Act V - Scene V

[Another part of the field.]

Enter Brutus, Dardanius, Clitus, Strato, and Volumnius.

BRUTUS:
Come, poor remains of friends, rest on this rock.
CLITUS:
Statilius show'd the torch-light, but, my lord,
He came not back. He is or ta'en or slain.
BRUTUS:
Sit thee down, Clitus. Slaying is the word:
It is a deed in fashion. Hark thee, Clitus.(5)
CLITUS:
What, I, my lord? No, not for all the world.
BRUTUS:
Peace then, no words.
CLITUS:
I'll rather kill myself.
BRUTUS:
Hark thee, Dardanius.
DARDANIUS:
Shall I do such a deed?(10)
CLITUS:
O Dardanius!
DARDANIUS:
O Clitus!
CLITUS:
What ill request did Brutus make to thee?
DARDANIUS:
To kill him, Clitus. Look, he meditates.
CLITUS:
Now is that noble vessel full of grief,(15)
That it runs over even at his eyes.
BRUTUS:
Come hither, good Volumnius, list a word.
VOLUMNIUS:
What says my lord?
BRUTUS:
Why, this, Volumnius:
The ghost of Caesar hath appear'd to me(20)
Two several times by night; at Sardis once,
And this last night here in Philippi fields.
I know my hour is come.
VOLUMNIUS:
Not so, my lord.
BRUTUS:
Nay, I am sure it is, Volumnius.(25)
Thou seest the world, Volumnius, how it goes;
Our enemies have beat us to the pit;

Low alarums.

It is more worthy to leap in ourselves
Than tarry till they push us. Good Volumnius,
Thou know'st that we two went to school together;(30)
Even for that our love of old, I prithee,
Hold thou my sword-hilts, whilst I run on it.
VOLUMNIUS:
That's not an office for a friend, my lord.

Alarum still.

CLITUS:
Fly, fly, my lord, there is no tarrying here.
BRUTUS:
Farewell to you, and you, and you, Volumnius.(35)
Strato, thou hast been all this while asleep;
Farewell to thee too, Strato. Countrymen,
My heart doth joy that yet in all my life
I found no man but he was true to me.
I shall have glory by this losing day,(40)
More than Octavius and Mark Antony
By this vile conquest shall attain unto.
So, fare you well at once, for Brutus' tongue
Hath almost ended his life's history.
Night hangs upon mine eyes, my bones would rest(45)
That have but labor'd to attain this hour.

Alarum. Cry within, “Fly, fly, fly!”

CLITUS:
Fly, my lord, fly.
BRUTUS:
Hence! I will follow.

[Exeunt Clitus, Dardanius, and Volumnius.]

I prithee, Strato, stay thou by thy lord.
Thou art a fellow of a good respect;(50)
Thy life hath had some smatch of honor in it.
Hold then my sword, and turn away thy face,
While I do run upon it. Wilt thou, Strato?
STRATO:
Give me your hand first. Fare you well, my lord.
BRUTUS:
Farewell, good Strato.(55)

[Runs on his sword.]

Caesar, now be still;
I kill'd not thee with half so good a will.

Dies.

Alarum. Retreat. Enter Antony, Octavius, Messala, Lucilius, and the Army.

OCTAVIUS:
What man is that?
MESSALA:
My master's man. Strato, where is thy master?
STRATO:
Free from the bondage you are in, Messala:(60)
The conquerors can but make a fire of him;
For Brutus only overcame himself,
And no man else hath honor by his death.
LUCILIUS:
So Brutus should be found. I thank thee, Brutus,
That thou hast proved Lucilius' saying true.(65)
OCTAVIUS:
All that served Brutus, I will entertain them.
Fellow, wilt thou bestow thy time with me?
STRATO:
Ay, if Messala will prefer me to you.
OCTAVIUS:
Do so, good Messala.
MESSALA:
How died my master, Strato?(70)
STRATO:
I held the sword, and he did run on it.
MESSALA:
Octavius, then take him to follow thee
That did the latest service to my master.
ANTONY:
This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators, save only he,(75)
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(80)
And say to all the world, “This was a man!”
OCTAVIUS:
According to his virtue let us use him
With all respect and rites of burial.
Within my tent his bones tonight shall lie,
Most like a soldier, order'd honorably.(85)
So call the field to rest, and let's away,
To part the glories of this happy day.

