Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: John D. Cox
Peer Reviewed

Julius Caesar: Textual Introduction


Textual Introduction

1Julius Caesar appeared in only one early version, and all subsequent texts are based on it. This is the version in the First Folio, printed in 1623 by William and Isaac Jaggard as a profit-making venture undertaken by four individuals named on the last page of the book. The publishers were assisted in their venture by John Heminge and Henry Condell, Shakespeare's fellow actors, who signed a brief and much-quoted preface, "To the great Variety of Readers." Two copies of the Folio text appear in facsimile on the ISE website, together with a diplomatic transcription of the facsimile that Charlton Hinman prepared and published with W. W. Norton in 1968 (subsequently republished with a new introduction by Peter Blayney in 1996 [Blayney, Norton Facsimile]). Readers of the modernized ISE text of Julius Caesar thus have unparalleled access with unequalled ease to the text on which it is based—or at least to three versions of that text, as will become clear in what follows.

The Printing of Julius Caesar in the Folio

2A great deal is known about the Folio and about the text of Julius Caesar in particular, and a great deal more is the subject of informed scholarly speculation. A "folio" was a large book, printed from sheets of approximately 14" by 18" (35cm by 45cm), with each sheet folded once to make a total of four pages when printed on both sides in the finished book. These sheets were gathered in separately sewn "quires," or groups of three sheets, so that each quire was equivalent to twelve printed pages, or about half the length of a typical play. In Hinman's facsimile Julius Caesar occupies all twelve pages of the tenth quire in the tragedies (marked with the printer's alphabetical "signature," kk) and ten pages of the twelfth quire (marked ll). Quires were eventually sewn together, and the book was sold in bookshops unbound. The cost of binding was usually borne later by the customer, if he or she chose to pay it; no unbound copy of the Folio survives today. Skilled workers called "compositors" set the type by hand, with each letter and punctuation mark normally represented by a different piece of type (called simply a "type" by printers), though groups of two and sometimes even three letters were sometimes manufactured on a single type, called a "ligature." Compositors had to learn not only how to select and correctly set individual types that were a mirror image of the letters to be printed but also how to set pages of the script out of order and sometimes even in reverse order.

3This emphatically non-linear process was required for efficiency. As Charlton Hinman showed in his study of the Folio, compositors did not work page by page; they worked by the sheet. Each side of a sheet of paper in a given quire was printed from a single "forme," or two pages of type locked into a frame called a "chase." The inside sheet was printed first, with two facing pages (114 and 115 in the first quire for Julius Caesar) on one side, and 113 and 116, printed from a separate forme, on the other. A compositor began setting the two innermost pages and proceeded outwards, so that the final forme set for the first quire of Julius Caesar was for pages 120 and 109, on the reverse side of 119 and 110, respectively.

This illustration shows the two quires that make up Julius Caesar (and the first two pages of Macbeth) in the Folio. Each group of two pages (120 and 109, for example) was set by the compositor in a single "forme" for the printing press. When all six sides of the three sheets in each quire had been printed and the printing ink had dried, the sheets were folded as shown, gathered in their proper order, and sewn through the fold or "gutter." Eventually all sewn quires were assembled in the order of their printer's "signatures" (denoted alphabetically), stabbed across the gutter margin and sewn together. This is the form in which the book was sold. A leather binding was added at the cost of the purchaser.

4The efficiency of this method was determined by the need to recycle scarce (because expensive) type in order to keep the compositors busy. Having printed all pages from the first forme (for the Folio, this probably involved about 750 copies [Blayney, Norton Facsimile, xxxiii]), a compositor unlocked the chase, and replaced (or "distributed") its type in one of two of his set of type-cases, one for Roman letters and one for Italic, each with separate boxes for each letter of the alphabet (lower-case and upper-case—terms still in use that derive from the early print shop [Moxon, 27-30]), for all the ligatures, for every kind of punctuation, for numerals, for decorations, and for spaces of various sizes. The compositor then used the same type to set another forme. With enough type in the shop to set two formes at once, compositors could thus work continuously, but the method indicates that a given compositor was likely to learn very little about linear features of the play whose type he was setting, such as plot and character, especially since print shops typically worked on more than one book at a time, so a compositor would be continuously shifting from one to another.

5Experienced printers were able to estimate how many printed pages would be required by a given manuscript, and on the basis of their estimate the type for each printed page was "cast off," so that the compositor could begin setting type for page 6 of the first quire for a given play without wasting expensive imported paper in the end. The casting-off for Julius Caesar was quite accurate, as one can see from the final page of the play in the Folio, which leaves about half the page blank—filled with "FINIS" and a large printer's ornament. By contrast, the play immediately preceding Julius Caesar in the Folio, Timon of Athens, occupies a space originally cast off for a longer play, Troilus and Cressida, and two full pages therefore remain void of play text at the end, one partially filled with a list of characters in Timon and the other left entirely blank—an unusual outcome and an undesirable one where the project's financial profit was concerned, because it wasted paper. Lists of characters like the one at the end of Timon—included for just seven plays out of thirty-six in the Folio—invariably occur only at the end of plays that were inaccurately cast off or were subject to some other printing anomaly, thus allowing space on the last page for such a list. Descriptions of characters in these lists ("Caliban, a saluage and deformed slaue," "Cassio, an honourable Lieutenant") therefore need to be regarded with some skepticism as to authorial intent, since the lists were made possible only by the circumstances of printing and were therefore necessarily generated in the printing house seven years after the author's death.

