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Julius Caesar Commentary - Act I. en

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Julius Caesar Commentary provides a comprehensive description of Study Guides
Hamlet
every act with explanations and translations for all important quotes. Julius Caesar
King Henry IV
Act I. Scene I. - Rome. A Street. King Lear
Macbeth
Flavius: "Who else would soar above the view of men / And keep us all in Merchant of Venice
Othello
servile fearfulness." Romeo and Juliet
The Tempest
Two Tribunes, Marullus and Flavius scold Roman citizens for Twelfth Night

worshipping Caesar almost blindly. Their conversation reveals deep- Trivia


seated fears that Caesar is growing too powerful, too arrogant and Authorship
Bard Facts
must be stopped. Hoping to reduce the blind worship of Caesar by Bibliography
Biography
Roman citizens, the two men remove scarves off Caesar's images or FAQ
statues despite the obvious danger... Films
Globe Theatre
The date by history is 44 BC. Again by historical record we know that Pictures
Quiz
Caesar has just returned from his victory in the land we now call Spain Timeline
against the sons of Pompey the Great, an enemy Caesar has already killed.
The play begins with two tribunes, Flavius and Marullus, questioning why
several tradesmen are not about their work, but instead appear to be idle.
The First Commoner, a carpenter by trade, answers the two tribunes
politely as to his trade, but the Second Commoner, a cobbler, angers
Marullus with his cryptic replies to Marullus' straightforward questioning
(Lines 12-35).
Flavius being more patient, eventually learns that the tradesman are idle
(not busy about their work) because they have chosen to take a holiday "to
see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph" (Line 34).
Marullus now sums up the fear other tribunes and officials like himself are
having of Caesar's growing popularity. He asks why the people of Rome
should be rejoicing, asking, "What conquest brings he home? What
tributaries follow him to Rome / To grace in captive bonds his chariot
wheels?" (Lines 35-37).
Marullus now asks why the people of Rome have so quickly forgotten
Pompey, remarking on how so many a time, these very same citizens
would climb walls, their infants in their arms, waiting to hear this great
man speak.
Marullus then recalls how Roman citizens would roar their approval so
loudly of Pompey, that the "Tiber [a river inside Rome] trembled
underneath her banks," (Line 49) and yet these same people now come out
in their best attire or best clothes to "strew flowers" in the way of the man
who killed Pompey, Julius Caesar (Lines 52-54).
Marullus says such people should be gone and that these cruel Romans
should "Run to your houses, fall upon your knees, / Pray to the gods to
intermit the plague / That needs must light on this ingratitude" (Lines 57-
59).
Flavius echoes Marullus's sentiments, telling these same countrymen to
"Assemble all the poor men of your sort;" (Line 61) to the banks of the
river Tiber where they can weep their tears into the channel of this river
64).
Seemingly convinced, the commoners now depart, leaving Marullus and Flavius to talk further.
Flavius comments on how the commoners have vanished "tongue-tied in their guiltiness" (Line
66) and now he suggests that both he and Marullus should head their separate ways where they
will both, "Disrobe the images" (remove ceremonial decorations from Caesar statues), (Line 68)
should they find them "deck'd with ceremonies" (covered in celebration of Caesar's triumph in
Spain), (Line 69).
Marullus has his doubts. Is it a wise to take down decorations when it is the Feast of Lupercal (an
ancient Roman day of celebration), he asks?
Flavius is certain it must be done, telling Marullus, "let no images / Be hung with Caesar's
trophies" (Line 72). Flavius "will drive away the vulgar from the streets:" as should his friend
(Line 74).
Flavius now explains his reasons for disrobing the ceremonial images...
Flavius: "These growing feathers pluck'd [removed] from Caesar's wing / Will make him fly an
ordinary pitch [stop him from flying too high], / Who else would soar above the view of men /
And keep us all in servile fearfulness" (Lines 76-End of Scene).
If men like Flavius do not clip Caesar's ambitions quickly, he may rise so high that they may
never be able to stop him and instead of stopping Caesar, they will instead become his servants...
Act I. Scene II. - The Same. A Public Place.
The Soothsayer: "Beware the ides of March."
Caesar leads a procession through the streets of Rome. A Soothsayer or fortuneteller tells
Caesar to beware the "ides of March" a warning that Caesar will die on this day. It is
ignored. Cassius starts to recruit Brutus towards a conspiracy by implying that Caesar is
becoming too powerful... Brutus is suspicious but tells Cassius that he will think it over...
Casca reveals information to Brutus that suggests Caesar may be getting more ambitious...
Accompanied to the sounds of music, Caesar and his train now appear. Caesar's train is
extensive, numbering his close friend Mark Antony, his wife Calphurnia, Brutus' wife Portia,
Decius Brutus (not to be confused with Marcus Brutus, known as Brutus), Cicero, Brutus,
Cassius and Casca.
A large crowd follows Caesar, among them a Soothsayer (Fortune teller).
Caesar now commands his wife Calphurnia to stand in Mark Antony's way and he instructs Mark
Antony who is soon to become a holy runner for running in the race of Lupercal, "To touch
Calphurnia;" (Line 6).
Like many of his time, Caesar, believed that "The barren [Calphurnia, his wife], touched in this
holy chase," [touched by Mark Antony who will be running in the race of Lupercal] will be able
to shake off her "sterile curse" (Calphurnia's sterility), (Line 8).
A Soothsayer calls out Caesar's name, and the crowd, once noisy, is made silent at Casca's
demand on Caesar's behalf (Lines 12-16).
Caesar turns to hear this voice "shriller than all the music," (Line 16), and this same Soothsayer
tells Caesar to "Beware the ides of March [the 15th of March]" (Line 18).
These prophetic words are now immediately dismissed by Casca as the words of a "dreamer;"
and the procession continues along its way (Line 25).
With the rest of the procession continuing along its way, Brutus and Cassius are left alone to
ponder the day's events...
When Cassius asks Brutus (full name Marcus Brutus), "Will you go see the order of the course?"
(will you see the rest of the procession), (Line 25), we learn that Brutus will not and we see the
first hints that all may not be well between Caesar and his good friend Brutus...
Cassius, intrigued, urges his friend to do so, but Brutus politely explains that he lacks in some
part "that quick spirit that is in Antony" (Line 29). He tells Cassius that he does not want to
hinder Cassius' desires and prepares to leave Cassius (Lines 29-31).
Cassius, however is not so quickly dismissed, and wants to know more from his good friend
Brutus...
Cassius now begins to probe Brutus as to where his loyalties truly lie. He notes that he has not
seen from Brutus' eyes,"that gentleness / And show of love as I was wont to have:" (Line 33).
Instead Cassius sees that Brutus now bears "too stubborn and too strange a hand / Over your
friend [Cassius] that loves you" (Line 35).
Brutus tries to downplay his change of character to Cassius...
Brutus :"Cassius, / Be not deceiv'd: if I have veiled my look, I turn the trouble of my
countenance / Merely upon myself" (Line 36).
Brutus tells Cassius that he has been troubled lately "with passions of some difference," (Line
40). Cassius however should not be overly concerned. He still loves his friends of which he
counts Cassius as one.
Cassius now concedes that he must have misinterpreted Brutus' behavior and now Cassius asks
Brutus "can you see your face?" (Line 51).
Brutus replies no, since an eye cannot see itself. Cassius now agrees, adding that this is a shame
for it prevents Brutus from seeing his own worthiness, this being so great that Cassius explains
that Brutus' virtue is exceeded only by "immortal Caesar,-" himself (Line 60).
Brutus is now very skeptical, asking Cassius, "Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius /
That you would have me seek into myself / For that which is not in me?" (into what dangers or
for what reasons Cassius are you trying to make me seek out what is not in my nature?), (Line
63).
Cassius interrupted now by shouting, returns to his conversation with Brutus, Brutus telling
Cassius that, "I do fear the people / Choose Caesar for their king" (Line 79).
Seizing his chance, Cassius now asks Brutus whether he would fear this and crucially that he
must think Brutus would prefer this not to happen (Line 80).
Now Brutus in his first major speech explains to Cassius that yes he would prefer Caesar not to
be made king and yes, he does love Caesar well, but to what end is Cassius holding him and to
tell him what information?
Brutus now adds in a major insight into his character that if it is for the common good, he is
supportive, for as Brutus explains, "I love / The name of honour more than I fear death" (Line
89).
Cassius now replies that yes, he knows this virtue to be within Brutus and now Cassius starts to
say more, describing his subject as one dealing with honor.
Cassius explains that, "I was born free as Caesar; so were you:", they have both been fed as well
and they both can "Endure the winter's cold as well as he:" (Lines 96-99).
Cassius now explains how once both he and Caesar crossed "The troubled Tiber [a river within
Rome] chafing [crashing / beating] with her shores" (Line 101), where Caesar himself begged for
Cassius' help in their crossing. Yet now this man, who once was so frail and vulnerable, is now a
god? (Line 116). Cassius also adds that this "god," was sick with fever in Spain, acting more like
"a sick girl" than a so-called "god," (Line 128).
Cassius continues his criticism of Caesar, adding amidst the odd shouts of the procession, that
Caesar has become "Like a Collosus; and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs, and peep
about / To find ourselves dishonorable graves" (Lines 135-138).
Famously Cassius finishes his Caesar attack by famously remarking that this problem is of their
own doing...
Cassius: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings"
(the fault dear Brutus lies not in our stars or our fate or destiny but in ourselves that we have
become underlings or subordinates to Caesar), (Line 139).
Cassius now asks how the name Caesar is any better than Brutus and wonders aloud as to exactly
when Rome lost her breed of "noble bloods!" (Line 150) and how suddenly a city the size of
Rome could ever become so small as to only have room enough for "one man?" (Caesar).
Cassius closes for the kill, adding that "There was a Brutus once that would have brook'd [fought
/ challenged] / Th' eternal devil to keep his state in Rome / As easily as a king" (Line 157).
Brutus replies that he is touched that Cassius sees him as an honorable man and he decides to
think over what Cassius has said and will meet Cassius again to discuss such matters. For now,
Brutus will leave Cassius with this one thought...
Brutus: "Brutus had rather be a villager / Than to repute [call] himself a son of Rome / Under
these hard conditions as this time / Is like to lay upon us" (Line 171).
Cassius now is pleased that his concerns have been so well received by Brutus and seeing Caesar
and his procession arrive again, tells Brutus to tug Casca's sleeve to learn more of note from the
days proceedings.
Caesar returns and speaks with Brutus noting that "Cassius has a lean and hungry look; / He
thinks too much: such men are dangerous" (Line 193). This is important, since it shows that even
Caesar has reason to fear Cassius.
Interestingly, Brutus assures his friend Caesar that this is not the case and once Caesar and
company have once again departed, Brutus learns more from Casca.
Specifically, Brutus learns that Mark Antony offered Julius Caesar what appeared to be a crown:
"'twas [it was] one of these coronets;" (Line 235). This was offered to Caesar three times and
each time Mark Antony presented it, Caesar would refuse to wear it.
The first time Caesar was offered the crown, he refused it, but in Casca's opinion "he would fain
have had it" (Line 241).
The second time Caesar was offered the crown, "he was very loath [reluctant] to lay his fingers
off it" and the third time, Caesar refused the crown, it was despite the obvious approval of the
masses who clapped and shouted and "uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Caesar
refused the crown, that it had almost choked Caesar;" (Lines 232-252) for Caesar then
"swounded and fell down at it [the crown]:" (Line 249).
Casca reports that Caesar also appeared to be suffering from "the falling-sickness" (Line 257).
Now Casca adds that Caesar briefly appeared to lose coherence, such that when he thought that
the crowds were glad that he refused the crown, "he plucked me ope his doublet and offered
them his throat to cut" a sure sign that Caesar must want power (Line 265).
Later, when Caesar regained his composure, he told Casca to write off his actions to the people
as infirmity. Caesar also spoke Greek, from which we derive the expression "it was Greek to me"
from Casca when he is questioned by Brutus as to what Caesar said (Line 287).
Casca also reports that Marullus and Flavius, the two tribunes introduced at the beginning of the
play were "put to silence [executed]" for "pulling scarfs off Caesar's images," further proof that
Caesar could be becoming more ambitious (Line 291).
This almost vain action and Caesar's reluctance not to be crowned, fuel Casca's and Cassius'
growing fear of Caesar...
With Brutus still in attendance, Cassius now makes plans to meet with Casca tomorrow, which
Casca agrees to, providing, as he says, he is still alive and Brutus also makes plans to speak
tomorrow with Cassius as well (Lines 292-312).
Now alone, Cassius explains his need of Brutus; Brutus is noble and his good name will do much
to legitimize and further their cause (Lines 313-327).
Act I. Scene III. - The Same. A Street.
Cassius: "I have mov'd already / Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans / To undergo with
me an enterprise / Of honourable-dangerous consequence;" (Caesar's assassination).
Cassius recruits a suspicious Casca to their cause against Caesar by pointing out that
several strange occurrences are omens warning them against Caesar... Cassius has Cinna
place some forged letters where Brutus will find them since these should further convince
Brutus to join their conspiracy. Cinna reveals that Brutus' good name will be an asset to
their conspiracy...
To the sounds of thunder and lightning, Cicero appears, wondering why Casca should be so
breathless and is staring at him so much...
Casca now explains why, describing "scolding winds", an "ambitious ocean swell " with "rage
and foam," and "threat'ning clouds:" (Line 8) , all suggesting in Cassius' words either "civil strife
in heaven," (Line 11), "Or else the world, too saucy [unfavored] with the gods, / Incenses
[angers] them to send destruction" this suggesting that Caesar's actions are causing strife in
nature, a widely held belief at the time to be proof that something must be wrong.
Cicero now asks if Casca saw anything, a little more convincing or "more wonderful?" (Line 14)
as Cicero tactfully but skeptically puts it.
Casca does not disappoint, and explains to Cicero how he saw a slave well known to Cicero,
light fire from his hand without his hand being burnt, and that he saw a lion by the "Capitol"
which merely glared at him with mild disdain and then "went surly by," (Line 21) without even
bothering to attack Casca...
Casca continues but Cicero is a man of wisdom. He remarks that "men may construe [interpret]
things after their fashion, [to their own ends] / Clean from the purpose of the things themselves"
(men can construe or see things they way they wish which may be completely different from the
reason or purpose of the things themselves / people can see what it is in their interests to see),
