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Julius Caesar

ACT III SCENE I Rome. Before the Capitol; the Senate sitting above.
CAESAR (To the Soothsayer) The ides of March are come
Soothsayer Ay, Caesar; but not gone.
ARTEMIDORUS Hail, Caesar! read this schedule.
DECIUS BRUTUS Trebonius doth desire you to o’erread,
At your best leisure, this his humble suit.  5
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 served.
ARTEMIDORUS Delay not, Caesar; read it instantly.
CAESAR What, is the fellow mad?
PUBLIUS Sirrah, give place.  10
CASSIUS What, urge you your petitions in the street?
Come to the Capitol.
CAESAR goes up to the Senate-House, the rest following
POPILIUS I wish your enterprise to-day may thrive.
CASSIUS What enterprise, Popilius?
POPILIUS Fare you well.
Advances to CAESAR.
BRUTUS What said Popilius Lena?  15
CASSIUS He wish’d to-day our enterprise might thrive.
I fear our purpose is discovered.
BRUTUS Look, how he makes to Caesar; mark him.
CASSIUS Casca, be sudden, for we fear prevention.
Brutus, what shall be done? If this be known,  20
Cassius or Caesar never shall turn back,
For I will slay myself.
BRUTUS Cassius, be constant:
Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes;
For, look, he smiles, and Caesar doth not change.
CASSIUS Trebonius knows his time; for, look you, Brutus.  25
He draws Mark Antony out of the way.
DECIUS BRUTUS Where is Metellus Cimber? Let him go,
And presently prefer his suit to Caesar.
BRUTUS He is address’d: press near and second him.
CINNA Casca, you are the first that rears your hand.  30
CAESAR Are we all ready? What is now amiss
That Caesar and his senate must redress?
METELLUS CIMBER Most high, most mighty, and most puissant Caesar,
Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat
An humble heart,–
CAESAR I must prevent thee, Cimber.  35
These couchings and these lowly courtesies
Might fire the blood of ordinary men,
And turn pre-ordinance and first decree
Into the law of children. Be not fond,
To think that Caesar bears such rebel blood  40
That will be thaw’d from the true quality
With that which melteth fools; I mean, sweet words,
Low-crooked court’sies and base spaniel-fawning.
Thy brother by decree is banished:
If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him,  45
I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
Know, Caesar doth not wrong, nor without cause
Will he be satisfied.
METELLUS CIMBER Is there no voice more worthy than my own
To sound more sweetly in great Caesar’s ear  50
For the repealing of my banish’d brother?
BRUTUS I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Caesar;
Desiring thee that Publius Cimber may
Have an immediate freedom of repeal.
CAESAR What, Brutus!
CASSIUS Pardon, Caesar; Caesar, pardon:
As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall,  56
To beg enfranchisement for Publius Cimber.
CASSIUS I could be well moved, 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 in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumber’d sparks,
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place:  65
So in the world; ’tis furnish’d well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion: and that I am he,  70
Let me a little show it, even in this;
That I was constant Cimber should be banish’d,
And constant do remain to keep him so.
CINNA O Caesar,–
CAESAR Hence! wilt thou lift up Olympus?
DECIUS BRUTUS Great Caesar,–
CAESAR Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?
CASCA Speak, hands for me!
CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR
CAESAR Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar.
CINNA Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!
Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.
CASSIUS Some to the common pulpits, and cry out  80
‘Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!’
BRUTUS People and senators, be not affrighted;
Fly not; stand stiff: ambition’s debt is paid.
CASCA Go to the pulpit, Brutus.
DECIUS BRUTUS And Cassius too.  85
BRUTUS Where’s Publius?
CINNA Here, quite confounded with this mutiny.
METELLUS CIMBER Stand fast together, lest some friend of Caesar’s
Should chance–
BRUTUS Talk not of standing. Publius, good cheer;  90
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 this deed,  95
But we the doers.
CASSIUS Where is Antony?
TREBONIUS Fled to his house amazed:
Men, wives and children stare, cry out and run
As it were doomsday.
BRUTUS Fates, we will know your pleasures:
That we shall die, we know; ’tis but the time  100
And drawing days out, that men stand upon.
CASSIUS Why, he that cuts off twenty years of life
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 abridged  105
His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop,
And let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood
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,  110
Let’s all cry ‘Peace, freedom and liberty!’
CASSIUS Stoop, then, and wash. How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!
BRUTUS How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,  115
That now on Pompey’s basis lies along
No worthier than the dust!
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 BRUTUS What, shall we forth?
CASSIUS Ay, every man away:  120
Brutus shall lead; and we will grace his heels
With the most boldest and best hearts of Rome.
Enter a Servant.
BRUTUS Soft! who comes here? A friend of Antony’s.
Servant Thus, Brutus, did my master bid me kneel:
Thus did Mark Antony bid me fall down;  125
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;
Say I fear’d Caesar, honour’d him and loved him.  130
If Brutus will vouchsafe that Antony
May safely come to him, and be resolved
How Caesar hath deserved to lie in death,
Mark Antony shall not love Caesar dead
