrice: what was the last cry for?
CASCA: Why, for that too.
BRUTUS: Was the crown offered him thrice? 235
CASCA: Ay, marry, was ’t, and he put it by thrice, everytime gentler than other; and at every putting-by mine honest neighbours shouted.
CASSIUS: Who offered him the crown?
CASCA: Why, Antony.
BRUTUS: Tell us the manner of it, gentle Casca.
CASCA: I can as well be hanged as tell the manner of it: it was mere foolery; I did not mark it. [I'll be hanged if I can remember the exact manner of what was going on. They seemed to be fooling around, so I didn't pay much attention.] I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown; yet ’twas not a crown neither, ’twas one of these coronets [circular band; wreath; small crown]; and, as I told you, he put it by once; but, for all that, to my thinking, he would fain [gladly] have had it. Then he offered it to him again; then he put it by again; but, to my thinking, he was very loath to lay his fingers off it. And then he offered it the third time; he put it the third time by; and still as he refused it the rabblement [crowd] shouted and clapped their chopped [rough; chapped] hands, and threw up their sweaty night-caps, and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Caesar refused the crown, that it had almost choked Caesar; for he swounded [swooned; fainted] and fell down at it: and for mine own part, I durst [dared] not laugh, for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air. 240
CASSIUS: But soft [But wait a minute], I pray you: what! did Caesar swound?
CASCA: He fell down in the market-place, and foamed at mouth, and was speechless.
BRUTUS: ’Tis very like: he hath the falling-sickness [epilepsy].
CASSIUS: No, Caesar hath it not; but you, and I,
And honest Casca, we have the falling-sickness. 245
[No, Caesar . . . falling-sickness: No, we are the ones who have this sickness; we have to go down on our knees before this tyrant.]
CASCA: I know not what you mean by that; but I am sure Caesar fell down. If the tag-rag people did not clap him and hiss him, according as he pleased and displeased them, as they used to do the players in the theatre, I am no true man.
BRUTUS: What said he, when he came unto himself?
CASCA: Marry, before he fell down, when he perceiv’d the common herd was glad he refused the crown, he plucked me ope his doublet [he selected me to bare his chest] and offered them his throat to cut. An [if] I had been a man of any occupation, if I would not have taken him at a word, I would I might go to hell among the rogues. And so he fell. When he came to himself again, he said, if he had done or said any thing amiss, he desired their worships to think it was his infirmity. Three or four wenches, where I stood, cried, ‘Alas! good soul,’ and forgave him with all their hearts: but there’s no heed to be taken of them; if Caesar had stabbed their mothers, they would have done no less.
BRUTUS: And after that he came, thus sad, away?
CASCA: Ay. 250
CASSIUS: Did Cicero say any thing?
CASCA: Ay, he spoke Greek.
CASSIUS: To what effect?
CASCA: Nay, an [if] I tell you that, I’ll ne’er look you i’ the face again; but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me. I could tell you more news too; Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarfs off Caesar’s images, are put to silence. Fare you well. There was more foolery yet, if I could remember it.
CASSIUS: Will you sup with me to-night, Casca? 255
CASCA: No, I am promised forth [I have a previous commitment].
CASSIUS: Will you dine with me to-morrow?
CASCA: Ay, if I be alive, and your mind hold, and your dinner worth the eating.
CASSIUS: Good; I will expect you.
CASCA: Do so. Farewell, both. [Exit. 260
BRUTUS: What a blunt fellow is this grown to be!
He was quick mettle when he went to school.
[What a blunt . . . school: What a lunkhead Casca has turned out to be. He had a keen mind in his school days.]
CASSIUS: So is he now in execution
Of any bold or noble enterprise,
However he puts on this tardy form. 265
[So is . . . form: He is still a smart man when it comes to carrying out a bold or noble task, although he pretends to be dumb.]
This rudeness is a sauce to his good wit,
Which gives men stomach to digest his words
With better appetite.
[His seeming dullness somehow enables him to get his point across to his listeners.]
BRUTUS: And so it is. For this time I will leave you:
To-morrow, if you please to speak with me, 270
I will come home to you; or, if you will,
Come home to me, and I will wait for you.
CASSIUS: I will do so: till then, think of the world. [Exit BRUTUS.
[Think . . . world: Think of the welfare of Rome.]
Well, Brutus, thou art noble; yet, I see,
Thy honourable metal may be wrought 275
From that it is dispos’d: therefore ’tis meet
That noble minds keep ever with their likes;
For who so firm that cannot be seduc’d?
[thou art . . . seduc'd?: Cassius speaks to himself. He says Brutus is a noble but can be manipulated to do something that he wouldn't ordinarily do. Upright men like Brutus, Cassius says, should keep company with other upright men. If they don't, they could be seduced into taking part in an ignoble enterprise.]
Caesar doth bear me hard; but he loves Brutus:
If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius 280
He should not humour me. I will this night,
In several hands, in at his windows throw,
As if they came from several citizens,
Writings all tending to the great opinion
That Rome holds of his name; wherein obscurely 285
Caesar’s ambition shall be glanced at:
And after this let Caesar seat him sure;
For we will shake him, or worse days endure. [Exit.
[If I were . . . days endure: If Brutus had spoken to me the way I just spoke to him, I would have ignored him. But now that he has put stock in my words, I will further my plot against Caesar with this stratagem: Tonight, I will write letters and throw them through a window at the home of Brutus. The handwriting will be different in each letter, making it appear that each was written by a different Roman. Each letter will praise Brutus as a principled and virtuous citizen. At the same time, it will call attention to Caesar's apparent ambition to become king of Rome.]
Thunder and lightning. Enter, from opposite sides, CASCA, with his sword drawn, and CICERO.
CICERO: Good even, Casca. Brought you Caesar home?
Why are you breathless? and why stare you so?
CASCA: Are not you mov’d, when all the sway of earth 5
Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero!
I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds
Have riv’d [rived: split; torn apart] the knotty oaks; and 0
[To be . . . with: To be recognized as having just as much power as]
But never till to-night, never till now,
Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.
Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
Or else the world, too saucy with [disrespectful of] the gods,
Incenses them to send destruction. 15
CICERO: Why, saw you any thing more wonderful?
CASCA: A common slave—you know him well by sight—
Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn
Like twenty torches join’d; and yet his hand,
Not sensible of fire, remain’d unscorch’d. 20
Besides,—I have not since put up my sword,—
Against the Capitol I met a lion,
Who glar’d upon me, and went surly by,
Without annoying me; and there were drawn
[Besides . . . annoying me: This unsettling night has caused me to keep my sword ready in case I need to protect myself. Not long ago, I saw a lion near the capitol. It glared at me but went by without attacking me. (Lions were among the animals brought to Italy to provide entertainment in arenas.)]
Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women, 25
Transformed with their fear, who swore they saw
Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday the bird of night [owl] did sit,
Even at noon-day, upon the market-place,
Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies [omens; amazing events] 30
Do so conjointly [jointly; simultaneously] meet, let not men say
‘These are their reasons, they are natural;’
[These . . . natural: These phenomena are nothing out of the ordinary; they are natural.]
For, I believe, they are portentous [ominous] things
Unto the climate that they point upon.
[Unto . . . point upon: Unto the city where they occur]
CICERO: Indeed, it is a strange-disposed time: 35
But men may construe things after their fashion,
Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.
Comes Caesar to the Capitol to-morrow?
CASCA: He doth; for he did bid Antonius [Antony]
Send word to you he would be there to-morrow. 40
CICERO: Good-night then, Casca. This disturbed sky
Is not to walk in.
CASCA: Farewell, Cicero. [Exit CICERO.
CASSIUS: Who’s there? 45
CASCA: A Roman.
CASSIUS: Casca, by your voice.
CASCA: Your ear is good. Cassius, what night is this!
CASSIUS: A very pleasing night to honest men.
CASCA: Who ever knew the heavens menace so? 50
CASSIUS: Those that have known the earth so full of faults.
For my part, I have walk’d about the streets,
Submitting me unto the perilous night,
And, thus unbraced [with my shirt open], Casca, as you see,
Have bar’d [bared] my bosom to the thunder-stone [lightning bolt]; 55
And, when the cross [zigzagging] blue lightning seem’d to open
The breast of heaven, I did present myself
Even in the aim and very flash of it.
CASCA: But wherefore [why] did you so much tempt the heavens?
It is the part of men to fear and tremble 60
When the most mighty gods by tokens send
Such dreadful heralds to astonish us.
CASSIUS: You are dull, Casca, and those sparks of life
That should be in a Roman you do want [lack; need],
Or else you use not. You look pale, and gaze, 65
And put on fear, and cast yourself in wonder,
To see the strange impatience of the heavens;
But if you would consider the true cause
Why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts,
Why birds and beasts, from quality and kind; 70
[from . . . kind: Acting strangely; departing from their normal behavior]
Why old men, fools, and children calculate;
[Why . . . calculate: Why foolish old men and children make prophecies]
Why all these things change from their ordinance
Their natures, and pre-formed faculties,
To monstrous quality, why, you shall find
[Why all . . . quality: Why do all these things alter their natures and instincts to take on monstrous qualities]
That heaven hath infus’d them with these spirits 75
To make them instruments of fear and warning
Unto some monstrous state.
Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man
Most like this dreadful night,
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars 80
As doth the lion in the Capitol,
A man no mightier than thyself or me
In personal action, yet prodigious grown
And fearful as these strange eruptions are.
CASCA: ’Tis Caesar that you mean; is it not, Cassius? 85
CASSIUS: Let it be who it is: for Romans now
Have thews [muscles; strength] and limbs like to their ancestors;
But, woe the while! our fathers’ minds are dead,
And we are govern’d with our mothers’ spirits;
Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish. 90
[Our yoke . . . womanish: Our acceptance of enslavement by Caesar shows us to be women.]
CASCA: Indeed, they say the senators to-morrow
Mean to establish Caesar as a king;
And he shall wear his crown by sea and land,
In every place, save here in Italy.
CASSIUS: I know where I will wear this dagger then; 95
Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius:
[Cassius . . . deliver Cassius: I will use my dagger to free myself from a life of slavery under Caesar. (This line suggests to Casca that Cassius is willing to use the dagger to kill himself. Lines 97-106 (below) support this interpretation. But devious Cassius may really be saying—at least to himself—that he will use the dagger to kill Caesar.]
Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong;
Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat:
Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron, 100
Can be retentive to [can stop] the strength of spirit;
But life, being weary of those worldly bars,
Never lacks power to dismiss itself.
If I know this, know all the world besides,
That part of tyranny that I do bear 105
I can shake off at pleasure. [Thunder still.
CASCA: So can I:
So every bondman [slave] in his own hand bears
The power to cancel his captivity.
CASSIUS: And why should Caesar be a tyrant then? 110
Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf
But that he sees the Romans are but sheep;
He were no lion were not Romans hinds [female deer, which are gentle and submissive].
Those that with haste will make a mighty fire
Begin it with weak straws; what trash is Rome, 115
What rubbish, and what offal [waste from a butchered animal], when it serves
For the base matter to illuminate
[For . . . illuminate: For the fire of burning waste to illuminate]
So vile a thing as Caesar! But, O grief!
Where hast thou led me? I, perhaps, speak this
Before a willing bondman [slave]; then I know 120
My answer must be made: but I am arm’d,
And dangers are to me indifferent [of no concern].
CASCA: You speak to Casca, and to such a man
That is no fleering tell-tale. Hold, my hand:
Be factious for redress of all these griefs, 125
And I will set this foot of mine as far
As who goes furthest.
[You speak . . . furthest: You speak to a man who is no scornful talebearer. Shake hands with me, and be a partisan in the cause against Caesar in order to right his wrongs. I am willing to go as far as anyone else enlisted in this cause.]
CASSIUS: There’s a bargain made.
Now know you, Casca, I have mov’d already
Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans 130
To undergo with me an enterprise
Of honourable-dangerous consequence;
And I do know by this they stay for me
In Pompey’s porch: for now, this fearful night,
[Pompey's porch: Portico of the theater constructed at the behest of Pompey the Great. Dedicated in 55 BC, the gigantic theater featured plays, musical productions, art exhibitions, and other events. It also housed the chamber of the Roman Senate, where Caesar was assassinated.]
There is no stir, or walking in the streets; 135
And the complexion of the element [the look of the sky]
In favour’s like the work we have in hand,
[in favour's: In favour is, meaning in appearance is]
Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.
CASCA: Stand close [hide] awhile, for here comes one in haste.
CASSIUS: ’Tis Cinna; I do know him by his gait: 140
He is a friend.
Cinna, where haste you so?
CINNA: To find out you. Who’s that? Metellus Cimber?
CASSIUS: No, it is Casca; one incorporate 145
To our attempts. Am I not stay’d for, Cinna?
[one . . . attempts: One who is part of (that is, incorporated into) our conspiracy against Caesar]
CINNA: I am glad on ’t. What a fearful night is this!
There’s two or three of us have seen strange sights.
CASSIUS: Am I not stay’d for? Tell me.
CINNA: Yes, you are. 150
[Am I . . . Yes, you are: Are other conspirators waiting for me? Yes, they are.]
O Cassius! if you could
But win the noble Brutus to our party—
CASSIUS: Be you content. Good Cinna, take this paper,
And look you lay it in the praetor’s chair,
[praetor: Elected magistrate ranking just below a consul. There were two consuls. Together, they exercised the greatest authority in ancient Rome until Octavius Caesar became the first emperor in 27 BC. Thenceforward, he was known as Caesar Augustus, or Augustus Caesar.]
Where Brutus may but find it; and throw this 155
In at his window; set this up with wax
Upon old Brutus’ statue: all this done,
[old Brutus: Brutus's father, Marcus Junius Brutus the Elder]
Repair to Pompey’s porch, where you shall find us.
Is Decius Brutus and Trebonius there?
CINNA: All but Metellus Cimber; and he’s gone 160
To seek you at your house. Well, I will hie [be off; go],
And so bestow these papers as you bade me.
CASSIUS: That done, repair to Pompey’s theatre. [Exit CINNA.
Come, Casca, you and I will yet ere [before] day
See Brutus at his house: three parts of him 165
Is ours already, and the man entire
Upon the next encounter yields him ours.
CASCA: O! he sits high in all the people’s hearts:
And that which would appear offence in us,
His countenance, like richest alchemy, 170
Will change to virtue and to worthiness.
[he sits . . . worthiness: Brutus is so popular and charismatic that he can make everything we do, even offensive things, appear virtuous and worthy.]
CASSIUS: Him and his worth and our great need of him
You have right well conceited [grasped; perceived; recognized]. Let us go,
For it is after midnight; and ere day
We will awake him and be sure of him. [Exeunt. 175
BRUTUS: What, Lucius! ho!
I cannot, by the progress of the stars,
Give guess how near to day. Lucius, I say! 5
I would it were my fault to sleep so soundly.
When, Lucius, when! Awake, I say! what, Lucius!
[I cannot . . . I say: Hey, Lucius! I cannot tell by the stars how close we are to dawn. Lucius, are you there? Are you awake? I wish I could be like Lucius and sleep so soundly. Wake up, Lucius, wake up!]
LUCIUS: Call’d you, my lord?
BRUTUS: Get me a taper in my study, Lucius: 10
[Get . . . study: Put a candle in my study.]
When it is lighted, come and call me here.
LUCIUS: I will, my lord. [Exit.
BRUTUS: It must be by his death: and, for my part,
I know no personal cause to spurn at him,
But for the general. He would be crown’d: 15
How that might change his nature, there’s the question:
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder;
And that craves wary walking. Crown him?—that!
And then, I grant, we put a sting in him,
That at his will he may do danger with. 20
[It must . . . danger with: We have no choice but to assassinate Caesar. I have nothing against him personally. But, for the good of the people, he has to go. If he were allowed to live, he would be crowned king. His coronation could bring out the worst in him. True, people would think his kingship would signal a bright new day for Rome. But it is a bright day that brings forth the adder (a poisonous snake). If Rome crowns Caesar, it will give him the power to sting us at will with his poison.]