(Line 35).
Cicero asks whether Caesar will come by the "Capitol" tomorrow and learning this, Cicero and
Casca head their separate ways...
Casca now meets Cassius and announces himself to a suspicious Cassius patriotically as "A
Roman" (Line 42).
Casca recalls again the most unnatural things he has seen...
Cassius not impressed that Casca cannot see the obvious tells Casca that he is "dull, [not smart]"
(Line 57). Is it not obvious that the true cause of these most unnatural occurrences is "That
heaven hath infus'd them with these spirits / To make them instruments of fear and warning /
Unto some monstrous state" (heaven has infused nature with spirits to make these unnatural
events serve as a warning to us that something monstrous might soon happen), (Lines 69-71).
Cassius now explains that he can "name to thee a man [Caesar] / Most like this dreadful night, /
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars / As doth [does] the lion in the Capitol, / A man
no mightier than thyself [you] or me" and as fearful as these unnatural occurrences are (Lines 72-
78).
Casca now asks if Cassius means Caesar and realizing this to be the case, Casca mentions that
"they say the senators to-morrow / Mean [intend] to establish Caesar as king; / And he shall wear
his crown by sea and land, / In every place, save here in Italy" (Line 85).
Cassius declares that he will wear his dagger then (Line 89) and Cassius' conviction convinces
Casca that he too must act against Caesar for "every bondman in his own hands bears / The
power to cancel [stop] his captivity" (Line 100).
Cassius further fuels the hatred of Caesar, remarking that Caesar would not be a wolf but for the
fact that he knows the Romans to be sheep (Line 104).
With Casca now an ally, Cassius explains to him that "I have mov'd [moved] already / Some
certain of the noblest-minded Romans / To undergo with me an enterprise / Of honourable-
dangerous consequence;" (Caesar's assassination), (Lines 120-132).
Cinna now arrives and repeats the great value Brutus would represent to their conspiracy, were
he to join them. Cassius tells Cinna not to worry, but instead to take a paper given to him by
Cassius and to "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:" (Lines 143-146).
This task completed, Cinna is to meet up with Cassius at "Pompey's porch," where Decius Brutus
(not to be confused with Marcus Brutus known as Brutus), and Trebonius will also be present.
With Cinna now departed, Cassius brings Casca up to speed with current events; both he and
Casca will see Brutus at his house, Cassius adding that "three parts of him [Brutus] / Is ours
already, and the man entire / Upon the next encounter yields [gives] him ours [to us] " (Line
154).
Realizing that it is now past midnight, Cassius and Casca decide to head their separate ways,
tomorrow they will awaken Brutus and be sure of his allegiance to them in their dangerous act...
Act II. Scene I. - Rome. Brutus' Orchard.
Brutus: "Shall Rome stand under one man's awe?"
Brutus cannot sleep, revealing for the first time his own true fears that Caesar may be
growing too powerful. A letter is discovered, which Brutus reads, convincing him to join
the conspiracy. The complete group of conspirators meets at Brutus' house, discussing
Caesar's assassination. Brutus argues against Caesar's right hand man, Mark Antony
being killed as well. Cassius and Trebonius have their doubts but go along with Brutus.
Brutus' wife Portia tries to find out what her husband is planning, worried for him...
Brutus is having difficulty sleeping. Awaking, he calls out the name of Lucius, his servant and
bids him to bring a taper (torch) to him in his study.
Now alone, Brutus thinks about his greatest fears for Caesar as king... He has no personal grudge
against Caesar, but Brutus is still very troubled; he knows that power can corrupt and absolute
power can corrupt absolutely. Already Brutus is thinking of Caesar's death as not necessarily
being a bad thing:.
I know no personal cause to spurn [hurt / slight / attack] at him [Caesar], / But for the general
[general good]. He would be crown'd: / How that might change his nature, there's the question: /
It is the bright day that brings forth the adder [snake]; / And that craves wary walking [one then
must be careful]. Crown him?-that! / And then, I grant, we put a sting in him, / That at his will he
may do danger with. The abuse of greatness is when it disjoins [separates] / Remorse from
power.... (Lines 11-33)
Lucius now reenters and announces that not only is the taper burning in Brutus' closet as desired
(it is night), but that Lucius has also found a paper sealed up by the window (Lines 35-45).
Opening it, the letter tells Brutus to awaken: "Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake and see thyself. Shall
Rome, &c. Speak, strike, redress! Brutus, thou sleep'st: awake!" (Lines 45-48).
Brutus remarks that often such "instigations" have been placed where he would find them and he
ponders the letters' contents thinking that yes he will stop Caesar. "Shall Rome stand under one
man's awe?" Brutus asks (Line 52) and Brutus remembers his ancestors who drove out the
Tarquin "when he was call'd [called] a king" (Line 54).
Brutus will now act: "If the redress will follow, thou receiv'st / Thy full petition at the hand of
Brutus!" (Line 57).
Lucius now returns, announcing that fourteen days of March have been wasted, it is the 14th of
March just one day before "the ides of March" the day the Soothsayer warned Caesar about...
Brutus now hears knocking telling his servant to attend to it. Alone again, Brutus remembers that
he has not slept well since Cassius first warned him of Caesar (Lines 61).
Lucius reappears, announcing several men at Brutus' door and Brutus lets in men he knows are
part of a conspiracy (Lines 69-84). Interestingly, though Brutus is now almost one of them, he
wonders whether they can find a cavern dark enough to hide the monstrous visage (look), (Line
81) of what these men represent despite Brutus already beginning to see an assassination as
necessary for the good of Rome.
The conspirators Cassius, Casca, Decius (full name Decius Brutus not to be confused with
Brutus, Caesar's friend), Cinna, Metellus Cimber and Trebonius enter and when Cassius suggests
they all take an oath to swear their loyalty to the assassination, Brutus refuses.
He explains that as Romans they have no need for this and this speech perhaps best sums up
Brutus' noble character (Lines 113-140).
Cassius asks of Cicero's loyalty and finds it is with their conspiracy; his high social standing
according to Metellus Cimber will also earn them respect instead of hatred for their actions since
Cicero is well regarded in Rome (Lines 144-149). Brutus however disagrees, arguing that Cicero
"will never follow anything" (Line 150). Cassius agrees to leave Cicero out of their conspiracy...
The Cicero issue settled, some very important decisions are made.
First Mark Antony, the dear friend of Caesar is to be spared not killed. Cassius thinks he should
be killed (Lines 156-161) since Mark Antony is "A shrewd contriver [a cunning manipulator /
person not to be trusted];" who could cause them all problems later (Line 158).
Brutus disagrees, arguing that if Caesar is the head of a man then Mark Antony would be its
limbs. Therefore in Brutus' eyes, hacking the head (killing Caesar) should make Mark Antony
powerless.
Additionally if they kill Mark Antony as well as Caesar they may appear cruel when they want
Romans to see their actions as the bare necessity to stop Caesar becoming too powerful (killing
his right hand man as well might appear vindictive).
Brutus makes this clear when he argues killing Mark Antony will lead to their band being called
murderers not purgers telling Caius, "Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius. We all stand
up against the spirit of Caesar; / And in the spirit of men there is no blood:" (Lines 166-167)
To kill Caesar without appearing vindictive, Brutus explains that they must sacrifice Caesar, not
butcher him and that they should do this "boldly, but not wrathfully;" (Line 172). They must
bleed Caesar and carve him up as a dish "fit for the gods," not "as a carcase fit for hounds:" (Line
173).
Cassius is not convinced, remarking "yet I fear him [Mark Antony];" (Line 184).
Brutus though, has his way arguing that Mark Antony loves wildness, sports and much company;
Caesar is not the only thing he loves. He may not be such a threat. Trebonius is not so naive,
saying that by not killing him "he will live, and laugh at this [the conspirators not assassinating
him too] hereafter [ever after]" (Line 191).
Cassius now outlines the plan to kill Caesar in the Capitol. He is however still worried. Caesar
has grown quite superstitious lately and may not turn up. Decius tells them not to worry; he
knows Caesar's fatal flaw; he is vain and a pushover for flattery (Lines 200-220).
Brutus now dismisses his group, telling them all to be like actors and hide their dark purpose (the
assassination).
Portia, Brutus' wife now appears and is worried for her husband. She has noticed that he is not as
hungry as usual and has had great difficulty sleeping. Brutus tells his wife he is fine but Portia
wants to know the truth, does the vow of marriage her status as "A woman well-reputed," and as
"Cato's daughter" not entitle her to this? (Lines 261-308).
Lucius now announces another visitor, a Caius Ligarius, saving Brutus from further "discussion"
with his understandably upset wife. Caius Ligarius has been recently sick but upon speaking with
Brutus, Ligarius announces that "I here discard my sickness" (Line 321).
Brutus explains to Ligarius that they will do "A piece of work that will make sick men whole"
(Line 327) adding that they must make someone sick (Caesar) to do so. Ligarius ends the scene
pledging to do something he does not know, but adding that it is sufficient that the noble Brutus
leads him on...
Act II. Scene II. - The Same. Caesar's House.
Calphurnia: "'Help, ho! They murder Caesar!'"
Calphurnia, Caesar's wife, wakes Caesar up after herself awakening from a terrible
nightmare. She tells Caesar, that her dream foretells doom and succeeds in convincing
Caesar not go to the Senate on the "ides of March [March 15]" which is tomorrow. Decius
Brutus arrives and hearing that Caesar will not be at the Senate tomorrow, flatters Caesar
into going so as not to show fear (allowing Brutus and company to kill him there).
The scene begins to the sights and sound of thunder and lightning. As Caesar puts it, "Nor
heaven nor earth have been at peace to-night:" (Line 1) since Calphurnia, Caesar's wife has thrice
(three times) cried, "'Help, ho! They murder Caesar!'" (Line 2).
This concerns Caesar who instructs a servant to tell his priests to make a sacrifice and then report
their findings to him (Lines 4-6).
Calphurnia, however is certain that her dream represents only disaster for her husband. She tells
Caesar that in her opinion, Caesar "shall [should] not stir [leave] out of your [Caesar's] house
today" (Line 9).
Calphurnia explains that though she "never stood on ceremonies," (Line 13), she is sure her
dream plus other strange happenings in Rome can only mean disaster (Lines 12-25). Caesar
however, arrogantly believes that in "The face of Caesar, they [these threatening things] are
vanished" (Line 12)
Caesar argues that he cannot avoid his fate (Lines 25-37). Caesar remarks that "Cowards die
many times before their deaths;" adding "The valiant never taste of death but once" (Line 33).
Only the news from the priests that advise Caesar not to leave the house, forces Caesar's hand
into staying at home and avoiding going to the Capitol on the 15th of March (the ides of March),
(Lines 37-56).
Calphurnia suggests that Caesar say to Mark Antony that he is ill which Caesar agrees with if
only he says, to humor his wife (Lines 48-56).
Decius Brutus (not Marcus Brutus, Caesar's friend) now enters and hearing Caesar's new plans,
fears the worst; the conspiracy will not be able to kill Caesar if he is not at the Capitol
(specifically the Senate). Moving quickly he flatters Caesar and when Calphurnia again suggests
Caesar say he is sick, Caesar hesitates. Can Caesar lie he asks?
Decius suggests that saying he is sick will result only in his mockery by the other senators. This,
the vain Caesar finds intolerable. Caesar now tells Decius the bad news of the prophets but
Decius turns this around, suggesting that Calphurnia's dream of Caesar's statue spouting blood
(Lines 76-89) is not a premonition of his death but that Caesar's presence at the "senate-house
[The Senate]," will revitalize Rome. From Caesar's blood Rome will renew itself, Decius says
(Lines 83-89).
Decius now moves in for the kill, suggesting that if Caesar does not turn up at the Capitol he
cannot receive the crown the Senate have decided to give him (Lines 92-104). Knowing all too
well Caesar's weakness of his supreme vanity, Decius remarks that should "Caesar" not appear at
the Capitol, "shall they [the Senate] not whisper 'Lo! Caesar is afraid?'" before slyly apologizing
for insulting Caesar; he says this for Caesar's own good and out of "love" for him (Line 101)
Scolding his wife for making him think foolish thoughts, Caesar now prepares to head off to the
Capitol and to his doom...
Before leaving however, Caesar meets with Mark Antony. Caesar greets his friend by saying
"See! Antony, that revels long o'nights," emphasizing Brutus' opinion that Mark Antony likes
parties. Caesar now also speaks with Trebonius says in an aside (private speech) that he will be
so near "That your best friends shall wish I had been further [away]" suggesting that he is a
friend Caesar may be well be happy to be away from in a few moments (Lines 112-128). Brutus
ends the scene mourning that the men his friend Caesar has just called friends will soon
assassinate him (Line 128).
Act II. Scene III. - The Same. A Street near the Capitol.
Artemidorus waits in a street hoping to avert Caesar's assassination...
The scene begins with Artemidorus reading a newspaper. In a letter he reads, he warns Caesar to
beware of the conspirators which he names (Brutus, Cassius, Casca, Cinna, Trebonius, Metellus
Cimber, Decius Brutus, Caius Ligarius) though he has yet to warn Caesar in person. Artemidorus
plans to give his letter to Caesar as he passes on his way to the Capitol, thus warning him of the
fate that awaits him.
Artemidorus: "If thou [Caesar] read this [his warning], O Caesar! thou [you] mayst [might]
live; / If not, the Fates with traitors [the conspirators] do contrive [will succeed]" (Line 15).
Will Artemidorus be able to warn Caesar in time?
Act II. Scene IV. - The Same. Another Part of the same Street, before the House of Brutus.
Portia worries for her husband, hoping his "enterprise" today will succeed. The Soothsayer
waits in a narrow street hoping to warn Caesar of imminent danger...
Portia, Brutus' wife is speaking with Lucius, a boy she commands to run the errand of going to
the "senate-house;" to report to her how her husband is and how Caesar is and what "the suitors
press to him [Caesar]." and then to return to her immediately with what news he has. She fears
for her husband; when he left this morning "he went sickly forth;" (Line 13). Portia laments that
"I have a man's mind, but a women's might. How hard it is for a women to keep counsel!" (Line
8).
The Soothsayer now meets Portia and the two talk. Portia asks the Soothsayer what his "suit" is
to Caesar, Portia asking the Soothsayer if he knows of any harm intended towards Caesar. The
Soothsayer replies "None that I know will be, much that I fear may chance [may happen]" (Line
32).
We learn from the Soothsayer that he intends to wait in a narrow street for Caesar where
hopefully he can warn him of the danger that lies ahead. Portia now hopes her boy (Lucius) will
bring her news quickly of her husband wishing him well in his "enterprise" whilst adding that
"Brutus hath [has] a suit request] / That Caesar will not grant" (Line 43). Portia also tells Lucius
to run quickly so that he may report to Brutus that his wife is well.
Julius Caesar Commentary - Act III.

