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171 The first fire is dissyllabic.

177, 178. Your voice shall be as strong, etc. Cassius, the practical politician, offers Antony what he thinks Antony wants - power.

206. This line should be paraphrased in prose; it is a good example of the extreme condensation which Shakespeare comnonly attains by the use of figures of speech.

212. shall is used in the old sense" must."

231. Brutus's generosity leads him to consent easily to Antony's share in the funeral. Cassius is neither so confiding nor so contemptuous of the powers of Antony; he would at least not have made the blunder of allowing Antony to speak last.

254-275. The student should consider how far Antony is expressing a true grief here, and how far he is indulging in a rhetorical exercise, preliminary to his funeral speech.


This is the scene which an audience enjoys best, partly because it is so easy to understand, and partly because the eloquence of Antony is so captivating in itself. Here at the very outset of his struggle for the freedom of Rome (the death of Cæsar could really be nothing more than a starting-point) Brutus, with his large noble nature, proves his unfitness to cope with the situation. He had erred first by letting his scrupulousness and his small opinion of Antony protect the friend of Cæsar (II. i. above); second, by allowing him to be heard at all after the death of Cæsar; and, third, by giving him a clear field, and the invaluable rhetorical advantage of the last word.

1. satisfied= given full information, as in III. i. 141 above. 6. those that will follow Cassius, etc. The reader can hardly fail to speculate as to the text of Cassius's speech; it must have offered a contrast to that of Brutus in being more sly and violent, and to that of Antony in being less polished and in appearing less modest.

It must not seem to be said that the contrast between the famous speeches of Brutus and Antony is the contrast between clumsiness and skill. Brutus's speech, as a pithy statement of his position, is extremely skilful. Its prose form gives it an advantage of apparent simplicity and candor; but its substance is not so simple as the substance of Antony's floridly-worded speech; and its effectiveness as an expression of Brutus's char

acter is not great enough to weather the storm of irony with which the adroit Antony presently surrounds the merely "honourable man."

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52. Let him be Cæsar. The remark suggests the hopeless stupidity of the populace, for whose republican rights (with which Shakespeare had no sympathy) Brutus is sacrificing so much. 73. You gentle Romans, Antony knows how to go about his task. His grace, his magnetism, his choice of the word "gentle," have taken his audience captive before he has spoken three words.

213. private griefs= grievances.

518. a plain blunt man. The height of nonsense, but the orator now has his audience under such control that he can afford to assert anything.

243. Tɔ évery séveral mán, séventy-five dráchmas. Apparently a line of fourteen syllables, but there are virtually three elisions to be allowed for.


Of what use to the play is this scene?


"After the first scene the entire act is devoted to the unfold. ing of the character of Brutus, whom we see placed in the most moving and interesting situations, the quarrel and reconciliation with Cassius, the reception of the news of Portia's death, the night-scene with the boy Lucius, the interview with the ghost. Every detail is meant to exalt our estimate of the nobility of Brutus." (S. Thurber.)


Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus have established a triumvi rate, in which, as this scene shows, Lepidus holds a nominal, and Antony an inferior position.

9. How to cut off some charge in legacies. The coolness with which Antony proposes to annul the bequests of which he has made such skilful use in his speech to the populace, reveals the selfishness of his motives.

34. in some taste in a certain sense.

48, 49. The figure of speech is taken from bear-baiting, a popular sport in Shakespeare's day.



40. this sober form of yours hides wrongs this appearance of simple honesty which you maintain does not prevent your doing injury to a friend.

It is inevitable that suspicion and self-seeking should be at work among the defenders of liberty as well as on the other side.


20. What villain touch'd his body, etc. Brutus has already had too much cause to suspect the disinterestedness of his fellow-conspirators; yet his affection for Cassius is so great that, after their quarrel, he is easily convinced that the wrong has been upon his side.

26. grasped thus.


With a gesture -the closing of the

32. Go to; you are not, Cassius. Spoken not so much in pride, as with a sense of the absurdity of Cassius's claim to be a better soldier.

56. I said, an elder soldier, not a better. Cassius is astute enough to see that he has gone too far.

57. If you did, I care not. Brutus has been goaded to an irritation which he can no longer conceal; and he is in the mood to say to his adversary, "It really does not matter what you said, as you always talk nonsense."

107. Brutus's heart is easily touched by an appeal to his affection; Cassius can afford to sulk a little.

137. these jigging fools. The natural contempt of the man of action for the man of phrases. This "poet," it is clear, is an officious fellow, with an absurd sense of his own importance; but Brutus probably cared little for any sort of poet or poetry. "This Favonius," says North's Plutarch, "came into the chamber, and with a certain scoffing and mocking gesture which he counterfeited of purpose, he rehearsed the verses which old Nestor said in Homer:

'My lords, I pray you hearken both to me,
For I have seen moe years than suchie three.'

Cassius fell a-laughing at him, but Brutus thrust him out of the

chamber, and called him dog, and counterfeit Cynic" [i. e., philosopher].

156. swallow'd fire. According to Plutarch, she took "hot burning coals and cast them into her mouth, and kept her mouth so close that she choked herself."

205, 206. affection, contribution: tion in each case to be pronounced as two syllables.

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207. Pope would have called this line "incorrect; though it is hard to scan, it is easy to read, the third foot being trochaic.

236. Every thing is well. Portia is dead, the military prospect is dubious, and Brutus cannot have forgotten the corruption of which Cassius and others of his party have been guilty. What does he mean by "Every thing is well”?

241. o'erwatch'd = tired out from being kept awake.

277. this monstrous apparition. monstrous= supernatural. The ghost appears to rank with the dignified ghost in Hamlet, a figure of dignity, rather than with the horrid speechless apparition in Macbeth. There seems no reasonable doubt that Shakespeare, like most of his contemporaries, believed in ghosts. 280. stare. What does it mean? See The Tempest, I. ii.



The previous act was concerned mainly with the preparations for the decisive struggle, and with the study of Brutus's character. The final scenes are full of action.



Antony and Octavius are never in real harmony. The scenes in which they take part as associates are strongly suggestive of a sequel, which Shakespeare in fact gave in Antony and Cleopatra. It must be remembered that Antony at this time was some forty years of age, and Octavius only twenty. But Octavius acts not with the swagger of a boy who fancies himself a man, but with the perfect self-possession and confidence of middle age. He is, in fact, preternaturally middleaged; there is a kind of relentless and irresistible force about him which materially influences the feeling that he is, as it were, an incarnate Fate. Antony himself cannot stand against him." (Innes.)

33-38. This passage of words between Antony, Brutus and Cassius, with its deliberate exhaustion of the possibilities of a single figure of speech, is a relic of the euphuism so common in the early plays, but now being sloughed off by the poet.

63. Old Cassius still! One can imagine that this airily contemptuous exclamation must have touched the quick of Cassius's self-love more certainly than any elaborate retort could have done.

89. Our ármy líes, réady to give up the ghóst.


"Brutus had conquered all on his side, and Cassius had lost all on the other side. . . . Cassius was marvellous angry to see how Brutus' men ran to give charge upon their enemies, and tarried not for the word of battle; and it grieved him that, after he had overcome them, his men fell straight to spoil." (North's Plutarch.)

34, 35. This speech shows the real strain of nobility in Cassius for which Brutus loves him.


The manner of Brutus's death, with his solicitations of his friends, is reproduced as closely as possible from Plutarch.

The death of Brutus relieves, rather than consummates, the tragedy of his life. Julius Cæsar, like Hamlet and Macbeth, is a tragedy of situation: the study of hopeless incongruity between a man and his task; and for such a situation, death is the only relief.

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