Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
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Annotation: Shakespeare readers will further be able to understand and appreciate the text of this play with the help of explanatory footnotes on the language and expressions used and a history of Shakespearean theater and writing.
Catalog Number: #4668835
Format: Paperback
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition Date: 2005
Pages: xxxviii, 241 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-553-21296-6
ISBN 13: 978-0-553-21296-9
Dewey: 822.3
Dimensions: 18 cm.
Language: English
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages [235]-238).
Word Count: 27,309
Reading Level: 10.0
Interest Level: 9+
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 10.0 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 5987 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:11.0 / points:17.0 / quiz:Q14133
Lexile: NP

[Dramatis Personae

julius caesar

CALPERNIA, Caesar's wife

mark antony,

OCTAVIOUS CAESAR,     triumvirs after Caesar's death



PORTIA, Brutus's wife




CINNA,  conspirators with Brutus





PUBLIUS,         senators


FLAVIUS,  tribunes of the people




ARTEMIDORUS, a teacher of rhetoric

CINNA, a poet

Another POET





VOLUMNIUS,       officers and soldiers in the army

VARRO,   of Brutus and Cassius






PINDARUS, Cassius's servant

LUCIUS, Brutus's servants


Caesar's SERVANT

Antony's SERVANT

Octavius's SERVANT




Three SOLDIERS in Brutus's army

Two SOLDIERS in Antony's army


GHOST of Caesar

Senators, Plebeians, Officers, Soldiers, and Attendants

SCENE: Rome; the neighborhood of Sardis;

the neighborhood of Philippi]

1.1 Location: Rome. A street.

3 mechanical of the artisan class

4 sign garb and implements

10 in . . . workman (1) as far as skilled work is concerned (2) compared with a skilled worker

11 cobbler (1) one who works with shoes (2) bungler.

14 soles (With pun on "souls.")

15 naughty good-for-nothing

16 out out of temper

17 out having worn-out shoes.   mend you (1) cure your bad temper (2) repair your shoes.

19 cobble you mend your shoes. (The meaning "to pelt with stones" also suggests itself here, though perhaps it was not in general use until later in the seventeenth century.)

1.1 * Enter Flavius, Marullus, and certain commoners over the stage.


Hence! Home, you idle creatures, get you home!

Is this a holiday? What, know you not,

Being mechanical, you ought not walk 3

Upon a laboring day without the sign 4

Of your profession?--Speak, what trade art thou?

CARPENTER  Why, sir, a carpenter.


Where is thy leather apron and thy rule?

What dost thou with thy best apparel on?--

You, sir, what trade are you?

COBBLER  Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, I am  10

but, as you would say, a cobbler. 11


But what trade art thou? Answer me directly.

COBBLER  A trade, sir, that I hope I may use with a safe

conscience, which is indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.  14


What trade, thou knave? Thou naughty knave, what

  trade?  15

COBBLER  Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me.  16

Yet if you be out, sir, I can mend you. 17


What mean'st thou by that? Mend me, thou saucy


COBBLER  Why, sir, cobble you. 19

21 awl (Punning on all.)

22 meddle with (1) have to do with (2) have sexual intercourse with

23 withal yet. (With pun on with awl.)

24 recover (1) resole (2) cure

25 proper fine, handsome.   as . . . leather (Proverbial. Neat's leather is cowhide.)

31 triumph triumphal procession. (Caesar had overthrown the sons of Pompey the Great in Spain at the Battle of Munda, March 17, 45 b.c. The triumph was held that October.)

33 tributaries captives who will pay ransom (tribute)

35 senseless insensible like stone (hence, unfeeling)

37 Pompey (Caesar had overthrown the great soldier and onetime triumvir at the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 b.c. Pompey fled to Egypt, where he was murdered.)

38-9  battlements . . . chimney tops (The details are appropriate to an Elizabethan cityscape.)

42 great (Alludes to Pompey's epithet, Magnus, "great.")   pass pass through

45 Tiber the Tiber River

46 replication echo

47 concave hollowed out, overhanging

49 cull pick

FLAVIUS  Thou art a cobbler, art thou?

COBBLER  Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl. I  21

meddle with no tradesman's matters nor women's  22

matters, but withal I am indeed, sir, a surgeon to old  23

shoes. When they are in great danger, I recover them.  24

As proper men as ever trod upon neat's leather have  25

gone upon my handiwork.


But wherefore art not in thy shop today?

Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?

COBBLER  Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself

into more work. But indeed, sir, we make holiday

to see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph. 31


Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he home?

What tributaries follow him to Rome 33

To grace in captive bonds his chariot wheels?

You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless

  things! 35

O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome,

Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft 37

Have you climbed up to walls and battlements, 38

To towers and windows, yea, to chimney tops, 39

Your infants in your arms, and there have sat

The livelong day, with patient expectation,

To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome. 42

And when you saw his chariot but appear,

Have you not made an universal shout,

That Tiber trembled underneath her banks 45

To hear the replication of your sounds 46

Made in her concave shores? 47

And do you now put on your best attire?

