From Julius Caesar. Ed. Henry Norman Hudson. New York: Ginn and Co., 1908.
8.us ourself: The plural of modern English royalty
transferred to ancient Rome. Another of the famous
12. As already indicated (see note, p. 39, l. 126), the
murder of Cæsar did not take place in the Capitol, but
Shakespeare, departing from Plutarch, followed a famous
literary tradition. So in Chaucer, The Monkes Tale, ll.
713-720. Cf. the speech of Polonius, Hamlet, III, ii,
108-109: "I did enact Julius Cæsar; I was kill'd i' the
Capitol; Brutus kill'd me." See Introduction, Sources, p. xv.
13. This is mainly Steevens's (1773) stage direction.
Capell's (1768) is interesting: "Artemidorus is push'd back.
Cæsar, and the rest, enter the Senate: The Senate rises.
Popilius presses forward to speak to Cæsar; and passing
Cassius, says, ..."
18.makes to: advances to, presses towards.--mark.
No necessity to pronounce this as dissyllabic. The pause has
the effect of a syllable.
23-26. So in Plutarch, Marcus Brutus: "Another senator
called Popilius Læna after he had saluted Brutus and Cassius
more friendly than he was wont to do, he rounded softly in
their ears, and told them, 'I pray the gods you may go through
with that you have taken in hand; but, withal, dispatch, I
read[B] you, for your enterprise is bewrayed.' When he had
said, he presently departed from them, and left them both
afraid that their conspiracy would out.... When Cæsar came out
of his litter, Popilius Læna went ... and kept him a long time
with a talk. Cæsar gave good ear unto him; wherefore the
conspirators ... conjecturing ... that his talk was none other
but the very discovery of their conspiracy, they were afraid
every man of them; and one looking in another's face, it was
easy to see that they all were of a mind, that it was no
tarrying for them till they were apprehended, but rather that
they should kill themselves with their own hands. And when
Cassius and certain other clapped their hands on their swords
under their gowns, to draw them, Brutus marking the
countenance and gesture of Læna, and considering that he did
use himself rather like an humble and earnest suitor than like
an accuser, he said nothing to his companion (because there
were many amongst them that were not of the conspiracy), but
with a pleasant countenance encouraged Cassius; and
immediately after, Læna went from Cæsar, and kissed his
hand.... Trebonius on the other side drew Antonius aside, as
he came into the house where the Senate sat, and held him with
a long talk without." In the Julius Cæsar Plutarch makes
Decius detain Antony in talk.
35. [Kneeling] Rowe | Ff omit.
28.presently: immediately, at once. So Shakespeare
and other Elizabethan writers always use the word. See l. 143;
IV, i, 45.
29.address'd: prepared. Often so in sixteenth century
literature. Cf. As You Like It, V, iv, 162; Henry V, III,
iii, 58; 2 Henry IV, IV, iv, 5. This old meaning survives in
a well-known golf term.
36.: couchings: stoopings. 'Couch' is used in the sense
of 'bend' or 'stoop' as under a burden, in Spenser, The
Faerie Queene, III, i, 4:
An aged Squire there rode,
That seemd to couch under his shield three-square.
So in Genesis, xlix, 14: "Issachar is a strong ass couching
down between two burdens." The verb occurs six times in the
Bible (King James version). In Roister Doister, I, iv, 90,
we have "Couche! On your marybones ... Down to the ground!"
38.pre-ordinance and first decree: the ruling and
enactment of the highest authority in the state. "What has
been pre-ordained and decreed from the beginning."--Clar.
39.law: This is one of the textual cruces of the
play. 'Law' is Johnson's conjecture for the 'lane' of the
Folios. It was adopted by Malone. In previous editions of
Hudson's Shakespeare, Mason's conjecture, 'play,' was adopted.
'Line,' 'bane,' 'vane' have each been proposed. Fleay defends
the Folio reading and interprets 'lane' in the sense of
'narrow conceits.' 'Law of children' would mean 'law at the
mercy of whim or caprice.'
39-40.Be not fond, To think: be not so foolish as to
47-48. In previous editions of Hudson's Shakespeare was
adopted, with a slight change, Tyrwhitt's suggested
restoration of these lines to the form indicated by Ben Jonson
in the famous passage in his Discoveries, when, speaking of
Shakespeare, he says: "Many times he fell into those things
could not escape laughter: as when he said in the person of
Cæsar, one speaking to him, 'Cæsar, thou dost me wrong,' he
replied, 'Cæsar did never wrong but with just cause,' and such
like; which were ridiculous." Based upon this note the
Tyrwhitt restoration of the text was:
METELLUS. Cæsar, thou dost me wrong.
