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in Shakspere's more formal, less happy manner. For the thought, cf. Troilus and Cressida (v, 1, 79): “I have important business, The tide whereof is now.”
223. We'll along ourselves and meet them at Philippi : Scan.
224. The deep of night has crept upon our talk : a line in Shak. spere's best manner.
226. Niggard : Craik says that this is probably the only instance in the language where niggard is used as a verb. Others point out Sonnets, i, 12: “Makest waste in niggarding.”.
228. Will we rise and hence : Another variant of Shakspere's habit of omitting the verb of motion.
233. Never come such division, etc.: Is again necessary after never ?
235. Good night, my lord. Good night, good brother : Is there anything typical of the two men in the forms of their parting ?
239. Poor knave : Cf. 267, below, “gentle knave.” Knave is here equivalent to the German knabe and of course has no specially derogatory sense. According to Craik, the word was, in Shakspere's day, fluctuating between its original meaning, "boy,” and its modern meaning, “ rogue,” and was used in either sense.
239. Thou art o’erwatch'd : Lucius' drowsiness is again illustrated, as at the beginning of Act II. Brutus' gentleness with him is typical of the man's character. For o'erwatch'd, cf, o'ershot (iii, 2, 150).
249. Bethink : More often this word has the force of think on, or recall to mind.
250. Look, Lucius, here's the book I sought for so : This line, with Lucius' answer, “I was sure your lordship did not give it me,” could be made the basis for a disquisition on the character of Brutus and that of Lucius. It indicates a whole chapter of a man's daily life. The entire scene is one of the beautiful things in the play. As to the quality of the poetry, see Introduction, p. xliii.
253. Much forgetful : This Shaksperian use of much is found now with participles, but not with adjectives.
256. An't please you : For an, cf. i, 2, 265, and see Introduction, $ 41.
266. Mace : a staff borne by, or before, an officer, as a sign of his authority. Here it seems to be used almost in its original sense of a club.
268. So much wrong to wake thee : Cf. on line 80, above. 271. Is not the leaf turn'd down : See Introduction, p. xli.
273. How ill this taper burns : The coming of a ghost was supposed to make the lights burn low. Reference has frequently been made to Richard III, v, 3, 180, where the ghosts appear:
“ The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.” For the scene in our play, cf. North's Plutarch, The Life of Julius Cæsar (ed. Skeat, p. 103):
“ Above all, the ghost that appeared unto Brutus shewed plainly that the gods were offended with the murder of Cæsar. The vision was thus: Brutus, being ready to pass over his army from the city of Abydos to the other coast lying directly against it, slept every night (as his manner was) in his tent; and being yet awake, thinking of his affairs (for by report he was as careful a captain, and lived with as little sleep as ever man did) he thought he heard a noise at his tentdoor, and, looking towards the light of the lamp that waxed very dim, he saw a horrible vision of a man, of a wonderful greatness and dreadful look, which at the first made him marvellously afraid. But when he saw that it did him no hurt, but stood at his bed-side and said nothing ; at length he asked him what he was.
The image answered him: 'I am thy ill angel, Brutus, and thou shalt see me by the city of Philippes.' Then Brutus replied again, and said, 'Well, I shall see thee then.' There withal the spirit presently vanished from him."
277. Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil, etc. : Cf. Hamlet's address to the ghost (Hamlet, i, 4, 40) :
“ Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damn’d,
Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell," etc.
278. That mak'st my blood cold and my hair to stare : Cf. the words of the ghost (Hamlet, i, 5, 16 ff.):
“Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
278. Stare : stand stiffly erect. One may dimly get this notion in the modern use of the word.
289. The strings, my lord, are false : This sleepy self-exculpation of the boy is one of the very most charming touches in the play. In fact, Lucius is a miniature masterpiece from his first scene to his last.
297. Sirrah Claudius : Cf. v, 3, 25.
1. What traces can you find, in the slight sketch of Octavius in the first scene, of the man whose will was afterwards to oppose Antony's ? 2. Has Antony changed in character since we first met him in the
? 3. If so, has he changed for the better or the worse ? 4. Why is this first scene introduced ?
5. Does the scene of the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius give you any idea of what had happened since the two men rode “ like madmen through the streets of Rome”? 6. What is the dramatic value of this famous scene ? 7. Does it show any new phase of the character of the two chief actors or give any clue to the state of affairs in the army of Brutus and Cassius ? 8. Does it add to the development of the story? 9. With which of the two men do you sympathise in the quarrel ? 10. Has your respect for Cassius increased or decreased since the beginning of the play ? 11. Do you admire the stoic calm with which Brutus receives the news of his wife's death ? 12. What is the dramatic fitness of the ghost scene ? 13. Do you think the scene would be effective on the stage ? 14. Is the ghost's warning to Brutus suggestive of the soothsayer's warning to Cæsar in the first act ?