So well as Brutus living; but will follow  135
The fortunes and affairs of noble Brutus
Thorough the hazards of this untrod state
With all true faith. So says my master Antony.
BRUTUS Thy master is a wise and valiant Roman;
I never thought him worse.  140
Tell him, so please him come unto this place,
He shall be satisfied; and, by my honour,
Depart untouch’d.
Servant I’ll fetch him presently.
BRUTUS I know that we shall have him well to friend.
CASSIUS I wish we may: but yet have I a mind  145
That fears him much; and my misgiving still
Falls shrewdly to the purpose.
BRUTUS But here comes Antony.
Re-enter ANTONY.
Welcome, Mark Antony.
ANTONY O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,  150
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.
I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,
Who else must be let blood, who else is rank:
If I myself, there is no hour so fit
As Caesar’s death hour, nor no instrument  155
Of half that worth as those your swords, made rich
With the most noble blood of all this world.
I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Fulfil your pleasure. Live a thousand years,  160
I shall not find myself so apt to die:
No place will please me so, no mean of death,
As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,
The choice and master spirits of this age.
BRUTUS O Antony, beg not your death of us.  165
Though now we must appear bloody and cruel,
As, by our hands and this our present act,
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;  170
And pity to the general wrong of Rome–
As fire drives out fire, so pity pity–
Hath done this deed on Caesar. For your part,
To you our swords have leaden points, Mark Antony:
Our arms, in strength of malice, and our hearts  175
Of brothers’ temper, do receive you in
With all kind love, good thoughts, and reverence.
CASSIUS Your voice shall be as strong as any man’s
In the disposing of new dignities.
BRUTUS Only be patient till we have appeased  180
The multitude, beside themselves with fear,
And then we will deliver you the cause,
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:  185
First, Marcus Brutus, will I shake with you;
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 last in love, yours, good Trebonius.  190
Gentlemen all,–alas, what shall I say?
My credit now stands on such slippery ground,
That one of two bad ways you must conceit me,
Either a coward or a flatterer.
That I did love thee, Caesar, O, ’tis true:  195
If then thy spirit look upon us now,
Shall it not grieve thee dearer than thy death,
To see thy thy Anthony making his peace,
Shaking the bloody fingers of thy foes,
Most noble! in the presence of thy corse?  200
Had I as many eyes as thou hast wounds,
Weeping as fast as they stream forth thy blood,
It would become me better than to close
In terms of friendship with thine enemies.
Pardon me, Julius! Here wast thou bay’d, brave hart;  205
Here didst thou fall; and here thy hunters stand,
Sign’d in thy spoil, and crimson’d in thy lethe.
O world, thou wast the forest to this hart;
And this, indeed, O world, the heart of thee.
How like a deer, strucken by many princes,  210
Dost thou here lie!
CASSIUS Mark Antony,–
ANTONY Pardon me, Caius Cassius:
The enemies of Caesar shall say this;
Then, in a friend, it is cold modesty.
CASSIUS I blame you not for praising Caesar so;  215
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?
ANTONY Therefore I took your hands, but was, indeed,
Sway’d from the point, by looking down on Caesar.  220
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:
Our reasons are so full of good regard  225
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
Produce his body to the market-place;
And in the pulpit, as becomes a friend,  230
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
That Antony speak in his funeral:
Know you how much the people may be moved
By that which he will utter?
BRUTUS By your pardon;
I will myself into the pulpit first,
And show the reason of our Caesar’s death:
What Antony shall speak, I will protest
He speaks by leave and by permission,
And that we are contented Caesar shall
Have all true rites and lawful ceremonies.
It shall advantage more than do us wrong.
CASSIUS I know not what may fall; 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,
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.
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,  255
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
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,–  260
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue–
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;  265
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:  270
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth  275
With carrion men, groaning for burial.
Enter a Servant.
You serve Octavius Caesar, do you not?
Servant I do, Mark Antony.
ANTONY Caesar did write for him to come to Rome.
Servant He did receive his letters, and is coming;  280
And bid me say to you by word of mouth–
O Caesar!–
Seeing the body.
ANTONY Thy heart is big, get thee apart and weep.
Passion, I see, is catching; for mine eyes,
Seeing those beads of sorrow stand in thine,  285
Began to water. Is thy master coming?
Servant He lies to-night within seven leagues of Rome.
ANTONY Post back with speed, and tell him what hath chanced:
Here is a mourning Rome, a dangerous Rome,
No Rome of safety for Octavius yet;  290
Hie hence, and tell him so. Yet, stay awhile;
Thou shalt not back till I have borne this corse
Into the market-place: there shall I try
In my oration, how the people take
The cruel issue of these bloody men;  295
According to the which, thou shalt discourse
To young Octavius of the state of things.
Lend me your hand.
Exeunt with CAESAR’s body.