CÆSAR. Know, Cæsar doth not wrong, but with just cause,
Nor without cause will he be satisfied.
In the old Hudson Shakespeare text the first line of Cæsar's
reply was: "Cæsar did never wrong but with just cause." Jonson
has another gird at what he deemed Shakespeare's blunder, for
in the Induction to The Staple of News is, "Prologue. Cry
you mercy, you never did wrong, but with just cause." Either
Jonson must have misquoted what he heard at the theater, or
the passage was altered to the form in the text of the Folios
on his remonstrance. This way of conveying meanings by
suggestion rather than direct expression was intolerable to
Jonson. Jonson must have known that 'wrong' could mean
'injury' and 'punishment' as well as 'wrong-doing.' 'Wrong'
meaning 'harm' occurs below, l. 243. See note, p. 105, l.
59. If I could seek to move, or change, others by
prayers, then I were capable of being myself moved by the
prayers of others.
67.apprehensive: capable of apprehending,
72-73. All through this scene, Cæsar is made to speak
quite out of character, and in a strain of hateful arrogance,
in order, apparently, to soften the enormity of his murder,
and to grind the daggers of the assassins to a sharper point.
Perhaps, also, it is a part of the irony which so marks this
play, to put the haughtiest words in Cæsar's mouth just before
75. The 'Do not' of the three later Folios was adopted
by Johnson because Marcus Brutus would not have knelt.
76. The simple stage direction of the Folios is
retained. That of the Cambridge and the Globe editions is,
"Casca first, then the other Conspirators and Marcus Brutus
77.Et tu, Brute? There is no classical authority for
putting this phrase into the mouth of Cæsar. It seems to have
been an Elizabethan proverb or 'gag,' and it is found in at
least three works published earlier than Julius Cæsar. (See
Introduction, Sources, p. xvi.) Cæsar had been as a father to
Brutus, who was fifteen years his junior; and the Greek,
[Greek: kai sy teknon] "and thou, my son!" which Dion and
Suetonius put into his mouth, though probably unauthentic, is
good enough to be true. In Plutarch are two detailed accounts
of the assassination, that in Marcus Brutus differing
somewhat from that in Julius Cæsar with regard to the
nomenclature of the persons involved. The following is from
Marcus Brutus: "Trebonius on the other side drew Antonius
aside, as he came into the house where the Senate sat, and
held him with a long talk without. When Cæsar was come into
the house, all the Senate rose to honour him at his coming in.
So when he was set, the conspirators flocked about him, and
amongst them they presented one Tullius Cimber, who made
humble suit for the calling home again of his brother that was
banished. They all made as though they were intercessors for
him, and took Cæsar by the hands, and kissed his head and
breast. Cæsar at the first simply refused their kindness and
entreaties; but afterwards, perceiving they still pressed on
him, he violently thrust them from him. Then Cimber with both
his hands plucked Cæsar's gown over his shoulders, and Casca,
that stood behind him, drew his dagger first and strake Cæsar
upon the shoulder, but gave him no great wound. Cæsar, feeling
himself hurt, took him straight by the hand he held his dagger
in, and cried out in Latin: 'O traitor Casca, what dost thou?'
Casca on the other side cried in Greek, and called his brother
to help him. So divers running on a heap together to fly upon
Cæsar, he, looking about him to have fled, saw Brutus with a
sword drawn in his hand ready to strike at him: then he let
Casca's hand go, and casting his gown over his face, suffered
every man to strike at him that would. Then the conspirators
thronging one upon another, because every man was desirous to
have a cut at him, so many swords and daggers lighting upon
one body, one of them hurt another, and among them Brutus
caught a blow on his hand, because he would make one in
murthering of him, and all the rest also were every man of
80.common pulpits: rostra, the public platforms in
81. This is somewhat in the style of Caliban, when he
gets glorious with "celestial liquor," The Tempest, II, ii,
190, 191: "Freedom, hey-day! hey-day, freedom! freedom,
82-83. "Cæsar being slain in this manner, Brutus,
standing in the middest of the house, would have spoken, and
stayed the other Senators that were not of the conspiracy, to
have told them the reason why they had done this fact. But
they, as men both afraid and amazed, fled one upon another's
neck in haste to get out at the door, and no man followed
them."--Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.