And do you now cull out a holiday? 49

And do you now strew flowers in his way

51 Pompey's blood (1) Pompey's offspring (2) the blood of the Pompeys.

54 intermit suspend

55 needs must must necessarily

57 sort rank

59-60  till . . . all until even at its lowest reach the river is filled to the brim.

61 See . . . moved See how even their ignoble natures can be appealed to. (Mettle and metal are interchangeable, meaning both "temperament" and the natural substance. A base metal is one that is easily changed or moved, unlike gold; compare 1.2.308-10.)

64 images statues (of Caesar in royal regalia, set up by his followers)

65 ceremonies ceremonial trappings.

67 Feast of Lupercal a feast of purification (Februa, whence February) in honor of Pan, celebrated from ancient times in Rome on February 15 of each year. (Historically, this celebration came some months after Caesar's triumph in October of 45 b.c. The celebrants, called Luperci, raced around the Palatine Hill and the Circus carrying thongs of goatskin, with which they lightly struck those who came in their way. Women so touched were supposed to be cured of barrenness; hence Caesar's wish that Antony would strike Calpurnia, 1.2.6-9.)

69 trophies spoils of war hung up as memorials of victory.   about go around the other way

70 vulgar commoners, plebeians

73 pitch highest point in flight. (A term from falconry.)

74 else otherwise

That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood? 51


Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,

Pray to the gods to intermit the plague 54

That needs must light on this ingratitude. 55


Go, go, good countrymen, and for this fault

Assemble all the poor men of your sort; 57

Draw them to Tiber banks, and weep your tears

Into the channel, till the lowest stream 59

Do kiss the most exalted shores of all. 60

Exeunt all the commoners.

See whe'er their basest mettle be not moved. 61

They vanish tongue-tied in their guiltiness.

Go you down that way towards the Capitol;

This way will I. Disrobe the images 64

If you do find them decked with ceremonies. 65

MARULLUS  May we do so?

You know it is the Feast of Lupercal. 67


It is no matter. Let no images

Be hung with Caesar's trophies. I'll about 69

And drive away the vulgar from the streets; 70

So do you too, where you perceive them thick.

These growing feathers plucked from Caesar's wing

Will make him fly an ordinary pitch, 73

Who else would soar above the view of men 74

And keep us all in servile fearfulness. Exeunt.

1.2 Location: A public place or street, perhaps as in the previous scene.

0.1  for the course i.e., stripped for the race, carrying a goatskin thong

3 Antonio (Here and occasionally elsewhere Shakespeare employs Italian forms of Latin proper names, perhaps for metrical reasons.)

9 sterile curse curse of barrenness.

11 Set on Proceed

15 press throng

[1.2] * Enter Caesar, Antony for the course, Calpurnia, Portia, Decius, Cicero, Brutus, Cassius, Casca, a Soothsayer; after them, Marullus and Flavius; [citizens following].



casca Peace, ho! Caesar speaks.

CAESAR                  Calpurnia!

CALPURNIA  Here, my lord.


Stand you directly in Antonio's way 3

When he doth run his course. Antonio!

ANTONY  Caesar, my lord?


Forget not, in your speed, Antonio,

To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say

The barren, touched in this holy chase,

Shake off their sterile curse.

ANTONY I shall remember. 9

When Caesar says "Do this," it is performed.


Set on, and leave no ceremony out. [Flourish.]  11


CAESAR  Ha? Who calls?


Bid every noise be still. Peace yet again!

[The music ceases.]


Who is it in the press that calls on me? 15

I hear a tongue shriller than all the music

Cry "Caesar!" Speak. Caesar is turned to hear.

18 ides of March March 15.

24.1  Sennet trumpet call signaling the arrival or departure of a dignitary.   Manent They remain onstage

25 order of the course ritual and progress of the race.

28 gamesome fond of sports, merry.

34 wont accustomed

35 You . . . hand You behave too stubbornly and in too unfriendly a manner. (The metaphor is from horsemanship.)

37 veiled my look i.e., been introverted, seemed less friendly


Beware the ides of March.

CAESAR What man is that? 18


A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.


Set him before me. Let me see his face.


Fellow, come from the throng. [The Soothsayer comes

  forward.] Look upon Caesar.


What say'st thou to me now? Speak once again.

SOOTHSAYER  Beware the ides of March.


He is a dreamer. Let us leave him. Pass. 24

Sennet. Exeunt. Manent Brutus and Cassius.


Will you go see the order of the course? 25


CASSIUS  I pray you, do.


I am not gamesome. I do lack some part 28

Of that quick spirit that is in Antony.

Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires;

I'll leave you.


Brutus, I do observe you now of late.

I have not from your eyes that gentleness

And show of love as I was wont to have. 34

You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand 35

Over your friend that loves you.

