Act I, Scene 2

[A public place in Rome]

[A flourish of trumpets announces the approach of Caesar. A large crowd of Commoners has assembled; a Soothsayer is among them. Enter Caesar; his wife, Calpurnia; Portia; Decius; Cicero; Brutus; Cassius; Casca; and Antony, who is stripped down in preparation for running in the games.]


Be quiet! Caesar speaks.


Here, my lord.

Stand in Antony's path
When he runs the race. Antonius.

Caesar, my lord?

In your hurry, don't forget, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for the old people say
That barren women, touched by someone running in this holy race,
Lose the curse of sterility.

I shall remember.
When Caesar says "Do this," it is done.

Do what you need to do, and don't leave out any part of the ritual.

[Flourish of trumpets. Caesar starts to leave.]


Ha! Who calls me?

Tell everyone to be quiet. Silence again!

Who is in the crowd that calls on me?
I hear a voice shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak. Caesar is turned to hear.

Beware the ides of March.

Who is that?

A soothsayer tells you to beware the ides of March.

Put him in front of me; let me see his face.

Fellow, come out of the crowd; look at Caesar.

What do you say to me now? Say it one more time.

Beware the ides of March.

He is a dreamer; let us leave him. Pass.

[Trumpets sound. Exit all but Brutus and Cassius.]

Are you going to watch the race?

Not I.

I wish you would.

I do not like sports. I am not
Athletic like Antony.
Don't let me spoil, Cassius, what you want to do.
I'll leave you.

Brutus, I have watched you lately;
I have not seen in your eyes the kindness
And friendliness I used to see.
You are being too stubborn and too distant
From your friend who cares about you.

Don't be deceived. If I have hidden my true feelings,
I have been frowning
Only at myself. I have been troubled
Lately by mixed emotions,
Personal matters that concern no one else,
Which are, perhaps, affecting the way I act.
But don't let my good friends be upset
(And you, Cassius, are counted as one of them)
Or interpret my neglect of them as anything more serious
Than that poor Brutus, at war with himself,
Forgets to be friendly to other men.

In that case, Brutus, I have misunderstood your feelings,
Because of which I have kept to myself
Certain important thoughts, worthy ideas.
Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face?

No, Cassius, for the eye cannot see itself
Except when it is reflected by something else.

That's true.
And it is too bad, Brutus, That you don't have any mirrors that would show
Your inner qualities to you,
So that you could see their reflection. I have heard
That many of the most respected people in Rome
(Except immortal Caesar), speaking about Brutus
And suffering under the troubles of this time,
Have wished that noble Brutus could see himself the way they see him.

What danger are you leading me into, Cassius,
That you want me to search inside myself
For something that is not there?

In that case, good Brutus, listen;
Since you know you cannot see yourself
Without being reflected, I, your mirror,
Will without exaggerating show you
Things about yourself which you don't yet realize.
And don't be suspicious of me, gentle Brutus,
If you think I'm a fool, or someone
Who pretends to be the friend
Of everyone who promises friendship to me; if you believe
That I show friendship
And then gossip about my friends; or if you know
That I try to win the affections
Of the common people, then consider me dangerous.

[Flourish and shout.]

What does this shouting mean? I am afraid the people
Choose Caesar to be their king.

Ay, are you afraid of it?
Then I must believe that you don't want it to happen.

I don't want it, Cassius, but Caesar is my good friend.
But why do you keep me here so long?
What is it that you want to tell me?
If it is anything concerning the good of Rome,
Put honor on one side and death on the other,
And I will face either one;
For let the gods give me good fortune only if I love
The name of honor more than I fear death.