The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins [separates]
Remorse from power; and, to speak truth of Caesar,
I have not known when his affections [feelings; prejudices] sway’d
More than his reason. But ’tis a common proof [experience; belief],
That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder, 25
Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
But when he once attains the upmost round [rung],
He then unto the ladder turns his back,
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
By which he did ascend. So Caesar may: 30
Then, lest he may, prevent [prevent him from attaining supreme power]. And, since the quarrel
Will bear no colour for the thing he is;
Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented,
Would run to these and these extremities;
[And, since . . . extremities: And, since we are not talking about what he is but what he could become, frame our reasoning this way: What he is now would change if he becomes king; he would go to extremes and become a tyrant.]
And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg 35
Which, hatch’d, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
And kill him in the shell.
[think him . . . shell: Compare him to a serpent's egg. After hatching, the snake would grow venemous and deadly. Therefore, we must kill him in the shell.]
LUCIUS: The taper burneth in your closet [study; private chamber], sir.
Searching the window for a flint, I found 40
This paper, thus seal’d up; and I am sure
It did not lie there when I went to bed.
BRUTUS: Get you to bed again; it is not day.
Is not to-morrow, boy, the ides of March?
LUCIUS: I know not, sir. 45
BRUTUS: Look in the calendar, and bring me word.
LUCIUS: I will, sir. [Exit.
BRUTUS: The exhalations [meteor showers; lightning bolts] whizzing in the air
Give so much light that I may read by them. [Opens the letter.
[In the next twelves lines (50-62), Shakespeare uses the symbol for etcetera (&c) to represent the complaints, and the action to be taken, against Caesar.]
"Brutus, thou sleep’st: awake and see thyself. 50
Shall Rome, &c. Speak, strike, redress!
Brutus, thou sleep’st: awake!"
Such instigations have been often dropp’d
Where I have took them up.
‘Shall Rome, &c.’ Thus must I piece it out: 55
Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe? What, Rome?
My ancestors did from the streets of Rome
The Tarquin drive, when he was call’d a king.
‘Speak, strike, redress!’ Am I entreated
To speak, and strike? O Rome! I make thee promise; 60
If the redress will follow, thou receiv’st
Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!
LUCIUS: Sir, March is wasted fourteen days. [Knocking within.
[within: Stage direction indicating that the knocking occurs offstage.]
BRUTUS: ’Tis good. Go to the gate: somebody knocks. [Exit LUCIUS. 65
Since Cassius first did whet [incite] me against Caesar,
I have not slept.
Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream: 70
[Between . . . dream: The present interval between my decision to join the conspiracy to kill Caesar and the time when the deed will be done is like a nightmare.]
The genius [mind] and the mortal instruments [hands, legs; the body]
Are then in council; and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection.
[Are then . . . insurrection: Then fight over which is the right course of action, like opposing forces in a civil war.]
Re-enter LUCIUS. 75
LUCIUS: Sir, ’tis your brother Cassius at the door,
Who doth desire to see you.
BRUTUS: Is he alone?
LUCIUS: No, sir, there are more with him.
BRUTUS: Do you know them? 80
LUCIUS: No, sir; their hats are pluck’d about their ears,
And half their faces buried in their cloaks,
That by no means I may discover them
By any mark of favour.
BRUTUS: Let ’em enter. [Exit LUCIUS. 85
They are the faction [conspirators]. O conspiracy!
Sham’st thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,
When evils are most free? O! then by day
Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy; 90
[O conspiracy . . . visage: Conspiracy, if you are ashamed to show yourself at night, you will not find a cavern dark enough to hide your face during the day.]
Hide it in smiles and affability:
For if thou path, thy native semblance on,
Not Erebus itself were dim enough
To hide thee from prevention.
[For if . . . prevention: For if you show your conspiratorial face as you walk in the open during the day, not even the darkest region of hell can mask your intentions.]
Enter the Conspirators, CASSIUS, CASCA, DECIUS, CINNA, METELLUS CIMBER, and TREBONIUS. 95
CASSIUS: I think we are too bold upon your rest:
[I think . . . rest: I'm sorry that we are so bold as to intrude so late, when you would normally be sleeping.]
Good morrow, Brutus; do we trouble you?
BRUTUS: I have been up this hour, awake all night.
Know I these men that come along with you?
CASSIUS: Yes, every man of them; and no man here 100
But honours you; and every one doth wish
You had but that opinion of yourself
Which every noble Roman bears of you.
This is Trebonius.
BRUTUS: He is welcome hither [here]. 105
CASSIUS: This, Decius Brutus.
BRUTUS: He is welcome too.
CASSIUS: This, Casca; this, Cinna;
And this, Metellus Cimber.
BRUTUS: They are all welcome. 110
What watchful cares do interpose themselves
Betwixt [between] your eyes and night?
[What watchful . . . Why are you out so late? Are you worried about something?]
CASSIUS: Shall I entreat a word? [BRUTUS and CASSIUS whisper.
[Shall I . . . whisper: May I have a word with you? (Cassius and Brutus then confer in whispers.)]
DECIUS: Here lies the east: doth not the day break here?
CASCA: No. 115
CINNA: O! pardon, sir, it doth; and yon grey lines
That fret [decorate; surround] the clouds are messengers of day.
CASCA: You shall confess that you are both deceiv’d.
Here, as I point my sword, the sun arises;
Which is a great way growing on the south, 120
Weighing the youthful season of the year.
[Here . . . season of the year: Here, where I point my sword, is where the sun rises—somewhat to the south—as it always does when the year is young. (Casca is right. In the first quarter of the year, the sun rises south of due east.]
Some two months hence up higher toward the north
He first presents his fire; and the high east
Stands, as the Capitol, directly here.
[Some two . . . directly here: Two months from now, dawn will occur farther north. From where we are, true east is where the capitol stands.]
BRUTUS: Give me your hands all over, one by one. 125
[Give me . . . one: All of you shake hands with me, one by one. (The handshake binds all of them as conspirators against Caesar.]
CASSIUS: And let us swear our resolution.
BRUTUS: No, not an oath: if not the face of men,
The sufferance of our souls, the time’s abuse,
If these be motives weak, break off betimes,
And every man hence to his idle bed; 130
So let high-sighted tyranny range on,
Till each man drop by lottery. But if these,
As I am sure they do, bear fire enough
To kindle cowards and to steel with valour
The melting spirits of women, then, countrymen, 135
What need we any spur but our own cause
To prick us to redress? what other bond
Than secret Romans, that have spoke the word
And will not palter [be insincere]? and what other oath
Than honesty to honesty engag’d [pledged], 140
That this shall be, or we will fall [die] for it?
[No, not an oath. . . fall for it: No, we shouldn't swear an oath. If our glum faces, our suffering souls, and the abuses of power that we encounter every day are not enough to spur us to act, then we should go home and go to bed. The tyranny of Caesar would continue. However, if our suffering and grievances bear enough fire to spur us to action, then we don't need an oath or any other stimulus to carry out our plans. We have all gathered in secret and made it clear what we will do even if we have to die doing it.]
Swear priests and cowards and men cautelous,
Old feeble carrions and such suffering souls
That welcome wrongs; unto bad causes swear
Such creatures as men doubt; but do not stain 145
[Swear priests . . . men doubt: Swearing oaths is for priests, cowards, deceivers, feeble old men, and men willing to tolerate wrongdoing. Such men swear to bad causes.]
The even [unswerving] virtue of our enterprise,
Nor th’ insuppressive mettle of our spirits,
[insuppressive mettle: Irrepressible determination]
To think that or our cause or our performance
Did need an oath; when every drop of blood
That every Roman bears, and nobly bears, 150
Is guilty of a several bastardy [is guilty of despicable offenses],
If he do break the smallest particle
Of any promise that hath pass’d from him.
CASSIUS: But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him ?
I think he will stand very strong with us. 155
CASCA: Let us not leave him out.
CINNA: No, by no means.
METELLUS: O! let us have him; for his silver hairs
Will purchase us a good opinion
And buy men’s voices to commend our deeds: 160
It shall be said his judgment rul’d our hands;
Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
[Our . . . appear: Not even a hint of our youths and wildness will appear.]
But all be buried in his gravity.
BRUTUS: O! name him not: let us not break with him;
[break with him: Tell him our plans]
For he will never follow any thing 165
That other men begin.
CASSIUS: Then leave him out.
CASCA: Indeed he is not fit.
DECIUS: Shall no man else be touch’d but only Caesar?
[Shall . . . Caesar: Is Caesar our only target?]
CASSIUS: Decius, well urg’d. I think it is not meet, 170
Mark Antony, so well belov’d of Caesar,
Should outlive Caesar: we shall find of him
A shrewd contriver; and, you know, his means,
If he improve them, may well stretch so far
As to annoy us all; which to prevent, 175
Let Antony and Caesar fall together.
BRUTUS: Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius,
To cut the head off and then hack the limbs,
Like wrath in death and envy afterwards;
[To cut . . . afterwards: To kill Caesar and then attack his right-hand man, Antony. It would seem as if we killed Caesar out of anger and Antony out of hatred.]
For Antony is but a limb of Caesar. 180
Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar;
And in the spirit of men there is no blood:
O! then that we could come by Caesar’s spirit,
And not dismember Caesar. But, alas! 185
[O! then . . . Caesar: O, it's too bad we cannot reason with Caesar rather than killing him.]
Caesar must bleed for it. And, gentle friends,
Let’s kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds:
And let our hearts, as subtle masters do, 190
Stir up their servants to an act of rage,
And after seem to chide ’em. This shall make
Our purpose necessary and not envious;
[And let . . . not envious: And let our hearts stir us up to kill Caesar. Afterwards, let us appear regretful of what we have done. Doing so will make it seem as if the killing was necessary for the good of Rome, not hateful or heinous.]
Which so appearing to the common eyes,
We shall be call’d purgers, not murderers. 195
And, for Mark Antony, think not of him;
For he can do no more than Caesar’s arm
When Caesar’s head is off.
CASSIUS: Yet I fear him;
For in the engrafted love he bears to Caesar— 200
BRUTUS: Alas! good Cassius, do not think of him:
If he love Caesar, all that he can do
Is to himself, take thought and die for Caesar:
And that were much he should; for he is given
To sports, to wildness, and much company. 205
[If he love . . . company: If he loves Caesar, Antony should take his own life. But I don't think he will. He is too fond of sports, wild living, and parties with friends.]
TREBONIUS: There is no fear in him; let him not die:
[There is . . . not die: We have no cause to fear Antony; let him live.]
For he will live, and laugh at this hereafter. [Clock strikes.
BRUTUS: Peace! count the clock.
CASSIUS: The clock hath stricken three.
TREBONIUS: ’Tis time to part. 210
CASSIUS: But it is doubtful yet
Whether Caesar will come forth to-day or no;
For he is superstitious grown of late,
Quite from the main [prevailing; commonly accepted] opinion he held once
Of fantasy, of dreams, and ceremonies. 215
It may be, these apparent prodigies [omens; amazing events of this stormy night],
The unaccustom’d terror of this night,
And the persuasion of his augurers [seers; soothsayers],
May hold him from the Capitol to-day.
DECIUS: Never fear that: if he be so resolv’d, 220
I can o’ersway [persuade] him; for he loves to hear
That unicorns may be betray’d with trees,
[unicorns . . . trees: Unicorns and lions were enemies, according to ancient lore. One day, a unicorn charged a lion standing in front of a tree. When the lion stepped aside, the unicorn drove his horn into the tree and became helpless.]
And bears with glasses, elephants with holes,
[bears . . . glasses: If you hold a mirror in front of a bear, he will stop and look at himself, being proud and vain. He then becomes easy to capture.]
[elephants. . . holes: You can capture an elephant in a large hole overlaid with brush and grass.]
Lions with toils, and men with flatterers;
[Lions . . . toils: You can capture a lion with a net.]
But when I tell him he hates flatterers, 225
He says he does, being then most flattered.
Let me work;
For I can give his humour the true bent,
[For . . . bent: For I know how to persuade him]
And I will bring him to the Capitol.
CASSIUS: Nay, we will all of us be there to fetch him. 230
BRUTUS: By the eighth hour [8 a.m.]: is that the uttermost [latest]?
CINNA: Be that the uttermost, and fail not then.
METELLUS: Caius Ligarius doth bear Caesar hard,
Who [reference to Caesar] rated [berated; rebuked] him [Ligarius] for speaking well of Pompey:
I wonder none of you have thought of him. 235
BRUTUS: Now, good Metellus, go along by him:
[go . . . him: Go to Ligarius.]
He loves me well, and I have given him reasons;
Send him but hither, and I’ll fashion him.
[Send . . . him: Send him here, and I'll get him to join our cause.]
CASSIUS: The morning comes upon ’s [upon us]: we’ll leave you, Brutus.
And, friends, disperse yourselves; but all remember 240
What you have said, and show yourselves true Romans.
BRUTUS: Good gentlemen, look fresh and merrily;
Let not our looks put on our purposes,
But bear it as our Roman actors do,
With untir’d spirits and formal constancy: 245
[Let not . . . constancy: Don't let grim looks give away our plans. Put on a happy face, like an actor, and be firm in your resolve.]
And so good morrow to you every one. [Exeunt all except BRUTUS.
Boy! Lucius! Fast asleep? It is no matter;
Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber:
Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies
Which busy care draws in the brains of men; 250
[Thou hast . . . men: You do not have the unsettling dreams of men preoccupied with carrying out a perilous task.]
Therefore thou sleep’st so sound.
PORTIA: Brutus, my lord!
BRUTUS: Portia, what mean you? Wherefore [why] rise you now?
It is not for your health thus to commit 255
Your weak condition to the raw cold morning.
PORTIA: Nor for yours neither. You’ve ungently, Brutus,
Stole from my bed; and yesternight [last night] at supper
You suddenly arose, and walk’d about,
Musing and sighing, with your arms across, 260
And when I ask’d you what the matter was,
You star’d upon me with ungentle looks.
I urg’d you further; then you scratch’d your head,
And too impatiently stamp’d with your foot;
Yet I insisted, yet you answer’d not, 265
But, with an angry wafture [wave] of your hand,
Gave sign for me to leave you. So I did,
Fearing to strengthen that impatience
Which seem’d too much enkindled, and withal
Hoping it was but an effect of humour, 270
Which sometime hath his hour with every man.
[So I did . . . every man: So I left the room, worried that I might further aggravate you but hoping that you were just moody, as every man is from time to time.]
It will not let you eat, nor talk, nor sleep,
And could it work so much upon your shape
As it hath much prevail’d on your condition,
I should not know you, Brutus. Dear my lord, 275
Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.
[It will not . . . grief: Whatever is bothering you will not let you eat, talk, or sleep. It could deteriorate your physical condition to the point that I wouldn't recognize you. Dear Brutus, what is causing your grief?]
BRUTUS: I am not well in health, and that is all.
PORTIA: Brutus is wise, and were he not in health,
He would embrace the means to come by it.
[embrace . . . it: Do something to restore your health.]
BRUTUS: Why, so I do. Good Portia, go to bed. 280
PORTIA: Is Brutus sick, and is it physical [healthful]
To walk unbraced [with your garment open at the chest] and suck up the humours [misty or humid air; dampness]
Of the dank morning? What! is Brutus sick,
And will he steal out of his wholesome bed
To dare the vile contagion of the night, 285
And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air [air that causes a cold or another respiratory infection that produces rheum, a discharge of mucus]
To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus;
You have some sick offence within your mind,
Which, by the right and virtue of my place,
I ought to know of; and, upon my knees [she kneels], 290
I charm you, by my once-commended beauty,
By all your vows of love, and that great vow [marriage]
Which did incorporate and make us one,
That you unfold to me, your self, your half,
Why are you heavy, and what men to-night 295
Have had resort to you; for here have been
Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
Even from darkness.
