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The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

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Act II, Scene 1

Rome. BRUTUS’s orchard.



  • Brutus. What, Lucius, ho! 600
    I cannot, by the progress of the stars,
    Give guess how near to day. Lucius, I say!
    I would it were my fault to sleep so soundly.
    When, Lucius, when? awake, I say! what, Lucius!


  • Brutus. Get me a taper in my study, Lucius:
    When it is lighted, come and call me here.


  • Brutus. It must be by his death: and for my part,
    I know no personal cause to spurn at him,
    But for the general. He would be crown'd:
    How that might change his nature, there's the question.
    It is the bright day that brings forth the adder; 615
    And that craves wary walking. Crown him?—that;—
    And then, I grant, we put a sting in him,
    That at his will he may do danger with.
    The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
    Remorse from power: and, to speak truth of Caesar, 620
    I have not known when his affections sway'd
    More than his reason. But 'tis a common proof,
    That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
    Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
    But when he once attains the upmost round. 625
    He then unto the ladder turns his back,
    Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
    By which he did ascend. So Caesar may.
    Then, lest he may, prevent. And, since the quarrel
    Will bear no colour for the thing he is, 630
    Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented,
    Would run to these and these extremities:
    And therefore think him as a serpent's egg
    Which, hatch'd, would, as his kind, grow mischievous,
    And kill him in the shell. 635

Re-enter LUCIUS

  • Lucius. The taper burneth in your closet, sir.
    Searching the window for a flint, I found
    This paper, thus seal'd up; and, I am sure,
    It did not lie there when I went to bed. 640

Gives him the letter

  • Brutus. Get you to bed again; it is not day.
    Is not to-morrow, boy, the ides of March?
  • Brutus. Look in the calendar, and bring me word. 645


  • Brutus. The exhalations whizzing in the air
    Give so much light that I may read by them.
    [Opens the letter and reads] 650
    'Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake, and see thyself.
    Shall Rome, &c. Speak, strike, redress!
    Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake!'
    Such instigations have been often dropp'd
    Where I have took them up. 655
    'Shall Rome, &c.' Thus must I piece it out:
    Shall Rome stand under one man's awe? What, Rome?
    My ancestors did from the streets of Rome
    The Tarquin drive, when he was call'd a king.
    'Speak, strike, redress!' Am I entreated 660
    To speak and strike? O Rome, I make thee promise:
    If the redress will follow, thou receivest
    Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!

Re-enter LUCIUS

  • Lucius. Sir, March is wasted fourteen days. 665

Knocking within

  • Brutus. 'Tis good. Go to the gate; somebody knocks.
    [Exit LUCIUS]
    Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar,
    I have not slept. 670
    Between the acting of a dreadful thing
    And the first motion, all the interim is
    Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream:
    The Genius and the mortal instruments
    Are then in council; and the state of man, 675
    Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
    The nature of an insurrection.

Re-enter LUCIUS

  • Lucius. Sir, 'tis your brother Cassius at the door,
    Who doth desire to see you. 680
  • Lucius. No, sir, there are moe with him.
  • Lucius. No, sir; their hats are pluck'd about their ears,
    And half their faces buried in their cloaks, 685
    That by no means I may discover them
    By any mark of favour.
  • Brutus. Let 'em enter.
    [Exit LUCIUS]
    They are the faction. O conspiracy, 690
    Shamest thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,
    When evils are most free? O, then by day
    Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
    To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy;
    Hide it in smiles and affability: 695
    For if thou path, thy native semblance on,
    Not Erebus itself were dim enough
    To hide thee from prevention.
    [Enter the conspirators, CASSIUS, CASCA, DECIUS
  • Cassius. I think we are too bold upon your rest:
    Good morrow, Brutus; do we trouble you?
  • Brutus. I have been up this hour, awake all night.
    Know I these men that come along with you?
  • Cassius. Yes, every man of them, and no man here 705
    But honours you; and every one doth wish
    You had but that opinion of yourself
    Which every noble Roman bears of you.
    This is Trebonius.
  • Brutus. He is welcome hither. 710
  • Cassius. This, Casca; this, Cinna; and this, Metellus Cimber.
  • Brutus. They are all welcome.
    What watchful cares do interpose themselves 715
    Betwixt your eyes and night?

