JULIUS CAESAR is the story of a man's personal dilemma over moral action, set against a backdrop of strained political drama. Julius Caesar, an able general and a conqueror returns to Rome amidst immense popularity after defeating the sons of Pompey. The people celebrate his victorious return and Mark Antony offers him the Crown which he refuses. Jealous of Caesar's growing power and afraid he may one day become a dictator, Cassius instigates a conspiracy to murder Caesar.
He realises that to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the Romans, he must win over the noble Brutus to his side for Brutus is the most trusted and respected in Rome. Brutus, the idealist, joins the conspiracy feeling that everyone is driven by motives as honourable as his own. Ironically, Caesar is murdered at the foot of Pompey's statue.
Thunder and lightning. Enter CAESAR in his night-gown
CAESAR Nor heaven nor earth have been at peace to-night:
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 priest do present sacrifice and bring me their opinions of success.
SERVANT I will, my lord
What mean you, Caesar? Think you to walk forth?
You shall not stir out of your house to-day.
CAESAR Caesar shall forth: the things that threaten'd me
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,
Recounts most horrid sights seen by the watch.
Alioness hath whelped in the streets;
And graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead;
Fierce fiery warriors fought upon the clouds,
In ranks and squadrons and right form of war,
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,
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.
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.
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.
What say the augurers?
SERVANT They would not have you to stir forth to-day.
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 to-day for fear.
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.
CALPURNIA Alas, my lord,
Your wisdom is consumed in confidence.
Do not go forth to-day: call it my fear
That keeps you in the house, and not your own.
We'll send Mark Antony to the senate-house:
And he shall say you are not well to-day:
Let me, upon my knee, prevail in this.
CAESAR Mark Antony shall say I am not well,
And, for thy humour, I will stay at home.
Enter DECIUS BRUTUS
Here's Decius Brutus, he shall tell them so.
DECIUS BRUTUS 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 to-day:
Cannot, is false, and that I dare not, falser:
I will not come to-day: 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,
To be afraid to tell graybeards the truth?
Decius, go tell them Caesar will not come.
DECIUS BRUTUS Most mighty Caesar, let me know some cause,
Lest I be laugh'd at when I tell them so.
CAESAR Calpurnia here, my wife, stays me at home:
She dreamt to-night she saw my statue,
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
Hath begg'd that I will stay at home to-day.
DECIUS BRUTUS This dream is all amiss interpreted;
It was a vision fair and fortunate:
Your statue spouting blood in many pipes,
In which so many smiling Romans bathed,
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.
DECIUS BRUTUS 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.
CAESAR How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia!
I am ashamed I did yield to them.
Give me my robe, for I will go.
Enter PUBLIUS, BRUTUS, LIGARIUS, METELLUS, CASCA, TREBONIUS, and CINNA
CAESAR Good friends, go in, and taste some wine with me;
And we, like friends, will straightway go together.
BRUTUS [Aside] That every like is not the same, O Caesar,
The heart of Brutus yearns to think upon!
Rome. Before the Capitol; the Senate sitting above.
Flourish. Enter CAESAR, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, CASCA, DECIUS BRUTUS, METELLUS CIMBER, TREBONIUS, CINNA, ANTONY, LEPIDUS, POPILIUS, PUBLIUS, and others
CAESAR Are we all ready? What is now amiss
That Caesar and his senate must redress?
METELLUS CIMBER Most high, most mighty, and most puissant Caesar,
Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat
An humble heart,--
CAESAR I must prevent thee, Cimber.
These couchings and these lowly courtesies
Might fire the blood of ordinary men,
And turn pre-ordinance and first decree
Into the law of children.
Thy brother by decree is banished:
If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him,
I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
Know, Caesar doth not wrong, nor without cause
Will he be satisfied.
METELLUS CIMBER Is there no voice more worthy than my own
To sound more sweetly in great Caesar's ear
For the repealing of my banish'd brother?
BRUTUS I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Caesar;
Desiring thee that Publius Cimber may
Have an immediate freedom of repeal.
CAESAR What, Brutus!
CASSIUS Pardon, Caesar; Caesar, pardon:
As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall,
To beg enfranchisement for Publius Cimber.
CASSIUS 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.
I was constant Cimber should be banish'd,
And constant do remain to keep him so.
CASCA Speak, hands for me!
CASCA first, then the other Conspirators and BRUTUS stab CAESAR
CAESAR Et tu, Brute ! Then fall, Caesar.
CINNA Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead! Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.
