[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

186. Such ferret and such fiery eyes : The red eye is characteristic of the ferret. Note the use of ferret as an adjective.

193. O' nights : The old genitive ; now used adverbially.

194. Yond: Often printed yond'; but not a contraction of yonder. Old English had the three forms yon, yond, and yonder.

194. A lean and hungry look : For Cæsar's opinion of fat and of lean men, cf. Plutarch (ed. Skeat, p. 97): “Cæsar also had Cassius in great jealousy and suspected him much ; whereupon he said on a time to his friends, 'What will Cassius do, think ye? I like not his pale looks.' Another time, when Cæsar's friends complained unto him of Antonius and Dolabella that they pretended some mischief towards him ; he answered them again, “As for those fat men and smooth combed heads,' quoth he, “I never reckon of them ; but these pale visaged and carrion lean people, I fear them most,' meaning Brutus and Cassius."

204. He hears no music: We know from the Merchant of Venice (v, 1, 83-5) that Shakspere considers

“ The man that hath no music in himself,

Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds

Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.” 208. Be : See Introduction, $ 15.

209. Whiles : The genitive singular of while (originally a noun): hwil, time. Whilst whil(e)s-t, is a later form.

See note on o' nights, 193, above.

223. A-shouting : An earlier form in English is on shouting. It was the shortening of the preposition to a- and its final omission that led to the abandonment of the idiomatic “the house is in (or a-) building ” (later “the house is building ”) in favour of the modern and clumsy “the house is being built.” Compare Troilus and Cressida (i, 3, 159) : “'Tis like a chime a-me

mending"; and Coriolanus (iv, 2, 5) : “When it was a-doing.

229. Marry: This common Shaksperian exclamation is originally from the name of the Virgin Mary.

230. Gentler : See Introduction, $ 13.

237. Yet twas not a crown, neither: In Shakspere neither is frequently used for emphasis after a negative statement.

239. Fain : willingly or gladly.

240. Then he offered it to him again : From this point on, note the confusion of reference in Casca's personal pronouns.

244. Rabblement : See Introduction, $ 35.


244. Shouted : The Folio has howted.

For the scene described in Casca's speech, compare North’s Plutarch, Life of Antonius (ed. Skeat, p. 163) : “ Antonius being one among the rest that was to run, leaving the ancient ceremonies and old customs of that solemnity, he ran to the tribune where Cæsar was set, and carried a laurel crown in his hand, having a royal band or diadem wreathed about it, which in old time was the ancient mark and token of a king. When he was come to Cæsar, he made his fellow runners with him lift him up, and so he did put his laurel crown upon his head, signifying thereby that he had deserved to be king. But Cæsar making as though he refused it, turned away his head. The people were so rejoiced at it, that they all clapped their hands for joy. Antonius again did put it on his head : Cæsar again refused it ; and thus they were striving off and on a great while together. As oft as Antonius did put this laurel crown unto him, a few of his followers rejoiced at it : and as oft also as Cæsar refused it, all the people together clapped their hands. And this was a wonderful thing, that they suffered all things subjects should do by commandment of their kings : and yet they could not abide the name of a king, detesting it as the utter destruction of their liberty. Cæsar in a rage arose out of his seat, and plucking down the collar of his gown from his neck, he showed it naked, bidding any man strike off his head that would. This laurel crown was afterwards put upon the head of one of Cæsar's statues or images, the which one of the tribunes plucked off. The people liked his doing therein so well, that they waited on him home to his house, with great clapping of hands. Howbeit Cæsar did turn them out of their offices for it."

253. The falling sickness : or epilepsy. Compare Suetonius' Julius Cæsar, xlv: “He enjoyed excellent health, except towards the close of his life, when he was subject to fainting fits, and disturbance in his sleep.

He was likewise twice seized with the falling sickness while engaged in active service."

257. Tag-rag people : Compare Coriolanus (iii, 1, 248): “Before the tag return."

259. As they use to do: We use this construction now only in the past tense.

263-4. He pluck'd me ope his doublet : For the construction of me, see Introduction, $ 6, and compare (iii, 3, 18) “You'll bear me a bang for that, I fear ; " also in Romeo and Juliet (iii, 1, 6): “Claps me his sword upon the table.” The usage is very common in Shakspere.

[ocr errors]


264. His doublet : Shakspere evidently conceived of his Romans as dressed in the habit of his own day ; compare also (ii, 1, 73–4) “Their hats are pluck'd about their ears and half their faces buried in their cloaks.” The suggestion as to the doublet, however, Shakspere may have received from North’s Life of Julius Cæsar (ed. Skeat, p. 95), “And tearing open his doublet-collar, making his neck bare, he cried out," etc.

265. An: if; a very common word in old English. See Introduction, § 41.

266–7. To hell among the rogues : The Roman Casca must have known as little of the Englishman's idea of hell as of the shape of his doublet.

270. Wenches : As ordinarily in Shakspere used of a loutish girl, without any special derogatory sense.

281–2. For mine own part it was Greek to me : If Plutarch is right (Life of Marcus Brutus, ed. Skeat, p. 119), “ Casca (at the killing of Cæsar) on the other side cried in Greek, and called his brother to. help him.” Either Shakspere was ignorant of this supposed knowledge of Casca's, or (as is likely) he makes Casca use the proverb without thinking of its import. In fact, Casca's ideas are strongly English in flavour.

