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

Act II. Scene I.

Julius Cæsar

Rome.BRUTUS’ Orchard.


Bru.What, Lucius! ho!

I cannot, by the progress of the stars,

Give guess how near to day. Lucius, I say!

I would it were my fault to sleep so soundly.

When, Lucius, when! Awake, I say! what, Lucius!


Luc.Call’d you, my lord?

Bru.Get me a taper in my study, Lucius:

When it is lighted, come and call me here.

Luc.I will, my lord.[Exit.

Bru.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:

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.

The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins

Remorse from power; and, to speak truth of Cæsar,

I have not known when his affections sway’d

More than his reason. But ’tis a common proof,

That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,

Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;

But when he once attains the upmost round,

He then unto the ladder turns his back,

Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees

By which he did ascend. So Cæsar may:

Then, lest he may, prevent. 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 therefore think him as a serpent’s egg

Which, hatch’d, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,

And kill him in the shell.

Re-enter LUCIUS.

Luc.The taper burneth in your closet, sir.

Searching the window for a flint, I found

This paper, thus seal’d up; and I am sure

It did not lie there when I went to bed.

Bru.Get you to bed again; it is not day.

Is not to-morrow, boy, the ides of March?

Luc.I know not, sir.

Bru.Look in the calendar, and bring me word.

Luc.I will, sir.[Exit.

Bru.The exhalations whizzing in the air

Give so much light that I may read by them.[Opens the letter.

Brutus, thou sleep’st: awake and see thyself.

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:

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;

If the redress will follow, thou receiv’st

Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!

Re-enter LUCIUS.

Luc.Sir, March is wasted fourteen days.[Knocking within.

Bru.’Tis good. Go to the gate: somebody knocks.[Exit LUCIUS.

Since Cassius first did whet me against Cæsar,

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:

The genius and the mortal instruments

Are then in council; and the state of man,

Like to a little kingdom, suffers then

The nature of an insurrection.

Re-enter LUCIUS.

Luc.Sir, ’tis your brother Cassius at the door,

Who doth desire to see you.

Bru.Is he alone?

Luc.No, sir, there are more with him.

Bru.Do you know them?

Luc.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.

Bru.Let ’em enter.[Exit LUCIUS.

They are the faction. 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;

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.


Cas.I think we are too bold upon your rest:

Good morrow, Brutus; do we trouble you?

Bru.I have been up this hour, awake all night.

Know I these men that come along with you?

Cas.Yes, every man of them; and no man here

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.

Bru.He is welcome hither.

Cas.This, Decius Brutus.

Bru.He is welcome too.

Cas.This, Casca; this, Cinna;

And this, Metellus Cimber.

Bru.They are all welcome.

What watchful cares do interpose themselves

Betwixt your eyes and night?

Cas.Shall I entreat a word?[BRUTUS and CASSIUS whisper.

Dec.Here lies the east: doth not the day break here?


Cin.O! pardon, sir, it doth; and yon grey lines

That fret 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,

Weighing the youthful season of the year.

Some two months hence up higher toward the north

He first presents his fire; and the high east

Stands, as the Capitol, directly here.

Bru.Give me your hands all over, one by one.

Cas.And let us swear our resolution.

Bru.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;

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,

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? and what other oath

Than honesty to honesty engag’d,

That this shall be, or we will fall for 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

The even virtue of our enterprise,

Nor th’ insuppressive mettle of our spirits,

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,

Is guilty of a several bastardy,

If he do break the smallest particle

Of any promise that hath pass’d from him.

Cas.But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him?

I think he will stand very strong with us.

Casca.Let us not leave him out.

Cin.No, by no means.

Met.O! let us have him; for his silver hairs

Will purchase us a good opinion

And buy men’s voices to commend our deeds:

It shall be said his judgment rul’d our hands;

Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,

But all be buried in his gravity.

Bru.O! name him not: let us not break with him;

For he will never follow any thing

That other men begin.

Cas.Then leave him out.

Casca.Indeed he is not fit.

Dec.Shall no man else be touch’d but only Cæsar?

Cas.Decius, well urg’d. I think it is not meet,

Mark Antony, so well belov’d of Cæsar,

Should outlive Cæsar: 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,

Let Antony and Cæsar fall together.

Bru.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;

For Antony is but a limb of Cæsar.

Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.

We all stand up against the spirit of Cæsar;

And in the spirit of men there is no blood:

O! then that we could come by Cæsar’s spirit,

And not dismember Cæsar. But, alas!

Cæsar 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,

Stir up their servants to an act of rage,

And after seem to chide ’em. This shall make

Our purpose necessary and not envious;

Which so appearing to the common eyes,

We shall be call’d purgers, not murderers.

And, for Mark Antony, think not of him;

For he can do no more than Cæsar’s arm

When Cæsar’s head is off.

