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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)

    Thunder and lightning. Enter Casca and Cicero.
    Good even, Casca. Brought you Caesar home?
    Why are you breathless, and why stare you so?
    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.
    Why, saw you any thing more wonderful?
    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.
    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?
    He doth, for he did bid Antonio
    470Send word to you he would be there tomorrow.
    Good night then, Casca. This disturbèd sky
    Is not to walk in.
    Farewell Cicero.
    Exit Cicero.
    Enter Cassius.
    Who's there?
    A Roman.
    Casca, by your voice.
    Your ear is good. Cassius, what night is this?
    A very pleasing night to honest men.
    Who ever knew the heavens menace so?
    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.
    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.
    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.
    'Tis Caesar that you mean. Is it not, Cassius?
    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.
    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.
    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.
    So can I:
    So every bondman in his own hand bears
    The power to cancel his captivity.
    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.
    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.
    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.
    Stand close awhile, for here comes one in 575haste.
    'Tis Cinna; I do know him by his gait;
    He is a friend. Cinna, where haste you so?
    To find out you. Who's that, Metellus Cimber?
    No, it is Casca, one incorporate
    To our attempts. Am I not stayed for, Cinna?
    I am glad on't. What a fearful night is this?
    There's two or three of us have seen strange sights.
    Am I not stayed for? Tell me.
    Yes, you are. O Cassius, if you could
    But win the noble Brutus to our party--
    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?
    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.
    That done, repair to Pompey's theater.
    600Exit 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.
    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.
    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.