Julius Caesar Act 4 Scene 3 - Portia's death and Caesar's ghost appears to Brutus
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Julius Caesar

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ACT IV SCENE III Brutus's tent. 
CASSIUS That you have wrong'd me doth appear in this: 
 You have condemn'd and noted Lucius Pella 
 For taking bribes here of the Sardians; 
 Wherein my letters, praying on his side,
 Because I knew the man, were slighted off. 5 
BRUTUS You wronged yourself to write in such a case. 
CASSIUS In such a time as this it is not meet 
 That every nice offence should bear his comment. 
BRUTUS Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself
 Are much condemn'd to have an itching palm; 10 
 To sell and mart your offices for gold 
 To undeservers. 
CASSIUS I an itching palm! 
 You know that you are Brutus that speak this,
 Or, by the gods, this speech were else your last. 
BRUTUS The name of Cassius honours this corruption, 
 And chastisement doth therefore hide his head. 16 
CASSIUS Chastisement! 
BRUTUS Remember March, the ides of March remember:
 Did not great Julius bleed for justice' sake? 
 What villain touch'd his body, that did stab, 20 
 And not for justice? What, shall one of us 
 That struck the foremost man of all this world 
 But for supporting robbers, shall we now
 Contaminate our fingers with base bribes, 
 And sell the mighty space of our large honours 25 
 For so much trash as may be grasped thus? 
 I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon, 
 Than such a Roman.
CASSIUS Brutus, bay not me; 
 I'll not endure it: you forget yourself, 
 To hedge me in; I am a soldier, I, 30 
 Older in practise, abler than yourself 
 To make conditions.
BRUTUS Go to; you are not, Cassius. 
BRUTUS I say you are not. 
CASSIUS Urge me no more, I shall forget myself; 35 
 Have mind upon your health, tempt me no further.
BRUTUS Away, slight man! 
CASSIUS Is't possible? 
BRUTUS Hear me, for I will speak. 
 Must I give way and room to your rash choler? 
 Shall I be frighted when a madman stares? 40
CASSIUS O ye gods, ye gods! must I endure all this? 
BRUTUS All this! ay, more: fret till your proud heart break; 
 Go show your slaves how choleric you are, 
 And make your bondmen tremble. Must I budge? 
 Must I observe you? must I stand and crouch 45
 Under your testy humour? By the gods 
 You shall digest the venom of your spleen, 
 Though it do split you; for, from this day forth, 
 I'll use you for my mirth, yea, for my laughter, 
 When you are waspish.
CASSIUS Is it come to this? 50 
BRUTUS You say you are a better soldier: 
 Let it appear so; make your vaunting true, 
 And it shall please me well: for mine own part, 
 I shall be glad to learn of noble men.
CASSIUS You wrong me every way; you wrong me, Brutus; 55 
 I said, an elder soldier, not a better: 
 Did I say 'better'? 
BRUTUS If you did, I care not. 
CASSIUS When Caesar lived, he durst not thus have moved me.
BRUTUS Peace, peace! you durst not so have tempted him. 
CASSIUS I durst not! 60 
CASSIUS What, durst not tempt him! 
BRUTUS For your life you durst not!
CASSIUS Do not presume too much upon my love; 
 I may do that I shall be sorry for. 65 
BRUTUS You have done that you should be sorry for. 
 There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats, 
 For I am arm'd so strong in honesty
 That they pass by me as the idle wind, 
 Which I respect not. I did send to you 
 For certain sums of gold, which you denied me: 70 
 For I can raise no money by vile means: 
 By heaven, I had rather coin my heart,
 And drop my blood for drachmas, than to wring 
 From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash 
 By any indirection: I did send 75 
 To you for gold to pay my legions, 
 Which you denied me: was that done like Cassius?
 Should I have answer'd Caius Cassius so? 
 When Marcus Brutus grows so covetous, 
 To lock such rascal counters from his friends, 80 
 Be ready, gods, with all your thunderbolts; 
 Dash him to pieces!
CASSIUS I denied you not. 
BRUTUS You did. 
CASSIUS I did not: he was but a fool that brought 
 My answer back. Brutus hath rived my heart: 85 
 A friend should bear his friend's infirmities,
 But Brutus makes mine greater than they are. 
BRUTUS I do not, till you practise them on me. 
CASSIUS You love me not. 
BRUTUS I do not like your faults. 
CASSIUS A friendly eye could never see such faults. 90
BRUTUS A flatterer's would not, though they do appear 
 As huge as high Olympus. 
CASSIUS Come, Antony, and young Octavius, come, 
 Revenge yourselves alone on Cassius, 
 For Cassius is aweary of the world; 95
 Hated by one he loves; braved by his brother; 
 Cheque'd like a bondman; all his faults observed,