BRUTUS: Kneel not, gentle Portia. [She rises]
PORTIA: I should not need, if you were gentle Brutus. 300
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it excepted [forbidden that], I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself
But, as it were, in sort of limitation,
[Am I . . . limitation: Am I a spouse who must accept certain limitations?]
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed, 305
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife.
BRUTUS: You are my true and honourable wife,
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops 310
That visit my sad heart.
PORTIA: If this were true then should I know this secret.
I grant I am a woman, but, withal,
A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife;
I grant I am a woman, but, withal, 315
A woman well-reputed, Cato’s daughter.
[Cato: Marcus Portius Cato the Younger (95-46 BC), Roman politician, philosopher, and military leader. He was an opponent of Caesar.]
Think you I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so father’d and so husbanded?
[Think you . . . husband: Do you think I am no stronger than other women even though I had a distinguished father and have a formidable husband?]
Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose ’em.
I have made strong proof of my constancy, 320
Giving myself a voluntary wound
Here, in the thigh: can I bear that with patience
And not my husband’s secrets?
BRUTUS: O ye gods!
Render me worthy of this noble wife. [Knocking within. 325
Hark, hark! one knocks. Portia, go in awhile;
And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.
[And by . . . heart: And in a moment I'll tell you my secrets.]
All my engagements I will construe to thee,
All the charactery [meaning] of my sad brows. 330
Leave me with haste. [Exit PORTIA.
Lucius, who’s that knocks?
Re-enter LUCIUS with LIGARIUS.
LUCIUS: Here is a sick man that would speak with you.
BRUTUS: Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spoke of.
Boy, stand aside. Caius Ligarius! how? 335
LIGARIUS: Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble tongue.
[Vouchsafe . . . tongue: Allow me to bid you good morning with a feeble tongue.]
BRUTUS: O! what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,
To wear a kerchief. Would you were not sick.
[kerchief: The kerchief suggest to Brutus that Ligarius is sick.]
LIGARIUS: I am not sick if Brutus have in hand
Any exploit worthy the name of honour. 340
BRUTUS: Such an exploit have I in hand, Ligarius,
Had you a healthful ear to hear of it.
LIGARIUS: By all the gods that Romans bow before
I here discard my sickness. Soul of Rome!
Brave son, deriv’d from honourable loins! 345
Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjur’d up
My mortified spirit. Now bid me run,
[Thou, like . . . run: You, like a conjurer, have brought my dead spirit back to life. Now tell me what to do.]
And I will strive with things impossible;
Yea, get the better of them, What’s to do?
BRUTUS: A piece of work that will make sick men whole. 350
LIGARIUS: But are not some whole that we must make sick?
BRUTUS: That must we also. What it is, my Caius,
I shall unfold to thee as we are going
To whom it must be done.
LIGARIUS: Set on your foot, 355
And with a heart new-fir’d I follow you,
To do I know not what; but it sufficeth
That Brutus leads me on.
BRUTUS: Follow me then. [Exeunt.
Thunder and lightning. Enter CAESAR in his night-gown.
CAESAR: Nor heaven nor earth have been at peace to-night:
Thrice hath Calpurnia in her sleep cried out,
‘Help, ho! They murder Caesar!’ Who’s within? 5
Enter a Servant,
SERVANT: My lord!
CAESAR: Go bid the priests [prophets; soothsayers] do present [immediate; quick] sacrifice,
And bring me their opinions of success.
SERVANT: I will, my lord. [Exit. 10
CALPURNIA: What mean you, Caesar? Think you to walk forth?
You shall not stir out of your house to-day.
CAESAR: Caesar shall forth: the things that threaten’d me
Ne’er look’d but o+n my back; when they shall see 15
The face of Caesar, they are vanished.
CALPURNIA: Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies [omens; portents],
Yet now they fright me. There is one within,
Besides the things that we have heard and seen,
Recounts most horrid sights seen by the watch. 20
A lioness hath whelped in the streets;
And graves have yawn’d and yielded up their dead;
Fierce fiery warriors fought upon the clouds,
In ranks and squadrons and right form of war,
Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol; 25
The noise of battle hurtled in the air,
Horses did neigh, and dying men did groan,
And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets.
O Caesar! these things are beyond all use [beyond any phenomena that we are used to; beyond comprehension],
And I do fear them. 30
CAESAR: What can be avoided
Whose end is purpos’d by the mighty gods?
[What can . . . gods: No one can avoid what the gods ordain.]
Yet Caesar shall go forth; for these predictions
Are to the world in general as to Caesar.
[these predictions . . . Caesar: These omens pertain just as much to people in general as they do to me in particular.]
CALPURNIA: When beggars die there are no comets seen; 35
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
When beggars . . . . princes: When beggars or other ordinary people die, no comets or other omens appear in the heavens. But when a great man such as you dies (or is about to die), the heavens blaze with activity.]
CAESAR: Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear; 40
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
What say the augurers [prophets; soothsayers]?
SERVANT: They would not have you to stir forth to-day. 45
Plucking the entrails of an offering forth,
They could not find a heart within the beast.
[Plucking . . . beast: Pulling out the insides of the sacrificed animal, they could not find a heart.]
CAESAR: The gods do this in shame of cowardice:
[The gods . . . cowardice: The gods are telling us that cowards have no heart.]
Caesar should be a beast without a heart
If he should stay at home to-day for fear. 50
No, Caesar shall not; danger knows full well
That Caesar is more dangerous than he:
We are two lions litter’d in one day,
And I the elder and more terrible:
[We are . . . terrible: Danger and I are two lions born on the same day. But I was born moments before danger. Therefore, I am older and more formidable.]
And Caesar shall go forth. 55
CALPURNIA: Alas! my lord,
Your wisdom is consum’d in confidence.
[Your . . . confidence: You are allowing overconfidence to guide you instead of reason.]
Do not go forth to-day: call it my fear
That keeps you in the house, and not your own.
We’ll send Mark Antony to the senate-house, 60
And he shall say you are not well to-day:
Let me, upon my knee, prevail in this.
CAESAR: Mark Antony shall say I am not well;
And, for thy humour [peace of mind], I will stay at home.
Enter DECIUS. 65
Here’s Decius Brutus, he shall tell them so.
DECIUS: Caesar, all hail! Good morrow, worthy Caesar:
I come to fetch you to the senate-house.
CAESAR: And you are come in very happy time
To bear my greeting to the senators, 70
And tell them that I will not come to-day:
Cannot, is false, and that I dare not, falser;
I will not come to-day: tell them so, Decius.
CALPURNIA: Say he is sick.
CAESAR: Shall Caesar send a lie? 75
Have I in conquest stretch’d mine arm so far
To be afeard to tell greybeards the truth?
Decius, go tell them Caesar will not come.
DECIUS: Most mighty Caesar, let me know some cause,
Lest I be laugh’d at when I tell them so. 80
CAESAR: The cause is in my will: I will not come;
That is enough to satisfy the senate:
But for your private satisfaction,
Because I love you, I will let you know:
Calpurnia here, my wife, stays me at home: 85
She dreamt to-night she saw my statua [statue],
Which, like a fountain with a hundred spouts,
Did run pure blood; and many lusty Romans
Came smiling, and did bathe their hands in it:
And these does she apply for warnings and portents, 90
And evils imminent; and on her knee
Hath begg’d that I will stay at home to-day.
DECIUS: This dream is all amiss interpreted [misinterpreted; interpreted wrongly];
It was a vision fair and fortunate:
Your statue spouting blood in many pipes, 95
In which so many smiling Romans bath’d,
Signifies that from you great Rome shall suck
Reviving blood, and that great men shall press
For tinctures, stains, relics, and cognizance.
[tinctures, stains, relics: Bloodstains as souvenirs.]
[cognizance: Emblem worn to indicate that the wearer is a servant of a great man.]
This by Calpurnia’s dream is signified. 100
CAESAR: And this way have you well expounded it.
DECIUS: I have, when you have heard what I can say:
And know it now: the senate have concluded
To give this day a crown to mighty Caesar.
If you shall send them word you will not come, 105
Their minds may change. Besides, it were a mock
Apt to be render’d, for some one to say
‘Break up the senate till another time,
When Caesar’s wife shall meet with better dreams.’
If Caesar hide himself, shall they not whisper 110
‘Lo! Caesar is afraid?’
Pardon me, Caesar; for my dear dear love
To your proceeding [advancing to kingship] bids me tell you this,
And reason to my love is liable [responsible].
CAESAR: How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia! 115
I am ashamed I did yield to them.
Give me my robe, for I will go:
Enter PUBLIUS, BRUTUS, LIGARIUS, METELLUS, CASCA, TREBONIUS, and CINNA.
And look where Publius is come to fetch me.
PUBLIUS: Good morrow, Caesar. 120
CAESAR: Welcome, Publius.
What! Brutus, are you stirr’d so early too?
Good morrow, Casca. Caius Ligarius,
Caesar was ne’er so much your enemy
As that same ague [fever; illness] which hath made you lean. 125
What is ’t o’clock?
BRUTUS: Caesar, ’tis strucken [struck] eight.
CAESAR: I thank you for your pains and courtesy.
See! Antony, that revels long o’ nights, 130
Is notwithstanding up. Good morrow, Antony.
[See! . . . up: Look, even Antony is here at this early hour even though he stays out late attending parties.]
ANTONY: So to most noble Caesar. [And good morning to you, noble Caesar.]
CAESAR: Bid them prepare within:
I am to blame to be thus waited for.
[Bid . . . waited for: Caesar orders a room to be prepared to host his visitors, then apologizes for not being ready to go immediately to the senate.]
Now, Cinna; now, Metellus; what, Trebonius! 135
I have an hour’s talk in store for you;
Remember that you call on me to-day:
Be near me, that I may remember you.
TREBONIUS: Caesar, I will:—[Aside.] and so near will I be,
[Aside: Words an actor speaks to the audience which other actors on the stage cannot hear. Sometimes the actor cups his mouth toward the audience or turns away from the other actors. An aside serves to reveal a character's thoughts or concerns to the audience without revealing them to other characters in a play.]
That your best friends shall wish I had been further. 140
CAESAR: Good friends, go in, and taste some wine with me;
And we, like friends, will straightway go together.
BRUTUS: [Aside.] That every like is not the same, O Caesar!
The heart of Brutus yearns to think upon. [Exeunt.
[That every . . . upon: Brutus grieves in his heart that he and Caesar now only seem like friends.]
Enter ARTEMIDORUS, reading a paper.
ARTEMIDORUS: Caesar, beware of Brutus; take heed of Cassius; come not near Casca; have an eye to Cinna; trust not Trebonius; mark well Metellus Cimber; Decius Brutus loves thee not; thou hast wronged Caius Ligarius. There is but one mind in all these men, and it is bent against Caesar. If thou be’st not immortal, look about you: security [complacency; carelessness] gives way to conspiracy. The mighty gods defend thee! Thy lover,
Here will I stand till Caesar pass along,
And as a suitor [citizen petitioning a politician] will I give him this. 5
My heart laments that virtue cannot live
Out of the teeth of emulation.
[My heart . . . emulation: I lament that the teeth of jealous envy always target virtue.]
If thou read this, O Caesar! thou mayst live;
If not, the Fates with traitors do contrive. [Exit.
[Fates . . . contrive: Fate will cooperate with traitors to bring about your doom.]
Enter PORTIA and LUCIUS.
PORTIA: I prithee, boy, run to the senate-house;
Stay not to answer me, but get thee gone.
Why dost thou stay? 5
LUCIUS: To know my errand, madam.
PORTIA: I would have had thee there, and here again,
Ere [before] I can tell thee what thou shouldst do there.
O constancy! be strong upon my side;
Set a huge mountain ’tween my heart and tongue; 10
I have a man’s mind, but a woman’s might.
How hard it is for women to keep counsel!
[O constancy . . . counsel: O, let me be strong enough to keep secret what is in my heart.]
Art thou here yet?
LUCIUS: Madam, what shall I do?
Run to the Capitol, and nothing else? 15
And so return to you, and nothing else?
PORTIA: Yes, bring me word, boy, if thy lord [Brutus] look well,
For he went sickly forth; and take good note
What Caesar doth, what suitors [petitioners] press to him.
Hark, boy! what noise is that? 20
LUCIUS: I hear none, madam.
PORTIA: Prithee, listen well:
I heard a bustling rumour [crowd noise; shouting voices], like a fray [fight],
And the wind brings it from the Capitol.
LUCIUS: Sooth [Truly], madam, I hear nothing. 25
Enter the Soothsayer.
PORTIA: Come hither, fellow: which way hast thou been?
SOOTHSAYER: At mine own house, good lady.
PORTIA: What is ’t o’clock?
SOOTHSAYER: About the ninth hour, lady. 30
PORTIA: Is Caesar yet gone to the Capitol?
SOOTHSAYER: Madam, not yet: I go to take my stand,
To see him pass on to the Capitol.
PORTIA: Thou hast some suit to Caesar, hast thou not?
SOOTHSAYER: That I have, lady: if it will please Caesar 35
To be so good to Caesar as to hear me,
I shall beseech him to befriend himself [guard himself; be careful].
PORTIA: Why, know’st thou any harm’s intended towards him?
SOOTHSAYER: None that I know will be, much that I fear may chance.
Good morrow to you. Here the street is narrow: 40
The throng that follows Caesar at the heels,
Of senators, of praetors, common suitors,
Will crowd a feeble man almost to death:
I’ll get me to a place more void, and there
Speak to great Caesar as he comes along. [Exit. 45
PORTIA: I must go in. Ay me! how weak a thing
The heart of woman is. O Brutus!
The heavens speed thee in thine enterprise.
Sure, the boy heard me: Brutus hath a suit
That Caesar will not grant. O! I grow faint. 50
Run, Lucius, and commend me to my lord;
Say I am merry: come to me again,
And bring me word what he doth say to thee. [Exeunt, severally.
[Before . . . . above: In front of the capitol, where the senate meets]
A crowd of People; among them ARTEMIDORUS and the Soothsayer. Flourish. Enter CAESAR, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, CASCA, DECIUS, METELLUS, TREBONIUS, CINNA, ANTONY, LEPIDUS, POPILIUS, PUBLIUS, and Others.
CAESAR: [To the Soothsayer.] The ides of March are come.
SOOTHSAYER: Ay, Caesar; but not gone.
ARTEMIDORUS: Hail, Caesar! Read this schedule [document]. 5
DECIUS: Trebonius doth desire you to o’er-read,
At your best leisure, this his humble suit.
ARTEMIDORUS: O Caesar! read mine first; for mine’s a suit
That touches Caesar nearer. Read it, great Caesar.
CAESAR: What touches us ourself shall be last serv’d. 10
ARTEMIDORUS: Delay not, Caesar; read it instantly.
CAESAR: What! is the fellow mad?
PUBLIUS: Sirrah [fellow; mister], give place [move out of the way].
CAESAR: What! urge you your petitions in the street?
Come to the Capitol. 15
CAESAR goes up to the Senate-House, the rest following. All the Senators rise.
Pop. I wish your enterprise to-day may thrive.
CASSIUS: What enterprise, Popilius?
Pop. Fare you well. [Advances to CAESAR.
BRUTUS: What said Popilius Lena? 20
CASSIUS: He wish’d to-day our enterprise might thrive.
I fear our purpose is discovered.
BRUTUS: Look, how he makes [goes] to Caesar: mark him.
CASSIUS: Casca, be sudden, for we fear prevention [action to prevent the conspirators from killing Caesar].
Brutus, what shall be done? If this be known, 25
Cassius or Caesar never shall turn back,
For I will slay myself.
[If this . . . turn back: If people know about our plot against Caesar, we must kill him quickly. If we fail to do so, I will kill myself.]
BRUTUS: Cassius, be constant:
[be constant: Don't get panicky. Stick to our plan.]
Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes;
For, look, he smiles, and Caesar doth not change. 30
CASSIUS: Trebonius knows his time; for, look you, Brutus,
He draws Mark Antony out of the way. [Exeunt ANTONY and TREBONIUS. CAESAR and the Senators take their seats.
