Act III - Scene I

[Rome. The Capitol]

[Flourish. Enter Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Casca, Decius, Metellus [Cimber], Trebonius, Cinna, Antony, Lepidus, Artimedorus, Publius, [Popilius]; and the Soothsayer.]

The ides of March are come.
Ay, Caesar, but not gone.
Hail, Caesar! Read this schedule.
Trebonius doth desire you to o'er read,
At your best leisure, this his humble suit.(5)
O Caesar, read mine first, for mine's a suit
That touches Caesar nearer. Read it, great Caesar.
What touches us ourself shall be last served.
Delay not, Caesar; read it instantly.
What, is the fellow mad?(10)
Sirrah, give place.
What, urge you your petitions in the street?
Come to the Capitol.
I wish your enterprise today may thrive.
What enterprise, Popilius?(15)
Fare you well.
What said Popilius Lena?
He wish'd today our enterprise might thrive.
I fear our purpose is discovered.
Look, how he makes to Caesar. Mark him.(20)
Be sudden, for we fear prevention.
Brutus, what shall be done? If this be known,
Cassius or Caesar never shall turn back,
For I will slay myself.(25)
Cassius, be constant.
Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes;
For, look, he smiles, and Caesar doth not change.
Trebonius knows his time, for, look you, Brutus,
He draws Mark Antony out of the way.(30)

[Exeunt Antony and Trebonius.]

Where is Metellus Cimber? Let him go,
And presently prefer his suit to Caesar.
He is address'd; press near and second him.
Casca, you are the first that rears your hand.
Are we all ready? What is now amiss(35)
That Caesar and his Senate must redress?
Most high, most mighty, and most puissant Caesar,
Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat
An humble heart.
I must prevent thee, Cimber.(40)
These couchings and these lowly courtesies
Might fire the blood of ordinary men
And turn preordinance and first decree
Into the law of children. Be not fond
To think that Caesar bears such rebel blood(45)
That will be thaw'd from the true quality
With that which melteth fools, I mean sweet words,
Low-crooked court'sies, and base spaniel-fawning.
Thy brother by decree is banished.
If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him,(50)
I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
Know, Caesar doth not wrong, nor without cause
Will he be satisfied.
Is there no voice more worthy than my own,
To sound more sweetly in great Caesar's ear(55)
For the repealing of my banish'd brother?
I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Caesar,
Desiring thee that Publius Cimber may
Have an immediate freedom of repeal.
What, Brutus?(60)
Pardon, Caesar! Caesar, pardon!
As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall
To beg enfranchisement for Publius Cimber.
I could be well moved, if I were as you;
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me;(65)
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;(70)
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,(75)
Unshaked of motion; and that I am he,
Let me a little show it, even in this;
That I was constant Cimber should be banish'd,
And constant do remain to keep him so.
O Caesar,—(80)
Hence! Wilt thou lift up Olympus?
Great Caesar—
Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?
Speak, hands, for me!

They stab Caesar.

Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!(85)


Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!
Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.
Some to the common pulpits and cry out
“Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!”
People, and senators, be not affrighted,(90)
Fly not, stand still; ambition's debt is paid.
Go to the pulpit, Brutus.
And Cassius too.
Where's Publius?
Here, quite confounded with this mutiny.(95)
Stand fast together, lest some friend of Caesar's
Should chance—
Talk not of standing. Publius, good cheer,
There is no harm intended to your person,
Nor to no Roman else. So tell them, Publius.(100)
And leave us, Publius, lest that the people
Rushing on us should do your age some mischief.
Do so, and let no man abide this deed
But we the doers.

[Re-]enter Trebonius.]

