The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

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subjects: Plays: Classic & Pre-20th Century

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Description

In this striking tragedy of political conflict, Shakespeare turns to the ancient Roman world and to the famous assassination of Julius Caesar by his republican opponents. The play is one of tumultuous rivalry, of prophetic warnings—’Beware the ides of March‘—and of moving public oratory—’Friends, Romans, countrymen!’ Ironies abound and most of all for Brutus, whose fate it is to learn that his idealistic motives for joining the conspiracy against a would-be dictator are not enough to sustain the movement once Caesar is dead.


82 pages, with a reading time of ~2.75 hours (20,728 words), and first published in 1599. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, .

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Excerpt

SCENE I

Rome. A street.

[Enter FLAVIUS, MARULLUS, and certain Commoners]

FLAVIUS

Hence! home, you idle creatures get you home: Is this a holiday? what! know you not, Being mechanical, you ought not walk Upon a labouring day without the sign Of your profession? Speak, what trade art thou?

First Commoner

Why, sir, a carpenter.

MARULLUS

Where is thy leather apron and thy rule? What dost thou with thy best apparel on? You, sir, what trade are you?

Second Commoner

Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, I am but, as you would say, a cobbler.

MARULLUS

But what trade art thou? answer me directly.

Second Commoner

A trade, sir, that, I hope, I may use with a safe conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.

MARULLUS

What trade, thou knave? thou naughty knave, what trade?

Second Commoner

Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me: yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.

MARULLUS

What meanest thou by that? mend me, thou saucy fellow!

Second Commoner

Why, sir, cobble you.

FLAVIUS

Thou art a cobbler, art thou?

Second Commoner

Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl: I meddle with no tradesman’s matters, nor women’s matters, but with awl. I am, indeed, sir, a surgeon to old shoes; when they are in great danger, I recover them. As proper men as ever trod upon neat’s leather have gone upon my handiwork.

FLAVIUS

But wherefore art not in thy shop today? Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?

Second Commoner

Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself into more work. But, indeed, sir, we make holiday, to see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph.

MARULLUS

Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he home? What tributaries follow him to Rome, To grace in captive bonds his chariot-wheels? You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things! O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome, Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft Have you climb’d up to walls and battlements, To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops, Your infants in your arms, and there have sat The livelong day, with patient expectation, To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome: And when you saw his chariot but appear, Have you not made an universal shout, That Tiber trembled underneath her banks, To hear the replication of your sounds Made in her concave shores? And do you now put on your best attire? And do you now cull out a holiday? And do you now strew flowers in his way That comes in triumph over Pompey’s blood? Be gone! Run to your houses, fall upon your knees, Pray to the gods to intermit the plague That needs must light on this ingratitude.

FLAVIUS

Go, go, good countrymen, and, for this fault, Assemble all the poor men of your sort; Draw them to Tiber banks, and weep your tears Into the channel, till the lowest stream Do kiss the most exalted shores of all.

[Exeunt all the Commoners]

See whether their basest metal be not moved; They vanish tongue-tied in their guiltiness. Go you down that way towards the Capitol;

This way will I

disrobe the images, If you do find them deck’d with ceremonies.

MARULLUS

May we do so? You know it is the feast of Lupercal.

FLAVIUS

It is no matter; let no images Be hung with Caesar’s trophies. I’ll about, And drive away the vulgar from the streets: So do you too, where you perceive them thick. These growing feathers pluck’d from Caesar’s wing Will make him fly an ordinary pitch, Who else would soar above the view of men And keep us all in servile fearfulness.

[Exeunt]

SCENE II

A public place.

Flourish. Enter CAESAR; ANTONY, for the course; CALPURNIA, PORTIA, DECIUS BRUTUS, CICERO, BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and CASCA; a great crowd following, among them a Soothsayer

CAESAR

Calpurnia!

CASCA

       Peace, ho! Caesar speaks.

CAESAR

Calpurnia!

CALPURNIA

Here, my lord.

CAESAR

Stand you directly in Antonius’ way, When he doth run his course. Antonius!

ANTONY

Caesar, my lord?

CAESAR

Forget not, in your speed, Antonius, To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say, The barren, touched in this holy chase, Shake off their sterile curse.

ANTONY

I shall remember: When Caesar says ‘do this,’ it is perform’d.

CAESAR

Set on; and leave no ceremony out.

Flourish

Soothsayer

Caesar!

CAESAR

Ha! who calls?

CASCA

Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!

CAESAR

Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music, Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.

Soothsayer

Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR

What man is that?

BRUTUS

A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.