Exeunt.

Footnotes

  1. By ending the play with the discussion of Brutus’s character and legacy, Shakespeare asks us once again: Who is the play’s protagonist? Despite the play’s title, Julius Caesar is not as prominent or vocal a presence as Brutus or Cassius. These final moments, in which Antony, working himself into a rapture, proclaims that “Nature might stand up/And say to all the world, ‘’This was a man!” indicates that Brutus stands at the play’s heart. Brutus’s honor is important, and so is the honor bestowed upon him in his elegy.

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

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. This is a beautiful image of Brutus as a bowl or chalice, brimming with tears. This marks the first instance of Brutus demonstrating his sorrow so outwardly.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. After killing Brutus, Antony employs his rhetorical skill to commemorate Brutus. This final claim, that Brutus was the only honorable conspirator since he had Rome's best interest at heart, is ironic. Antony was incredibly angry over Brutus's betrayal earlier in the play and is the one who eventually defeated him. If this was his opinion of the man, then why did he not pardon him or lock him in prison? Now that Antony has won, he must repair the Republic in order to reestablish peace. In praising Brutus, the leader of the other side in this Civil War, Antony makes a rhetorical effort to include those who followed Brutus and welcome them back into the Republic.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Is Antony correct in saying that all the other conspirators except Brutus took part in Caesar's assassination because of "envy"? Or is Antony so totally blinded by his love for the great man that he cannot see any other possible motive? Caesar was undoubtedly extremely ambitious. Cassius and the other conspirators were not so much envious as they were afraid of what Caesar might do if he became king, which appeared to be inevitable. The conspirators were all members of the aristocracy. They saw Caesar as a demagogue, not unlike Huey Long, who intended to buy popularity with the common people by taking money away from the rich. This bothers Cassius most of all, because Shakespeare portrays him throughout as a genuine miser. He would rather lose his life than lose his money. If it hadn't been for Cassius, with his brains, eloquence, and strong motivation, the assassination would never have taken place. Brutus was willing to become the apparent leader, but he would not have thought of organizing a conspiracy to kill Caesar, who happened to be his good friend. Brutus had to be pushed and prodded before he finally agreed to join the others. No doubt the others were acting in their own self-interest, but that was not necessarily envy. Brutus, the only man who acted "in a general honest thought / And common good to all," was the only man who came close to taking Caesar's place as ruler of Rome. The conspirators all wanted him because he could make the assassination look like a patriotic and democratic action, whereas the others were only concerned about their own personal welfare.

    — William Delaney
  6. According to Plutarch:

    Antony, at least, in the hearing of many, declared that in his opinion Brutus was the only conspirator against Caesar who was impelled by the splendour and by what seemed to him the nobility of the enterprise, whereas the rest banded together against the man because they envied and hated him. 

                                     Life of Brutus

    — William Delaney
  7. Brutus differs from the other conspirators in that he does not envy Julius Caesar because he does not want to be like Caesar. Brutus is a peaceful, introspective, studious man, whereas Caesar was a highly ambitious activist who exhibited tremendous energy and will power. Julius Caesar was an extrovert and a realist. Brutus was an introvert, an idealist and a philosopher. Cassius and the other conspirators had great difficulty in getting Brutus to become actively involved in their assassination plot because he was more a thinker than a doer.

    — William Delaney
  8. The Wikipedia article on "Envy" defines it as "the resentment which occurs when a person lacks another's superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it." Julius Caesar arouses this painful emotion in other men because he is superior to them in so many ways. Aristotle defines envy as "the pain caused by the good fortune of others." According to Mark Antony, all the conspirators except Brutus were motivated by pure hatred of a great man who made them look and feel inferior. Cassius is expressing his malevolent envy of Caesar where he tells Brutus:

    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. (I.ii)

    — William Delaney