Act II - Scene II

[Caesar's house.]

Thunder and lightning. Enter Caesar, in his night-gown.

CAESAR:
Nor heaven nor earth have been at peace tonight.
Thrice hath Calpurnia in her sleep cried out,
“Help, ho! They murder Caesar!” Who's within?

Enter a Servant.

SERVANT:
My lord?
CAESAR:
Go bid the priests do present sacrifice,(5)
And bring me their opinions of success.
SERVANT:
I will, my lord.

Exit.

Enter Calpurnia.

CALPURNIA:
What mean you, Caesar? Think you to walk forth?
You shall not stir out of your house today.
CAESAR:
Caesar shall forth: the things that threaten'd me(10)
Ne'er look'd but on my back; when they shall see
The face of Caesar, they are vanished.
CALPURNIA:
Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies,
Yet now they fright me. There is one within,
Besides the things that we have heard and seen,(15)
Recounts most horrid sights seen by the watch.
A lioness hath whelped in the streets;
And graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead;
Fierce fiery warriors fight upon the clouds,
In ranks and squadrons and right form of war,(20)
Which drizzled blood upon the Capitol;
The noise of battle hurtled in the air,
Horses did neigh and dying men did groan,
And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets.
O Caesar! These things are beyond all use,(25)
And I do fear them.
CAESAR:
What can be avoided
Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods?
Yet Caesar shall go forth, for these predictions
Are to the world in general as to Caesar.(30)
CALPURNIA:
When beggars die, there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
CAESAR:
Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,(35)
It seems to me most strange that men should fear
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

[Re-]enter Servant.]

What say the augurers?
SERVANT:
They would not have you to stir forth today.(40)
Plucking the entrails of an offering forth,
They could not find a heart within the beast.
CAESAR:
The gods do this in shame of cowardice.
Caesar should be a beast without a heart
If he should stay at home today for fear.(45)
No, Caesar shall not. Danger knows full well
That Caesar is more dangerous than he.
We are two lions litter'd in one day,
And I the elder and more terrible.
And Caesar shall go forth.(50)
CALPURNIA:
Alas, my lord,
Your wisdom is consumed in confidence.
Do not go forth today. Call it my fear
That keeps you in the house and not your own.
We'll send Mark Antony to the Senate-house,(55)
And he shall say you are not well today.
Let me, upon my knee, prevail in this.
CAESAR:
Mark Antony shall say I am not well,
And, for thy humor, I will stay at home.

Enter Decius.

Here's Decius Brutus, he shall tell them so.(60)
DECIUS:
Caesar, all hail! Good morrow, worthy Caesar!
I come to fetch you to the Senate-house.
CAESAR:
And you are come in very happy time,
To bear my greeting to the senators
And tell them that I will not come today.(65)
Cannot, is false, and that I dare not, falser:
I will not come today. Tell them so, Decius.
CALPURNIA:
Say he is sick.
CAESAR:
Shall Caesar send a lie?
Have I in conquest stretch'd mine arm so far(70)
To be afeard to tell greybeards the truth?
Decius, go tell them Caesar will not come.
DECIUS:
Most mighty Caesar, let me know some cause,
Lest I be laugh'd at when I tell them so.
CAESAR:
The cause is in my will: I will not come,(75)
That is enough to satisfy the Senate.
But, for your private satisfaction,
Because I love you, I will let you know.
Calpurnia here, my wife, stays me at home;
She dreamt tonight she saw my statue,(80)
Which like a fountain with an hundred spouts,
Did run pure blood, and many lusty Romans
Came smiling and did bathe their hands in it.
And these does she apply for warnings and portents
And evils imminent, and on her knee(85)
Hath begg'd that I will stay at home today.
DECIUS:
This dream is all amiss interpreted;
It was a vision fair and fortunate.
Your statue spouting blood in many pipes,
90 In which so many smiling Romans bathed,(90)
Signifies that from you great Rome shall suck
Reviving blood, and that great men shall press
For tinctures, stains, relics, and cognizance.
This by Calpurnia's dream is signified.
CAESAR:
And this way have you well expounded it.(95)
DECIUS:
I have, when you have heard what I can say.
And know it now, the Senate have concluded
To give this day a crown to mighty Caesar.
If you shall send them word you will not come,
Their minds may change. Besides, it were a mock(100)
Apt to be render'd, for some one to say
“Break up the Senate till another time,
When Caesar's wife shall meet with better dreams.”
If Caesar hide himself, shall they not whisper
“Lo, Caesar is afraid”?(105)
Pardon me, Caesar, for my dear dear love
To your proceeding bids me tell you this,
And reason to my love is liable.
CAESAR:
How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia!
I am ashamed I did yield to them.(110)
Give me my robe, for I will go.

Enter Brutus, Ligarius, Metellus [Cimber], Casca, Trebonius, Cinna, and Publius.

And look where Publius is come to fetch me.
PUBLIUS:
Good morrow, Caesar.
CAESAR:
Welcome, Publius.
What, Brutus, are you stirr'd so early too?(115)
Good morrow, Casca. Caius Ligarius,
Caesar was ne'er so much your enemy
As that same ague which hath made you lean.
What is't o'clock?
BRUTUS:
Caesar, 'tis strucken eight.(120)
CAESAR:
I thank you for your pains and courtesy.

Enter Antony.