Next: Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 2


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 1

From Julius Caesar. Ed. Henry Norman Hudson. New York: Ginn and Co., 1908.

8. us ourself: The plural of modern English royalty transferred to ancient Rome. Another of the famous anachronisms.

12. As already indicated (see note, p. 39, l. 126), the murder of Cæsar did not take place in the Capitol, but Shakespeare, departing from Plutarch, followed a famous literary tradition. So in Chaucer, The Monkes Tale, ll. 713-720. Cf. the speech of Polonius, Hamlet, III, ii, 108-109: “I did enact Julius Cæsar; I was kill’d i’ the Capitol; Brutus kill’d me.” See Introduction, Sources, p. xv.

13. This is mainly Steevens’s (1773) stage direction. Capell’s (1768) is interesting: “Artemidorus is push’d back. Cæsar, and the rest, enter the Senate: The Senate rises. Popilius presses forward to speak to Cæsar; and passing Cassius, says, …”

18. makes to: advances to, presses towards.–mark. No necessity to pronounce this as dissyllabic. The pause has the effect of a syllable.

23-26. So in Plutarch, Marcus Brutus: “Another senator called Popilius Læna after he had saluted Brutus and Cassius more friendly than he was wont to do, he rounded softly in their ears, and told them, ‘I pray the gods you may go through with that you have taken in hand; but, withal, dispatch, I read[B] you, for your enterprise is bewrayed.’ When he had said, he presently departed from them, and left them both afraid that their conspiracy would out…. When Cæsar came out of his litter, Popilius Læna went … and kept him a long time with a talk. Cæsar gave good ear unto him; wherefore the conspirators … conjecturing … that his talk was none other but the very discovery of their conspiracy, they were afraid every man of them; and one looking in another’s face, it was easy to see that they all were of a mind, that it was no tarrying for them till they were apprehended, but rather that they should kill themselves with their own hands. And when Cassius and certain other clapped their hands on their swords under their gowns, to draw them, Brutus marking the countenance and gesture of Læna, and considering that he did use himself rather like an humble and earnest suitor than like an accuser, he said nothing to his companion (because there were many amongst them that were not of the conspiracy), but with a pleasant countenance encouraged Cassius; and immediately after, Læna went from Cæsar, and kissed his hand…. Trebonius on the other side drew Antonius aside, as he came into the house where the Senate sat, and held him with a long talk without.” In theJulius Cæsar Plutarch makes Decius detain Antony in talk.

