Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: John D. Cox
Peer Reviewed

Julius Caesar (Modern)


[1.3]
Thunder and lightning. Enter Casca and Cicero.
Cicero Good even, Casca. Brought you Caesar home?
Why are you breathless, and why stare you so?
435Casca Are not you moved, when all the sway of earth
Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero,
I have seen tempests when the scolding winds
Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen
Th'ambitious ocean swell, and rage, and foam,
440To be exalted with the threatening clouds,
But never till tonight, never till now,
Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.
Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,
445Incenses them to send destruction.
Cicero Why, saw you any thing more wonderful?
Casca A common slave, you know him well by sight,
Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn
Like twenty torches joined; and yet his hand,
450Not sensible of fire, remained unscorched.
Besides--I ha'not since put up my sword--
Against the Capitol I met a lion,
Who glazed upon me and went surly by,
Without annoying me. And there were drawn
455Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,
Transformèd with their fear, who swore they saw
Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday, the bird of night did sit
Even at noonday upon the marketplace,
460Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say,
"These are their reasons, they are natural,"
For I believe they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon.
465Cicero Indeed, it is a strange disposèd time.
But men may construe things after their fashion
Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.
Comes Caesar to the Capitol tomorrow?
Casca He doth, for he did bid Antonio
470Send word to you he would be there tomorrow.
Cicero Good night then, Casca. This disturbèd sky
Is not to walk in.
Casca
Farewell Cicero.
Exit Cicero.
Enter Cassius.
475Cassius
Who's there?
Casca
A Roman.
Cassius
Casca, by your voice.
Casca Your ear is good. Cassius, what night is this?
480Cassius A very pleasing night to honest men.
Casca Who ever knew the heavens menace so?
Cassius Those that have known the earth so full of faults.
For my part, I have walked about the streets,
485Submitting me unto the perilous night,
And thus unbracèd, Casca, as you see,
Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone,
And when the cross blue lightning seemed to open
The breast of heaven, I did present myself
490Even in the aim and very flash of it.
Casca But wherefore did you so much tempt the heavens?
It is the part of men to fear and tremble,
When the most mighty gods by tokens send
Such dreadful heralds to astonish us.
495Cassius You are dull, Casca, And those sparks of life
That should be in a Roman you do want,
Or else you use not. You look pale, and gaze,
And put on fear, and cast yourself in wonder,
500To see the strange impatience of the heavens.
But if you would consider the true cause
Why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts,
Why birds and beasts from quality and kind,
Why old men, fools, and children calculate,
505Why all these things change from their ordinance,
Their natures and preformèd faculties
To monstrous quality--why, you shall find
That heaven hath infused them with these spirits
To make them instruments of fear and warning
510Unto some monstrous state.
Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man,
Most like this dreadful night,
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars,
As doth the lion in the Capitol,
515A man no mightier than thyself or me
In personal action, yet prodigious grown
And fearful, as these strange eruptions are.
Casca 'Tis Caesar that you mean. Is it not, Cassius?
520Cassius Let it be who it is, for Romans now
Have thews and limbs like to their ancestors.
But woe the while, our fathers' minds are dead,
And we are governed with our mothers' spirits.
Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish.
525Casca Indeed, they say, the senators tomorrow
Mean to establish Caesar as a king,
And he shall wear his crown by sea and land
In every place, save here in Italy.
Cassius I know where I will wear this dagger then:
530Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius.
Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong,
Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat.
Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron
535Can be retentive to the strength of spirit,
But life, being weary of these worldly bars,
Never lacks power to dismiss itself.
If I know this, know all the world besides,
That part of tyranny that I do bear
540I can shake off at pleasure.
Thunder still.
Casca
So can I:
Thunder still.
So every bondman in his own hand bears
The power to cancel his captivity.
Cassius And why should Caesar be a tyrant then?
545Poor man, I know he would not be a wolf,
But that he sees the Romans are but sheep;
He were no lion, were not Romans hinds.
Those that with haste will make a mighty fire
Begin it with weak straws. What trash is Rome,
550What rubbish and what offal, when it serves
For the base matter to illuminate
So vile a thing as Caesar! But, O grief,
Where hast thou led me? I perhaps speak this
Before a willing bondman; then I know
555My answer must be made. But I am armed,
And dangers are to me indifferent.
Casca You speak to Casca, and to such a man
That is no fleering tell-tale. Hold, my hand.
Be factious for redress of all these griefs,
560And I will set this foot of mine as far
As who goes farthest.
Cassius
There's a bargain made.
Now know you, Casca, I have moved already
Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans
565To undergo with me an enterprise
Of honorable dangerous consequence,
And I do know by this, they stay for me
In Pompey's porch. For now, this fearful night,
There is no stir or walking in the streets,
570And the complexion of the element
In favor's like the work we have in hand:
Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.
Enter Cinna.
Casca Stand close awhile, for here comes one in 575haste.
Cassius 'Tis Cinna; I do know him by his gait;
He is a friend. Cinna, where haste you so?
Cinna To find out you. Who's that, Metellus Cimber?
580Cassius No, it is Casca, one incorporate
To our attempts. Am I not stayed for, Cinna?
Cinna I am glad on't. What a fearful night is this?
There's two or three of us have seen strange sights.
585Cassius Am I not stayed for? Tell me.
Cinna Yes, you are. O Cassius, if you could
But win the noble Brutus to our party--
Cassius Be you content. Good Cinna, take this paper,
590And look you lay it in the praetor's chair,
Where Brutus may but find it. And throw this
In at his window. Set this up with wax
Upon old Brutus' statue. All this done,
Repair to Pompey's porch, where you shall find us.
595Is Decius Brutus and Trebonius there?
Cinna All but Metellus Cimber, and he's gone
To seek you at your house. Well, I will hie,
And so bestow these papers as you bade me.
Cassius That done, repair to Pompey's theater.
600
Exit Cinna.
Come, Casca, you and I will yet, ere day,
See Brutus at his house. Three parts of him
Is ours already, and the man entire
Upon the next encounter yields him ours.
605Casca Oh, he sits high in all the people's hearts,
And that which would appear offense in us,
His countenance, like richest alchemy,
Will change to virtue and to worthiness.
Cassius Him and his worth and our great need of him
610You have right well conceited. Let us go,
For it is after midnight, and ere day,
We will awake him and be sure of him.
Exeunt.