DECIUS: Where is Metellus Cimber? Let him go,
And presently prefer his suit to Caesar.
[Let him . . . to Caesar: He should go to Caesar and present a petition.]
BRUTUS: He is address’d; press near and second him. 35
[He is . . . him: Someone is talking to him. Go over and support his petition.]
CINNA: Casca, you are the first that rears your hand.
Caesar: Are we all ready? What is now amiss,
That Caesar and his senate must redress?
[What is . . . redress: What petition or problem should I first consider?]
METELLUS: Most high, most mighty, and most puissant [powerful] Caesar,
Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat 40
A humble heart,— [Kneeling.
CAESAR: I must prevent thee, Cimber.
These couchings [bows] and these lowly courtesies,
Might fire the blood of ordinary men,
And turn pre-ordinance and first decree 45
Into the law of children. Be not fond,
To think that Caesar bears such rebel blood
That will be thaw’d from the true quality
With that which melteth fools; I mean sweet words,
Low-crooked curtsies, and base spaniel fawning. 50
[And turn . . . fawning: And turn established laws into rules that a child can change at whim. Be not so ignorant to think that you can change my mind with arguments that appeal to fools—arguments presented with flattery, bows, and the base fawning of a dog that wags its tail and whines for attention.]
Thy brother by decree is banished:
If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him,
I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
Know, Caesar doth not wrong, nor without cause
Will he be satisfied. 55
METELLUS: Is there no voice more worthy than my own,
To sound more sweetly in great Caesar’s ear
For the repealing of my banish’d brother?
BRUTUS: I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Caesar;
Desiring thee, that Publius Cimber may 60
Have an immediate freedom of repeal.
[that Publius . . . repeal: that you will cancel the sentence of banishment for Metellus Cimber's brother, Publius. (Brutus kneels while making his plea.)]
CAESAR: What, Brutus!
CASSIUS: Pardon, Caesar; Caesar, pardon:
As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall,
To beg enfranchisement [freedom; release] for Publius Cimber. 65
CAESAR: I could be well mov’d if I were as you;
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me;
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality
There is no fellow [no similar star; no duplicate or twin] in the firmament. 70
The skies are painted with unnumber’d sparks [stars, comets, etc.],
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place:
So, in the world; ’tis furnish’d well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive; 75
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshak’d of motion: and that I am he,
[Unshak'd . . . motion: Unshaken in his resolve. (Caesar says he will not change his mind.)]
Let me a little show it, even in this,
That I was constant Cimber should be banish’d, 80
And constant do remain to keep him so.
CINNA: O Caesar,—
CAESAR: Hence! Wilt thou lift up Olympus!
[Hence! . . . Olympus: Go away! Even if you lifted Mount Olympus, I would not change my mind.]
DECIUS: Great Caesar,—
CAESAR: Doth not Brutus bootless [futilely; in vain] kneel? 85
[Doth . . . kneel: Can't you see that even Brutus, kneeling, has failed to persuade me?]
CASCA: Speak, hands, for me! [They stab Caesar.
CAESAR: Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar! [Dies.
[Et tu Brute (pronounced et too BROO tay): Latin for "And you, Brutus?" Caesar is expressing his surprise that his supposed friend is among the assassins.]
CINNA: Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!
Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.
CASSIUS: Some to the common pulpits, and cry out, 90
[pulpits: Places for public speaking, such as streetcorners, squares, upper windows, the steps of a building]
‘Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!’
BRUTUS: People and senators, be not affrighted [afraid];
Fly not; stand still; ambition’s debt is paid.
CASCA: Go to the pulpit, Brutus.
DECIUS: And Cassius too. 95
BRUTUS: Where’s Publius?
CINNA: Here, quite confounded with this mutiny.
METELLUS: Stand fast together, lest some friend of Caesar’s
[Stand fast . . . chance—: Stand together. Some friend of Caesar might come by and—]
BRUTUS: Talk not of standing. Publius, good cheer; 100
There is no harm intended to your person,
Nor to no Roman else; so tell them, Publius.
CASSIUS: And leave us, Publius; lest that the people,
Rushing on us, should do your age some mischief.
BRUTUS: Do so; and let no man abide [be blamed for] this deed 105
But we the doers.
CASSIUS: Where’s Antony?
Tre. Fled to his house amaz’d.
Men, wives and children stare, cry out and run 110
As it were doomsday.
BRUTUS: Fates, we will know your pleasures.
That we shall die, we know; ’tis but the time
And drawing days out, that men stand upon.
[Fates . . . stand upon: We all know that we will die eventually. But only fate knows when and how we will die. Men think all the time about what it will be like at the moment of death.]
CASCA: Why, he that cuts off twenty years of life 115
Cuts off so many years of fearing death.
BRUTUS: Grant that, and then is death a benefit:
So are we Caesar’s friends, that have abridg’d [shortened]
His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop,
And let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood 120
Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords:
Then walk we forth, even to the market-place;
And waving our red weapons o’er our heads,
Let’s all cry, ‘Peace, freedom, and liberty!’
CASSIUS: Stoop, then, and wash. How many ages hence 125
Shall this our lofty scene be acted o’er [be acted again],
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!
BRUTUS: How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,
That now on Pompey’s basis lies along
No worthier than the dust! 130
[How many . . . dust!: How many times shall Caesar bleed in stage dramas—he who now lies stretched out, no worthier than dust, at the base of Pompey's statue!]
CASSIUS: So oft as that shall be,
So often shall the knot of us be call’d
The men that gave their country liberty.
DECIUS: What! shall we forth?
CASSIUS: Ay, every man away: 135
Brutus shall lead; and we will grace his heels
With the most boldest and best hearts of Rome.
Enter a Servant.
BRUTUS: Soft! [just a moment; wait a second] who comes here? A friend of Antony’s.
SERVANT: Thus, Brutus, did my master bid me kneel; 140
Thus did Mark Antony bid me fall down;
And, being prostrate, thus he bade me say:
Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and honest;
Caesar was mighty, bold, royal, and loving:
Say I love Brutus, and I honour him; 145
[Say I . . . him: Tell Brutus I love and honor him.]
Say I fear’d Caesar, honour’d him, and lov’d him.
If Brutus will vouchsafe [guarantee] that Antony
May safely come to him, and be resolv’d [informed]
How Caesar hath deserv’d to lie in death,
Mark Antony shall not love Caesar dead 150
So well as Brutus living; but will follow
The fortunes and affairs of noble Brutus
Thorough [through] the hazards of this untrod state [hazards that the future presents]
With all true faith. So says my master Antony.
BRUTUS: Thy master is a wise and valiant Roman; 155
I never thought him worse.
Tell him, so please him come unto this place,
He shall be satisfied; and, by my honour,
SERVANT: I’ll fetch him presently [without delay]. [Exit. 160
BRUTUS: I know that we shall have him well to friend.
[we . . . friend: We shall be good friends.]
CASSIUS: I wish we may: but yet have I a mind
That fears him much; and my misgiving still
Falls shrewdly to the purpose.
[and my . . . purpose: And my concern makes me wonder what purpose there is in receiving him.]
Re-enter ANTONY. 165
BRUTUS: But here comes Antony. Welcome, Mark Antony.
ANTONY: O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.
I know not, gentlemen, what you intend, 170
Who else must be let blood [must be killed], who else is rank:
If I myself, there is no hour so fit
[If I myself: If I myself am a target]
As Caesar’s death’s hour, nor no instrument
Of half that worth as those your swords, made rich
With the most noble blood of all this world. 175
[no instrument . . . world: No weapon to kill me is worth half as much as your swords, for they have been enriched with the noble blood of Caesar.]
I do beseech [beg] ye, if ye bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Fulfil your pleasure. Live [If I live] a thousand years,
I shall not find myself so apt to die:
No place will please me so, no mean [means] of death, 180
As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,
The choice and master spirits of this age.
[here by . . . age: Here, next to Caesar, killed by you, who are the masters of the new Rome.]
BRUTUS: O Antony! beg not your death of us.
Though now we must appear bloody and cruel,
As, by our hands and this our present act, 185
You see we do, yet see you but our hands
And this the bleeding business they have done:
Our hearts you see not; they are pitiful;
And pity to the general wrong of Rome—
As fire drives out fire, so pity pity— 190
Hath done this deed on Caesar. For your part,
To you our swords have leaden points, Mark Antony;
[Though now . . . points, Mark Antony: Right now, we appear bloody and cruel to you, as the blood on our hands suggests. But you see only our hands, not our hearts. We took no pleasure in assassinating Caesar, but we had to kill him out of pity for the people of Rome. Caesar was leading them down the wrong path. For your part, Antony, our swords have blunted ends. We have no intention of harming you.]
Our arms, in strength of malice, and our hearts
Of brothers’ temper, do receive you in
With all kind love, good thoughts, and reverence. 195
[Our arms . . . reverence: Even though our weapons can do great harm, our hearts regard you as a brother. We receive you with love, good thoughts, and reverence.]
CASSIUS: Your voice shall be as strong as any man’s
In the disposing of new dignities.
[Your voice . . . dignities: Your voice, Antony, shall be as influential as anyone's in establishing a new government and dealing with other matters relating to Caesar's death.]
BRUTUS: Only be patient till we have appeas’d
The multitude, beside themselves with fear,
And then we will deliver you the cause 200
Why I, that did love Caesar when I struck him,
Have thus proceeded.
ANTONY: I doubt not of your wisdom.
Let each man render me his bloody hand:
First, Marcus Brutus, will I shake with you; 205
Next, Caius Cassius, do I take your hand;
Now, Decius Brutus, yours; now yours, Metellus;
Yours, Cinna; and, my valiant Casca, yours;
Though last, not least in love, yours, good Trebonius.
Gentlemen all,—alas! what shall I say? 210
My credit [character; credibility] now stands on such slippery ground,
That one of two bad ways you must conceit [regard] me,
Either a coward or a flatterer.
That I did love thee, Caesar, O! ’tis true:
If then thy spirit look upon us now, 215
Shall it not grieve thee dearer than thy death,
To see thy Antony making his peace,
Shaking the bloody fingers of thy foes,
Most noble! [spoken with irony] in the presence of thy corse [corpse]?
Had I as many eyes as thou hast wounds, 220
Weeping as fast as they stream forth thy blood,
It would become me better than to close
In terms of friendship with thine enemies.
[close . . . enemies: Make friends with your enemies]
Pardon me, Julius! Here wast thou bay’d, brave hart;
[Here . . . hart: Antony uses figurative language here, comparing the assassins to baying hounds and Caesar to a male deer (hart).]
Here didst thou fall; and here thy hunters stand, 225
Sign’d in thy spoil, and crimson’d in thy lethe
[Sign'd . . . lethe: Stained with your river of blood]
O world! thou wast the forest to this hart;
And this, indeed, O world! the heart of thee.
[And this . . . these: And Caesar was the heart of the world.]
How like a deer, strucken [struck; stabbed] by many princes,
Dost thou here lie! 230
CASSIUS: Mark Antony,—
ANTONY: Pardon me, Caius Cassius:
The enemies of Caesar shall say this;
Then, in a friend, it is cold modesty.
[The enemies . . . modesty: Caesar's enemies will say what I just said. But, coming from a friend, my words will be regarded as cold and unfeeling.]
CASSIUS: I blame you not for praising Caesar so; 235
But what compact mean you to have with us?
Will you be prick’d in number of our friends,
Or shall we on, and not depend on you?
[But what . . . on you?: But what agreement do you want to make with us? Will you be counted as one of our friends, or should we carry on without you?]
ANTONY: Therefore I took your hands, but was indeed
Sway’d from the point by looking down on Caesar. 240
[Sway'd . . . point: Distracted.]
Friends am I with you all, and love you all,
Upon this hope, that you shall give me reasons
Why and wherein Caesar was dangerous.
BRUTUS: Or else were this a savage spectacle.
[Or . . . spectacle: This would be a savage spectacle—and that's all—if we didn't have good reasons for killing Caesar.]
Our reasons are so full of good regard 245
That were you, Antony, the son of Caesar,
You should be satisfied.
ANTONY: That’s all I seek:
And am moreover suitor that I may
[And . . . may: And I ask also that I may be allowed to]
Produce his body to the market place; 250
And in the pulpit, as becomes a friend,
Speak in the order of his funeral.
BRUTUS: You shall, Mark Antony.
CASSIUS: Brutus, a word with you.
[Aside to BRUTUS.] You know not what you do; do not consent 255
That Antony speak in his funeral:
Know you how much the people may be mov’d
By that which he will utter?
BRUTUS: By your pardon;
I will myself into the pulpit first, 260
And show the reason of our Caesar’s death:
What Antony shall speak, I will protest [say; make it clear]
He speaks by [by our] leave and by permission,
And that we are contented Caesar shall
Have all true rites and lawful ceremonies. 265
It shall advantage [help us] more than do us wrong.
CASSIUS: I know not what may fall [happen]; I like it not.
BRUTUS: Mark Antony, here, take you Caesar’s body.
You shall not in your funeral speech blame us,
But speak all good you can devise of Caesar, 270
And say you do ’t by our permission;
Else shall you not have any hand at all
About his funeral; and you shall speak
In the same pulpit whereto I am going,
After my speech is ended. 275
ANTONY: Be it so;
I do desire no more.
BRUTUS: Prepare the body then, and follow us. [Exeunt all but ANTONY.
ANTONY: O! pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth [bleeding body of Caesar],
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers; 280
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood;
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,
Which like dumb mouths [reference to the wounds] do ope [open] their ruby lips, 285
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue,
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
[Domestic . . . strife: Civil war]
Shall cumber [afflict; burden] all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use [so commonplace], 290
And dreadful objects [bloody objects and scenes] so familiar,
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d [butchered] with the hands of war;
All pity chok’d with custom of fell deeds:
[All pity . . . deeds: After witnessing so many cruel and ghastly deeds, people will lose their ability to feel pity.]
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge, 295
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
[Ate: Atë, a goddess of destruction, ruin, and vengeance in Greek mythology]
Shall in these confines [boundaries of Rome] with a monarch’s voice
Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war;
[Cry . . . war: Caesar will cry, "Show them no mercy." Then he will unleash the dogs of war.]
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial. 300
[carrion men: The rotting flesh of men]
Enter a Servant.
You serve Octavius Caesar, do you not?
[Octavius Caesar: Grandson of Julia, sister of Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar adopted him. Octavius, also called Octavius, ruled Rome as emperor from 27 BC to AD 14.]
SERVANT: I do, Mark Antony.
ANTONY: Caesar did write for him to come to Rome.
SERVANT: He did receive his letters, and is coming; 305
And bid me say to you by word of mouth— [Seeing the body.
ANTONY: Thy heart is big, get thee apart [go somewhere] and weep.
Passion, I see, is catching; for mine eyes,
Seeing those beads of sorrow stand in thine, 310
Began to water. Is thy master coming?
SERVANT: He lies to-night within seven leagues (21 miles, or 33.6 kilometers) of Rome.
ANTONY: Post back [return to him] with speed, and tell him what hath chanc’d [happened]:
Here is a mourning Rome, a dangerous Rome,
No Rome of safety for Octavius yet; 315
Hie hence and tell him so. Yet, stay awhile;
Thou shalt not back till I have borne this corpse
Into the market-place; there shall I try [test],
In my oration, how the people take
The cruel issue [deed] of these bloody men; 320
According to the which thou shalt discourse
To young Octavius of the state of things.
Lend me your hand. [Exeunt, with CAESAR’S body.
[The social, political, and commercial heart of ancient Rome. Temples and public buildings, including the senate house, lined its walkway.]
Enter BRUTUS and CASSIUS, and a throng of citizens.
Citizens. We will be satisfied: let us be satisfied.
BRUTUS: Then follow me, and give me audience, friends.
Cassius, go you into the other street, 5
And part the numbers.
