Act II - Scene I

Enter Brutus in his orchard.

BRUTUS:

[Calling out.]

What, Lucius, ho!
I cannot, by the progress of the stars,
Gives 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!(5)

Enter Lucius.

LUCIUS:
Call'd you, my lord?
BRUTUS:
Get me a taper in my study, Lucius.
When it is lighted, come and call me here.
LUCIUS:
I will, my lord.

Exit.

BRUTUS:
It must be by his death, and, for my part,(10)
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
And that craves wary walking. Crown him? that;(15)
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,
I have not known when his affections sway'd(20)
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,
He then unto the ladder turns his back,(25)
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 color for the thing he is,
Fashion it thus, that what he is, augmented,(30)
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.

[Re-]enter Lucius with a taper.]

LUCIUS:
The taper burneth in your closet, sir.(35)
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.

Gives him the letter.

BRUTUS:
Get you to bed again, it is not day.
Is not tomorrow, boy, the ides of March?(40)
LUCIUS:
I know not, sir.
BRUTUS:
Look in the calendar and bring me word.
LUCIUS:
I will, sir.

Exit.

BRUTUS:
The exhalations whizzing in the air
Give so much light that I may read by them.(45)

Opens the letter, and reads.

“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.(50)
“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(55)
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 fifteen days.

Knocking within.

BRUTUS:
'Tis good. Go to the gate, somebody knocks.(60)

Exit Lucius.

Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar
I have not slept.
Between the acting of a dreadful thing
And the first motion, all the interim is
Like a phantasma or a hideous dream;(65)
The genius and the mortal instruments
Are then in council, and the state of man,
Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
The nature of an insurrection.

[Re-]Enter Lucius.[with a taper.]

LUCIUS:
Sir, 'tis your brother Cassius at the door,(70)
Who doth desire to see you.
BRUTUS:
Is he alone?
LUCIUS:
No, sir, there are moe with him.
BRUTUS:
Do you know them?
LUCIUS:
No, sir, their hats are pluck'd about their ears,(75)
And half their faces buried in their cloaks,
That by no means I may discover them
By any mark of favor.
BRUTUS:
Let 'em enter.

[Exit Lucius.]

They are the faction. O Conspiracy,(80)
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;(85)
For if thou path, thy native semblance on,
Not Erebus itself were dim enough
To hide thee from prevention.

Enter the conspirators, Cassius,[with a taper] Casca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus [Cimber], and Trebonius.

CASSIUS:
I think we are too bold upon your rest.
Good morrow, Brutus, do we trouble you?(90)
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
But honors you, and every one doth wish
You had but that opinion of yourself(95)
Which every noble Roman bears of you.
This is Trebonius.
BRUTUS:
He is welcome hither.
CASSIUS:
This, Decius Brutus.
BRUTUS:
He is welcome too.(100)
CASSIUS:
This, Casca; this, Cinna; and this, Metellus Cimber.
BRUTUS:
They are all welcome.
What watchful cares do interpose themselves
Betwixt your eyes and night?
CASSIUS:
Shall I entreat a word?(105)

They whisper.