6Scholars who have become familiar with early printing methods have reconstructed remarkable detail about the printing of the Folio. In an essay published in1920 Thomas Satchell pointed out distinct habits of spelling, punctuation, and spacing in Folio Macbeth, occurring in patterns that could best be explained by the typesetting of two compositors, whom Satchell designated A and B. Satchell's observation was substantiated and expanded almost fifty years later, in the unparalleled two-volume study by Charlton Hinman, The Printing and Proof-Reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare, which makes the case for a total of five compositors, whom Hinman designated A through E, following Satchell's example. Since Hinman's book was published, others have refined his research, and some scholars argue for as many as nine compositors who set type for the Folio, though the method of analysis has tended to yield diminishing returns. For Julius Caesar in particular, Hinman found that the typesetting was done by two journeyman compositors, A and B, who set most of the tragedies from two type-cases, x and y, with which they were respectively associated. Compositor B, however, had the major responsibility for Julius Caesar, setting all but three pages in the tenth quire in the tragedies (kk3v, kk3, kk2v) and one in the eleventh (ll5), which were set by A (Hinman, Printing, 169, 177, 183). Hinman's analysis of typesetting for Julius Caesar is still substantially accepted by most textual scholars (Blayney, Norton Facsimile, xxxvii).

The Proofreading of the Folio

7In the early seventeenth century, books were not proofread as scrupulously as they have since come to be, but scholars have found evidence that the Folio was proofread in two stages: first, before the print run for a given forme was started, and second, while the print run was in progress (Blayney, First Folio, 15-16). The first kind of proofreading is familiar today, though in the early seventeenth century it was likely to have been done in a cursory fashion in the print shop, while the second kind of proofreading is quite unfamiliar and requires some explanation. Evidence for it is in pages from existing copies of the Folio that can be found in both corrected and uncorrected states. These are possible because early printers did not discard pages on which mistakes were found and corrected in subsequent sheets: the paper was too valuable to be discarded. Instead, the uncorrected sheets were hung after printing to dry with corrected ones and were then collected into quires without regard to their order in printing (Blayney, First Folio, 14-15). As a consequence, different copies of the Folio as originally printed can be found with both corrected and uncorrected pages in various quires. Just one page of Julius Caesar was corrected during its print run: ll5 (737 in the Norton Facsimile), on which three substantive corrections appear: "haue not crown'd" for "haue crown'd" (TLN 2587), "mo" for "no" (TLN 2591), and "Low Alarums" for "Loud Alarums" (TLN 2667) (Hinman, Printing and Proof-Reading, 1.299). These are substantive variants that were noticed and corrected in the process of printing this particular forme, and examples of both readings can be found in existing copies of the Folio. "Such errors," as Hinman points out, "would not have been noticed unless the page were being read with some attention to the meaning of the text" (Printing and Proof-Reading, 1.300).

8Another kind of printing anomaly works the opposite way and by accident, rather than by design. This kind of variant occurs if type was somehow damaged in the process of printing a given forme. An example appears on kk2 of Julius Caesar (719 of the Norton Facsimile), where some copies of the Folio have a perfect question mark at the end of TLN 242 ("Why should that name be sounded more then yours?") and a perfect period at the end of TLN 276 ("Haue strucke but thus much shew of fire from Brutus"). Both punctuation marks were somehow damaged during the print run for this forme, and they were damaged at different times, as indicated by their undamaged condition in various other copies of the Folio (Hinman, Printing and Proof-Reading, 1.299). In the copy of this page selected for Hinman's Norton Facsimile, both types are damaged, as they are in the Brandeis facsimile on the ISE website. In the ISE's New South Wales facsimile, however, the period at the end of TLN 276 is still intact, as it is in some of the Folios belonging to the Folger Shakespeare Library (numbers 4 and 62). In other Folger Folios (numbers 13 and 58) both types are undamaged. This is a good example of the fact that no surviving copy of the Folio is likely to be identical in every respect to any other. Hinman described the Norton Facsimile as representing "the latest or most fully corrected state of the text" for each page (xxii), but no particular copy of the Folio ever actually existed in this state, and in the case of damage to a page early in a print run, the "latest" state of that page is the damaged or imperfect state, which is presumably why Hinman chose a damaged example of kk2, rather than an undamaged example.

9As in virtually any text, occasional errors in the Folio derive from a compositor's haste or oversight. Remarkably few such errors occur in Julius Caesar—a tribute to the skill of the journeyman compositors who set it—but they are characteristic. Two errors look like the result of careless type distribution. In TLN 922 ("Within tho Bond of Marriage, tell me Brutus,"), "o" has been substituted for "e" in "the," and in TLN 2097 ("When I spoke that, I was ill rember'd too."), "r" has been substituted for "t" in "temper'd." Both of these errors probably occurred because Compositor B had placed a type into the wrong box when distributing an earlier forme.

A type case, from Joseph Moxon, Mechanick Exercises on the Whole Art of Printing, London, 1683.

10Harder to explain is the ghost "s" that appears just after the period in TLN 2097, though it would seem to be an uncorrected compositor's error. Another kind of mistake occurs in TLN 896 ("I should not know you Brntus"), where Compositor B turned a "u" upside down, so that it looks like an "n." Another turned "u" in TLN 2608 ("I am the Sonne of Marcns Cato, hoe") was corrected during the press run for ll5 (Hinman, Printing and Proof-Reading, 1.299).

11A reader of any given early copy of the Folio today may encounter other kinds of variants than those just described, but these others are not the consequence of original printing and proofreading. Despite the extraordinary monetary value the Folio has now acquired (a copy sold in 2006 for over $5m), it was just another book when it was first printed, retailing at about £1 (Blayney, First Folio, 25-29), so owners used and abused it in many different ways, especially after 1664, when a version was printed with seven additional plays (including, for the first time, Pericles). As Peter Blayney notes, "To most owners before the late eighteenth century, a First Folio was merely an outdated book in poor condition," because it contained fewer plays than newer versions and was much older (First Folio, 32). When the textual authority of the Folio was recognized for the first time in the late eighteenth century, its monetary value began to increase, so owners and booksellers sometimes took copies apart in order to create a "perfect" one in a new binding. Copies of the Folio exist today in this reorganized state, and bibliographical expertise is required to distinguish them from copies that are unchanged since their original printing in 1623.

Other Early Printed Editions of Julius Caesar

12Sales of the 1623 Folio were sufficiently brisk to enable a reprint in 1632, now called the Second Folio, a facsimile of which appears on the ISE website, depicting an imperfect copy in Australia. Subsequent reprints appeared again in the Third Folio (1663) with a variant the following year, as noted above, that included seven plays ascribed to Shakespeare, though only one is still thought to represent his writing, and in 1685, the Fourth Folio. Some minor errors in Julius Caesar were corrected in these versions, as noted in the textual collation, but they are all reprints of the Folio. Equally derivative from the Folio are the first printings of Julius Caesar in a volume by itself, called a "quarto" because it was printed on sheets folded twice, thus producing eight individual pages, each a quarter the size of the full sheet. Six quartos of Julius Caesar were separately printed in the late seventeenth century, but only two, from 1684 and 1691, contain a date, and all seem to have been published to take advantage of the play's popularity after Betterton revived it at Drury Lane in 1682 (Bartlett, 123, 131). Some of the quartos again correct minor errors in the Folio, as noted in the collation.

The Copy for Julius Caesar in The Folio

13Though the Folio contains the earliest text of Julius Caesar, the Folio title page claims that the plays are "Published according the True Originall Copies," a point Heminge and Condell emphasize in their preface, "To the great Variety of Readers," by claiming to have eschewed "diuerse stolne, and surreptitious copies, maimed, and deformed by the frauds and stealthes of iniurious impostors" in favor of those that are "cur'd, and perfect of their limbes" (Norton Facsimile, 7). No manuscript of any play in the Folio survives, but the financial investment of Heminge and Condell in the Folio is likely to have been in the form of discounted manuscript copy where necessary (Blayney, Norton Facsimile, xxix), because playing companies owned the plays they performed. A great deal of scholarly ingenuity has therefore gone into determining what the copy for each play was, and what the actors may have meant by their distinction between "deformed" and "perfect" copy. In some cases the copy was demonstrably a quarto edition of a play published before the Folio, but some quartos seem to be better than others, and no quarto was published for Julius Caesar and for seventeen other of the Folio's thirty-six plays before the Folio itself, so various kinds of manuscript copy have been hypothesized. Until recently, bibliographical theory established by early twentieth-century scholars, especially W. W. Greg, had proposed that manuscript copy for plays usually consisted of either "foul papers" or the "prompt book." These terms referred respectively to a playwright's own corrected draft of a play and to a fair copy inscribed for performance (adding stage directions and regularizing speech prefixes, for example) by the acting company.

14Julius Caesar presents a problem to the hypothesis of foul papers and prompt-book copy. On one hand several features make it look authorial. Some of its stage directions are descriptive, for example, rather than theatrical, as Greg pointed out: "Enter . . . certaine Commoners" (TLN 2), "Enter Brutus in his Orchard" (615), "Enter Iulius Caesar in his Night-gowne" (984) (Greg, Editorial, 143-44). Moreover, some entrances and several exits (TLN 681, 701, 1540, 2153, 2230, 2301, 2532, 2565, 2603) are omitted, and stage directions for music are sometimes missing where the action and dialogue would seem to indicate that music should be heard (TLN 84-86, 100, 277). The occasional spelling of Latin names as if they were Italian would appear to be authorial ("Antonio," "Octavio," "Claudio," "Flavio,"), perhaps because Shakespeare had recently written plays set in modern Italy, using Italian names. Possibly, as Arthur Humphreys speculates, had Shakespeare "given the matter thought he would have altered them" (Oxford 1, 74), but David Daniell points out that "Antonio" is consistently Caesar's usage, as if it were intended to be friendly or familiar (Arden 3, 125). Shakespeare always preferred the anglicized "Antony" (or "Anthony") to the Latin "Antonius," so it is not clear that he would necessarily have "corrected" the Italian forms. The point is that neither recent editor doubts that the spellings are Shakespeare's, whether or not they were mistakes, and these seeming misspellings therefore suggest that the copy used by the compositors had not been tidied up by a scribe whose job was to clarify stage directions or make the author's Latin regular.

15On the other hand, in comparison to many other plays in the Folio, Julius Caesar is remarkably free of errors and does not therefore seem to have been set from "foul papers." Shakespeare's most influential nineteenth-century editors describe it as "more correctly printed than any other play" in the Folio (Cambridge, 7.xii). Speech prefixes are quite regular, and stage directions are adequate, though sometimes sketchy, as noted above. A speech prefix missing in TLN 2610 is indicative. The lines are clearly not a continuation of Cato's speech, and an indentation equivalent to that for a speech prefix suggests that a compositor mistakenly omitted "Luc." (Lucillius) at this point and inserted it two lines later. Plutarch makes clear that Lucillius deliberately impersonated Brutus (858), confirming that TLN 2610-11 should be assigned to Lucillius as well, as they are in the modernized text. But if this error originated in the printing house, as seems likely, rather than in the compositor's copy, the error is of no assistance in settling the debate about what manuscript the compositor used—foul papers or prompt book.

16One effort to solve the problem was to posit a tertium quid—a fair manuscript copy of the author's work that was still something less than a prompt book. The strongest defender of this possibility was Fredson Bowers, who maintained it with special attention to Julius Caesar in particular. The manuscript for the play, he proposed, "was a clean scribal transcript of Shakespeare's own working papers, partly marked by the book-keeper with a view to the later inscription from it of the official prompt-book and then preserved in the theatre as a substitute file copy for the working papers" ("Copy," 23-24). To support his argument, Bowers affirmed Brents Stirling's attempt to explain what J. Resch in 1882 had first proposed to be a textual crux in Brutus's quarrel with Cassius, namely, the double announcement of Portia's death. Stirling pointed out that speech prefixes for Cassius in this section of the play suddenly change from "Cassi." in TLN 2114 and become "Cas." (except for a single "Cass." at TLN 2159) to 2173, where "Cassi." resumes. Bowers agreed with Stirling that this evidence pointed to revision: the second announcement (made by Messala in TLN 2175-91) is what Shakespeare originally wrote, and the first announcement (made by Brutus himself in private to Cassius [TLN 2108-60]) had later been "plumped in without attention to context" (Bowers, 24). Editors had agreed with Resch for some time, based on their view of Brutus's character (Cambridge 1, 179-80; Arden 2, xxiv-xxv, 106-107n.), but Stirling offered bibliographical evidence for revision in the group of altered speech prefixes for Cassius, and he reinforced his argument with reference to another such passage—with similarly altered speech prefixes for Cassius—which occurs in TLN 711-866. "The bibliographical logic is irresistible," Bowers urged (26), in favor of revision in both cases, and the revision amounts to "hard bibliographical evidence" (29) that the copy for Julius Caesar was not foul papers. On the other hand, omitted stage directions and some confusion about entrances prove that the copy was not a prompt book. The evidence therefore "would seem to point with some degree of certainty to a hypothesis that Shakespeare's working papers had been transcribed in intermediate form for the preliminary survey of the company, a discussion of its staging, and perhaps the copying of its parts, even for use during early rehearsals," before the prompt book was inscribed (31). Bowers even ventured the opinion that the manuscript from which the Folio compositors worked "was not in Shakespeare's hand" (32). In other words, he thought he could identify, on the basis of the printed play, not only the manuscript copy that lay behind it but also the manuscript copy that lay behind that.

17Compelling though his hypothesis seemed to be, Bowers's "hard bibliographical evidence' for it has not stood the test. John Jowett subsequently pointed out that variants in copy can be determined only after eliminating "the possibility of a mechanical explanation in terms of printing-house practice" (245), and he found such an explanation in a limited supply of ligature types for the Italic letters ssi in combination. This is an unusual combination to begin with, and Jowett was able to establish precisely how many ligatures were available in cases x and y to print ssi as an Italic combination (including the speech prefix "Cassi."), when the compositors were setting type for Julius Caesar (245-46). Working closely from the evidence assembled by Hinman, and taking all printing house factors into consideration, Jowett reached an inescapable conclusion: "Shortage of ssi ligatures, not authorial revision, explains the speech-prefix variant on ll3" (252). In sum, Jowett found harder bibliographical evidence than Bowers's, and Jowett's evidence undermined Bowers's argument for revision in the copy for Julius Caesar.

18The failure of Bowers's bibliographical argument (or, to be fair, Stirling's argument) for revision in Julius Caesar damages his principal argument that he could identify the manuscript copy for Julius Caesar, because the idea of a tertium quid between foul papers and prompt book cannot rest on bibliographical evidence for revision in Julius Caesar of the sort Bowers cited. This does not mean, however, that one can be sure of either of the other alternatives (foul papers and prompt book), because arguments made by Bowers himself are strong against each as the copy for Julius Caesar, and arguments in favor of them more generally have been seriously challenged. Paul Werstine has questioned the dualistic hypothesis of foul papers or prompt book copy by examining existing seventeenth-century plays in manuscript. He found that "the irreducible historical messiness of the actual manuscripts" fits neither description as defined by early-twentieth-century bibliographers (Werstine, "Plays in Manuscript," 482). The term "prompt book" originated in the early nineteenth century, Werstine noted, and use of the term to describe conditions of rehearsal and production in early modern theaters is distorting, because it imposes later assumptions about playing conditions on the earlier situation that a researcher is trying to discern (485). "Foul papers" is also a troubled category. The term was borrowed from a theatrical scribe's description of a fragmentary manuscript, not a complete corrected one (Werstine, "Narratives," 72), and the notion of sole authorship that Greg assumed in borrowing the term does not fit the existing manuscript evidence (Werstine, "Plays in Manuscript," 488-92). Eric Rasmussen's examination of the way existing play manuscripts were revised in the early seventeenth century corroborates Werstine's point: revision proceeded in an unpredictable variety of ways and by many different agents, making the deduction of authorial revision from a printed version highly speculative at best (Rasmussen). Bowers was right, in other words, to spot something other than foul papers or prompt book copy behind Julius Caesar; his mistake lay in accepting the binary description in the first place. In short, where manuscript copy for the First Folio is concerned, scholarship would seem to have returned to W. W. Greg's original position in 1902: "We lack evidence sufficient to decide the question" ("Bibliographical History," 283), because, as Werstine puts it, "the editor is confronted with the radical indeterminacy of identifying what kind of manuscript may lie behind a printed dramatic text" ("Plays in Manuscript," 492). Without access to the manuscripts, it is difficult to infer very much about the manuscript copy of the Folio, based on the printing alone, and the principal bibliographical evidence we have about plays for which there is no quarto precedent is therefore the Folio itself.

19Other arguments for revision of Julius Caesar have not been so closely tied to a broad bibliographical hypothesis as Bowers's argument, but they are equally subject to various interpretation. The principal one was recorded as early as 1723, when Pope annotated a line in Julius Caesar by observing that Ben Jonson seems to allude to it (Pope, 5.261). The line is Caesar's, just before his assassination, "Know, Caesar doth not wrong, nor without cause / Will he be satisfied" (TLN 1254-55). In Discoveries (1641) Jonson quotes the line differently and asserts that Caesar is responding to a protest (presumably by Metellus Cimber, but the line is not in the Folio), "Caesar, thou dost me wrong," to which Caesar's reply is, in Jonson's word, "ridiculous": "Caesar did never wrong, but with just cause" (Jonson, ed. Herford and Simpson, 8.584). Moreover, Jonson seems to allude derisively to the same line in the Induction to The Staple of News (1625), where Prologue says, "Cry you mercy, you did never wrong but with just cause" (Jonson, ed. Herford and Simpson, 6.280). Thomas Tyrwhitt first suggested that Shakespeare, faced with "this formidable criticism" and "overawed by so great an authority, withdrew the words in question," producing the version in the Folio, including Caesar's imperfect half-line, in place of what he had originally written: "Know Caesar doth not wrong, but with just cause, / Nor without cause will he be satisfied" (Steevens 2, 8.59n 1). Tyrwhitt's emendation of the Folio makes perfect metrical sense of Caesar's lines (though it does not explain Metellus Cymber's half-line interjection), but it is open to question in other ways. Since Julius Caesar was first printed in the Folio in 1623, Jonson was remembering the line from performance, not from having read it, and 1625 is a quarter century removed from the first performance of Julius Caesar. Jonson's memory may have been perfect, and his derision of the line as he heard it may have reached Shakespeare years before, prompting a revision that appears in the Folio, but Jonson may also have misremembered, and Shakespeare may have written the line as it stands. Jonson's allusions are far from proof of revision.

20Short lines are, in fact, unusually plentiful in the Folio version of Julius Caesar, and while some of them have been convincingly emended, many would appear to be intentional. The first example in the Folio (TLN 38-39) is clearly a compositor's choice to prevent a "turn-under" or "turn-over," that is, a fragmentary typographical line inserted above or below the metrical line in question (as in TLN 490), because the line was too long to fit across the column. Instead, the compositor printed two parallel rhetorical questions on successive lines: "Wherefore reioyce? / What Conquest brings he home?" Together these two questions make up a perfect metrical line, as Nicholas Rowe first recognized in 1709, and virtually every editor after him has printed the two questions as a single line. (For other examples, see the collation.) Later in the same speech, however, Murellus has another short line, "Be gone" (TLN 59), and still another in his next speech, "May we do so?" (TLN 74). Both of these short lines are preceded and followed by metrically perfect lines, so they cannot be assimilated into the surrounding verse. Rather, they appear to be intentional staccato variations in the meter to emphasize Murellus's authoritarian manner—his peremptory way with the plebians and his simultaneous uncertainty about disrobing Caesar's images. Most of the metrically inexplicable short lines in Julius Caesar can be explained in a fashion such as this (Arden 3, 131-35), and while the explanation is far from hard bibliographical proof of the author's hand behind the printed text, it is satisfying enough for a poetic drama.

Editorial Procedures

21 This edition follows the protocols for modernizing Shakespeare that have been laid down in the Guidelines for Editors prepared for the Internet Shakespeare Edition. The Guidelines in turn take their impetus from Wells and Wells and Taylor, with the addition of American standard orthography, rather than British. The point of modernizing has been to reduce impediments to clarity and comprehension for a modern reader while remaining as faithful as possible to the Folio text. The principal alterations have been made in stage directions, orthography, punctuation, and lineation.

22 Stage directions have been added sparingly in square brackets for clarification (regarding exits and entrances, for example), but where options were possible under staging conditions in 1599, various solutions have been noted in the commentary, and others have been ruled out. The Folio text of Julius Caesar seems, for example, to require that the upper acting area be used sparingly. The "pulpit" referred to once in a stage direction (TLN 1528) and four times in the text (TLN 1295, 1453, 1462, 1476) is probably literary, remembered by Shakespeare from his reading in Plutarch (828, 836). No other "pulpit" occurs in an Elizabethan stage direction, and Folio's "Enter Brutus and goes into the pulpit" (TLN 1528) could indicate Brutus's entry "above" and Cassius's entry on the main stage, where Cassius stands before the chanting crowd (TLN 1430), giving Brutus time to make the ascent. It is even possible that Brutus does not actually arrive in the gallery until TLN 1541, when Third Plebeian says, "The noble Brutus is ascended." Antony in his turn has less time than Brutus. Third Plebeian urges him twice to "go up" (TLN 1597-98), and Antony immediately begins speaking (TLN 1599), but again his exit from the main stage, ascent through the tiring house, and re-entry in the upper acting area could be covered by crowd noise and confusion.

23 The problem of timing for an ascent to the gallery occurs again during the battle of Philippi, inclining Saunders to speculate that a raised wooden platform was "thrust forth" (412). Again, however, no evidence for such a platform can be found in extant stage directions. Cassius refers to the place where he stands as "this hill" (TLN 2491), indicating the main stage, and shortly thereafter he orders Pindarus to "get higher on that hill." The Folio has no exit for Pindarus, but his next speech has the location direction "above" (TLN 2506), and he has an entry direction shortly thereafter (TLN 2517). This edition follows others in giving Pindarus an exit direction at TLN 2502, "[Pindarus goes up.]", but the direction could be two lines earlier, as soon as Cassius gives his order, and stage business could cover the interim. When Cassius tells Pinarus to "Come down" (TLN 2514), Pindarus has very little time to descend—just two lines—but everything in the Folio text suggests that he nonetheless descends from the gallery.

24 Orthography has been made as friendly to modern eyes as possible in this edition without unduly distorting the Folio. The Folio text handles spelling of the past tense inconsistently, and it is regularized here by treating all past forms with "-ed," unless modern orthography permits or requires an alternative (e.g., "dreamt" in TLN 1069). When "-ed" must be pronounced for the sake of the meter, an accent grave is added to the suffix: "èd."

25 The word "holiday" appears three times in the first scene of the Folio (TLN 6, 36-7, and 56), and the second two times it is spelled "Holyday." The spelling may be significant, since the first scene seems to recall Elizabethan tensions over iconoclasm, saints' days, and monarchical succession, as several critics have pointed out (Wilson; Arden 3, 19; Shapiro, 103, 127-35, 138-70, 173). Still "holy day" was spelled with many variations, including "holiday" as early as 1395 (OED), so modernizing does not distort the control text, while confusions caused by the original spelling are precisely what modernizing aims to avoid.

26 "Farre" is a more difficult case. Every instance of "far" in the modern text below is spelled "farre" in the Folio, and in one instance the older spelling may reflect pronunciation. When Antony says, "Stand farre off" (TLN 1704), he may mean, "Stand a long way away," but he more likely means, "Stand farther away," because the plebeians are pressing too close to him, and the spelling "farre" may indicate a "burr" in the "r" that would have made his meaning clear in Elizabethan English. Abbott argues that "sirrah" is an attempt to capture the same pronunciation orthographically (478), and it makes sense in Antony's speech. This edition therefore renders Antony's word "far'er," since "farre" offers no guide to pronunciation in modern English. The case is admittedly complicated by the appearance of both "farther" (TLN 2008) and "further" (TLN 2488) in the control text, but "farre" signals a single syllable, rather than two.

27 In a parallel case, the spelling of "whether" as "where" three times in the control text is handled consistently here by using "whe'er" (one syllable, and therefore barely distinct from "where" in pronunciation). When Flavius says, "See where their basest mettle be not moved" (TLN 69), he seems to mean "whether," because he uses the subjunctive mode, but he could also mean "where," implying that the plebeians are in fact not moved. (Whether they are moved or not is a matter of interpreting their behavior as they move away—sullenly, perhaps?—in response to the tribunes' rebuke.) "Where" is used again with the subjunctive in TLN 2587 and 2635, and in both of these cases "whether" (indicated here by "whe'er" for the sake of scansion) seems the preferable reading.

28 Punctuation was not regularized in the late sixteenth century, and Hinman demonstrated that punctuation in the Folio was often produced by the compositors who set the type, so a modern editor has considerable latitude in creating a text that assists modern readers with punctuation that they expect. "Considerable latitude" is far from "complete latitude," however. Punctuation can affect meaning, as linguists and grammarians well know, and editors have to choose which meaning is preferable. Daniell argues that the Folio's use of colons is in this category (Arden 3, 130-31), and his edition therefore retains colons that most modern editions (including this one) either delete or replace with some other punctuation.

29 Retaining Folio punctuation in other cases seems clearer cut. When Portia says to her husband that if his worry and sleeplessness affect his "shape" as much as his "condition," "I should not know you Brutus" (TLN 894-96), does she mean she would not know him, whom she then names, or does she mean that she would not know him to be himself? A comma after "you" makes "Brutus" a vocative and creates the first meaning; leaving out the comma, as the Folio does, creates the second meaning. Since Julius Caesar is so concerned with Brutus's inability to measure up to what he thinks and claims to be his identity, the second meaning seems preferable, and without the comma it would be reflected in the way an actor says the line. A parallel instance occurs in the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius. Cassius protests that he is "Older in practice, Abler then your selfe / To make Conditions," to which Brutus retorts, "Go too: you are not Cassius" (TLN 2002-4). Most editors make "Cassius" a vocative by inserting a comma after "not" in TLN 2004, but the comma arguably affects meaning, as well the way an actor says the line. This edition therefore follows the Folio in omitting the comma in order to suggest that Brutus is denying Cassius the identity he claims for himself.

30 In a third case, the absence of a comma in the Folio permits the absence of two apparently superfluous actors from the stage. Preparing for the second battle of Philippi, Brutus says, "Labio and Flauio set our Battailes on" (2598). Inserting a comma after "Flauio" makes the names vocatives and requires the characters' presence on stage to receive Brutus' order. Without the comma, Brutus is simply describing the order of battle to other officers who are on stage with him. Since Labio and Flavio have no lines and are not mentioned apart from this scene, they are, in Daniell's phrase, "punctually dependent" (Arden 3, 314n.), and the more economical reading is therefore to honor the Folio's lack of punctuation.