95.abide: pay for, suffer for. So in III, ii, 114.
"Through confusion of form with 'abye,' when that verb was
becoming archaic, and through association of sense between
abye (pay for) a deed, and abide the consequences of a
deed, 'abide' has been erroneously used for 'abye' = pay for,
atone for, suffer for."--Murray.
97. "But Antonius and Lepidus, which were two of Cæsar's
chiefest friends, secretly conveying themselves away, fled
into other men's houses and forsook their own."--Plutarch,
98. "When the murder was newly done, there were sudden
outcries of people that ran up and down."--Plutarch, Marcus
101.stand upon: concern themselves with. Cf. II, ii,
13. What men are chiefly concerned about is how long they can
draw out their little period of mortal life. Cf. Sophocles,
Ajax, 475-476: "What joy is there in day following day, as
each but draws us on towards or keeps us back from death?"--J.
102-103. Many modern editors have followed Pope and
given this speech to Cassius. But there is no valid reason for
this change from the text of the Folios. In the light of
Casca's sentiments expressed in I, iii, 100-102, this speech
is more characteristic of him than of Cassius. Pope also gave
Casca ll. 106-111.
116. "Cæsar ... was driven ... by the counsel of the
conspirators, against the base whereupon Pompey's image stood,
which ran all of a gore-blood till he was slain."--Plutarch,
117-119. This speech and the two preceding,
vaingloriously anticipating the stage celebrity of the deed,
are very strange; and, unless there be a shrewd irony lurking
in them, it is hard to understand the purpose of them. Their
effect is to give a very ambitious air to the work of these
professional patriots, and to cast a highly theatrical color
on their alleged virtue, as if they had sought to immortalize
themselves by "striking the foremost man of all this world."
122.most boldest: See Abbott, § 11. So in III, ii,
123.Enter a Servant: "This simple stage direction
is the ... turning-round of the whole action; the arch has
reached its apex and the Re-action has begun."--Moulton.
132.resolv'd: informed. This meaning is probably
connected with the primary one of 'loosen,' 'set free,'
through the idea of setting free from perplexity. 'Resolve'
continued to be used in the sense of 'inform' and 'answer'
until the beginning of the nineteenth century. Shakespeare
uses the word in the three main senses of (1) 'relax,'
'dissolve,' Hamlet, I, ii, 130; (2) 'inform,' as here; and
(3) 'determine,' 3 Henry VI, III, iii, 219.
137.Thorough: Shakespeare uses 'through' or
'thorough' indifferently, as suits his verse. The two are but
different forms of the same word. 'Thorough,' the adjective,
is later than the preposition.
141.so please him come: provided that it please him
to come. 'So' is used with the future and subjunctive to
denote 'provided that.'
146-147.still Falls shrewdly to the purpose: always
comes cleverly near the mark. See Skeat under 'shrewd' and
153.be let blood: be put to death. So in Richard
III, III, i, 183.--is rank: has grown grossly full-blooded.
The idea is of one who has overtopped his equals, and grown
too high for the public safety. So in the speech of Oliver in
As You Like It, I, i, 90, when incensed at the high bearing
of Orlando: "Is it even so? begin you to grow upon me? I will
physic your rankness."
160.Live: if I live. Cf. The Merchant of Venice,
III, ii, 61.
163. In this line 'by' is used (1) in the sense of
'near,' 'beside,' and (2) in its ordinary sense to denote
172. The first 'fire' is dissyllabic. The allusion is to
the old notion that if a burn be held to the fire the pain
will be drawn or driven out. Shakespeare has four other very
similar allusions to this belief--Romeo and Juliet, I, ii,
46; Coriolanus, IV, vii, 54; The Two Gentlemen of Verona,
II, iv, 192; King John, III, i, 277.
175.in strength of malice: strong as they have shown
themselves to be in malice towards tyranny. Though the Folio
text may be corrupt, and at least twelve emendations have been
suggested, the figure as it stands is intelligible, though
elliptically obscure. Grant White has indicated how thoroughly
the expression is in the spirit of what Brutus has just said.
In previous editions of Hudson's Shakespeare, Singer's
conjecture of 'amity' for 'malice' was adopted. What makes
this conjecture plausible is Shakespeare's frequent use of
'amity,' and "strength of their amity" occurs in Antony and
Cleopatra, II, vi, 137.
