Act I - Scene II

[A public place.]

Enter Caesar; Antony for the course, Calpurnia, Portia, Decius, Cicero, Brutus, Cassius, Casca; a Soothsayer; after them Marullus and Flavius.

CAESAR:
Calpurnia!
CASCA:
Peace, ho! Caesar speaks.
CAESAR:
Calpurnia!
CALPURNIA:
Here, my lord.
CAESAR:
Stand you directly in Antonio's way,(5)
When he doth run his course. Antonio!
ANTONY:
Caesar, my lord?
CAESAR:
Forget not, in your speed, Antonio,
To touch Calpurnia, for our elders say,
The barren, touched in this holy chase,(10)
Shake off their sterile curse.
ANTONY:
I shall remember.
When Caesar says “Do this,” it is perform'd.
CAESAR:
Set on, and leave no ceremony out.
SOOTHSAYER:
Caesar!(15)
CAESAR:
Ha! Who calls?
CASCA:
Bid every noise be still. Peace yet again!
CAESAR:
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry “Caesar.” Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.(20)
SOOTHSAYER:
Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR:
What man is that?
BRUTUS:
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
CAESAR:
Set him before me; let me see his face.
CASSIUS:
Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.(25)
CAESAR:
What say'st thou to me now? Speak once again.
SOOTHSAYER:
Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR:
He is a dreamer; let us leave him. Pass.

Sennet. Exeunt [all but] Brutus and Cassius.]

CASSIUS:
Will you go see the order of the course?
BRUTUS:
Not I.(30)
CASSIUS:
I pray you, do.
BRUTUS:
I am not gamesome; I do lack some part
Of that quick spirit that is in Antony.
Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires;
I'll leave you.(35)
CASSIUS:
Brutus, I do observe you now of late;
I have not from your eyes that gentleness
And show of love as I was wont to have;
You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand
Over your friend that loves you.(40)
BRUTUS:
Cassius,
Be not deceived; if I have veil'd my look,
I turn the trouble of my countenance
Merely upon myself. Vexed I am
Of late with passions of some difference,(45)
Conceptions only proper to myself,
Which give some soil perhaps to my behaviors;
But let not therefore my good friends be grieved—
Among which number, Cassius, be you one—
Nor construe any further my neglect(50)
Than that poor Brutus with himself at war
Forgets the shows of love to other men.
CASSIUS:
Then, Brutus, I have much mistook your passion,
By means whereof this breast of mine hath buried
Thoughts of great value, worthy cogitations.(55)
Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?
BRUTUS:
No, Cassius, for the eye sees not itself
But by reflection, by some other things.
CASSIUS:
'Tis just,
And it is very much lamented, Brutus,(60)
That you have no such mirrors as will turn
Your hidden worthiness into your eye
That you might see your shadow. I have heard
Where many of the best respect in Rome,
Except immortal Caesar, speaking of Brutus,(65)
And groaning underneath this age's yoke,
Have wish'd that noble Brutus had his eyes.
BRUTUS:
Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius,
That you would have me seek into myself
For that which is not in me?(70)
CASSIUS:
Therefore, good Brutus, be prepared to hear,
And since you know you cannot see yourself
So well as by reflection, I your glass
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.(75)
And be not jealous on me, gentle Brutus;
Were I a common laugher, or did use
To stale with ordinary oaths my love
To every new protester, if you know
That I do fawn on men and hug them hard(80)
And after scandal them, or if you know
That I profess myself in banqueting
To all the rout, then hold me dangerous.

Flourish, and shout.

BRUTUS:
What means this shouting? I do fear the people
Choose Caesar for their king.(85)
CASSIUS:
Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so.
BRUTUS:
I would not, Cassius, yet I love him well.
But wherefore do you hold me here so long?
What is it that you would impart to me?(90)
If it be aught toward the general good,
Set honor in one eye and death i' the other
And I will look on both indifferently.
For let the gods so speed me as I love
The name of honor more than I fear death.(95)
CASSIUS:
I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,
As well as I do know your outward favor.
Well, honor is the subject of my story.
I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life, but, for my single self,(100)
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
I was born free as Caesar, so were you;
We both have fed as well, and we can both
Endure the winter's cold as well as he.(105)
For once, upon a raw and gusty day,
The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores,
Caesar said to me, “Darest thou, Cassius, now
Leap in with me into this angry flood
And swim to yonder point?” Upon the word,(110)
Accoutred as I was, I plunged in
And bade him follow. So indeed he did.
The torrent roar'd, and we did buffet it
With lusty sinews, throwing it aside
And stemming it with hearts of controversy.(115)
But ere we could arrive the point proposed,
Caesar cried, “Help me, Cassius, or I sink!”
I, as Aeneas our great ancestor
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder
The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber(120)
Did I the tired Caesar. And this man
Is now become a god, and Cassius is
A wretched creature, and must bend his body
If Caesar carelessly but nod on him.
He had a fever when he was in Spain,(125)
And when the fit was on him, I did mark
How he did shake. 'Tis true, this god did shake;
His coward lips did from their color fly,
And that same eye whose bend doth awe the world
Did lose his luster. I did hear him groan.(130)
Ay, and that tongue of his that bade the Romans
Mark him and write his speeches in their books,
Alas, it cried, “Give me some drink, Titinius,”
As a sick girl. Ye gods! It doth amaze me
A man of such a feeble temper should(135)
So get the start of the majestic world
And bear the palm alone.