31 A real challenge to the modern editor of Julius Caesar is the interpretation of short lines in the Folio. These are of three kinds: metrically deliberate short lines, compositors' short lines, and short lines shared by two or more speakers that make up a complete pentameter when combined. Of these three, the first and third are subject to the greatest interpretive variation.

32 The first two kinds of short line appear as early as the first scene. When Murellus first accosts the Cobbler by demanding, "You sir, what Trade are you?" (TLN 13), his question scans as a regular six-syllable iambic line, it follows a complete pentameter, and it precedes a line of prose; it would therefore appear to be a deliberate short line. The next examples of short lines (TLN 38-39), however, are unmistakably a compositor's choice to prevent a typographical "turn-under" or "turn-over," that is, a fragmentary line inserted above or below the metrical line in question (as in TLN 490), because the line was too long to fit across the column in the Folio. Instead, the compositor printed two parallel rhetorical questions on successive lines: "Wherefore reioyce? / What Conquest brings he home?" Together these two questions make up a complete pentameter line, as Nicholas Rowe first recognized in 1709, and virtually every editor after him has printed the two questions as a single line. (For other examples, see the collation, and for a thorough and careful study of compositors' lineation, see Werstine, "Line Division".) Later in the same speech, however, Murellus has two more short lines: "Made in her Concaue Shores" (TLN 54) and "Be gone" (TLN 59), and still another in his next speech, "May we do so?" (TLN 74). All three of these short lines are preceded and followed by complete pentameters, so they cannot be assimilated into the surrounding verse. The first "rounds out a rhetorical period" (Wright, 123), concluding Murellus' praise of Caesar, and the other two arguably form a stylistic pattern with TLN 13. Murellus has only thirty-one lines, all in the first scene; of these, four are deliberate short lines, three of which introduce emphatic staccato variations in the meter that help to clarify Murellus' authoritarian manner—his peremptory way with the plebeians and his simultaneous uncertainty about disrobing Caesar's images. Rossiter, Sicherman, Wright (122-33), and Daniell (Arden 3, 131-35) argue, on various stylistic grounds, that most of the metrically short lines in Julius Caesar can be explained in a fashion such as this.

33 The third kind of short line appears immediately in the opening lines of the second scene of Julius Caesar (TLN 87-94, here quoted in diplomatic transcription):

34Caes. Calphurnia.
Cask. Peace ho, Caesar speakes.
Caes. Calphurnia.
Calp. Heere my Lord.
Caes. Stand you directly in Antonio's way,
When he doth run his course. Antonio.
Ant. Caesar, my Lord.
Caes. Forget not in your speed Antonio,

35 Among these eight lines, three are complete pentameters (TLN 91-92, 94), and the speakers are all patricians, so editors have assumed that the whole passage is in iambic pentameter, and beginning with George Steevens in 1773, they have indented partial lines that together seem to make up a single pentameter:

CAESAR
Calpurnia.
CASCA
Peace ho! Caesar speaks.
CAESAR
Calpurnia!

37 Apart from this kind of editorial indention, the metrics of this passage are not self-evident. Pronouncing "Calphurnia" in three syllables, rather than four, is required in TLN 95 ("To touch Calphurnia: for our Elders say"), but the made-up pentameter has a feminine ending and two strong syllables in the divided third foot ("hó, Cáe"), and the passage still has two short lines (TLN 90 and 93). These are stylistically parallel, in that both are spoken by subordinates to Caesar, and both express attentive deference. Still, one could argue that two short lines justify others, so retaining the lineation of the Folio is preferable to following Steevens' innovation.

38 One recent edition (RSC) has in fact chosen to reject Steevens' precedent in order to retain the Folio's lineation in cases where speakers seem to share pentameters. Bowers's comment seems apt: "It is idle to comment that on a practical level many although not all problems would disappear if typographically the dialogue were edited as it appears in Renaissance printed editions" ("Establishing," 74, my emphasis). This edition retains Steevens' practice of indenting partial lines, because doing so solves some problems, as Bowers suggests, that the Folio text leaves unresolved.

39 For one thing, signaling the shared pentameter as a single metrical line distinguishes it for readers and actors from the independent short line. In the passage quoted above, five of the eight lines are short in the Folio, but only two (TLN 90 and 93) are independent short lines (i.e., they cannot be combined with another partial line to form a pentameter). Chambers noted that Shakespeare tended to increase the number of short lines as his writing matured, so that A Midsummer Night's Dream, for example, has five, whereas King Lear has 191, and Julius Caesar, written in mid-career, has 108 (Wright, 294-95). The pattern is not invariable (Cymbeline and The Tempest have fewer short lines than Julius Caesar), but it is nonetheless an important stylistic marker. Moreover, the metrical pattern is much harder for the reader and actor (who must speak the lines with an awareness of their verse pattern) to detect, if independent short lines are not distinguished typographically from shared pentameters.