Where is Antony?(105)
Fled to his house amazed.
Men, wives, and children stare, cry out, and run
As it were doomsday.
Fates, we will know your pleasures.
That we shall die, we know; 'tis but the time(110)
And drawing days out that men stand upon.
Why, he that cuts off twenty years of life
Cuts off so many years of fearing death.
Grant that, and then is death a benefit;
So are we Caesar's friends that have abridged(115)
His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop,
And let us bathe our hands in Caesar's blood
Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords;
Then walk we forth, even to the market-place,
And waving our red weapons o'er our heads,(120)
Let's all cry, “Peace, freedom, and liberty!”
Stoop then, and wash. How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!
How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,(125)
That now on Pompey's basis lies along
No worthier than the dust!
So oft as that shall be,
So often shall the knot of us be call'd
The men that gave their country liberty.(130)
What, shall we forth?
Ay, every man away.
Brutus shall lead, and we will grace his heels
With the most boldest and best hearts of Rome.

Enter a Servant.

Soft, who comes here? A friend of Antony's.(135)
Thus, Brutus, did my master bid me kneel,
Thus did Mark Antony bid me fall down,
And, being prostrate, thus he bade me say:
Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and honest;
Caesar was mighty, bold, royal, and loving.(140)
Say I love Brutus and I honor him;
Say I fear'd Caesar, honor'd him, and loved him.
If Brutus will vouchsafe that Antony
May safely come to him and be resolved
How Caesar hath deserved to lie in death,(145)
Mark Antony shall not love Caesar dead
So well as Brutus living, but will follow
The fortunes and affairs of noble Brutus
Thorough the hazards of this untrod state
With all true faith. So says my master Antony.(150)
Thy master is a wise and valiant Roman;
I never thought him worse.
Tell him, so please him come unto this place,
He shall be satisfied and, by my honor,
Depart untouch'd.(155)
I'll fetch him presently.

Exit servant.

I know that we shall have him well to friend.
I wish we may, but yet have I a mind
That fears him much, and my misgiving still
Falls shrewdly to the purpose.(160)

[Re-]enter Antony.]

But here comes Antony. Welcome, Mark Antony.
O mighty Caesar! Dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.
I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,(165)
Who else must be let blood, who else is rank.
If I myself, there is no hour so fit
As Caesar's death's hour, nor no instrument
Of half that worth as those your swords, made rich
With the most noble blood of all this world.(170)
I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Fulfill your pleasure. Live a thousand years,
I shall not find myself so apt to die;
No place will please me so, no mean of death,(175)
As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,
The choice and master spirits of this age.
O Antony, beg not your death of us!
Though now we must appear bloody and cruel,
As, by our hands and this our present act,(180)
You see we do, yet see you but our hands
And this the bleeding business they have done.
Our hearts you see not; they are pitiful;
And pity to the general wrong of Rome—
As fire drives out fire, so pity pity—(185)
Hath done this deed on Caesar. For your part,
To you our swords have leaden points, Mark Antony;
Our arms in strength of malice, and our hearts
Of brothers' temper, do receive you in
With all kind love, good thoughts, and reverence.(190)
Your voice shall be as strong as any man's
In the disposing of new dignities.
Only be patient till we have appeased
The multitude, beside themselves with fear,
And then we will deliver you the cause(195)
Why I, that did love Caesar when I struck him,
Have thus proceeded.
I doubt not of your wisdom.
Let each man render me his bloody hand.
First, Marcus Brutus, will I shake with you;(200)
Next, Caius Cassius, do I take your hand;
Now, Decius Brutus, yours; now yours, Metellus;
Yours, Cinna; and, my valiant Casca, yours;
Though last, not least in love, yours, good Trebonius.
Gentlemen all,—alas, what shall I say?(205)
My credit now stands on such slippery ground,
That one of two bad ways you must conceit me,
Either a coward or a flatterer.
That I did love thee, Caesar, O, 'tis true!
If then thy spirit look upon us now,(210)
Shall it not grieve thee dearer than thy death
To see thy Antony making his peace,
Shaking the bloody fingers of thy foes,
Most noble! In the presence of thy corse?
Had I as many eyes as thou hast wounds,(215)
Weeping as fast as they stream forth thy blood,
It would become me better than to close
In terms of friendship with thine enemies.
Pardon me, Julius! Here wast thou bay'd, brave hart,
Here didst thou fall, and here thy hunters stand,(220)
Sign'd in thy spoil, and crimson'd in thy lethe.
O world, thou wast the forest to this hart,
And this, indeed, O world, the heart of thee.
How like a deer strucken by many princes
Dost thou here lie!(225)
Mark Antony,—
Pardon me, Caius Cassius.
The enemies of Caesar shall say this:
Then, in a friend, it is cold modesty.
I blame you not for praising Caesar so;(230)
But what compact mean you to have with us?
Will you be prick'd in number of our friends,
Or shall we on, and not depend on you?
Therefore I took your hands, but was indeed
Sway'd from the point by looking down on Caesar.(235)
Friends am I with you all and love you all,
Upon this hope that you shall give me reasons
Why and wherein Caesar was dangerous.
Or else were this a savage spectacle.
Our reasons are so full of good regard(240)
That were you, Antony, the son of Caesar,
You should be satisfied.
That's all I seek;
And am moreover suitor that I may
Produce his body to the marketplace,(245)
And in the pulpit, as becomes a friend,
Speak in the order of his funeral.
You shall, Mark Antony.
Brutus, a word with you.

