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Sunday, March 15, 2020


Vincenzo Camuccini’s depiction of the death of Julius Caesar.


ACT III, SCENE I        
Rome. Before the Capitol; the Senate sitting above. A crowd of people; among them ARTEMIDORUS and the Soothsayer. Flourish.

CAESAR     [To the Soothsayer] The ides of March are come 
Soothsayer Ay, Caesar; but not gone.        

ARTEMIDORUS   Hail, Caesar! read this schedule.
DECIUS BRUTUS Trebonius doth desire you to o'erread,        
         At your best leisure, this his humble suit.    

ARTEMIDORUS   O Caesar, read mine first; for mine's a suit  
         That touches Caesar nearer: read it, great Caesar. 

CAESAR     What touches us ourself shall be last served.        

ARTEMIDORUS   Delay not, Caesar; read it instantly.    
CAESAR     What, is the fellow mad?

PUBLIUS    Sirrah, give place.          

CASSIUS    What, urge you your petitions in the street? 
         Come to the Capitol.      
         [Caesar goes up to the Senate-House, the rest following:]        

POPILIUS   I wish your enterprise today may thrive.     

CASSIUS    What enterprise, Popilius?

POPILIUS   Fare you well.      
         [Advances to CAESAR.]

BRUTUS     What said Popilius Lena?
CASSIUS    He wish'd today our enterprise might thrive.
         I fear our purpose is discovered.
BRUTUS     Look, how he makes to Caesar; mark him.

CASSIUS    Casca, be sudden, for we fear prevention.   
         Brutus, what shall be done? If this be known,                
         Cassius or Caesar never shall turn back,     
         For I will slay myself.
BRUTUS     Cassius, be constant:
         Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes;   
         For, look, he smiles, and Caesar doth not change.
CASSIUS    Trebonius knows his time; for, look you, Brutus.           
         He draws Mark Antony out of the way.      
         [Exeunt ANTONY and TREBONIUS.]
DECIUS BRUTUS   Where is Metellus Cimber? Let him go,
         And presently prefer his suit to Caesar.       

BRUTUS     He is address'd: press near and second him.

CINNA       Casca, you are the first that rears your hand.                 

CAESAR     Are we all ready? What is now amiss 
         That Caesar and his senate must redress?

METELLUS CIMBER     Most high, most mighty, and most puissant Caesar,
Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat—a humble heart--[Kneeling] 

CAESAR     I must prevent thee, Cimber.             
         These couchings and these lowly courtesies
         Might fire the blood of ordinary men,
         And turn pre-ordinance and first decree      
         Into the law of children. Be not fond,
         To think that Caesar bears such rebel blood           
         That will be thaw'd from the true quality
         With that which melteth fools; I mean, sweet words,     
         Low-crooked court'sies and base spaniel-fawning.
         Thy brother by decree is banished:    
         If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him,                 
         I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
         Know, Caesar doth not wrong, nor without cause 
         Will he be satisfied.
METELLUS CIMBER     Is there no voice more worthy than my own        
         To sound more sweetly in great Caesar's ear                  
         For the repealing of my banish'd brother?

BRUTUS     I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Caesar;  
         Desiring thee that Publius Cimber may        
         Have an immediate freedom of repeal.

CAESAR     What, Brutus!      

CASSIUS    Pardon, Caesar; Caesar, pardon:
         As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall,                 
         To beg enfranchisement for Publius Cimber.        

CASSIUS    I could be well moved, if I were as you:     
         If I could pray to move, prayers would move me: 
         But I am constant as the northern star,
         Of whose true-fix'd and resting quality       
         There is no fellow in the firmament.  
         The skies are painted with unnumber'd sparks,     
         They are all fire and every one doth shine,   
         But there's but one in all doth hold his place:
         So in the world; 'tis furnish'd well with men,        
         And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;   
         Yet in the number I do know but one 
         That unassailable holds on his rank,   
         Unshaked of motion: and that I am he,        
         Let me a little show it, even in this;    
         That I was constant Cimber should be banish'd,   
         And constant do remain to keep him so.
CINNA       O Caesar,-- 

CAESAR     Hence! wilt thou lift up Olympus?

DECIUS BRUTUS          Great Caesar,--    

CAESAR     Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?        

Death of Caesar by William H. Sullivan

CASCA       Speak, hands for me!     
         [CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR]      

CAESAR     Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar!

CINNA       Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!
         Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.       

CASSIUS    Some to the common pulpits, and cry out            
         'Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!'    

BRUTUS     People and senators, be not affrighted;        
         Fly not; stand stiff: ambition's debt is paid.

CASCA       Go to the pulpit, Brutus. 

DECIUS BRUTUS          And Cassius too.            

BRUTUS     Where's Publius?  

CINNA       Here, quite confounded with this mutiny.    