Shout. Flourish.

BRUTUS:
Another general shout!
I do believe that these applauses are
For some new honors that are heap'd on Caesar.(140)
CASSIUS:
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:(145)
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Brutus, and Caesar: what should be in that Caesar?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a name;(150)
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well;
Weigh them, it is as heavy; conjure with 'em,
Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Caesar.
Now, in the names of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed(155)
That he is grown so great? Age, thou art shamed!
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods!
When went there by an age since the great flood
But it was famed with more than with one man?
When could they say till now that talk'd of Rome(160)
That her wide walls encompass'd but one man?
Now is it Rome indeed, and room enough,
When there is in it but one only man.
O, you and I have heard our fathers say
There was a Brutus once that would have brook'd(165)
The eternal devil to keep his state in Rome
As easily as a king.
BRUTUS:
That you do love me, I am nothing jealous;
What you would work me to, I have some aim.
How I have thought of this and of these times,(170)
I shall recount hereafter; for this present,
I would not, so with love I might entreat you,
Be any further moved. What you have said
I will consider; what you have to say
I will with patience hear, and find a time(175)
Both meet to hear and answer such high things.
Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this:
Brutus had rather be a villager
Than to repute himself a son of Rome
Under these hard conditions as this time(180)
Is like to lay upon us.
CASSIUS:
I am glad that my weak words
Have struck but thus much show of fire from Brutus.

Enter Caesar and his Train.

BRUTUS:
The games are done, and Caesar is returning.
CASSIUS:
As they pass by, pluck Casca by the sleeve,(185)
And he will, after his sour fashion, tell you
What hath proceeded worthy note today.
BRUTUS:
I will do so. But, look you, Cassius,
The angry spot doth glow on Caesar's brow,
And all the rest look like a chidden train:(190)
Calpurnia's cheek is pale, and Cicero
Looks with such ferret and such fiery eyes
As we have seen him in the Capitol,
Being cross'd in conference by some senators.
CASSIUS:
Casca will tell us what the matter is.(195)
CAESAR:
Antonio!
ANTONY:
Caesar?
CAESAR:
Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o' nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;(200)
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.
ANTONY:
Fear him not, Caesar; he's not dangerous;
He is a noble Roman and well given.
CAESAR:
Would he were fatter! But I fear him not,
Yet if my name were liable to fear,(205)
I do not know the man I should avoid
So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much,
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men. He loves no plays,
As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music;(210)
Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort
As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit
That could be moved to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart's ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,(215)
And therefore are they very dangerous.
I rather tell thee what is to be fear'd
Than what I fear, for always I am Caesar.
Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf,
And tell me truly what thou think'st of him.(220)

Sennet. Exeunt Caesar and his Train [but Casca.]