DECIUS:
Here lies the east. Doth not the day break here?
CASCA:
No.
CINNA:
O, pardon, sir, it doth, and yon grey lines
That fret the clouds are messengers of day.
CASCA:
You shall confess that you are both deceived.(110)
Here, as I point my sword, the sun arises,
Which is a great way growing on the south,
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(115)
Stands as the Capitol, directly here.
BRUTUS:
Give me your hands all over, one by one.
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—(120)
If these be motives weak, break off betimes,
And every man hence to his idle bed;
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(125)
To kindle cowards and to steel with valor
The melting spirits of women, then, countrymen,
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(130)
And will not palter? And what other oath
Than honesty to honesty engaged
That this shall be or we will fall for it?
Swear priests and cowards and men cautelous,
Old feeble carrions and such suffering souls(135)
That welcome wrongs; unto bad causes swear
Such creatures as men doubt; but do not stain
The even virtue of our enterprise,
Nor the insuppressive mettle of our spirits,
To think that or our cause or our performance(140)
Did need an oath; when every drop of blood
That every Roman bears, and nobly bears,
Is guilty of a several bastardy
If he do break the smallest particle
Of any promise that hath pass'd from him.(145)
CASSIUS:
But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him?
I think he will stand very strong with us.
CASCA:
Let us not leave him out.
CINNA:
No, by no means.
METELLUS:
O, let us have him, for his silver hairs(150)
Will purchase us a good opinion,
And buy men's voices to commend our deeds.
It shall be said his judgement ruled our hands;
Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
But all be buried in his gravity.(155)
BRUTUS:
O, name him not; let us not break with him,
For he will never follow anything
That other men begin.
CASSIUS:
Then leave him out.
CASCA:
Indeed he is not fit.(160)
DECIUS:
Shall no man else be touch'd but only Caesar?
CASSIUS:
Decius, well urged. I think it is not meet
Mark Antony, so well beloved of Caesar,
Should outlive Caesar. We shall find of him
A shrewd contriver; and you know his means,(165)
If he improve them, may well stretch so far
As to annoy us all, which to prevent,
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(170)
Like wrath in death and envy afterwards;
For Antony is but a limb of Caesar.
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.(175)
O, that we then could come by Caesar's spirit,
And not dismember Caesar! But, alas,
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,(180)
Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds;
And let our hearts, as subtle masters do,
Stir up their servants to an act of rage
And after seem to chide 'em. This shall make
Our purpose necessary and not envious,(185)
Which so appearing to the common eyes,
We shall be call'd purgers, not murderers.
And for Mark Antony, think not of him,
For he can do no more than Caesar's arm
When Caesar's head is off.(190)
CASSIUS:
Yet I fear him,
For in the ingrafted love he bears to Caesar—
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.(195)
And that were much he should, for he is given
To sports, to wildness, and much company.
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.(200)
CASSIUS:
The clock hath stricken three.
TREBONIUS:
'Tis time to part.
CASSIUS:
But it is doubtful yet
Whether Caesar will come forth today or no,
For he is superstitious grown of late,(205)
Quite from the main opinion he held once
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(210)
May hold him from the Capitol today.
DECIUS:
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,(215)
Lions with toils, and men with flatterers;
But when I tell him he hates flatterers,
He says he does, being then most flattered.
Let me work;
For I can give his humor the true bent,(220)
And I will bring him to the Capitol.
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:
Caius Ligarius doth bear Caesar hard,(225)
Who rated him for speaking well of Pompey.
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.(230)
CASSIUS:
The morning comes upon's. We'll leave you, Brutus,
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,(235)
But bear it as our Roman actors do,
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;(240)
Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies,
Which busy care draws in the brains of men;
Therefore thou sleep'st so sound.

Enter Portia.

PORTIA:
Brutus, my lord!
BRUTUS:
Portia, what mean you? Wherefore rise you now?(245)
It is not for your health thus to commit
Your weak condition to the raw cold morning.
PORTIA:
Nor for yours neither. Y'have ungently, Brutus,
Stole from my bed; and yesternight at supper
You suddenly arose and walk'd about,(250)
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,
And too impatiently stamp'd with your foot.(255)
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
Which seem'd too much enkindled, and withal(260)
Hoping it was but an effect of humor,
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
As it hath much prevail'd on your condition,(265)
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,
He would embrace the means to come by it.(270)
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 humors
Of the dank morning? What, is Brutus sick,
And will he steal out of his wholesome bed(275)
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 offense within your mind,
Which by the right and virtue of my place(280)
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,
That you unfold to me, yourself, your half,(285)
Why you are heavy, and what men tonight
Have had resort to you; for here have been
Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
Even from darkness.
BRUTUS:
Kneel not, gentle Portia.(290)
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
But, as it were, in sort or limitation,(295)
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.
BRUTUS:
You are my true and honorable wife,(300)
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
A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife.(305)
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?
Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose em.(310)
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?
BRUTUS:
O ye gods,(315)
Render me worthy of this noble wife!

Knock [within.]

Hark, hark, one knocks. Portia, go in awhile,
And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.
All my engagements I will construe to thee,(320)
All the charactery of my sad brows.
Leave me with haste.

Exit Portia.

[Re-]enter Lucius and Ligarius.]

