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About this text

  • Title: Julius Caesar (Modern)
  • Editor: John D. Cox
  • General textual editor: Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-366-3

    Copyright John D. Cox. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: John D. Cox
    Peer Reviewed

    Julius Caesar (Modern)

    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.
    620When, Lucius, when? Awake, I say! What, Lucius!
    Enter Lucius.
    Lucius Called you, my lord?
    Brutus Get me a taper in my study, Lucius.
    When it is lighted, come and call me here.
    625Lucius I will, my Lord.
    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 crowned.
    How that might change his nature, there's the question.
    630It 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.
    Th'abuse of greatness is when it disjoins
    635Remorse from power, and to speak truth of Caesar,
    I have not known when his affections swayed
    More than his reason. But 'tis a common proof
    That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
    Whereto the climber upward turns his face,
    640But 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
    645Will 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 hatched would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
    650And kill him in the shell.
    Enter Lucius.
    Lucius The taper burneth in your closet, sir.
    Searching the window for a flint, I found
    This paper, thus sealed up, and I am sure
    655It 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 first of March?
    Lucius I know not, sir.
    660Brutus Look in the calender, and bring me word.
    Lucius I will, sir.
    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 dropped
    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 called a king.
    "Speak, strike, redress!"
    Am I entreated
    675To speak and strike? O Rome, I make thee promise,
    If the redress will follow, thou receivest
    Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus.
    Enter Lucius.
    Lucius Sir, March is wasted fifteen days.
    Knock 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
    685And 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
    690The nature of an insurrection.
    Enter Lucius.
    Lucius Sir, 'tis your brother Cassius at the door,
    Who doth desire to see you.
    Is he alone?
    No, sir. There are more with him.
    Do you know them?
    Lucius No, sir. Their hats are plucked about their ears,
    And half their faces buried in their cloaks,
    That by no means I may discover them
    700By any mark of favor.
    Let 'em enter.
    [Exit Lucius.]
    They are the faction. O conspiracy,
    Sham'st thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,
    When evils are most free? O then, by day
    705Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
    To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy!
    Hide it in smiles and affability!
    For if thou put thy native semblance on,
    Not Erebus itself were dim enough
    710To hide thee from prevention.
    Enter the Conspirators, Cassius, Casca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus, and Trebonius.
    Cassius I think we are too bold upon your rest.
    Good morrow, Brutus. Do we trouble you?
    715Brutus 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
    720Which every noble Roman bears of you.
    This is Trebonius.
    He is welcome hither.
    This, Decius Brutus.
    He is welcome too.
    725Cassius This, Casca; this, Cinna; and this, Metellus Cimber.
    Brutus They are all welcome.
    What watchful cares do interpose themselves
    Betwixt your eyes and night?
    730Cassius 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 yon gray lines
    735That 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.
    740Some 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.
    745Brutus 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,
    750Till 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
    755To 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.
    760Swear 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,
    765Nor th'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,
    770If he do break the smallest particle
    Of any promise that hath passed from him.
    Cassius But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him?
    I think he will stand very strong with us.
    Let us not leave him out.
    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 judgment ruled our hands.
    780Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
    But all be buried in his gravity.
    Brutus Oh, name him not; let us not break with him,
    For he will never follow anything
    That other men begin.
    Then leave him out.
    Indeed, he is not fit.
    Decius Shall no man else be touched but only Caesar?
    Cassius Decius well urged. I think it is not meet
    Mark Antony, so well beloved of Caesar,
    790Should 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.
    795Brutus 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's be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
    800We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar,
    And in the spirit of men there is no blood.
    Oh, that we then could come by Caesar's spirit,
    And not dismember Caesar! But, alas,
    Caesar must bleed for it. And, gentle friends,
    805Let'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
    810And after seem to chide 'em. This shall make