[Aside to Brutus.]

You know not what you do. Do not consent(250)
That Antony speak in his funeral.
Know you how much the people may be moved
By that which he will utter?
By your pardon,
I will myself into the pulpit first,(255)
And show the reason of our Caesar's death.
What Antony shall speak, I will protest
He speaks by leave and by permission,
And that we are contented Caesar shall
Have all true rites and lawful ceremonies.(260)
It shall advantage more than do us wrong.
I know not what may fall; I like it not.
Mark Antony, here, take you Caesar's body.
You shall not in your funeral speech blame us,
But speak all good you can devise of Caesar,(265)
And say you do't by our permission,
Else shall you not have any hand at all
About his funeral. And you shall speak
In the same pulpit whereto I am going,
After my speech is ended.(270)
Be it so,
I do desire no more.
Prepare the body then, and follow us.

Exeunt [all but] Antony.

O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!(275)
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy
Which like dumb mouths do ope their ruby lips(280)
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue,
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use,(285)
And dreadful objects so familiar,
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds,
And Caesar's spirit ranging for revenge,(290)
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry “Havoc!” and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.(295)

Enter Octavius' Servant.

You serve Octavius Caesar, do you not?
I do, Mark Antony.
Caesar did write for him to come to Rome.
He did receive his letters, and is coming,
And bid me say to you by word of mouth—(300)
O Caesar!
Thy heart is big; get thee apart and weep.
Passion, I see, is catching, for mine eyes,
Seeing those beads of sorrow stand in thine,
Began to water. Is thy master coming?(305)
He lies tonight within seven leagues of Rome.
Post back with speed and tell him what hath chanced.
Here is a mourning Rome, a dangerous Rome,
No Rome of safety for Octavius yet;
Hie hence, and tell him so. Yet stay awhile,(310)
Thou shalt not back till I have borne this corse
Into the market-place. There shall I try,
In my oration, how the people take
The cruel issue of these bloody men,
According to the which thou shalt discourse(315)
To young Octavius of the state of things.
Lend me your hand.



  1. What does Antony* not* reveal about himself by sending a servant to deliver a message to Brutus?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  2. Which interpretation of this passage cannot be supported with details from the play?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  3. Who among the conspirators stabs Caesar first? Who stabs him last?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  4. What is Caesar's tone as he addresses Metellus Cimber?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  5. Why does Brutus watch carefully as Popilius speaks to Caesar?

    — Wesley, Owl Eyes Editor
  6. The playing field is being set for the mounting conflict of the final three acts. On the one side, Cassius, Brutus and the other conspirators try to solidify their control. On the other, Antony works to bring young Octavius to power in their stead.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  7. Antony finds himself walking a political tightrope. A known ally of Caesar, he must hide his rage in front of the assassins for fear of being seen as an enemy. He must also admit to his love for Caesar for fear of being viewed as dishonest.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  8. In a fascinating address to the Fates themselves, Brutus speaks of the inevitability of death. On one level, he is justifying the murder of Caesar by pointing out how death comes to everyone. To kill a man is to free him of the dread of death. On another level, Brutus is foreshadowing his own death, as well as the deaths of his fellow conspirators. After all, he says, “That we shall die, we know.”