Lucius, who's that knocks?
LUCIUS:
Here is a sick man that would speak with you.
BRUTUS:
Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spake of.
Boy, stand aside. Caius Ligarius, how?(325)
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 honor.(330)
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 honorable loins!(335)
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.(340)
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,(345)
And with a heart new-fired I follow you,
To do I know not what; but it sufficeth
That Brutus leads me on.
BRUTUS:
Follow me then.

Thunder. Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. Where are Brutus and Ligarius going?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. What has Portia done to prove to Brutus that she is noble, strong, and trustworthy?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. According to Portia, why does she have a right to know what is troubling Brutus?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. The conspiracy to kill Caesar is well underway. Who initiated it? Who now seems to be leading it?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. How does Decius plan to get Caesar to the Capitol if Caesar decides to stay home?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. Which type of figurative language does Shakespeare employ here?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. Why does Cassius want to kill Antony, too?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. Which of these is not one of the reasons Brutus rejects the idea of taking an oath before they begin to plot Caesar's assassination?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. After speaking privately with Cassius, why does Brutus shake hands with each of the conspirators?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  10. Which statement is not a reason Brutus makes a promise to Rome after reading the letter?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  11. What conclusion does Brutus reach after considering the question in some detail?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  12. Brutus’s estimation of Antony’s power proves to be pivotal in the ensuing acts. Brutus fails to see Antony as a potential catalyst. Indeed, thus far the audience has had little reason to doubt this opinion. Shakespeare limits Antony’s appearances in the first two acts, making it tempting to believe Brutus’s opinion that Antony is no more than Caesar’s puppet.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. In another illustration of how subjective the readings of the heavens are in the play, Cinna sees the clouds as brows lined with worry over the events of the coming day.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  14. Shakespeare’s use of “whet” is a beautifully subtle choice that serves as both metaphor and metonymy. To whet a knife is to sharpen its blade. In this characterization of Brutus as a knife, we understand both the nature of his potential role in the assassination, as well as a more literal foreshadowing of the knife he will wield in the fateful event.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  15. Portia uses this speech to convince Brutus to confide his secrets in her. She reminds him that she is Cato's daughter, a famous Roman statesman who killed himself in battle rather than surrender to Caesar, and his wife. She goes on to wound her thigh to show that she can withstand pain, and will therefore never give his secrets away. This speech and her actions convince Brutus that she is trustworthy, even though he is called away before he can tell her his plans.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  16. Brutus uses imagery to rationalize his choice to join the assassination attempt on Caesar's life. He compares Caesar to a serpent within an egg that is not dangerous before it hatches but becomes deadly once it has hatched. Like the infant serpent, Caesar has not yet proven to be dangerous. This rationale is flawed because it makes claims based on assumptions; Brutus cannot be certain that Caesar will become as threatening as he fears.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  17. Brutus justifies killing Caesar by stating that Caesar's personal ambition threatens the Roman Republic. He tells the other conspirators that they cannot kill Marc Antony because they are not butchers, but sacrificers. They will kill Caesar and offer him to the gods — he will become a human sacrifice fit for the gods. This metaphor invokes the Roman myth of Tantalus and his son Pelops. When Tantalus invoked the gods's anger by stealing ambrosia from their banquet to give to his people, Tantalus sacrificed his son Pelops and served him to the gods for dinner. The gods were horrified by this act and condemned Tantalus to eternal hunger and thirst. Clotho, one of the fates brought Pelops back to life and restored him into a handsome youth. Brutus uses this story to make his metaphor, but he seems to forget the lesson Tantalus learned about making a sacrifice for the gods's meal.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  18. Shakespeare not only created dazzling poetic imagery, but he had a genius for finding the precise word or combination of words to express a thought or feeling. Cassius' prediction that Antony could be a "shrewd contriver" expresses his foreboding perfectly. The two words had probably never been placed together before Shakespeare penned them. The words could easily be overlooked just because of their very perfection. We often see Shakespeare inventing the modern English language with apparent effortlessness. John Milton, no mean writer himself, speaks of Shakespeare with awe in a famous sonnet.

