ACT III SCENE II

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Julius Caesar

ACT III SCENE II The Forum.
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,
And part the numbers.
Those that will hear me speak, let ’em stay here;  5
Those that will follow Cassius, go with him;
And public reasons shall be rendered
Of Caesar’s death.
First Citizen I will hear Brutus speak.
Second Citizen I will hear Cassius; and compare their reasons,
When severally we hear them rendered.  10
Exit CASSIUS, with some of the Citizens. BRUTUS goes into the pulpit.
Third Citizen The noble Brutus is ascended: silence!
BRUTUS Be patient till the last.
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? 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, 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? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
Who is here so rude 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.  33
All 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
his death is enrolled in the Capitol; his glory not
extenuated, wherein he was worthy, nor his offences
enforced, for which he suffered death.  39
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
commonwealth; 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.  46
All 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  50
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!
BRUTUS Good countrymen, let me depart alone,  55
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.
I do entreat you, not a man depart,  60
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.
ANTONY For Brutus’ sake, I am beholding to you.  65
Goes into the pulpit
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.
First Citizen This Caesar was a tyrant.
Third Citizen Nay, that’s certain:
We are blest that Rome is rid of him.  70
Second Citizen Peace! let us hear what Antony can say.
ANTONY You gentle Romans,–
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;  75
The good is oft interred with their bones;
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.  80
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
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:  85
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?  90
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
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  95
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
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,  100
But here I am to speak what I do know.
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;  105
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
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.
Third Citizen Has he, masters?  110
I fear there will a worse come in his place.
Fourth Citizen Mark’d ye his words? He would not take the crown;
Therefore ’tis certain he was not ambitious.
First Citizen If it be found so, some will dear abide it.
Second Citizen Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping.
Third Citizen There’s not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.  116
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.  120
O masters, if I were disposed 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  125
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 hear this testament–  130
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,  135
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.
Fourth Citizen We’ll hear the will: read it, Mark Antony.
All The will, the will! we will hear Caesar’s will.
ANTONY Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.  141
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, bearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad:
‘Tis good you know not that you are his heirs;  145
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:  150
I fear I wrong the honourable men
Whose daggers have stabb’d Caesar; I do fear it.
Fourth Citizen They were traitors: honourable men!
All The will! the testament!
Second Citizen They were villains, murderers: the will! read the will.  155
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?
Several Citizens Come down.  160
Second Citizen Descend.
Third Citizen You shall have leave.
ANTONY comes down.
Fourth Citizen A ring; stand round.
First Citizen Stand from the hearse, stand from the body.
Second Citizen Room for Antony, most noble Antony.  165
ANTONY Nay, press not so upon me; stand far off.
Several Citizens Stand back; room; bear back.
ANTONY If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle: I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on;  170
‘Twas on a summer’s evening, in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii:
Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through:
See what a rent the envious Casca made:
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb’d;  175
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 resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knock’d, or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel:  180
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
Quite vanquish’d him: then burst his mighty heart;  185
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey’s statua,
Which 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,  190
Whilst bloody treason flourish’d over us.
O, now you weep; and, I perceive, you feel
The dint of pity: these are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what, weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar’s vesture wounded? Look you here,  195
Here is himself, marr’d, as you see, with traitors.
First Citizen O piteous spectacle!
Second Citizen O noble Caesar!
Third Citizen O woful day!
Fourth Citizen O traitors, villains!  200
First Citizen O most bloody sight!
Second Citizen We will be revenged.
All Revenge! About! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay!
Let not a traitor live!
ANTONY Stay, countrymen.  205
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:  210
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;  215
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, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,  220
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,
And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony  225
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.
All We’ll mutiny.
First Citizen We’ll burn the house of Brutus.  230
Third Citizen Away, then! come, seek the conspirators.
ANTONY Yet hear me, countrymen; yet hear me speak.
All Peace, ho! Hear Antony. Most noble Antony!
ANTONY Why, friends, you go to do you know not what:
Wherein hath Caesar thus deserved your loves?
Alas, you know not: I must tell you then:
You have forgot the will I told you of.
All 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,  240
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.
All Peace, ho!
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,
And to your heirs for ever, common pleasures,
To walk abroad, and recreate yourselves.  250
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.  255
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!
Enter a Servant
How now, fellow!  260
Servant Sir, Octavius is already come to Rome.
ANTONY Where is he?
Servant He and Lepidus are at Caesar’s house.
ANTONY And thither will I straight 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.
ANTONY Belike they had some notice of the people,  269
How I had moved them. Bring me to Octavius.
Exeunt

Next: Julius Caesar, Act 3, Scene 3

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Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 2

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

10. [Exit … pulpit] Ff omit.