35. [Kneeling] Rowe | Ff omit.

28. presently: immediately, at once. So Shakespeare and other Elizabethan writers always use the word. See l. 143; IV, i, 45.

29. address’d: prepared. Often so in sixteenth century literature. Cf. As You Like It, V, iv, 162; Henry V, III, iii, 58; 2 Henry IV, IV, iv, 5. This old meaning survives in a well-known golf term.

36.couchings: stoopings. ‘Couch’ is used in the sense of ‘bend’ or ‘stoop’ as under a burden, in Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III, i, 4:

An aged Squire there rode,
That seemd to couch under his shield three-square.

So in Genesis, xlix, 14: “Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens.” The verb occurs six times in the Bible (King James version). In Roister Doister, I, iv, 90, we have “Couche! On your marybones … Down to the ground!”

38. pre-ordinance and first decree: the ruling and enactment of the highest authority in the state. “What has been pre-ordained and decreed from the beginning.”–Clar.

39. law: This is one of the textual cruces of the play. ‘Law’ is Johnson’s conjecture for the ‘lane’ of the Folios. It was adopted by Malone. In previous editions of Hudson’s Shakespeare, Mason’s conjecture, ‘play,’ was adopted. ‘Line,’ ‘bane,’ ‘vane’ have each been proposed. Fleay defends the Folio reading and interprets ‘lane’ in the sense of ‘narrow conceits.’ ‘Law of children’ would mean ‘law at the mercy of whim or caprice.’

39-40. Be not fond, To think: be not so foolish as to think.

47-48. In previous editions of Hudson’s Shakespeare was adopted, with a slight change, Tyrwhitt’s suggested restoration of these lines to the form indicated by Ben Jonson in the famous passage in his Discoveries, when, speaking of Shakespeare, he says: “Many times he fell into those things could not escape laughter: as when he said in the person of Cæsar, one speaking to him, ‘Cæsar, thou dost me wrong,’ he replied, ‘Cæsar did never wrong but with just cause,’ and such like; which were ridiculous.” Based upon this note the Tyrwhitt restoration of the text was:

METELLUS. Cæsar, thou dost me wrong.
CÆSAR. Know, Cæsar doth not wrong, but with just cause,
Nor without cause will he be satisfied.

In the old Hudson Shakespeare text the first line of Cæsar’s reply was: “Cæsar did never wrong but with just cause.” Jonson has another gird at what he deemed Shakespeare’s blunder, for in the Induction to The Staple of News is, “Prologue. Cry you mercy, you never did wrong, but with just cause.” Either Jonson must have misquoted what he heard at the theater, or the passage was altered to the form in the text of the Folios on his remonstrance. This way of conveying meanings by suggestion rather than direct expression was intolerable to Jonson. Jonson must have known that ‘wrong’ could mean ‘injury’ and ‘punishment’ as well as ‘wrong-doing.’ ‘Wrong’ meaning ‘harm’ occurs below, l. 243. See note, p. 105, l. 110.

59. If I could seek to move, or change, others by prayers, then I were capable of being myself moved by the prayers of others.

67. apprehensive: capable of apprehending, intelligent.

72-73. All through this scene, Cæsar is made to speak quite out of character, and in a strain of hateful arrogance, in order, apparently, to soften the enormity of his murder, and to grind the daggers of the assassins to a sharper point. Perhaps, also, it is a part of the irony which so marks this play, to put the haughtiest words in Cæsar’s mouth just before his fall.

