Rome. Before the capitol; the Senate sitting above.
(Caesar; Brutus; Cassius; Casca; Decius; Metellus; Trebonius; Cinna; Antony; Lepidus; Artemidorus; Publius; Popilius; Soothsayer; Caesar’s Servant; Octavius’s Attendant)
Caesar points out to the Soothsayer that it is the Ides of March, but the Soothsayer remind him that they are not yet over. Artemidorus attempts to give his letter to Caesar, but the latter insists that since it concerns him, he will deal with it last. The conspirators slowly surround Caesar, and at an opportune moment stab him to death. The bystanders flee in terror. Caesar’s last thought is horror at the realization that Brutus is one of the conspirators. The conspirators bathe their hands in Caesar’s blood, hoping to make it a holy act. A messenger from Antony asks to be allowed to approach in safety, promising to pledge allegiance to Brutus if he can give a good reason for Caesar’s death. Cassius is uncertain, but Brutus is sure he will be able to win Antony over. Antony enters and shakes hands with the conspirators, agreeing to wait until they have calmed the commoners down before anything else happens. Antony cannot keep himself from praising Caesar a bit too much for present company. He asks permission to deliver Caesar’s funeral oration; Brutus agrees, since he plans to explain the murder first and thus imagines that all will be safe. Cassius grows ever more worried. Left alone with the corpse, Antoyn speaks to Caesar, begging his pardon for being so gentle but promising revenge. He sends a message to Caesar’s nephew Octavius, who is outside Rome, warning him not to enter yet, as it is not safe. He carries Caesar’s corpse to the Forum. (316 lines)
Flourish. Enter Caesar, Brutus, Cassius, Casca, Decius, Metellus, Trebonius, Cinna, Antony, Lepidus, Artemidorus, Publius, Popilius, and the Soothsayer.
The ides of March are come.
Ay, Caesar, but not gone.
Hail, Caesar! Read this schedule.
Trebonius doth desire you to o’er-read
(At your best leisure) this his humble suit.
O Caesar, read mine first; for mine’s a suit
That touches Caesar nearer. Read it, great Caesar.
What touches us ourself shall be last serv’d.
Delay not, Caesar, read it instantly.
What, is the fellow mad?
Sirrah, give place.
What, urge you your petitions in the street?
Come to the Capitol.
Caesar enters the Capitol, the rest following.
I wish your enterprise today may thrive.
What enterprise, Popilius?
Fare you well.
Leaves him and joins Caesar.
What said Popilius Lena?
He wish’d today our enterprise might thrive.
I fear our purpose is discovered.
Look how he makes to Caesar; mark him.
Casca, be sudden, for we fear prevention.
Brutus, what shall be done? If this be known,
Cassius or Caesar never shall turn back,
For I will slay myself.
Cassius, be constant;
Popilius Lena speaks not of our purposes,
For look he smiles, and Caesar doth not change.
Trebonius knows his time; for look you, Brutus,
He draws Mark Antony out of the way.
Exeunt Antony and Trebonius.
Where is Metellus Cimber? Let him go
And presently prefer his suit to Caesar.
He is address’d; press near and second him.
Casca, you are the first that rears your hand.
Are we all ready? What is now amiss
That Caesar and his Senate must redress?
Most high, most mighty, and most puissant Caesar,
Metellus Cimber throws before thy seat
An humble heart.
I must prevent thee, Cimber.
These couchings and these lowly courtesies
Might fire the blood of ordinary men,
And turn preordinance and first decree
Into the law of children. Be not fond
To think that Caesar bears such rebel blood
That will be thaw’d from the true quality
With that which melteth fools—I mean sweet words,
Low-crooked curtsies, and base spaniel fawning.
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.
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?
I kiss thy hand, but not in flattery, Caesar;
Desiring thee that Publius Cimber may
Have an immediate freedom of repeal.
Pardon, Caesar! Caesar, pardon!
As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall,
To beg enfranchisement for Publius Cimber.
I could be well mov’d, 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.
The skies are painted with unnumb’red sparks,
They are all fire, and every one doth shine;
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place.
So in the world: ’tis furnish’d well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshak’d of motion; and that I am he,
Let me a little show it, even in this—
That I was constant Cimber should be banish’d,
And constant do remain to keep him so.
Hence! Wilt thou lift up Olympus?
Doth not Brutus bootless kneel?
Speak hands for me!
They stab Caesar.
Et tu, Brute?—Then fall Caesar!
Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!
Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.
Some to the common pulpits, and cry out,
“Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!”
People and senators, be not affrighted;
Fly not, stand still; ambition’s debt is paid.
Go to the pulpit, Brutus.
And Cassius too.
Here, quite confounded with this mutiny.
Stand fast together, lest some friend of Caesar’s
Talk not of standing. Publius, good cheer,
There is no harm intended to your person,
Nor to no Roman else. So tell them, Publius.
And leave us, Publius, lest that the people,
Rushing on us, should do your age some mischief.
Do so, and let no man abide this deed,
But we the doers.
Exeunt all but the Conspirators.
Where is Antony?
