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LUCILIUS, OCTAVIUS CÆSAR,
triumvirs after TITINIUS, friends to Brutus and MARCUS ANTONIUS, the death of MESSALA,
STRATO, servants to Brutus. CASCA,
conspirators against DARDANIUS, LIGARIUS,
PINDARUS, servant to Cassius.
CALPURNIA, wife to Cæsar.
Senators, Citizens, Guards, AttendA Soothsayer.
SCENE: Rome; the neighbourhood of Sardis; the neighbourhood of Philippi.
PART I. -Julius Cæsar, having been created Consul of Rome for the second time in B.C. 48, has returned from Spain, where he has vanquished the sons of Pompey in the Battle of Munda (B.C. 45). The lower orders, who hail him as a conquering hero, wish to celebrate his triumph; but Cassius and other patrician rivals are jealous of his popularity; and the Tribunes remind the people that his victories have been gained over their fellow-countrymen. Cæsar, on his way to celebrate the festival of the Lupercalia, on the ides of February, B.C. 44, is warned by a soothsayer in the crowd to beware the ides of March—a warning which he disregards. Cæsar, not without reason, is suspected by his envious rivals of aiming at the sovereign power. The impulsive Cassius succeeds in engaging the calm and philosophic Brutus in a plot for his destruction, as the only means of saving Rome. The blunt Casca, Trebonius, Metellus Cimber, and others enter into the conspiracy. Calpurnia, Cæsar's wife, influenced by supernatural omens, tries to dissuade him from exposing himself in the Senate ; but to no purpose.
PART II.-Afraid of being thought superstitious and cowardly, he goes to the Senate House on the ides of March; and while the conspirators pretend to present a petition to him, he is stabbed at the base of Pompey's Pillar, first by Casca, then by his associates, and at last by Marcus Brutus. Afterwards Brutus, addressing the citizens in the Forum, endeavours to justify the murder of Cæsar by representing him as an ambitious tyrant, and the enemy of a free constitution. But Antony follows him in a skilful oration, in which he works upon the popular feelings, by representing Cæsar as the friend of the lower orders. With well-feigned unwillingness he reads to them Cæsar's will, and exposes his mangled body. In his will Cæsar names the people as his personal heirs ; and Antony stirs up their sympathy with the fallen consul to such a degree, that they call out for vengeance upon his murderers. Brutus and Cassius, with their partisans, are forced to flee from Rome; and the government is committed to a triumvirate, consisting of. Octavius Cæsar, Lepidus, and Antony.
PART III.-Brutus and Cassius form their camp near Sardis. Here a violent dissension between these leaders is healed by the forbearance of the former, and the impetuous good-heartedness of the latter. Octavius and Antony, with their army, follow the conspirators to the East. The rival armies meet on the plains of Philippi. The wing led by Brutus defeats Octavius; but Cassius is overthrown by Antony. Unable to sustain this disgrace, and ignorant of Brutus's success, Cassius kills himself. Antony then turns upon Brutus and overpowers him. He is on the point of being taken prisoner, when, having in vain besought one and another of his followers to put an end to his life, he runs on his sword, which is held for him by Strato, his servant, and dies. So the death of Cæsar is avenged even with the swords that killed him.
SCENE-A PUBLIC PLACE.
Flourish. Enter CÆSAR; ANTONY, for the course; CALPURNIA,
PORTIA, DECIUS, BRUTUS, Cassius, and CASCA; a great crowd following, among them a Soothsayer.
Sooth. Beware* the ides of March.
What man is that?
[Sennet. Exeunt all except Brutus and Cassius.
* I do lack some part
I'll leave you.
And show of love as I was wont to have:
[Flourish, and shout.
Ay, do you fear it ? Then must I think you would not have it so.
Cas. I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,
He had a fever when he was in Spain;
Did lose his lustre: I did hear him groan:
[Shout. Flourish. 80
Cas. Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
100 When went there by an age, since the great flood, But it was famed with more than with one man ? When could they say till now, that talked of Rome, That her wide walls encompassed but one man ? Now is it Rome indeed and room enough, When there is in it but one only man.Oh, you and I have heard our fathers say, There was a Brutus once that would have brooked The eternal devil to keep his state in Rome As easily as a king.
110 Bru. That you do love me, I am nothing jealous; What
you would work me to, I have some aim :
120 Brutus had rather be a villager,
Than to repute himself a son of Rome
Cas. I am glad that my weak words
Bru. The games are done, and Cæsar is returning.
Cas. As they pass by, pluck Casca by the sleeve;
Cas. Casca will tell us what the matter is.
Ant. Fear him not, Cæsar; he's not dangerous :
Cos. Would he were fatter! But I fear him not:
160 Than what I fear; for always I am Cæsar. Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf, And tell me truly what thou think’st of him.
[Sennet. Exeunt Cæsar and all his Train, but Casca. Casca. You pulled me by the cloak; would you speak with
me ? Bru. Ay, Casca ; tell us what hath chanced to-day, That Cæsar looks so sad.