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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act I. Scene II.

Julius Cæsar

The Same.A Public Place.

Enter, in procession, with music, CÆSAR; ANTONY, for the course; CALPHURNIA, PORTIA, DECIUS, CICERO, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and CASCA; a great crowd following, among them a Soothsayer.


Casca.Peace, ho! Cæsar speaks.[Music ceases.


Cal.Here, my lord.

Cæs.Stand you directly in Antonius’ way

When he doth run his course. Antonius!

Ant.Cæsar, my lord.

Cæs.Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,

To touch Calphurnia; for our elders say,

The barren, touched in this holy chase,

Shake off their sterile curse.

Ant.I shall remember:

When Cæsar says ‘Do this,’ it is perform’d.

Cæs.Set on; and leave no ceremony out.[Music.


Cæs.Ha! Who calls?

Casca.Bid every noise be still: peace yet again![Music ceases.

Cæs.Who is it in the press that calls on me?

I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,

Cry ‘Cæsar.’ Speak; Cæsar is turn’d to hear.

Sooth.Beware the ides of March.

Cæs.What man is that?

Bru.A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.

Cæs.Set him before me; let me see his face.

Cas.Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Cæsar.

Cæs.What sayst thou to me now? Speak once again.

Sooth.Beware the ides of March.

Cæs.He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.[Sennet.Exeunt all but BRUTUS and CASSIUS.

Cas.Will you go see the order of the course?

Bru.Not I.

Cas.I pray you, do.

Bru.I am not gamesome: I do lack some part

Of that quick spirit that is in Antony.

Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires;

I’ll leave you.

Cas.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:

You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand

Over your friend that loves you.


Be not deceiv’d: if I have veil’d my look,

I turn the trouble of my countenance

Merely upon myself. Vexed I am

Of late with passions of some difference,

Conceptions only proper to myself,

Which give some soil perhaps to my behaviours;

But let not therefore my good friends be griev’d,—

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.

Cas.Then, Brutus, I have much mistook your passion;

By means whereof this breast of mine hath buried

Thoughts of great value, worthy cogitations.

Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?

Bru.No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself,

But by reflection, by some other things.

Cas.’Tis just:

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,

Where many of the best respect in Rome,—

Except immortal Cæsar,—speaking of Brutus,

And groaning underneath this age’s yoke,

Have wish’d that noble Brutus had his eyes.

Bru.Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius,

That you would have me seek into myself

For that which is not in me?

Cas.Therefore, good Brutus, be prepar’d to hear;

And, since you know you cannot see yourself

So well as by reflection, I, your glass,

Will modestly discover to yourself

That of yourself which you yet know not of.

And be not jealous on me, gentle Brutus:

Were I a common laugher, or did use

To stale with ordinary oaths my love

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

That I profess myself in banqueting

To all the rout, then hold me dangerous.[Flourish and shout.

Bru.What means this shouting? I do fear the people

Choose Cæsar for their king.

Cas.Ay, do you fear it?

Then must I think you would not have it so.

Bru.I would not, Cassius; yet I love him well.

But wherefore do you hold me here so long?

What is it that you would impart to me?

If it be aught toward the general good,

Set honour in one eye and death i’ the other,

And I will look on both indifferently;

For let the gods so speed me as I love

The name of honour more than I fear death.

Cas.I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,

As well as I do know your outward favour.

Well, honour is the subject of my story.

I cannot tell what you and other men

Think of this life; but, for my single self,

I had as lief not be as live to be

In awe of such a thing as I myself.

I was born free as Cæsar; so were you:

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,

Cæsar said to me, ‘Dar’st thou, Cassius, now

Leap in with me into this angry flood,

And swim to yonder point?’ Upon the word,

Accoutred as I was, I plunged in

And bade him follow; so, indeed he did.

The torrent roar’d, and we did buffet it

With lusty sinews, throwing it aside

And stemming it with hearts of controversy;

But ere we could arrive the point propos’d,

Cæsar cried, ‘Help me, Cassius, or I sink!’

I, as Æneas, our great ancestor,

Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder

The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber

Did I the tired Cæsar. And this man

Is now become a god, and Cassius is

A wretched creature and must bend his body

If Cæsar carelessly but nod on him.

He had a fever when he was in Spain,

And when the 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,

And that same eye whose bend doth awe the world

Did lose his 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,’

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.Shout.

Bru.Another general shout!

I do believe that these applauses are

For some new honours that are heaped on Cæsar.

Cas.Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world

Like a Colossus; and we petty men

Walk under his huge legs, and peep about

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 Cæsar: what should be in that ‘Cæsar?’