I know that what you have just said is true about you, Brutus,
Just as well as I know your outward appearance.
Well, honor is what I want to talk about.
I don't know what you and other people
Think about life, but just for myself,
I would rather die than live to be
In awe of someone no better than I am.
I was born as free as Caesar, so were you;
We eat the same foods, and we can both
Stand the winter's cold just as well as Caesar.
One time, on a cold and windy day,
When the Tiber River was rising in the storm,
Caesar said to me, "Cassius, I dare you
To leap with me into this angry flood
And swim to that spot way over there." As soon as he said it,
Dressed like I was, I plunged in
And dared him to follow. That's exactly what he did.
The torrent roared, and we fought it
With strong muscles, throwing it aside
And conquering it with our spirit of competition.
But before we could arrive at the designated spot,
Caesar cried, "Help me, Cassius, or I will sink!"
Just like Aeneas, our great ancestor,
Carried the old Anchises from the flames of Troy
On his shoulder, I from the waves of Tiber
Carried the tired Caesar. And this man
Is now considered a god, and Cassius is
A wretched creature and must bow down
If Caesar even carelessly nods at him.
He had a fever when he was in Spain,
And when he was having fits, I saw clearly
How he shook. It is true, this god shook.
His lips turned pale,
And that same eye whose glance awes the world
Lost his shine. I heard him groan.
Yes, and that tongue of his that persuaded the Romans
To watch him closely and write his speeches in their books,
Alas, it cried, "Give me something to drink, Titinius,"
Just like a sick girl! You gods! It amazes me
That such a weak man should
Get ahead of the rest of the world
And appear as the victor all by himself.

[Shout. Flourish.]

The crowd shouts again?
I think that all this applause is
For some new honors that are given to Caesar.

Why, man, he stands with the puny world between his legs
Like a Colossus, and we insignificant men
Walk under his huge legs and look around
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
Men at some point in time are in charge of their own destinies.
It is not the fault, dear Brutus, of our stars
That we are inferiors, but it is our own fault.
"Brutus" and "Caesar." What is so special about the name "Caesar"?
Why should that name be spoken more than yours?
Write them together: your name looks just as good.
Say them, yours sounds as good.
Weigh them, it is as heavy. Call up spirits with them:
"Brutus" will call up a spirit as soon as "Caesar."
Now in the names of all the gods at once,
What does our Caesar eat
To make him grow so large? It is a shameful time to be living!
Rome, you have lost all your noble people!
Since the great Flood, when was there a time
That wasn't made famous by more than one man?
When could people talking of Rome say (till now)
That her wide walls contained only one man?
Now it is Rome indeed, and plenty of room,
When there is only one man in it! O, you and I have heard our fathers say
That there was once a man named Brutus who would have tolerated
The eternal devil ruling Rome
As easily as he would a king.

I am sure that you are my friend.
What you are trying to persuade me of, I can guess.
What I think about this, and about these times,
I will tell you later. For right now,
I ask you as a friend not
To try to convince me further. What you have said
I will think about; what you have to say
I will patiently hear, and I will find a time
Appropriate both to hear and to answer such important things.
Until then, my noble friend, chew on this:
Brutus would rather be a villager
Than to represent himself as a son of Rome
Under the difficult conditions that this time in history
Is likely to put on us.

I am glad
That my weak words have provoked this much strong
Reaction from Brutus.

[Voices and music are heard approaching.]

The games are over, and Caesar is returning.

As they pass by, pull Casca's sleeve,
And he will (in his sour way) tell you
What of importance has happened today.

[Reenter Caesar and his train of followers.]

I'll do it. But look, Cassius!
There is an angry spot glowing on Caesar's face,
And everyone else looks like a group of followers who have been scolded.
Calpurnia's cheeks are pale, and Cicero
Has fiery eyes like an angry ferret,
The look he gets in the Capitol,
When other senators disagree with him.

Casca will tell us what the matter is.

[Caesar looks at Cassius and turns to Antony.]



Let me have men around me who are fat,
Sleek-headed men, and men that sleep at night.
Cassius, over there, has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.

Don't be afraid of him, Caesar; he's not dangerous.
He is a noble Roman, and your supporter.

I wish he were fatter! But I am not afraid of him.
Still, if I were the sort of person who became afraid,
I do not know the man I would avoid
As soon as that spare Cassius. He reads too much,
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through men's actions into their hearts. He does not enjoy plays
Like you do, Antony; he does not listen to music.
He seldom smiles, and when he does, he smiles in such a way
That it's like he made fun of himself and looked down on his spirit
Because something could make it smile.
Men like him are never able to enjoy life
While they see someone greater than themselves,
And for that reason they are very dangerous.
I am telling you what there is to be afraid of,
Not what I fear, for always I am Caesar.
Come to my right side, for this ear is deaf,
And tell me truthfully what you think of him.