75. The ‘Do not’ of the three later Folios was adopted by Johnson because Marcus Brutus would not have knelt.

76. The simple stage direction of the Folios is retained. That of the Cambridge and the Globe editions is, “Casca first, then the other Conspirators and Marcus Brutus stab Cæsar.”

77. Et tu, Brute? There is no classical authority for putting this phrase into the mouth of Cæsar. It seems to have been an Elizabethan proverb or ‘gag,’ and it is found in at least three works published earlier than Julius Cæsar. (See Introduction, Sources, p. xvi.) Cæsar had been as a father to Brutus, who was fifteen years his junior; and the Greek, [Greek: kai sy teknon] “and thou, my son!” which Dion and Suetonius put into his mouth, though probably unauthentic, is good enough to be true. In Plutarch are two detailed accounts of the assassination, that in Marcus Brutus differing somewhat from that in Julius Cæsar with regard to the nomenclature of the persons involved. The following is from Marcus Brutus: “Trebonius on the other side drew Antonius aside, as he came into the house where the Senate sat, and held him with a long talk without. When Cæsar was come into the house, all the Senate rose to honour him at his coming in. So when he was set, the conspirators flocked about him, and amongst them they presented one Tullius Cimber, who made humble suit for the calling home again of his brother that was banished. They all made as though they were intercessors for him, and took Cæsar by the hands, and kissed his head and breast. Cæsar at the first simply refused their kindness and entreaties; but afterwards, perceiving they still pressed on him, he violently thrust them from him. Then Cimber with both his hands plucked Cæsar’s gown over his shoulders, and Casca, that stood behind him, drew his dagger first and strake Cæsar upon the shoulder, but gave him no great wound. Cæsar, feeling himself hurt, took him straight by the hand he held his dagger in, and cried out in Latin: ‘O traitor Casca, what dost thou?’ Casca on the other side cried in Greek, and called his brother to help him. So divers running on a heap together to fly upon Cæsar, he, looking about him to have fled, saw Brutus with a sword drawn in his hand ready to strike at him: then he let Casca’s hand go, and casting his gown over his face, suffered every man to strike at him that would. Then the conspirators thronging one upon another, because every man was desirous to have a cut at him, so many swords and daggers lighting upon one body, one of them hurt another, and among them Brutus caught a blow on his hand, because he would make one in murthering of him, and all the rest also were every man of them bloodied.”

80. common pulpits: rostra, the public platforms in the Forum.

81. This is somewhat in the style of Caliban, when he gets glorious with “celestial liquor,” The Tempest, II, ii, 190, 191: “Freedom, hey-day! hey-day, freedom! freedom, hey-day, freedom!”

82-83. “Cæsar being slain in this manner, Brutus, standing in the middest of the house, would have spoken, and stayed the other Senators that were not of the conspiracy, to have told them the reason why they had done this fact. But they, as men both afraid and amazed, fled one upon another’s neck in haste to get out at the door, and no man followed them.”–Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.

95. abide: pay for, suffer for. So in III, ii, 114. “Through confusion of form with ‘abye,’ when that verb was becoming archaic, and through association of sense betweenabye (pay for) a deed, and abide the consequences of a deed, ‘abide’ has been erroneously used for ‘abye’ = pay for, atone for, suffer for.”–Murray.

97. “But Antonius and Lepidus, which were two of Cæsar’s chiefest friends, secretly conveying themselves away, fled into other men’s houses and forsook their own.”–Plutarch, Julius Cæsar.

98. “When the murder was newly done, there were sudden outcries of people that ran up and down.”–Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.

101. stand upon: concern themselves with. Cf. II, ii, 13. What men are chiefly concerned about is how long they can draw out their little period of mortal life. Cf. Sophocles, Ajax, 475-476: “What joy is there in day following day, as each but draws us on towards or keeps us back from death?”–J. Churton Collins.