[part . . . numbers: Separate the people into two groups.]
Those that will hear me speak, let ’em stay here;
Those that will follow Cassius, go with him;
And public reasons shall be rendered
Of Caesar’s death. 10
FIRST CITIZEN: I will hear Brutus speak.
SECOND CITIZEN: I will hear Cassius; and compare their reasons,
When severally we hear them rendered. [Exit CASSIUS, with some of the Citizens; BRUTUS goes into the pulpit.
[Lines 11 and 12: The first citizen will hear what Brutus says while the second listens to Cassius. Then the citizens will compare the reasons Brutus gave with those of Cassius.]
THIRD CITIZEN: The noble Brutus is ascended: silence!
BRUTUS: Be patient till the last. 15
Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause; and be silent, that you may hear: believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say, that Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? [If Caesar were still alive, you would all be slaves. Now that Caesar is dead, you are all free men. Which would you rather be, slaves or free men?] As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious [ambitious to become absolute ruler], I slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition. Who is here so base that would be a bondman [slave]? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude [savage; barbarous] that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.
Citizens. None, Brutus, none.
BRUTUS: Then none have I offended. I have done no more to Caesar, than you shall do to Brutus. The question of [reason for] his death is enrolled [written down] in the Capitol; his glory not extenuated [lessened], wherein he was worthy, nor his offences enforced [emphasized], for which he suffered death.
Enter ANTONY and Others, with CAESAR’S body.
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony: who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the common wealth; as which of you shall not? With this I depart: that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death. 20
Citizens. Live, Brutus! live! live!
FIRST CITIZEN: Bring him with triumph home unto his house.
SECOND CITIZEN: Give him a statue with his ancestors.
THIRD CITIZEN: Let him be Caesar.
FOURTH CITIZEN: Caesar’s better parts 25
Shall be crown’d in Brutus.
FIRST CITIZEN: We’ll bring him to his house with shouts and clamours.
BRUTUS: My countrymen,—
SECOND CITIZEN: Peace! silence! Brutus speaks.
FIRST CITIZEN: Peace, ho! 30
BRUTUS: Good countrymen, let me depart alone,
And, for my sake, stay here with Antony.
Do grace to Caesar’s corpse, and grace his speech
Tending to Caesar’s glories, which Mark Antony,
By our permission, is allow’d to make. 35
I do entreat you, not a man depart,
Save I alone, till Antony have spoke. [Exit.
FIRST CITIZEN: Stay, ho! and let us hear Mark Antony.
THIRD CITIZEN: Let him go up into the public chair;
We’ll hear him. Noble Antony, go up. 40
ANTONY: For Brutus’ sake, I am beholding [beholden; indebted] to you. [Goes up.
FOURTH CITIZEN: What does he say of Brutus?
THIRD CITIZEN: He says, for Brutus’ sake,
He finds himself beholding to us all.
FOURTH CITIZEN: ’Twere best he speak no harm of Brutus here. 45
FIRST CITIZEN: This Caesar was a tyrant.
THIRD CITIZEN: Nay, that’s certain:
We are bless’d that Rome is rid of him.
SECOND CITIZEN: Peace! let us hear what Antony can say.
ANTONY: You gentle Romans,— 50
Citizens. Peace, ho! let us hear him.
ANTONY: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones; 55
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,— 60
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men,—
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious; 65
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He [Caesar] hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
[Whose ransoms . . . fill: Whose ransoms filled the Roman treasury, to the benefit of all citizens]
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept; 70
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown, 75
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know. 80
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, 85
And I must pause till it come back to me.
FIRST CITIZEN: Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.
SECOND CITIZEN: If thou consider rightly of the matter,
Caesar has had great wrong.
[has . . . wrong: Has been the victim of great wrong]
THIRD CITIZEN: Has he, masters? 90
I fear there will a worse come in his place.
[I fear . . . place: I fear someone worse will take his place.]
FOURTH CITIZEN: Mark’d ye his [Antony's] words? He [Caesar] would not take the crown;
Therefore ’tis certain he was not ambitious.
FIRST CITIZEN: If it be found so, some will dear abide it.
[some . . . it: Brutus and the other assassins will pay a price for what they did.]
SECOND CITIZEN: Poor soul! his [Antony's] eyes are red as fire with weeping. 95
THIRD CITIZEN: There’s not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.
FOURTH CITIZEN: Now mark him; he begins again to speak.
ANTONY: But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence. 100
[And none . . . reverence: And everyone reveres him.]
O masters! if I were dispos’d to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men.
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose 105
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself, and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet, ’tis his will.
Let but the commons [common people] hear this testament— 110
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read—
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar’s wounds,
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills, 115
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue [children].
FOURTH CITIZEN: We’ll hear the will: read it, Mark Antony.
CITIZENS: The will, the will! we will hear Caesar’s will.
ANTONY: Have patience, gentle friends; I must not read it: 120
It is not meet you know how Caesar lov’d you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, hearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad.
’Tis good you know not that you are his heirs; 125
For if you should, O! what would come of it.
FOURTH CITIZEN: Read the will! we’ll hear it, Antony;
You shall read us the will, Caesar’s will.
ANTONY: Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?
I have o’ershot myself to tell you of it. 130
[ I have . . . of it: Perhaps I went too far when I told you about the will.]
I fear I wrong the honourable men
Whose daggers have stabb’d Caesar; I do fear it.
FOURTH CITIZEN: They were traitors: honourable men!
CITIZENS: The will! the testament!
SECOND CITIZEN: They were villains, murderers. The will! read the will. 135
ANTONY: You will compel me then to read the will?
Then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar,
And let me show you him that made the will.
Shall I descend? and will you give me leave?
CITIZENS: Come down. 140
SECOND CITIZEN: Descend. [ANTONY comes down.
THIRD CITIZEN: You shall have leave.
FOURTH CITIZEN: A ring; stand round.
FIRST CITIZEN: Stand from the hearse; stand from the body.
SECOND CITIZEN: Room for Antony; most noble Antony. 145
ANTONY: Nay, press not so upon me; stand far off.
Citizens. Stand back! room! bear back!
ANTONY: If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle [cloak]: I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on; 150
’Twas on a summer’s evening, in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii [fierce Belgian tribe defeated by Caesar].
Look! in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through:
See what a rent the envious Casca made:
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb’d; 155
And, as he pluck’d his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar follow’d it,
As rushing out of doors, to be resolv’d
If Brutus so unkindly knock’d or no;
[As rushing . . . or no: As if it were rushing outside to find out whether it was Brutus who knocked so unkindly at the door (inflicted the wound)].
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel: 160
Judge, O you gods! how dearly Caesar lov’d him.
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
[most unkindest: Double superlatives such as most unkindest appear frequently in Shakespeare's works. In Shakespeare's age, the rules of grammar had not been fully developed. Double superlatives (as well as double comparatives, such as more stronger) were generally acceptable.]
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
Quite vanquish’d him: then burst his mighty heart; 165
And, in his mantle [cloak] muffling [wrapping] up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey’s statua,
Which [refers to mantle] all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
O! what a fall was there, my countrymen;
Then I, and you, and all of us fell down, 170
Whilst bloody treason flourish’d over us.
O! now you weep, and I perceive you feel
The dint [power; force] of pity; these are gracious drops.
Kind souls; what! weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar’s vesture [cloak; cloathing] wounded? Look you here, 175
Here is himself, marr’d, as you see, with traitors.
FIRST CITIZEN: O piteous spectacle!
SECOND CITIZEN: O noble Caesar!
THIRD CITIZEN: O woeful day!
FOURTH CITIZEN: O traitors! villains! 180
FIRST CITIZEN: O most bloody sight!
SECOND CITIZEN: We will be revenged.
Fire!—Kill!—Slay! Let not a traitor live.
ANTONY: Stay, countrymen! 185
FIRST CITIZEN: Peace there! Hear the noble Antony.
SECOND CITIZEN: We’ll hear him, we’ll follow him, we’ll die with him.
ANTONY: Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honourable: 190
What private griefs they have, alas! I know not,
That made them do it; they are wise and honourable,
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:
I am no orator, as Brutus is; 195
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him.
For I have neither wit [intelligence or wisdom], nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech, 200
To stir men’s blood: I only speak right on;
I tell you that which you yourselves do know,
Show you sweet Caesar’s wounds, poor poor dumb mouths [reference to wounds],
And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony 205
Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar, that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.
Citizens. We’ll mutiny.
FIRST CITIZEN: We’ll burn the house of Brutus. 210
THIRD CITIZEN: Away, then! come, seek the conspirators.
ANTONY: Yet hear me, countrymen; yet hear me speak.
CITIZENS: Peace, ho!—Hear Antony,—most noble Antony.
ANTONY: Why, friends, you go to do you know not what.
Wherein hath Caesar thus deserv’d your loves? 215
[What proof is there that Caesar deserved your love?]
Alas! you know not: I must tell you then.
You have forgot the will I told you of.
CITIZENS: Most true. The will! let’s stay and hear the will.
ANTONY: Here is the will, and under Caesar’s seal.
To every Roman citizen he gives, 220
To every several man, seventy-five drachmas.
SECOND CITIZEN: Most noble Caesar! we’ll revenge his death.
THIRD CITIZEN: O royal Caesar!
ANTONY: Hear me with patience.
Citizens. Peace, ho! 225
ANTONY: Moreover, he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbours, and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber; he hath left them you,
[On this . . . you: On this side of the Tiber river; he has left them to you.]
And to your heirs for ever; common pleasures,
To walk abroad, and recreate [enjoy] yourselves. 230
Here was a Caesar! when comes such another?
FIRST CITIZEN: Never, never! Come, away, away!
We’ll burn his body in the holy place,
And with the brands fire the traitors’ houses.
Take up the body. 235
SECOND CITIZEN: Go fetch fire.
THIRD CITIZEN: Pluck down benches.
FOURTH CITIZEN: Pluck down forms, windows, any thing. [Exeunt Citizens, with the body.
ANTONY: Now let it work: mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt! 240
Enter a Servant,
How now, fellow!
SERVANT: Sir, Octavius is already come to Rome.
ANTONY: Where is he?
SERVANT: He and Lepidus are at Caesar’s house. 245
ANTONY: And thither [there] will I straight [go] to visit him.
He comes upon a wish. Fortune is merry,
And in this mood will give us any thing.
SERVANT: I heard him say Brutus and Cassius
Are rid like madmen through the gates of Rome. 250
ANTONY: Belike they had some notice of the people,
How I had mov’d them. Bring me to Octavius. [Exeunt.
Enter CINNA, a poet.
CINNA: I dreamt to-night that I did feast with Caesar,
And things unlucky charge my fantasy:
I have no will to wander forth of doors, 5
Yet something leads me forth.
FIRST CITIZEN: What is your name?
SECOND CITIZEN: Whither [where] are you going?
THIRD CITIZEN: Where do you dwell? 10
FOURTH CITIZEN: Are you a married man, or a bachelor?
SECOND CITIZEN: Answer every man directly.
FIRST CITIZEN: Ay, and briefly.
FOURTH CITIZEN: Ay, and wisely.
THIRD CITIZEN: Ay, and truly, you were best [best to do so]. 15
CINNA: What is my name? Whither am I going? Where do I dwell? Am I a married man, or a bachelor? Then, to answer every man directly and briefly, wisely and truly: wisely I say, I am a bachelor.
SECOND CITIZEN: That’s as much as to say, they are fools that marry; you’ll bear me a bang for that, I fear. Proceed; directly.
CINNA: Directly, I am going to Caesar’s funeral.
FIRST CITIZEN: As a friend or an enemy?
CINNA: As a friend. 20
SECOND CITIZEN: That matter is answered directly.
FOURTH CITIZEN: For your dwelling, briefly.
CINNA: Briefly, I dwell by the Capitol.
THIRD CITIZEN: Your name, sir, truly.
CINNA: Truly, my name is Cinna. 25
SECOND CITIZEN: Tear him to pieces; he’s a conspirator.
CINNA: I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet.
FOURTH CITIZEN: Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses.
CINNA: I am not Cinna the conspirator.
SECOND CITIZEN: It is no matter, his name’s Cinna; pluck but his name out of his heart, and turn him going. 30
THIRD CITIZEN: Tear him, tear him! Come, brands, ho! firebrands! To Brutus’ [Brutus's house], to Cassius’ [Cassius's house]; burn all. Some to Decius’ house, and some to Casca’s; some to Ligarius’. Away! go! [Exeunt.
ANTONY, OCTAVIUS, and LEPIDUS, seated at a table.
ANTONY: These many then shall die; their names are prick’d [marked; selected; written].
OCTAVIUS: Your brother too must die; consent you, Lepidus?
LEPIDUS: I do consent. 5
[The brother of Lepidus was Lucius Aemilius Lepidus Paullus, who held high offices in the decade preceding Caesar's death. Lucius sided with the conspirators.]
OCTAVIUS: Prick him down, Antony.
LEPIDUS: Upon condition Publius shall not live,
Who is your sister’s son, Mark Antony.
ANTONY: He shall not live; look, with a spot [mark next to his name] I damn him.
But, Lepidus, go you to Caesar’s house; 10
Fetch the will hither, and we shall determine
How to cut off some charge in legacies.
[How . . . legacies: How to cut back on the bequests in the will]
LEPIDUS: What! shall I find you here?
OCTAVIUS: Or here or at the Capitol. [Exit LEPIDUS.
ANTONY: This is a slight unmeritable man, 15
Meet to be sent on errands: is it fit,
The three-fold world divided, he should stand
One of the three to share it?
[This is . . . share it?: Lepidus lacks what it takes to be a leader. He's nothing more than an errand boy. Is it wise to allow him to share rulership of Rome with you and me?]
OCTAVIUS: So you thought him;
And took his voice who should be prick’d to die, 20
[So you . . . proscription: You were the one who said he should rule with us. And you followed his advice on who should be marked for death.]
In our black sentence [death sentence] and proscription [marking someone as criminal deserving death].
ANTONY: Octavius, I have seen more days than you:
And though we lay these honours on this man,
To ease ourselves of divers [diverse; various] slanderous loads [burdens],
He shall but bear them as the ass bears gold, 25
To groan and sweat under the business,
Either led or driven, as we point the way;
And having brought our treasure where we will,
Then take we down his load, and turn him off,
Like to the empty ass, to shake his ears, 30
And graze in commons [fields open to all citizens for the grazing of their animals].
OCTAVIUS: You may do your will;
But he’s a tried and valiant soldier.
ANTONY: So is my horse, Octavius; and for that
I do appoint him store of provender. 35
[I do . . . provender: I do approve of giving him as much fodder as he can eat.]
It is a creature that I teach to fight,
To wind [to turn this way or that], to stop, to run directly on,
His corporal motion [motion of his body] govern’d by my spirit [will; what I say].
And, in some taste, is Lepidus but so;
[And . . . so: And, in a way, Lepidus is like an animal.]
He must be taught, and train’d, and bid go forth; 40
A barren-spirited [empty-headed] fellow; one that feeds
On abject orts, and imitations,
Which, out of use and stal’d by other men,
Begin his fashion: do not talk of him
[feeds . . . fashion: Occupies himself with worthless or imitation arts and fashions that other men abandoned long ago]
But as a property. And now, Octavius, 45
Listen great things: Brutus and Cassius
Are levying powers [raising armies]; we must straight make head [mobilize our own armies];
Therefore let our alliance be combin’d,
Our best friends made, and our best means stretch’d out;
And let us presently go sit in council, 50
How covert matters may be best disclos’d,
And open perils surest answered.
[And let . . . answered: Let us and our friends convene to discuss what we think our enemies are planning to do next and how we can best deal with the dangers confronting us.]