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Editor
  9. Here, Antony reveals his true rage over Caesar's murder. Up until this point, Antony has remained calm, presenting Caesar as a bad man who did not deserve to die. In private the audience sees his true feelings. He invokes Caesar's ghost and the goddess of ruin, Ate, to wreak havoc on Cassius and Brutus. The "dogs of war" embody the type of animalistic and vicious warfare that Antony wants to wage against Caesar's assassins.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. Caeser callously rejects the conspirator's plea to repeal the banishment on Publius Cimber. Caesar's lines demonstrate an inflated sense of self-importance. He compares himself to the brightest star in the sky and to an Olympian god. Caesar clearly demonstrates some of the traits that Brutus and his conspirators have mentioned as reason for killing him. However, the audience should question whether or not this inflated speech is grounds for the horrific murder that follows. Caesar claims he has the right to maintain his banishment on Cimber because weakening this punishment would weaken the empire. Ironically, the conspirators see self-interest in Caesar's actions when these actions could be interpreted as symbolic of Rome's power.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  11. This is one of the most famous lines in literature and has come to signify the absolute and ultimate betrayal by one's closest friend. "Et tu, Brute" is Latin for "Even you, Brutus?" Notice that this is one of the only lines within this play spoken in Latin, the native tongue of the Roman Empire. It is rumored that these were Caesar's actual last words, but there is no historical record to support this claim. While this line could demonstrate confusion or bewilderment at the betrayal, Shakespeare adds the final three words "Then fall, Caesar" to make the character die as a hero. He is not confused, but rather accepts his death valiantly, essentially stating that if he has lost the support and devotion of Brutus then he is no longer Caesar. While the conspirators have insisted that Caesar overstepped his bounds and threatened the Roman Republic, this valiant death suggests that he actually did understand his role as a public servant.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  12. All this talk about Publius Cimber is pure deception. The conspirators know that Caesar wouldn't be able to repeal the banishment because Caesar has only a few more minutes left to live. All the conspirators are using Publius Cimber's case to crowd around Caesar so that they can attack him and keep everybody else away from him. There has to be some plausible reason for so many men to encircle Caesar as insidiously as they are doing. Caesar is completely deceived. This is how deception is usually practiced by those who are adept at it: They disguise their real motive by inventing an alternate motive.  It seems likely that nobody except the banished man's own brother Metellus really cares about him at all.

    — William Delaney
  13. Antony thinks of Caesar's wounds as "dumb mouths" here for the first time when he is all alone with Caesar's body. He will remember this analogy and use it when he makes his funeral address. 

    Show you sweet Caesar's wounds, poor poor dumb mouths,
    *And bid them speak for me. *

    Antony must convey to the mob that he sees Caesar's wounds as so many mouths; otherwise the effect would not be as strong. For example, he could not say:

    Show you sweet Caesar's wounds,
    And bid them speak for me.

    Antony wants the plebeians to see the wounds as he sees them--that is as so many open mouths that are calling for revenge.

    According to Plutarch, it was the sight of the wounds of Caesar more than anything else that aroused the Roman mob to mutiny. Antony understood that the wounds would have a powerful effect on the mob because they had such a powerful effect on him. The assassination was poorly planned. All the conspirators were hacking at Caesar at the same time. Many of the wounds would not look like death blows but only like random slashes, conceivably made for gratuitous cruelty. Perhaps Brutus should have designated a single man to deliver a single stab wound right to Caesar's heart. He did not want the conspirators to be "butchers." He tells them earlier when they are discussing the assassination:

    Let's kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
    Let's carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
    Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds;

    But things got out of control. There could not have been any rehearsal for such an orgy of violence. The conspirators were acting clumsily because they were frightened to death of Julius Caesar, because they were inexperienced, because no one was directing their movements, because there were too many of them and they were all getting in each other's way, because they themselves were creating an appalling sight--that of the great Julius Caesar staggering from one assassin into the sword or dagger of another and bleeding from his many wounds, perhaps because they sensed they were performing an act of great historical significance.