    What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones, / The labor of an age in pilèd stones, / *Or that his hallowed relics should be hid /   * Under a star-ypointing pyramid? / Dear son of Memory, great heir of fame, / What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name? / Thou in our wonder and astonishment / Hast built thyself a live-long monument. / **For whilst to th’ shame of slow-endeavouring art, /  ** *Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart / * Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book / *Those Delphic lines with deep impression took, /  * *Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving, /  * Dost make us marble with too much conceiving; / And so sepúlchred in such pomp dost lie, / That kings for such a tomb would wish to die. /
                                      (1630)

    — William Delaney
  19. Notice how everyone wants Cicero involved in the conspiracy but quickly drops the idea when Brutus opposes it. This shows the respect they all have for Brutus, who has become the dominant member of the group, although it was Cassius who initially thought of assassinating Caesar and who recruited all the others, including Brutus himself. Once Brutus decided to become involved, his reputation and personality immediately made him stand out as the leader. Most of the other men, with the exception of Cassius, are instinctively followers and would not even want to be the leader. Brutus consistently overrules Cassius, although Cassius often proves to have been correct, as with his suggestion that they kill Antony along with Caesar. Brutus is idealistic; Cassius is practical. 

    It seems likely that Brutus opposes the idea of recruiting Cicero because Brutus wants to be the leader of the conspiracy and the head of the new government, and he knows that Cicero would be a serious rival for that top position. Cicero is as much of an egotist as Brutus and has an equally distinguished reputation. When Brutus says that Cicero "will never follow anything that other men begin," he is probably thinking that Cicero might join the conspiracy but would not be content to be a follower and would make every effort to become the leader. The two men would be competing for the allegiance of all the others. Brutus is an admirable character, but Shakespeare does not want to make him seem perfect. Brutus is proud, potentially autocratic, stubborn, and somewhat ambitious. In fact, he is not unlike the great Julius Caesar himself.

    — William Delaney
  20. Evidently Brutus is having a hard time reading the letter because he is trying to read it at night by the light of stars and meteorites. He is just able to get the gist of it but not every word. It is significant that Brutus is strongly persuaded to enter the conspiracy by written words, since Brutus is a great reader. The letters Brutus has been receiving all come from Cassius, who undoubtedly dictates them to others so that the handwriting will seem different in each of the "instigations" which "have been often dropp'd Where I have took them up." 

    — William Delaney
  21. The ideas of being sick and of being in good health are motifs found throughout the play.They are mentioned several times in the conversation between Brutus and Portia before Ligarius arrives.

    — Susan Hurn
  22. This is a very brief comment, but it is rich in dramatic irony. In embracing the conspiracy, Brutus has taken action to resolve the issue that has plagued him. The audience knows what Brutus really means by his comment, but Portia does not.

    — Susan Hurn
  23. Brutus is an honorable man about to commit a brutal murder, and the murder of a friend, no less. He believes the conspirators' intent, to preserve freedom in Rome, is honorable, but he struggles to reconcile their noble purpose with the ugly means of achieving it. Here, and in later passages, when Brutus speaks of murdering Caesar, his language is elevated, often punctuated with poetic figures of speech. He avoids the real nature of murdering Caesar by idealizing it.  

    — Susan Hurn
  24. Once again, the conspirators seem very concerned about how the public will view them after they murder Caesar. Their concern was expressed earlier, as well, when they discussed the vital importance of bringing Brutus into the conspiracy because he is held in such high esteem by the Roman people.Their worry about the public's reaction to Caesar's being murdered is legitimate. The opening scene in the play and Casca's description of the crowd as Caesar refused Antony's offer of a crown have established that Caesar is an enormously popular figure in Rome.     

    — Susan Hurn
  25. The conversation that follows, among Decius, Casca, and Cinna, serves to keep the audience occupied while Cassius and Brutus carry on their private conversation. 

    — Susan Hurn
  26. The audience is reminded here that the many strange events that have been observed in Rome are continuing to occur. The heavens are still "disturbed."

    — Susan Hurn
  27. When Lucius finds the letter, the audience knows that Cassius's plan to manipulate Brutus with forged messages from the Roman people is unfolding. Beginning with Brutus's first encounter with Cassius, Cassius has cleverly drawn him into the conspiracy to kill Caesar. Being an honest, honorable man, Brutus is unaware of Cassius's dishonesty and hidden intent. 

