The Works of William Shakespeare
Julius Caesar

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JULIUS CAESAR ACT I SCENE III

SCENE

A street. Thunder and lightning.

 

Enter, from opposite sides, Casca, with his sword drawn, and Cicero.

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

Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero,

I have seen tempests when the scolding winds

Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen

The 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?

CASCA

A common slave- you know him well by sight-

Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn

Like twenty torches join'd, and yet his hand

Not sensible of fire remain'd unscorch'd.

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

Against the Capitol I met a lion,

Who glaz'd upon me and went surly by

Without annoying me. And there were drawn

Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women

Transformed 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 noonday upon the marketplace,

Howling 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-disposed 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 Antonio

Send word to you he would be there tomorrow.

CICERO

Good then, Casca. This disturbed sky

Is not to walk in.

CASCA

Farewell, Cicero.

Exit Cicero.

Enter Cassius.

CASSIUS

Who's there?

CASCA

A Roman.

CASSIUS

Casca, by your voice.

CASCA

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

CASSIUS

A very pleasing night to honest men.

CASCA

Who ever knew the heavens menace so?

CASSIUS

Those that have known the earth so full of faults.

For my part, I have walk'd about the streets,

Submitting me unto the perilous night,

And thus unbraced, Casca, as you see,

Have bared my bosom to the thunderstone;

And when the cross blue lightning seem'd 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?

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,

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, fools, and children calculate,

Why all these things change from their ordinance,

Their natures, and preformed 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?

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 govern'd 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.

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.

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.

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 arm'd,

And dangers are to me indifferent.

CASCA

You speak to Casca, and to such a man

That is no fleering tell-tale. 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

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.

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?

CINNA

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

CASSIUS

No, it is Casca, one incorporate

To our attempts. Am I not stay'd for, Cinna?

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 stay'd for? Tell me.

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,

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

And so bestow these papers as you bade me.

CASSIUS

That done, repair to Pompey's Theatre.

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.

CASCA

O, 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,

For it is after midnight, and ere day

We will awake him and be sure of him.

Exeunt.

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