    Brutus himself was the last man to stab Caesar, and we can imagine that he did it with a clean single thrust. But the others had already created a sight that could only seem like butchery.



    — William Delaney
  14. Antony considers the conspirators butchers because of the condition of Caesar's body. Caesar was surrounded by many men who all felt it was incumbent on them to stab him at least once with a sword or a dagger. In the melee many of them stabbed more than once or hacked ineffectively. In some cases they even wounded one another with their weapons. The fact that so many men attacked Caesar at once shows how much they were afraid of him. He held him in supernatural awe. They weren't sure they were really succeeding in killing him no matter how often they stabbed him. And as a matter of history, Caesar remained alive and putting up resistance for a long time during this attack. There was something truly awesome about this man, who had been in so many battles and seemed invulnerable. It seems as if it wasn't until Brutus stabbed him that Caesar consented to die.

    Brutus did not want this sort of butchery to happen. In Act 2, Scene 1, when Cassius says that they should kill Antony along with Caesar, Brutus speaks his feelings about the whole business:

    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,
    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,
    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.

    Brutus wanted a "sacrifice," but the body of Caesar looked like the result of frenzy and butchery. This resulted from so many men taking part in the assault, from each of them feeling obliged to stab Caesar at least once, from the confusion resulting from so many assassins getting in each other's way, and from Caesar's stubborn and admirable resistance in spite of the tremendous odds against him. Brutus would subsequently try to explain the assassination as a noble act, but the condition of Caesar's body would tell a different tale.

    — William Delaney
  15. Hitherto in the play Caesar has been acting modest and humble with the common people, the plebeians, and friendly and sociable with his fellow patricians. Suddenly in this scene he changes. His dialogue shows that he considers himself far superior to all other men. His egotism is shocking. The audience can imagine what kind of a despot he could become if he were made king. His ambition is insatiable. He would want to become emperor and then declared a god to be worshipped in all the temples throughout the empire, as actually happened to his heir Octavius. Why this sudden change? It must be because he feels positive that he is practically king and drop all pretense of humility.

    — William Delaney
  16. It seems uncanny that Brutus and all the other conspirators are doing exactly what Calpurnia saw in her dream. According to Caesar:

    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.          *Act II.2


    — William Delaney
  17. Shakespeare intended to have Antony surprise everyone in his audience with his eloquence in his funeral speech. However, Shakespeare may have reflected that he did not want the audience to be too surprised, because it would make Antony seem out of character. Up to this point Antony has seemed, as Brutus describes him, but a limb of Caesar, more of an athlete, a soldier, and a hedonist than an orator--"a plain blunt man," as he describes himself. This prophecy addressed to the dead Julius Caesar, among other things, gives the audience a foretaste of Antony's intelligence and potential rhetorical prowess. It may be that Antony is inspired by Caesar's wounds to find an inspiration he never formerly possessed. At any rate, when Antony begins his funeral oration with the famous words, "Friends, Romans, countrymen," the audience will not be totally astonished that this rough soldier can speak so eloquently and extemporaneously.


    — William Delaney
  18. This is mentioned by Plutarch. Shakespeare has been keeping Mark Antony in the background from the beginning. He wants to save this character for the brilliant funeral oration which turns the tables on the conspirators and forces Brutus and Cassius to flee Rome. At this point no one in the audience realizes that Antony can be such a dynamic figure. Cassius thinks he is dangerous, but even Cassius doesn't realize how dangerous. But Shakespeare gives a foretaste of Antony's eloquence in his soliloquy beginning:

    O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth
    That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!