    — Susan Hurn
  28. The key word in this passage is "may," and it points to the moral ambiguity of assassinating Caesar. Preserving freedom in Rome is a just cause, certainly, but are Brutus and the others justified in killing Caesar for what he may do if he is crowned? Is the disturbing fate of Flavius and Marullus, as mentioned in a previous scene, enough evidence that Caesar would be a tyrant, if crowned? Brutus's dilemma is that he cannot allow the destruction of freedom in Rome, but he can only surmise how being crowned would affect Caesar's nature. 

    — Susan Hurn
  29. Since Shakespeare's plays were performed in the daytime without the benefit of technology, his characters, like Brutus in this speech, often speak of the sun or the stars to let the audience know the time of day or to alert playgoers to the passage of time. 

    — Susan Hurn
  30. These are common reflections. Most children can enjoy deep sleep for many hours and are still groggy and half-asleep when they finally get up. But after a certain age it is s rare pleasure to get a really good night's sleep. Shakespeare himself must have had insomnia. He often writes about the simple pleasure of sleep and the problems of sleeplessness. In Henry IV, Part Two, for example, Henry speaks this famous soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 1:

    How many thousands of my poorest subjects
    Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
    Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
    That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
    And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
    Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
    Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee
    And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber
    Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
    Under the canopies of costly state,
    And lull'd with sound of sweetest melody?
    O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
    In loathsome beds, and leavest the kingly couch
    A watch-case or a common 'larum-bell?
    Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
    Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains
    In cradle of the rude imperious surge
    And in the visitation of the winds,
    Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
    Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them
    With deafening clamour in the slippery clouds,
    That, with the hurly, death itself awakes?
    Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
    To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
    And in the calmest and most stillest night,
    With all appliances and means to boot,
    Deny it to a king? Then happy low, lie down!
    *Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.  *

    Many adults even find it hard to get to sleep at all. They take pills. Parents will envy their children when they go in to see them sound asleep, breathing so softly that the mother or father will sometimes lean down to make sure their child is breathing at all. At the same time that they envy the child for being able to enjoy such total oblivion, the parent, like Brutus in this scene, will take a vicarious pleasure in it. 

    — William Delaney
  31. This appears to be an anachronism. The ancient Romans did not have such mechanical clocks.

    — William Delaney
  32. This is ominously ironic. Antony will not laugh about Caesar's assassination but he will certainly laugh about the way he turned the tables on these conspirators. Trebonius will not be laughing when his own end comes. 

    — William Delaney
  33. Portia is successful in persuading her husband to share all his secrets with her. She will know that he intends to be leader of a group who plan to assassinate Julius Caesar. This will explain her agitation in Act 2, Scene 4 when she is sending Lucius to the Senate House but is afraid to tell him what she wants him to do there. Portia knows a dreadful secret and is having a hard time keeping it to herself. Brutus is trusting her to do so.

     

    — William Delaney
  34. Cassius, as always, is thinking about himself. When Brutus says that Cicero "will never follow anything that other men begin," Cassius realizes that if Cicero did agree to take part in the assassination he would then want to become the leader of the new government. Cassius is already having enough trouble with Brutus who is becoming increasingly headstrong, domineering and dictatorial. If Cicero were to join the conspiracy, he and Brutus would become the dominant figures and would push Cassius into the background, just as Antony and Octavius do with Lepidus. Cassius has more foresight than Brutus. Cassius is thinking about forming a new government after they kill Caesar and assume power. Brutus is only thinking about having to stab his friend Caesar and then justify the action to the Roman patricians and plebeians. Cassius is thinking ahead of Brutus because seizing the reins of government was his chief objective, whereas disposing of Caesar, whom he has recognized as a threat to freedom and democracy, is all that has motivated Brutus. 

     

    — William Delaney
  35. Four men, Cassius, Casca, Cinna, and Metellus, all want to recruit the great Cicero to join their conspiracy, but Brutus overrules them. What Brutus is really thinking is that he enjoys being leader of this enterprise now that he has committed himself to it, and he knows that Cicero would put him in the shade if he were to become involved. What Metellus says of Cicero is quite true: 

    O, let us have him, for his silver hairs
    Will purchase us a good opinion,
    And buy men's voices to commend our deeds.
    It shall be said his judgement ruled our hands;
    Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
    But all be buried in his gravity.