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Act III. Scene I.- Rome. Before the Capitol; the Senate sitting above.

Caesar: "Et tu, Brute?"

Caesar arrogantly tells the Soothsayer that today is the "ides of March [the 15th of March]" but
the Soothsayer tells him the day is not over yet... Artemidorus nearly warns Caesar but Decius
Brutus prevents this. Popilius wishes the conspirators good luck, terrifying them that Caesar
knows their plans. Metellus Cimber petitions Caesar to lift his brother's banishment order. Caesar
refuses and the conspirators kill Caesar. Mark Antony flees. Mark Antony pretends to treat
Caesar's murderers as friends. He asks to speak at Caesar's funeral. Cassius thinks this is
dangerous, Brutus, disagreeing, lets Mark Antony speak at the funeral. Mark Antony reveals his
true hatred for the conspirators. Octavius, Mark Antony's ally is to stay safe outside of Rome a
little longer...

We see a crowd of people, numbering amongst them, Artemidorus, The Soothsayer, Caesar and
several of his would-be murderers. These would-be murders are Brutus, Cassius, Casca, Decius
Brutus, Metellus, Trebonius and Cinna. Mark Antony, Lepidus Popilius, Publius and others are
also present.

Caesar opens the scene by remarking to the Soothsayer that "The ides of March are come" to
which the Soothsayer replies they the day is not over yet: "Ay, Caesar; but not yet gone" (Lines
1-2).

Artemidorus hails Caesar, asking him to read his schedule, which of course is his warning letter
(Line 3).

Decius tries to distract Caesar, telling him to read it when he has the time, but Artemidorus
demands that his schedule (his warning letter) be read immediately (Line 9).

Caesar now ignores it, telling him to instead come to the Capitol rather than petition him in the
street (Lines 11-12).

With Caesar entering the Senate house, Popilius wishes Cassius that his enterprise will "thrive
[be successful]" (Line 13). This worries Brutus and Cassius no end, but Casca tells them to keep
going, they cannot turn back now.

Popilius Lena now speaks with Caesar but Brutus warns them not to worry since Caesar's
expression has not changed (Line 24). This would mean Caesar would have been told their plan.

Trebonius now draws Mark Antony away and Metellus Cimber addresses Caesar (Lines 24-33).
Metellus asks that the banishment of his brother be repealed, Cassius joining this petition for
Publius Cimber (Lines 36-55).

Caesar refuses, famously saying "I am constant as the northern star," (Line 60) and so refuses
this request (Lines 57-73).

Cinna, Decius Brutus and Casca now all move in closer, seemingly begging Caesar to change his
mind; instead they stab Caesar (Line 76).

Caesar falls, saying "Et tu, Brute? (and you Brutus, why?) and then dies, exclaiming "Then fall,
Caesar!" (Line 77).

Cinna now pronounces "Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!" (Line 78) and Brutus tells the
remaining senators to be calm, "ambitions debt [Caesar] is paid" (Line 82).
Brutus now tells a shocked Publius that neither he nor any other Roman has anything to fear
from Brutus and the conspirators (Lines 84-92).

Trebonius tells us that Mark Antony has fled to his house amazed and Brutus tells the other
conspirators to "Stoop," adding "And let us bathe our hands in Caesar's blood" adding that
"waving our red weapons o'er [over] our heads, / Let's all cry, 'Peace, freedom, and liberty!'"
(Lines 105 -110).