178-179. Brutus has been talking about "our hearts," and
"kind love, good thoughts, and reverence." To Cassius, all
that is mere rose-water humbug, and he knows it is so to
Antony too. He hastens to put in such motives as he knows will
have weight with Antony, as they also have with himself. And
it is remarkable that several of these patriots, especially
Cassius, the two Brutuses, and Trebonius, afterwards accepted
the governorship of fat provinces for which they had been
prospectively named by Cæsar.
181. "When Cæsar was slain, the Senate--though Brutus
stood in the middest amongst them, as though he would have
said something touching this fact--presently ran out of the
house, and, flying, filled all the city with marvellous fear
and tumult. Insomuch as some did shut to the
doors."--Plutarch, Julius Cæsar.
193.conceit: conceive of, think of. So in I, iii,
197.dearer: more intensely. This emphatic or
intensive use of 'dear' is very common in Shakespeare, and is
used in the expression of strong emotion, either of pleasure
or of pain.
205.bay'd: brought to bay. The expression connotes
being barked at and worried as a deer by hounds. Cf. A
Midsummer Nights Dream, IV, i, 118. "Cæsar turned him no
where but he was stricken at by some ... and was hackled and
mangled among them, as a wild beast taken of
hunters."--Plutarch, Julius Cæsar.
207.Sign'd in thy spoil: This may have reference to
the custom still prevalent in England and Europe of hunters
smearing their hands and faces with the blood of the slain
deer.--/lethe./ This puzzling term is certainly the reading of
the Folios, and may mean either 'violent death' (Lat.
letum), as 'lethal' means 'deadly,' or, as White interprets
the passage, 'the stream which bears to oblivion.'
217.prick'd: marked on the list. The image is of a
list of names written out, and some of them having holes
pricked in the paper against them. Cf. IV, i, 1. See Century
under 'pricking for sheriffs.'
225.full of good regard: the result of noble
229. 'Produce' here implies 'motion towards'--the
original Latin sense. Hence the preposition
'to.'--market-place. Here, and elsewhere in the play, 'the
market-place' is the Forum, and the rostra provided there
for the purposes of public speaking Shakespeare calls
'pulpits.' In this, as in so much else, he followed North.
231.the order of his funeral: the course of the
funeral ceremonies. "Then Antonius, thinking good ... that his
body should be honourably buried, and not in hugger-mugger,
lest the people might thereby take occasion to be worse
offended if they did otherwise: Cassius stoutly spake against
it. But Brutus went with the motion, and agreed unto
it."--Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.
243.wrong: harm. Cf. l. 47. Note the high
self-appreciation of Brutus here, in supposing that if he can
but have a chance to speak to the people, and to air his
wisdom before them, all will go right. Here, again, he
overbears Cassius, who now begins to find the effects of
having stuffed him with flatteries, and served as a mirror to
"turn his hidden worthiness into his eye" (I, ii, 57-58).
263.limbs. Thirteen different words ('kind,' 'line,'
'lives,' 'loins,' 'tombs,' 'sons,' 'times,' etc.) have been
offered by editors as substitutes for the plain, direct
'limbs' of the Folios. One of Johnson's suggestions was "these
lymmes," taking 'lymmes' in the sense of 'lime-hounds,' i.e.
'leash-hounds.' 'Lym' is on the list of dogs in King Lear,
III, vi, 72. In defence of the Folio text Dr. Wright quotes
Timon's curse on the senators of Athens and says, "Lear's
curses were certainly levelled at his daughter's limbs."
269.with: by. So in III, ii, 196. See Abbott, § 193.
272. Ate was the Greek goddess of vengeance, discord,
and mischief. Shakespeare refers to her in King John, II, i,
63, as "stirring to blood and strife." In Love's Labour's
Lost, V, ii, 694, and Much Ado about Nothing, II, i, 263,
the references to her are humorous.
274. 'Havoc' was anciently the word of signal for giving
no quarter in a battle. It was a high crime for any one to
give the signal without authority from the general in chief;
hence the peculiar force of 'monarch's voice.'--To 'let slip'
a dog was a term of the chase, for releasing the hounds from
the 'slip' or leash of leather whereby they were held in hand
till it was time to let them pursue the animal.--The 'dogs of
war' are fire, sword, and famine. So in King Henry V, First
at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire,
Crouch for employment.
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_3_1.html >.