    — William Delaney
  19. Caesar is not king yet, but he speaks of "his" Senate as if he owns all of them. Apparently if Caesar grants a request the Senate will automatically confirm it. They have lost the pride, independence, and democratic spirit the Senate formerly possessed. Caesar has not seemed so arrogant until this scene. Shakespeare wanted to demonstrate that this man was so ambitious that he might never be satisfied. He could go from being king to becoming emperor and then to becoming a god. He actually was made a god posthumously, and his successor Octavius Augustus became an emperor and a god. 

    — William Delaney
  20. Caesar is a lonely, solitary man. He can't confide in anyone because no one would be capable of understanding his vision. He must have spent many nights gazing up at the stars. He thinks great thoughts. His grandiose ambition is as boundless as the universe. He would like not only to conquer the world but to conquer the entire universe and become lord and master of all creation. He seems to despise all ordinary mortals, however politely he may treat them for political reasons. If people are kneeling before him and kissing his hands before he has even been made king, what would they have to do after he was king? Brutus is right in fearing what Caesar could become. Cassius is right in his appraisal of Caesar's true character. Caesar was right in fearing Cassius who "looks quite through the deeds of men." Caesar knows that Cassius can see through him and knows the extent of his concealed ambition. This display of hubris must be punished by the gods because the gods are always a little bit afraid of being overthrown by humans (as well the gods should be, since humans imagined them and created them in the first place!). The punishment is already on the way and will strike in minutes. Shakespeare waited until now to reveal Caesar's hubris through the great man's own lips, in order to make the hubris and the nemesis appropriately concurrent.

    — William Delaney
  21. Antony is speaking metaphorically. It was a common practice of doctors to bleed sick patients under the fallacious assumption that this would get some of the poisonous substances out of their blood. This technique was not totally discredited until almost the beginning of the twentieth century. Bleeding probably did much more harm than any possible good because it obviously weakened patients who were already weak. Antony is suggesting half-jokingly that the conspirators killed Caesar because he was suffering from what they considered an illness symptomized by his ambition, and Antony is asking who else they consider sick and in need of their rather harsh medical attention. Naturally he is wondering whether they have any plans to administer to him.

    — William Delaney
  22. This is a poetic conceit. The dying men are groaning from their pains, but Antony imagines them groaning for someone to bury them. Dying soldiers are typically buried to save them from being eaten by animals and birds, so the carrion men Antony is visualizing are anxious to get buried before being eaten, possibly even being gnawed and pecked at before they are quite dead.

    — William Delaney
  23. Many questions have been asked about whether the play should be considered the tragedy of Caesar or of Brutus. Shakespeare seems to be indicating that it is definitely Caesar's tragedy and that his "tragic flaw" is hubris.

    Hubris was the flaw that the gods traditionally punished severely, and Caesar's behavior right up until the time Casca strikes the first blow seems intended to display the hubris that is Caesar's chief character trait as well as his tragic flaw. He is a truly superior man in many respects, but he makes himself unsympathetic to the audience by his egotistical utterances. We can see that he would become a terrible tyrant--comparable to Adolf Hitler in modern times--if he had absolute political power and command of all the Roman military forces.

    When Casca stabs Caesar saying, "Speak, hands, for me!" he is suggesting that if he were eloquent--which he knows he is not-- he would say something to the effect that the victim fully deserves to die because of his outrageous, insufferable and impious hubris. 

    In Greek tragedy hubris meant excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis, or downfall. The gods especially disapproved of hubris in mortals because it was a sign of competing with or actually threatening the gods.

    In Plutarch's Life of Julius Caesar he shows Caesar as amazingly self-confident, arrogant, strong-willed, domineering, and egotistical throughout his life. In Shakespeare's play Marc Antony says that the conspirators did what they did because of "envy." This may be true enough--but they could also see, as Brutus did, that Caesar was a terrible threat to their freedom and their very lives.

    — William Delaney
  24. This is one of only many examples of Caesar's exalted opinion of himself. Shakespeare must have fully intended to show what an egomaniac Caesar was in this scene, just before he is assassinated. The men who assassinate him recognize him for the potential tyrant he would become if he were made an autocrat. Even Brutus cannot fail to see this, which is why he agrees to participate in the conspiracy.

