The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

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Act I, Scene 3

The same. A street.

       
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[Thunder and lightning. Enter from opposite sides, CASCA, with his sword drawn, and CICERO]

  • Cicero. Good even, Casca: brought you Caesar home?
    Why are you breathless? and why stare you so?
  • Casca. Are not you moved, when all the sway of earth
    Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero, 425
    I have seen tempests, when the scolding winds
    Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen
    The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam,
    To be exalted with the threatening clouds:
    But never till to-night, never till now, 430
    Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.
    Either there is a civil strife in heaven,
    Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,
    Incenses them to send destruction.
  • Cicero. Why, saw you any thing more wonderful? 435
  • Casca. A common slave—you know him well by sight—
    Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn
    Like twenty torches join'd, and yet his hand,
    Not sensible of fire, remain'd unscorch'd.
    Besides—I ha' not since put up my sword— 440
    Against the Capitol I met a lion,
    Who glared upon me, and went surly by,
    Without annoying me: and there were drawn
    Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,
    Transformed with their fear; who swore they saw 445
    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 450
    'These are their reasons; they are natural;'
    For, I believe, they are portentous things
    Unto the climate that they point upon.
  • Cicero. Indeed, it is a strange-disposed time:
    But men may construe things after their fashion, 455
    Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.
    Come Caesar to the Capitol to-morrow?
  • Casca. He doth; for he did bid Antonius
    Send word to you he would be there to-morrow.
  • Cicero. Good night then, Casca: this disturbed sky 460
    Is not to walk in.
  • Casca. Farewell, Cicero.

Exit CICERO

Enter CASSIUS

  • Casca. Your ear is good. Cassius, what night is this!
  • Cassius. A very pleasing night to honest men.
  • Casca. Who ever knew the heavens menace so? 470
  • Cassius. Those that have known the earth so full of faults.
    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; 475
    And when the cross blue lightning seem'd to open
    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, 480
    When the most mighty gods by tokens send
    Such dreadful heralds to astonish us.
  • Cassius. You are dull, Casca, and those sparks of life
    That should be in a Roman you do want,
    Or else you use not. You look pale and gaze 485
    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, 490
    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, 495
    To make them instruments of fear and warning
    Unto some monstrous state.
    Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man
    Most like this dreadful night,
    That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars 500
    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 Caesar that you mean; is it not, Cassius? 505
  • Cassius. 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. 510
  • Casca. Indeed, they say the senators tomorrow
    Mean to establish Caesar as a king;
    And he shall wear his crown by sea and land,
    In every place, save here in Italy.
  • Cassius. I know where I will wear this dagger then; 515
    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, 520
    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 525
    I can shake off at pleasure.

Thunder still

  • Casca. So can I:
    So every bondman in his own hand bears
    The power to cancel his captivity. 530
  • Cassius. And why should Caesar be a tyrant then?
    Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf,
    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 535
    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 Caesar! But, O grief,
    Where hast thou led me? I perhaps speak this 540
    Before a willing bondman; then I know
    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: 545
    Be factious for redress of all these griefs,
    And I will set this foot of mine as far
    As who goes farthest.
  • Cassius. There's a bargain made.
    Now know you, Casca, I have moved already 550
    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, 555
    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,
    Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.
  • Casca. Stand close awhile, for here comes one in haste. 560
  • Cassius. 'Tis Cinna; I do know him by his gait;
    He is a friend.
    [Enter CINNA]
    Cinna, where haste you so?
  • Cinna. To find out you. Who's that? Metellus Cimber? 565
  • Cassius. No, it is Casca; one incorporate
    To our attempts. Am I not stay'd for, Cinna?
  • Cinna. I am glad on 't. What a fearful night is this!
    There's two or three of us have seen strange sights.
  • Cassius. Am I not stay'd for? tell me. 570
  • Cinna. Yes, you are.
    O Cassius, if you could
    But win the noble Brutus to our party—
  • Cassius. Be you content: good Cinna, take this paper,
    And look you lay it in the praetor's chair, 575
    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? 580
  • Cinna. 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.
  • Cassius. That done, repair to Pompey's theatre.
    [Exit CINNA] 585
    Come, Casca, you and I will yet ere day
    See Brutus at his house: three parts of him
    Is ours already, and the man entire
    Upon the next encounter yields him ours.
  • Casca. O, he sits high in all the people's hearts: 590
    And that which would appear offence in us,
    His countenance, like richest alchemy,
    Will change to virtue and to worthiness.
  • Cassius. Him and his worth and our great need of him
    You have right well conceited. Let us go, 595
    For it is after midnight; and ere day
    We will awake him and be sure of him.

Exeunt

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