CASCA:
You pull'd me by the cloak; would you speak with me?
BRUTUS:
Ay, Casca, tell us what hath chanced today,
That Caesar looks so sad.
CASCA:
Why, you were with him, were you not?
BRUTUS:
I should not then ask Casca what had chanced.(225)
CASCA:
Why, there was a crown offered him, and being offered
him: he put it by with the back of his hand, thus, and then
the people fell a-shouting.
BRUTUS:
What was the second noise for?
CASCA:
Why, for that too.(230)
CASSIUS:
They shouted thrice. What was the last cry for?
CASCA:
Why, for that too.
BRUTUS:
Was the crown offered him thrice?
CASCA:
Ay, marry, wast, and he put it by thrice, every time gentler
than other, and at every putting by mine honest neighbors(235)
shouted.
CASSIUS:
Who offered him the crown?
CASCA:
Why, Antony.
BRUTUS:
Tell us the manner of it, gentle Casca.
CASCA:
I can as well be hang'd as tell the manner of it. It was(240)
mere foolery; I did not mark it. I saw Mark Antony offer
him a crown, yet 'twas not a crown neither, 'twas one of
these coronets and, as I told you, he put it by once. But for
all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it. Then he
offered it to him again; then he put it by again. But, to my(245)
thinking, he was very loath to lay his fingers off it. And then
he offered it the third time; he put it the third time by; and
still as he refused it, the rabblement hooted and clapped
their chopped hands and threw up their sweaty nightcaps
and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Caesar(250)
refused the crown, that it had almost choked Caesar, for he
swounded and fell down at it. And for mine own part, I
durst not laugh for fear of opening my lips and receiving the
bad air.
CASSIUS:
But, soft, I pray you. What, did Caesar swound?(255)
CASCA:
He fell down in the market-place and foamed at mouth
and was speechless.
BRUTUS:
'Tis very like: he hath the falling sickness.
CASSIUS:
No, Caesar hath it not, but you, and I,
And honest Casca, we have the falling sickness.(260)
CASCA:
I know not what you mean by that, but I am sure
Caesar fell down. If the tag-rag people did not clap him
and hiss him according as he pleased and displeased them,
as they use to do the players in the theatre, I am no true
man.(265)
BRUTUS:
What said he when he came unto himself?
CASCA:
Marry, before he fell down, when he perceived the
common herd was glad he refused the crown, he plucked
me ope his doublet and offered them his throat to cut.
An had been a man of any occupation, if I would not(270)
have taken him at a word, I would I might go to hell
among the rogues. And so he fell. When he came to himself
again, he said, if he had done or said any thing amiss,
he desired their worships to think it was his infirmity.
Three or four wenches, where I stood cried, “Alas, good(275)
soul!” and forgave him with all their hearts. But there's no
heed to be taken of them; if Caesar had stabbed their
mothers, they would have done no less.
BRUTUS:
And after that, he came thus sad away?
CASCA:
Ay.(280)
CASSIUS:
Did Cicero say anything?
CASCA:
Ay, he spoke Greek.
CASSIUS:
To what effect?
CASCA:
Nay, an I tell you that, I'll ne'er look you i' the face
again; but those that understood him smiled at one(285)
another and shook their heads; but for mine own part, it
was Greek to me. I could tell you more news too:
Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarfs off Caesar's
images, are put to silence. Fare you well. There was more
foolery yet, if could remember it.(290)
CASSIUS:
Will you sup with me tonight, Casca?
CASCA:
No, I am promised forth.
CASSIUS:
Will you dine with me tomorrow?
CASCA:
Ay, if I be alive, and your mind hold, and your dinner
worth the eating.(295)
CASSIUS:
Good, I will expect you.
CASCA:
Do so, farewell, both.

Exit.

BRUTUS:
What a blunt fellow is this grown to be!
He was quick mettle when he went to school.
CASSIUS:
So is he now in execution(300)
Of any bold or noble enterprise,
However he puts on this tardy form.
This rudeness is a sauce to his good wit,
Which gives men stomach to digest his words
With better appetite.(305)
BRUTUS:
And so it is. For this time I will leave you.
Tomorrow, if you please to speak with me,
I will come home to you, or, if you will,
Come home to me and I will wait for you.
CASSIUS:
I will do so. Till then, think of the world.(310)

Exit Brutus.

Well, Brutus, thou art noble; yet, I see
Thy honorable metal may be wrought
From that it is disposed; therefore it is meet
That noble minds keep ever with their likes;
For who so firm that cannot be seduced?(315)
Caesar doth bear me hard, but he loves Brutus.
If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius,
He should not humor me. I will this night,
In several hands, in at his windows throw,
As if they came from several citizens,(320)
Writings, all tending to the great opinion
That Rome holds of his name, wherein obscurely
Caesar's ambition shall be glanced at.
And after this let Caesar seat him sure;
For we will shake him, or worse days endure.

Exit.