OCTAVIUS: Let us do so: for we are at the stake,
And bay’d about with many enemies;
[at the stake . . . enemies: An allusion to bear-baiting, a popular pastime in Shakespeare's day. In an enclosed area, a bear was chained to a stake. Then dogs were let loose to attack and taunt the bear. It was a bloody spectacle. Wounded dogs were replaced during the exhibition. Sometimes the bear was released to attack the dogs. In this allusion, Octavius compares himself and Antony, as well as their supporters, to the bears.]
And some that smile have in their hearts, I fear, 55
Millions of mischiefs. [Exeunt.
[Sardis: City in ancient Lydia, a country in what is now northwestern Turkey. After the assassination of Caesar, Brutus and Cassius raise armies and move eastward, crossing the Aegean Sea and entering Asia Minor. Their armies meet at Sardis.]
Drum. Enter BRUTUS, LUCILIUS, LUCIUS, and Soldiers: TITINIUS and PINDARUS meet them.
BRUTUS: Stand, ho!
LUCILIUS: Give the word, ho! and stand.
BRUTUS: What now, Lucilius! is Cassius near? 5
LUCILIUS: He is at hand; and Pindarus is come
To do you salutation from his master. [PINDARUS gives a letter to BRUTUS.
BRUTUS: He greets me well. Your master, Pindarus,
In his own change, or by ill officers,
Hath given me some worthy cause to wish 10
Things done, undone; but, if he be at hand,
I shall be satisfied.
[He greets . . . satisfied: Cassius sent a worthy man to greet me and deliver the letter. Apparently your master, Pindarus, has changed his mind about what we are going to do and questions what we already did. Perhaps he has taken the advice of incompetent officers. If he is coming my way, I'll speak with him and clear up these matters.]
PINDARUS: I do not doubt
But that my noble master will appear [come to you soon]
Such as he is, full of regard and honour. 15
BRUTUS: He is not doubted. A word, Lucilius;
How he receiv’d you, let me be resolv’d.
[How . . . resolv'd: How did Cassius receive you? Please let me know.]
LUCILIUS: With courtesy and with respect enough;
But not with such familiar instances [informality],
Nor with such free and friendly conference, 20
As he hath us’d of old.
[As . . . old: As he used to do]
BRUTUS: Thou hast describ’d
A hot friend cooling. Ever note, Lucilius,
When love begins to sicken and decay,
It useth an enforced ceremony [forced courtesy]. 25
There are no tricks in plain and simple faith;
[There are . . . faith: Plain and simple behavior is genuine.]
But hollow [insincere] men, like horses hot at hand [like horses that are nervous and restless],
Make gallant show and promise of their mettle [fortitude, spirit, or character];
But when they should endure the bloody spur,
They fall their crests, and, like deceitful jades, 30
Sink in the trial. Comes his army on?
[But when . . . army on: But when these men—like horses—feel the prick of the spur, they lose their spirit and fail to meet the challenge of the moment. Is his army near?]
LUCILIUS: They mean this night in Sardis to be quarter’d;
The greater part, the horse in general,
Are come with Cassius.
[They mean . . . Cassius: The army expects to encamp here at Sardis for the night. Cassius is leading the cavalry.]
BRUTUS: Hark! [Listen! Pay attention!] he is arriv’d. [Low march within. 35
March gently on to meet him.
Enter CASSIUS and Soldiers.
CASSIUS: Stand, ho! [Halt!]
BRUTUS: Stand, ho! Speak the word along.
[Speak . . . along: Tell the others to halt.]
FIRST SOLDIER: Stand! 40
SECOND SOLDIER: Stand!
THIRD SOLDIER: Stand!
CASSIUS: Most noble brother, you have done me wrong.
BRUTUS: Judge me, you gods! Wrong I mine enemies?
And, if not so, how should I wrong a brother? 45
[Judge . . . brother: I swear by the gods that I don't even wrong my enemies. How, then, could I wrong you?]
CASSIUS: Brutus, this sober form [calm demeanor] of yours hides wrongs;
And when you do them—
BRUTUS: Cassius, be content;
Speak your griefs softly: I do know you well.
Before the eyes of both our armies here, 50
Which should perceive nothing but love from us,
Let us not wrangle: bid them move away;
Then in my tent, Cassius, enlarge your griefs,
And I will give you audience.
CASSIUS: Pindarus, 55
Bid our commanders lead their charges off
A little from this ground.
BRUTUS: Lucilius, do you the like; and let no man
Come to our tent till we have done our conference.
Let Lucius and Titinius guard our door. [Exeunt. 60
Enter BRUTUS and CASSIUS.
CASSIUS: That you have wrong’d me doth appear in this:
You have condemn’d and noted [denounced and censured] Lucius Pella
For taking bribes here of the Sardians [residents of Sardis]; 5
Wherein my letters, praying on his side,
Because I knew the man, were slighted off.
BRUTUS: You wrong’d yourself to write in such a case [in support of such a man].
CASSIUS: In such a time as this it is not meet
That every nice [minor] offence should bear his comment [should be noted]. 10
BRUTUS: Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself.
Are much condemn’d to have an itching palm [a hand greedy for bribes];
To sell and mart [advertise; market; trade] your offices for gold
CASSIUS: I an itching palm! 15
You know that you are Brutus that speak this,
Or, by the gods, this speech were else your last.
[If you were anyone else, I would kill you for saying that.]
BRUTUS: The name of Cassius honours this corruption,
And chastisement doth therefore hide his head.
[You are using your name and influence to make corruption appear legal and harmless. Consequently, no one speaks up against the corruption.]
CASSIUS: Chastisement! 20
BRUTUS: Remember March, the ides of March remember:
Did not great Julius bleed for justice’ sake?
What villain touch’d his body, that did stab,
And not for justice? What! shall one of us,
That struck the foremost man of all this world 25
But for supporting robbers, shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes,
And sell the mighty space of our large honours
For so much trash as may be grasped thus?
[Did not . . . grasped thus: Didn't we get rid of Caesar for a just cause? Did we strike down the most important man in the world so that we could rob, take bribes, and sell high offices?]
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon, 30
Than such a Roman.
CASSIUS: Brutus, bay not me [don't taunt me];
I’ll not endure it: you forget yourself,
To hedge me in. I am a soldier, I,
Older in practice, abler than yourself 35
To make conditions.
[I am . . . conditions: I am a more experienced soldier than you and better able to decide who should occupy a high office.]
BRUTUS: Go to; you are not, Cassius.
[Go . . . Cassius: Hogwash. You are not the Cassius that I used to know.]
CASSIUS: I am.
BRUTUS: I say you are not.
CASSIUS: Urge me no more, I shall forget myself; 40
Have mind upon your health; tempt me no further.
[Urge . . . further: Stop preaching at me or I shall forget my composure and unleash my rage upon you. Dont' place your life in jeopardy; tempt me no further.]
BRUTUS: Away, slight man!
CASSIUS: Is ’t possible?
BRUTUS: Hear me, for I will speak.
Must I give way and room to your rash choler [anger]? 45
Shall I be frighted when a madman stares?
CASSIUS: O ye gods! ye gods! Must I endure all this?
BRUTUS: All this! ay, more: fret till your proud heart break;
Go show your slaves how choleric [bad-tempered] you are,
And make your bondmen [servants] tremble. Must I budge? 50
Must I observe you? Must I stand and crouch
Under your testy humour [mood]? By the gods,
You shall digest the venom of your spleen [anger; spite],
Though it do split you; for, from this day forth,
I’ll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter, 55
When you are waspish.
CASSIUS: Is it come to this?
BRUTUS: You say you are a better soldier:
Let it appear so; make your vaunting true,
And it shall please me well. For mine own part, 60
I shall be glad to learn of noble men.
[Let it . . . noble men: Act, then, like a great soldier. Make what you say about your soldiery true. I would be pleased. I want to hear about brave and noble men. Brutus speaks lines 59-61 with sarcasm.]
CASSIUS: You wrong me every way; you wrong me, Brutus;
I said an elder soldier, not a better:
Did I say, ‘better?’
BRUTUS: If you did, I care not. 65
CASSIUS: When Caesar liv’d, he durst [dared] not thus have mov’d [provoked] me.
BRUTUS: Peace, peace! you durst not so have tempted him.
[you . . . him: You would not have dared to tempt him.]
CASSIUS: I durst not!
CASSIUS: What! durst not tempt him! 70
[Cassius is saying he would have had the courage to say things that would anger Caesar .]
BRUTUS: For your life you durst not.
CASSIUS: Do not presume too much upon my love;
I may do [something] that I shall be sorry for.
BRUTUS: You have done that [you have already done what] you should be sorry for.
There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats; 75
For I am arm’d so strong in honesty
That they [the threats] pass by me as the idle wind,
Which I respect not. I did send to you
For certain sums of gold, which you denied me;
For I can raise no money by vile means: 80
[For I . . . means: For I refuse to raise money by vile means such as bribery.]
By heaven, I had rather coin my heart,
And drop my blood for drachmas, than to wring
From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash
By any indirection. I did send
[I had rather . . . indirection: I would rather pay my debts with my heart and blood than to take money from peasants through vile means.]
To you for gold to pay my legions, 85
Which you denied me: was that done like Cassius?
Should I have answer’d Caius Cassius so?
[Should I . . . so: Would I have denied such a request from you?]
When Marcus Brutus grows so covetous,
To lock such rascal counters from his friends,
Be ready, gods, with all your thunderbolts; 90
Dash him to pieces!
[When Marcus . . . pieces!: When I become so greedy that I lock up my rascal coins to keep my friends from getting them, the gods should dash me to pieces with thunderbolts.]
CASSIUS: I denied you not.
BRUTUS: You did.
CASSIUS: I did not: he was but a fool
That brought my answer back. Brutus hath riv’d [torn] my heart. 95
A friend should bear his friend’s infirmities,
But Brutus makes mine greater than they are.
BRUTUS: I do not, till you practise them on me.
CASSIUS: You love me not.
BRUTUS: I do not like your faults. 100
CASSIUS: A friendly eye could never see such faults.
BRUTUS: A flatterer’s would not, though they do appear
As huge as high Olympus [highest mountain in Greece].
CASSIUS: Come, Antony, and young Octavius, come,
Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius, 105
For Cassius is aweary of the world;
Hated by one he loves; brav’d [mocked] by his brother [Brutus];
Check’d [scorned] like a bondman; all his faults observ’d,
Set in a note-book, learn’d, and conn’d [memorized] by rote,
To cast into my teeth. O! I could weep 110
My spirit from mine eyes. There is my dagger,
And here my naked breast; within, a heart
Dearer than Plutus’ mine, richer than gold:
[Plutus: Greek god of wealth]
If that thou be’st a Roman, take it forth [cut out my heart];
I, that denied thee gold, will give my heart: 115
Strike, as thou didst at Caesar; for, I know,
When thou didst hate him worst, thou lov’dst him better
Than ever thou lov’dst Cassius.
BRUTUS: Sheathe your dagger:
Be angry when you will, it shall have scope [have wide range; do what it wishes]; 120
Do what you will, dishonour shall be humour [shall simply be a mood].
O Cassius! you are yoked with a lamb
That carries anger as the flint bears fire,
Who, much enforced, shows a hasty spark,
And straight is cold again. 125
[O Cassius . . . cold again: O, Cassius, you are allied with a peaceful lamb. Like a lamb, I get angry only for a moment, then become calm again.]
CASSIUS: Hath Cassius liv’d
To be but mirth and laughter to his Brutus,
When grief and blood ill-temper’d vexeth him?
[Hath . . . vexeth him: Have I lived all this time just so I could be laughed at by you whenever you're in a bad mood?]
BRUTUS: When I spoke that [when I said those things about you] I was ill-temper’d too.
CASSIUS: Do you confess so much? Give me your hand. 130
BRUTUS: And my heart too.
CASSIUS: O Brutus!
BRUTUS: What’s the matter?
CASSIUS: Have not you love enough to bear with me,
When that rash humour [temper] which my mother gave me 135
Makes me forgetful?
BRUTUS: Yes, Cassius; and from henceforth
When you are over-earnest [testy] with your Brutus,
He’ll think your mother chides, and leave you so. [Noise within.
[He'll . . . you so: I'll conclude that it is the mother in you that speaks, and I won't criticize you.]
Poet. [Within.] Let me go in to see the generals; 140
[Within: Offstage; unseen]
There is some grudge between ’em, ’tis not meet
They be alone.
LUCILIUS: [Within.] You shall not come to them.
Poet. [Within.] Nothing but death shall stay [prevent] me.
Enter Poet, followed by LUCILIUS, TITINIUS, and LUCIUS. 145
CASSIUS: How now! What’s the matter?
Poet. For shame, you generals! What do you mean?
Love, and be friends, as two such men should be;
For I have seen more years, I’m sure, than ye.
CASSIUS: Ha, ha! how vilely doth this cynic rime! 150
[Cassius criticizes the poet's rhyming: mean, be, be, seen, ye]
BRUTUS: Get you hence, sirrah [mister, spoken with contempt]; saucy fellow, hence!
CASSIUS: Bear with him, Brutus; ’tis his fashion.
[Bear . . . fashion: Don't be too harsh with him, Brutus. That's how he always talks.]
BRUTUS: I’ll know his humour, when he knows his time:
What should the wars do with these jigging fools?
Companion, hence! 155
[I'll know . . . hence: I'll listen to him if he speaks up at the proper time and place. What should we do with these rhyming fools? Fellow, go away!]
CASSIUS: Away, away! be gone. [Exit Poet.
BRUTUS: Lucilius and Titinius, bid the commanders
Prepare to lodge their companies to-night.
CASSIUS: And come [return] yourselves, and bring Messala with you,
Immediately to us. [Exeunt LUCILIUS and TITINIUS. 160
BRUTUS: Lucius, a bowl of wine! [Exit LUCIUS.
CASSIUS: I did not think you could have been so angry.
BRUTUS: O Cassius! I am sick of many griefs.
CASSIUS: Of your philosophy you make no use
If you give place to accidental evils. 165
[Of your . . . evils: You make no use of your even-tempered philosophy if you allow unexpected problems to upset you.]
BRUTUS: No man bears sorrow better: Portia is dead.
CASSIUS: Ha! Portia!
BRUTUS: She is dead.
CASSIUS: How ’scap’d I killing when I cross’d you so?
[How . . . . so?: How did I escape your wrath when I was quarreling with you?]
O insupportable and touching loss! 170
Upon what sickness?
BRUTUS: Impatient of my absence,
And grief that young Octavius with Mark Antony
Have made themselves so strong;—for with her death
That tidings came:—with this she fell distract, 175
And, her attendants absent, swallow’d fire.
[Impatient . . . fire: Worried about my welfare and impatient for my return—and worried that Octavius and Antony, who were raising armies against us—she swallowed burning coals. I learned about her death when I received news of the growing strength of Octavius and Antony.]
CASSIUS: And died so?
BRUTUS: Even so.
CASSIUS: O ye immortal gods!
Enter LUCIUS, with wine and tapers. 180
BRUTUS: Speak no more of her. Give me a bowl of wine.
In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius. [Drinks.
CASSIUS: My heart is thirsty for that noble pledge.
Fill, Lucius, till the wine o’erswell the cup;
I cannot drink too much of Brutus’ love. [Drinks. 185
BRUTUS: Come in, Titinius. [Exit LUCIUS.
Re-enter TITINIUS, with MESSALA.
Welcome, good Messala.
Now sit we close about this taper here,
And call in question our necessities. 190
[And call . . . necessities: And discuss what we need to do to combat our enemy]
CASSIUS: Portia, art thou gone?
BRUTUS: No more, I pray you.
Messala, I have here received letters,
That young Octavius and Mark Antony
Come down upon us with a mighty power, 195
Bending their expedition towards Philippi.
[Philippi: A city in what is now northeastern Greece.]
MESSALA: Myself have letters of the self-same tenour [letters saying the same thing].
BRUTUS: With what addition?
MESSALA: That by proscription and bills of outlawry,
Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus, 200
Have put to death an hundred senators.
BRUTUS: Therein our letters do not well agree;
Mine speak of seventy senators that died
By their proscriptions, Cicero being one.