BRUTUS           Cassius,

Be not deceived. If I have veiled my look, 37

39 Merely entirely

40 passions of some difference conflicting emotions

41 only proper to relating only to

42 soil blemish

49-50  By . . . value because of which misunderstanding (my assuming you were displeased with me) I have kept to myself important thoughts

54 just true.

58 shadow image, reflection.

59 best respect highest repute and station

62 had his eyes (1) could see things from the perspective of Caesar's critics, or (2) could see better with his own eyes.

I turn the trouble of my countenance

Merely upon myself. Vexd I am 39

Of late with passions of some difference, 40

Conceptions only proper to myself, 41

Which give some soil, perhaps, to my behaviors. 42

But let not therefore my good friends be grieved--

Among which number, Cassius, be you one--

Nor construe any further my neglect

Than that poor Brutus, with himself at war,

Forgets the shows of love to other men.


Then, Brutus, I have much mistook your passion,

By means whereof this breast of mine hath buried 49

Thoughts of great value, worthy cogitations. 50

Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?


No, Cassius, for the eye sees not itself

But by reflection, by some other things.

CASSIUS  'Tis just. 54

And it is very much lamented, Brutus,

That you have no such mirrors as will turn

Your hidden worthiness into your eye,

That you might see your shadow. I have heard 58

Where many of the best respect in Rome, 59

Except immortal Caesar, speaking of Brutus

And groaning underneath this age's yoke,

Have wished that noble Brutus had his eyes. 62


Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius,

That you would have me seek into myself

For that which is not in me?


Therefore, good Brutus, be prepared to hear;

And since you know you cannot see yourself

68 glass mirror

69 modestly discover reveal without exaggeration

71 jealous on suspicious of.   gentle noble

72 laughter laughingstock, as at 4.3.114; or perhaps laugher, a shallow fellow who laughs at every jest.   did use were accustomed

73 stale cheapen, make common.   ordinary (1) commonplace (2) customary (3) tavern

74 protester one who protests or declares friendship

76 after scandal afterwards slander

77 profess myself make declarations of friendship

78 rout mob

78.1  Flourish Fanfare for a dignitary

87 indifferently impartially

88 speed me make me prosper

91 favor appearance.

95 as lief not be just as soon not exist

96 such . . . myself i.e., a fellow mortal.

So well as by reflection, I, your glass, 68

Will modestly discover to yourself 69

That of yourself which you yet know not of.

And be not jealous on me, gentle Brutus. 71

Were I a common laughter, or did use 72

To stale with ordinary oaths my love 73

To every new protester; if you know 74

That I do fawn on men and hug them hard

And after scandal them, or if you know 76

That I profess myself in banqueting 77

To all the rout, then hold me dangerous. 78

Flourish, and shout.


What means this shouting? I do fear the people

Choose Caesar for their king.

CASSIUS Ay, do you fear it?

Then must I think you would not have it so.


I would not, Cassius, yet I love him well.

But wherefore do you hold me here so long?

What is it that you would impart to me?

If it be aught toward the general good,

Set honor in one eye and death i'th'other

And I will look on both indifferently; 87

For let the gods so speed me as I love 88

The name of honor more than I fear death.


I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,

As well as I do know your outward favor. 91

Well, honor is the subject of my story.

I cannot tell what you and other men

Think of this life; but, for my single self,

I had as lief not be as live to be 95

In awe of such a thing as I myself. 96

105 Accoutred fully dressed in armor

108 lusty sinews vigorous might. (Literally, tendons.)

109 stemming making headway against.   hearts of controversy hearts fired up by rivalry.

112 Aeneas hero of Virgil's Aeneid, the legendary founder of Rome (hence our great ancestor), who bore his aged father Anchises out of burning Troy as it was falling to the Greeks

117 bend his body bow

122 color (1) i.e., normal healthy hue (2) military colors, flag. (The lips are personified as deserters.)

123 bend glance, gaze

124 his its

129 temper constitution

130 get . . . of gain ascendancy over

131 palm victor's prize

I was born free as Caesar, so were you;

We both have fed as well, and we can both

Endure the winter's cold as well as he.

Excerpted from Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

In this striking tragedy of political conflict, Shakespeare turns to the ancient Roman world and to the famous assassination of Julius Caesar by his republican opponents. The play is one of tumultuous rivalry, of prophetic warnings–“Beware the ides of March”–and of moving public oratory, “Friends, Romans, countrymen!” Ironies abound and most of all for Brutus, whose fate it is to learn that his idealistic motives for joining the conspiracy against a would-be dictator are not enough to sustain the movement once Caesar is dead.

Each Edition Includes:
• Comprehensive explanatory notes
• Vivid introductions and the most up-to-date scholarship
• Clear, modernized spelling and punctuation, enabling contemporary readers to understand the Elizabethan English
• Completely updated, detailed bibliographies and performance histories
• An interpretive essay on film adaptations of the play, along with an extensive filmography

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