Footnotes

  1. Considering Cassius's conversations with Brutus and the plan he describes in this speech, in what way is Cassius most likely trying to "seduce" Brutus?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. Why does this news seem to confirm Brutus's fears regarding Caesar?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. What does Caesar's assessment of Cassius and men like him reveal about Caesar?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Which statement does not express how Brutus feels about Caesar's having so much power in Rome?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. What idea is Cassius expressing to Brutus?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. In the long speech about Caesar that follows, how does Cassius seem to feel about him?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. What is the nature of Brutus's problem?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. What does this detail imply about the Soothsayer?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. Part of the case Cassius lays before Brutus in convincing him of Caesar’s unworthiness is a devaluation of Caesar’s status from God to man. Cassius is unconvinced that Caesar’s leadership is “in the stars,” or destined. Cassius spins an account of Caesar as a flesh-and-blood man, rendering him no more worthy to rule than any other mortal. This moment ties into the play’s ongoing debate over whether Rome’s political fate is in the hands of gods or men.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. This is a pivotal exchange between Brutus and Cassius. Cassius understands that Brutus, though a close friend of Caesar, has concerns about the King’s leadership. Cassius tries to compel Brutus to ”have his eyes”: to see himself as Cassius and his fellow conspirators do. Cassius views Brutus as a potentially powerful leader, and a worthy addition to the conspiracy. We will see echoes of this dynamic throughout the rest of the play. Brutus has real doubts about deposing Caesar;. Cassius does not, and ceaselessly pulls Brutus into the conspiracy.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Cassius makes reference here to Virgil’s Aeneid. He portrays himself as Aeneas, the Trojan hero, and Caesar as Anchises, the crippled father. This comparison tells us two things. First, Cassius thinks of himself as superior to Caesar and thus deserving of political leadership. Second, by alluding to one of Rome’s founding fathers, Cassius foreshadows his intentions to overthrow Caesar and rebuild Rome anew.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. Cassius uses this logic to draw Brutus into his plan to kill Caesar. Cassius first inflates the magnitude of Caesar's power and threat to the Republic by comparing Caesar a "Colossus" that over shadows all of the other leading Roman citizens. By "stars," Cassius means the destiny laid out by heavenly powers for each man. He displaces the importance of this heavenly power's influence and claims that it is up to men to control their own fate. Cassius uses this logic to contradict Brutus's belief that fate will right the situation and check Caesar's power. Instead, he uses this logic to convince Brutus that they must take immediate action to fight against Caesar's power. This makes Cassius the primary assailant in the plot against Caesar though Brutus comes to be remembered as the ring leader.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. The "ides of March" is March 15th. Each month has an "ides," or middle of the month, but the ides of March became famous because it is the day in which Caesar was assassinated. This bit of foreshadowing has become one of the most famous lines in this play. Caesar hears two warnings from this soothsayer, someone who can see and predict the future, and a warning from a dream his wife has that something bad will happen to him on March 15th. However, Caesar ignores these warnings and ventures out unprotected on this day anyway. This shows that Caesar believes in his own power: he thinks that his is impervious to prediction, danger, and the will of the gods.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. Caesar uses this metaphor to compare one's physical appearance to their internal ambitions. He states that "fat men" are content with their lives and therefore not a threat to his rule, while skinny men are "lean and hungry" not only for food but for power. Caesar rightly sees that Cassius threatens his rule and his life. This shows that Caesar is a very perceptive and capable ruler, which works to undermine the conspirator's accusations that he threatens the Roman Republic.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. This kind of smile is called a "sardonic smile," and such laughter would be called "sardonic laughter." According to the Oxford English Dictionary:

    Sardonicism is "the quality or state of being sardonic; an instance of this; a sardonic remark."[1] A sardonic action is one that is "disdainfully or skeptically humorous" or "derisively mocking."[2] Also, when referring to laughter or a smile, it is "bitter, scornful, mocking." Hence, when referring to a person or a personal attribute, it is "[c]haracterized by or exhibiting bitterness, scorn or mockery."

    Sardonic amusement is very appropriate to the character of Cassius, as visualized by Shakespeare. Cassius is depicted as being greedy, selfish, cruel, cunning, hypocritical, and miserly. He is very different from the kind, idealistic, altruistic Brutus, and Brutus suffers from associating with such a different type of person. Caesar says of Cassius: "...And therefore are they very dangerous." Cassius proved very dangerous to Caesar and very dangerous to Brutus. However, Cassius is Brutus's brother-in-law, which makes it difficult for Brutus to avoid him. The way people laugh often reveals a lot about their characters, and it is probably not a bad idea to avoid people who are consistently sardonic.

    — William Delaney
  16. Cassius is trying to recruit a large number of Romans to band together to assassinate Julius Caesar. Brutus would be a great asset if Cassius could draw him into the plot. In the meantime, it is to Cassius's advantage to have many people see him talking in private with Brutus, who is his brother-in-law. Cassius can hint to others that Brutus is sympathetic to his cause. When Casca appears in the scene he finds Cassius still talking with Brutus in confidence. Cassius can tell Casca at their dinner that Brutus is certain to join the conspiracy. Casca obviously dislikes Cassius but respects Brutus highly, as do all the Romans.

    — William Delaney
  17. One of the many reasons that Cassius wants to involve Brutus in the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar is that Brutus and Caesar are good friends. Caesar trusts Brutus, and therefore he would be less inclined to be suspicious of the conspirators when they come to escort him to the Senate House on the Ides of March and later when they cluster around him with their concealed swords and daggers. Caesar assumes that if Brutus is with these other men, then they must be equally well disposed towards him. Caesar shows how thoroughly he was deceived when he is stabbed last of all by his best friend and he says, "Et tu, Brute. Then fall, Caesar!"

    — William Delaney
  18. Caesar's assessment of Cassius shows that he is a shrewd judge of human character. It also shows that he is ever alert and watchful. He has undoubtedly formed opinions about all the important Romans. He knows that there are many who dislike him, but all his life he has made it a practice to keep up the appearance of complete fearlessness and self-confidence. This Julius Caesar is a man to be reckoned with. The growing band of conspirators know that they are taking a great risk in plotting to assassinate him. 