102-103. Many modern editors have followed Pope and given this speech to Cassius. But there is no valid reason for this change from the text of the Folios. In the light of Casca’s sentiments expressed in I, iii, 100-102, this speech is more characteristic of him than of Cassius. Pope also gave Casca ll. 106-111.

116. “Cæsar … was driven … by the counsel of the conspirators, against the base whereupon Pompey’s image stood, which ran all of a gore-blood till he was slain.”–Plutarch, Julius Cæsar.

117-119. This speech and the two preceding, vaingloriously anticipating the stage celebrity of the deed, are very strange; and, unless there be a shrewd irony lurking in them, it is hard to understand the purpose of them. Their effect is to give a very ambitious air to the work of these professional patriots, and to cast a highly theatrical color on their alleged virtue, as if they had sought to immortalize themselves by “striking the foremost man of all this world.”

122. most boldest: See Abbott, § 11. So in III, ii, 182.

123. Enter a Servant: “This simple stage direction is the … turning-round of the whole action; the arch has reached its apex and the Re-action has begun.”–Moulton.

132. resolv’d: informed. This meaning is probably connected with the primary one of ‘loosen,’ ‘set free,’ through the idea of setting free from perplexity. ‘Resolve’ continued to be used in the sense of ‘inform’ and ‘answer’ until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Shakespeare uses the word in the three main senses of (1) ‘relax,’ ‘dissolve,’Hamlet, I, ii, 130; (2) ‘inform,’ as here; and (3) ‘determine,’ 3 Henry VI, III, iii, 219.

137. Thorough: Shakespeare uses ‘through’ or ‘thorough’ indifferently, as suits his verse. The two are but different forms of the same word. ‘Thorough,’ the adjective, is later than the preposition.

141. so please him come: provided that it please him to come. ‘So’ is used with the future and subjunctive to denote ‘provided that.’

146-147. still Falls shrewdly to the purpose: always comes cleverly near the mark. See Skeat under ‘shrewd’ and ‘shrew.’

153. be let blood: be put to death. So in Richard III, III, i, 183.–is rank: has grown grossly full-blooded. The idea is of one who has overtopped his equals, and grown too high for the public safety. So in the speech of Oliver in As You Like It, I, i, 90, when incensed at the high bearing of Orlando: “Is it even so? begin you to grow upon me? I will physic your rankness.”

160. Live: if I live. Cf. The Merchant of Venice, III, ii, 61.

163. In this line ‘by’ is used (1) in the sense of ‘near,’ ‘beside,’ and (2) in its ordinary sense to denote agency.

172. The first ‘fire’ is dissyllabic. The allusion is to the old notion that if a burn be held to the fire the pain will be drawn or driven out. Shakespeare has four other very similar allusions to this belief–Romeo and Juliet, I, ii, 46; Coriolanus, IV, vii, 54; The Two Gentlemen of Verona, II, iv, 192; King John, III, i, 277.

175. in strength of malice: strong as they have shown themselves to be in malice towards tyranny. Though the Folio text may be corrupt, and at least twelve emendations have been suggested, the figure as it stands is intelligible, though elliptically obscure. Grant White has indicated how thoroughly the expression is in the spirit of what Brutus has just said. In previous editions of Hudson’s Shakespeare, Singer’s conjecture of ‘amity’ for ‘malice’ was adopted. What makes this conjecture plausible is Shakespeare’s frequent use of ‘amity,’ and “strength of their amity” occurs in Antony and Cleopatra, II, vi, 137.

178-179. Brutus has been talking about “our hearts,” and “kind love, good thoughts, and reverence.” To Cassius, all that is mere rose-water humbug, and he knows it is so to Antony too. He hastens to put in such motives as he knows will have weight with Antony, as they also have with himself. And it is remarkable that several of these patriots, especially Cassius, the two Brutuses, and Trebonius, afterwards accepted the governorship of fat provinces for which they had been prospectively named by Cæsar.

