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Julius Caesar

by William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 3 Easiest-to-Read Edition

 

 

 

Julius Caesar Act 1, Scene 3



The same. A street

Thunder and lightning. Enter CASCA and CICERO

Thunder and lightning. Enter CASCA and CICERO

CICERO

Good even, Casca. Brought you Caesar home?

Why are you breathless? And why stare you so?

 

CICERO

Good even, Casca. Brought you Caesar home?

Why are you breathless? And why stare you so?

 

CASCA

Are not you moved when all the sway of earth

sway of earth=rule of the earth

Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero,

I have seen tempests when the scolding winds

Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen

rived=split

Th' ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam

To be exalted with the threatening clouds,

to be exalted with=to be at a height with

But never till tonight, never till now,

Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.

tempest=storm

Either there is a civil strife in heaven,

civil strife in heaven=war between the gods

Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,

Incenses them to send destruction.

 

CASCA

Are not you moved when all the sway of earth

Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero,

I have seen tempests when the scolding winds

Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen

Th' ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam

To be exalted with the threatening clouds,

But never till tonight, never till now,

Did I go through a tempest dropping fire.

Either there is a civil strife in heaven,

Or else the world, too saucy with the gods,

Incenses them to send destruction.

 

CICERO

Why, saw you anything more wonderful [than what I saw]?

 

CICERO

Why, saw you anything more wonderful?

 

CASCA

A common slave—you know him well by sight—

Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn

Like twenty torches joined, and yet his hand,

Not sensible of fire, remained unscorched.

Besides—I ha' not since put up my sword—

Against the Capitol I met a lion

against=opposite

Who glared upon me and went surly by

Without annoying me, and there were drawn

Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,

drawn upon a heap=huddled together

Transformèd with their fear, who swore they saw

Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.

And yesterday the bird of night did sit

bird of might=screech-owl (an omen)

Even at noon-day upon the marketplace,

Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies

prodigies=monstrous events

Do so conjointly meet, let not men say,

“These are their reasons. They are natural.”

these are their reasons=there is a rational explanation

For I believe they are portentous things

portentous=forecasting

Unto the climate that they point upon.

(relating to their local region)

 

CASCA

A common slave—you know him well by sight—

Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn

Like twenty torches joined, and yet his hand,

Not sensible of fire, remained unscorched.

Besides—I ha' not since put up my sword—

Against the Capitol I met a lion,

Who glared upon me and went surly by,

Without annoying me. And there were drawn

Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women,

Transformèd with their fear, who swore they saw

Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.

And yesterday the bird of night did sit

Even at noon-day upon the marketplace,

Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies

Do so conjointly meet, let not men say,

“These are their reasons. They are natural.”

For I believe they are portentous things

Unto the climate that they point upon.

 

CICERO

Indeed, it is a strange-disposèd time.

strange-disposed=unusual

But men may construe things, after their fashion,

Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.

(contrary to their actual significance)

Comes Caesar to the Capitol tomorrow?

 

CICERO

Indeed, it is a strange-disposèd time.

But men may construe things after their fashion,

Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.

Comes Caesar to the Capitol tomorrow?

 

CASCA

He doth, for he did bid Antonius

Send word to you he would be there tomorrow.

 

CASCA

He doth, for he did bid Antonius

Send word to you he would be there tomorrow.

 

CICERO

Good night then, Casca. This disturbèd sky

Is not to walk in.

 

CICERO

Good night then, Casca. This disturbèd sky

Is not to walk in.

 

CASCA

Farewell, Cicero.

 

CASCA

Farewell, Cicero.

 

Exit CICERO

Exit CICERO

Enter CASSIUS

Enter CASSIUS

CASSIUS

Who’s there?

 

CASSIUS

Who’s there?

 

CASCA

   A Roman.

 

CASCA

   A Roman.

 

CASSIUS

    Casca, by your voice.

 

CASSIUS

    Casca, by your voice.

 

CASCA

Your ear is good. Cassius, what [a] night is this!

 

CASCA

Your ear is good. Cassius, what night is this!

 

CASSIUS

A very pleasing night to honest men.

 

CASSIUS

A very pleasing night to honest men.

 

CASCA

Who ever knew the heavens menace so?

 

CASCA

Who ever knew the heavens menace so?

 

CASSIUS

Those that have known the earth so full of faults.

For my part, I have walked about the streets,

Submitting me unto the perilous night,

And, thus unbracèd, Casca, as you see,

unbraced=with jacket unfastened

Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone,

thunder-stone=thunder bolt

And, when the cross blue lightning seemed to open

cross=slanting

The breast of heaven, I did present myself

Even in the aim and very flash of it.

in the aim=where it seemed to be aiming

 

CASSIUS

Those that have known the earth so full of faults.

For my part, I have walked about the streets,

Submitting me unto the perilous night,

And, thus unbracèd, Casca, as you see,

Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone.

And when the cross blue lightning seemed to open

The breast of heaven, I did present myself

Even in the aim and very flash of it.

 

CASCA

But wherefore did you so much tempt the heavens?

wherefore=why

It is the part of men to fear and tremble

When the most mighty gods by tokens send

tokens=signs

Such dreadful heralds to astonish us.

