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Cassius will induce Brutus to join the conspirators. At the end of the episode this is the situation : the party of Cassius at any moment likely to attempt the overthrow of Cæsar ; will Brutus—the grave, respected man of high ideals, necessary to give the proper sanction to the cause—throw in his lot with the conspirators ? The third scene does not carry further the dramatic idea, unless the securing of Casca be considered very important; but with its accompaniment of thunder and storm and strange prodigies of nature it gives Shakspere a great opportunity to indulge his love of the weird and ghastly before an occurrence of grim tragic import. A similar effect is created in Macbeth by the dire portents of disaster before the murder of King Duncan. In other words, the third scene of the first act of Julius Cæsar is a more or less distinct bid for the favour of the groundlings. Its splendid imagery and its poetical power prevent the . judicious from grieving at its perhaps unnecessary detail.
SCENE I “The Tragedie of Julius Cæsar” in the Folio is divided into acts, but not into scenes. The first act is thus indicated : Actus Primus. Scena Prima. Enter Flavius, Murellus, and certaine Commoners over the Stage. The stage direction “Rome : a street " was inserted by Capell. Subsequent acts have the words “ Scoena Prima” omitted. The name Murellus was changed by Theobald to Marullus, according to the spelling in North's Plutarch.
Shakspeare is generally fortunate in hitting upon strong, natural introductions of this sort ; compare the street fight at the beginning of Romeo and Juliet, between the retainers of the rival houses of Montague and Capulet ; the uprising of the plebs against Coriolanus in the beginning of the first scene of Coriolanus; the meeting of the parasites in the house of the spendthrift in the first scene of Timon of Athens, and the appearance of the Ghost to the guard, at the very outset, in Hamlet. In each case, it is through seemingly unimportant incidents and persons that we get at the keynote of the tragedy,
3. Being mechanical : that is, “being mechanics or labourers." It seems hardly necessary to follow Hudson in regarding mechanical as an adjective with the sense of a plural substantive. The word mechanical now has a different meaning, but the sense of the passage is clear enough. In any case, Shakspere took the word from his Plutarch : “Cobblers, tapsters, or suchlike base mechanical people.” The modern tendency is more and more to omit the -al of such adjectives as mechanical, majestical, heroical, etc.
3. You ought not walk: See Introduction, $ 18. There is still some doubt in Elizabethan English as to the omission or the use of to with the infinitive after certain verbs, conceived to have something of the character of auxiliaries. This doubt arose after the dropping of the infinitive termination -en and the substitution therefor of the sign to. The confusion is well shown in the lines quoted by Guest from The Mirror for Magistrates :
"And though we owe the fall of Troy requite,
Yet let revenge thereof from gods to light.” 4. A labouring day: Labouring is here a substantive, not a participle.
"A labouring day is an expression of the same kind with a walking stick or a riding coat; in which it is not asserted that the stick walks or that the coat rides ; but two substantives being conjoined, the one characterises or qualifies the other,-performs, in fact, the part of an adjective,-just as happens in the expressions a gold ring, a leather apron, a morning call, the evening bells."-Craik. In other words, labouring is, as Rolfe explains, not the participle, but the verbal noun (or gerund), used as an adjective.
4-5. Without the sign of your profession : Shakspere is, perhaps, thinking of an English law to prevent artisans from going abroad “without the sign of their profession.”
5. What trade art thou : Note the colloquial omission of the preposition of. According to Craik, the trade and the person practising it are used indifferently, the one for the other. Flavius here uses very properly thou to an inferior, especially in anger. See Introduction, $ 4. For a very interesting discussion of thou and you in Shakspere, cf. Abbott's Shaksperian Grammar, SS 231-236.
6. First Commoner : In the Folio, these commoners are called Car. (Carpenter) and Cob. or Cobl. (Cobbler) respectively.
9. You, sir, what trade are you : See Introduction, 84. Cf. on thou above and also observe that “when the appellative ‘sir ’ is used, even in anger, thou (according to Abbott, $ 232) generally gives place to you :
• And what wilt thou do ? Beg, when that is spent ?
Well, sir, get you in.'-As You Like It, i, 1, 79-80.” 12–3. Answer me directly : Cobbler, we see, was used for any kind of coarse workman; hence, the answer of the second commoner is not sufficiently explicit.
14-6. A trade which is a mender of bad soles : This line is cited by Craik to prove that trade was used indiscriminately
for the trade or the person practising it. On the word of a cobbler, this statement seems to be true. See on line 5 above.
15–16. A mender of bad soles : Puns were in high favour with Elizabethan audiences, as they are to-day with the British auditors at British farces. Shakspere is not beyond indulging in quibbles of this sort even in his most serious passages (note Mark Antony's words when he first sees the body of the murdered Cæsar), and critics have not been slow to condemn his habits in this respect. This long series of puns on soul (sole), awl (all), if you be out (in two senses), and recover (in two senses) is probably but “ an appeal to the gallery"; one would like to think Shakspere's better judgment would have rejected it. Cf. the words of Cassius in the next scene, " Now is it Rome indeed and room enough,” etc., a line which, in the connection in which it is used, must always grate on sensitive ears. For the cobbler's sole-soul quibble compare in The Merchant of Venice (iv, 1, 123) :
“ Not on thy sole, but on thy soul, harsh Jew,
Thou mak’st thy knife keen.”