A servant of Mark Antony's arrives and securing Brutus' assurance that Mark Antony will not be
harmed, Mark Antony arrives to speak with Brutus. Mark Antony, overwhelmed by the sight of
his dead friend, begs to join him but Brutus tells Mark Antony not to, explaining that their hearts
are pitiful; they killed Caesar for Rome (Lines 146-176).

Brutus now asks Mark Antony to be patient; once the multitudes (crowds) have calmed down, he
will explain "Why I, that did love Caesar when I struck him, / Have thus proceeded [killed him]"
(I, that loved Caesar chose to join the assassination), (Line 182).

Mark Antony, wishing to stay alive, diplomatically explains that "I doubt not of your wisdom"
(Line 183), asking each man to render (offer) him his bloody hand which he then shakes. First he
shakes Marcus Brutus' hand, then the hands of Caius Cassius, Decius Brutus, Metellus Cimber,
Cinna, Casca and finally Trebonius.

Now Mark Antony announces that "My credit now stands on such slippery ground, / That one of
two bad ways you must conceit me, / Either a coward or a flatterer" (Line 191).

He explains that he loved Caesar dearly and that it should grieve Caesar's spirit more than death
to see Mark Antony now make peace with his enemies but he explains that Caesar must forgive
him. Cassius interrupts, but Mark Antony says the enemies of Caesar will see him this way for
forgetting Caesar's name so quickly (Lines 192-213).

Cassius now asks Mark Antony whether they can consider him a friend or someone they cannot
depend on...

Antony explains that he shook the conspirator's hands because though he was swayed by the
sight of Caesar, he must assume the conspirators whom he loves as friends, must have had a
good reason for their actions (Lines 217-222).

Brutus finishes Mark Antony's reasoning by suggesting that their actions would indeed be savage
were it not for the fact that they acted for very good reasons which even if Mark Antony were the
son of Caesar, would he be satisfied (Lines 222-226).
Antony answers that he can ask for nothing more but to also speak at Caesar's funeral.

Cassius now advises against this: "You know not what you do; do not consent / That Antony
speak in his [Caesar's] funeral: / Know you how much the people may be mov'd / By that which
he will utter?" (you do not realize what you are doing if you let Mark Antony speak at the
funeral. Do you realize how moved the people could be by his words?), (Lines 232-235).

Cassius fears that Antony with his gift of the gab may turn the Romans against them. Can Brutus
be sure of what Antony will say?

Brutus disagrees, giving Mark Antony permission against the wishes of a very nervous Cassius.
As a precaution however, Brutus will speak first; this should guarantee the support of Rome.
Additionally, Antony will not blame them but will only be able to speak "all good you can devise
of Caesar," (only the good things you can say about Caesar), (Line 246, 236-252).

With Mark Antony now alone, we learn his true feelings (Lines 256-273). He is extremely upset
that "these butchers;" (Line 255) have killed Caesar and again begging Caesar's forgiveness,
fears all of Italy shall be plunged into domestic strife and that Caesar's spirit, full of rage and
fury, shall "Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war;" (Line 273).

A Servant now greets Antony. He comes from Octavius and by word of mouth, tells us that
Octavius is not far away, lying within "seven leagues of Rome" (Line 286).

Antony tells the Servant to tell Octavius what has happened, also telling Octavius to stay outside
Rome for a little while longer; Rome is still dangerous for the adopted son of Caesar.
Additionally Mark Antony tells this servant to stay in Rome just a little longer before returning
to Octavius so he can tell Octavius of the state of the people of Rome after Mark Antony has
made his speech. Following this, Mark Antony and the Servant exit, carrying away Caesar's
body. (Lines 276-296).

Act III. Scene II. - The Same. The Forum.

Mark Antony: "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to
praise him."

Brutus and Cassius explain to the Citizens of Rome why they killed Caesar, gaining their
support. Mark Antony turns the citizens of Rome against Brutus and Cassius by making the
Citizens feel remorse for Caesar's cruel death and by bribing then with the news that Caesar's
will gives each citizen money. Mark Antony uses this fact to suggest Caesar was a great man
who should not have been murdered. The crowd, now an angry, crazed mob, go after the
conspirators including Brutus and Cassius who flee in fear...
The scene begins with Brutus and Cassius surrounded by a "throng of Citizens." These demand
to be satisfied. The Citizens intend to hear the reasoning of both Brutus and Cassius and then will
make up their minds on the worthiness of their reasons for killing Caesar (Lines 1-11).

Brutus now takes to the pulpit and begins his speech justifying the assassination (Lines 12-68).

Telling his audience to "Be patient to the last [end] " he begins with the lines, "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" (Lines 12-17).

Having told his audience to awaken their senses and be silent so they may better judge him,
Brutus explains that there is no one in the audience who could say the loved Caesar any more
than Brutus. He then adds that should anyone in the audience then ask why "Brutus rose against
Caesar," he famously answers: "Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more."

Brutus now asks whether the crowd before him would prefer to be slaves under Caesar's rule
rather than have Caesar dead and be free? "Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves,
than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men?" Brutus asks.

Brutus explains that "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."

He adds that within him, "There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valor; and
death for his ambition" asking "Who is here so base [vulgar] that would be a bondman?"

Brutus asking if there is anyone here he has offended, asks, "Who is here so rude that would not
be a Roman?" and "Who is here so vile that will not love his country?" telling the crowd that he
pauses to wait for a reply.

The Citizens in unison answer "None Brutus, none" (Line 38).

Satisfied, Brutus adds that since he has not offended anyone, he explains that he has done no
more to Caesar than the crowd should do to him, Brutus.

With Caesar's body now entering the forum, Brutus introduces Mark Antony, explaining that he
had no part in the assassination. He adds that he will now leave and just as he killed Caesar for
the good of Rome, Brutus will now kill himself when required, with the same dagger.
Brutus: "With this I depart: that, as I slew my best lover [Caesar] for the good of Rome, I have
the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death" (Lines 48-52).

The Citizens say no, suggesting that he should have a statue, be named Caesar and arguing that
"Caesar's better parts / Shall be crown'd in Brutus" (Line 57).

Brutus tells the crowd to let him now leave, but that they should pay tribute to Caesar's corpse
and to hear Mark Antony's speech,"which Mark Antony, / By our permission, is allowed to
make. I do entreat [ask] you, not a man depart," (Lines 64-67).

The Citizens are convinced. "This Caesar was a tyrant" (Line 75), the First Citizen says, whilst
other citizens warn that Mark Antony had better not speak badly of Brutus (Line 74).

Mark Antony asks for silence with the words "You gentle Romans, -" and moments later
famously begins his speech: "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury
Caesar, not to praise him" (Line 79). Antony now adds that "The evil that men do lives after
them, / The good is oft [often] interred with their bones; / So let it be with Caesar" (Line 83).

Mark Antony now begins his attack, not by attacking Brutus but rather by questioning Brutus'
credibility:

The noble Brutus / Hath told you Caesar was ambitious; / If it were so, it was a grievous fault, /
And grievously hath [has] Caesar answered it. Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,- / For
Brutus is an honourable man; / So are they all honourable men.... (Lines 83-89)

Antony sarcastically explains that he is here today to speak at Caesar's funeral since "He was my
friend, faithful and just to me: / But Brutus says he was ambitious; / And Brutus is an honourable
man" (Lines 91-93).

Mark Antony now adds that Caesar brought "many captives home to Rome, / Whose ransoms
did the general coffers fill:" asking if making Rome rich is ambitious? (Lines 92-96).

Antony now builds up Caesar remarking how when the poor cried, "Caesar hath wept;" adding
that "Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:" (Line 98). Yet Mark Antony sarcastically
explains again that Brutus says that Caesar was ambitious, again suggesting that Brutus cannot
be wrong for "Brutus is an honourable man" (Line 100).

Antony reminds the audience now how they saw this all for themselves at the Lupercal, (Caesar's
procession in Act I, Scene II). Three times Mark Antony presented Caesar with a crown and
three times Caesar refused it: "was this ambition?" (Line 103) Antony asks, ending again with
the line that for sure, Brutus is "an honourable man" (Lines 101-105).

Now Antony explains that he is not here to disprove what Brutus has said but to "speak what I do
know" (Line 106).

Antony now finishes up his speech, saying that since the Romans loved Caesar once, what
should stop them from mourning this man now:

You all did love him [Caesar] once, not without cause: / What cause withholds you then to
mourn for him? O judgement! thou [you] art [are] 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. (Lines 107-113)

The Citizens have taken this all in and see merit in what Antony says, one citizen adding that
"There's not a nobler man in Rome than Antony" (Line 122).

Antony continues his speech, explaining how once "the word of Caesar might / Have stood
against the world;" yet instead he pitifully lies here in a coffin.

He innocently tells the crowd that were he the sort of person to incite the crowd to violence
which is precisely what he is really hoping for, he would be doing Brutus and Cassius a great
disservice for they are honourable men, and now he announces that he has found Caesar's will...

Mark Antony adds that he really should not read it, knowing that the crowd are now demanding
to know its contents (Lines 120-144).

Antony now hesitates again to read the will. He fears reading its contents will "inflame you,"
adding that "it will make you mad" (Line 150) whilst also not forgetting to mention that "'tis
good you know not that you are his heirs;" (it is good that you do not know you are Caesar's
heirs), (Line 151).

The Citizens, now aware that they could benefit from Caesar's will, again demand to hear it.
Again, Antony hesitates, adding that "I have o'ershot [overstepped] myself to tell you of it [the
will]. I fear I wrong the honourable men / Whose daggers have stabb'd [stabbed] Caesar; / I do
fear it" (Line 156-158).

The crowd, now on the verge of frenzy, describe Brutus and company as "villains,"and
"murderers" and again ask Antony to read the will (Line 161).
Asking that the crowd to make a ring around Caesar's corpse, Antony comes down from the
pulpit and begins to read the will (Lines 162-173).

Antony starts by telling the crowd, "If you have tears, prepare to shed them now" (Line 174).
Antony describes the various wounds that Cassius, then the "envious Casca" and the "well-
beloved Brutus" have made, noting both the blood and the fact that "Brutus, as you know, was
Caesar's angel:" (Line 186).

He now tells the gods to judge how dearly "Caesar lov'd him [Brutus]" (Line 187) adding that the
wound made by Brutus "was the most unkindest cut of all; / For when the noble Caesar saw him
stab, / Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms, / Quite vanquish'd him: then burst his
[Caesar's] mighty heart;" (Lines 187-191).

This and further emotive language, angers the crowd to the point of riot, the crowd now
describing Caesar as noble, others despairing on the sadness of this day, and yet other citizens
calling Brutus and company "traitors!" and "villains!" once again (Line 206).

Together, the Citizens cry "Revenge!-About!-Seek!-Burn!-Fire!-Kill!-Slay! Let not a traitor live"


(Line 209).

Mark Antony tells the crowd to stop, reminding them that "They that have done this deed are
honourable:" adding "What private griefs they have, alas! I know not," (Line 217).