BRUTUS and CASSIUS whisper

  • Cinna. O, pardon, sir, it doth; and yon gray lines
    That fret the clouds are messengers of day.
  • Casca. You shall confess that you are both deceived.
    Here, as I point my sword, the sun arises,
    Which is a great way growing on the south, 725
    Weighing the youthful season of the year.
    Some two months hence up higher toward the north
    He first presents his fire; and the high east
    Stands, as the Capitol, directly here.
  • Brutus. Give me your hands all over, one by one. 730
  • Cassius. And let us swear our resolution.
  • Brutus. No, not an oath: if not the face of men,
    The sufferance of our souls, the time's abuse,—
    If these be motives weak, break off betimes,
    And every man hence to his idle bed; 735
    So let high-sighted tyranny range on,
    Till each man drop by lottery. But if these,
    As I am sure they do, bear fire enough
    To kindle cowards and to steel with valour
    The melting spirits of women, then, countrymen, 740
    What need we any spur but our own cause,
    To prick us to redress? what other bond
    Than secret Romans, that have spoke the word,
    And will not palter? and what other oath
    Than honesty to honesty engaged, 745
    That this shall be, or we will fall for it?
    Swear priests and cowards and men cautelous,
    Old feeble carrions and such suffering souls
    That welcome wrongs; unto bad causes swear
    Such creatures as men doubt; but do not stain 750
    The even virtue of our enterprise,
    Nor the insuppressive mettle of our spirits,
    To think that or our cause or our performance
    Did need an oath; when every drop of blood
    That every Roman bears, and nobly bears, 755
    Is guilty of a several bastardy,
    If he do break the smallest particle
    Of any promise that hath pass'd from him.
  • Cassius. But what of Cicero? shall we sound him?
    I think he will stand very strong with us. 760
  • Casca. Let us not leave him out.
  • Metellus Cimber. O, let us have him, for his silver hairs
    Will purchase us a good opinion
    And buy men's voices to commend our deeds: 765
    It shall be said, his judgment ruled our hands;
    Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
    But all be buried in his gravity.
  • Brutus. O, name him not: let us not break with him;
    For he will never follow any thing 770
    That other men begin.
  • Casca. Indeed he is not fit.
  • Cassius. Decius, well urged: I think it is not meet, 775
    Mark Antony, so well beloved of Caesar,
    Should outlive Caesar: we shall find of him
    A shrewd contriver; and, you know, his means,
    If he improve them, may well stretch so far
    As to annoy us all: which to prevent, 780
    Let Antony and Caesar fall together.
  • Brutus. Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius,
    To cut the head off and then hack the limbs,
    Like wrath in death and envy afterwards;
    For Antony is but a limb of Caesar: 785
    Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
    We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar;
    And in the spirit of men there is no blood:
    O, that we then could come by Caesar's spirit,
    And not dismember Caesar! But, alas, 790
    Caesar must bleed for it! And, gentle friends,
    Let's kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
    Let's carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
    Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds:
    And let our hearts, as subtle masters do, 795
    Stir up their servants to an act of rage,
    And after seem to chide 'em. This shall make
    Our purpose necessary and not envious:
    Which so appearing to the common eyes,
    We shall be call'd purgers, not murderers. 800
    And for Mark Antony, think not of him;
    For he can do no more than Caesar's arm
    When Caesar's head is off.
  • Cassius. Yet I fear him;
    For in the ingrafted love he bears to Caesar— 805
  • Brutus. Alas, good Cassius, do not think of him:
    If he love Caesar, all that he can do
    Is to himself, take thought and die for Caesar:
    And that were much he should; for he is given
    To sports, to wildness and much company. 810
  • Trebonius. There is no fear in him; let him not die;
    For he will live, and laugh at this hereafter.

Clock strikes

  • Brutus. Peace! count the clock.
  • Cassius. The clock hath stricken three. 815
  • Cassius. But it is doubtful yet,
    Whether Caesar will come forth to-day, or no;
    For he is superstitious grown of late,
    Quite from the main opinion he held once 820
    Of fantasy, of dreams and ceremonies:
    It may be, these apparent prodigies,
    The unaccustom'd terror of this night,
    And the persuasion of his augurers,
    May hold him from the Capitol to-day. 825
  • Decius Brutus. Never fear that: if he be so resolved,
    I can o'ersway him; for he loves to hear
    That unicorns may be betray'd with trees,
    And bears with glasses, elephants with holes,
    Lions with toils and men with flatterers; 830
    But when I tell him he hates flatterers,
    He says he does, being then most flattered.
    Let me work;
    For I can give his humour the true bent,
    And I will bring him to the Capitol. 835
  • Cassius. Nay, we will all of us be there to fetch him.
  • Brutus. By the eighth hour: is that the uttermost?
  • Cinna. Be that the uttermost, and fail not then.
  • Metellus Cimber. Caius Ligarius doth bear Caesar hard,
    Who rated him for speaking well of Pompey: 840
    I wonder none of you have thought of him.
  • Brutus. Now, good Metellus, go along by him:
    He loves me well, and I have given him reasons;
    Send him but hither, and I'll fashion him.
  • Cassius. The morning comes upon 's: we'll leave you, Brutus. 845
    And, friends, disperse yourselves; but all remember
    What you have said, and show yourselves true Romans.
  • Brutus. Good gentlemen, look fresh and merrily;
    Let not our looks put on our purposes,
    But bear it as our Roman actors do, 850
    With untired spirits and formal constancy:
    And so good morrow to you every one.
    [Exeunt all but BRUTUS]
    Boy! Lucius! Fast asleep? It is no matter;
    Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber: 855
    Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies,
    Which busy care draws in the brains of men;
    Therefore thou sleep'st so sound.