 

CASCA

But wherefore did you so much tempt the heavens?

It is the part of men to fear and tremble

When the most mighty gods by tokens send

Such dreadful heralds to astonish us.

 

CASSIUS

You are dull, Casca, and those sparks of life

That should be in a Roman you do want (lack),

Or else you use [them] not. You look pale and gaze

And put on fear and cast yourself in wonder

put on fear=dress yourself in fear

cast yourself in wonder=push yourself to be an amazed person

To see the strange impatience of the heavens,

But if you would consider the true cause

Why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts [appear],

Why birds and beasts from quality and kind [change],

quality and kind=original disposition and nature

Why old men, fools, and children calculate (prophesy using calculations),

Why all these things change from their ordinance

Their natures and preformèd faculties

To monstrous quality—why, you shall find

(why they change from their ordinary natures to monsters)

That heaven hath infused them with these spirits

To make them instruments of fear and warning

Unto (of) some monstrous state.

Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man

Most like this dreadful night,

That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars

As doth the lion in the Capitol—

A man no mightier than thyself or me

In personal action, yet prodigious grown

prodigious=huge

And fearful as these strange eruptions are.

fearful=frightening

 

CASSIUS

You are dull, Casca, and those sparks of life

That should be in a Roman you do want,

Or else you use not. You look pale, and gaze,

And put on fear, and cast yourself in wonder

To see the strange impatience of the heavens.

But if you would consider the true cause

Why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts,

Why birds and beasts from quality and kind,

Why old men fool and children calculate,

Why all these things change from their ordinance

Their natures and preformèd faculties

To monstrous quality—why, you shall find

That heaven hath infused them with these spirits

To make them instruments of fear and warning

Unto some monstrous state.

Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man

Most like this dreadful night,

That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars

As doth the lion in the Capitol—

A man no mightier than thyself or me

In personal action, yet prodigious grown,

And fearful as these strange eruptions are.

 

CASCA

'Tis Caesar that you mean. Is it not, Cassius?

 

CASCA

'Tis Caesar that you mean. Is it not, Cassius?

 

CASSIUS

Let it be who it is. For Romans now

Have thews and limbs like to their ancestors,

thews=sinews

But—woe the while!—our fathers' minds are dead,

woe the while=alas, the times

And we are governed with our mothers' spirits.

Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish.

yoke and sufferance=burden and willingness to endure it

 

CASSIUS

Let it be who it is. For Romans now

Have thews and limbs like to their ancestors,

But—woe the while!—our fathers' minds are dead,

And we are governed with our mothers' spirits.

Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish.

 

CASCA

Indeed, they say the senators tomorrow

Mean to establish Caesar as a king,

And he shall wear his crown by sea and land

In every place save here in Italy.

 

CASCA

Indeed, they say the senators tomorrow

Mean to establish Caesar as a king,

And he shall wear his crown by sea and land

In every place save here in Italy.

 

CASSIUS

I know where I will wear this dagger then.

(he will bury it in his heart)

Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius.

Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong.

Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat.

Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,

Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron

Can be retentive to the strength of spirit.

be retentive to=imprison

But life, being weary of these worldly bars,

bars=barriers

Never lacks power to dismiss itself.

dismiss itself=kill itself

If I know this, know all the world besides,

know all the world=let everyone else know

That part of tyranny that I do bear

I can shake off at pleasure.

 

CASSIUS

I know where I will wear this dagger then.

Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius.

Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong.

Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat.

Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,

Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron

Can be retentive to the strength of spirit.

But life, being weary of these worldly bars,

Never lacks power to dismiss itself.

If I know this, know all the world besides,

That part of tyranny that I do bear

I can shake off at pleasure.

 

Thunder still

Thunder still

CASCA

So can I.

So every bondman in his own hand bears

bondman=slave

The power to cancel his captivity.

 

CASCA

   So can I.

So every bondman in his own hand bears

The power to cancel his captivity.

 

CASSIUS

And why should Caesar be a tyrant then?

Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf

But that he sees the Romans are but sheep.

He were no lion were not Romans hinds.

hinds=easy prey (like deer)

Those that with haste will make a mighty fire

Begin it with weak straws. What trash is Rome,

What rubbish and what offal, when it serves

offal=refuse

For (as) the base matter to illuminate

base matter=worthless matter

So vile a thing as Caesar! But, O grief,

grief=Cassius’ grief because of the degradation of Rome

Where hast thou led me? I perhaps speak this

Before a willing bondman. Then I know

willing bondman=supporter of Caesar who might tell on Casca

My answer must be made. But I am armed,

And dangers are to me indifferent.

 

CASSIUS

And why should Caesar be a tyrant then?

Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf

But that he sees the Romans are but sheep.

He were no lion were not Romans hinds.

Those that with haste will make a mighty fire

Begin it with weak straws. What trash is Rome,

What rubbish and what offal, when it serves

For the base matter to illuminate

So vile a thing as Caesar! But, O grief,

Where hast thou led me? I perhaps speak this

Before a willing bondman. Then I know

My answer must be made. But I am armed,

And dangers are to me indifferent.