Mark Antony, having now raised the crowd to a fury, innocently explains that "I come not,
friends, to steal away your hearts:" since he is a simple man, adding that "I am no orator [public
speaker], as Brutus is;" (Lines 220-221).

Mark Antony explains now, quite ironically that "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" (Lines 230-234).

With the crowd now out for Brutus and company's blood, Antony finishes off his speech. He
tells the angry mob the contents of Caesar's will and delays the crowd from their murderous
mission. Antony explains that Caesar's will bestows "seventy-five drachmas" to each citizen
(Line 247).

This information incites the crowd further, the Second Citizen speaking for all, when he says
"Most noble Caesar! we'll revenge his death" (Line 248).
Antony adds that Caesar gave all his walks, "His private arbours," and his newly planted
orchards, to the Citizens as well, asking "Here was Caesar! when comes such another? [When
will there come again someone like him?]" (Line 257).

The First Citizen speaks for all, saying "Never, never! Come, away, away! We'll burn his
[Caesar's] body in the holy place, / And with the brands fire the traitor's houses" (Line 260).

The Citizens head off on their rampage, carrying with them Caesar's body and Antony, clearly
pleased with his work, says "Now let it work: mischief, thou art afoot, / Take thou what course
thou wilt! (now mischief, go and take whatever course you will), (Line 265).

With the crazed mob on their way, a servant enters, addressing Antony. Octavius has come to
Rome and both he and Lepidus are at Caesar's house. We also learn that Brutus and Cassius have
very wisely fled the city "like madmen through the gates of Rome" (Line 274).

Act III. Scene III. - The Same. A Street.

Anonymous mob: "Tear him to pieces; he's a conspirator."

A poet bearing the same name as one of the conspirators is killed by the angry mob which is
Shakespeare's insight into the senselessness of the mob mentality...

Cinna a poet is in the wrong place at the wrong time. The angry mob of Citizens finding him, ask
his name and marital status. They also ask his name....

Learning it is Cinna, the mob immediately attack him, the Second Citizen saying, "Tear him to
pieces; he's a conspirator" (Line 30).

Cinna explains that he is Cinna the poet, not Cinna the conspirator. The crowd, hungry for blood,
kill the innocent poet anyway, explaining that they should "Tear him for his bad verses," (Line
34).

Still driven by fury, the Citizens decide to torch the homes of Brutus, Cassius, Decius Brutus
(not to be mistaken with Marcus Brutus or Brutus for short), Casca and Ligarius (Lines 40-43).

Note: This scene shows Shakespeare commenting on the nature of the mob mentality. It is also
an unusual and perhaps disturbing juxtaposition of both violence and absurdity. Violence that
they kill an innocent man, absurdity in the completely amoral and unjustified excuse for doing
so. A disturbing and accurate insight into the phenomena of mob brutality which sadly is as
relevant today as 1900 years ago.
Julius Caesar Commentary - Act IV.

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Act IV. Scene I. - Rome. A Room in Antony's House.

The Triumvirs (Octavius, Mark Antony and Lepidus also known as The Second Triumvirate)
decide which of the conspirators shall live and which shall will die. Mark Antony assures
Octavius that Lepidus does not and will not ever have any serious power... The two men start
planning their attack on Brutus' and Cassius' forces.

Antony, Octavius and Lepidus are gathered together around a table. Together they are deciding
the future.

With Antony explaining that the conspirator's "names are prick'd" (Line 1), the three have
decided on their future course of action. They decide that amongst the conspirators, Publius who
is Mark Antony's sister's son will not be spared from death (Line 4).

Lepidus also agrees that his own brother must die (Lines 2-3).

Antony now sends Lepidus off to Caesar's house to fetch Caesar's will and then the three will
together decide "How to cut off some charge in legacies" or cut off a part of Caesar's legacy or
will presumably for themselves (Line 9).

With Lepidus now gone, Antony reassures Octavius that Lepidus is a harmless man "Meet [fit]
to be sent on errands:" (Line 13).

When Octavius now questions the wisdom that a messenger be one third of a group that will rule
the world (Line 13), Antony explains that they will put up with Lepidus "as the ass [donkey]
bears gold," (Line 21).

Lepidus will be used and respected as a donkey which carries gold. Lepidus will be used while
he is useful and like a donkey will be put out to pasture (retired) once he is no longer needed
(Lines 17- 27).

Octavius does not completely agree with this. He tells Antony that "You may do your will;" (you
may do as you wish), (Line 28), but adds that Lepidus is "a tried and valiant soldier" (Line 28).

Antony replies that so is his horse (Line 29), adding that like a horse, "he must be taught, and
train'd," (Line 35) and used accordingly.

Telling Antony that he no longer wants to discuss Lepidus, he adds that he should not talk or
think of him as anything more "But as a property" (Line 40).

Now Antony tells Octavius that they must cast their minds on more important matters, namely
how they should combine their forces and prepare to fight the forces of Brutus and Cassius
(Lines 40-49).
Act IV. Scene II. - Camp near Sardis. Before Brutus' Tent.

Cassius: "Most noble brother, you have done me wrong."

Brutus learns that Cassius has finally arrived. Brutus is angry with Cassius, Cassius saying he
has done his friend no wrong. Brutus wanting privacy from his troops, tells Cassius to step into
his tent where he will discuss the issue further...

Before Brutus' tent, Lucilius and Pindarus arrive, telling Brutus that Cassius is near. Pindarus
gives Brutus a letter which Brutus reads. He announces that Cassius' actions or those by "ill
officers," have given him reason to wish certain things were undone, but he will be pleased by
Cassius' appearance and more importantly his explanation (Line 7).

Pindarus now tries to smooth things over between Brutus and his master Cassius, suggesting that
he is certain his noble master will appear "Such as he is, full of regard and honour" (Lines 10-
14).

Brutus asks Lucilius how he was received by Cassius, and learns that Brutus did greet him with
the appropriate respect but that it was not with the usual "free and friendly" manner they are used
to (Line 17).

Brutus replies that what Lucilius is describing is the cooling of his friendship with Cassius.

Cassius with his army now arrives and Cassius immediately tells Brutus that "Most noble
brother, you have done me wrong" (Line 37).

Brutus replies that this cannot be, why would he wrong a brother? (Lines 38-39).

Cassius disagrees, telling him that his noble form hides his wrongs, but Brutus interrupts him. He
says they should not argue so publicly in front of their respective armies who should see nothing
but love from them (Lines 42-44).

Instead he suggests that Cassius make his complaints in Brutus' tent where he promises to hear
him out.

Cassius tells Pindarus to make sure his commanders move their soldiers away from the tent and
Brutus tells Lucilius to do the same. Brutus ends the scene saying that Lucius and Titinius will
guard the door of their tent (Lines 41-52).
Act IV. Scene III. - Within the Tent of Brutus.

Brutus: "I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon, / Than such a Roman."

Brutus angrily attacks Cassius first for contradicting his order to remove Lucius Pella for taking
bribes and then Cassius himself for his own dishonesty. Cassius is upset by this but eventually
Brutus chooses to forgive his friend. We learn that Portia, Brutus' wife has died, over one
hundred senators have been put to death by the Triumvirs and that a large army led by Mark
Antony and Octavius is approaching their position... Brutus is greeted by Caesar's ghost which
tells Brutus he will see Caesar again at Philippi.

Cassius immediately gets to the point of his frustrations. He tells Brutus that "you have wrong'd
me" (Line 1) adding that Brutus has condemned and noted Lucius Pella for "taking bribes" from
the Sardians here whilst his letters of support for Pella were brushed off and ignored (Lines 1-5).

Brutus replies by telling Cassius that he was wrong to write on Pella's behalf in the first place
(Line 6).

Cassius replies that in times like these (with the threat of Mark Antony and Octavius), they
should not bother over such minor matters (Line 8).

Brutus disagrees, saying "Let me tell you, Cassius, you yourself / Are much condemn'd
[condemned] to have an itching palm; [to take bribes and sell positions] / To sell and mart your
offices for gold / To undeservers" (Line 9-11).

Cassius is infuriated at being called an "itching palm;" adding that were it not Brutus who calls
him this, any other man who would call Cassius this would soon be dead (Line 12).

Brutus argues that Cassius' name is legitimizing corrupt activities asking Cassius to remember
that Caesar was killed for the sake of justice, (Lines 17-27) and wondering why they killed
Caesar for justice only to now become corrupt themselves by selling "the mighty space of our
large honours / For so much trash as may be grasped thus?" (Line 25).

Brutus again asserts his honesty when he says, "I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon, / Than
[become] such a Roman" who like Cassius would sell status and honour to others for money
(Line 27).

Cassius reminds Brutus that he is a soldier, stronger than Brutus and a man who should not be
restricted by Brutus who forgets who he is dealing with (Lines 28-31).
Brutus says he cannot be speaking to the Cassius. The two argue and Cassius asks if their
friendship has "come to this?" (Line 50).

The two bicker when Brutus says Cassius said he was a "better" soldier yet does not act like one.
Cassius says he said "elder" not "better" (Lines 51-60).

Again the two argue, Brutus explaining that he is not afraid of him. Brutus also attacks Cassius
for refusing him gold which he requested to pay his legions, adding that he is not capable of
raising money by vile and corrupt means unlike Cassius (by implication), (Lines 70-82).

Cassius denies this. Brutus refuses to believe Cassius, telling him that "I do not like your faults"
(Line 88).

Now remorseful that his friend Brutus does not respect him, Cassius prepares to take his life,
saying that he is "Hated by one [Brutus] he loves;" (Line 94 and 92-105).

Brutus tells Cassius to "Sheathe your dagger:" (Line 106) deciding to forgive him (Lines 112-
125).

Lucius, Titinius, Lucilius, and the poet all learn of the Brutus' and Cassius' reconciliation (Lines
122-159).

With their reconciliation complete, Brutus drinks wine saying that he buries all his unkindness
with his drink. Cassius replies saying "I cannot drink too much of Brutus' love" (Line 160).

Titinius and Messala arrive with news. We learn that Portia, Brutus' wife is dead, but Brutus does
not seem to care (Line 166) and that Young Octavius and Mark Antony are approaching with a
large force towards Philippi. Additionally we learn that a "hundred senators" have been put to
death by these two, Cicero being one of them (Lines 165-177).

Cassius now suggests that they hold back their forces and not attack immediately and instead
march to Philippi at once. This way the enemy will be exhausted by searching for them,
increasing their chances of success since their soldiers will be well rested (Lines 196-211).

Brutus overrides this decision, arguing that their enemy continues to gain strength in numbers
while they are at their peak and will soon be weaker than their enemy. Cassius agrees and the
two retire to their separate tents to rest before battle (Line 224).

Now alone, Brutus orders Lucius, his servant to call Claudius and several other men into his tent
to sleep on cushions (Lines 240-243).
Brutus tells Varro and Claudius to lie in his tent and sleep despite the two wanting to stand guard
over Brutus instead. He asks Lucius to play some soothing music, but Lucius soon falls asleep
(Lines 256-268). Brutus is now alone, reading the book that he found in his nightgown.