 Set in a note-book, learn'd, and conn'd by rote, 
 To cast into my teeth. O, I could weep 
 My spirit from mine eyes! There is my dagger, 100
 And here my naked breast; within, a heart 
 Dearer than Plutus' mine, richer than gold: 
 If that thou be'st a Roman, take it forth; 
 I, that denied thee gold, will give my heart: 
 Strike, as thou didst at Caesar; for, I know, 105
 When thou didst hate him worst, thou lovedst him better 
 Than ever thou lovedst Cassius. 
BRUTUS Sheathe your dagger: 
 Be angry when you will, it shall have scope; 
 Do what you will, dishonour shall be humour.
 O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb 110 
 That carries anger as the flint bears fire; 
 Who, much enforced, shows a hasty spark, 
 And straight is cold again. 
CASSIUS Hath Cassius lived
 To be but mirth and laughter to his Brutus, 
 When grief, and blood ill-temper'd, vexeth him? 
BRUTUS When I spoke that, I was ill-temper'd too. 115
CASSIUS Do you confess so much? Give me your hand. 
BRUTUS And my heart too.
CASSIUS O Brutus! 
BRUTUS What's the matter? 
CASSIUS Have not you love enough to bear with me, 
 When that rash humour which my mother gave me 
 Makes me forgetful?
BRUTUS Yes, Cassius; and, from henceforth, 120
 When you are over-earnest with your Brutus, 
 He'll think your mother chides, and leave you so. 
Poet Within Let me go in to see the generals; 
 There is some grudge between 'em: 'tis not meet 
 They be alone.
LUCILIUS Within You shall not come to them.  125
Poet Within Nothing but death shall stay me. 
 Enter Poet, followed by LUCILIUS, TITINIUS, and LUCIUS. 
CASSIUS How now! what's the matter? 
Poet For shame, you generals! what do you mean? 
 Love, and be friends, as two such men should be; 
 For I have seen more years, I'm sure, than ye. 130
CASSIUS Ha, ha! how vilely doth this cynic rhyme!
BRUTUS Get you hence, sirrah; saucy fellow, hence! 
CASSIUS Bear with him, Brutus; 'tis his fashion. 
BRUTUS I'll know his humour, when he knows his time: 
 What should the wars do with these jigging fools? 135
 Companion, hence!
CASSIUS Away, away, be gone. 
 Exit Poet 
BRUTUS Lucilius and Titinius, bid the commanders 
 Prepare to lodge their companies to-night. 
CASSIUS And come yourselves, and bring Messala with you 
 Immediately to us.
BRUTUS Lucius, a bowl of wine! 
 Exit LUCIUS. 
CASSIUS I did not think you could have been so angry. 141
BRUTUS O Cassius, I am sick of many griefs. 
CASSIUS Of your philosophy you make no use, 
 If you give place to accidental evils.
BRUTUS No man bears sorrow better. Portia is dead. 
CASSIUS Ha! Portia! 
BRUTUS She is dead. 
CASSIUS How 'scaped I killing when I cross'd you so? 
 O insupportable and touching loss!
 Upon what sickness? 
BRUTUS Impatient of my absence, 150
 And grief that young Octavius with Mark Antony 
 Have made themselves so strong: for with her death 
 That tidings came;--with this she fell distract,
 And, her attendants absent, swallow'd fire. 
CASSIUS And died so? 
BRUTUS Even so. 
CASSIUS O ye immortal gods! 155
 Re-enter LUCIUS, with wine and taper. 
BRUTUS Speak no more of her. Give me a bowl of wine.
 In this I bury all unkindness, Cassius. [Drinks.] 
CASSIUS My heart is thirsty for that noble pledge. 
 Fill, Lucius, till the wine o'erswell the cup; 
 I cannot drink too much of Brutus' love. [Drinks.] 160
BRUTUS Come in, Titinius!
 Exit LUCIUS. 
 Re-enter TITINIUS, with MESSALA 
 Welcome, good Messala. 
 Now sit we close about this taper here, 
 And call in question our necessities. 
CASSIUS Portia, art thou gone? 
BRUTUS No more, I pray you.
 Messala, I have here received letters, 165
 That young Octavius and Mark Antony 
 Come down upon us with a mighty power, 
 Bending their expedition toward Philippi. 
MESSALA Myself have letters of the selfsame tenor.
BRUTUS With what addition? 170
MESSALA That by proscription and bills of outlawry, 
 Octavius, Antony, and Lepidus, 
 Have put to death an hundred senators. 
BRUTUS Therein our letters do not well agree;
 Mine speak of seventy senators that died 175
 By their proscriptions, Cicero being one. 
CASSIUS Cicero one! 
MESSALA Cicero is dead, 
 And by that order of proscription.
 Had you your letters from your wife, my lord? 
BRUTUS No, Messala. 180
MESSALA Nor nothing in your letters writ of her? 
BRUTUS Nothing, Messala. 
MESSALA That, methinks, is strange.
BRUTUS Why ask you? hear you aught of her in yours? 
MESSALA No, my lord. 184 
BRUTUS Now, as you are a Roman, tell me true. 
MESSALA Then like a Roman bear the truth I tell: 
 For certain she is dead, and by strange manner.
BRUTUS Why, farewell, Portia. We must die, Messala: 
 With meditating that she must die once, 
 I have the patience to endure it now. 190
MESSALA Even so great men great losses should endure. 
CASSIUS I have as much of this in art as you,
 But yet my nature could not bear it so. 
BRUTUS Well, to our work alive. What do you think 
 Of marching to Philippi presently? 
CASSIUS I do not think it good. 
BRUTUS Your reason?
CASSIUS This it is: 
 'Tis better that the enemy seek us: 
 So shall he waste his means, weary his soldiers, 
 Doing himself offence; whilst we, lying still, 
 Are full of rest, defense, and nimbleness. 200
BRUTUS Good reasons must, of force, give place to better. 
 The people 'twixt Philippi and this ground 
 Do stand but in a forced affection; 
 For they have grudged us contribution: 
 The enemy, marching along by them, 205
 By them shall make a fuller number up, 
 Come on refresh'd, new-added, and encouraged; 
 From which advantage shall we cut him off, 
 If at Philippi we do face him there, 
 These people at our back.
CASSIUS Hear me, good brother. 210
BRUTUS Under your pardon. You must note beside, 
 That we have tried the utmost of our friends, 
 Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe: 
 The enemy increaseth every day;
 We, at the height, are ready to decline. 215
 There is a tide in the affairs of men, 
 Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; 
 Omitted, all the voyage of their life 
 Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
 On such a full sea are we now afloat; 220
 And we must take the current when it serves, 
 Or lose our ventures. 
CASSIUS Then, with your will, go on; 
 We'll along ourselves, and meet them at Philippi.
BRUTUS The deep of night is crept upon our talk, 
 And nature must obey necessity; 225
 Which we will niggard with a little rest. 
 There is no more to say? 
CASSIUS No more. Good night:
 Early to-morrow will we rise, and hence. 
BRUTUS Lucius! 
 Enter LUCIUS. 
 My gown. 
 Farewell, good Messala: 
 Good night, Titinius. Noble, noble Cassius, 230
 Good night, and good repose. 
CASSIUS O my dear brother! 
 This was an ill beginning of the night: 
 Never come such division 'tween our souls! 
 Let it not, Brutus.
BRUTUS Every thing is well. 
CASSIUS Good night, my lord. 
BRUTUS Good night, good brother. 235
 | Good night, Lord Brutus.
BRUTUS Farewell, every one. 
 Exeunt all but BRUTUS. 
 Re-enter LUCIUS, with the gown. 
 Give me the gown. Where is thy instrument? 
LUCIUS Here in the tent. 
BRUTUS What, thou speak'st drowsily?
 Poor knave, I blame thee not; thou art o'er-watch'd. 
 Call Claudius and some other of my men: 240
 I'll have them sleep on cushions in my tent. 
LUCIUS Varro and Claudius! 
VARRO Calls my lord?
BRUTUS I pray you, sirs, lie in my tent and sleep; 
 It may be I shall raise you by and by 245
 On business to my brother Cassius. 
VARRO So please you, we will stand and watch your pleasure. 
BRUTUS I will not have it so: lie down, good sirs;
 It may be I shall otherwise bethink me. 
 Look, Lucius, here's the book I sought for so; 250
 I put it in the pocket of my gown. 
 VARRO and CLAUDIUS lie down. 
LUCIUS I was sure your lordship did not give it me. 
BRUTUS Bear with me, good boy, I am much forgetful.
 Canst thou hold up thy heavy eyes awhile, 
 And touch thy instrument a strain or two? 255
LUCIUS Ay, my lord, an't please you. 
BRUTUS It does, my boy: 
 I trouble thee too much, but thou art willing.
LUCIUS It is my duty, sir. 
BRUTUS I should not urge thy duty past thy might; 
 I know young bloods look for a time of rest. 260
LUCIUS I have slept, my lord, already. 
BRUTUS It was well done; and thou shalt sleep again;
 I will not hold thee long: if I do live, 
 I will be good to thee. 
 Music, and a song. 
 This is a sleepy tune. O murderous slumber, 
 Lay'st thou thy leaden mace upon my boy, 
 That plays thee music? Gentle knave, good night;
 I will not do thee so much wrong to wake thee: 
 If thou dost nod, thou break'st thy instrument; 
 I'll take it from thee; and, good boy, good night. 270
 Let me see, let me see; is not the leaf turn'd down 
 Where I left reading? Here it is, I think.
 Enter the Ghost of CAESAR. 
 How ill this taper burns! Ha! who comes here? 
 I think it is the weakness of mine eyes 
 That shapes this monstrous apparition. 275
 It comes upon me. Art thou any thing? 
 Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil,
 That makest my blood cold and my hair to stare? 
 Speak to me what thou art. 
GHOST Thy evil spirit, Brutus. 
BRUTUS Why comest thou? 280
GHOST To tell thee thou shalt see me at Philippi.
BRUTUS Well; then I shall see thee again? 
GHOST Ay, at Philippi. 
BRUTUS Why, I will see thee at Philippi, then. 
 Exit Ghost. 
 Now I have taken heart thou vanishest: 285
 Ill spirit, I would hold more talk with thee.
 Boy, Lucius! Varro! Claudius! Sirs, awake! Claudius! 
LUCIUS The strings, my lord, are false. 
BRUTUS He thinks he still is at his instrument. 290
 Lucius, awake! 
LUCIUS My lord?
BRUTUS Didst thou dream, Lucius, that thou so criedst out? 
LUCIUS My lord, I do not know that I did cry. 
BRUTUS Yes, that thou didst: didst thou see any thing? 
LUCIUS Nothing, my lord. 
BRUTUS Sleep again, Lucius. Sirrah Claudius!
 Fellow thou, awake! 
VARRO My lord? 
CLAUDIUS My lord? 300
BRUTUS Why did you so cry out, sirs, in your sleep? 
 | Did we, my lord? 
BRUTUS Ay: saw you any thing? 
VARRO No, my lord, I saw nothing. 
CLAUDIUS Nor I, my lord.
BRUTUS Go and commend me to my brother Cassius; 
 Bid him set on his powers betimes before, 305 
 And we will follow. 
 | It shall be done, my lord.

Next: Julius Caesar, Act 5, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 4, Scene 3
From Julius Caesar. Ed. Samuel Thurber. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.



Scene 3

2. noted: set a mark or stigma upon him; disgraced him. Shakespeare took the expression "condemned and noted" directly from Plutarch.

4. praying on his side: pleading in his behalf.

5. slighted off. We should say. simply "slighted."

8. every nice offence, etc. That is, every petty, trivial offence should bear its comment, or be criticized.

10. condemned to have: accused of having. an itching palm. The expression is explained by the next line. An interesting comparison is our slang word "palm-grease," -- money given as a bribe or tip.

11. mart: sell, barter, a contraction of market, used more frequently as a noun.

16. chastisement: punishment. "Your name and position, Cassius, protects you in this practice of selling your offices for gold."

20. What villain, etc. That is, who of those that killed Caesar was such a villain as to stab him with any other motive except justice?

27. bay the moon. Compare this with line 121 of Goldsmith's "Deserted Village":

"The watchdog's voice that bayed the whispering wind."
28. bait: provoke, anger. Several editors have substituted "bay," thus making Cassius repeat the word and thought of Brutus. Is this change necessary? Is it an improvement?

30. hedge me in: hamper, restrict me, -- by interfering with my affairs.

32. To make conditions. That is, to arrange the terms on which offices should be distributed and the campaign conducted. Go to. An expression of exhortation, and sometimes of scorn, common in Shakespeare, and about equivalent to our well, come now.
Well then, it now appears you need my help;
Go to, then; you come to me, and you say,
'Shylock, we would have moneys.'
("Merchant of Venice," I, 3, 104-106.)
36. Have mind upon your health: Consider your safety.

37. slight: insignificant, petty. Of whom did Antony say earlier in this act, "This is a slight unmeritable man"?

38. Is't possible? Cassius' questions in lines 41 and 50 below also refer, of course, to Brutus' language and attitude toward him.

39. rash choler: quick and irritable temper.

45. observe you: treat you with reverence.

46. testy: fretful, irritable.

47. the venom of your spleen: the poison of your ill temper. The spleen, an organ near the stomach, was formerly considered the seat of various emotions; hence its figurative use today for ill temper, spitefulness, melancholy, etc.

48. Though it do split you. That is, though the digesting of the poison cause you agony. So we speak of a splitting headache or pain.

50. waspish: snappy, irritable, quick to sting like a wasp. Compare this word with wolfish, bearish, currish, mulish, foxy, elephantine, etc.

52. vaunting: boasting, bragging.

54. noble. Some of the editors have substituted "abler" for noble, referring to what Cassius said above, "Older in practice, abler than yourself." Why does this change seem unnecessary and unwise?

69. respect: regard, heed, -- the usual meaning in Shakespeare.

73. drachmas. The drachma was a Greek coin equal to about twenty cents. Where have we had the word before?

75. indirection. Literally, an action not direct or straight and so dishonest means, or "crookedness." Cf. "the straight and narrow path."

79. covetous: stingy, miserly, avaricious.

80. To lock such rascal counters, etc.: As to lock up such contemptible coins from his friends. Counters were round pieces of metal used in casting accounts and making calculations. Here the word is used in contempt for money.

81. thunderbolts. What is the effect of omitting the "and" at the end of the line? The thunderbolt was regarded by the Romans as the peculiar weapon of Jupiter, who hurled it upon those mortals with whom he was angry or displeased.

84. rived: broken, -- literally, split or cleaved. Do you remember Casca spoke of having seen tempests, when the scolding winds Have rived the knotty oaks?

91. Olympus. A great mountain of northern Greece, 9750 feet high, and the fabled residence of the gods.

94. Cassius is aweary of the world. So in "The Merchant of Venice" Portia says to Nerissa: "By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world." (I, 2, 1-2.)

96. Checked: rebuked, censured.

97. conned by rote: studied until learned by heart, -- like a lesson.

101. Plutus. The Greek god of riches, son of Iasion and Demeter, who had under his charge all the gold in the earth. The Folio reading here is "Pluto's," plainly a misprint.

107. it shall have scope. That is, your anger shall have indulgence, -- shall be allowed to have its run, -- shall have free play.

108. dishonor shall be humor. I shall consider any dishonorable action the result of mere caprice, -- the result of your testy humor.

109. yoked with a lamb: you are united with one who has the nature or disposition of a lamb. Pope changed this to "with a man," and several critics say that "lamb" can hardly be right.

110. as the flint bears fire. Where did Cassius say,
I am glad that my weak words
Have struck but this much show of fire from Brutus?
111. much enforced: greatly irritated.

114. blood ill-tempered: disordered condition.

118. to bear with: to be patient with.

119. that rash humor: that hasty, reckless temper.

Enter Poet. Here again the dramatist follows the story as told by Plutarch: "This Favonius at that time, in despite of the door-keepers, came into the chamber, and with a certain scoffing and mocking gesture, which he counterfeited of purpose, he rehearsed the verses which old Nestor said in Homer: 'My lords, I pray you hearken both to me. For I have seen mo years than suchie three.' Cassius fell a-laughing at him; but Brutus thrust him out of the chamber, and called him dog, and counterfeit Cynic. Howbeit his coming in brake their strife at that time, and so they left each other."

131. cynic. The Cynics were a sect of Greek philosophers founded by Antisthenes, a pupil of the great Socrates. Later the name became a symbol of ignorant and insolent self-satisfaction. Diogenes was the most noted of the Cynics.

132. sirrah: sir, fellow, -- generally used in anger or contempt, or to an inferior.

135. jigging: rhyming, ballad-making.

136. Companion. Used here contemptuously, like our "fellow."

144. If you give place, etc.: If you give in to misfortunes that are beyond your control.

148. scaped: escaped. -- a common form in old English. We have today "scapegallows," a man who has escaped hanging, though deserving it. In "The Merchant of Venice" Launcelot says, "Then to scape drowning thrice."

150. Upon. What preposition would we use today? Impatient of my absence, etc. Notice the confused construction in these lines, which are perfectly clear in spite of the loose grammatical structure. How does this confusion of language correspond, in a way, to Brutus' emotions?

153. fell distract: became distracted, crazed.

154. swallowed fire. "For Portia . . . determining to kill herself (her friends carefully looking to her to keep her from it) took hot burning coals, and cast them into her mouth, and kept her mouth so close that she choked herself." (Plutarch.)

163. call in question: discuss, talk over.

168. Bending their expedition: directing their march. Philippi. A city of Macedonia in Northern Greece named for Philip II who conquered it from Thrace. It fell under the Roman power in B.C. 168. It was here that the Apostle Paul founded a Christian church, to which he addressed the Epistle to the Philippians.

169. the selfsame tenor: the same general drift or purport.

171. by proscription and bills of outlawry. That is, by outlawing and proclaiming that they were to be killed and their property confiscated. Plutarch, in the "Life of Brutus," says, "These three . . . did set up Bills of Proscription and Outlawry, condemning two hundred of the noblest men of Rome to suffer death; and amongst that number, Cicero was one."

181. Nor nothing. Notice the intensive force which the double negative has here. Compare this with "Yet 'twas not a crown neither" in I, 2, 236.

182. methinks: it seems to me. This word, now rarely used except in poetry, is not our "think," but is derived from the Anglo-Saxon thincan: to seem.

189. once: sometime or other, sooner or later.

192. in art: in theory, in my stoic philosophy.

192, 193. Cassius means that he would not have the ability to bear calmly so sad a loss, though in theory he believes, with Brutus and other Stoics, that to give way to grief or strong emotion is unmanly and weak.

194. to our work alive: to the work that we the living have to do, -- without further thinking upon the dead, that is, Portia.

195. presently: at once, -- as usually in Shakespeare.

199. offence: injury, harm.

201. of force: of necessity, perforce.

207. new-added: reenforced, "newly-added to."

210. These people at our back. That is, "the people 'twixt Philippi and this ground" behind us, and not facing us in the army of Antony and Octavius.

211. Under your pardon: Pardon me. Why does Brutus ask Cassius to pardon him?

218. Omitted: neglected.

220. a full sea. That is, the tide "taken at the flood."

222. ventures: goods, merchandise, whatever was ventured or risked on shipboard in hope of profit. The word is frequently used in this sense in "The Merchant of Venice," as,
I thank my fortune for it
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted,
Nor to one place. (I, i, 41-43.)
222. with your will: as you wish.

226. niggard: supply stingily, sparingly. Craik says "this is probably the only instance in the language in which niggard is used as a verb."

239. knave: boy, -- here used affectionately, though in Shakespeare's time the word had begun to take on the modern meaning of rogue, rascal, and sometimes it is so used by the poet. overwatch'd: worn out with watching.