 

CASCA

You speak to Casca and to such a man

That is no fleering telltale. Hold, my hand.

fleering telltale=sneering tattletale

hold=offers his hand to confirm the bargain

Be factious for redress of all these griefs,

be factious=form a political faction

And I will set this foot of mine as far

As who goes farthest.

who=whoever

 

CASCA

You speak to Casca, and to such a man

That is no fleering telltale. Hold, my hand.

Be factious for redress of all these griefs,

And I will set this foot of mine as far

As who goes farthest.

 

CASSIUS

There’s a bargain made.

Now know you, Casca, I have moved already

Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans

To undergo with me an enterprise

Of honorable-dangerous consequence,

And I do know by this they stay for me

stay=wait

In Pompey’s porch. For now, this fearful night,

There is no stir or walking in the streets,

And the complexion of the element

element=sky

In favor’s like the work we have in hand,

in favor’s=in appearance is

Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.

 

CASSIUS

    There’s a bargain made.

Now know you, Casca, I have moved already

Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans

To undergo with me an enterprise

Of honorable-dangerous consequence.

And I do know by this they stay for me

In Pompey’s porch. For now, this fearful night,

There is no stir or walking in the streets,

And the complexion of the element

In favor’s like the work we have in hand,

Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.

 

Enter CINNA

Enter CINNA

CASCA

Stand close awhile, for here comes one in haste.

 

CASCA

Stand close awhile, for here comes one in haste.

 

CASSIUS

'Tis Cinna. I do know him by his gait.

He is a friend.—Cinna, where haste you so?

 

CASSIUS

'Tis Cinna. I do know him by his gait.

He is a friend.—Cinna, where haste you so?

 

CINNA

To find out you. Who’s that? Metellus Cimber?

 

CINNA

To find out you. Who’s that? Metellus Cimber?

 

CASSIUS

No, it is Casca, one incorporate

To our attempts. Am I not stayed for, Cinna?

stayed for=waited for

 

CASSIUS

No, it is Casca, one incorporate

To our attempts. Am I not stayed for, Cinna?

 

CINNA

I am glad on ’t. What a fearful night is this!

glad on’t=glad that it is Casca

There’s two or three of us have seen strange sights.

 

CINNA

I am glad on ’t. What a fearful night is this!

There’s two or three of us have seen strange sights.

 

CASSIUS

Am I not stayed for? Tell me.

 

CASSIUS

Am I not stayed for? Tell me.

 

CINNA

Yes, you are.

O Cassius, if you could

But win the noble Brutus to our party—

 

CINNA

Yes, you are.

O Cassius, if you could

But win the noble Brutus to our party—

 

CASSIUS

Be you content. Good Cinna, take this paper,

And look you lay it in the praetor’s chair

praetor’s chair=judge’s chair where Brutus sits

Where Brutus may but find it. And throw this

In at his window. Set this up with wax

Upon old Brutus' statue. All this done,

old Brutus=a figure in history from several hundred years earlier

Repair to Pompey’s porch, where you shall find us.

Pompey’s porch=portico of a theater built in 55 B.C.E. by Pompey

Is Decius Brutus and Trebonius there?

 

CASSIUS

Be you content. Good Cinna, take this paper,

And look you lay it in the praetor’s chair

Where Brutus may but find it. And throw this

In at his window. Set this up with wax

Upon old Brutus' statue. All this done,

Repair to Pompey’s porch, where you shall find us.

Is Decius Brutus and Trebonius there?

 

CINNA

All but Metellus Cimber, and he’s gone

To seek you at your house. Well, I will hie,

hie=make haste

And so bestow these papers as you bade me.

 

CINNA

All but Metellus Cimber, and he’s gone

To seek you at your house. Well, I will hie,

And so bestow these papers as you bade me.

 

CASSIUS

That done, repair to Pompey’s theatre.

 

CASSIUS

That done, repair to Pompey’s theatre.

 

Exit CINNA

Exit CINNA

Come, Casca, you and I will yet ere day

See Brutus at his house. Three parts of him

Is ours already, and the man entire

Upon the next encounter yields him ours.

 

Come, Casca, you and I will yet ere day

See Brutus at his house. Three parts of him

Is ours already, and the man entire

Upon the next encounter yields him ours.

 

CASCA

Oh, he sits high in all the people’s hearts,

And that which would appear offense in us,

His countenance, like richest alchemy,

(alchemy sought to transform base metals to gold)

Will change to virtue and to worthiness.

 

CASCA

Oh, he sits high in all the people’s hearts,

And that which would appear offense in us,

His countenance, like richest alchemy,

Will change to virtue and to worthiness.

 

CASSIUS

Him and his worth and our great need of him

You have right well conceited. Let us go,

conceited=imagined

For it is after midnight, and ere day

We will awake him and be sure of him.

 

CASSIUS

Him and his worth and our great need of him

You have right well conceited. Let us go,

For it is after midnight, and ere day

We will awake him and be sure of him.

 

Exeunt

Exeunt

 

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