Cas.Yet I fear him;

For in the engrafted love he bears to Cæsar—

Bru.Alas! good Cassius, do not think of him:

If he love Cæsar, all that he can do

Is to himself, take thought and die for Cæsar:

And that were much he should; for he is given

To sports, to wildness, and much company.

Treb.There is no fear in him; let him not die:

For he will live, and laugh at this hereafter.[Clock strikes.

Bru.Peace! count the clock.

Cas.The clock hath stricken three.

Treb.’Tis time to part.

Cas.But it is doubtful yet

Whether Cæsar will come forth to-day or no;

For he is superstitious grown of late,

Quite from the main opinion he held once

Of fantasy, of dreams, and ceremonies.

It may be, these apparent prodigies,

The unaccustom’d terror of this night,

And the persuasion of his augurers,

May hold him from the Capitol to-day.

Dec.Never fear that: if he be so resolv’d,

I can o’ersway him; for he loves to hear

That unicorns may be betray’d with trees,

And bears with glasses, elephants with holes,

Lions with toils, and men with flatterers;

But when I tell him he hates flatterers,

He says he does, being then most flattered.

Let me work;

For I can give his humour the true bent,

And I will bring him to the Capitol.

Cas.Nay, we will all of us be there to fetch him.

Bru.By the eighth hour: is that the uttermost?

Cin.Be that the uttermost, and fail not then.

Met.Caius Ligarius doth bear Cæsar hard,

Who rated him for speaking well of Pompey:

I wonder none of you have thought of him.

Bru.Now, good Metellus, go along by him:

He loves me well, and I have given him reasons;

Send him but hither, and I’ll fashion him.

Cas.The morning comes upon ’s: we’ll leave you, Brutus.

And, friends, disperse yourselves; but all remember

What you have said, and show yourselves true Romans.

Bru.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:

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;

Therefore thou sleep’st so sound.


Por.Brutus, my lord!

Bru.Portia, what mean you? Wherefore rise you now?

It is not for your health thus to commit

Your weak condition to the raw cold morning.

Por.Nor for yours neither. You’ve ungently, Brutus,

Stole from my bed; and yesternight at supper

You suddenly arose, and walk’d about,

Musing and sighing, with your arms across,

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,

But, with an angry wafture 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,

Which sometime hath his hour with every man.

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,

Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.

Bru.I am not well in health, and that is all.

Por.Brutus is wise, and were he not in health,

He would embrace the means to come by it.

Bru.Why, so I do. Good Portia, go to bed.

Por.Is Brutus sick, and is it physical

To walk unbraced and suck up the humours

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,

And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air

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,

I charm you, by my once-commended beauty,

By all your vows of love, and that great vow

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

Have had resort to you; for here have been

Some six or seven, who did hide their faces

Even from darkness.

Bru.Kneel not, gentle Portia.

Por.I should not need, if you were gentle Brutus.

Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,

Is it excepted, I should know no secrets

That appertain to you? Am I yourself

But, as it were, in sort of limitation,

To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,

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.

Bru.You are my true and honourable wife,

As dear to me as are the ruddy drops

That visit my sad heart.

Por.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,

A woman well-reputed, Cato’s daughter.

Think you I am no stronger than my sex,

Being so father’d and so husbanded?

Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose ’em.

I have made strong proof of my constancy,

Giving myself a voluntary wound

Here, in the thigh: can I bear that with patience

And not my husband’s secrets?

Bru.O ye gods!

Render me worthy of this noble wife.[Knocking within.

Hark, hark! one knocks. Portia, go in awhile;

And by and by thy bosom shall partake

The secrets of my heart.

All my engagements I will construe to thee,

All the charactery of my sad brows.

Leave me with haste.[Exit PORTIA.
Lucius, who’s that knocks?

Re-enter LUCIUS with LIGARIUS.

Luc.Here is a sick man that would speak with you.

Bru.Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spoke of.

Boy, stand aside. Caius Ligarius! how?

Lig.Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble tongue.

Bru.O! what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,

To wear a kerchief. Would you were not sick.

Lig.I am not sick if Brutus have in hand

Any exploit worthy the name of honour.

Bru.Such an exploit have I in hand, Ligarius,

Had you a healthful ear to hear of it.

Lig.By all the gods that Romans bow before

I here discard my sickness. Soul of Rome!

Brave son, deriv’d from honourable loins!

Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjur’d up

My mortified spirit. Now bid me run,

And I will strive with things impossible;

Yea, get the better of them, What’s to do?

Bru.A piece of work that will make sick men whole.

Lig.But are not some whole that we must make sick?

Bru.That must we also. What it is, my Caius,

I shall unfold to thee as we are going

To whom it must be done.

Lig.Set on your foot,

And with a heart new-fir’d I follow you,

To do I know not what; but it sufficeth

That Brutus leads me on.

Bru.Follow me then.[Exeunt.