40 In many cases, moreover, signaling shared pentameters by means of indention provides an important clue to the function of an independent short line or lines—a clue that would be lost if all short lines were printed as equal. In the example just cited, it would be more difficult for readers or actors to discern the pattern of deferential attention in two independent short lines as metrically distinct without the indention of three short lines that precede them. In another case, mentioned in the commentary, the distinction between two parts of a pentameter and an independent short line helps to clarify characterization. In the Folio's version of the conspirators' dispute about whether or not to include Cicero, Cassius raises the question, and Casca and Cinna urge that Cicero be included, but Brutus demurs:

41 Bru. O name him not: let vs not breake with him,
For he will neuer follow any thing
That other men begin.
Cas. Then leaue him out.
Cask. Indeed he is not fit. (TLN 782-86)

42 The Folio prints three short lines in succession, and scansion shows that two of them can be linked as a single pentameter, leaving the third as an independent short line. But which two should be linked? On the grounds of scansion alone, Cassius' short line can be assigned to fill out the partial pentameter of either Brutus or Casca. Bowers noted that Shakespeare tends to associate independent short lines with the end of speeches, rather than the beginning, and Bowers therefore advocated that in a case like this one, the short line be assigned to Brutus, rather than to Casca ("Establishing," 82-3), and Sicherman noted that implied pauses following a true short line often provide clues to characterization. Both critics support the conclusion, then, that in this case, the short line should be regarded as the metrical conclusion of Brutus' speech, and Casca's half line should be regarded as the metrical beginning of Cassius' partial pentameter. Cassius takes his lead from Brutus, in other words, and Casca takes his from Cassius, but Cassius pauses briefly before assenting, and the pause is signaled in Brutus' half line. If all the lines are printed as short, as in the Folio, this distinction is lost, whereas indention helps to clarify it.

43 Shakespeare's metrics are not subject to scientific analysis or even to precise quantitative generalization. As a poet, Shakespeare was primarily oriented to oral tradition, rather than written (or printed) standards, despite Bowers' repeated assertion that Shakespeare "intended" a printed line to look one way rather than another ("Establishing," 76, 89, 96, 97). (Bowers seems to suggest that Shakespeare thought about the text in just the way a New Bibliographer would, though Shakespeare had been dead for seven years when half the plays in the Folio were first printed.) Wright points out that "squinting" short lines, of the kind just illustrated, are common in Julius Caesar, and that they break up the steady succession of pentameters with conversational informality that often makes the pentameter pattern ambiguous (129-30), yet in at least one case, RSC combines a squinting short line that the Folio leaves uncombined (2452-54), thus attempting to resolve an ambiguity that RSC elsewhere leaves as open as the Folio does. All modern editors have to make choices, and patterns can help one choose. Bowers and Wright were expert at discerning patterns, and Rossiter and Sicherman have offered suggestive stylistic comments about the short lines in Julius Caesar. In this edition, shared pentameters are therefore printed as they have been since the late eighteenth century: with the complementary fragmentary lines indented, in order to distinguish shared lines from independent short lines.

Editions Collated

Arden 1Julius Caesar, ed. Michael Macmillan (1902)
Arden 2Julius Caesar, ed. T. S. Dorsch (1955)
Arden 3Julius Caesar, ed. David Daniell (1998)
BevingtonWorks, ed. David M. Bevington, 5th ed. (2004)
CambridgeWorks, ed. Wiliam George Clark and William Aldis Wright, 9 vols. (1863-66)
Cambridge 1Julius Caesar, ed. J. Dover Wilson (1949)
Cambridge 2Julius Caesar, ed. Marvin Spevack (1988)
CapellComedies, Histories, Tragedies, ed. Edward Capell, 10 vols. (1767-68)
CollierWorks, ed. J. Payne Collier, 8 vols. (1842-44)
DyceWorks, ed. Alexander Dyce, 6 vols. (1857)
Dyce 2Works, ed. Alexander Dyce, 9 vols. (1864-67)
FComedies, Histories, Tragedies, The First Folio (1623)
F2Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, The Second Folio (1632)
F3Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, The Third Folio (1663-64)
F4Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, The Fourth Folio (1685)
HanmerWorks, ed. Thomas Hanmer, 6 vols. (1743-44)
JennensJulius Caesar, ed. Charles Jennens (1774)
JohnsonPlays, ed. Samuel Johnson, 8 vols. (1765)
KeightleyPlays, ed. Thomas Keightley, 6 vols. (1864)
KittredgeJulius Caesar, ed. George Lyman Kittredge (1939)
MalonePlays and Poems, ed. Edmond Malone, 10 vols. (1790)
MasonJohn Monck Mason, Comments on the Last Edition of Shakespeare's Plays (1785)
OxfordWorks, ed. Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett, William Montgomery (1986)
Oxford 1Julius Caesar, ed. Arthur Humphreys (1984)
PopeWorks, ed. Alexander Pope, 6 vols. (1723-25)
Quarto 1691Julius Caesar, quarto (1691)
Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5Undated quartos of Julius Caesar published in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries
RiversideRiverside Shakespeare, textual editor, G. Blakemore Evans (1997)
RoweWorks, ed. Nicholas Rowe, 6 vols. (1709)
RSCRoyal Shakespeare Company Shakespeare, ed. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen (2007)
SandersJulius Caesar, ed. Norman Sanders (1967)
SingerDramatic Works, ed. Samuel W. Singer (1826)
StauntonPlays, ed. Howard Staunton (1858-60)
SteevensPlays, ed. Samuel Johnson and George Steevens (1773)
Steevens 2Plays, ed. Samuel Johnson and George Steevens (1778)
Steevens 3Plays, ed. Samuel Johnson and George Steevens (1793)
Textual CompanionStanley Wells and Gary Taylor, with John Jowett and William Montgomery. William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987.
TheobaldWorks, ed. Lewis Theobald (1733)
VariorumJulius Caesar, A New Vaiorum Edition, ed. H. H. Furness (1913)
TyrwhittThomas Tyrwhitt, contributor to Steevens 2
VerityJulius Caesar, ed. A. W. Verity (1895)
WarburtonWorks, ed. William Warburton, 8 vols. (1857-66)
WrightJulius Caesar, ed. W. A. Wright (1878)

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