CASSIUS Some to the common pulpits, and cry out
'Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!'
BRUTUS But here comes Antony.
Welcome, Mark Antony.
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,
Who else must be let blood, who else is rank:
If I myself, there is no hour so fit
As Caesar's death hour, nor no instrument
Of half that worth as those your swords, made rich
With the most noble blood of all this world.
I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Fulfil 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,
As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,
The choice and master spirits of this age.
BRUTUS O Antony, beg not your death of us.
Though now we must appear bloody and cruel,
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--
Hath done this deed on Caesar. For your part,
To you our swords have leaden points, MarkAntony:
Our arms, in strength of malice, and our hearts
Of brothers' temper, do receive you in
With all kind love, good thoughts, and reverence.
CASSIUS Your voice shall be as strong as any man's
In the disposing of new dignities.
ANTONY I doubt not of your wisdom.
Let each man render me his bloody hand:
Gentlemen all,--alas, what shall I say?
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,
Shall it not grieve thee dearer than thy death,
To see thyAntony making his peace,
Shaking the bloody fingers of thy foes,
Most noble! in the presence of thy corse?
CASSIUS Mark Antony,--
ANTONY Pardon me, Caius Cassius:
The enemies of Caesar shall say this;
Then, in a friend, it is cold modesty.
CASSIUS I blame you not for praising Caesar so;
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?
ANTONY Therefore I took your hands, but was, indeed,
Sway'd from the point, by looking down on Caesar.
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.
BRUTUS Our reasons are so full of good regard
That were you, Antony, the son of Caesar,
You should be satisfied.
ANTONY That's all I seek:
And am moreover suitor that I may
Produce his body to the market-place;
And in the pulpit, as becomes a friend,
Speak in the order of his funeral.
BRUTUS You shall, Mark Antony.
CASSIUS Brutus, a word with you.
Aside to BRUTUS
You know not what you do: do not consent
That Antony speak in his funeral:
Know you how much the people may be moved
By that which he will utter?
BRUTUS By your pardon;
I will myself into the pulpit first,
And show the reason of our Caesar's death:
What Antony shall speak, I will protest
He speaks by leave and by permission.
CASSIUS I know not what may fall; I like it not.
BRUTUS 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,
And say you do it 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.
ANTONY Be it so.
I do desire no more.
BRUTUS Prepare the body then, and follow us.
Exeunt all but ANTONY
ANTONY O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
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,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue--
Acurse 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
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,
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.
Exeunt with CAESAR's body
Enter BRUTUS and CASSIUS, and a throng of Citizens
Citizens We will be satisfied; let us be satisfied.
BRUTUS Then follow me, and give me audience, friends.
I will hear Brutus speak.
BRUTUS goes into the pulpit
The noble Brutus is ascended: silence!
Be patient till the last.
Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause, and be silent, that you may hear: believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge.
If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: -- Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition. Who is here so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.
All None, Brutus, none.
BRUTUS Then none have I offended. I have done no more to Caesar than you shall do to Brutus. The question of his death is enrolled in the Capitol; his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy, nor his offences enforced, for which he suffered death.
Enter ANTONY and others, with CAESAR's body
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony: who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth; as which of you shall not? With this I depart,-- that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.
All Live, Brutus! live, live!
First Citizen Bring him with triumph home unto his house.
Second Citizen Give him a statue with his ancestors.
Third Citizen Let him be Caesar.
Fourth Citizen Caesar's better parts
Shall be crown'd in Brutus.
First Citizen We'll bring him to his house
With shouts and clamours.
BRUTUS My countrymen, --
Second Citizen Peace, silence! Brutus speaks.
First Citizen Peace, ho!
BRUTUS Good countrymen, let me depart alone,
And, for my sake, stay here with Antony:
Do grace to Caesar's corpse, and grace his speech
Tending to Caesar's glories; which Mark Antony,
By our permission, is allow'd to make.
I do entreat you, not a man depart,
Save I alone, till Antony have spoke.
First Citizen Stay, ho! and let us hear Mark Antony.
Third Citizen Let him go up into the public chair;
We'll hear him. Noble Antony, go up.
ANTONY For Brutus' sake, I am beholding to you.
Goes into the pulpit
Fourth Citizen What does he say of Brutus?
Third Citizen He says, for Brutus' sake,
He finds himself beholding to us all.
Fourth Citizen 'Twere best he speak no harm of Brutus here.
First Citizen This Caesar was a tyrant.
Third Citizen Nay, that's certain:
We are blest that Rome is rid of him.