17. What trade, thou knave : The Folio gives this line to Flavius.
26. But with awl. I am indeed, sir : The Cambridge editor and others adopt this suggestion for the Folio but withal I am indeed, sir, etc. It is difficult to see how it improves the original reading, which is more fluent prose and equally intelligible. “What the cobbler means to say is, that although he meddles not with tradesmen's matters, or women's matters, he is withal (making at the same time his little pun) a surgeon to old shoes.”— White. Another reading is but with all. I am, etc.
28. Proper men: goodly, well appearing men ; a common use in Elizabethan drama. See Introduction, $ 41.
28–9. Neat's leather : Neat A. S. neát, cow, ox, and (in plural) cattle. Cf. Merchant of Venice (i, 1, 112), a neat's tongue dried ;" also the modern “ neat's foot oil."
Several editors have pointed out the use of these two expressions in The Tempest : “ As proper a man as ever went on four legs” (ii, 2, 58), and “He's a present for any emperor that ever trod on neat's leather" (ii, 2, 66).
30. But wherefore art not in thy shop to-day: Can you assign any reason for the tribune's speaking in verse ? Is there anything in his state of mind to account for it ? Conversely, why should the
cobbler speak prose? How do you account for the omission of the subject of art?
34. To see Cæsar and rejoice in his triumph: Cæsar's fifth and last triumph, October, B.C. 45. It followed his victory over Gnaeus. and Sextus Pompey, at Munda, B.C. 45. Plutarch tells us that this triumph “did as much offend the Romans, and more, than anything that ever he had done before : because he had not overcome captains that were strangers, nor barbarous kings, but had destroyed the sons of the noblest man of Rome, whom fortune had overthrown. And because he had plucked up his race by the roots, men did not think it meet for him to triumph so for the calamities of his country,” etc. The unusualness of this proceeding makes the reproach here the more bitter. Shakspere seems to place the triumph in B. C. 44.
43. Your infants in your arms: Is this the exact equivalent of the Latin ablative absolute ? Is it a common English construction ?
44-5. With patient expectation To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome : How much of the effect of these lines is due to the alliteration on p? P, f, and v are, according to Robert Louis Stevenson, the letters of the alphabet most musical in alliteration.
47. An universal shout : See Introduction, § 11.
48. That Tiber trembled : Do you feel the need of a so before this result-clause ? See Introduction, $ 33.
49. Replication : Echo, reverberation. See Introduction, $ 35.
49. To hear the replication : A more common idiom would require the gerundive here, at or on hearing. Cf. in this play, “This disturbed sky Is not to walk in” (i, 3, 39-40). See Introduction, $ 28.
54. That comes in triumph : What is the antecedent of that ? 57. Intermit: remit, or, better still, avert.
61. Tiber banks : See Introduction, $ 36, and compare “Here in Philippi fields” (v, 5, 19).
64. Whether is pronounced as one syllable, and frequently printed whe'r or whêr. The Folio reads where. This contraction occurs elsewhere in Julius Cæsar.
67. The images of Cæsar.
68. Deck'd with ceremonies: A peculiar expression for ceremoniously decked. These ornaments are later referred to as trophies (i, 1, 72) and scarfs (i, 2, 283).
70. The feast of Lupercal : Held in February in honour of Lupercus, identified with Pan. The month was called Februarius from Februus, another name of the god.
72. I'll about : For the omission of the verb, see Introduction, S 22. 73. The vulgar : the common people ; Latin vulgus. 76. Pitch: A term in falconry used to denote the height a falcon flies.
The Folio reads Enter Cæsar, Antony for the Course, Calphurnia, Portia, Decius, Cicero, Brutus, Cassius, Caska, a Soothsayer : after them Murellus and Flavius. Shakspere found the names Calphurnia and Decius Brutus in North. The names of these people really were Calpurnia and Decimus Brutus.
3. In Antonius' way: The Folio reads Antonio's, using the Italian form with which the audience and the actors were more familiar. So in the Folio we find deerer than Pluto's (Plutus'] mine (iv, 3, 101). Antonius at this time was consul as well as priest of the Julian gens, and it was probably as chief of the Julian Luperci that he ran in the sacred course, in which priests all naked, except for a girdle about the loins, ran through the streets of the city, striking whomsoever they met with a thong of goat's hide. This festival of the Lupercalia was by way of a general expiation or purification. As Cæsar says, the touch of the thong of hide was supposed to ward off from women “the sterile curse.
15. Press : crowd. Not common usage to-day.
18. The Ides of March : In the Roman calendar the Kalends fell on the first day of each month, the Ides on the 15th in March, May, July, September (13th in other months), and the Nones on the 9th day before the Ides ( therefore on the 5th or 7th).”
24. Sennet : A common word in Shakspere. A peculiar set of notes on a trumpet, used to signal the march of a procession.
25. Go see the order of the course : Is this similar to the omission of to in “You ought not walk” (i, 1, 3) ? See Introduction, $ 18.
28. Gamesome : Fond of games or sport. See Introduction, $ 35.
33-4. That gentleness And show of love as : For the relative, see Introduction, $ 7. Wont : accustomed.
Caius Cassius Longinus had married Junia, a sister of Brutus. Both men had recently stood for the chief prætorship of the city, and Brutus had won ; hence had come an estrangement between the brothers-in-law. Cæsar's assigning the office to Brutus was another cause of Cassius' animosity toward the dictator. In the following scene, and throughout the play, the student should observe how carefully Shakspere follows the hint in Plutarch : “It is also reported, that Brutus could evil away with the tryanny, and that Cassius hated