    — William Delaney
  19. Cassius is always represented as a cold, selfish, greedy, miserly man who is only concerned about his own welfare. There are plenty of men like him in the world! He has been working on Brutus because he needs him to give dignity and credence to the assassination plot. Cassius admits that he is giving Brutus poor advice. ("If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius, He should not humor me.") Brutus stands in extremely well with Julius Caesar and would not suffer but would probably benefit if Caesar become more powerful. Cassius, however, knows that Caesar distrusts and dislikes him. He would suffer financially, politically, and socially, and might even be eliminated.

    We should always beware of people who give us advice. Whatever they want us to do may benefit them but not help us, and may even hurt us. What do they want for themselves? That is the question. This is well expressed in the following quote:

    Every counselor says his own advice is best, but some have their own advantage in view.
    Beware of the man who offers advice, and find out beforehand where his interest lies. His interest will be weighted in his own favour and may tip the scales against you.
    Quoted by Thomas Szasz,
    The Myth of Psychotherapy

    By listening to Cassius' advice, Brutus ends up losing everything, including his life.

    Another good example of a self-serving advice-giver is Iago in Shakespeare's Othello.

    — William Delaney
  20. Cassius really does fear it. His very life might be in danger. Caesar dislikes Cassius and knows that the feeling is mutual. If Caesar became absolute monarch he might decide to eliminate Cassius, along with a number of other antipathetic Romans such as the famous Cicero.

    — William Delaney
  21. This shows that Brutus was anticipating some such demonstration and why he intentionally refrained from being part of Caesar's entourage even though it is well known that he and Caesar are very good friends.

    — William Delaney
  22. Brutus is a good friend of Caesar, but he does not approve of Caesar's demagoguery and does not want to appear to be supporting it. Brutus probably expects Caesar to put on some blatant show of modesty and humility for the crowd on this important holiday. Caesar gets Antony to offer him a sort of crown, and Caesar rejects it three times, as Casca subsequently relates. When Cassius says, "I pray you, do," it seems as if he is testing Brutus to see how strongly Brutus dislikes Caesar's very aggressive campaign to become sole ruler by winning the support of the ignorant and venal masses. 

    — William Delaney
  23. This helps to differentiate the characters of Brutus and Antony. Brutus is an intellectual, a scholar, a philosopher. He likes solitude and is shown several times brooding alone in the play. Antony is athletic, pleasure-loving, outgoing, spontaneous, gregarious. Nowadays Brutus would be called an introvert and Antony an extrovert. When Brutus says, "Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires; I'll leave you," it shows his natural tendency to withdraw from people so that he can get back to his reading and meditating. (Notice how the characters keep calling each other by name. This is for the benefit of the audience. There are many male characters in the play, and Shakespeare needs to identify them.)

    — William Delaney
  24. Casca describes this incident in some detail. Mark Antony will remind the crowd of it in his funeral oration in Act 3, Scene 2. Antony will use Caesar's apparent refusal to accept a crown as proof that he was not ambitious, as Brutus has just claimed in his own funeral speech. This will tend to discredit everything Brutus said and to discredit the motives of all the conspirators. Two of the assembled citizens have the following exchange during Antony's speech:

    FOURTH CITIZEN:
    Mark'd ye his words? He would not take the crown; Therefore 'tis certain he was not ambitious.

    FIRST CITIZEN:
    If it be found so, some will dear abide it.

        

    — William Delaney
  25. This is envy speaking. The essence of envy is having hard feelings against someone because he has something we would like to have ourselves. Cassius is not opposed to Caesar for patriotic reasons but only because he personally cannot expect to benefit, as Brutus would, from any increase in Caesar's political power. If Cassius could benefit, he would be all in favor of Caesar's becoming king. At the end of the play Antony says that Brutus was the only conspirator that acted for unselfish reasons of principle.

    This was the noblest Roman of them all.
    All the conspirators, save only he,
    Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
    He only, in a general honest thought
    And common good to all, made one of them.
    His life was gentle, and the elements
    So mix'd in him that Nature might stand up
    And say to all the world, “This was a man!”     5.5

    Cassius is not only aware that he would receive no benefit if Caesar became king, but he senses that he might actually be in danger. He says, "Caesar does bear me hard." Caesar is quite capable of purging all the men he dislikes or distrusts. Earlier Caesar tells Antony:

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
    He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.

    Caesar might already have a list of men he plans to dispose of if and when he became absolute ruler. Both Cassius and Cicero would be high up on such a list. Plutarch writes that Caesar was responsible for the deaths of two million people in his lifetime. So Cassius is motivated both by envy and fear in acting as the instigator and leader of the conspiracy.

    — William Delaney
  26. Notice how Brutus and Cassius keep calling each other by name throughout this conversation. These are two of the most important characters in the play. Shakespeare has to make sure that the audience will recognize the two actors playing the roles as the characters they represent. This was a particular problem in Julius Caesar because it is full of men all around the same age, with the same social status, and all dressed alike. 