    Our purpose necessary and not envious;
    Which so appearing to the common eyes,
    We shall be called purgers, not murderers.
    And for Mark Antony, think not of him,
    815For he can do no more than Caesar's arm,
    When Caesar's head is off.
    Yet I fear him,
    For in the engrafted love he bears to Caesar--
    Brutus Alas, good Cassius, do not think of him.
    820If 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,
    825For he will live, and laugh at this hereafter.
    Clock strikes.
    Peace! Count the clock.
    The clock hath stricken three.
    'Tis time to part.
    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.
    835It may be these apparent prodigies,
    The unaccustomed 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
    840I can o'ersway him. For he loves to hear
    That unicorns may be betrayed with trees,
    And bears with glasses; elephants, with holes;
    Lions, with toils; and men, with flatterers.
    But when I tell him he hates flatterers,
    845He says he does, being then most flatterèd.
    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.
    850Brutus By the eighth hour. Is that the uttermost?
    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.
    855Brutus 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.
    860And 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,
    865With 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.
    870Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies,
    Which busy care draws in the brains of men.
    Therefore thou sleep'st so sound.
    Enter Portia.
    Brutus, my Lord.
    875Brutus 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. You've ungently, Brutus,
    Stole from my bed, and yesternight at supper
    880You suddenly arose and walked about,
    Musing and sighing, with your arms across,
    And when I asked you what the matter was,
    You stared upon me, with ungentle looks.
    I urged you further; then you scratched your head
    885And too impatiently stamped with your foot.
    Yet I insisted; yet you answered not,
    But with an angry wafture of your hand
    Gave sign for me to leave you. So I did,
    Fearing to strengthen that impatience
    890Which seemed 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
    895As it hath much prevailed 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,
    900He 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 unbracèd and suck up the humors
    Of the dank morning? What, is Brutus sick,
    905And will he steal out of his wholesome bed
    To dare the vile contagion of the night,
    And tempt the rheumy and unpurgèd air
    To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus.
    You have some sick offense within your mind,
    910Which 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,
    915That you unfold to me, your self, 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.
    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 your self,
    925But 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.
    930Brutus 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
    935A 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 fathered, and so husbanded?
    940Tell 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?
    O ye gods!
    Render me worthy of this noble wife.
    Hark, hark, one knocks! Portia go in awhile,
    And by and by thy bosom shall partake
    The secrets of my heart.
    950All my engagements I will construe to thee,
    All the charactery of my sad brows.
    Leave me with haste.
    Exit Portia.
    Enter Lucius and Ligarius.
    Lucius, who's that knocks.
    955Lucius 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,
    960To 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.
    965Ligarius 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 mortifièd spirit. Now bid me run,
    970And 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?
    975Brutus That must we also. What it is my Caius,
    I shall unfold to thee as we are going
    To whom it must be done.
    Set on your foot,
    And with a heart new-fired, I follow you
    980To do I know not what, but it sufficeth
    That Brutus leads me on.
    Brutus Follow me, then.
    985Caesar Nor heaven nor earth have been at peace tonight.
    Thrice hath Calpurnia in her sleep cried out,
    "Help, ho, they murder Caesar!" Who's within?
    Enter a servant.
    990Servant My Lord.
    Caesar Go bid the priests do present sacrifice,
    And bring me their opinions of success.
    Servant I will, my lord.
    Enter Calpurnia.
    995Calpurnia What mean you, Caesar? Think you to walk forth?
    You shall not stir out of your house today.
    Caesar Caesar shall forth. The things that threatened me
    Ne'er looked but on my back. When they shall see
    The face of Caesar, they are vanishèd.
    1000Calpurnia Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies,
    Yet now they fright me. There is one within,
    Besides the things that we have heard and seen,
    Recounts most horrid sights seen by the watch.
    A lionness hath whelpèd in the streets,
    1005And graves have yawned and yielded up their dead;
    Fierce fiery warriors fight upon the clouds
    In ranks, and squadrons, and right form of war,
    Which drizzeled blood upon the Capitol.
    The noise of battle hurtled in the air:
    1010Horses do neigh, and dying men did groan,
    And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets.
    O Caesar, these things are beyond all use,
    And I do fear them.
    What can be avoided