282-3. Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarfs off Cæsar's images, are put to silence : Suetonius says that Marullus and Flavius simply ordered a laurel wreath encircled with a white fillet (the latter a sign of royalty) to be removed from a statue of Cæsar. * Cæsar,” he continues, “ being much concerned either that the idea of royalty had been suggested to so little purpose, or, as was said, that he was thus deprived of the merit of refusing it, reprimanded the tribunes very severely, and dismissed them from office. Plutarch's account (Life of Julius Cæsar, ed. Skeat, p. 96) is different in detail, but the same in substance : “There were set up images of Cæsar in the city, with diadems upon their heads like kings. Those the two tribunes, Flavius and Marullus, went and pulled down, and furthermore, meeting with them that first saluted Cæsar as king, they committed them to prison. The people followed them rejoicing at it and called them Brutuses, because of Brutus who had in old times driven the kings out of Rome. Cæsar was so offended withal, that he deprived Marullus and Flavius of their tribuneships.”

287. I am promis'd forth: Shakspere uses forth where we should use out. Compare Merchant of Venice (ii, 5, 11): "I am bid forth to supper, Jessica.


294. Quick mettle: of a lively spirit. We still use “mettlesome horses.”

307–8. May be wrought From that it is dispos'd: For the construction, see Introduction, § 9.

309. Their likes: This expression has degenerated in modern English. Careful speakers are chary of saying • The likes of you.” Many Shaksperian expressions that have now passed from literary use survive vigorously in the common speech of to-day.

310. For who so firm that cannot be seduc'd: The omission of he, as subject of cannot, is hardly felt.

311. Caesar doth bear me hard: This expression (to bear one hard) used three times in Julius Cæsar, here, in ii, 1, 215, and in iii, 1, 158, occurs nowhere else in Shakspere. Professor Hales quotes from Ben Jonson's Catiline, iv, 5:“Ay, though he bear me hard, I yėt must do him right.” The expression has produced much learned discussion which it is hardly necessary to enter into for the benefit of beginners in Shakspere.

313. He should not humour me : The he is probably Brutus. 314. In several hands: in several handwritings.

316. All tending to the great opinion: all showing, or having for their tenour, the great opinion.

319–20. The rhymed couplet was ordinarily used by the Elizabethan dramatists to mark the end of a scene.


The Folio reads simply Thunder, and lightning. Enter Caska, and Cicero. The other stage directions have been added by Rowe and later editors. See the Introductory Note on the fondness of Shakspere for these disturbances in the elements as accompaniments to events of tragic horror. There is an interval of about one month between this scene and the preceding. From Acts II and III we conjecture that the present scene occurs the night before the death of Cæsar.

1. Brought: accompanied.

3. The sway of earth: “the balanced swing of earth” (Craik); "the whole weight or momentum of this globe” (Johnson).

4. Unfirm: unsteady. “In ‘unfirm the negative is more promi. nent than in 'infirm.' 'Unfirm’ is not firm, while “infirm’ is weak.” - Wright.

6. Riv'd: This verb survives, practically, only in the participle riven. Cf. (iv, 3, 84) “ Brutus hath riv'd my heart."


[ocr errors]


12. Saucy : This word evidently had a wider meaning in Shakspere's day than in ours.

13. Incenses them to send destruction: Scan this line. Shakspere frequently makes a dissyllable of the termination -ion, just as he frequently slides it over in hypermetric lines like 34, below.

14. Why, saw you anything more wonderful : Compare the account of ese prodigies in North’s Plutarch, Life of Julius Cæsar (ed. Skeat, p. 97): “Certainly destiny may easier be foreseen than avoided, considering the strange and wonderful signs that were said to be seen before Cæsar's death. For, touching the fires in the element, and spirits running up and down in the night, and also the solitary birds to be seen at noondays sitting in the great market-place, are not all these signs perhaps worth the noting, in such a wonderful chance as happened ? But Strabo the philosopher writeth, that divers men were seen going up and down in fire: and furthermore, that there was a slave of the soldiers that did cast a marvellous burning flame out of his hand, insomuch as they that saw it thought had burnt; but when the fire was out, it was found he had no hurt,” etc. For another account, compare Hamlet (i, 1, 113 ff.):

“In the most high and palmy state of Rome,

A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
Did speak and gibber in the Roman streets.

As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,” etc. 20-1. A lion, who: Who is frequently used for which, and vice versa, in Elizabethan English. Compare the beginning of the Lord's prayer. See Introduction, $ 7.

21. Glar'd: Corrected by Rowe from the Folio glaz’d.

23. Upon a heap: in a crowd. Heap is here used in its original Anglo-Saxon meaning. Compare Richard III (ii, 1, 53): "Amongst this princely heap.See Introduction, $ 41.

26. The bird of night : Compare Hamlet (i, 1, 160): “The bird of dawning.”

30. These are their reasons : What is the force of these in this passage ?

32. Climate : clime.

35. Clean from the purpose : To-day a rather vulgar use. Compara the slang expression, “he is clean off.”

39–40. This disturbed sky Is not to walk in : For the construction,


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »