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on the same day as the following "feast of Lupercal,” Feb. 15, B.C. 44.

33 tributaries: captives destined when released to pay tribute as vassals; or perhaps, captives from countries doomed to pay tribute.

45 That Tiber, etc. That is very often used by Shakespeare to mean so that.

46 replication of: reply to, reverberation of.

59 till the lowest stream, etc.: till the stream, even at its lowest, shall be so increased by your tears that it shall reach the highest banks.

61 whether is printed where in the Folio both here and in some other places in this play. Some modern editors print whe’er in this line.


Shakespeare's one word mettle (also spelled mettall) has been separated into two distinct words in modern English, metal (literal) and mettle (figurative), though they have the same pronunciation. Here the phrase basest metal refers to the common classification of metals as noble and base; for this reason the spelling metal is employed.

65 ceremonies seems to mean "ornaments put on with due ceremony." In 1. 69 these are called trophies; and in 1. 282 of the next scene, we learn that they are scarfs.

67 the feast of Lupercal: the Lupercalia, a festival held in February in honor of Lupercus, the old Italian god of fertility, later identified with Pan. Our month of February (from februare, to purify) received its name because the ceremonies of this festival symbolized the purification of the land and the people.

73 pitch: a technical term in falconry, used to denote the height to which a falcon soars.


4 run his course. The Luperci, the priests of Lupercus, were originally divided into two orders. Cæsar had recently established a third order, and made Antony its chief priest. See the extracts from North's Plutarch about the running of the course.

9 their sterile curse: the curse which makes them sterile. We may well call all adjectives used as sterile is here "transferred epithets." We mean by this phrase that the adjective has been " transferred" to some noun to which it does not strictly belong. We have a simpler form of transferred epithet in such phrases as a restless pillow, a liberal hand. This usage permits great condensation of language.

18 the ides of March. In the Roman calendar the Ides fell on the

15th day of March, May, July, and October, and on the 13th of each of the other months. This prediction is uttered on February 15, the day of "the feast of Lupercal."

24 A sennet probably indicates “a particular set of notes on the trumpet, or cornet, different from a flourish” (Nares). 33-34 that gentleness as. We now use that or which after a preceding this or that, instead of the as here employed. The usage here followed is very common in Shakespeare; the pupil can find another example in this scene.

35-36 You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand. This is probably a metaphor borrowed from horsemanship, and means You ride me with too tight a rein."

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39 Merely wholly.

40 passions of some difference: conflicting emotions.


behaviours. Shakespeare often puts abstract nouns in the plural where we should not. Thus he speaks of the loves of two lovers. The fact that the plural form behaviours is used shows that the word was not understood just as it is by us. What is the meaning of behaviours?

construe is used three times in the play, always with the accent on the first syllable. See note on misconstrued, V, iii, 84. 48 mistook. See the note to II, i, 50.


shadow: reflected image.

58-59 I have heard Where means "I have heard utterances in which," or something similar.

62 his eyes. Whose eyes?

71 jealous on me: suspicious of me. The preposition on was formerly used in cases where we now employ another preposition, as in this phrase. Compare I, iii, 137.

73 to stale: to make stale. "Any noun or adjective could be converted into a verb by the Elizabethan authors" (Abbott).

The note to II, i, 83 concerns both to stale and scandal in 1. 76.

74 every new protester: every new comer who protests, or asserts, his regard for me.

85-87 If it be aught, etc. The form of expression here is misleading. I understand the thought as follows: "If any proposed course is for the general good, then if honour and death confront me together as I enter upon it, I will look on the combination unconcernedly."

your outward favour: your external appearance.


101 chafing with her shores. There is "a play upon the two meanings of chafe, which signifies both to rub against and to be angry" (Wright). With means "against," its original meaning. There was another word, mid, meaning “together with.” These two words came to be blunderingly united in the single form with, although the two meanings are very different. Because of this fact we may speak in English of “the soldiers that fought with Grant" and mean either his own soldiers or those of General Lee.


122 His coward lips did from their colour fly, like soldiers that desert

their flag in battle.


