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see Introduction, $ 28. Sky : weather ? Abbott (S 405) explains by supplying fit : This sky is not (fit) to walk in (or under).
42. What night is this : Literally this exclamation seems to be a question. For the omission of a, see Introduction, $ 12.
47. Submitting me : See Introduction, $ 5.
48. Unbraced : Again Shakspere is thinking of the dress of his own time.
49. The thunder-stone : The thunder bolt, which was believed to fall with the lightning. Compare Cymbeline (iv, 2, 271):
“Fear no more the lightning flash,
50. Cross blue lightning : zig-zag blue lightning.
60. Cast yourself in wonder : Thus the Folio, but Richard Grant White substitutes case yourself,” etc. 62–68. If you would consider
you shall find : A change from the less vivid to the more vivid future condition. What is the force of the shall in the conclusion ?
65. Why old men fool, etc.: Mitford's conjecture from the Folio reading, “Why old men, Fooles, and Children calculate.” 71. Unto some monstrous state : That is, I
suppose, some monstrous or unnatural state of things, not some overgrown commonwealth.”—Craik.
76. A man no worthier than thyself or me : What is the grammatical construction of me? Compare our colloquial “it is me.” See Introduction, § 1.
81. Like to their ancestors : Modern usage is more inclined to omit the to after like.
82. Woe the while : a shorter form of Woe worth the while ! (Worth from the Anglo-Saxon wirpan, to become.)
83. Govern'd with : Still used for govern’d by. Compare (iii, 2, 197): “Here is himself, marr’d, as you see, with traitors.” See Introduction, $ 30.
87. And he shall wear his crown : Explain this use of shall with the third person. 93. Nor stony tower, nor walls : Nor
nor and or or for the less poetical neither
nor and either rather common in this play.
102. To cancel : A pun witli bondman, in the line above.
106. He were no lion, were not Romans hinds : Thoroughly analyse this sentence, explaining the form of the verbs.
114. My answer must be made : “I shall be called to account and must answer as for seditious words” (Johnson).
116–7. Such a man That, etc.: See Introduction, $ 7.
124. Honourable-dangerous : See Introduction, $ 37. Compare in Troilus and Cressida (iv, 2, 14): “With wings more momentaryswift than thought.”
126. In Pompey's porch : “ The Theatre and Curia of Pompey were in the Campus Martius, and it was here, according to Plutarch, that the Senate met and Cæsar was assassinated ; but Shakspere transfers the scene of the assassination to the Capitol and makes Pompey's theatre the place where the conspirators met.”— Wright.
129. In favour's like : Johnson's conjecture for “ Is Fauors,” etc., of the Folio.
130. Most bloody, fiery, etc. : Dyce reads “Most bloody-fiery." Cf. honourable-dangerous, above.
137. What a fearful night is this : Compare note on “What night is this !” (line 42, above).
138. There's two or three of us: colloquial, if not grammatical, to this day. See Introduction, $ 23.
143. In the prætor's chair : See North’s Plutarch (ed. Skeat, p. 112): “But for Brutus, his friends and countrymen, both by divers procurements and sundry rumours of the city, and by many bills also, did openly call and procure him to do that he did. For under the image of his ancestor Junius Brutus (that drave the kings out of Rome) they wrote : 'O, that it pleased the gods that thou wert now alive, Brutus !' and again, 'that thou wert here among us now!' His tribunal or chair, where he gave audience during the time he was Prætor, was full of such bills : ‘Brutus, thou art asleep, and art not Brutus indeed.''
As to Brutus and the prætorship, see note on i, 2, 33-4.
146. Old Brutus' statue : As to the force of thus connecting Marcus Brutus with Lucius Junius Brutus, see note on i, 2, 159.
148. Is Decius Brutus and Trebonius there : See note on line 137, above. On the spelling Decius, see note at the beginning of Scene ii. 150. Hie : hasten. Compare Hamlet (i, 1, 154) :
"The extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine."
152. Pompey's theatre : a huge stone edifice seating 40,000 people. 154-5. Three parts of him Is : See on line 148, above. 159. Alchemy : the old art of turning base metals into gold.
162. Conceited : imagined. This meaning has survived in rural districts. “It is only your conceit” means sometimes “it is only your imagination."
1. What is the dramatic effect of the first scene of the act ? 2. What bearing has it on later scenes ? 3. Does it represent in a general or in a particular way the feeling of those opposed to Cæsar ?- 4. What ideal of Roman citizenship is typified in Flavius and Marullus ? 5. Are your sympathies excited for or against these tribunes ? Why? 6. Can you get at their feelings from the style and cadence of the language they use ? 7. Can you find, in the attitude of the “ Commoners,” anything to indicate the state of the Roman mind toward the old constitutional form of government ? 8. Would this seem to show any degeneracy on the part of the Roman plebs ? 9. How much of the history of Rome do you know, leading up to the events described in our play? 10. Was Cæsar a unique development in Roman history, or was he the last of a line of innovators ?