11. “The rest followed in troupe, but Brutus went foremost, very honourably compassed in round about with the noblest men of the city, which brought him from the Capitol, through the market-place, to the pulpit for orations. When the people saw him in the pulpit, although they were a multitude of rakehels of all sorts, and had a good will to make some stir; yet, being ashamed to do it, for the reverence they bare unto Brutus, they kept silence to hear what he would say. When Brutus began to speak, they gave him quiet audience: howbeit, immediately after, they shewed that they were not all contented with the murther.”–Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.

13. lovers: Pope changed this to ‘friends.’ But in the sixteenth century ‘lover’ and ‘friend’ were synonymous. In l. 44 Brutus speaks of Cæsar as ‘my best lover.’ So ‘Thy lover’ in II, iii, 8.

16. censure: judge. The word may have been chosen for the euphuistic jingle it makes here with ‘senses.’

26. There is tears: So in I, iii, 138. See Abbott, § 335.

36-39. The reason of his death is made a matter of solemn official record in the books of the Senate, as showing that the act of killing him was done for public ends, and not from private hate. His fame is not lessened or whittled down in those points wherein he was worthy. ‘Enforc’d’ is in antithesis to ‘extenuated.’ Exactly the same antithesis is found in Antony and Cleopatra, V, ii, 125.

43-46. In this speech Shakespeare seems to have aimed at imitating the manner actually ascribed to Brutus. “In some of his Epistles, he counterfeited that brief compendious manner of speech of the Lacedæmonians.”–Plutarch, Marcus Brutus. Shakespeare’s idea is sustained by the Dialogus de Oratoribus, ascribed to Tacitus, wherein it is said that Brutus’s style of eloquence was censured as otiosum et disjunctum. Verplanck remarks, “the disjunctum, the broken-up style, without oratorical continuity, is precisely that assumed by the dramatist.” Gollancz finds a probable original of this speech in Belleforest’s Histoires Tragiques (Hamlet); Dowden thinks Shakespeare received hints from the English version (1578) of Appian’s Roman Wars.

65. beholding: This Elizabethan corruption of ‘beholden’ occurs constantly in the Folios of 1623, 1632, and 1664. The Fourth Folio usually has ‘beholden.’ Here Camb has ‘Goes into the pulpit.’

72. “Afterwards when Cæsar’s body was brought into the market-place, Antonius making his funeral oration in praise of the dead, according to the ancient custom of Rome, and perceiving that his words moved the common people to compassion, he framed his eloquence to make their hearts yearn the more; and taking Cæsar’s gown all bloody in his hand, he laid it open to the sight of them all, shewing what a number of cuts and holes it had upon it. Therewithal the people fell presently into such a rage and mutiny, that there was no more order kept amongst the common people.”–Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.[A] How Shakespeare elaborates this!

A. There is a similar passage in Plutarch, Marcus Antonius.

75-76. So in Henry VIII, IV, ii, 45: “Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues We write in water.”

89. Cæsar’s campaigns in Gaul put vast sums of money into his hands, a large part of which he kept to his own use, as he might have kept it all; but he did also, in fact, make over much of it to the public treasury. This was a very popular act, as it lightened the taxation of the city.

95. on the Lupercal: at the festival of the Lupercal.

99. These repetitions of ‘honourable man’ are intensely ironical; and for that very reason the irony should be studiously kept out of the voice in pronouncing them. Speakers and readers utterly spoil the effect of the speech by specially emphasizing the irony. For, from the extreme delicacy of his position, Antony is obliged to proceed with the utmost caution, until he gets the audience thoroughly in his power. The consummate adroitness which he uses to this end is one of the greatest charms of this oration.

103. to mourn: from mourning. The gerundive use of the infinitive.

104. ‘Brutish’ is by no means tautological here, the antithetic sense of human brutes being most artfully implied.

110. It was here, as the first words of the reply of the Third Citizen, that Pope would have inserted the quotation preserved in Jonson’s Discoveries, discussed in note, p. 83, ll. 47-48. Pope’s note is:

“Cæsar has had great wrong.
3 PLEB. Cæsar had never wrong, but with just cause.

If ever there was such a line written by Shakespeare, I should fancy it might have its place here, and very humorously in the character of a Plebeian.” Craik inserted ‘not’ after ‘Has he.’

