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Julius Caesar

ACT V SCENE V Another part of the field.
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.
BRUTUS Sit thee down, Clitus: slaying is the word;
It is a deed in fashion. Hark thee, Clitus.  5
CLITUS What, I, my lord? No, not for all the world.
BRUTUS Peace then! no words.
CLITUS I’ll rather kill myself.
BRUTUS Hark thee, Dardanius.
DARDANIUS Shall I do such a deed?
CLITUS O Dardanius!
DARDANIUS O Clitus!  10
CLITUS What ill request did Brutus make to thee?
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.  15
VOLUMNIUS What says my lord?
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.
VOLUMNIUS Not so, my lord.  20
BRUTUS Nay, I am sure it is, Volumnius.
Thou seest the world, Volumnius, how it goes;
Our enemies have beat us to the pit:
Low alarums.
It is more worthy to leap in ourselves,
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,
Hold thou my sword-hilts, whilst I run on it.
VOLUMNIUS That’s not an office for a friend, my lord.
Alarum still.
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
I found no man but he was true to me.  35
I shall have glory by this losing day
More than Octavius and Mark Antony
By this vile conquest shall attain unto.
So fare you well at once; for Brutus’ tongue
Hath almost ended his life’s history:  40
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! I will follow.
I prithee, Strato, stay thou by thy lord:
Thou art a fellow of a good respect;  45
Thy life hath had some smatch of honour in it:
Hold then my sword, and turn away thy face,
While I do run upon it. Wilt thou, Strato?
STRATO Give me your hand first. Fare you well, my lord.
BRUTUS Farewell, good Strato.
Runs on his sword.
Caesar, now be still:  50
I kill’d not thee with half so good a will.
Alarum. Retreat. Enter OCTAVIUS, ANTONY, MESSALA, LUCILIUS, and the army.
OCTAVIUS What man is that?
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;  55
For Brutus only overcame himself,
And no man else hath honour by his death.
LUCILIUS So Brutus should be found. I thank thee, Brutus,
That thou hast proved Lucilius’ saying true.
OCTAVIUS All that served Brutus, I will entertain them.
Fellow, wilt thou bestow thy time with me?
STRATO Ay, if Messala will prefer me to you.
OCTAVIUS Do so, good Messala.
MESSALA How died my master, Strato?
STRATO I held the sword, and he did run on it.  65
MESSALA Octavius, then take him to follow thee,
That did the latest service to my master.
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.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mix’d in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world ‘This was a man!’  75
OCTAVIUS According to his virtue let us use him,
With all respect and rites of burial.
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.

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Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 5

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

3. “Brutus thought that there was no great number of men slain in battle; and, to know the truth of it, there was one called Statilius that promised to go through his enemies, for otherwise it was impossible to go see their camp; and from thence, if all were well, that he would lift up a torch-light in the air, and then return again with speed to him. The torch-light was lift up as he had promised, for Statilius went thither. Now, Brutus seeing Statilius tarry long after that, and that he came not again, he said, ‘If Statilius be alive, he will come again.’ But his evil fortune was such that, as he came back, he lighted in his enemies’ hands and was slain. Now the night being far spent, Brutus as he sat bowed towards Clitus, one of his men, and told him somewhat in his ear: the other answered him not, but fell a-weeping. Thereupon he proved[A] Dardanus, and said somewhat also to him: at length he came to Volumnius himself, and speaking to him in Greek, prayed him for the studies’ sake which brought them acquainted together, that he would help him to put his hand to his sword, to thrust it in him to kill him. Volumnius denied his request, and so did many others.”– Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.

A. i.e. tried. Cf. 1 Samuel, XVII, 39.

17. “The second battle being at hand, this spirit appeared again unto him, but spake never a word. Thereupon Brutus, knowing that he should die, did put himself to all hazard in battle, but yet fighting could not be slain.”– Plutarch, Julius Cæsar. Merivale has a strong sentence on this: “The legend that when preparing for the encounter with the triumvirs he was visited by the ghost of Cæsar, which summoned him to meet again at Philippi, marks the conviction of the ancients that in the crisis of his fate he was stung by guilty remorse, and haunted by the presentiment of final retribution.”

43. “Amongst the rest, one of them said, there was no tarrying for them there, but that they must needs fly. Then Brutus, rising up, ‘We must fly indeed,’ said he, ‘but it must be with our hands, not with our feet.’ Then, taking every man by the hand, he said these words unto them with a cheerful countenance: ‘It rejoiceth my heart, that not one of my friends hath failed me at my need, and I do not complain of my fortune, but only for my country’s sake: for, as for me, I think myself happier than they that have overcome, considering that I leave a perpetual fame of virtue and honesty, the which our enemies the conquerors shall never attain unto by force or money.’ Having so said, he prayed every man to shift for himself, and then he went a little aside with two or three only, among the which Strato was one, with whom he came first acquainted by the study of rhetoric. Strato, at his request, held the sword in his hand, and turned his head aside, and Brutus fell down upon it, and so ran himself through … and died presently.”– Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.

45. of a good respect: of good reputation, well-esteemed. Cf. I, ii, 59.

46. smatch: smack, taste. “With the forms ‘smack’ for the verb and ‘smatch’ for the noun, compare ‘ake’ and ‘ache’ as used in the First Folio of Shakespeare.”– Clar. Cf.2 Henry IV, I, ii, 111.

47. “Scarcely any of those who were accessory to his murder survived him more than three years, or died a natural death. They were all condemned by the Senate: some were taken off by one accident, some by another. Part of them perished at sea, others fell in battle; and some slew themselves with the same poniard with which they had stabbed Cæsar.”– Suetonius, Julius Cæsar.

60. will entertain them: will take them into my service.

62. prefer: recommend. Cf. The Merchant of Venice, II, ii, 155.

68. Cf. Antony’s soliloquy on Cæsar, III, i, 257-258.

69-70. “Antonius spake … that of all them that had slain Cæsar, there was none but Brutus only that was moved … thinking the act commendable of itself; but that all the other conspirators did conspire his death for some private malice or envy that they otherwise did bear unto him.”– Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.

73-74. This refers to the old doctrine of the four elements, earth, water, air, and fire, a right proportion of which was supposed to be the principle of all excellence in nature. Shakespeare has many allusions to the doctrine, which was a commonplace of the sixteenth century. It is this common property in the idea which invalidates the importance of the argument for the date of Julius Cæsar drawn from a similar passage in Drayton’s revised version of his Mortimeriados (1596-1597) published in 1603 under the title of The Barons’ Wars.

79. Most like a soldier: Cf. with these words of Octavius the speech of Fortinbras with which Hamlet closes:

Let four captains
Bear Hamlet, like a soldier, to the stage;
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have prov’d most royally.

80. call the field to rest: give the signal to cease fighting. ‘Field,’ by metonymy, is occasionally used in sixteenth century literature as synonymous with ‘battle’ or ‘order of battle.’ Cf. the expression ‘to gather a field,’ meaning ‘to collect an armed force.’ So in Hall’s Chronicles, 1548: “my lorde of Winchester intended to gather any feld or assemble people.” Cf., too, ‘field’ as a hunting term.

81. part: distribute. A specific meaning of ‘part’ used to be ‘share one with another.’ This sense is now obsolete or provincial.



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