11. What do you imagine to have been in Shakspere's day the stage picture at the beginning of the second scene ? 12. Did it at all approach the Rome with which the real Cæsar must have been familiar? 13. Can you imagine this stage pageant as a bit of ancient Rome, its composition as to buildings, costumes of the actors, etc. ? 14. What is the effect on the audience of the words of the soothsayer ? 15. Can you judge of Cæsar's state of mind by his reply to the soothsayer ? 16. Is there any special fitness in making Brutus say, “A soothsayer bids you beware the Ides of March” ? 17. Can you notice any manifestation of character in the speech and language of Brutus and of Cassius ? 18. Is there any difference in effect between the speeches of the two men ? 19. If so, to what do you attribute it ? 20. To which of these men do your sympathies go out most directly ? 21. Why does Cassius wish to win Brutus to his side ? 22. Why does Cassius recall to Brutus the deeds of Lucius Junius Brutus ? 23. What is the dramatic significance of this ? 24. What is your idea of the appearance of Brutus and of Cassius ? 25. Why does Casca speak prose ?
26. What was the character of Casca ? How do you know? 27. What idea do you get of Cæsar and of Antony from the brief speeches accorded them in this scene ? 28. Can you make the speech of Cassius at the end of the scene fall in line with your conception of his character ? 29. Is there a suggestion of ignobleness in it ? 30. Whence does this suggestion come?
31. Do you see the dramatic propriety of the third scene? 32. What do you think of the poetry in which the prodigies and portents are told ? 33. Can you parallel this scene with similar bits from your own reading ? 34. Does the portrait of Cicero agree with what you know of the man ? 35. Is there any difference between the Casca of this scene and the Casca of the preceding scene ? 36. In what does this difference consist and to what do you attribute it ? 37. Does your impression of Cassius receive any strengthening in this scene ? 38. Does his character seem to have developed in any way ? 39. What is your opinion of the whole act—as to structure, development, and general interest ?
NOTE ON THE STRUCTURE OF THE Act.--The two things necessary for the poet's scheme in this act are (1) to show the completion of the plans of the conspirators and (2) to trace the development in the character of Brutus which leads him to join against Cæsar. The latter is the more important from the standpoint of Shakspere, who has made Brutus his chief character. In the first act we see this noble Roman perplexed, and vacillating between his love for Cæsar and his love for his country. At the first of the second act, he is clearly about to let the latter prevail; the virus of Cassius' words has entered his soul. There is but a brief struggle further, an anonymous letter or two, and lo! he is ready to meet the conspirators. That midnight meeting in Brutus' orchard is, on the stage, a picture of grim fascination; it is the undercurrent of the stream on which Cæsar is riding, quite unconscious, to his doom; and it is in high contrast to Cæsar's festal procession in Act I. Here, too, occurs the first difference of opinion between Brutus and Cassius, with the invariable and inevitable result. Brutus wins and Antony is not to die with Cæsar, Brutus' first great political error. The scene between Brutus and Portia, after the conspirators leave, though one of the most charming in Shakspere, is of little dramatic value to the play, except as added evidence to the nobleness of the character of Brutus. The second scene-in Cæsar's palace—at the beginning merely recounts incidents similar to those described in Act I, Scene III ; here, however, the audience sees Cæsar apply the prodigies particularly to himself. The passage depicts the next stage in the progress toward the climax,Cæsar consents to go to the Capitol, where, as the spectator knows, the conspirators mean to slay him. The third and fourth scenes are almost anti-climax after this great moment of the play; the first merely shows Artemidorus preparing to warn Cæsar, the second gives a pretty development of the character of Portia. Neither is essential to the main action, and both might be omitted in representation.
The Folio reads, Enter Brutus in his Orchard. It will be noted that orchard in Shakspere generally means garden; cf. the private arbours and new-planted orchards” (iii, 2, 250). Some of the action of Much Ado about Nothing takes place in Leonato's orchard ; the King in Hamlet was slain, “ sleeping in his orchard”; Romeo and Juliet exchanged their vows of love in Capulet's orchard; and, finally, Sir Andrew Aguecheek “saw't i’ the orchard ” that Olivia did “ favours to the count's serving man than ever she bestowed upon me (Twelfth Night, iii, 2, 4–6).
10. It must be by his death, etc.: Note the resemblance in general style and movement between this soliloquy and Hamlet's famous soliloquy (Hamlet, iii, 1, 56 ff.):
“ To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
No more; and by a sleep to say we end,” etc.; one of the resemblances that would point to the near proximity of the two plays in time of production. On this soliloquy of Brutus, with its curious reasoning, compare Coleridge :
Surely nothing can seem more discordant with our historical preconceptions of Brutus, or more lowering to the intellect of the StoicoPlatonic tyrannicide, than the tenets here attributed to him—to him, the stern Roman republican; namely, that he would have no objection to a king, or to Cæsar, a monarch in Rome, would Cæsar but be as good a monarch as he now seems disposed to be! How, too, could Brutus say that he found no personal cause-none in Cæsar's past conduct as a man? Had he not crossed the Rubicon? Had he not entered Rome as a conqueror? Had he not placed his Gauls in the Senate?”