Brutus is now interrupted from his reading by the Ghost of Caesar. Brutus uncertain of what he is
seeing, asking the Ghost if it is "some god, some angel, or some devil," (Line 278).

Brutus asks why this Ghost has appeared. Caesar's Ghost answers that it was "to tell thee [you,
Brutus] thou shalt see me at Philippi" (Line 283). By this, Caesar's Ghost means that he will see
Brutus once more at Philippi.

Brutus now accuses Lucius, Varro and Claudius each of speaking in their sleep. The servants all
plead that they did nothing of the sort (Lines 285-305)
Julius Caesar Commentary - Act V.

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Act V. Scene I. - The Plains of Philippi.

Brutus: "Words before blows: is it so, countrymen?"

On the Plains of Philippi, Mark Antony's and Octavius' forces face Brutus' and Cassius' forces. A
barrage of insults, accusations and general name-calling flies between the two sides, before Mark
Antony's and Octavius' army leaves...

Standing on the Plains of Philippi, we find Octavius' and Mark Antony's army waiting for the
army of Brutus and Cassius. Octavius is pleased. Brutus' and Cassius' forces have meet them on
the Plains of Philippi rather than staying on the high ground of the nearby hills and "upper
regions;" as was feared (Lines 1-10).

A Messenger now arrives, informing Octavius and Antony that yes, the forces of Brutus and
Cassius are close at hand, (Lines 12-15) adding that "something to [must] be done immediately"
meaning they should fight (Line 15).

The Messenger is certain of this because "The enemy comes on in gallant show;" (the enemy
arrives, and making quite a show of it) and "Their bloody sign of battle is hung out," (they have
displayed their war flag, a clear sign they intend to fight.), (Lines 12-20).

Antony now takes charge of his forces, telling Octavius that he should lead his forces from the
left side of the "even field" (Line 16). Octavius refuses, insisting on the right.

This dispute over, Antony and Octavius decide to square off against Brutus and Cassius before
beginning battle. Brutus is surprised by this asking, "Words before blows: is it so, countrymen?"
(Line 27).

A barrage of insults now fly between the two forces. Octavius begins, answering "Not that we
love words better, as you [Brutus and Cassius] do" (Line 28), suggesting that Octavius sees
Brutus as a man who prefers words to deeds since they are easier to produce.
Brutus replies saying, "Good words are better than bad strokes, Octavius" (Line 29).

Antony replies that "In your bad strokes, Brutus, you give good words:" suggesting that Brutus
says nice things whilst he does dishonorable deeds (like stabbing Caesar). Just to make this point
absolutely clear, Antony adds "Witness the hole you made in Caesar's heart, / Crying 'Long live!
hail Caesar!'" (Line 31).

Cassius replies that Octavius' words hardly bother him (Lines 32-38).

Antony now attacks Brutus and Cassius, calling them "Villains!" and adding that Brutus and
company did not act wisely when they "Hack'd one another in the sides of Caesar:" showing their
teeth like "apes," "fawn'd like hounds," and "bow'd like bondmen, kissing Caesar's feet;" whilst
the evil Casca, struck Caesar in the neck from behind (Lines 39-44). Antony ends this barrage by
calling them "flatterers!" (Line 44).

With Octavius calling Brutus and company hypocrites (for saying nice things whilst killing) and
Antony calling Brutus and company two-faced cowards (for killing a great man by stabbing him
in the back), Brutus and Cassius decide to return fire.

Cassius replies "Flatterers! Now, Brutus, thank yourself: / This tongue had not offended so
today, / If Cassius might have rul'd" (Line 45).

By this Cassius means to remind Brutus that if he had ruled, making the decisions for the
conspiracy, Antony's tongue could not have offended them since he would have been killed
alongside Caesar.

Octavius suggests they now fight saying, "I draw a sword against conspirators;" (Line 51) by
which he means Brutus and Cassius, adding that he should not raise his sword again (stop
fighting) until either Caesar's "three-and-thirty wounds" are well avenged or he is dead (Lines
53-55).

Brutus argues that Octavius whom he calls Caesar (he was the adopted son of Caesar), could not
die at the hands of traitors unless he brought them with him. In Brutus's eyes he is no traitor
(Line 56).

Cassius calls Octavius "A peevish schoolboy, worthless of such honour," (Line 61) adding that
he is joined by "a masquer and a reveller" (Mark Antony, a person who likes revelries and going
to masked balls), (Line 61).
Antony insults Cassius calling him "Old Cassius still!" (Line 62).

Octavius challenges Brutus and Cassius to either fight now or "when you have stomachs [the
guts]" and Octavius and Antony leave with their army (Line 66).

Cassius and Brutus now talk for the rest of the scene, contemplating their position (Lines 72-
125).

Act V. Scene II. - The Same. The Field of Battle.

Brutus sends orders via messenger Messala to Cassius' forces on the other side of the
battlefield...

With the battle between Mark Antony and Octavius and Cassius and Brutus beginning on the
plains of Philippi, Brutus instructs Messala, a messenger to give bills (orders) to Cassius' forces
(the legions on the other side).

Brutus comments that he thinks Octavius' forces are low on morale, saying they are in "cold
demeanour" (Line 4) which he sees as an opportunity to destroy them with a "sudden push" (Line
5) or attack.

Act V. Scene III. - Another Part of the Field.

Cassius' forces are losing ground to Mark Antony's forces. Brutus has defeated Octavius' forces
but instead of reinforcing Cassius' forces, have instead sought out spoils or bounty from the field.

Needing information, Cassius sends Titinius to a nearby hill to report if it is friendly or not.
Cassius instructs Pindarus to go atop a hill to report Titinius' progress to him. Pindarus sees
Titinius pulled off his horse and fears Titinius has been captured. This would mean Brutus'
forces have been beaten so Cassius kills himself on Pindarus' sword.

Titinius now returns and it is realized that Titinius was not captured but was greeted by Brutus'
victorious forces when he was pulled off his horse. Brutus learns of Cassius' death. Titinius,
mourning Cassius, kills commits suicide.

With the battle now raging, Cassius remarks to Titinius that his troops appear to be retreating
saying "This ensign here of mine was turning back;" adding that he slew (killed) the coward for
doing so (Lines 1-4).
Titinius explains to us what has happened. Brutus seeing he had an advantage over Octavius'
forces, gave the word to let his troops search for spoils (take anything of value) from the
retreating forces of Octavius. Unfortunately because Brutus' forces were busy searching for these
spoils, they were unable to reinforce Cassius' forces which have now been "enclos'd" (Line 8) or
surrounded by Antony's forces. (Lines 4-8).

Needing information on what is really going on, Cassius makes a fateful decision. He sends
Titinius to mount his horse and head towards some soldiers in the distance to tell Cassius
whether they are friendly or not (Lines 12-18).

Cassius then tells Pindarus to climb a nearby hill and tell Cassius what he sees of Titinius whilst
he is making his trip (Line 20).

From atop the hill, Pindarus now reports on Titinius' movements. Pindarus sees bad news. He
tells Cassius that Titinius was surrounded by troops and that they seen to be trying to pull him off
his horse. Then having heard shouts of joy, Pindarus tells Cassius that he fears his friend has
been captured by the enemy (Lines 28-35).

Cassius now instructs Pindarus to kill him (Lines 36-46) which he does, whilst Cassius exclaims
"Caesar, thou art reveng'd, / Even with the sword that kill'd thee [you]" before dying (Line 45).

Titinius however, now arrives back from his scouting mission. This should be impossible, but it
is revealed that Octavius' forces have been overthrown (defeated) by Brutus just as Cassius'
forces have been overthrown (defeated) by Antony's forces (Line 52).

Titinius hopes this news will cheer up Cassius but soon Titinius learns of Cassius' fate. Mourning
his comrade, Titinius is told to find Pindarus whilst Messala heads off to tell Brutus what has
happened. Instead Titinius, still mourning Cassius, kills himself by falling on Cassius' sword
(Lines 52-89).

Messala now returns with Brutus, Young Cato, Strato, Volumnius and Lucilius.

Messala shows Brutus Cassius' body, Brutus noting that he died with his head facing upwards
(Line 92). Brutus asks now on seeing the bodies of Titinius and Cassius "Are yet two Romans
living such as these?" (Are there any Romans today living as worthy as these two?), (Line 98),
bidding them good-bye with the lines "The last of all the Romans, fare thee well! It is impossible
that ever Rome / Should breed thy fellow" (Line 99).

Brutus now ends the scene, speaking proudly of his fallen comrade (Cassius) and pledging to
renew his fighting against Antony's and Octavius' forces:
"We shall try fortune in a second fight" Brutus decides (Line 109).

Act V. Scene IV. - Another Part of the Field.

Brutus inspires his men to keep fighting. Lucilius who is mistaken for Brutus is captured.
Eventually Mark Antony realizes this. The battle rages on and Antony issues orders for Brutus to
be captured, dead or alive...

Amidst the fighting of soldiers at Philippi, Brutus, Young Cato and Lucilius, make their
entrance. Brutus inspires his men to keep fighting, telling them, "Yet countrymen, O! yet hold up
your heads!" (Line 1).

Young Cato is inspired, proclaiming himself son of Marcus Cato (Lines 2-6). Brutus now leaves
and very shortly after, Cato is overpowered and falls.

Antony's forces now arrive and Lucilius who is mistaken for Brutus is taken prisoner. Lucilius
explains his real identity to Antony defiantly telling him, "Brutus is safe enough: / I dare assure
thee [you] that no enemy / Shall ever take alive the noble Brutus:" (Line 21).

Antony realizes Lucilius is not Brutus but proclaims him "A prize, no less in worth" telling his
men to keep him safe (Line 27). He explains that they should show Lucilius kindness, wisely
adding that, "I had rather have / Such men my friends than enemies" (Line 28).

Antony now instructs his men to find Brutus, dead or alive and to tell him of their progress in
Octavius' tent where he shall be waiting (Lines 28-30).

Act V. Scene V. - Another Part of the Field.

Mark Antony: "This was the noblest Roman of them all...."

Tired, weary, but still alive, Brutus finds a place to catch his breath with his few remaining
followers. One by one Brutus asks first Clitus, Dardanius and Volumnius to kill him but each
refuses. Finally Brutus gets his wish by falling on his sword, killing himself. Octavius, Mark
Antony, Messala and Lucilius now arrive. Strato explains how Brutus died. Mark Antony pays
tribute to Brutus' noble spirit by famously saying, "This was the noblest Roman of them all...."
Octavius tells his soldiers to stand down, the battle is now over...

Brutus enters our view, followed by Dardanius, Clitus, Strato and Volumnius. The scene is one
of weariness from fighting. The end is near...
Brutus in particular is tired and tells his friends "Come, poor remains of friends, rest on this
rock" (Line 1). Brutus' followers are concerned about the dangers of resting, Clitus reminding
Brutus that Statilius " show'd the torch-light;" but did not return...