    Brutus and Cassius do not exit with all the others, because Shakespeare wants to single them out for special attention. He not only establishes their identities indelibly but introduces the main subject of the play, which is the conspiracy to murder Caesar and the aftermath of that momentous event. Shakespeare had a lot of Roman history to cover in a short time.

    — William Delaney
  27. Cassius may "think too much," but Antony shows by his reply that he is not a thinker. Antony is guided more by his intuition and emotions. He is athletic, a warrior, and he is notorious for his love of all sorts of hedonistic pleasures. His intuition and emotions will stand him in good stead when he makes his moving funeral oration, but they will work against him in the future when he and Octavius Caesar are becoming enemies and rivals, as dramatized by Shakespeare in Antony and Cleopatra

    — William Delaney
  28. Casca assumes that Brutus would have been with Caesar on this important occasion because everybody knows that the two men are such good friends. Thus Casca calls attention to the fact that Brutus was not in attendance upon Caesar. Why not? Because Brutus likes Caesar but does not approve of the way he has been displaying his ambition by playing up to the lower classes. Brutus does not want to be a part of Caesar's demagoguery, and Caesar would benefit by having Brutus near him because Brutus has such a good reputation with the citizenry. Caesar knows that Brutus would be an asset to his cause, just as Cassius knows that Brutus would be an asset to his own opposing cause. It may be that both Caesar and Cassius are cultivating Brutus's friendship with ulterior motives. When Casca, a simple man, says, "Why, you were with him, were you not?" it shows that Brutus and Caesar are together a great deal of the time. Brutus has obviously chosen not to be with Caesar when there seems to be a chance that Caesar will be offered the kingship. Earlier in this scene Brutus has said to Cassius:

    What means this shouting? I do fear the people
    Choose Caesar for their king.

    When Cassius says:

    Ay, do you fear it?
    Then must I think you would not have it so.

    Brutus replies:

    I would not, Cassius, yet I love him well.

    Since Brutus is in Caesar's company so much of the time, he must have seen and heard plenty of indications of what Caesar and Antony had planned for this day, and he did not want to be involved in it or appear to be condoning it

    .

    — William Delaney
  29. A Latin phrase meaning that something cannot be understood because it is written in Greek dates back to the Middle Ages when it was used by monks who were translating ancient manuscripts. The English idiom, "it was Greek to me," can refer to anything that someone finds incomprehensible, and it seems to have originated with Casca's comment in this play.  

    — Susan Hurn
  30. Like Flavius and Marullus at the beginning of the play, Casca feels nothing but contempt for the commoners. The tribunes had viewed the commoners cheering Caesar as being fickle and disloyal to Pompey. Casca sees them as a mindless lot who are easily manipulated by Caesar. Earlier in this conversation, Casca is disgusted by how they "[did] clap him and hiss him according as he pleased and displeased them, as they use to do the players in the theatre  ...."

    — Susan Hurn
  31. Cassius seems to be making a pun on "falling sickness" that can be interpreted in different ways. He may be noting that he, Brutus, and Casca are "falling" under the weight of Caesar's growing power and will suffer for it, or he may be alluding to their inaction in standing up to the threat Caesar poses.   

    — Susan Hurn
  32. Casca suspects that although Caesar continued to refuse the crown, he wanted it. The fact that Caesar was less forceful each time in refusing it suggests that Casca is right about Caesar and his ambitions. 

    — Susan Hurn
  33. Mark Antony is going to become an extremely important character in Shakespeare's play, but the playwright is keeping him "under wraps," so to speak, because he wants to have him amaze the audience with his eloquence and dynamic personality when he delivers his funeral oration. It will seem as if Antony comes into his own after the death of Caesar. His funeral oration was a turning point in history. After all, he was responsible for Octavius becoming Caesar's successor and thus he was responsible for the whole line of emperors who took the name of Caesar.

    Shakespeare has Antony appear in this scene and speak a few lines because he wants to introduce this character to the audience so that they will know him later on. Shakespeare must have been looking forward to rendering Antony's funeral speech in his own inspired English iambic pentameter. It seems appropriate that Antony should seem so humble and obedient at this point, because he stands in Caesar's shadow. But once Caesar has been killed, Antony realizes his potential greatness. Cleopatra will later say of him:

    His legs bestrid the ocean; his rear'd arm
    Crested the world: his voice was propertied
    As all the tuned spheres, and that to friends;
    But when he meant to quail and shake the orb,
    He was as rattling thunder. For his bounty,
    There was no winter in't; an autumn 'twas
    That grew the more by reaping: his delights
    Were dolphin-like; they show'd his back above
    The element they liv'd in: in his livery
    Walk'd crowns and crownets; realms and islands were
    As plates dropp'd from his pocket.
    *        Antony and Cleopatra*, V.2