CASSIUS: Cicero one! 205
MESSALA: Cicero is dead,
And by that order of proscription.
Had you your letters from your wife, my lord?
[Had . . . lord?: Have you received letters from your wife, my lord?]
BRUTUS: No, Messala.
MESSALA: Nor nothing in your letters writ of her? 210
[Nor . . . her?: And wasn't there anything about her in the letters you have received?]
BRUTUS: Nothing, Messala.
MESSALA: That, methinks, is strange.
BRUTUS: Why ask you? Hear you aught of her in yours?
[Hear . . . yours?: Have you heard anything about her in your letters?]
MESSALA: No, my lord.
BRUTUS: Now, as you are a Roman, tell me true. 215
MESSALA: Then like a Roman bear the truth I tell:
For certain she is dead, and by strange manner.
BRUTUS: Why, farewell, Portia. We must die, Messala:
With meditating that she must die once,
I have the patience to endure it now. 220
[We must . . . now: All of us must die, Messala. Knowing that death is inevitable, as it was even for my beloved Portia, I can endure the bad news. (Brutus, of course, already knows that Portia has died. Thus, he may be enlarging upon the effect of her death on him.]
MESSALA: Even so great men great losses should endure.
CASSIUS: I have as much of this in art as you,
But yet my nature could not bear it so.
[I have . . . it so: I understand your stoic calm, Brutus. But in your place, I would go all to pieces .]
BRUTUS: Well, to our work alive [to the task at hand]. What do you think
Of marching to Philippi presently? 225
CASSIUS: I do not think it good.
BRUTUS: Your reason?
CASSIUS: This is it:
’Tis better that the enemy seek us:
So shall he waste his means, weary his soldiers, 230
Doing himself offence; whilst we, lying still,
Are full of rest, defence, and nimbleness.
BRUTUS: Good reasons must, of force, give place to better.
The people ’twixt [between] Philippi and this ground
Do stand but in a forc’d affection; 235
For they have grudg’d us contribution:
The enemy, marching along by them,
By them shall make a fuller number up,
Come on refresh’d, new-added, and encourag’d;
From which advantage shall we cut him off, 240
If at Philippi we do face him there,
These people at our back.
[The people 'twixt . . . our back: The people between Philippi and our camp support us only because we forced them to do so. Grudgingly, they have contributed to our efforts. But if we allow the armies of Octavius and Antony to march through their lands, these people will join those armies, swelling them and giving them new heart. Therefore, we must prevent our enemies from marching on us here by attacking them at Philippi. The people between here and Philippi will be at our back.]
CASSIUS: Hear me, good brother.
BRUTUS: Under your pardon. You must note beside,
That we have tried the utmost of our friends, 245
Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe:
The enemy increaseth every day;
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
[That we . . . decline: That we have gotten from our friends as many men as we are going to get. We can no longer add to our ranks; they can only decline. The enemy, on the other hand, continues to add new men.]
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 250
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures. 255
CASSIUS: Then, with your will, go on;
We’ll along ourselves, and meet them at Philippi.
[We'll . . . Philippi: My forces will travel alongside yours, and we will all meet the enemy at Philippi.]
BRUTUS: The deep of night is crept upon our talk,
And nature must obey necessity,
Which we will niggard with a little rest. 260
[Nature . . . rest: Nature calls upon us to get a good night's sleep. However, we will cheat nature by getting only a little rest.]
There is no more to say?
CASSIUS: No more. Good-night:
Early to-morrow will we rise, and hence.
BRUTUS: Lucius! [Brutus calls out for Lucius to come in.]
Re-enter LUCIUS. 265
My gown. [Exit LUCIUS.
Farewell, good Messala:
Good-night, Titinius. Noble, noble Cassius,
Good-night, and good repose.
CASSIUS: O my dear brother! 270
This was an ill beginning of the night:
Never come such division ’tween our souls!
[Never . . . souls: Never again should such division come between our souls!]
Let it not, Brutus.
BRUTUS: Every thing is well.
CASSIUS: Good-night, my lord. 275
BRUTUS: Good-night, good brother.
TITINIUS & MESSALA: Good-night, Lord Brutus.
BRUTUS: Farewell, every one. [Exeunt CASSIUS, TITINIUS, and MESSALA.
Re-enter LUCIUS, with the gown [nightgown].
Give me the gown. Where is thy instrument [musical instrument, such as a lute]? 280
LUCIUS: Here in the tent.
BRUTUS: What! thou speak’st drowsily?
Poor knave, I blame thee not; thou art o’er-watch’d [tired from keeping watch].
Call Claudius and some other of my men;
I’ll have them sleep on cushions in my tent. 285
LUCIUS: Varro! and Claudius!
Enter VARRO and CLAUDIUS.
VARRO: Calls my lord?
BRUTUS: I pray you, sirs, lie in my tent and sleep:
It may be I shall raise you by and by 290
On business to my brother Cassius.
VARRO: So please you, we will stand and watch [at] your pleasure.
BRUTUS: I will not have it so; lie down, good sirs;
It may be I shall otherwise bethink me.
[bethink me: Change my mind]
Look, Lucius, here’s the book I sought for so; 295
I put it in the pocket of my gown. [VARRO and CLAUDIUS lie down.
LUCIUS: I was sure your lordship did not give it me.
BRUTUS: Bear with me, good boy, I am much forgetful.
Canst thou hold up thy heavy eyes awhile,
And touch thy instrument a strain or two? 300
LUCIUS: Ay, my lord, an ’t [if it] please you.
BRUTUS: It does, my boy:
I trouble thee too much, but thou art willing.
LUCIUS: It is my duty, sir.
BRUTUS: I should not urge thy duty past thy might [endurance]; 305
I know young bloods look for a time of rest.
LUCIUS: I have slept, my lord, already.
BRUTUS: It was well done, and thou shalt sleep again;
I will not hold thee long: if I do live,
I will be good to thee. [Music, and a Song. 310
This is a sleepy tune: O murderous slumber!
Lay’st thou thy leaden mace upon my boy,
[O murderous . . . boy: Slumber, who murders care and fatigue, help Lucius to go to sleep.]
That plays thee music? Gentle knave, good-night;
I will not do thee so much wrong to wake thee.
If thou dost nod, thou break’st thy instrument; 315
I’ll take it from thee; and, good boy, good-night.
[If thou . . . from thee: If you thrash or roll over, you'll break your instrument. So I will take it from you.]
Let me see, let me see; is not the leaf [page] turn’d down
Where I left reading? Here it is, I think.
Enter the Ghost of CAESAR.
How ill this taper burns! Ha! who comes here? 320
I think it is the weakness of mine eyes
That shapes this monstrous apparition.
It comes upon me. Art thou any thing?
Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil,
That mak’st my blood cold and my hair to stare? 325
Speak to me what thou art.
GHOST OF CAESAR: Thy evil spirit, Brutus.
BRUTUS: Why com’st thou?
GHOST OF CAESAR: To tell thee thou shalt see me at Philippi.
BRUTUS: Well; then I shall see thee again? 330
GHOST OF CAESAR: Ay, at Philippi.
BRUTUS: Why, I will see thee at Philippi then. [Ghost vanishes.
Now I have taken heart thou vanishest:
Ill spirit, I would hold more talk with thee.
Boy, Lucius! Varro! Claudius! Sirs, awake! 335
LUCIUS: The strings, my lord, are false.
[The strings . . . false: The strings of my instrument are not in tune. [Lucius seems to be talking in his sleep.]
BRUTUS: He thinks he still is at his instrument.
LUCIUS: My lord! 340
BRUTUS: Didst thou dream, Lucius, that thou so criedst out?
LUCIUS: My lord, I do not know that I did cry.
BRUTUS: Yes, that thou didst. Didst thou see any thing?
LUCIUS: Nothing, my lord.
BRUTUS: Sleep again, Lucius. Sirrah, Claudius! 345
Fellow thou! awake!
VARRO: My lord!
CLAUDIUS: My lord!
BRUTUS: Why did you so cry out, sirs, in your sleep?
VARRO & CLAUDIUS: Did we, my lord? 350
BRUTUS: Ay: saw you any thing?
VARRO: No, my lord, I saw nothing.
CLAUDIUS: Nor I, my lord.
BRUTUS: Go, and commend me to my brother Cassius.
Bid him set on his powers betimes before, 355
And we will follow.
[Bid . . . follow: Ask him to march his armies before mine. My armies will follow.
VARRO & CLAUDIUS: It shall be done, my lord. [Exeunt.
Enter OCTAVIUS, ANTONY, and their army.
OCTAVIUS: Now, Antony, our hopes are answered:
You said the enemy would not come down,
But keep the hills and upper regions; 5
It proves not so; their battles are at hand;
They mean to warn us at Philippi here,
Answering before we do demand of them.
[You said . . . them: You said the enemy would not come to us but instead keep to the higher ground. However, they are at hand. They mean to attack us here at Philippi.]
ANTONY: Tut! I am in their bosoms, and I know
Wherefore [why] they do it: they could be content 10
To visit other places; and come down
With fearful bravery, thinking by this face
To fasten in our thoughts that they have courage;
But ’tis not so.
[Tut! . . . not so: Tut! I know what's in their minds, and I know why they are marching on Philippi. Although they would rather be in another place, they have decided to march on us to put on a show of bravery, thinking that this tactic will scare us. But it won't.]
Enter a Messenger. 15
MESSENGER: Prepare you, generals:
The enemy comes on in gallant show;
Their bloody sign [flag] of battle is hung out,
And something to [must] be done immediately.
ANTONY: Octavius, lead your battle softly on, 20
Upon the left hand of the even field.
OCTAVIUS: Upon the right hand I; keep thou the left.
ANTONY: Why do you cross me in this exigent [critical time]?
OCTAVIUS: I do not cross you; but I will do so. [March.
Drum. Enter BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and their Army; LUCILIUS, TITINIUS, MESSALA, and Others. 25
BRUTUS: They stand, and would have parley.
[They . . . parley: They have stopped marching. They must want to talk.]
CASSIUS: Stand fast, Titinius: we must [go] out and talk.
OCTAVIUS: Mark Antony, shall we give sign of battle [signal to start the battle]?
ANTONY: No, Caesar, we will answer on their charge.
Make forth; the generals would have some words. 30
[No . . . words: No, Octavius. We will respond only if they charge. Let's go forth. Their generals want a word with us.]
OCTAVIUS: Stir not until the signal.
BRUTUS: Words before blows: is it so, countrymen?
OCTAVIUS: Not that we love words better, as you do.
BRUTUS: Good words are better than bad strokes, Octavius.
ANTONY: In your bad strokes, Brutus, you give good words: 35
Witness the hole you made in Caesar’s heart,
Crying, ‘Long live! hail, Caesar!’
The posture of your blows are yet unknown;
But for your words, they rob the Hybla bees, 40
And leave them honeyless.
[But for . . . honeyless: Cassius speaks sarcastically as he compares Antony's words to the honey of bees in Hybla, a town in ancient Sicily.]
ANTONY: Not stingless too.
[Not . . . too: Our words may be bees' honey, but we have their stings too.]
BRUTUS: O! yes, and soundless too;
For you have stol’n their buzzing, Antony,
And very wisely threat [threaten] before you sting. 45
ANTONY: Villains! you did not so when your vile daggers
Hack’d one another in the sides of Caesar:
[you . . . Caesar: You gave no warning when your vile daggers stabbed Caesar.]
You show’d your teeth like apes, and fawn’d like hounds,
And bow’d like bondmen [slaves], kissing Caesar’s feet;
Whilst damned Casca, like a cur, behind 50
Struck Caesar on the neck. O you flatterers!
CASSIUS: Flatterers! Now, Brutus, thank yourself:
This tongue had not offended so to-day,
If Cassius might have rul’d.
[Now . . . rul'd: Now, Brutus, you can thank yourself for Antony's insults. If we had stayed at Sardis, as I suggested, we wouldn't be here to listen to him.]
OCTAVIUS: Come, come, the cause: if arguing make us sweat, 55
The proof of it will turn to redder drops.
[Come . . . drops: Come, come, remember why we're here. If arguing makes us sweat, the combat will turn the sweat into blood.]
I draw a sword against conspirators;
When think you that the sword goes up [is sheathed] again?
Never, till Caesar’s three-and-thirty wounds 60
Be well aveng’d; or till another Caesar
Have added slaughter to the sword of traitors.
[or till . . . traitors: Or until I, Octavius Caesar, become a victim of the sword of traitors]
BRUTUS: Caesar, thou canst not die by traitors’ hands,
Unless thou bring’st them with thee.
OCTAVIUS: So I hope; 65
I was not born to die on Brutus’ sword.
BRUTUS: O! if thou wert the noblest of thy strain,
Young man, thou couldst not die more honourable.
CASSIUS: A peevish schoolboy, worthless of such honour,
Join’d with a masquer and a reveller. 70
[A peevish . . . reveller: You are a bad-tempered schoolboy, Octavius. Your partner, Antony, isn't any better. He carouses at parties at all hours of the night.]
ANTONY: Old Cassius still!
OCTAVIUS: Come, Antony; away!
Defiance, traitors, hurl we in your teeth.
[Defiance . . . teeth: We hurl defiance in your teeth, traitors.]
If you dare fight to-day, come to the field;
If not, when you have stomachs. [Exeunt OCTAVIUS, ANTONY, and their Army. 75
CASSIUS: Why now, blow wind, swell billow, and swim bark!
The storm is up, and all is on the hazard.
[Why . . . hazard: The storm we have been waiting for has arrived: the wind blows, the sea swells, and the ship navigates the perils. Rome, our lives—everything—is at stake.]
Lucilius! hark, a word with you.
LUCILIUS: My lord? [BRUTUS and LUCILIUS talk apart. 80
MESSALA: What says my general?
This is my birth-day; as this very day
Was Cassius born. Give me thy hand, Messala: 85
Be thou my witness that against my will,
As Pompey was, am I compell’d to set [gamble]
Upon one battle all our liberties.
You know that I held Epicurus strong,
And his opinion; now I change my mind, 90
And partly credit things that do presage.
[You know . . . presage: You know that I previously held fast to the teachings of the Greek philosopher, Epicurus (341-270 BC), who did not believe in omens and superstition. But I have changed my mind. Now I think that certain present events can suggest the occurrence of future events.]
Coming from Sardis, on our former ensign [flag]
Two mighty eagles fell [sat], and there they perch’d,
Gorging and feeding from our soldiers’ hands;
Who to Philippi here consorted us: 95
[Gorging . . . us: Eating from the hands of the soldiers who marched with us here to Philippi]
This morning are they fled away and gone,
And in their stead do ravens, crows, and kites
Fly o’er our heads, and downward look on us,
As we were sickly prey: their shadows seem
A canopy most fatal, under which 100
Our army lies, ready to give up the ghost of Caesar:
MESSALA: Believe not so.
CASSIUS: I but believe it partly,
For I am fresh of spirit and resolv’d
To meet all perils very constantly. 105
BRUTUS: Even so, Lucilius. [Brutus is completing his conversation with Lucilius.]
CASSIUS: Now, most noble Brutus,
The gods to-day stand friendly, that we may,
Lovers in peace, lead on our days to age!
But since the affairs of men rest still incertain [uncertain], 110
Let’s reason with the worst that may befall.
If we do lose this battle, then is this
The very last time we shall speak together:
What are you, then, determined to do?
BRUTUS: Even by the rule of that philosophy 115
By which I did blame Cato for the death
Which he did give himself; I know not how,
But I do find it cowardly and vile,
For fear of what might fall, so to prevent
The time of life: arming myself with patience, 120
To stay the providence of some high powers
That govern us below.
[Even by . . . below: With the same philosophy that made me criticize Cato for killing himself, I condemn suicide as a cowardly act. People resort to it because they are afraid of facing pain and humiliation. Thus, they cut short their time of life. I would rather be patient and await what the gods decide is to be my fate.]
