[Thunder and lightning. Enter, from opposite sides, Casca, with his sword drawn, and Cicero.]
- Good evening, Casca. Did you take Caesar home?
Why are you out of breath? And why are you staring like that?
- Doesn't it disturb you when the natural order of things
Shakes like something that is unstable? O, Cicero,
I have seen storms when the scolding winds
Have torn the knotty oaks, and I have seen
The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam
To raise itself to the level of the threatening clouds;
But never till tonight, never till now,
Did I go through a storm dropping fire.
Either there is a civil war in heaven,
Or else the world, too disrespectful of the gods,
Makes them angry enough to destroy it.
- Why, did you see anything that was strange?
- A common slave--you know him well by sight--
Held up his left hand, which gave off flames and burned
Like twenty torches put together; but his hand,
Not feeling the fire, remained unscorched.
Also--I haven't put my sword away since this happened--
At the Capitol I met a lion,
Who glared at me, and walked by in a bad temper
Without bothering me. And there were huddled together
In a heap a hundred pale women,
Changed by their fear, who swore they saw
Men, covered with fire, walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday the owl, a night bird, sat
At noon in the marketplace,
Hooting and shrieking. When strange events like these
Happen at the same time, no one should say,
"There are explanations, these are natural events,"
For I believe they are bad omens
For the place where they happen.
- Indeed, the times are strange.
But people can interpret events the way they want to,
No matter what actually causes the events.
Is Caesar coming to the Capitol tomorrow?
- He is, because he asked Antonius
To give you the message that he would be there tomorrow.
- Goodnight then, Casca. It is not a good idea to walk
Under this disturbed sky.
- Farewell, Cicero.
- Who's there?
- A Roman.
- You must be Casca, by your voice.
- Your ear is good. Cassius, what kind of a night is this!
- A very pleasant night for honest men.
- Who has ever seen the heavens threaten like this?
- Those who have known that the earth is full of faults.
As far as I'm concerned, I have walked around the streets,
Offering myself to the dangerous night,
And, with my coat open, Casca, as you see,
Have exposed my chest to the thunder and lightning;
And when the zigzag blue lightning seemed to open
The breast of heaven, I presented myself
Right where it aimed and flashed.
- But why did you tempt the heavens so much?
Men are supposed to fear and tremble
When the most mighty gods use signs to send
Such frightening messengers to scare us.
- You are dull, Casca, and those sparks of life
That every Roman should have you either lack,
Or else you don't use. You look pale, and stare,
And show fear, and are amazed,
To see the strange impatience of the heavens.
But if you would consider the true cause
Of all these fires, of all these gliding ghosts,
Of birds and animals that change their natures;
Of foolish old men and children who can predict the future;
Of all these things that change from their regular behavior,
Their natures, and established function,
To unnatural behavior, why, you will discover
That heaven has given them these supernatural powers
To make them bring fear and a warning
Of some evil condition.
Now I could, Casca, give you the name of one man
Who is very much like this dreadful night
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars
Like the lion in the Capitol;
A man no mightier than you or I
In his personal actions, but who has become enormous
And threatening, just like these strange happenings are.
- It is Caesar that you mean. Isn't it, Cassius?
- Let it be whoever it is. Modern Romans
Have muscles and limbs like our ancestors.
But alas for the times! we have the minds of our mothers,
Not of our fathers;
Our acceptance of a dictator shows us to be like women, not men.
- Indeed, they say that the senators
Plan to make Caesar king tomorrow,
And he will rule over sea and land
Everywhere except here in Italy.
- I know where I will wear this dagger then;
I will free myself from slavery.
In this way, you gods, you make the weak strong;
In this way, you gods, you defeat tyrants.
Neither a stone tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor an airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron,
Can imprison a strong spirit;
Life, when it is tired of these worldly bars,
Always has the power to allow itself to leave.
If I know this, the rest of the world knows,
The part of tyranny that I endure
I can shake off when I choose to.
- So can I.
So every slave in his own hand holds
The power to end his captivity.
- So why is Caesar a tyrant then?
Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf
If he didn't see that the Romans are only sheep;
He would not be a lion if the Romans were not hinds.
People who want to quickly build a huge fire
Begin it with weak straws. What trash is Rome,
What rubbish and what garbage, when it acts
As the kindling to light up
Such a disgusting thing as Caesar! But, O grief,
Where have you led me? I, perhaps, am saying this
In front of a willing slave. In that case I know
I will have to answer for my words. But I am armed,
And dangers don't matter to me.
- You are speaking to Casca, and to the sort of man
Who is not a tattle-tale. Stop, my hand.
Form a group to correct all these wrongs,
And I will go as far
As anyone else.
- You have a deal.
Now you should know, Casca, that I have already persuaded
A certain few of the noblest-minded Romans
To attempt with me an enterprise
Of honorable-dangerous importance;
And I know, right now they are waiting for me
At the entrance to Pompey's Theater; because now, on this frightening night,
No one is stirring or walking in the streets,
And the condition of the sky
Looks like the work we have ahead of us,
Bloody, full of fire, and terrible.
- Stand hidden for awhile, for here comes someone in a hurry.
- It's Cinna. I know the way he walks.
He is a friend. Cinna, where are you going in such a hurry?
- To find you. Who's that? Metellus Cimber?
- No, it is Casca, who is now part
Of our plan. Are they waiting for me?
- I am glad of it. What a frightening night this is!
Two or three of us have seen strange sights.
- Are they waiting for me? Tell me.
- Yes, they are.
O Cassius, if you could
Only persuade the noble Brutus to join us--
- Be satisfied. Good Cinna, take this note
And put it in the judge's seat,
Where Brutus will find it, and throw this one
Through his window. Stick this one with wax
On old Brutus' statue. When you've done all of that,
Go to Pompey's Porch, where you will find us.
Are Decius Brutus and Trebonius there?
- Everyone except Metellus Cimber, and he went
To look for you at your house. Well, I'll hurry
To place these papers where you told me.
- When you finish, go to Pompey's Theater.
- Come, Casca, you and I will still before morning
See Brutus at his house. Three-fourths of him
Belongs to us already, and the whole man
Will be ours after we next meet him.
- O, the people love him,
And something which would seem offensive if we did it,
His face like magic,
Will change so it becomes good and worthy.
- Him and his importance and the reason we need him
You have figured out. Let's go,
For it is past midnight, and before day comes
We will wake him up and make sure he is ours.