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Without annoying me: and there were drawn
Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,

Transformed with their fear; who swore they saw
Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday the bird of night did sit
Even at noon-day upon the market-place,
Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say
'These are their reasons; they are natural;
For, I believe, they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon.

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Cic. Indeed, it is a strange-disposed time:
But men may construe things after their fashion,
Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.
Comes Cæsar to the Capitol to-morrow?

Casca. He doth; for he did bid Antonius
Send word to you he would be there to-morrow.
Cic. Good night then, Casca: this disturbed

Is not to walk in.



Farewell, Cicero. [Exit Cicero. 40


Cas. Who's there?



A Roman.

Casca, by your voice.

Casca. Your ear is good. Cassius, what night is this!

Cas. A very pleasing night to honest men.

Casca. Who ever knew the heavens menace so? Cas. Those that have known the earth so full of faults.

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For my part, I have walk'd about the streets,
Submitting me unto the perilous night,
And, thus unbraced, Casca, as you see,

Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone;

And when the cross blue lightning seem'd to open 50
The breast of heaven, I did present myself
Even in the aim and very flash of it.

Casca. But wherefore did you so much tempt
the heavens ?

It is the part of men to fear and tremble,
When the most mighty gods by tokens send
Such dreadful heralds to astonish us.

Cas. You are dull, Casca, and those sparks of life
That should be in a Roman you do want,
You look pale and gaze

Or else you use not.

And put on fear and cast yourself in wonder,
To see the strange impatience of the heavens:
But if you would consider the true cause

Why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts,
Why birds and beasts from quality and kind,
Why old men fool and children calculate,
Why all these things change from their ordinance
Their natures and preformed faculties

To monstrous quality,—why, you shall find
That heaven hath infused them with these spirits,
To make them instruments of fear and warning
Unto some monstrous state.

Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man

48. unbraced, with doublet open. Elizabethan dress is assumed throughout. Cf. i. 2. 267.

50. cross, forked.

56. astonish, stun with terror. 60. cast yourself in wonder, throw yourself into a state of wonder. Casca's fear and wonder are in so far voluntary

as he might avoid them



if he

would consider the true case'

of the marvels.

64. from; cf. v. 35.

ib. kind, nature.

65. fool, act like fools, lose their heads; Mitford's probable emendation of Ff fooles.'

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65. calculate, prognosticate. 67. preformed, original.

Most like this dreadful night,

That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars
As doth the lion in the Capitol,

A man no mightier than thyself or me

In personal action, yet prodigious grown
And fearful, as these strange eruptions are.

Casca. 'Tis Cæsar that you mean; is it not,
Cassius ?

Cas. Let it be who it is: for Romans now
Have thews and limbs like to their ancestors;
But, woe the while! our fathers' minds are dead,
And we are govern'd with our mothers' spirits;
Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish.

Casca. Indeed, they say the senators to-morrow
Mean to establish Cæsar as a king;

And he shall wear his crown by sea and land,
In every place, save here in Italy.

Cas. I know where I will wear this dagger then;
Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius:
Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong;
Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat:
Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron,
Can be retentive to the strength of spirit;
But life, being weary of these worldly bars,
Never lacks power to dismiss itself.

If I know this, know all the world besides,
That part of tyranny that I do bear

I can shake off at pleasure.


[Thunder still.

So can I:

So every bondman in his own hand bears

The power to cancel his captivity.

Cas. And why should Cæsar be a tyrant then? Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf,

77. prodigious, portentous.

101. bondman (with a play on 'bond').




But that he sees the Romans are but sheep:
He were no lion, were not Romans hinds.
Those that with haste will make a mighty fire
Begin it with weak straws: what trash is Rome,
What rubbish and what offal, when it serves
For the base matter to illuminate

So vile a thing as Cæsar!
Where hast thou led me?

But, O grief,

I perhaps speak this
then I know

Before a willing bondman;
My answer must be made. But I am arm'd,
And dangers are to me indifferent.

Casca. You speak to Casca, and to such a man
That is no fleering tell-tale. Hold, my hand:
Be factious for redress of all these griefs,

And I will set this foot of mine as far

As who goes farthest.


There's a bargain made.
Now know you, Casca, I have moved already
Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans
To undergo with me an enterprise

Of honourable-dangerous consequence;
And I do know, by this, they stay for me
In Pompey's porch for now, this fearful night,
There is no stir or walking in the streets;
And the complexion of the element

In favour's like the work we have in hand,

114. My answer must be made, I shall be called to


117. fleering, grinning. 118. Be factious, agitate. ib. griefs, grievances. 121. moved, proposed to. 123. undergo, undertake.

126. Pompey's porch, 'one of the porches about the theatre [of Pompey], in which there



was a certain place full of seats for men to sit in; where also was set up the image of Pompey' (North). This porch was the actual scene of the assassination, which Shakespeare places on the Capitol; and the 'image' is that which he nevertheless makes Cæsar's body stain with blood (iii. 2. 192).

128. element, air.

129. favour, aspect.

Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.

Casca. Stand close awhile, for here comes one in haste.

Cas. 'Tis Cinna; I do know him by his gait ; He is a friend.


Cinna, where haste you so?

Cin. To find out you.


Who's that? Metellus

Cas. No, it is Casca; one incorporate

To our attempts.

Am I not stay'd for, Cinna?

Cin. I am glad on 't. What a fearful night is this!
There's two or three of us have seen strange sights.

Cas. Am I not stay'd for? tell me.

O Cassius, if you could


Yes, you are.


But win the noble Brutus to our party

Cas. Be you content: good Cinna, take this


And look you lay it in the prætor's chair,

Where Brutus may but find it; and throw this
In at his window; set this up with wax
Upon old Brutus' statue: all this done,

Repair to Pompey's porch, where you shall find us.
Is Decius Brutus and Trebonius there?

Cin. All but Metellus Cimber; and he's gone
To seek you at your house. Well, I will hie,
And so bestow these papers as you bade me.

144. Where Brutus may but find it, where Brutus alone may find it.

146. old Brutus', i.e. Lucius Junius Brutus. Plutarch records that the ancient Romans made his statue of brass to be set up in the Capitol, with the images of the kings, holding a


naked sword in his hand because he had valiantly put down the Tarquins from the kingdom of Rome.'

148. Decius Brutus, the Decimus Brutus of history. The blunder was Amyot's; thence it passed to his English translator North, Shakespeare's authority.

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