See, Antony, that revels long o' nights,
Is notwithstanding up. Good morrow, Antony.
ANTONY:
So to most noble Caesar.
CAESAR:
Bid them prepare within.(125)
I am to blame to be thus waited for.
Now, Cinna; now, Metellus; what, Trebonius,
I have an hour's talk in store for you;
Remember that you call on me today;
Be near me, that I may remember you.(130)
TREBONIUS:
Caesar, I will. And so near will I be
That your best friends shall wish I had been further.
CAESAR:
Good friends, go in and taste some wine with me,
And we like friends will straightway go together.
BRUTUS:
That every like is not the same, O Caesar,(135)
The heart of Brutus yearns to think upon!

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. Which literary element is illustrated in this passage?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. What is the one way Decius does not manipulate Caesar in this speech?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. What does Calpurnia understand about Caesar's character?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. Which statement does not reflect Caesar's attitude toward death?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Why is Calpurnia afraid?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. What seems to be Calpurnia's tone as she speaks to her husband?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. Why would Caesar want the priests to perform a sacrifice?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. Brutus latches onto Caesar’s use of the word “like,” lamenting that their relationship has become like a friendship. Even after having aligned himself with the conspirators, Brutus continues to feel some level of doubt, guilt and sorrow.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. A major source of irony in this scene lies in Caesar’s insistence on making decisions of his own will. He wants to decide for himself whether to go to the senate-house. Yet his decision is swayed in one direction upon Calpurnia’s insistence, and then the opposite way by Decius’s words. By the scene’s end, it can be argued that Caesar has no agency.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Caesar’s attitudes towards the readings of the augurs, which dictate that he should not go to the senate house, speak to his unique approach to fate. He requests to know his destiny, and then ignores it, countering with supreme confidence. Note, too, how Caesar refers to himself in the third-person, assuming an elevated tone.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. Calpurnia believes that the comets that were reported from the night before portend the death of a royal. This coupled with her nightmares about Caesar dying, warnings from the priests, and a number of other strange rumors, Calpurnia uses these lines to beg her husband not to leave.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. Caesar uses this figurative language to tell Calpurnia that he will not hide from the ides of March even though her dream, the sacrificial lamb, and the soothsayer have warned him against this day. It is unclear whether this is an act of pride or an act of devotion to the gods. Caesar claims that if his death is the will of the gods that he must go as he cannot defy them. However, these lines could also be read as him brushing off these predictions and not believing that he can be killed. In both understandings of these lines Caesar appears to be a courageous man. Unlike the cowards he mentions, he refuses to metaphorically die from his fear and instead face whatever tragedy might befall him. Whether or not this bravery is caused by pride or faith, Caesar is still undoubtedly brave.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  13. Antony is notorious for his hedonistic dissipation. It finally leads to his downfall, as dramatized in Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.

    — William Delaney
  14. Caesar is being especially cordial with all these visitors. This has been his adopted persona thus far in the play. He is behaving like a typical politician. However, when he arrives at the Capitol he seems to become a different person. He acts as if he has already become king and speaks to these same men with lofty arrogance which exposes the man's true character. For example:

    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; *    3.1

     

    — William Delaney
  15. This scene is notable for the way Caesar's character is developed through his conversation with Calpurnia and then with the conspirators who arrive at his house. He is shown to be arrogant and imperious, yet he is sympathetic to Calpurnia's terrible fears for his well being. He does not assume the strange events in Rome are omens related to him specifically, but he also doesn't dismiss their possible significance. He speaks of death in philosophical terms. As a seasoned soldier, he is quite familiar with it and takes a fatalistic view of dying. Caesar's genuine warmth toward the men he believes are his friends humanizes him and contrasts sharply with their deceitful behavior in his presence. The effect isn't lost on Brutus. He deeply regrets what is about to happen to Caesar.

    — Susan Hurn
  16. Calpurnia herself would reject such an explanation. If she had had an auspicious dream she would not have wakened in such an anxious mood and would not be pleading with her husband to stay at home. The only person who can interpret a dream correctly is the person who has it.

    — William Delaney
  17. What is most interesting about Calpurnia's dreams, both as history and as drama, is the way in which they show how the unconscious mind can receive and process information which eludes the conscious mind. Psychologists have known for many years that there is such a thing as unconscious learning. Calpurnia undoubtedly sensed that there was something suspicious about the ways in which many of Caesar's visitors were behaving. A number were concealing their guilty knowledge of what fate they had in store for Caesar. Women are credited with having "feminine intuition." Calpurnia must have intuitively picked up clues from men's glances, facial expressions, body language, and tones of voice which were so subtle she was not even conscious of perceiving them but which her unconscious mind remembered and translated into explicit dreams to sound a warning. No doubt the ancients, including Plutarch, would have viewed these dreams as messages from the gods, but Sigmund Freud explained that dreams originate in the human mind. - See more at: http://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-significance-calpurnias-dream-recounted-by-425806#answer-648009

    — William Delaney
  18. This appears to be one of several anachronisms in the play. The ancient Romans did not have clocks that stuck the hours.

    — William Delaney
  19. This is evidently intended to be funny and to evoke laughter from Shakespeare's audience. Casear has just gotten through saying that he despises men who fear death, since it will come when it will come--and then in practically the same breath he asks, "What say the augurers?" Shakespeare shows that every one of his principal male characters has his faults. Caesar is brilliant, courageous, and dynamic, but he is also pompous and a bit ridiculous in pretending to be superhuman. He is always bragging about what a great man he is--but he fears death just like everybody else.

    — William Delaney
  20. Normally the scene would end with such a decisive statement. Shakespeare, however, added some incidental dialogue to allow time for a servant to bring Caesar's robe and help him into it. It was important for Shakespeare's audience to get a good look at the robe, or mantle, because Antony will be using a duplicate to incite the mob in his funeral oration. The duplicate will be full of rents and covered with bloodstains. Both mantles will be permanent props of Shakespeare's acting company.

    — William Delaney