Julius Caesar Act 5 Scene 3 - Pindarus stabs and kills Cassius
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Julius Caesar

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ACT V SCENE III Another part of the field. 
 Alarums. Enter CASSIUS and TITINIUS. 
CASSIUS O, look, Titinius, look, the villains fly! 
 Myself have to mine own turn'd enemy: 
 This ensign here of mine was turning back; 
 I slew the coward, and did take it from him.
TITINIUS O Cassius, Brutus gave the word too early; 5 
 Who, having some advantage on Octavius, 
 Took it too eagerly: his soldiers fell to spoil, 
 Whilst we by Antony are all enclosed. 
PINDARUS Fly further off, my lord, fly further off;
 Mark Antony is in your tents, my lord 10 
 Fly, therefore, noble Cassius, fly far off. 
CASSIUS This hill is far enough. Look, look, Titinius; 
 Are those my tents where I perceive the fire? 
TITINIUS They are, my lord.
CASSIUS Titinius, if thou lovest me, 15 
 Mount thou my horse, and hide thy spurs in him, 
 Till he have brought thee up to yonder troops, 
 And here again; that I may rest assured

 Whether yond troops are friend or enemy.
TITINIUS I will be here again, even with a thought. 
CASSIUS Go, Pindarus, get higher on that hill; 20 
 My sight was ever thick; regard Titinius, 
 And tell me what thou notest about the field. 
 PINDARUS ascends the hill. 
 This day I breathed first: time is come round,
 And where I did begin, there shall I end; 
 My life is run his compass. Sirrah, what news? 25 
CASSIUS What news? 
 With horsemen, that make to him on the spur; 
 Yet he spurs on. Now they are almost on him. 30
 Now, Titinius! Now some light. O, he lights too. 
 He's ta'en. 
 And, hark! they shout for joy. 
CASSIUS Come down, behold no more. 
 O, coward that I am, to live so long,
 To see my best friend ta'en before my face! 35 
 PINDARUS descends. 
 Come hither, sirrah: 
 In Parthia did I take thee prisoner; 
 And then I swore thee, saving of thy life, 
 That whatsoever I did bid thee do,
 Thou shouldst attempt it. Come now, keep thine oath; 40 
 Now be a freeman: and with this good sword, 
 That ran through Caesar's bowels, search this bosom. 
 Stand not to answer: here, take thou the hilts; 
 And, when my face is cover'd, as 'tis now,
 Guide thou the sword. 
 PINDARUS stabs him. 
 Caesar, thou art revenged, 45 
 Even with the sword that kill'd thee. 
PINDARUS So, I am free; yet would not so have been, 
 Durst I have done my will. O Cassius,
 Far from this country Pindarus shall run, 49 
 Where never Roman shall take note of him. 
 Re-enter TITINIUS with MESSALA. 
MESSALA It is but change, Titinius; for Octavius 
 Is overthrown by noble Brutus' power, 
 As Cassius' legions are by Antony.
TITINIUS These tidings will well comfort Cassius. 
MESSALA Where did you leave him? 
TITINIUS All disconsolate, 55 
 With Pindarus his bondman, on this hill. 
MESSALA Is not that he that lies upon the ground?
TITINIUS He lies not like the living. O my heart! 
MESSALA Is not that he? 
TITINIUS No, this was he, Messala, 
 But Cassius is no more. O setting sun, 60 
 As in thy red rays thou dost sink to-night,
 So in his red blood Cassius' day is set; 
 The sun of Rome is set! Our day is gone; 
 Clouds, dews, and dangers come; our deeds are done! 
 Mistrust of my success hath done this deed. 65 
MESSALA Mistrust of good success hath done this deed.
 O hateful error, melancholy's child, 
 Why dost thou show to the apt thoughts of men 
 The things that are not? O error, soon conceived, 
 Thou never comest unto a happy birth, 70 
 But kill'st the mother that engender'd thee!
TITINIUS What, Pindarus! where art thou, Pindarus? 
MESSALA Seek him, Titinius, whilst I go to meet 
 The noble Brutus, thrusting this report 
 Into his ears; I may say, thrusting it; 75 
 For piercing steel and darts envenomed
 Shall be as welcome to the ears of Brutus 
 As tidings of this sight. 
TITINIUS Hie you, Messala, 
 And I will seek for Pindarus the while. 
 Why didst thou send me forth, brave Cassius? 80
 Did I not meet thy friends? and did not they 
 Put on my brows this wreath of victory, 
 And bid me give it thee? Didst thou not hear their shouts? 
 Alas, thou hast misconstrued every thing! 
 But, hold thee, take this garland on thy brow; 85
 Thy Brutus bid me give it thee, and I 
 Will do his bidding. Brutus, come apace, 
 And see how I regarded Caius Cassius. 
 By your leave, gods:--this is a Roman's part 
 Come, Cassius' sword, and find Titinius' heart.
 Kills himself. 
BRUTUS Where, where, Messala, doth his body lie? 
MESSALA Lo, yonder, and Titinius mourning it. 
BRUTUS Titinius' face is upward. 
CATO He is slain. 
BRUTUS O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet!
 Thy spirit walks abroad and turns our swords 95 
 In our own proper entrails. 
 Low alarums. 
CATO Brave Titinius! 
 Look, whether he have not crown'd dead Cassius! 
BRUTUS Are yet two Romans living such as these?
 The last of all the Romans, fare thee well! 
 It is impossible that ever Rome 100 
 Should breed thy fellow. Friends, I owe more tears 
 To this dead man than you shall see me pay. 
 I shall find time, Cassius, I shall find time.
 Come, therefore, and to Thasos send his body: 
 His funerals shall not be in our camp, 105 
 Lest it discomfort us. Lucilius, come; 
 And come, young Cato; let us to the field. 
 Labeo and Flavius, set our battles on:
 'Tis three o'clock; and, Romans, yet ere night 109 
 We shall try fortune in a second fight. 

Next: Julius Caesar, Act 5, Scene 4


Explanatory Notes for Act 5, Scene 3
From Julius Caesar. Ed. Samuel Thurber. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.



Scene 3

2. to my own. That is, to one of my own army, -- the standard-bearer referred to in the next lines.

4. it: the standard. The word "ensign" was used then, as it is today, both for the flag and the man who carried it. Here Cassius uses the word with both meanings in the same sentence.

7. Took it too eagerly: followed up too eagerly the advantage which he gained over Octavius. fell to spoil: went to work plundering. According to Plutarch, whom Shakespeare follows closely here, Cassius was "marvellous angry to see how Brutus' men ran to give charge upon their Enemies, and tarried not for the word of the Battell, nor commandment to give charge: and it grieved him beside, that after he had overcome them, his men fell straight to spoil, and were not careful to compass in the rest of the Enemies behind." It was against Cassius' best judgment that Brutus was given command of the right wing, a concession which this time leads to fatal consequences.

18. yond: yonder. Where did Caesar say,
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look?
19. with a thought: as quick as thought; "in the twinkling of an eye."

21. My sight was ever thick. Plutarch's words are, "Howbeit, Cassius himself saw nothing, for his sight was very bad, saving that he saw (and yet with much ado) how the Enemies spoiled his Camp before his eyes."

Pindarus ascends the hill. Here probably Pindarus went up to the balcony over the inner stage.

25. My life is run his compass. In the words of Macbeth,
I have lived long enough; my way of life
Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf.
31. light: alight, dismount.

38. I swore thee, saving of thy life: I made thee swear when I saved thy life, -- or spared thee.

42. search: pierce, probe.

43. hilts. A common use in Shakespeare, where we should say "hilt" for the handle of a sword.

61. It is but change. The battle is an interchange of victory and defeat.

66. Mistrust of good success: doubt as to the issue. In Shakespeare's time the word "success" often meant simply "outcome," "issue," and thus needed a qualifying adjective such as "good" here. So Caesar said,
Go bid the priests do present sacrifice.
And bring me their opinions of success.
(II, 2, 6.)
68. the apt thoughts: the impressionable, receptive thoughts.

70. happy: fortunate.

86. bid. Shakespeare often uses this form, as well as bade, for the past tense of "bid." Cf. "that tongue that bade the Romans mark him." (1, 2, 125-126.)

88. regarded: esteemed, reverenced.

94. Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet, etc. Hudson remarks on this passage, "Brutus here strikes the proper keynote of the play." He then quotes Froude: "The murderers of Caesar, . . . such of them as were in Italy were immediately killed. Those in the provinces, as if with the curse of Cain upon their heads, came one by one to miserable ends. In three years the tyrannicides of the Ides of March, with their aides and abettors, were all dead; some killed in battle, some in prison, some dying by their own hand." Remember, too, Antony's prophecy over Caesar's body in Act III:
A curse will light upon the limbs of men;
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry "Havoc," and let slip the dogs of war.
96. In our own proper entrails: into our own entrails. "Proper" simply emphasizes "own."

97. whether. Here a word of one syllable, probably pronounced "whe'r," as in I, I, 62:
See, whether their basest metal be not moved.
101. fellow: equal counterpart. moe: more, -- an old comparative of "many." Do you remember where Lucius says, "No, sir, there are moe with him"?

104. Thasos. An island in the Aegean sea off the coast of Thrace where, according to Plutarch, Cassius was buried.

105. funerals. Although we use this word today in the singular form, we still speak of nuptials.

108. set our battles on: move forward our army; advance our line.

109. ere night. This second battle in reality did not take place for twenty days. Why does Shakespeare transfer it to the day of the first conflict? Does this change seem justifiable to you?

How to cite the explanatory notes and scene questions:
Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Samuel Thurber. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1919. Shakespeare Online. 15 May. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/julius_5_3.html >.

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

Scene Questions for Review

microsoft images 1. Explain, after reading page 173, how probably in Shakespeare's time this scene of Pindarus on the hill was acted.

2. Why did Cassius kill himself? What has he said about suicide earlier in the play?

3. Explain the actions of Titinius, as you understand them. What caused Cassius to "misconstrue everything"?

4. What does Titinius mean by exclaiming, just before he stabs himself, "This is a Roman's part"?

5. Explain and comment upon Brutus' words upon finding the body of Cassius, "O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet!"

6. Compare Brutus' words and constrained feelings here with his manner upon hearing of Portia's death.

7. Do you admire Cassius in this scene? Has he risen or fallen in your estimation since the beginning of the play? Discuss in detail.


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Thoughts on Cassius...

"Yet notwithstanding this taint of enviousness and spite, Cassius is far from being a despicable or even an unattractive character. He may play the Devil's Advocate in regard to individuals, but he is capable of a high enthusiasm for his cause, such as it is. We must share his calenture of excitement, as he strides about the streets in the tempest that fills Casca with superstitious dread and Cicero with discomfort at the nasty weather. His republicanism may be a narrow creed, but at least he is willing to be a martyr to it; when he hears that Caesar is to wear the crown, his resolution is prompt and Roman-like: I know where I will wear this dagger then: Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius. (i. iii. 89.)" -- (M. W. MacCallum. Shakespeare's Roman Plays. p. 279)


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