The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

by William Shakespeare

Previous Chapter Next Chapter

Act II - Scene I

Enter Brutus in his orchard.

  BRUTUS. 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!
Enter Lucius.

  LUCIUS. Call'd you, my lord?
  BRUTUS. Get me a taper in my study, Lucius.
    When it is lighted, come and call me here.
  LUCIUS. I will, my lord. Exit.
  BRUTUS. 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 Caesar,
    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 Caesar may;
    Then, lest he may, prevent. And, since the quarrel
    Will bear no color 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.

  LUCIUS. 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.
                                           Gives him the letter.
  BRUTUS. Get you to bed again, it is not day.
    Is not tomorrow, boy, the ides of March?
  LUCIUS. I know not, sir.
  BRUTUS. Look in the calendar and bring me word.
  LUCIUS. I will, sir. Exit.
  BRUTUS. The exhalations whizzing in the air
    Give so much light that I may read by them.
                                     Opens the letter and reads.
    "Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake and see thyself!
    Shall Rome, etc. Speak, strike, redress!"
    "Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake!"
    Such instigations have been often dropp'd
    Where I have took them up.
    "Shall Rome, etc." 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 receivest
    Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!
Re-enter Lucius.

  LUCIUS. Sir, March is wasted fifteen days.
                                                Knocking within.
  BRUTUS. 'Tis good. Go to the gate, somebody knocks.
                                                    Exit Lucius.
    Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar
    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.

  LUCIUS. Sir, 'tis your brother Cassius at the door,
    Who doth desire to see you.
  BRUTUS. Is he alone?
  LUCIUS. No, sir, there are more with him.
  BRUTUS. Do you know them?
  LUCIUS. 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 favor.
  BRUTUS. Let 'em enter. Exit Lucius.
    They are the faction. O Conspiracy,
    Shamest 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.
    Enter the conspirators, Cassius, Casca, Decius, Cinna,
                Metellus Cimber, and Trebonius.
  CASSIUS. I think we are too bold upon your rest.
    Good morrow, Brutus, do we trouble you?
  BRUTUS. I have been up this hour, awake all night.
    Know I these men that come along with you?
  CASSIUS. Yes, every man of them, and no man here
    But honors you, and every one doth wish
    You had but that opinion of yourself
    Which every noble Roman bears of you.
    This is Trebonius.
  BRUTUS. He is welcome hither.
  CASSIUS. This, Decius Brutus.
  BRUTUS. He is welcome too.
CASSIUS. This, Casca; this, Cinna; and this, Metellus Cimber.
  BRUTUS. They are all welcome.
    What watchful cares do interpose themselves
    Betwixt your eyes and night?
  CASSIUS. Shall I entreat a word? They whisper.
  DECIUS. Here lies the east. Doth not the day break here?
  CASCA. No.
  CINNA. O, pardon, sir, it doth, and yongrey lines
    That fret the clouds are messengers of day.
  CASCA. You shall confess that you are both deceived.
    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.
  BRUTUS. Give me your hands all over, one by one.
  CASSIUS. And let us swear our resolution.
  BRUTUS. 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 valor
    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 engaged
    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 the 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.
  CASSIUS. But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him?
    I think he will stand very strong with us.
  CASCA. Let us not leave him out.
  CINNA. No, by no means.
  METELLUS. 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 judgement ruled our hands;
    Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
    But all be buried in his gravity.
  BRUTUS. O, name him not; let us not break with him,
    For he will never follow anything
    That other men begin.
  CASSIUS. Then leave him out.
  CASCA. Indeed he is not fit.
  DECIUS. Shall no man else be touch'd but only Caesar?
  CASSIUS. Decius, well urged. I think it is not meet
    Mark Antony, so well beloved of Caesar,
    Should outlive Caesar. 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 Caesar fall together.
  BRUTUS. 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 Caesar.
    Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
    We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar,
    And in the spirit of men there is no blood.
    O, that we then could come by Caesar's spirit,
    And not dismember Caesar! But, alas,
    Caesar 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 Caesar's arm
    When Caesar's head is off.
  CASSIUS. Yet I fear him,
    For in the ingrated love he bears to Caesar-
  BRUTUS. Alas, good Cassius, do not think of him.
    If he love Caesar, all that he can do
    Is to himself, take thought and die for Caesar.
    And that were much he should, for he is given
    To sports, to wildness, and much company.
  TREBONIUS. There is no fear in him-let him not die,
    For he will live and laugh at this hereafter.
                                                  Clock strikes.
  BRUTUS. Peace, count the clock.
  CASSIUS. The clock hath stricken three.
  TREBONIUS. 'Tis time to part.
  CASSIUS. But it is doubtful yet
    Whether Caesar will come forth today 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 today.
  DECIUS. Never fear that. If he be so resolved,
    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 humor the true bent,
    And I will bring him to the Capitol.
  CASSIUS. Nay, we will all of us be there to fetch him.
  BRUTUS. By the eighth hour. Is that the utter most?
  CINNA. Be that the uttermost, and fail not then.
  METELLUS. Caius Ligarius doth bear Caesar hard,
    Who rated him for speaking well of Pompey.
    I wonder none of you have thought of him.
  BRUTUS. 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.
  CASSIUS. 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.
  BRUTUS. Good gentlemen, look fresh and merrily;
    Let not our looks put on our purposes,
    But bear it as our Roman actors do,
    With untired spirits and formal constancy.
    And so, good morrow to you every one.
                                          Exeunt all but 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.
Enter Portia.

  PORTIA. Brutus, my lord!
  BRUTUS. 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.
  PORTIA. Nor for yours neither. have 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 stared upon me with ungentle looks.
    I urged 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 waiter 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 humor,
    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.
  BRUTUS. I am not well in health, and that is all.
  PORTIA. Brutus is wise, and, were he not in health,
    He would embrace the means to come by it.
  BRUTUS. Why, so I do. Good Portia, go to bed.
  PORTIA. Is Brutus sick, and is it physical
    To walk unbraced and suck up the humors
    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 offense 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, yourself, your half,
    Why you are heavy and what men tonight
    Have had resort to you; for here have been
    Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
    Even from darkness.
  BRUTUS. Kneel not, gentle Portia.
  PORTIA. 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 or 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.
  BRUTUS. You are my true and honorable wife,
    As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
    That visit my sad heart.
  PORTIA. 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?
  BRUTUS. 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.

  LUCIUS. Here is a sick man that would speak with you.
  BRUTUS. Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spake of.
    Boy, stand aside. Caius Ligarius, how?
  LIGARIUS. Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble tongue.
  BRUTUS. O, what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,
    To wear a kerchief! Would you were not sick!
  LIGARIUS. I am not sick, if Brutus have in hand
    Any exploit worthy the name of honor.
  BRUTUS. Such an exploit have I in hand, Ligarius,
    Had you a healthful ear to hear of it.
  LIGARIUS. By all the gods that Romans bow before,
    I here discard my sickness! Soul of Rome!
    Brave son, derived from honorable loins!
    Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjured 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?
  BRUTUS. A piece of work that will make sick men whole.
  LIGARIUS. But are not some whole that we must make sick?
  BRUTUS. That must we also. What it is, my Caius,
    I shall unfold to thee, as we are going
    To whom it must be done.
  LIGARIUS. Set on your foot,
    And with a heart new-fired I follow you,
    To do I know not what; but it sufficeth
    That Brutus leads me on.
  BRUTUS. Follow me then. 


Return to the The Tragedy of Julius Caesar Summary Return to the William Shakespeare Library

Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson