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11. Spurn at him: For the more usual construction, compare “I spurn thee like a cur out of my way” (iii, 1, 46).
12. For the general : because of the people or the community-not for the general cause. Compare Hamlet (ii, 2, 430), “For the play, I remember, pleased not the million; 'twas caviare to the general”; and Troilus and Cressida (i, 3, 340):
“For the success, Although particular, shall give a scantling
Of good or bad unto the general.” 15. And that craves wary walking : “It might be questioned whether that here be the demonstrative (as it is generally considered), or the relative (to the antecedent 'the bright day').”—Craik.
19. Remorse : usually in Shakspere, mercy or pity. Here it seems to mean conscience or reason,
-possibly consideration of consequences: “I have not known when his affections sway'd more than his reason. For this meaning, compare Troilus and Cressida (ii, 2, 113 ff.):
“Now, youthful Troilus, do not these high strains
Can qualify the same?"
24. Upmost : uppermost is now more common. Compare on uttermost (ii, 1, 213).
26. The base degrees : the lower steps ; the original meaning of degrees is seen in this passage.
31. These and these extremities : such and such extremities. Cf. “ These are their reasons” (i, 3, 30).
34. And kill him in the shell : There is a momentary confusion in the mind of the reader as to the subject of kill. Some editors remove the difficulty by placing a semicolon after dangerous.
35. Burneth : Lucius is rather fond of large, quaint expressions. Compare his “Sir, March is wasted fifteen days ” (ii, 1, 59).
36-7. I found This paper thus seald up: It will be remembered that Cassius at the end of the second scene of the first act threatened to throw that night several such papers “in several hands”in at Brutus' windows. In the last scene of the same act he directs Cinna to“ throw
this (paper] in at his window.” The result is seen in Brutus' remark below : 'Such instigations have been often dropp'd where I have took them up."
40. To-morrow : It was already past midnight. 40. The Ides of March : Theobald's change for the Folio reading, The first of March." 44. The exhalations: the wonders described in Act I, Scene III. 50. Where I have took them up : Explain the form took.
53. My ancestors : Shakspere's Brutus seems to have no doubt of his ancestry, such as that hinted at in the note on i, 2, 159.
59. March is wasted fifteen days: the Folio reading, which Theobald changed to “March is wasted fourteen days.” Yet Lucius computed as the ordinary Englishman or Roman would have done.
65. Phantasma : vision or nightmare. Compare the modern form phantom.
66. The genius and the mortal instruments : the spiritual and the bodily powers.
67. The state of man: The Folio reads “the state of a man.”
69. The nature of an insurrection : something like an insurrection.
70. Your brother Cassius : It will be remembered that Cassius had married Brutus' sister, Junia.
72. Moe : more. See Introduction, $ 35.
73. Their hats are pluek'd about their ears: Compare the note on doublet (i, 2, 264). “The Roman pileus was a close-fitting cap of felt without any brim ; and the petasus was only worn to keep off the sun. Shakspere dressed his Romans in the slouched hats of his own time."— Wright.
76. By any mark of favour : Another of Lucius' quaint circumlocutions.
77. O conspiracy : This soliloquy of Brutus seems a little forced and hollow. It should be noted that the tendency in modern drama is to do away entirely with soliloquies and “asides,” which certainly are unnatural and helpless devices to give to the auditor information as to the state of mind of the character who employs them.
78. Sham'st thou : used intransitively, as in Macbeth, ii, 2, 64-5 : “I shame To wear a heart so white."
83. For if thou path : See Introduction, S 38. The Folio reading and perhaps a misprint ; but the meaning is clear enough without stirring up linguistic bugbears.
84. Erebus: here used for the lower world in general.
85. Prevention : in its original sense of anticipation (that would lead to prevention in the modern meaning of the word).
90–91. And no man here But honors you : Parse but. 95. Decius Brutus: On the form Decius, compare note, page 94.
99. Betwixt : now somewhat antiquated, and even inelegant in comparison with between.
101. Here lies the east : This discussion as to the points of the compass and the position of the sun is one of the most delightfully natural and human touches in the play. Compare Cæsar's “Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf” (i, 2, 213).
104. Fret : bar or cross. See Skeat, on the noun fret : "a kind of grating.
A term in heraldry, meaning a bearing composed of bars crossed and interlaced.”
108. Weighing : The participle does not qualify sun, but refers to the speaker : that is, “ considering,” or “when one considers.”
114. No, not an oath: Compare North’s Plutarch, Life of Marcus Brutus (ed. Skeat, p. 114) : “Furthermore, the only name and great calling of Brutus did bring on the most of them to give consent to this conspiracy : who, having never taken oaths together, nor taken or given any caution or assurance, nor binding themselves one to another by any religious oaths, they all kept the matter so secret to themselves, and could so cunningly handle it, that notwithstanding the gods did reveal it by manifest signs and tokens from above, and by predictions of sacrifices, yet all this would not be believed.”
The grammatical structure of Brutus' speech in the play is more obscure than the sense. As to the similar broken construction of Brutus when he learns of the death of his wife, Craik says : “This speech is throughout a striking exemplification of the tendency of strong emotion to break through the logical forms of grammar, and of how possible it is for language to be perfectly intelligible sometimes, with the grammar in a more or less chaotic or uncertain state."
115. Sufferance : suffering. See Introduction, $ 41.
118. High-sighted tyranny: Wright compares the lines at the end of the first scene of Act I,
“Will make him fly an ordinary pitch,
Who else would soar above the view of men.”
Note also the description of "young ambition” in the beginning of the scene now going on (ii, 1, 22 ff.):
“That lowliness is young ambition's ladder,
Whereto the climber upward turns his face ;
Looks in the clouds,” etc.
123. What need we any spur: Why need we ? 125. That have spoke : See on line 50, above. 126. Palter: quibble, equivocate.
129. Cautelous : wary, suspicious, crafty, deceitful. See Introduction, $35, and compare Coriolanus (iv, 1, 33): “With cautelous baits and practices”; and Hamlet (i, 3, 15): And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch the virtue of his will."
130-2 : Old, feeble carrions . that ; such creatures as : The close juxtaposition of these two forms of the correlative construction shows the laxness of usage in Shakspere's day.
133. The even virtue : the equable or lofty virtue.
134. Insuppressive : not to be suppressed. Shakspere is rich in examples of the adjective termination -ive, where modern usage has -ible, -ent, or. -ed. A famous instance occurs in As You Like It (iii, 2, 10): The fair, the chaste, the unexpressive she." Troilus and Cressida has numerous beautiful examples of this habit, of which the following (i, 3, 19-21) is as good as any :
138. Several : separate, individual.
144-5. Silver hairs. Will purchase : One dislikes to find here the pun that certain editors point out.
148. No whit: nothing ; not at all-Anglo-Saxon hwit, a thing, a particle, bit.
150. Break with him : break our plot to him.
151. He will never follow, etc.: This description of Cicero aptly fits the man who lost all in trying to keep the mastery of Rome that Cæsar wrested from him. The history of the last days of the republic might have been very different could Cicero have joined his great powers to those of Cæsar. After the death of Cæsar, Cicero allied himself with the conspirators, lauded their action, and expressed regret that he had not been of their number.
157. We shall find of him : We shall find in him. See Introduction, $ 30.
162. Our course will seem too bloody: This underestimating of Antony and allowing him to live was Brutus' first mistake in policy. His next fatal mistakes were (1) the permitting Antony to speak “in Cæsar's funeral” and (2) his plan of battle at Philippi. In all three cases his judgment over-ruled the sounder, more practical advice of Cassius.
164. Envy : malice.
166. Let us be sacrificers but not butchers, Caius : Scan this line and the next one.
177–8. This shall make our purpose necessary : Supply seem or appear before necessary, and notice appearing in the next line.
180. We shall be calld purgers, not murderers: Scan this line and compare line 166, above.
184. Ingrafted love : that is, love deeply grafted in his nature.
192. The clock hath stricken three : What should you say of this anachronism ? For stricken, see Introduction, § 17.
194. Whether Cæsar will come forth today, or no : How is the first word of the verse to be pronounced ?
195. For he is superstitious grown of late : Plutarch notes this change that took place in Cæsar's character the year before his death. The more natural bent of his character is shown in his speech (ii, 2, 32 ff.) beginning, “ Cowards die many times before their death.”
204. That unicorns may be betray'd with trees : · Unicorns," Steevens comments, “are said to have been taken by one who, running behind a tree, eluded the violent push the animal was making at him, so that his horn spent its force on the trunk and stuck fast, detaining the beast till he was despatched by the hunter.” 205. And bears with glasses, elephants with holes :
Bears," says Steevens, are reported to have been surprised by means of a mirror, which they would gaze on, affording their pursuers an opportunity of taking a surer aim. Elephants were seduced into pitfalls lightly covered with hurdles and turf, on which a proper bait to tempt them was exposed. See Pliny's Natural History, Book viii."
206. Toils : nets or snares.
207. But when I tell him, etc.: Decimus Brutus was one of the men Cæsar most loved and trusted. He had been with Cæsar through many campaigns and was named as second heir in Cæsar's will. His treachery seems blacker than that of almost any other of the conspirators.