    — William Delaney
  25. Brutus contradicts both Cinna and Cassius, showing how disorganized these conspirators really are. Caesar's death has created a huge power vacuum which will take some time to fill. Brutus obviously thinks he is the right one to fill it, but he lacks some of Caesar's leadership qualities. He lacks Caesar's powerful will, his understanding of human nature, and his ruthlessness. Brutus is a philosopher. He is introverted and bookish. He cannot respond effectively or instinctively  in emergency situations. His natural tendency is to take time to think things over. A good example of this tendency is his soliloquy in Act 2, Scene 1, in which he agonizes over whether he should take part in assassinating his friend Caesar. Yet Brutus has been thrust into the position of leader of the great conspiracy and is not willing to step down from it now that it has initially been so successful. Brutus is a good example of the famous Peter Principle:

    Many have observed that individuals perform worse after having received a promotion. The most famous statement of the idea is the Peter Principle, which states that people are promoted to their level of incompetence. 

    We often see this happen in the contemporary world, especially in the world of business, but also in academia, government, the military, and elsewhere. 

    — William Delaney
  26. It should be noted that the conspirators must be absolutely terrified of Julius Caesar--both in actual history and in Shakespeare's play--since it takes so many of them to kill him. Cassius hates Caesar more than any of the other conspirators, but he would not dare to attack him by himself. He organizes a big conspiracy and they completely surround their victim, stabbing him from all sides.

    — William Delaney
  27. There seems to be great confusion among the conspirators. They had all been looking forward to Caesar's death but apparently had not given much thought to what they would do afterwards. This is only one of many examples of the confusion. Metellus says, "Stand fast together," and Brutus says, "Talk not of standing." Like Caesar's assassination, the aftermath seems to be intended to seem anticlimactic. It is Antony's funeral oration that will provide the actual climax.

    — William Delaney
  28. Shakespeare's play gives the impression that the conspirators fled Rome right after Antony's funeral speech and were defeated at Philippi in Macedonia shortly thereafter. The Battle of Philippi actually occurred about two and a half years after Caesar's assassination. During that time Brutus and Cassius were raising money and building navies and armies, while Octavius and Antony were consolidating power in Italy. It took a long while to build fleets, raise money, conquer cities, and create huge armies. There was a great deal of the kind of violence described by Antony in this speech. Evidently Shakespeare wanted to give the chaotic period in history some acknowledgment without disrupting the flow of his drama, and so he has Antony describing the civil unrest in the form of a prophecy. Antony's soliloquy, or address to the dead Caesar, is an ingenious way of summarizing actual history--i.e., telling what happened in the past by predicting what is going to happen in the future.

    — William Delaney
  29. This is an unusual and intriguing metaphor. Shakespeare seems to be suggesting, through his character Antony, that there is no such thing as human progress but that history keeps repeating itself as inevitably and relentlessly as the tides keep moving out and then moving back in. 

    In his famous poem "Dover Beach" (1851), Matthew Arnold uses the mournful sounds of the sea advancing and withdrawing as an analogy for human history. 

    Sophocles long ago
    Heard it on the Agaean, and it brought
    Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
    Of human misery

    — William Delaney
  30. A certain seer warned Caesar to be on his guard against a great peril on the day of the month of March which the Romans call the Ides; and when the day had come and Caesar was on his way to the senate-house, he greeted the seer with a jest and said: “Well, the Ides of March are come,” and the seer said to him softly: “Ay, they are come, but they are not gone.”

    Shakespeare took this from Plutarch. It makes a chilling opening for the third act because the audience realizes they are finally about to see the big historical event, the assassination of Julius Caesar, reenacted on the stage after their suspense has been built up to a peak. The audience knows what the Soothsayer knows--and Caesar does not.

    — William Delaney
  31. This is a brilliant conception. The audience is given the illusion that they are witnessing the actual event which will be reenacted many centuries later in a place called England and in a language called English. But perhaps even Shakespeare could not foresee how often his play would be acted all over the world in many different languages.