*his lustre. His was formerly the possessive form both of the masculine he and the neuter hit. The word hit was mispronounced as it until that became the accepted form. Then, naturally, the possessive his, although it seemed rightly to be connected with he and him, seemed to have nothing to do with it. Therefore the new form its came into use (often printed it's at first); but its does not occur in the English Bible of 1611, and is found only ten times in all the plays of Shakespeare.

133 applauses. See the note on behaviours, 1. 42. 136

a Colossus, alluding, probably, to the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue of Apollo about ninety feet in height. It is said that this figure stood astride the entrance to the harbor at Rhodes, and that the ships passed in and out between the legs.

our stars: the planets under which we were born. The lifehistory of a person was supposed to be determined by the exact situation of the sun, moon, and planets at the moment

of his birth. If one of these heavenly bodies (called stars by Shakespeare) was just below the eastern horizon at the time of a person's birth, it was said to be "in the ascendant"; and its influence upon his life was supposed to be especially powerful.

146 'em. See the note to II, i, 298.

152 the great flood: that of Deucalion and Pyrrha.

156 This same pun is probably implied in III, i, 290, “No Rome [room] of safety for Octavius yet."

159 a Brutus once. Plutarch tells us that Marcus Brutus claimed descent from Lucius Junius Brutus. The latter was the leader in expelling the Tarquins, the kings of Rome. 160 the eternal devil. Shakespeare probably uses eternal as a simple intensive. Compare the phrase in Othello, some eternal villain; and the Yankee use of 'tarnal in such expressions as a 'tarnal shame.

162 nothing jealous: nowise doubtful.

172 had rather and had better are objected to and avoided by some at the present time; but there is no good reason for this. The idiom has been in good use for centuries. Originally the had was subjunctive, and "I had better do SO meant "I should hold [it] better [to] do so."

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* Parse to repute. The grammatical structure of the passage is: "Brutus would hold [to] be a villager better (rather) than [he would hold] to repute himself, etc."

174 these hard conditions as. See note on 11. 33-34 of this scene. 186 such ferret. . . eyes. Here ferret is an adjective, and means “ferret-like, reddish." Shakespeare feels perfectly free to take a word that regularly belongs to one part of speech, and use it as a different part of speech. Note Tiber (I, i,

58); stale (I, ii, 73); scandal (I, ii, 76).

188 cross'd in conference: opposed in debate.

197 well given: well disposed.

199 my name means "myself," the name being used for the self, the personality.

208 be is in the indicative plural. This Old English form has

been supplanted by the Norse are. This be is still common in the Bible of 1611; see Genesis xlii. 32, "We be twelve brethren."


* Whiles has the old genitive ending -s. This was often used to give a noun the force of an adverb, as in " he must needs go," "he went once (one -s)." The form whiles came to be pronounced whilst, and this form is still in use. Whilst is very common in this play; see III, i, 159; III, ii, 190, etc. In a similar way have originated many other pairs of words, such as: among, amongst; amid, amidst; again, against. It is often true that the form in -st is not now used adverbially; thus, against is now a preposition.

222 a-shouting: contracted from the older form on shouting. The

word a-shouting is one of many similar formations that are still common in ordinary speech, but they are usually avoided in writing.


228 marry: originally corrupted from the name of the Virgin Mary. Here it is a weak expletive, meaning something

like "indeed," "to be sure."

one of these coronets.


swounded: swooned..

See in Plutarch what this coronet


252 the falling-sickness: epilepsy.

262-263 he pluck'd me ope his doublet. This me is the so-called ethical dative; the word is not an essential part of the meaning of the sentence, and simply expresses the interest of the speaker in what he is telling. Evidently Julius Cæsar wore the English doublet and hose on Shakespeare's stage; and Casca certainly expresses an English conception of Shakespeare's own day when he talks about going "to hell among the rogues" (1. 265).

263 And: if. The common word and had "if" as one of its mean

ings. Occasionally the form an is used for this meaning of the word, as in IV, iii, 256 (see the note). Most editors follow the Globe edition in printing An here, and an in 1. 278, but the Folio has the fuller form.

264 of any occupation: of any craft, mechanical trade.

293 quick mettle: of a lively spirit. In 1. 306 the conception is

of working a metal. See note on I, i, 61.

Does Brutus mean that Casca has continued to be "quick mettle," or has ceased to be so?

310 bear me hard: does not like me, has a grudge against me.

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