From Julius Caesar. Ed. Henry Norman Hudson. New York: Ginn and Co., 1908.
4.battles: troops, battalions. 'Battle' was used for
an 'army,' especially an army embattled, or ordered in battle
array. The plural is here used with historical correctness, as
Brutus and Cassius had each an army; the two armies of course
coöperating, and acting together as one. Cf. 'battle' in l. 16
and 'battles' in V, iii, 108.
5.warn: summon to fight. Cf. King John, II, i, 201.
In Richard III, I, iii, 39, we have "warn them to his royal
7.am in their bosoms: am familiar with their
10.bravery: bravado, defiance. The epithet 'fearful'
probably means that fear is behind the attempt to intimidate
by display and brag. Dr. Wright interprets 'bravery' as
14.bloody sign: "The next morning, by break of day,
the signal of battle was set out in Brutus' and Cassius' camp,
which was an arming scarlet coat."--Plutarch, Marcus
17. Plutarch tells that Cassius, though the more
experienced soldier, allowed Brutus to lead the right wing.
"Shakespeare made use of this incident, but transferred to the
opposite camp, in order to bring out the character of Octavius
which made Antony yield. Octavius really commanded the left
19.exigent: exigency. So in Antony and Cleopatra,
IV, xiv, 63.
20.I will do so: I will do as I have said. Not 'I
will cross you.' At this time Octavius was but twenty-one
years old, and Antony was old enough to be his father. At the
time of Cęsar's death, when Octavius was in his nineteenth
year, Antony thought he was going to manage him easily and
have it all his own way with him; but he found the youngster
as stiff as a crowbar, and could do nothing with him. Cęsar's
youngest sister, Julia, was married to Marcus Atius Balbus,
and their daughter Atia, again, was married to Caius Octavius,
a nobleman of the plebeian order. From this marriage sprang
the present Octavius, who afterwards became the Emperor
Augustus. He was mainly educated by his great-uncle, was
advanced to the patrician order, and was adopted as his son
and heir; so that his full and proper designation at this time
was Caius Julius Cęsar Octavianus. The text gives a right
taste of the man, who always stood firm as a post against
Antony, till the latter finally knocked himself to pieces
33.The posture of your blows: where your blows are to
fall.-- are. The verb is attracted into the plural by the
nearest substantive. Cf. 'was,' IV, iii, 5. Abbott calls this
idiom 'confusion of proximity.'
34.: Hybla, a hill in Sicily, was noted for its thyme and
its honey. So Vergil, Eclogues, I, 54-55: "the hedge whose
willow bloom is quaffed by Hybla's bees." Cf. 1 Henry IV, I,
ii, 47: "As the honey of Hybla, my old lad of the castle."
Antony could not be so 'honey-tongued' unless he had quite
exhausted thyme-flavored Hybla.
39-44. These graphic details are from Plutarch's two
accounts (in Julius Cęsar and Marcus Brutus) of the
assassination of Cęsar.
48. Octavius has been a standing puzzle and enigma to
the historians, from the seeming contradictions of his
character. Merivale declares that the one principle that gave
unity to his life and reconciled those contradictions, was a
steadfast, inflexible purpose to avenge the murder of his
illustrious uncle and adoptive father.
52.goes up: is put into its sheath. Cf. John,
53. The number of Cęsar's wounds, according to Plutarch,
was three and twenty, and to 'three and twenty' Theobald,
craving historical accuracy, changed the 'three and thirty' of
55. Till you, traitors as you are, have added the
slaughtering of me, another Cęsar, to that of Julius. See
note, p. 145, l. 20.
59.strain: stock, lineage, race. So in Henry V, II,
And he is bred out of that bloody strain
That haunted us in our familiar paths.
61. Shakespeare often uses 'peevish' in the sense of
'silly,' 'foolish.' So in The Comedy of Errors, IV, i, 93. A
foolish schoolboy, joined with a masker and reveler (for
Antony's reputation, see I, ii, 204; II, i, 188, 189; II, ii,
116), and unworthy even of that honor.
66.stomachs: appetite, inclination, courage. So in
Henry V, IV, iii, 35: "He which hath no stomach to this
72. 'As' is often used redundantly with definitions of
time. This is still a provincialism. See Abbott, § 114.
"Messala writeth, that Cassius having spoken these last words
unto him, he bade him farewell, and willed him to come to
supper to him the next night following, because it was his
birthday."--Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.
75. Alluding to the battle of Pharsalia, which took
place in the year B.C. 48. Pompey was forced into that battle,
against his better judgment, by the inexperienced and
impatient men about him, who, inasmuch as they had more than
twice Cęsar's number of troops, fancied they could easily
defeat him if they could but meet him. So they tried it, and
he quickly defeated them.
77. I was strongly attached to the doctrines of
Epicurus. "Cassius being in opinion an Epicurean, and
reasoning thereon with Brutus, spake to him touching the
vision thus: 'In our sect, Brutus, we have an opinion, that we
do not always feel or see that which we suppose we do both see
and feel, but that our senses, being credulous and therefore
easily abused ... imagine they see and conjecture that which
in truth they do not.'"--Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.
80.former: first. Cf. "former things passed away."
"When they raised their camp there came two eagles, that,
flying with a marvellous force, lighted upon two of the
foremost ensigns, and always followed the soldiers, which gave
them meat and fed them, until they came near to the city of
Philippes; and there, one day only before the battle, they
both flew away."--Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.
111. Two lines in Ff.
105-106.prevent the time: anticipate the full,
natural period. To the understanding of this speech, it must
be observed that the sense of the words, 'arming myself,'
etc., follows next after the words, 'which he did give
himself.' In this passage, as Dr. Wright (Clar.) has pointed
out, Shakespeare was misled by an error in North's version of
Amyot's Plutarch, where we have feis (= fis) translated as
if it were from fier: "Brutus answered him, being yet but a
young man, and not over greatly experienced in the world; 'I
trust (I know not how) a certain rule of philosophy, by the
which I did greatly blame ... Cato for killing himself, as
being no lawful nor godly act, touching the gods; nor,
concerning men, valiant: but, being now in the midst of the
danger, I am of a contrary mind.'"--Plutarch, Marcus Brutus.
Wright, in his note on this passage, shows how the true
meaning is obscured by bad printing and punctuation. Brutus's
answer begins really with, 'Being yet but a young man'; and 'I
trust' is evidently a past tense (Old English 'truste') which
must have been read by Shakespeare as the present.
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_5_1.html >.