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 with ’em,

‘Brutus’ will start a spirit as soon as ‘Cæsar.’

Now, in the names of all the gods at once,

Upon what meat doth this our Cæsar feed,

That he is grown so great? Age, thou art sham’d!

Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!

When went there by an age, since the great flood,

But it was fam’d with more than with one man?

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.

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.

Bru.That you do love me, I am nothing jealous;

What you would work me to, I have some aim:

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

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

Than to repute himself a son of Rome

Under these hard conditions as this time

Is like to lay upon us.

Cas.I am glad

That my weak words have struck but thus much show

Of fire from Brutus.

Bru.The games are done and Cæsar is returning.

Cas.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.

Re-enter CÆSAR and his Train.

Bru.I will do so. But, look you, Cassius,

The angry spot doth glow on Cæsar’s brow,

And all the rest look like a chidden train:

Calphurnia’s cheek is pale, and Cicero

Looks with such ferret and such fiery eyes

As we have seen him in the Capitol,

Being cross’d in conference by some senators.

Cas.Casca will tell us what the matter is.



Cæs.Let me have men about me that are fat;

Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights.

Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;

He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

Ant.Fear him not, Cæsar, he’s not dangerous;

He is a noble Roman, and well given.

Cæs.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

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

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.

I rather tell thee what is to be fear’d

Than what I fear, for always I am Cæsar.

Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf,

And tell me truly what thou think’st of him.[Sennet.Exeunt CÆSAR and his Train.CASCA stays behind.

Casca.You pull’d me by the cloak; would you speak with me?

Bru.Ay, Casca; tell us what hath chanc’d to-day,

That Cæsar looks so sad.

Casca.Why, you were with him, were you not?

Bru.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.

Bru.What was the second noise for?

Casca.Why, for that too.

Cas.They shouted thrice: what was the last cry for?

Casca.Why, for that too.

Bru.Was the crown offered him thrice?

Casca.Ay, marry, was ’t, and he put it by thrice, everytime gentler than other; and at every putting-by mine honest neighbours shouted.

Cas.Who offered him the crown?

Casca.Why, Antony.

Bru.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 saw Mark Antony offer him a crown; yet ’twas not a crown neither, ’twas one of these coronets; and, as I told you, he put it by once; but, for all that, to my thinking, he would fain 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 shouted and clapped their chopped hands, and threw up their sweaty night-caps, and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Cæsar refused the crown, that it had almost choked Cæsar; for he swounded and fell down at it: and for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air.

Cas.But soft, I pray you: what! did Cæsar swound?

Casca.He fell down in the market-place, and foamed at mouth, and was speechless.

Bru.’Tis very like: he hath the falling-sickness.

Cas.No, Cæsar hath it not; but you, and I,

And honest Casca, we have the falling-sickness.

Casca.I know not what you mean by that; but I am sure Cæsar fell down. If the tag-rag people did not clap him and hiss him, according as he pleased and displeased them, as they use to do the players in the theatre, I am no true man.

Bru.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 and offered them his throat to cut. An 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 Cæsar had stabbed their mothers, they would have done no less.

Bru.And after that he came, thus sad, away?


Cas.Did Cicero say any thing?

Casca.Ay, he spoke Greek.

Cas.To what effect?

Casca.Nay, an 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 Cæsar’s images, are put to silence. Fare you well. There was more foolery yet, if I could remember it.

Cas.Will you sup with me to-night, Casca?

Casca.No, I am promised forth.

Cas.Will you dine with me to-morrow?

Casca.Ay, if I be alive, and your mind hold, and your dinner worth the eating.

Cas.Good; I will expect you.

Casca.Do so. Farewell, both.[Exit.

Bru.What a blunt fellow is this grown to be!

He was quick mettle when he went to school.

Cas.So is he now in execution

Of any bold or noble enterprise,

However he puts on this tardy form.

This rudeness is a sauce to his good wit,

Which gives men stomach to digest his words

With better appetite.

Bru.And so it is. For this time I will leave you:

To-morrow, if you please to speak with me,

I will come home to you; or, if you will,

Come home to me, and I will wait for you.

Cas.I will do so: till then, think of the world.[Exit BRUTUS.

Well, Brutus, thou art noble; yet, I see,

Thy honourable metal may be wrought

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?

Cæsar doth bear me hard; but he loves Brutus:

If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius

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

Cæsar’s ambition shall be glanced at:

And after this let Cæsar seat him sure;

For we will shake him, or worse days endure.[Exit.