Brutus tells his friends and Clitus in particular to take a rest and sit down. Whispering, Brutus
tells Clitus, "slaying is the word; / It is a deed in fashion" by which Brutus means he wants Clitus
to kill him (Line 4).

Clitus refuses, saying "No, not for all the world" (Line 5) would he kill Brutus and that "I'll
rather [I would rather] kill myself" than kill Brutus (Line 7).

Next, Brutus tries asking Dardanius to kill him instead. Dardanius like Clitus will not kill his
leader (Lines 8-12).

Noticing that Brutus now meditates, Clitus makes his admiration for his leader very clear,
saying: "Now is that noble vessel full of grief, / That it runs over even at his eyes" (Line 13).

Brutus tells Volumnius that "The ghost of Caesar hath [has] appear'd [appeared] to me / Two
several times [twice] by night; at Sardis [a location] once, / And this last night here in Philippi
fields [and last night, here at Philippi fields]" (Lines 16-18).

Famously, Brutus tells Volumnius that because of this, "I know my hour is come" (I know my
time is up, soon I will die...), (Line 19).

Volumnius tells his friend he is wrong but Brutus is certain of his fate. Brutus explains to
Volumnius that they have lost; "Our enemies have beat [beaten] us to the pit [metaphor for
defeat]:" adding that "It is more worthy to leap in ourselves, / Than tarry [fight] till they push us"
(Lines 23-24).

Reminding Volumnius that they both went to school together, Brutus asks his friend to "Hold
thou [hold you] my sword-hilts [my sword out], whilst I run on it" (whilst I run onto it, killing
myself), (Line 28).

Volumnius refuses, saying "That's not an office [duty, position] for a friend, my lord" (Line 29).

Alarms sound the approach of Brutus' enemies, Clitus telling Brutus to flee at once.

Instead Brutus bids Volumnius farewell, as well as Strato who he mentions has been asleep
during most of the action in this scene. He also regrets that Octavius and Mark Antony will rule
instead of him but notes that he will have more glory in his defeat than those two men will enjoy
from "this vile conquest [victory]" of theirs (Line 38).

Brutus again reminds us that his days are numbered before alarms interrupt him (Line 40).

These alarms sound and to the shouts of "'Fly, fly, fly!'" (Run!), Brutus flees as does Clitus,
Dardanius and Volumnius who exit from our view.

Alone now with Strato, Brutus asks again for help in ending his life. Brutus asks his friend to
hold out his sword while he runs on to it, telling Strato to "turn away thy [your] face," (Lines 44-
48).

Strato tells Brutus to first give him his hand one last time, and wishes his master well.

Brutus tells Strato, "Farewell, good Strato-" and runs onto to Strato's sword, stabbing himself
fatally (Line 50).

Mortally wounded, Brutus ends his life, saying "Caesar, now be still [rest in peace]; / I kill'd
[killed] not thee [not you] with half so good a will" (Line 51) a line suggesting Brutus did not kill
Caesar with half the certainty or intent that he took his own life with, reminding us that Brutus
was the reluctant assassin.

Alarms now sound general retreat, a sign that the battle is won, Octavius' and Mark Antony's
forces no longer need to keep advancing...

Octavius, Antony, Messala, Lucilius and their army now enter. Messala asks Strato where his
master Brutus is? Strato answers "Free from the bondage [binds] you are in Messala;" a reference
to the fact that Messala very recently was free, fighting on Brutus' side and not a prisoner as
Strato believes (Line 54).

Strato tells Messala that "The conquerors can but make a fire of him;" (they may burn his
corpse), (Line 55) but that they cannot claim any glory or honor from killing him since Brutus
"only overcame himself," a reference to Brutus committing suicide (Line 56).

Octavius graciously announces that he will take all those who served Brutus under his own
command instead of making them prisoners or killing them as was usually the case for
supporters of defeated enemies (Line 60).

Messala asks how Brutus died and Strato explains that "I held the sword, and he did run on it" (I
held the sword out and Brutus ran onto it, stabbing himself), (Line 65).
Messala asks Octavius then to take Brutus' loyal servant as one of his servants (Line 66).

Antony now graciously sums up Brutus' character by famously saying: "This was the noblest
Roman of them all; / All the conspirators save only he" (everyone except Brutus) in Antony's
opinion, killed Caesar out of "envy" whereas Brutus, Antony explains, joined these assassins out
of the "general honest thought" or opinion that killing Caesar was a "common good to all," or
was an action that best served everyone's interests, not Brutus' own unlike the other conspirators
(Lines 68-72).

Continuing his epitaph of Brutus, Antony adds that Brutus' life was "gentle, and the elements /
So mix'd in him [his virtues so well mixed] that Nature [nature itself] might stand up / And say to
all the world, 'This was a man!'" the highest possible compliment Antony could make (Lines 73-
75).

The play now ends with Octavius announcing that because of Brutus' qualities, he shall be buried
with honor, Octavius announcing that Brutus' bones will remain in his tent tonight, a sign of
great respect, which Octavius says is "Most like a soldier, order'd honourably" (is like a soldier
whose bones are arranged honorably before burial), (Line 79).

Commanding his forces to withdraw and cease all actions, Octavius announces his intention for
those exit the battlefield and to leave the glories of this day...

Octavius: "So call the field to rest [tell the troops to stand down]; and let's away [let's set off], /
To part the glories [leave the glories] of this happy day" (Line 80)

Ode to the west wind


Ode to the West Wind is a poem addressed to the
west wind. It is personified both as a "Destroyer"
and a "Preserver". It is seen as a great power of
nature that destroys in order to create, that kills
the unhealthy and the decaying to make way for
the new and the fresh.
The personification of the west wind as an
enchanter, as a wild spirit is characteristic of
Shelley's poetry. Shelley's personification of the
west wind can be called "myth poesies", another
kind of metaphor.
The poem is divided into five stanzas or parts. Each
part consists of 14 lines. The rhyming scheme is
aba, bcb, cdc, ded; and a rhyming concept at the
end.
Stanza 1

The poet addresses the west wind as "Wild" and


the "Breath of Autumn's Being." It is a powerful
force which drives the dead leaves which are
yellow, black, pale and hectic red, to distant places
like ghosts from an enchanter. The west wind
carries winged seeds to their dark wintery beds
underground which remain there till the west winds
sister in the spring season blows and these seeds
then blossom into sweet, scented flowers. The
earth then will be alive with these living lives or
colours and scents or fragrances. In this way the
west wind acts both as a Destroyer and Preserver.
Stanza 2

The Shelley describes the powerful effect of the


west wind in the sky. The west wind brakes away
the "Clouds" like earth's decaying leaves from the
boughs of Heaven. After being plucked, these
assume the fierce posture of black rain and hail.
These rain clouds are compared to the outspread
hair covering the sky from its horizon to its zenith.
The wildness and confusion in the sky is compared
to some fierce Maenad, the worshipper of Bacchus,
the Greek God of wine. Maenad worships god in a
frenzied fashion, uplifting her hair like tangled
clouds. These indicate the approaching storm.
The West Wind becomes a dirge (funeral song)
which is being sung for the dying year. The night
becomes a vast tomb where vapours have been
built like arches and will soon come down as rain
and hail.
Stanza 3

The west wind blows over the blue Mediterranean


sea which has been described as a vast sleepy
snake, which dreams of old civilization (palaces
and towers) rich in flowers and vegetation. The sea
sees "old palaces and towers" in sleep, which
quiver when the west wind blows. Both the
Mediterranean and the Atlantic seas are affected
by the West Wind. The Atlantic's surface gets cut
into chasms to make way for the West Wind and
the vegetation below the surface trembles in fear
at the force of the west wind.
Stanza 4

The West Wind now becomes a personal force. The


poet says that if he were a dead leaf, a swift cloud,
a wave, he could experience the West Wind's
power and its strength. In his childhood, the poet
had the power and strength and could probably out
speed the west wind, but now he (the poet) no
longer has the strength as he has been weakened
by the problem, and burdens of life and he is no
longer "tame less,", "swift" and "proud" as he used
to be in his childhood. He is blushing as he has
fallen on the thorns of life - meaning he is facing
many problems/crisis in his life which has drawn
away all his strength and power; and he is now
looking up to the west wind, requesting him for his
help.
Stanza 5

Despair and trauma which the poet is experiencing


now gives way to a new hope. Shelly offers himself
to the west wind in the same way as the sky, the
ocean and the forests do. He asks the west wind to
be the musician who can take out a deep autumnal
tone from him and maker harmoniums music from
him in the forest. The poet offers himself to the
west wind to be used as a "lyre" for this purpose.
The music thus produced may be sad but sweet.
The poet then goes on to compare himself to an
unextinguished fireplace with ashes and sparks -
meaning that the poet still has some unburnt
power in him. He requests the west wind to spread
this power like it spreads 'ashes' and 'sparks'
among mankind.
The poet ends with the hope that the west wind will
carry the poet's words over the entire universe and
be the trumpet of his prophecy. Winter is symbolic
of despair, coldness and death; but spring gives
hope to new life, birth beauty and colour. If there is
despair now, hope is very close by so the poet says
- if winter comes, can spring be far behind. If there
is despair and hopelessness now, there is hope and
optimism close at hand.

The rime of ancient mariner


The first two parts describe how the old sailor
(Ancient Mariner), defying laws of hospitality,
cruelly kills a sea bird - an Albatross, and is then
haunted and followed by the spirit of Albatross.

In the first part of the poem, the sailor appears


suddenly as three guests are about to enter a
wedding feast, and stops one of the guests who is
a close relative of the bridegroom. The wedding
feast, with its music is already in progress, but the
Mariner holds the guest first by the hand and then
with his glittering eye. There is a strange
compulsion in the glittering eye and in the whole
mannerism of the sailor that engulfs the wedding
guest who cannot choose but listen to the story.

The ballad begins with a ship setting sail for the


South. The ship soon reaches the equator as the
sun stands 'above the mast at noon'. At this point,
the poet tells the reader that the wedding guest
was impatient and wished to leave as he could
hear the wedding music (bassoon). But then, the
Mariner's bright eyes compel him to stay and
listen.

Then the ship gets caught in a storm and with


'sloping masts' and 'dipping prow', the ship flees
towards the South and reaches the Antarctic
regions - the land of mist, snow and icebergs as
green as emeralds. They do not sight either birds
or human beings during this time till they are
icebound.

Then, at last they sight an Albatross. They receive


it with joy and think it as a messenger of god. The
bird also brings further fortune. The ice, which had
kept them blocked, breaks up and they sail into the
Pacific Ocean. The Albatross follows the ship like its
guardian spirit, and comes to the ship when the
sailors call it. Then one day, the sailor (the subject
of the poem) shoots the Albatross with no reason.
A thoughtless deed, which now haunts him with
guilt and regret.