[Trumpets sound. Exit Caesar and all his train except Casca, who stays behind.]

You pulled me by the cloak. Do you wish to speak with me?

Yes, Casca. Tell us what has happened today
To make Caesar look so sad.

Why, you were with him, weren't you?

If I were, I wouldn't ask Casca what had happened.

Why, there was a crown offered to him; and when it was offered to him, he pushed it aside with the back of his hand, like this. And then the people started shouting.

What was the second noise for?

Why, for the same reason.

Was the crown offered to him three times?

Yes, indeed, it was! and he pushed it away three times, each time more gently than the others; and every time he pushed it away my honest neighbors shouted.

Who offered him the crown?

Why, Antony.

Tell us how it happened, gentle Casca.

I could as easily be hanged as tell how it happened. It was mere foolery; I did not pay attention to it. I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown--but it was not a crown either, it was one of these coronets--and, as I told you, he pushed it away once. But for all that, to my thinking, he would gladly have taken it. Then he offered it to him again; then he pushed it away again; but to my thinking, he was very reluctant to take his fingers off of it. And then he offered it the third time. He pushed it away the third time; and still while he refused it, the unruly crowd hooted, and clapped their chapped hands, and threw up their sweaty nightcaps, and let out so much stinking breath because Caesar refused the crown that it, almost, choked Caesar; for he fainted and fell down because of it. And for my own part, I didn't dare laugh, for fear of opening my lips and breathing the bad air.

But wait a minute, I beg you.
What, did Caesar faint?

He fell down in the marketplace and foamed at the mouth and was speechless.

That sounds like him. He has the falling sickness.

No, Caesar doesn't have it; but you, and I, and honest Casca, we have the falling sickness.

I don't know what you mean by that, but I am sure Caesar fell down. If the rag-tag people did not clap at him and hiss at him, according to how he pleased and displeased them, like they are used to doing with the actors in the theater, I am no true man.

What did he say when he came to himself?

Indeed, before he fell down, when he saw that the crowd was glad that he refused the crown, he pulled open his jacket and offered them his throat to cut. If I had been a worker with a proper tool, may I go to hell with the sinners if I would not have done as he asked. And so he fell. When he came to himself again, he said, if he had done or said anything wrong, he desired their worships to think that it was his infirmity. Three or four wenches where I stood cried, "Alas, good soul!" and forgave him with all their hearts. But you can't pay any attention to them. If Caesar had stabbed their mothers, they would have done the same thing.

And after that, he came away upset?


Did Cicero say anything?

Yes, he spoke Greek.

What did he say?

No, if I tell you that, I'll never look you in the face again. But those who understood him smiled at each other and shook their heads; but as far as I was concerned, it was Greek to me. I could tell you more news, too. Marullus and Flavius, for pulling decorations off Caesar's statues, are put to silence. Good day to you. There was even more foolishness, if I could remember it.

Will you have dinner with me tonight, Casca?

No, I have made other plans.

Will you dine with me tomorrow?

Yes, if I am alive, and your mind does not change, and your dinner is worth eating.

Good, I will expect you.

Do so. Farewell to both of you.


What a dull fellow he has grown to be!
He was clever when he went to school.

He still is now when he's carrying out
Any daring or important project,
Even though he pretends to be slow.
This rudeness of his is a sauce to his intelligence,
Which makes people more willing
To accept the things he says.

And so it is. For now I will leave you.
Tomorrow, if you want to speak with me,
I will come to your house; or if you want,
Come to mine, and I will wait for you.

I will do so. Until then, think of the world.

[Exit Brutus.]

Well, Brutus, you are noble; but I see
Your honorable nature can be manipulated
Into something not quite so honorable. That's why it is proper
That noble people associate with others like them;
For who is so firm that cannot be seduced?
Caesar holds a grudge against me, but he is a friend to Brutus.
If I were Brutus now and he were Cassius,
He would not fool me. I will tonight
Throw through his window notes
In different handwriting, as if they came from several people,
All pointing out the great respect
That Rome has for him; in these
Caesar's ambition will be hinted at.
And after this let Caesar establish himself securely,
For we will shake him down from his position or suffer the consequences.