NOTE ON THE STRUCTURE OF THE Act.-In spite of its many scenes, this act has complete unity. The facing of the rival hosts, the skirmishes, the death of Cassius, and, later, that of Brutus,--all this ends “that work the Ides of March begun.” It is the last swift retribution for what, for the purpose of his tragedy at least, Shakspere regards as the supreme wrong. In the case of Brutus, nothing but death can atone for the blow at Cæsar; yet he dies firmly believing in the justice of his cause and that he “shall have glory by this losing day, more than Octavius and Mark Antony by their vile conquest shall attain unto.” On the stage, these rival hosts, even at best, present but a paltry appearance ; the scenes of the deaths of Cassius and Brutus, however, are capable of making, with trained actors, a most lasting impression. Some of the best poetry in the drama-best, because simplest and most natural-occurs in this last act ; the pitiful outcome of the lofty dreams of Brutus must have moved Shakspere as not many other scenes in his plays could do, and the style in consequence seems as fresh and beautiful to-day as it must have seemed to the people for whom the work was written three hundred years ago.
The stage direction, The Plains of Philippi, is Capell's. The Folio reads simply, Actus Quintus. Enter Octavius, Antony, and their Army.
3. R ns : a trisyllable ; the -ion, as frequently, forming two syllables at the end of a line. See on i, 3, 13.
4. Battles : battle lines.
5. Warn : summon. Cf. Richard III (i, 3, 39): “ To warn them to his royal presence.”
5. At Philippi here : Cf. on iv, 3, 209.
10. Bravery : bravado (Hudson) ; ostentation (Wright, quoting Plutarch's “but for bravery and rich furniture, Brutus' army far excelled Cæsar's ').
13. The enemy comes on : Note the grammatical inconsistency between comes and “ Their bloody sign of battle," etc., in the next line ; the inconsistency has endured in common speech to this day.
14. Their bloody sign of battle : See North's Putarch, The Life of Mareus Brutus (ed. Skeat, p. 139) : “ The next morning, by break of day, the signal of battle was set out in Brutus' and Cassius' camp, which was an arming scarlet coat.”
16. Softly : slowly. 17. Even : level.
18. Upon the right hand I: In Plutarch's account of the battle, it is said that Cassius, although more experienced as a soldier, allowed Brutus to lead the right wing of the army. Shakspere made use of this incident, but transferred it to the opposite camp, in order to bring out the character of Octavius, which made Antony yield. Octavius really commanded the left wing. This bit of characterization is excellent. Even here, at the beginning, Antony finds Octavius far from being so easily moulded as he expected.
19. Exigent : exigency.
27. Words before blows : This scene of recrimination is a bit shocking. Was it an appeal to the groundlings? On the stage to-day, the two little armies facing each other and indulging in mutual blackguarding is not far from ridiculous.
33. The posture of your blows are : See Introduction, $ 24. 34. The Hybla bees : Hybla, in Sicily, was famous for its honey. 42. And bow'd like bondmen : See iii, 1, 55–6 : Cæsar, pardon : As low as to thy foot doth Cassius fall," and, indeed, compare the conduct of the conspirators throughout the scene before the murder of Cæsar.
53. Cæsar's three and thirty wounds : Plutarch says the number was twenty-three.
55. Have added slaughter : have added his slaughter as another victim.
59. Strain : stock, race, lineage.
60. Honourable : See Introduction, $ 13, and compare Timon of Athens (i, 2, 125): “You see, my lord, how ample you're beloved”; and (iii, 6, 30): “ The swallow follows not summer more willing than we your lordship.”
61. Peevish: frequently used by Shakspere in the sense of childish, foolish.
61. Worthless : unworthy.
62. A masker and a er: Cf. Cæsar's 66 Antony that revels long o' nights” (ii, 2, 116).
68. All is on the hazard : Fortune must decide which army is to win.
69. The Folio reads, Lucillius and Messala stand forth.
71. As this very day : Shakspere has other instances of a redundant as. Cf. Romeo and Juliet (v, 3, 246) : " That he should hither come as this dire night”; cf. also the Shaksperian whenas for modern when.
73. Against my will : Cf. the scene in iv, 3, 194 ff.
74. As Pompey was : Referring to the battle of Pharsalia, 48 B.C., in which Pompey was forced by inexperienced men about him to engage. He was easily defeated by Cæsar.
76–7. I held Epicurus strong and his opinion : I held the opinion of Epicurus [to be] strong. See in North's Plutarch, The Life of Marcus Brutus (ed. Skeat, p. 136): “ Cassius being in opinion an Epicurean, and reasoning thereon with Brutus, spake to him touching the vision thus: 'In our sect, Brutus, we have an opinion, that we do not always feel or see that which we suppose we do both see and feel, but that our senses being credulous and therefore easily abused (when they are idle and unoccupied in their own objects) are induced to imagine that they see and conjecture that which in truth they do not.'"
79. Coming from Sardis, etc. : For this passage Shakspere is again indebted to his Plutarch. See the Life of Brutus (ed. Skeat, p. 137): “When they raised their camp, there came two eagles that, flying with