240. other: others, -- as often in Shakespeare.

249. I shall otherwise bethink me: I shall possibly think, or decide, otherwise.

253. Bear with me: Be patient with me.

256. an't: if it.

266. mace. The club, or staff, borne by an officer of justice. Here Slumber, which the poet calls "murderous" because sleep is regarded as the image of death, is spoken of as an officer arresting Lucius by touching him with his mace. "Leaden" suggests the heaviness of sleep.

271. What is the effect of the repeated "Let me see"? the leaf turned down. The Romans, of course, had no books with leaves that "turned down," any more than they had clocks that struck the hour. This is only one more illustration of the way in which Shakespeare gives to the Romans of the first century B.C. the customs and conditions of England in his own time.

273. How ill this taper burns! According to an old superstition, the approach of a ghost would cause lights to burn dimly. In "Richard the Third," when the ghosts first appear, Richard exclaims, "The lights burn blue!"

278. to stare: to stand stiff, to bristle, -- much as we say "to stand on end."

285. Now I have taken heart. Similarly in "Macbeth" when the ghost of Banquo vanishes, Macbeth says, "Why so; being gone, I am a man again." ("Macbeth," III, 4, 108.)

289. false: out of tune.

305. set on his powers betimes before: have his forces advance early. Where did Caesar say, "Set on; and leave no ceremony out"?

How to cite the explanatory notes and scene questions:
Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Samuel Thurber. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1919. Shakespeare Online. 26 Feb. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/julius_4_3.html >.

MacCallum, M. W. Shakespeare's Roman Plays and Their Background. London: Macmillan, 1910.

Scene Questions for Review

microsoft images 1. With whom do you sympathize in the famous quarrel between the two generals? Give your reasons.

2. How does each of the generals show his true character in the quarrel?

3. Explain just why Brutus was vexed with Cassius.

4. What is there dramatic about the quarrel? Can you see why it makes an effective scene on the stage even today?

5. What do you think of Cassius in lines 92-106? Do you think he is sincere or speaking simply for effect?

6. How do you explain the reconciliation in lines 115-121? What leads naturally to it?

7. How does the interruption of the poet bring the generals closer together again? Does this interruption serve any other purpose?

8. Does it seem natural for Brutus not to have spoken of Portia sooner?

9. Do you admire or dislike Brutus for his apparent lack of emotion? Do you think he is really indifferent to Portia?

10. Point out two other places where Brutus and Cassius disagreed as to the conduct of affairs. Who so far has offered the wiser counsel?

11. Do you agree with Brutus or Cassius in their plans for the approaching battle?

12. Why do you think Shakespeare has Brutus again informed of Portia's death?

13. What does the news concerning Cicero show us of conditions in Rome?

14. Compare the first scene in which we saw Lucius with this one in Brutus' tent before Sardis. How are they somewhat alike ?


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Brutus and the Ghost

"Shakespeare's Brutus is not at the outset so unconcerned as Plutarch's. Instead of "being no otherwise affrayd," his blood runs cold and his hair "stares." On the other hand, he is free from the perturbation that seizes Plutarch's Brutus when he reflects, and that drives him to tell his experience to Cassius, who "did somewhat comfort and quiet him." The Brutus of the play breathes no word of the visitation, though it is repeated at Philippi, till a few minutes before his death, and then in all composure as a proof that the end is near, not as a horror from which he seeks deliverance. He needs not the support of another, and even in the moment of physical panic he has moral courage enough: he summons up his resolution, and when he has "taken heart" the spectre vanishes. This means, too, that it has a closer connection with his nerves, with his subjective fears and misgivings, than the "monstruous shape" in Plutarch, and similarly, though he alleges that Lucius and his attendants have cried out in their sleep, they are unaware of any feeling or cause of fright. And the significance of this is marked by the greatest change of all. Shakespeare gives a personality to Plutarch's nameless phantom: it is individualised as the ghost of Caesar, and thus Caesar's spirit has become Brutus' evil genius, as Brutus has been Caesar's angel." (M. W. MacCallum. Shakespeare's Roman Plays. p. 267)


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