METELLUS CIMBER     Stand fast together, lest some friend of Caesar's
         Should chance--   

BRUTUS     Talk not of standing. Publius, good cheer;             
         There is no harm intended to your person,  
         Nor to no Roman else: so tell them, Publius.

CASSIUS    And leave us, Publius; lest that the people,
         Rushing on us, should do your age some mischief.        
BRUTUS     Do so: and let no man abide this deed,                  
         But we the doers. 
         [Re-enter TREBONIUS.]

CASSIUS    Where is Antony? 

TREBONIUS        Fled to his house amazed:
         Men, wives and children stare, cry out and run     
         As it were doomsday.    

BRUTUS     Fates, we will know your pleasures:  
         That we shall die, we know; 'tis but the time                  
         And drawing days out, that men stand upon.

CASSIUS    Why, he that cuts off twenty years of life   
         Cuts off so many years of fearing death.     

BRUTUS     Grant that, and then is death a benefit:        
         So are we Caesar's friends, that have abridged                
         His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop,
         And let us bathe our hands in Caesar's blood        
         Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords:
         Then walk we forth, even to the market-place,     
         And, waving our red weapons o'er our heads,                
         Let's all cry 'Peace, freedom and liberty!'

CASSIUS    Stoop, then, and wash. How many ages hence     
         Shall this our lofty scene be acted over       
         In states unborn and accents yet unknown! 

BRUTUS     How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,                 
         That now on Pompey's basis lies along
         No worthier than the dust!      

CASSIUS    So oft as that shall be,    
         So often shall the knot of us be call'd 
         The men that gave their country liberty.      

DECIUS BRUTUS          What, shall we forth?

CASSIUS    Ay, every man away:       
         Brutus shall lead; and we will grace his heels        
         With the most boldest and best hearts of Rome.    
         [Enter a Servant.] 

BRUTUS     Soft! who comes here? A friend of Antony's.       

Servant       Thus, Brutus, did my master bid me kneel:
         Thus did Mark Antony bid me fall down;      
         And, being prostrate, thus he bade me say:  
         Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and honest;   
         Caesar was mighty, bold, royal, and loving: 
         Say I love Brutus, and I honour him;
         Say I fear'd Caesar, honour'd him and loved him.            
         If Brutus will vouchsafe that Antony 
         May safely come to him, and be resolved    
         How Caesar hath deserved to lie in death,    
         Mark Antony shall not love Caesar dead
         So well as Brutus living; but will follow        
         The fortunes and affairs of noble Brutus     
         Thorough the hazards of this untrod state   
         With all true faith. So says my master Antony.     

BRUTUS     Thy master is a wise and valiant Roman;
         I never thought him worse.       
         Tell him, so please him come unto this place,       
         He shall be satisfied; and, by my honour,    
         Depart untouch'd. 

Servant       I'll fetch him presently.

BRUTUS     I know that we shall have him well to friend.        

CASSIUS    I wish we may: but yet have I a mind         
         That fears him much; and my misgiving still
         Falls shrewdly to the purpose. 

BRUTUS     But here comes Antony.
         [Re-enter ANTONY.]    
         Welcome, Mark Antony.

ANTONY    O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?       
         Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,       
         Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.        
         I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,
         Who else must be let blood, who else is rank:       
         If I myself, there is no hour so fit     
         As Caesar's death hour, nor no instrument            
         Of half that worth as those your swords, made rich       
         With the most noble blood of all this world.
         I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
         Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,      
         Fulfil your pleasure. Live a thousand years,          
         I shall not find myself so apt to die:   
         No place will please me so, no mean of death,
         As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,       
         The choice and master spirits of this age.    

BRUTUS     O Antony, beg not your death of us.           
         Though now we must appear bloody and cruel,    
         As, by our hands and this our present act,
         You see we do, yet see you but our hands   
         And this the bleeding business they have done:      
         Our hearts you see not; they are pitiful;         
         And pity to the general wrong of Rome--    
         As fire drives out fire, so pity pity--
         Hath done this deed on Caesar. For your part,      
         To you our swords have leaden points, Mark Antony:    
         Our arms, in strength of malice, and our hearts              
         Of brothers' temper, do receive you in        
         With all kind love, good thoughts, and reverence.

CASSIUS    Your voice shall be as strong as any man's  
         In the disposing of new dignities.      

BRUTUS     Only be patient till we have appeased           
         The multitude, beside themselves with fear, 
         And then we will deliver you the cause,
         Why I, that did love Caesar when I struck him,    
         Have thus proceeded.     

