Rome. A street.
(Flavius; Murellus; Commoners)
Rome is filled with celebrating commoners taking a day off work to go see Caesar’s triumphant return from the civil wars. The tribunes Flavius and Murellus reproach them and order them to get back to work, accusing them of hypocrisy for celebrating the man who destroyed Pompey, their former idol. Flavius suggests that they go about tearing down the decorations set up for Caesar’s return. Murellus, more cautious, is uncertain whether they have the right too, as it is a religious feast day, but Flavius insists that the odds of Caesar growing too proud is great enough to take the risk. (65 lines)
Enter Flavius, Murellus, and certain Commoners over the stage.
Hence! Home, you idle creatures, get you home!
Is this a holiday? What, know you not,
Being mechanical, you ought not walk
Upon a laboring day without the sign
Of your profession? Speak, what trade art thou?
Why, sir, a carpenter.
Where is thy leather apron and thy rule?
What dost thou with thy best apparel on?
You, sir, what trade are you?
Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, I am but, as you would say, a cobbler.
But what trade art thou? Answer me directly.
A trade, sir, that I hope I may use with a safe conscience, which is indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.
What trade, thou knave? Thou naughty knave, what trade?
Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me; yet if you be out, sir, I can mend you.
What mean’st thou by that? Mend me, thou saucy fellow?
Why, sir, cobble you.
Thou art a cobbler, art thou?
Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl: I meddle with no tradesman’s matters, nor women’s matters; but withal 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.
But wherefore art not in thy shop today?
Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?
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.
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 tow’rs and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
Your infants in your arms, and there have sate
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?
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.
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 whe’er their basest metal be not mov’d;
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.
May we do so?
You know it is the feast of Lupercal.
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 tearfulness.