Act I, Scene 1

A street in Rome

Get away from here! home, you lazy creatures, go home!
Is this a holiday? What, don't you know,
Since you are workers, you should not walk around
On a workday without carrying the tools
Of your trade? Speak, what is your trade?

First Commoner.
Why, sir, a carpenter.

Where is your leather apron and your ruler?
Why do you have your best clothes on? You,
Sir, what trade are you?

Second Commoner.
Truly sir, in respect of a fine workman I am only, as you would say, a cobbler.

But what trade are you? Give me a straight answer.

Second Commoner.
A trade, sir, that I hope I may do with a safe conscience, which is indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.

What trade, wise guy? You dirty trickster, what trade?

Second Commoner.
No, I beg you, sir, don't be out with me. But if you are out, sir, I can fix you.

What do you mean by that? Fix me, you disrespectful fellow?

Second Commoner.
Why, sir, cobble you.

You are a cobbler, are you?

Second Commoner.
Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl. I don't fool with any worker's matters or women's matters, but with all. I am indeed, sir, a surgeon to old shoes. When they are in great danger, I heal them. The most proper men that ever walked on calfskin have walked on my handiwork.

But why are you not in your shop today? Why do you lead these people through the streets?

Second Commoner.
Really, sir, to wear out their shoes, so I will have more work. But actually, sir, we are taking the day off to see Caesar and to celebrate his victory.

Why rejoice? What conquest does he bring home?
What captured prisoners follow him to Rome
Chained to the wheels of his chariot?
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
O you hard hearts, you cruel people of Rome!
Didn't you know Pompey? Many times
You climbed up to walls and battlements,
To towers and windows, yes, to chimney tops,
Your babies in your arms, and there you sat
All day, patiently waiting,
To see great Pompey pass through the streets of Rome.
And when you barely saw his chariot appear,
Didn't everyone shout,
So that the Tiber shook under her banks
To hear the echo of your sounds
Made in her concave shores?
And do you now put on your best clothes?
And do you now choose a holiday?
And do you now throw flowers in the path
Of the man who comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?
Be gone!
Run to your houses, fall on your knees,
Pray to the gods to hold back the deadly disease
That would be a fair punishment for your ingratitude.

Go, go, good countrymen, and for this weakness
Gather all the poor men like you;
Bring them to the banks of the Tiber, and weep your tears
Into the river, until the water overflows.
[Exit all the commoners]
We'll see if their poor characters are affected.
They feel so guilty that they leave without speaking.
You go down that way towards the Capitol;
I'll go this way. Strip the statues
Of any decorations you find on them.

Can we do that?
You know it is the feast of Lupercal.

It doesn't matter. Let no statues
Be decorated with Caesar's trophies.
I'll go around
And scatter the rest of the commoners.
Do the same yourself wherever they are forming a crowd.
These growing feathers that we pull from Caesar's wing
Will make him fly at an ordinary height,
When otherwise he would soar too high to be seen
and keep us all under him and afraid.