(From Act III Scene 2)
Note: Questions & Answers are also included.
The play opens with Julius Caesar’s victorious return to Romeafter defeating the sons of Pompey. While people rejoice, there is a group which fears that all these victories would get into Caesar’shead and he would cease to be democratic. Cassius, Brutus andothers plot to kill Caesar. A soothsayer (astrologer) warns Caesar about the “ides of March”. Calphurnia, Caesar’s wife, forbids him from going to the Senate House as she has had bad dreams. Decius Brutus, one of the conspirators, convinces Caesar to come to the Senate House.
At the Senate House, the conspirators surround Caesar. Casca is the first to stab him. Caesar is shocked when he sees his friend Marcus Brutus with a sword. With an anguished cry of Et tu, Brute? (You too Brutus) he dies.
Mark Antony, Caesar’s trusted friend, meets the murderers and requests them to allow him to take Caesar’s body to the market place. Marcus Brutus agrees, but warns Antony not to blame them in his funeral speech.
In Act III Scene 2, Brutus justifies the murder of Caesar. But Mark Antony, with his eloquence, wins the public over to his side.The result is that a riot breaks out and people are moved to a frenzy to avenge the murder of Caesar. Cassius and Brutus flee Rome, and Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar and Amelius Lepidus become the ‘triumvirs’. At the battle of Philippi, the forces of Cassius and Marcus Brutus are defeated, and true to his word, Brutus kills himself with his sword.
Note: This extract is known for the funeral orations of Brutus and Mark Antony.
Brutus: Be patient till the last.
Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my cause,
and be silent, that you may hear: believe me for mine
honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may
believe: censure me in your wisdom, and awake your
senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this
assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say that
Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his. If, then, that
friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my
answer,—not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved 10
Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living, and die
all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men?
As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate,
I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he
was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his
love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death
for his ambition. Who is here so base that would be a
bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any,
speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that
will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I
offended. I pause for a reply.
Citizens: None, Brutus, none.
Brutus: Then none have I offended. I have done no
more to Caesar than you shall do to Brutus.
Enter ANTONY and others, with CAESAR’S body
Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony, who,
though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit
of his dying, a place in the commonwealth; as which of
you shall not? With this I depart,—that, as I slew my best
lover for the good of Rome, I have the same
dagger for myself, when it shall please my country
to need my death.
Antony: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me
your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,—
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men,—
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once,—not without cause:
What cause withholds you, then, to mourn for him?
O judg’ment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason!—Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
First Citizen: Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.
Second Citizen: If thou consider rightly of the matter, Caesar has had great wrong.
Third Citizen: Has he, masters?
I fear there will a worse come in his place.
Fourth Citizen: Mark’d ye his words? He would not take the crown;
Therefore ’tis certain he was not ambitious.
First Citizen: If it be found so, some will dear abide it.
Second Citizen: Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping.
Third Citizen: There’s not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.
Fourth Citizen: Now mark him, he begins again to speak.
Antony: But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world: now lies he there,
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters, if I were dispos’d to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself, and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet,—’tis his will:
Let but the commons hear this testament,—
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read,—
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar’s wounds,
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood;
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.
Antony: If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle: I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on;
’Twas on a summer’s evening, in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii :—
Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through:
See what a rent the envious Casca made:
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb’d;
And, as he pluck’d his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar follow’d it,
As rushing out of doors, to be resolv’d
If Brutus so unkindly knock’d, or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel:
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar lov’d him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
In gratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
Quite vanquished him: then burst his mighty heart;
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey’s statue,
Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Antony: Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny:
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him:
For I have neither wit, not words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men’s blood: I only speak right on;
I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
Show you sweet Caesar’s wounds, poor poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar, that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.