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Rhyme in Julius Caesar

While most of the play is written in blank verse—unrhymed iambic pentameter—there are moments in which the language rhymes and takes on a more poetic character. Such moments often occur when the dramatic tension is highest. For example, note the intricate internal rhymes in Cassius’s call to battle in the fifth act: “Why, now, blow and, swell billow, and swim bark!”

Rhyme Examples in Julius Caesar:

Act IV - Scene III

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"Love, and be friends, as two such men should be;(145) For I have seen more years, I'm sure, than ye...."   (Act IV - Scene III)

While both Brutus and Cassius berate the poet for his sappy message of love and communion, it turns out that Brutus and Cassius finally come together over this shared disgust. Indeed, this instance of irony is the turning point in the scene. Note how the two men patch up their disagreements in the lines to follow.

"Why, now, blow and, swell billow, and swim bark! The storm is up, and all is on the hazard...."   (Act V - Scene I)

Cassius evokes a nautical image that serves as a reiteration of Brutus’s “tide” metaphor from the previous scene: “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.” Cassius is implicitly saying that high tide is nigh; it is time to set sail. Note too the dense internal rhymes of the first line.

"Caesar, now be still; I kill'd not thee with half so good a will...."   (Act V - Scene V)

Brutus’s suicide is striking for several reasons. In Act V, Scene III, Brutus seems to deride Cicero’s choice to commit suicide, and he decides to instead face his fate. Clearly, his fate is imminent and deadly enough to warrant a re-appraisal. Like Cassius, Brutus utters a couplet directed at Caesar before dying. Perhaps hoping to absolve himself of his crimes, Brutus admits to the half-hearted nature of his participation in Caesar’s assassination. Perhaps Brutus recalls the remarks of Caesar’s ghost—that Caesar and Brutus would meet again at Philippi—and thus addresses this couplet to Caesar.

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