    — William Delaney
  32. The leash holding these figurative "dogs of war" would not be fastened to the collar like our present-day dog-leashes but would be a long leather strap passing through the collar with both ends held by the handler, who would simply let go of one end and allow the leash to slip through the collar as the dog lunged forward.

    — William Delaney
  33. Shakespeare apparently inserted this soliloquy to inform the audience that Antony had no intention of joining with Brutus and the other conspirators but was deliberately deceiving them. Thus the audience will know from the beginning of his funeral oration that Antony intends to arouse the citizens to mutiny. Here Shakespeare departs slightly from Plutarch, who writes in "The Life of Antony": "...after Caesar's body had been brought to the forum, Antony pronounced the customary eulogy, and when he saw that the multitude were moved by his words, changed his tone to one of compassion, and taking the robe of Caesar, all bloody as it was, unfolded it to view, pointing out the many places in which it had been pierced and Caesar wounded."

    — William Delaney
  34. Shakespeare is thinking of his own play, Julius Caesar, as well as other plays that will be written about this great man and his assassination. Brutus, is suggesting that this is the real event and not a play, thereby making it seem more real to the audience. Somehow the audience has traveled back in time and is actually witnessing these famous historical events.

    — William Delaney
  35. Shakespeare obviously intended the actual assassination of Caesar to be anticlimactic. There has been a tremendous build-up to this event throughout the first two acts, with plotting, forebodings, supernatural wonders, bad dreams, and ominous warnings. Shakespeare's plays depend on words rather than actions. He wanted to disappoint the audience here, only to thrill them with Antony's great funeral oration which marks the turning point in the play. When Shakespeare read about Antony's speech in Plutarch, he must have felt inspired by the challenge of presenting his own version in English iambic pentameter on a London stage. The effectiveness of Antony's speech in Shakespeare's play is only enhanced by the letdown created by the disappointment of the audience's expectations in the long-awaited assassination scene which seems to be over in moments.

    — William Delaney
  36. Evidently Shakespeare intended to characterize Caesar as a great man and at the same time humanize him as a bit of a pompous ass. According to Shakespeare's friend Ben Jonson in his essay "On Shakespeare":

    Many times he [Shakespeare] fell into those things could not escape laughter: as when he said in the person of Caesar, one speaking to him: "Caesar thou dost me wrong"-he replied: "Caesar did never wrong, but with just cause", and such like, which were ridiculous.

    Jonson may have been mistaken. Shakespeare probably wanted the character Caesar to be contradicting himself and for the audience, if they laughed, to be laughing at Caesar, not at the author. Caesar was admitting that he had done a lot of wrong things, such as having people murdered. Plutarch writes that Caesar was responsible for the deaths of about two million people during his career. But he had not allowed his wrongdoings to affect his conscience--if he has a conscience. He seemed to be saying that if Caesar did something wrong it was pardonable because he is a very special person. However, Shakespeare apparently changed the line because of Ben Jonson's criticism. If Jonson couldn't understand the intention, how could Shakespeare expect his audience to appreciate the subtlety? Caesar is now denying he ever did any wrong.

    In War and Peace the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy has this to say about military leaders:

    The best generals I have known are, on the contrary, stupid or absent-minded men....A good general has no need of genius, nor of any great qualities; on the contrary, he is better for the absence of the finest and highest of human qualities--love, poetry, tenderness, philosophic and inquiring doubt.

    One thing generals seem to have in common is that the more people they slaughter, the more they are adored. 

    — William Delaney
  37. It is characteristic of Cassius that he is thinking about selfish, practical matters and automatically assumes that Antony will be similarly motivated. People tend to judge others by themselves. Brutus is patriotic and altruistic, and he assumes Antony will be won over by idealistic explanations and kindness.

    — William Delaney
  38. That is, "handing out political offices."

    This line reveals how Cassius is already thinking about money and other perks that can be obtained by the "disposing of new dignities." That he thinks this here also reveals that he's been considering these advantages likely since he first began plotting against Caesar.

    — Owl Eyes Reader