Fled to his house amaz’d.
Men, wives, and children stare, cry out, and run,
As it were doomsday.
Fates, we will know your pleasures.
That we shall die, we know, ’tis but the time,
And drawing days out, that men stand upon.
Why, he that cuts off twenty years of life
Cuts off so many years of fearing death.
Grant that, and then is death a benefit;
So are we Caesar’s friends, that have abridg’d
His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop,
And let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood
Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords;
Then walk we forth, even to the market-place,
And waving our red weapons o’er our heads,
Let’s all cry, “Peace, freedom, and liberty!”
Stoop then, and wash. How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!
How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,
That now on Pompey’s basis lies along
No worthier than the dust!
So oft as that shall be,
So often shall the knot of us be call’d
The men that gave their country liberty.
What, shall we forth?
Ay, every man away.
Brutus shall lead, and we will grace his heels
With the most boldest and best hearts of Rome.
Enter a Servant.
Soft, who comes here? A friend of Antony’s.
Thus, Brutus, did my master bid me kneel;
Thus did Mark Antony bid me fall down;
And being prostrate, thus he bade me say:
Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and honest;
Caesar was mighty, bold, royal, and loving.
Say, I love Brutus, and I honor him;
Say, I fear’d Caesar, honor’d him, and lov’d him.
If Brutus will vouchsafe that Antony
May safely come to him, and be resolv’d
How Caesar hath deserv’d to lie in death,
Mark Antony shall not love Caesar dead
So well as Brutus living; but will follow
The fortunes and affairs of noble Brutus
Thorough the hazards of this untrod state
With all true faith. So says my master Antony.
Thy master is a wise and valiant Roman,
I never thought him worse.
Tell him, so please him come unto this place,
He shall be satisfied; and, by my honor,
I’ll fetch him presently.
I know that we shall have him well to friend.
I wish we may; but yet have I a mind
That fears him much; and my misgiving still
Falls shrewdly to the purpose.
But here comes Antony. Welcome, Mark 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’s 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,
Fulfill 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.
O Antony! Beg not your death of us.
Though now we must appear bloody and cruel,
As by our hands and this our present act
You see we do, 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, Mark Antony;
Our arms in strength of malice, and our hearts
Of brothers’ temper, do receive you in
With all kind love, good thoughts, and reverence.
Your voice shall be as strong as any man’s
In the disposing of new dignities.
Only be patient till we have appeas’d
The multitude, beside themselves with fear,
And then we will deliver you the cause
Why I, that did love Caesar when I strook him,
Have thus proceeded.
I doubt not of your wisdom.
Let each man render me his bloody hand.
First, Marcus Brutus, will I shake with you;
Next, Caius Cassius, do I take your hand;
Now, Decius Brutus, yours; now yours, Metellus;
Yours, Cinna; and, my valiant Casca, yours;
Though last, not least in love, yours, good Trebonius.
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 thy Antony making his peace,
Shaking the bloody fingers of thy foes,
Most noble! In the presence of thy corse?
Had I as many eyes as thou hast wounds,
Weeping as fast as they stream forth thy blood,
It would become me better than to close
In terms of friendship with thine enemies.
Pardon me, Julius! Here wast thou bay’d, brave hart,
Here didst thou fall, and here thy hunters stand,
Sign’d in thy spoil, and crimson’d in thy lethe.
O world! Thou wast the forest to this hart,
And this indeed, O world, the heart of thee.
How like a deer, strooken by many princes,
Dost thou here lie!
Pardon me, Caius Cassius!
The enemies of Caesar shall say this:
Then, in a friend, it is cold modesty.
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?
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.
Or else were this a savage spectacle.
Our reasons are so full of good regard
That were you, Antony, the son of Caesar,
You should be satisfied.
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.
You shall, Mark Antony.
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 mov’d
By that which he will utter?
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;
And that we are contented Caesar shall
Have all true rites and lawful ceremonies.
It shall advantage more than do us wrong.
I know not what may fall, I like it not.
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’t 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.
Be it so;
I do desire no more.
Prepare the body then, and follow us.
Exeunt. Manet 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)
A curse 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 quartered with the hands of war;
All pity chok’d 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.
Enter Octavius’s Attendant.
You serve Octavius Caesar, do you not?
I do, Mark Antony.
Caesar did write for him to come to Rome.
He did receive his letters, and is coming,
And bid me say to you by word of mouth—
Seeing the body.
Thy heart is big; get thee apart and weep.
Passion, I see, is catching, for mine eyes,
Seeing those beads of sorrow stand in thine,
Began to water. Is thy master coming?
He lies tonight within seven leagues of Rome.
Post back with speed, and tell him what hath chanc’d.
Here is a mourning Rome, a dangerous Rome,
No Rome of safety for Octavius yet;
Hie hence, and tell him so. Yet stay awhile,
Thou shalt not back till I have borne this corse
Into the market-place. There shall I try,
In my oration, how the people take
The cruel issue of these bloody men,
According to the which thou shalt discourse
To young Octavius of the state of things.
Lend me your hand.
Exeunt with Caesar’s body.