CASSIUS: Then, if we lose this battle,
You are contented to be led in triumph
Thorough [through] the streets of Rome? 125
BRUTUS: No, Cassius, no: think not, thou noble Roman,
That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome;
He bears too great a mind: but this same day
Must end that work the ides of March begun;
And whether we shall meet again I know not. 130
Therefore our everlasting farewell take:
For ever, and for ever, farewell, Cassius!
If we do meet again, why, we shall smile;
If not, why then, this parting was well made.
CASSIUS: For ever, and for ever, farewell, Brutus! 135
If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed;
If not, ’tis true this parting was well made.
BRUTUS: Why, then, lead on. O! that a man might know
The end of this day’s business, ere [before] it come;
But it sufficeth that the day will end, 140
And then the end is known. Come, ho! away! [Exeunt.
Alarum [Call to arms]. Enter BRUTUS and MESSALA.
BRUTUS: Ride, ride, Messala, ride, and give these bills [messages]
Unto the [our] legions on the other side. [Loud alarum.
Let them set on [attack] at once, for I perceive 5
But cold demeanour [hesitation; timidity] in Octavius’ wing,
And sudden push gives them the overthrow.
[And sudden . . . overthrow: And a sudden charge will undo them.]
Ride, ride, Messala: let them all come down. [Exeunt
[let . . . down: Let all our other legions descend on the enemy.]
Alarums [Calls to arms]. Enter CASSIUS and TITINIUS.
CASSIUS: O! look, Titinius, look, the villains fly:
Myself have to mine own turn’d enemy;
This ensign here of mine was turning back; 5
I slew the coward, and did take it from him.
[O! look . . . from him: O, look, Titinius. Our soldiers are running away. This sight makes me despise my own troops. Our flag bearer was among those running away, but I killed the coward and took the flag from him.]
TITINIUS: O Cassius! Brutus gave the word too early;
Who, having some advantage on Octavius,
Took it too eagerly: his soldiers fell to spoil,
Whilst we by Antony are all enclos’d. 10
[O . . . enclos'd: O Cassius! Although Brutus gained the advantage against Octavius, he signaled victory too soon. Thinking the battle was over, his soldiers began looting. Meanwhile, Antony closed in.]
PINDARUS: Fly further off, my lord, fly further off;
Mark Antony is in your tents, my lord:
Fly, therefore, noble Cassius, fly far off.
CASSIUS: This hill is far enough. Look, look, Titinius; 15
Are those my tents where I perceive the fire?
TITINIUS: They are, my lord.
CASSIUS: Titinius, if thou lov’st me,
Mount thou my horse, and hide thy spurs in him [spur him on],
Till he have brought thee up to yonder troops 20
And here again; that I may rest assur’d
Whether yond troops are friend or enemy.
TITINIUS: I will be here again, even with a thought [faster than you can think; before you know it]. [Exit.
CASSIUS: Go, Pindarus, get higher on that hill;
My sight was ever thick [near-sighted; unable to clearly perceive distant objects]; regard [observe] Titinius, 25
And tell me what thou not’st [notest, or note] about the field. [PINDARUS ascends the hill.
This day I breathed first [today is my birthday]; time is [has] come round,
And where I did begin, there shall I end [die];
My life is run his compass. Sirrah, what news?
PINDARUS: [Above.] O my lord! 30
CASSIUS: What news?
PINDARUS: Titinius is enclosed round about
With horsemen, that make to him [chase him] on the spur;
Yet he spurs on: now they are almost on him;
Now, Titinius! now some light [alight; dismount]; O! he lights too: 35
He’s ta’en [taken]; [Shout.] and, hark! they shout for joy.
CASSIUS: Come down; behold no more.
O, coward that I am, to live so long,
To see my best friend ta’en before my face!
PINDARUS descends. 40
Come hither, sirrah:
In Parthia did I take thee prisoner;
And then I swore thee, saving of thy life,
That whatsoever I did bid thee do,
Thou shouldst attempt it. Come now, keep thine oath; 45
Now be a freeman; and with this good sword,
That ran through Caesar’s bowels, search this bosom.
Stand not to answer; here, take thou the hilts;
And, when my face is cover’d, as ’tis now,
Guide thou the sword. Caesar, thou art reveng’d, 50
Even with the sword that kill’d thee. [Dies.
[Come hither. . . kill'd thee: Come here, Pindarus. I took you prisoner in Parthia (country in what is now northeastern Iran). Then I made you swear to do anything I asked except to take your own life. Now I ask you to live up to the bargain. You can win your freedom by plunging this sword into my heart when I cover my face. Pindarus takes up the sword and kills Cassius.]
PINDARUS: So, I am free; yet would not so have been;
Durst I have done my will. O Cassius.
[So . . . my will: So now I am free. But this was not the way I would have chosen to become free.]
Far from this country Pindarus shall run,
Where never Roman shall take note of him. [Exit. 55
Re-enter TITINIUS with MESSALA.
MESSALA: It is but change, Titinius; for Octavius
Is overthrown by noble Brutus’ power,
As Cassius’ legions are by Antony.
[It is . . . Antony: It is but an equal exchange. Although Antony has defeated Cassius, Brutus has defeated Octavius.]
TITINIUS: These tidings will well comfort Cassius. 60
MESSALA: Where did you leave him?
TITINIUS: All disconsolate,
With Pindarus his bondman [slave], on this hill.
MESSALA: Is not that he that lies upon the ground?
TITINIUS: He lies not like the living. O my heart! 65
MESSALA: Is not that he?
TITINIUS: No, this was he, Messala,
But Cassius is no more. O setting sun!
As in thy red rays thou dost sink to-night,
So in his red blood Cassius’ day is set; 70
The sun of Rome is set. Our day is gone;
Clouds, dews, and dangers come; our deeds are done.
Mistrust of my success hath done this deed.
[Mistrust . . . deed: He did not believe that I would return with good news, so he ended his life.]
MESSALA: Mistrust of good success hath done this deed.
O hateful error, melancholy’s child! 75
Why dost thou show to the apt thoughts of men
The things that are not? O error! soon conceiv’d,
Thou never com’st unto a happy birth,
But kill’st the mother that engender’d thee.
[O hateful . . . thee: O hateful error. You make men despair. Why do you show men things that are not true? Men give birth to you; then you kill them.]
TITINIUS: What, Pindarus! Where art thou, Pindarus? 80
MESSALA: Seek him, Titinius, whilst I go to meet
The noble Brutus, thrusting this report
Into his ears; I may say, thrusting it;
For piercing steel and darts envenomed
Shall be as welcome to the ears of Brutus 85
As tidings of this sight.
[Seek him . . . this sight: Seek Pindarus while I go to meet Brutus, thrusting the report of Cassius's death into his ears. I say thrusting because the report will be like poisoned swords or darts entering Brutus.]
TITINIUS: Hie you [go], Messala,
And I will seek for Pindarus the while. [Exit MESSALA.
Why didst thou send me forth, brave Cassius?
Did I not meet thy friends? and did not they 90
Put on my brows this wreath of victory,
And bid me give it thee? Didst thou not hear their shouts?
Alas! thou hast misconstru’d every thing.
But, hold thee, take this garland on thy brow:
Thy Brutus bid me give it thee, and I 95
Will do his bidding. Brutus, come apace,
And see how I regarded Caius Cassius.
[how I regarded: What I thought of; how I esteemed]
By your leave, gods: this is a Roman’s part:
Come, Cassius’ sword, and find Titinius’ heart. [Kills himself.
Alarum. Re-enter MESSALA, with BRUTUS, Young CATO [son of Cato the Younger], STRATO, VOLUMNIUS, and LUCILIUS. 100
BRUTUS: Where, where, Messala, doth his body lie?
MESSALA: Lo, yonder: and Titinius mourning it.
BRUTUS: Titinius’ face is upward.
CATO: He is slain.
BRUTUS: O Julius Caesar! thou art mighty yet! 105
Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords
In our own proper entrails. [Low alarums.
[turns our . . . entrails: Turns our swords into weapons that we use against ourselves, plunging them into our own intestines]
CATO: Brave Titinius!
Look whe’r [whether] he have not crown’d dead Cassius!
BRUTUS: Are yet two Romans living such as these? 110
The last of all the Romans, fare thee well!
It is impossible that ever Rome
Should breed thy fellow. Friends, I owe more tears
[thy fellow: anyone who can compare to you]
To this dead man than you shall see me pay.—
I shall find time, Cassius, I shall find time.— 115
Come therefore, and to Thassos send his body:
[Thassos: Thàsos, a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea.]
His funerals shall not be in our camp,
Lest it [because it might] discomfort us. Lucilius, come;
And come, young Cato;—let us to the field.
Labeo and Flavius, set our battles on:— 120
’Tis three o’clock; and, Romans, yet ere [before] night
We shall try fortune in a second fight. [Exeunt.
Alarum. Enter fighting, Soldiers of both armies; then BRUTUS, Young CATO, LUCILIUS, and Others.
BRUTUS: Yet, countrymen, O! yet hold up your heads!
CATO: What bastard doth not? Who will go with me?
I will proclaim my name about the field: 5
I am the son of Marcus Cato, ho!
A foe to tyrants, and my country’s friend;
I am the son of Marcus Cato, ho!
BRUTUS: And I am Brutus, Marcus Brutus, I;
Brutus, my country’s friend; know me for Brutus! [Exit, charging the enemy. CATO is overpowered, and falls. 10
LUCILIUS: O young and noble Cato, art thou down?
Why, now thou diest as bravely as Titinius,
And mayst be honour’d being Cato’s son.
FIRST SOLDIER: Yield, or thou diest.
LUCILIUS: Only I yield to die: 15
There is so much that thou wilt kill me straight. [Offering money.
[Lucilius offers his foe money to kill him.]
Kill Brutus, and be honour’d in his death.
FIRST SOLDIER: We must not. A noble prisoner!
SECOND SOLDIER: Room [make room], ho! Tell Antony, Brutus is ta’en.
FIRST SOLDIER: I’ll tell the news: here comes the general. 20
Brutus is ta’en, my lord.
ANTONY: Where is he?
LUCILIUS: Safe, Antony; Brutus is safe enough:
I dare assure thee that no enemy 25
Shall ever take alive the noble Brutus:
The gods defend him from so great a shame!
When you do find him, or [whether] alive or dead,
He will be found like Brutus, like himself.
[like himself: Defiant but noble]
ANTONY: This [Lucilius] is not Brutus, friend; but, I assure you, 30
A prize no less in worth. Keep this man safe,
Give him all kindness: I had rather have
Such men my friends than enemies. Go on,
And see whe’r [whether] Brutus be alive or dead;
And bring us word unto Octavius’ tent, 35
How every thing is chanc’d. [Exeunt.
[is chanc'd: Has turned out]
Enter BRUTUS, DARDANIUS, CLITUS, STRATO, and VOLUMNIUS.
BRUTUS: Come, poor remains of friends, rest on this rock.
CLITUS: Statilius show’d the torch-light; but, my lord,
He came not back: he is or ta’en or slain. 5
[Statilius . . . slain: Statilius signaled us with a torch. But he has not returned. Either he has been captured or killed.]
BRUTUS: Sit thee down, Clitus: slaying is the word;
It is a deed in fashion. Hark thee, Clitus. [Whispers.
[slaying . . . fashion: You were right to say that he might have been slain. Slaying is a word that seems to be repeated on this battlefield in reference to our soldiers.]
CLITUS: What, I, my lord? No, not for all the world.
BRUTUS: Peace, then! no words.
CLITUS: I’ll rather kill myself. 10
BRUTUS: Hark thee, Dardanius. [Whispers.
DARDANIUS: Shall I do such a deed?
CLITUS: O, Dardanius!
DARDANIUS: O, Clitus!
CLITUS: What ill request did Brutus make to thee? 15
DARDANIUS: To kill him, Clitus. Look, he meditates.
CLITUS: Now is that noble vessel full of grief,
That it runs over even at his eyes.
BRUTUS: Come hither, good Volumnius: list a word.
[list a word: Listen to me. I want a word with you.]
VOLUMNIUS: What says my lord? 20
BRUTUS: Why this, Volumnius:
The ghost of Caesar hath appear’d to me
Two several times by night; at Sardis once,
And this last night here in Philippi fields.
I know my hour is come. 25
VOLUMNIUS: Not so, my lord.
BRUTUS: Nay, I am sure it is, Volumnius.
Thou seest the world, Volumnius, how it goes;
Our enemies have beat us to the pit:
[Our . . . pit: Our enemies have beaten us so far back that we stand on the brink of our graves.]
It is more worthy to leap in ourselves, 30
Than tarry till they push us. Good Volumnius,
Thou know’st that we two went to school together:
Even for that our love of old, I prithee [pray thee],
Hold thou my sword-hilts, whilst I run on it.
VOLUMNIUS: That’s not an office for a friend, my lord. [Alarum still. 35
CLITUS: Fly, fly, my lord! there is no tarrying here.
BRUTUS: Farewell to you; and you; and you, Volumnius.
Strato, thou hast been all this while asleep;
Farewell to thee too, Strato. Countrymen,
My heart doth joy that yet, in all my life, 40
I found no man but he was true to me.
I shall have glory by this losing day,
More than Octavius and Mark Antony
By this vile conquest shall attain unto.
[I shall . . . unto: I shall have more glory in losing this battle than Octavius and Mark Antony shall have in winning it.]
So fare you well at once; for Brutus’ tongue 45
Hath almost ended his life’s history:
Night hangs upon mine eyes; my bones would rest,
That have but labour’d to attain this hour. [Alarum. Cry within, ‘Fly, fly, fly!’
CLITUS: Fly, my lord, fly.
BRUTUS: Hence! [Go!] I will follow. [Exeunt CLITUS, DARDANIUS, and VOLUMNIUS. 50
I prithee, Strato, stay thou by thy lord:
Thou art a fellow of a good respect;
Thy life hath had some smatch [taste] of honour in it:
Hold then my sword, and turn away thy face,
While I do run upon it. Wilt thou, Strato? 55
STRATO: Give me your hand first: fare you well, my lord.
BRUTUS: Farewell, good Strato.—[He runs on his sword.] Caesar, now be still;
I kill’d not thee with half so good a will. [Dies.
[I kill'd . . . will: I did not kill you as willingly as I kill myself.]
Alarum. Retreat. Enter OCTAVIUS, ANTONY, MESSALA, LUCILIUS, and Army.
OCTAVIUS: What man is that? 60
MESSALA: My master’s man. Strato, where is thy master?
STRATO: Free from the bondage you are in, Messala;
The conquerors can but make a fire of him;
For Brutus only overcame himself,
And no man else hath honour by his death. 65
[For Brutus . . . death: Brutus took his own life. Therefore, no man can claim the honor of killing him.]
LUCILIUS: So Brutus should be found. I thank thee, Brutus,
That thou hast prov’d Lucilius’ saying true.
[So Brutus . . . true: This the way Brutus should be found. I thank you, Brutus, for proving the truth of my observation that no one could take you alive.]
OCTAVIUS: All that serv’d Brutus, I will entertain them.
[All that . . . them: I want to recruit everyone who served Brutus.]
Fellow, wilt thou bestow thy time with me?
STRATO: Ay, if Messala will prefer [recommend] me to you. 70
OCTAVIUS: Do so, good Messala.
MESSALA: How died my master, Strato?
STRATO: I held the sword, and he did run on it.
MESSALA: Octavius, then take him to follow thee,
That did the latest service to my master. 75
ANTONY: This was the noblest Roman of them all;
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them. 80
[All . . . Caesar: All the conspirators except Brutus did what they did out of envy of great Caesar. Only Brutus had the good of the people in mind when he took part in the assassination.]
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d [arranged so well] in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’
OCTAVIUS: According to his virtue let us use him,
With all respect and rites of burial. 85
Within my tent his bones to-night shall lie,
Most like a soldier, order’d honourably.
So, call the field to rest; and let’s away,
To part the glories of this happy day. [Exeunt.