     

    — William Delaney
  34. Notice how Cassius and Brutus keep calling each other by name. The audience only sees two actors who are about the same age and dressed alike. Shakespeare has to establish that one is Cassius and the other is Brutus. This is always a problem for any playwright, but it is an especially difficult one in Julius Caesar because there are so many characters to identify and there is so little difference between most of them. Almost all the characters are men. Shakespeare probably included scenes with Calpurnia and Portia just for the sake of having a little variety and contrast. Brutus and Cassius have know each other all their lives. They went to school together. It seems awkward for Cassius to keep calling Brutus by name and vice versa, but the audience must be informed of who's who. 

     

    — William Delaney
  35. This is pure envy speaking throughout Cassius' long harangue. Caesar was a much greater man, as shown by his many conquests in Gaul, Germany, Britain, and elsewhere, as well as by his popularity and his personal magnetism. Plutarch says somewhere that during his lifetime Caesar was responsible for the deaths of two million people (if that is a sign of greatness!). This is what irks Cassius (whom Brutus will call "slight man" when they are having their famous argument in Brutus' tent in Act 4). In his funeral oration Antony calls him "the envious Cassius," and at the end of the play Antony says that Brutus was a noble and an honorable man, but: 

    All the conspirators, save only he,
    Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;

    This was especially true of Cassius. Early in the play Caesar, a shrewd judge of men, calls Antony's attention to Cassius and says:

    He reads much,
    He is a great observer, and he looks
    Quite through the deeds of men. He loves no plays,
    As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music;
    Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort
    As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit
    That could be moved to smile at any thing.
    Such men as he be never at heart's ease
    Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
    And therefore are they very dangerous.

    What troubles Cassius the most is that he knows full well that Caesar is a greater man than himself regardless of how emphatically he denies it. Envy is a painful emotion based on the knowledge that someone we envy is better or has we lack. Most of us have experienced some envy and no doubt have been envied by someone else.

    — William Delaney
  36. Why does the Soothsayer tell Caesar to beware the ides of March? Does this man foresee that Caesar will be assassinated on that day? If so, what is the point of warning Caesar?. If the Soothsayer only foresees an attempt on Caesar's life, what could Caesar do to circumvent it? We know from history that Caesar has to die on that day. Was there any way that could have been prevented at the time, if everything that is going to happen to us is already foreordained?

    In Shakespeare's Macbeth it would seem that fate was unavoidable and unchangeable. Macbeth was warned to beware the Thane of Fife, but that did not save him from being killed by Macduff. In Julius Caesar was it part of fate that Caesar would refuse to listen to the Soothsayer, just as he refused to read the warning letter from Artemidorus?

    — William Delaney
  37. Honest people are easily deceived by dishonest people because the honest people typically expect others to be like themselves. Shakespeare illustrates this truth in various plays besides Julius Caesar. For example, Edgar in King Lear is easily deceived and manipulated by his half-brother Edmund, and Edmund is also able to deceive his father Gloucester. Villains like Edmund are characterized, not by wisdom, but by cunning.

    Cunning is but the low mimic of wisdom.
    Plato

    Cunning is the dark sanctuary of incapacity.
    Chesterfield

    Cunning proceeds from Want of Capacity.
    Poor Richard’s Almanack

    Lear himself is easily deceived by his daughters Goneril and Regan, both of whom later become attracted to Edmund because they perceive he is as cunning and treacherous as they are themselves. 

    In Shakespeare's The Tempest, Prospero explains how he came to be usurped by his brother Antonio whom he trusted too much.

    I, thus neglecting worldly ends, all dedicated
    To closeness and the bettering of my mind
    With that which, but by being sore tired,
    O'er prized all popular rate, in my false brother
    Awakened an evil nature; and my trust,
    Like a good parent, did beget of him
    A falsehood, in its contrary as great
    As my trust was, which had indeed no limit,
    A confidence sans bound.

    Othello is ruined by Iago, whom Othello calls "honest, honest Iago."

    — William Delaney
  38. Cassius is a real miser. He hates having to offer Casca a full dinner rather than a light supper, but he is especially anxious to recruit Casca to his conspiracy. Cassius will explain to Brutus why he wants Casca when Brutus comments that Casca has grown to be a "blunt fellow" but used to be "quick mettle" when they all went to school together.

    So is he now in execution
    Of any bold or noble enterprise,
    However he puts on this tardy form.
    This rudeness is a sauce to his good wit,
    Which gives men stomach to digest his words
    With better appetite.

    Cassius, for all his faults, is a shrewd judge of human character. Julius Caesar said of him earlier in this scene:

    He is a great observer, and he looks
    Quite through the deeds of men. 

    As it turns out in the play, it is Casca who strikes the first blow againist Caesar.