In the second part, the killing of the bird brings


retribution. At first, the mariners only miss the
friendly bird. But soon, they blame the killing for
the condition in which they are. They however,
change their opinion and their fickleness is shown
when they enter the more temperate climate and
the glorious sun rises brightly again. All the sailors
now praise him for killing the bird that had brought
the fog and mist.

Things go on well for some time till the ship


reaches the equator in the Pacific, the area of the
Doldrums, where there is no wind and the current
seems to go around in a circle. The terrible
situation is made clear through the use of imagery
and repetition. (All in a hot ..... Day after day).
Using a simile, the poet describes how the ship
was.. as idle as a painted ship upon a painted
ocean.. completely motionless. The situation
becomes desperate as even the deep ocean
seemed to be rotting and slimy things seemed to
crawl on the water. This is due to large quantities
of seaweed being washed into this part of the
ocean, and the sea creatures feeding on it on the
surface of the water.

The water, with its rotting creatures, is described


as death fires fuelled by the witch's oils - An
indication that death and destruction overtook the
sailors in the ship. The sailors finally realise that
their pathetic condition is because of the Mariner's
crime. They decide to punish him and with parched
throats and evil looks, the sailors remove the cross
from the Mariner's neck and hang the dead
Albatross around his neck. The bird is the symbol
of his guilt and a constant reminder of his evil
deed.

Ode to the west wind 2


Explanation: "Ode to the West Wind"

Lines 1-14
In this first of the five sections of the poem, the speaker begins to
define the domains and the powers of the West Wind. While
stanza II addresses the wind's influence on the sky, and stanza III
discusses its effects on the sea, stanza I describes the wind's
effects on the land. The autumn breezes scatter dead leaves and
seeds on the forest soil, where they eventually fertilize the earth
and take root as new growth. Both "Destroyer and Preserver" (line
14), the wind ensures the cyclical regularity of the seasons. These
themes of regeneration and the interconnectedness of death and
life, endings and beginnings, runs throughout "Ode to the West
Wind."The wind is, of course, more than simply a current of air. In
Greek and Latin — languages with which Shelley was familiar —
the words for "wind," "inspiration," "soul," and "spirit" are all
related. Shelley's "West Wind" thus seems to symbolize an
inspiring spiritual power that moves everywhere, and affects
everything.

Lines 2-3

These lines ostensibly suggest that, like a sorcerer might frighten


away spirits, the wind scatters leaves. But one might also
interpret "leaves dead" as forgotten books, and "ghosts" as
writers of the past; in this sense, the winds of inspiration make
way for new talent and ideas by driving away the memories of the
old.

Lines 4-5
The colors named here might simply indicate the different shades
of the leaves, but it is also possible to interpret the leaves as
symbols of humanity's dying masses. In this analysis, the colors
represent different cultures: Asian, African, Caucasian, and Native
American. This idea is supported by the phrase "Each like a
corpse within its grave" in line 8 that could indicate that each
person takes part in the natural cycle of life and death.

Lines 6-7

Here, the wind is described as a chariot that carries leaves and


seeds to the cold earth. This comparison gives the impression
that the wind has some of the aspects of those who are
associated with chariots — gods and powerful rulers.

Line 8

The leaves are personified as people within their graves, an


image that harkens back to lines 4 and 5, where the leaves are
considered as diseased "multitudes" of people.

Lines 9-12

In Greek and Roman mythology, the spring west wind was


masculine, as was the autumnal wind. Here, the speaker refers to
the spring wind as feminine, perhaps to stress its role as nurturer
and life-giver. She is pictured as awakening Nature with her
energetic "clarion," which is a type of medieval trumpet.
Lines 13-14

At the conclusion of the first stanza, the speaker identifies the


wind as the powerful spirit of nature that incorporates both
destruction and continuing life. In fact, these two processes are
said to be related; without destruction, life cannot continue. At
the end of line 14 is the phrase "Oh hear!" that will be repeated at
the end of stanzas 2 and 3. This refrain emphasizes sound, which
seems appropriate given that wind, an invisible force, is the
poem's central subject.

Lines 15-28

In stanza II, the wind helps the clouds shed rain, as it had helped
the trees shed leaves in stanza I. Just as the dead foliage
nourishes new life in the forest soil, so does the rain contribute to
Nature's regenerative cycle.

Lines 16-18

This passage has been heavily attacked by critics like F. R. Leavis


for its lack of concreteness and apparently disconnected imagery;
others have cited Shelley's knowledge of science, and the
possibility that these poetic phrasings might indeed be based on
natural fact. The loose clouds, for example, are probably cirrus
clouds, harbingers (or "angels" as it is put in line 18) of rain. As
the leaves of stanza I have been shed from boughs, these clouds
have been shaken from the heavier cloud masses, or "boughs of
Heaven and Ocean" (line 17). In Latin, "cirrus" means "curl" or
"lock of hair"; it is thus appropriate that these clouds resemble a
Maenad's "bright hair" (line 20) and are referred to as the "locks
of the approaching storm" (line 23).

Lines 20-23

When Shelley was in Florence, he saw a relief sculpture of four


maenads. These worshipers of the Roman god of wine and
vegetation, Bacchus (in Greek mythology, Dionysus) were wild,
dancing women with streaming hair. Here, the speaker compares
the appearance of the cirrus clouds streaked across the horizon
with the maenads' blown tresses. This image seems especially
appropriate in that Bacchus/Dionysus is associated with the
natural world and the wind and clouds are primary elements of
nature.

Lines 23-28

The wail of the wind is compared to a song of grief, as if it were


mourning the "dying" year. As the year draws to a close, Nature
prepares for the funeral. The coming night is described as a
"sepulcher," a burial tomb that will be marked by lightning and
hail from a storm. This last day will end in darkness, under storm
clouds.

Lines 29-42
In stanza III, the West Wind wields its power over the sea; but
unlike the first two stanzas, this one is introduced by an image of
calm, peace, and sensuality. The Mediterranean Sea is pictured as
smooth and tranquil, sleeping alongside the old Italian town of
Baiae. Once a playground of Roman emperors, Baiae sunk as a
result of volcanic activity and is now the bed of a lush underwater
garden. But the wind can also "waken" (line 29) the sea and
disturb the summer tranquility of the waters by ushering in an
autumn storm.

Lines 32-33

In 1818, Shelley himself had sailed past the Bay of Baiae; in a


December letter to Thomas Love Peacock, he enthusiastically
describes the "ruins of its antique grandeur standing like rocks in
the transparent sea under our boat."

Lines 36-38

Beginning at the end of line 36, the speaker disrupts the peace of
the seascape and reminds the West Wind of its power to churn up
wild, whitecapped surf.

Lines 39-42
The lush sea foliage, which is "sapless" because the plants are
underwater, is aware of the wind's ability to destroy;
remembering the havoc of cold weather storms, the vegetation is
drained of color, as a person turns pale with fear, or as plant life
on Earth fades in the fall. In a note to these lines, Shelley wrote:
"The vegetation at the bottom of the sea, of rivers, and of lakes,
sympathizes with that of the land in the change of seasons, and is
consequently influenced by the winds which announce it." The
natural cycles of death and regeneration thus continue even
underwater, with the aid of the West Wind.

Lines 43-56

After three stanzas of describing the West Wind's power, which


are all echoed in the first three lines of Stanza IV, the speaker
asks to be moved by this spirit. For the first time in "Ode to the
West Wind," the wind confronts humanity in the form of speaker
of the poem. No longer an idealistic young man, this speaker has
experienced sorrow, pain, and limitations. He stumbles, even as
he asks to be spiritually uplifted. At the same time, he can recall
his younger years when he was "tameless, and swift, and proud"
like the wind. These recollections help him to call on the wind for
inspiration and new life. In this manner, the poem suggests that
humans, too, are part of the never-ending natural cycle of death
and rebirth.

Lines 47-52

In line 47, the speaker begins to explain that, as an idealistic


youth, he used to "race" the wind — and win, in his own mind. But
now, as an older man, he could never imagine challenging the
wind's power.

Lines 53-54

In these well-known lines often mocked by Shelley's detractors,


the patterns of sea, earth, and sky are recalled as the speaker
asks to be raised from his sorrows by the inspirational West Wind.
He seems almost Christ-like in his suffering, the "thorns of life"
recalling the crown of thorns worn by Christ during the crucifixion.

Lines 55-56

The Christ-like image of the speaker continues here; his life


experiences have been heavy crosses for him to bear and have
weighed him down. And yet there still seem to be sparks of life
and hope within him. He can still recall when he possessed many
of the wind's powers and qualities.

Lines 57-70

If Stanza IV is the explanation of why the West Wind is being


invoked, Stanza V is the prayer itself. The requests of the speaker
seem to gather speed much as the wind does; while he begins by
asking to be moved by the wind, he soon asks to become one
with this power. As a breeze might ignite a glowing coal, the
speaker asks for the wind to breathe new life into him and his
poetic art. With his last question, the speaker reminds his
audience that change is on the horizon, be it personal or natural,
artistic or political.The lyre referred to in line 57 might be the
Eolian lyre or harp, its name derived from Eolus, god of the winds.
This lyre is a box with strings stretched across an opening. When
the wind moves through it, the eolian harp emits musical sounds.
Many Romantic writers, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his
poem "The Eolian Harp", used the instrument as a symbol for the
human imagination that is played upon by a greater power. Here,
the speaker asks to be the West Wind's lyre, its means of music
and communication.

Lines 58-62

Here, the speaker seems to accept his sorrows and sufferings; he


realizes that the wind's power may allow him to add harmony to
autumn's music. He is still sad, but he recognizes a sweetness in
his pain: he is part of a natural cycle, and will have a chance to
begin again as both man and poet. The speaker's growing
strength is hinted at by the powerful exclamations in lines 61 and
62.

Lines 63-64

The wind blew leaves over the forest floor, fertilizing the soil; now,
the speaker asks the wind to scatter his timeworn ideas and
writings across the earth in hopes of inspiring new thoughts and
works. Note the word play on "leaves," which can be found either
on trees or in books.
Lines 65-67

In "A Defence of Poetry," Shelley wrote that "the mind in creation


is as a fading coal, which some invisible influence, like an
inconstant wind, awakens to transitory brightness." In asking the
wind to fan — and hopefully arouse — the dying embers of his
words, the speaker seems to be echoing this idea.

Lines 68-69

These lines recall the angel's "clarion" of line 10, awakening the
earth from wintry slumber. The speaker here asks to become the
poet-prophet of the new season of renewal.

Lines 69-70

Shelley originally framed the last two lines as a statement;


phrased as a question, the poem ends on a note of expectancy
rather than affirmation. The speaker has made his case and plea
to assist the wind in the declaration of a new age — but he has
not yet received an answer. Along with his audience, he
breathlessly awaits a "yes", delivered on the wings of the wind.

Source: Exploring Poetry, Gale, 1997.

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