From Julius Caesar. Ed. Henry Norman Hudson. New York: Ginn and Co., 1908.
ACT I. In the First Folio The Tragedie of Julius Cæsar is divided into acts but not into scenes, though
'Scoena (so spelled in the Folios) Prima' is given here
after 'Actus Primus.'--over the stage. This, the Folio stage
direction, suggests a mob.
3.Being mechanical: being mechanics. Shakespeare often uses adjectives with the sense of plural substantives.
Cf. 'subject' in Hamlet, I, i, 72. Twice in North's Plutarch occurs "base mechanical people."-- ought not walk. See Abbott, § 349.
4-5. Shakespeare transfers to ancient Rome the English customs and usages of his own time. In Porter and Clarke's
'First Folio' Julius Cæsar, it is mentioned that Shakespeare's uncle Henry, a farmer in Snitterfield, according
to a court order of October 25, 1583, was fined "viii d for not havinge and wearinge cappes on Sondayes and hollydayes."
9.You. On 'you' as distinct from 'thou,' see Abbott,§ 232.
10.in respect of: in comparison with. So in The
Psalter (Book of Common Prayer), xxxix, 6. Cf. Hamlet, V, ii, 120.
11.cobbler: This word was used of a coarse workman, or a bungler, in any mechanical trade. So the Cobbler's answer does not give the information required, though it contains a quibble.
12.directly: in a straightforward manner, without
15.soles: The First Folio spelling, 'soules,' brings
out the pun. This 'immemorial quibble,' as Craik calls it, is
found also in The Merchant of Venice, IV, i, 123: "Not on
thy sole, but on thy soul."
16. Modern editors give this speech to Marullus, but the Folio arrangement is more natural and dramatic, the two
Tribunes alternately rating the people, as Knight puts it, like two smiths smiting on the same anvil.
17-18. A quibble upon two common meanings of 'out'--(1)
'at variance,' as in "Launcelot and I are out," The Merchant
of Venice, III, v, 34; and (2) as in 'out at heels,' or 'out
25. The text of the First Folio needs no emendation. It
is good prose and involves a neat pun.
26.proper: goodly, handsome. This word has often this
meaning in Elizabethan literature, and is still so used in
provincial England. Cf. The Tempest, II, ii, 63; Hebrews
(King James version), xi, 23; Burns's The Jolly Beggars:
"And still my delight is in proper young men."
27.trod upon neat's-leather: This expression and "as
proper a man as" are repeated in the second scene of the
second act of The Tempest.--neat's-leather: ox-hide.
'Neat' is Anglo-Saxon neát, 'ox,' 'cow,' 'cattle,' and is
still used in 'neat-herd,' 'neat's-foot oil.' See The
Winter's Tale, I, ii, 125. The form 'nowt' is still in common
use in the North of England and the South of Scotland. Cf.
Burns's The Twa Dogs: "To thrum guitars an' fecht wi
39.Many a time and oft: This form of emphasis occurs
also in The Merchant of Venice, I, iii, 107. Cf. Timon of
Athens, III, i, 25.
47.That: so that. For the omission of 'so' before
'that,' see Abbott, § 283.--her. In Latin usage rivers are
masculine, and 'Father' is a common appellation of 'Tiber.' In
Elizabethan literature Drayton generally makes rivers
feminine, while Spenser tends to make them masculine.
48.To hear: at hearing. A gerundive use of the
infinitive.--replication: echo, repetition (Lat.
replicare, to roll back).
51. Is this a day to pick out for a holiday?
53. The reference is to the great battle of Munda, in Spain, which took place in March of the preceding year, B.C.
45. Cæsar was now celebrating his fifth triumph, which was in
honor of his final victory over the Pompeian, or conservative,
faction. Cnæus and Sextus, the two sons of Pompey the Great,
were leaders in that battle, and Cnæus perished. "And because
he had plucked up his race by the roots, men did not think it
meet for him to triumph so for the calamities of his
country."--Plutarch, Julius Cæsar.
57. "It is evident from the opening scene, that
Shakespeare, even in dealing with classical subjects, laughed
at the classic fear of putting the ludicrous and sublime into
juxtaposition. After the low and farcical jests of the saucy
cobbler, the eloquence of Marullus 'springs upwards like a
pyramid of fire.'"--Campbell.
61-62. Till the river rises from the extreme low-water
mark to the extreme high-water mark.
63.where: whether. As in V, iv, 30, the 'where' of
the Folios represents the monosyllabic pronunciation of this
word common in the sixteenth century. In Shakespeare's verse
the 'th' between two vowels, as in 'brother,' 'other,'
'whither,' is frequently mute.--basest metal.--The Folio
spelling is 'mettle,' and the word here may connote 'spirit,'
'temper.' If it be taken literally, the reference may be to
'lead.' Cf. 'base lead,' The Merchant of Venice, II, ix, 19.
In this case the meaning may be that even these men, though as
dull and heavy as lead, have yet the sense to be tongue-tied
with shame at their conduct. 'Mettle' occurs again in I, ii,
293; 'metal' (First Folio, 'mettle') in I, ii, 306.
66.images: These images were the busts and statues of
Cæsar, ceremoniously decked with scarfs and badges in honor of
67.ceremonies: ceremonial symbols, festal ornaments.
Cf. 'trophies' in l. 71 and 'scarfs' in I, ii, 282.
Shakespeare employs the word in the same way, as an abstract
term used for the concrete thing, in Henry V, IV, i, 109;
and, in the singular, in Measure for Measure, II, ii, 59.
"After that, there were set up images of Cæsar in the city,
with diadems on their heads like kings. Those the two
tribunes, Flavius and Marullus, went and pulled
down."--Plutarch, Julius Cæsar.
69.Lupercal: The Lupercalia, originally a shepherd
festival, were held in honor of Lupercus, the Roman Pan, on
the 15th of February, the month being named from Februus, a
surname of the god. Lupercus was, primarily, the god of
shepherds, said to have been so called because he protected
the flocks from wolves. His wife Luperca was the deified
she-wolf that suckled Romulus. The festival, in its original
idea, was concerned with purification and fertilization.
71.Cæsar's trophies: These are the scarfs and badges
mentioned in note on l. 66, as appears from ll. 281-282 in the
next scene, where it is said that the Tribunes "for pulling
scarfs off Cæsar's images, are put to silence."
72.the vulgar: the common people. So in Love's
Labour's Lost, I, ii, 51; Henry V, IV, vii, 80.
75.pitch: A technical term in falconry, denoting the
height to which a hawk or falcon flies. Cf. I Henry VI, II,
iv, 11: "Between two hawks, which flies the higher pitch."
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Henry Norman Hudson. New York: Ginn and Co., 1908. Shakespeare Online. 20 Dec. 2009. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/julius_1_1.html >.