Second Citizen Peace! let us hear what Antony can say.
ANTONY You gentle Romans, --
Citizens Peace, ho! let us hear him.
ANTONY Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
First Citizen Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.
Second Citizen If thou consider rightly of the matter,
Caesar has had great wrong.
Third Citizen Has he, masters?
I fear there will a worse come in his place.
Fourth Citizen Mark'd ye his words? He would not take the crown;
Therefore 'tis certain he was not ambitious.
First Citizen If it be found so, some will dear abide it.
Second Citizen Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping.
Third Citizen There's not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.
Fourth Citizen Now mark him, he begins again to speak.
ANTONY But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there.
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
But here's a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet, 'tis his will:
Let but the commons hear this testament--
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read--
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.
Fourth Citizen We'll hear the will: read it, Mark Antony.
All The will, the will! we will hear Caesar's will.
ANTONY Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, hearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad:
'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs;
For, if you should, O, what would come of it!
Fourth Citizen Read the will; we'll hear it, Antony;
You shall read us the will, Caesar's will.
ANTONY Will you be patient? will you stay awhile?
I have o'ershot myself to tell you of it:
I fear I wrong the honourable men
Whose daggers have stabb'd Caesar; I do fear it.
Fourth Citizen They were traitors: honourable men!
All The will! the testament!
Second Citizen They were villains, murderers: the will! read the will.
ANTONY You will compel me, then, to read the will?
Then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar,
And let me show you him that made the will.
Shall I descend? and will you give me leave?
Several Citizens Come down.
Second Citizen Descend.
Third Citizen You shall have leave.
ANTONY comes down
Fourth Citizen A ring; stand round.
ANTONY If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle: I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on;
'Twas on a summer's evening, in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii:
Look, in this place ran Cassius' dagger through:
See what a rent the envious Casca made:
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd;
And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar follow'd it,
As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knock'd, or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel:
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms,
Quite vanquish'd him: then burst his mighty heart;
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statue,
Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I, and you, and all of us fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourish'd over us.
O, now you weep; and, I perceive, you feel
The dint of pity: these are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what, weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar's vesture wounded? Look you here,
Here is himself, marr'd, as you see, with traitors.
First Citizen O piteous spectacle!
Second Citizen O noble Caesar!
Third Citizen O woeful day!
Fourth Citizen O traitors, villains!
First Citizen O most bloody sight!
Second Citizen We will be revenged.
All Revenge! About! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay!
Let not a traitor live!
ANTONY Stay, countrymen.
First Citizen Peace there! hear the noble Antony.
Second Citizen We'll hear him, we'll follow him, we'll die with him.
ANTONY Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honourable:
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it: they are wise and honourable,
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him:
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men's blood: I only speak right on;
I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
Show you sweet Caesar's wounds, poor poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,
And BrutusAntony, there were anAntony
Would ruffle up your spirits and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.
All We'll mutiny.
First Citizen We'll burn the house of Brutus.
Third Citizen Away, then! come, seek the conspirators.
ANTONY Yet hear me, countrymen; yet hear me speak.
All Peace, ho! Hear Antony. Most noble Antony!
ANTONY Why, friends, you go to do you know not what:
Wherein hath Caesar thus deserved your loves?
Alas, you know not: I must tell you then:
You have forgot the will I told you of.
All Most true. The will! Let's stay and hear the will.
ANTONY Here is the will, and under Caesar's seal.
To every Roman citizen he gives,
To every several man, seventy-five drachmas.
Second Citizen Most noble Caesar! We'll revenge his death.
Third Citizen O royal Caesar!
ANTONY Hear me with patience.
All Peace, ho!
ANTONY Moreover, he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbours and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber; he hath left them you,
And to your heirs for ever, common pleasures,
To walk abroad, and recreate yourselves.
Here was a Caesar! when comes such another?
First Citizen Never, never. Come, away, away!
We'll burn his body in the holy place,
And with the brands fire the traitors' houses.
Take up the body.
Second Citizen Go fetch fire.
Third Citizen Pluck down benches.
Fourth Citizen Pluck down forms, windows, any thing.
Exeunt Citizens with the body
ANTONY Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt!
Antony instigates the mob to revenge. He then sits with Octavius Caesar, Julius Caesar's nephew, coldly calculating how to purge any future threat. Brutus and Cassius fall apart as the idealist in Brutus is outraged by Cassius' practicality. The armies of Octavius Caesar and Antony clash with those of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi and Sardis. Brutus and Cassius are defeated and both commit suicide.