  • Brutus. Portia, what mean you? wherefore rise you now?
    It is not for your health thus to commit
    Your weak condition to the raw cold morning.
  • Portia. Nor for yours neither. You've ungently, Brutus,
    Stole from my bed: and yesternight, at supper, 865
    You suddenly arose, and walk'd about,
    Musing and sighing, with your arms across,
    And when I ask'd you what the matter was,
    You stared upon me with ungentle looks;
    I urged you further; then you scratch'd your head, 870
    And too impatiently stamp'd with your foot;
    Yet I insisted, yet you answer'd not,
    But, with an angry wafture of your hand,
    Gave sign for me to leave you: so I did;
    Fearing to strengthen that impatience 875
    Which seem'd too much enkindled, and withal
    Hoping it was but an effect of humour,
    Which sometime hath his hour with every man.
    It will not let you eat, nor talk, nor sleep,
    And could it work so much upon your shape 880
    As it hath much prevail'd on your condition,
    I should not know you, Brutus. Dear my lord,
    Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.
  • Brutus. I am not well in health, and that is all.
  • Portia. Brutus is wise, and, were he not in health, 885
    He would embrace the means to come by it.
  • Brutus. Why, so I do. Good Portia, go to bed.
  • Portia. Is Brutus sick? and is it physical
    To walk unbraced and suck up the humours
    Of the dank morning? What, is Brutus sick, 890
    And will he steal out of his wholesome bed,
    To dare the vile contagion of the night
    And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air
    To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus;
    You have some sick offence within your mind, 895
    Which, by the right and virtue of my place,
    I ought to know of: and, upon my knees,
    I charm you, by my once-commended beauty,
    By all your vows of love and that great vow
    Which did incorporate and make us one, 900
    That you unfold to me, yourself, your half,
    Why you are heavy, and what men to-night
    Have had to resort to you: for here have been
    Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
    Even from darkness. 905
  • Brutus. Kneel not, gentle Portia.
  • Portia. I should not need, if you were gentle Brutus.
    Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
    Is it excepted I should know no secrets
    That appertain to you? Am I yourself 910
    But, as it were, in sort or limitation,
    To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,
    And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
    Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
    Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife. 915
  • Brutus. You are my true and honourable wife,
    As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
    That visit my sad heart
  • Portia. If this were true, then should I know this secret.
    I grant I am a woman; but withal 920
    A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife:
    I grant I am a woman; but withal
    A woman well-reputed, Cato's daughter.
    Think you I am no stronger than my sex,
    Being so father'd and so husbanded? 925
    Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose 'em:
    I have made strong proof of my constancy,
    Giving myself a voluntary wound
    Here, in the thigh: can I bear that with patience.
    And not my husband's secrets? 930
  • Brutus. O ye gods,
    Render me worthy of this noble wife!
    [Knocking within]
    Hark, hark! one knocks: Portia, go in awhile;
    And by and by thy bosom shall partake 935
    The secrets of my heart.
    All my engagements I will construe to thee,
    All the charactery of my sad brows:
    Leave me with haste.
    [Exit PORTIA] 940
    Lucius, who's that knocks?


  • Lucius. He is a sick man that would speak with you.
  • Brutus. Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spake of.
    Boy, stand aside. Caius Ligarius! how? 945
  • Ligarius. Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble tongue.
  • Brutus. O, what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,
    To wear a kerchief! Would you were not sick!
  • Ligarius. I am not sick, if Brutus have in hand
    Any exploit worthy the name of honour. 950
  • Brutus. Such an exploit have I in hand, Ligarius,
    Had you a healthful ear to hear of it.
  • Ligarius. By all the gods that Romans bow before,
    I here discard my sickness! Soul of Rome!
    Brave son, derived from honourable loins! 955
    Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjured up
    My mortified spirit. Now bid me run,
    And I will strive with things impossible;
    Yea, get the better of them. What's to do?
  • Brutus. A piece of work that will make sick men whole. 960
  • Ligarius. But are not some whole that we must make sick?
  • Brutus. That must we also. What it is, my Caius,
    I shall unfold to thee, as we are going
    To whom it must be done.
  • Ligarius. Set on your foot, 965
    And with a heart new-fired I follow you,
    To do I know not what: but it sufficeth
    That Brutus leads me on.