    — William Delaney
  39. Cicero is one of the many men who get proscribed by Antony and Octavius when they seize power in Rome after Caesar's death. Cicero is speaking in Greek because he does not want to be understood by the masses of people who are all fervently favoring Caesar. Brutus and Cassius can guess that Cicero was saying something derogatory about Caesar.

    — William Delaney
  40. Julius Caesar has a very high opinion of himself, as he shows throughout the plan, but he is wise enough to pretend to be modest and humble, especially for the commoners. Just before he is assassinated he shows how egotistical he can be when he boasts about his great will power and wisdom. 

    — William Delaney
  41. Caesar says of Cassius, among other things, that "he reads much." Cassius knows Greek and assumes that Casca knows it too. This is one of the ways in which Shakespeare differentiates his characters. Cassius is an intellectual. Casca certainly is not. By asking, "To what effect?", Cassius means, "What was the gist of it?"

    — William Delaney
  42. Why would Cicero be speaking Greek at that time? Probably because what he was saying was unfavorable to Caesar and his supporters and it was a confidential communication to a few members of Cicero's retinue. Cicero was opposed to Caesar's ambitions. We learn in Act IV that Cicero was one of the many senators put to death by Antony and Octavius.

    — William Delaney
  43. Notice how courteous Brutus is in comparison to Casca. This helps characterize Brutus while at the same time differentiating him from Casca.

    — William Delaney
  44. Cassius does not really believe what he is saying here. He is used to people disliking him and doesn't really care, as long as he gets what he is after. He wants to get Casca alone and persuade him to join the conspiracy against Caesar. Cassius seizes the opportunity of inviting Casca to his home when Casca sees him talking to Brutus in a very intimate and friendly manner. No doubt Cassius will tell Casca that Brutus has already agreed to lead the assassination plot. Then Cassius will use Casca's name to entice others to join in.

    — William Delaney
  45. Brutus is a wise and learned man, but in some respects he is completely clueless. He is essentially a solitary person, a philosopher, an introvert, who lives in his mind and assumes that others are like himself. He does not understand the significance of the exchange between Cassius and Casca. Casca was being more than "blunt": he was being deliberately rude--and Cassius knew it. But Cassius is under time pressure. If Caesar gains greater power he could eliminate people he didn't like, and Cassius knows he is one of them. (Plutarch writes that in his lifetime Caesar was responsible for the deaths of two million people.) Also, Caesar would be certain to impose taxes on the aristocrats in order to curry favor with the masses by providing panem et circenses (bread and circuses) as well as creating big new building projects. Cassius fears losing his money almost as much as he fears losing his life. 

    — William Delaney
  46. Cassius completely ignores the insult. He knows people don't like him, which is why he knows he needs Brutus in his camp.

    — William Delaney
  47. This is very good advice. Young people who are truthful and decent should beware of getting involved with bad associates. Nothing can be more destructive than having the wrong friends.

    — William Delaney
  48. Brutus, Cassius, and Casca all went to school together. They have known each other all their lives.

    — William Delaney
  49. Casca is a blunt fellow, but here he is deliberately rude. He doesn't like Cassius and doesn't want to go to his home. But he realizes that Cassius is going to keep persisting in invitations until he is either forced to accept or must bluntly tell Cassius that he doesn't like him and doesn't want his suppers or dinners. Shakespeare here is showing that Cassius is not generally liked, which is why Cassius needs Brutus, who is liked by everyone.

    Casca's reply also shows that he knows what kind of meal to expect from Cassius--tough meat, small portions, bitter-tasting wine. Casca knows what to expect because he has known Cassius since boyhood. And furthermore, Casca knows that Cassius never gives anything away without expecting something better in return. Cassius would feel that Casca owes him a dinner. 

    6 Do not eat the bread of a miser, nor desire his delicacies;

    7  For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

    8 The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, and waste your pleasant words.

                               Proverbs 23

    — William Delaney
  50. Cassius had to spend a long time recruiting men to assassinate Caesar, but Shakespeare had no space to show these conversations. He only shows Cassius trying to recruit Brutus and suggests that Cassius is planning to conspire with Casca over a meal. Cassius is a miser. He invites Casca to supper because that is a light meal and he would only have to serve him a little bread, wine, and cheese. When Casca turns him down, he next invites him to dinner, apparently assuming that a bigger meal will be more tempting. Cassius is described by Caesar as lean and hungry-looking. A real miser hates to spend money even for food for himself.

    Shakespeare assumes that the Romans, like the English, ate their main meal in the middle of the day and a light supper in the evening. This is probably an anachronism.

    — William Delaney
  51. This line can be appreciated if it is read aloud with a strong and sarcastic prolonged emphasis on the word "loves." Cassius is a shrewd observer. He probably has no love for anybody but himself.  

    — William Delaney