    But Metellus is accurately expressing exactly the reasons why Brutus doesn't want him. Brutus wants to be the one whose judgement and gravity make the assassination appear wise, just and patriotic. Brutus has many good qualities, but Shakespeare, characteristically, has given him offsetting qualities in order to make him seem human. Brutus is vain and egotistical. He is noble, but he wants everybody to know he is noble. Shakespeare did not have a terribly good opinion of humanity in general. Speaking through Hamlet, he says:

    How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable
    Seem to me all the uses of this world!
    Fie on't! ah, fie! 'tis an unweeded garden
    That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
    Possess it merely. 

    The other conspirators, including Cassius, consistently give in to Brutus on every issue. They know they can't get along without him, and it wasn't easy to recruit him in the first place. If he were to feel offended and drop out, not only would their assassination plot be jeopardized, but their own lives would be in danger. There are too many people who know about it, and it would be fatal for all of them if Caesar found out they had intended to kill him. 

    If Brutus is right in saying that Cicero "will never follow anything That other men begin," then Cicero would refuse to join them and would have something on them which he could use, if he wanted to do so. It turns out that Antony, Octavius and Lepidus had Cicero killed along with many others who were in sympathy with the assassins. Cicero could conceivably warn Caesar of a plot against his life in order to get some assurance of his own safety. Cicero is wise enough to know that he could be in extreme danger if the conspirators went ahead without him and failed to secure control of the city, as they in fact did. When Brutus says, "...let us not break with him," he means let us not divulge our plans to him. And when Cassius says, "Then leave him out," he is thinking that it might be dangerous to approach Cicero at all. Cassius is the one who organized this conspiracy. He talked to many men but not to Cicero. He may have had some misgivings about him too.

     

    — William Delaney
  36. Caesar has been acting "lowly" both onstage and offstage. He does not want to appear to be arrogant, haughty, superior, proud, or ambitious. He is behaving like a lot of modern-day politicians, willing to shake hands with everybody and perhaps even kissing a few babies. But it is all a front, as he proves to the audience in the speech he makes just before the conspirators attack him in Act 3, Scene 1. He has the conspirators, including even Brutus, all kneeling and kissing his hand. He probably loves it, but he criticizes them for doing so. The fact of the matter is that their fawning is not enough to gratify his enormous ego. He implies that he is like a god, especially when he tells Cinna, "Hence! Wilt thou lift up Olympus?" The gods dwell on top of Mount Olympus, and Caesar must have imagined himself consorting with them throughout eternity.

    Shakespeare does not reveal the extent of Caesar's ambitions until just before he is attacked by the conspirators who have all surrounded him. He will not be satisfied with becoming a king. The next rung on the ladder would make him emperor (as it did his successor Octavius Augustus). And the last rung of all would be to become a god. This would have been easy enough in Caesar's time. The Senate could make him a god by decree and order everyone in the empire to worship his statue in their temples. Julius Caesar was actually made a god posthumously. 

    — William Delaney
  37. Compare Brutus with Antony, who is planning a bloodbath with Octavius and Lepidus in Act IV.1 and who even "damns" his sister's son Publius carelessly "with a spot" of ink. In Act IV.2, we learn that Octavius, Antony and Lepidus have "put to death" somewhere between seventy and one hundred senators, including the famous orator and statesman Cicero.

    — William Delaney
  38. The Elizabethans had little knowledge about what kind of clothes the ancient Romans would be wearing. It is hard to imagine ancient Romans wearing hats. Most likely they would wear scarves over their heads if the weather was inclement. 

    — William Delaney
  39. Cassius is married to Brutus's sister Junia and is therefore Brutus's brother-in-law.

    — William Delaney
  40. This is a reference to Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome and a known tyrant. He was removed of his position by Lucius Junius Brutus, who led the revolt.

    — Owl Eyes Reader
  41. This is a reference to a location for the dead in classical mythology. Erebus is the region that all souls must pass through before they reach their final destination: Hades.

    — Owl Eyes Reader