120. And there are none so humble but that the great Cæsar is now beneath their reverence, or too low for their regard.

133. napkins: handkerchiefs. In the third scene of the third act of Othello the two words are used interchangeably.

150. o’ershot myself to tell: gone too far in telling. Another example of the infinitive used as a gerund. Cf. l. 103 and II, i, 135.

152. Antony now sees that he has the people wholly with him, so that he is perfectly safe in stabbing the stabbers with these words.

166. far: farther. The old comparative of ‘far’ is ‘farrer’ (sometimes ‘ferrar’) still heard in dialect, and the final -er will naturally tend to be slurred. So The Winter’s Tale, IV, iv, 441, “Far than Deucalion off.” So ‘near’ for ‘nearer’ in Richard II, III, ii, 64.

178. resolv’d: informed, assured. See note, p. 90, l. 132.

172. This is the artfullest and most telling stroke in Antony’s speech. The Romans prided themselves most of all upon their military virtue and renown: Cæsar was their greatest military hero; and his victory over the Nervii was his most noted military exploit. It occurred during his second campaign in Gaul, in the summer of the year B.C. 57, and is narrated with surpassing vividness in the second book of his Gallic War. Plutarch, in his Julius Cæsar, gives graphic details of this famous victory and the effect upon the Roman people of the news of Cæsar’s personal prowess, when “flying in amongst the barbarous people,” he “made a lane through them that fought before him.” Of course the matter about the ‘mantle’ is purely fictitious: Cæsar had on the civic gown, not the military cloak, when killed; and it was, in fact, the mangled toga that Antony displayed on this occasion; but the fiction has the effect of making the allusion to the victory seem perfectly artless and incidental.

180. ‘Angel’ here seems to mean his counterpart, his good genius, or a kind of better and dearer self. See note, p. 47, l. 66.

193. ‘Dint’ (Anglo-Saxon dynt; cf. provincial ‘dunt’) originally means ‘blow’; the text has it in the secondary meaning of ‘impression’ made by a blow. Shakespeare uses the word in both senses.

207. The Folios give this speech like that in 203-204 to ‘Second Citizen,’ but it should surely be given to ‘All.’

219. Johnson suggests that the ‘writ’ of the First Folio may not be a printer’s slip but used in the sense of a ‘penned or premeditated oration.’ Malone adopted and defended the First Folio reading.

239. “For first of all, when Cæsar’s testament was openly read among them, whereby it appeared that he bequeathed unto every citizen of Rome seventy-five drachmas a man; and that he left his gardens and arbors unto the people, which he had on this side of the river Tiber, in the place where now the temple of Fortune is built: the people then loved him, and were marvellous sorry for him.”–Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.

241. The drachma (lit. ‘what can be grasped in the hand’) was the principal silver coin of the ancient Greeks, and while the nominal value of it was about that of the modern drachma (by law of the same value as the French franc) its purchasing power was much greater. Cæsar left to each citizen three hundred sesterces; Plutarch gives seventy-five drachmas as the Greek equivalent.

248. As this scene lies in the Forum, near the Capitol, Cæsar’s gardens are, in fact, on the other side of the Tiber. But Shakespeare wrote as he read in Plutarch. See quotation, p. 111, l. 239.

252. “Therewithal the people fell presently into such a rage and mutiny, that there was no more order kept amongst the common people. For some of them cried out ‘Kill the murderers’; others plucked up forms, tables, and stalls about the market-place, as they had done before at the funerals of Clodius, and having laid them all on a heap together, they set them on fire, and thereupon did put the body of Cæsar, and burnt it in the midst of the most holy places. When the fire was throughly kindled, some took burning firebrands, and ran with them to the murderers’ houses that killed him, to set them on fire.”–Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.

254. fire: Cf. III, i, 172. Monosyllables ending in ‘r’ or ‘re,’ preceded by a long vowel or diphthong, are often pronounced as dissyllabic.

258. forms: benches. The word used in preceding quotation from Plutarch. The Old Fr. forme, mediæval Lat. forma, was sometimes applied to choir-stalls, with back, and book-rest. “For the origin of this use of the word, cf. Old French s’asseoir en forme, to sit in a row or in fixed order.”–Murray. Nowhere in literature is there a more realistic study and interpretation of the temper of a mob (a word that has come into use since Shakespeare’s time) than in this scene and the short one which follows. Here is the true mob-spirit, fickle, inflammable, to be worked on by any demagogue with promises in his mouth.

265. upon a wish: as soon as wished for. Cf. I, ii, 104.

268. rid: ridden. So ‘writ’ for ‘written,’ IV, iii, 183.

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