ANTONY    I doubt not of your wisdom.    
         Let each man render me his bloody hand:              
         First, Marcus Brutus, will I shake with you;
         Next, Caius Cassius, do I take your hand;   
         Now, Decius Brutus, yours: now yours, Metellus;
         Yours, Cinna; and, my valiant Casca, yours;
         Though last, not last in love, yours, good Trebonius.               
         Gentlemen all,--alas, what shall I say?
         My credit now stands on such slippery ground,    
         That one of two bad ways you must conceit me,  
         Either a coward or a flatterer.  
         That I did love thee, Caesar, O, 'tis true:              
         If then thy spirit look upon us now,
         Shall it not grieve thee dearer than thy death,        
         To see thy thy Anthony making his peace,  
         Shaking the bloody fingers of thy foes,       
         Most noble! in the presence of thy corse?            
         Had I as many eyes as thou hast wounds,
         Weeping as fast as they stream forth thy blood,    
         It would become me better than to close     
         In terms of friendship with thine enemies.   
         Pardon me, Julius! Here wast thou bay'd, brave hart;              
         Here didst thou fall; and here thy hunters stand,
         Sign'd in thy spoil, and crimson'd in thy lethe.      
         O world, thou wast the forest to this hart;   
         And this, indeed, O world, the heart of thee.
         How like a deer, strucken by many princes,  
         Dost thou here lie!

CASSIUS    Mark Antony,--    

ANTONY    Pardon me, Caius Cassius:       
         The enemies of Caesar shall say this; 
         Then, in a friend, it is cold modesty.  

CASSIUS    I blame you not for praising Caesar so;       
         But what compact mean you to have with us?      
         Will you be prick'd in number of our friends;        
         Or shall we on, and not depend on you?      

ANTONY    Therefore I took your hands, but was, indeed,      
         Sway'd from the point, by looking down on Caesar.       
         Friends am I with you all and love you all,   
         Upon this hope, that you shall give me reasons     
         Why and wherein Caesar was dangerous.   

BRUTUS     Or else were this a savage spectacle: 
         Our reasons are so full of good regard        
         That were you, Antony, the son of Caesar, 
         You should be satisfied. 

ANTONY    That's all I seek:   
         And am moreover suitor that I may   
         Produce his body to the market-place;
         And in the pulpit, as becomes a friend,                  
         Speak in the order of his funeral.       

BRUTUS     You shall, Mark Antony.

CASSIUS    Brutus, a word with you.        
         [Aside to BRUTUS.]      
         You know not what you do: do not consent
         That Antony speak in his funeral:      
         Know you how much the people may be moved     
         By that which he will utter?     

BRUTUS     By your pardon;   
         I will myself into the pulpit first,
         And show the reason of our Caesar's death:
         What Antony shall speak, I will protest       
         He speaks by leave and by permission,                 
         And that we are contented Caesar shall       
         Have all true rites and lawful ceremonies.
         It shall advantage more than do us wrong.  

CASSIUS    I know not what may fall; I like it not.        

BRUTUS     Mark Antony, here, take you Caesar's body.
         You shall not in your funeral speech blame us,      
         But speak all good you can devise of Caesar,
         And say you do't by our permission;  
         Else shall you not have any hand at all
         About his funeral: and you shall speak          
         In the same pulpit whereto I am going,       
         After my speech is ended.

ANTONY    Be it so.      
         I do desire no more.      

BRUTUS     Prepare the body then, and follow us.
         [Exeunt all but ANTONY.]      

ANTONY    O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,          
         That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
         Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
         That ever lived in the tide of times.    
         Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
         Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,--               
         Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
         To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue--     
         A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;   
         Domestic fury and fierce civil strife   
         Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;     
         Blood and destruction shall be so in use
         And dreadful objects so familiar        
         That mothers shall but smile when they behold     
         Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;      
         All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:     
         And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
         With Ate by his side come hot from hell,     
         Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice      
         Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;    
         That this foul deed shall smell above the earth                
         With carrion men, groaning for burial.
[Enter a Servant.] 
         You serve Octavius Caesar, do you not?     

Servant       I do, Mark Antony.        

ANTONY    Caesar did write for him to come to Rome. 

Servant       He did receive his letters, and is coming;       
         And bid me say to you by word of mouth--
         O Caesar!--
         [Seeing the body.]

ANTONY    Thy heart is big, get thee apart and weep.   
         Passion, I see, is catching; for mine eyes,   
         Seeing those beads of sorrow stand in thine,                 
         Began to water. Is thy master coming?

Servant       He lies tonight within seven leagues of Rome.       

ANTONY    Post back with speed, and tell him what hath chanced:   
         Here is a mourning Rome, a dangerous Rome,      
         No Rome of safety for Octavius yet;          
         Hie hence, and tell him so. Yet, stay awhile;
         Thou shalt not back till I have borne this corse     
         Into the market-place: there shall I try
         In my oration, how the people take    
         The cruel issue of these bloody men;          
         According to the which, thou shalt discourse
         To young Octavius of the state of things.    
         Lend me your hand.       
[Exeunt with CAESAR's body.]
Jean-Leon Gerome’s painting of the Assassination of Caesar.

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