181. “When Cæsar was slain, the Senate–though Brutus stood in the middest amongst them, as though he would have said something touching this fact–presently ran out of the house, and, flying, filled all the city with marvellous fear and tumult. Insomuch as some did shut to the doors.”–Plutarch, Julius Cæsar.

193. conceit: conceive of, think of. So in I, iii, 162.

197. dearer: more intensely. This emphatic or intensive use of ‘dear’ is very common in Shakespeare, and is used in the expression of strong emotion, either of pleasure or of pain.

205. bay’d: brought to bay. The expression connotes being barked at and worried as a deer by hounds. Cf. A Midsummer Nights Dream, IV, i, 118. “Cæsar turned him no where but he was stricken at by some … and was hackled and mangled among them, as a wild beast taken of hunters.”–Plutarch, Julius Cæsar.

207. Sign’d in thy spoil: This may have reference to the custom still prevalent in England and Europe of hunters smearing their hands and faces with the blood of the slain deer.–/lethe./ This puzzling term is certainly the reading of the Folios, and may mean either ‘violent death’ (Lat. letum), as ‘lethal’ means ‘deadly,’ or, as White interprets the passage, ‘the stream which bears to oblivion.’

217. prick’d: marked on the list. The image is of a list of names written out, and some of them having holes pricked in the paper against them. Cf. IV, i, 1. See Century under ‘pricking for sheriffs.’

225. full of good regard: the result of noble considerations.

229. ‘Produce’ here implies ‘motion towards’–the original Latin sense. Hence the preposition ‘to.’–market-place. Here, and elsewhere in the play, ‘the market-place’ is the Forum, and the rostra provided there for the purposes of public speaking Shakespeare calls ‘pulpits.’ In this, as in so much else, he followed North.

231. the order of his funeral: the course of the funeral ceremonies. “Then Antonius, thinking good … that his body should be honourably buried, and not in hugger-mugger, lest the people might thereby take occasion to be worse offended if they did otherwise: Cassius stoutly spake against it. But Brutus went with the motion, and agreed unto it.”–Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.

243. wrong: harm. Cf. l. 47. Note the high self-appreciation of Brutus here, in supposing that if he can but have a chance to speak to the people, and to air his wisdom before them, all will go right. Here, again, he overbears Cassius, who now begins to find the effects of having stuffed him with flatteries, and served as a mirror to “turn his hidden worthiness into his eye” (I, ii, 57-58).

263. limbs. Thirteen different words (‘kind,’ ‘line,’ ‘lives,’ ‘loins,’ ‘tombs,’ ‘sons,’ ‘times,’ etc.) have been offered by editors as substitutes for the plain, direct ‘limbs’ of the Folios. One of Johnson’s suggestions was “these lymmes,” taking ‘lymmes’ in the sense of ‘lime-hounds,’ i.e. ‘leash-hounds.’ ‘Lym’ is on the list of dogs in King Lear, III, vi, 72. In defence of the Folio text Dr. Wright quotes Timon’s curse on the senators of Athens and says, “Lear’s curses were certainly levelled at his daughter’s limbs.”

269. with: by. So in III, ii, 196. See Abbott, § 193.

272. Ate was the Greek goddess of vengeance, discord, and mischief. Shakespeare refers to her in King John, II, i, 63, as “stirring to blood and strife.” In Love’s Labour’s Lost, V, ii, 694, and Much Ado about Nothing, II, i, 263, the references to her are humorous.

274. ‘Havoc’ was anciently the word of signal for giving no quarter in a battle. It was a high crime for any one to give the signal without authority from the general in chief; hence the peculiar force of ‘monarch’s voice.’–To ‘let slip’ a dog was a term of the chase, for releasing the hounds from the ‘slip’ or leash of leather whereby they were held in hand till it was time to let them pursue the animal.–The ‘dogs of war’ are fire, sword, and famine. So in King Henry V, First Chorus, 6-8:

at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire,
Crouch for employment.


How to cite the explanatory notes:Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Henry Norman Hudson. New York: Ginn and Co., 1908.