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In the dim half-light of dawn Octavius, Antony, Messala, Lucilius, and the army arrive here. Octavius. What man is that? Lucilius. So Brutus should be found.
[No one speaks to confirm the guess, for all have recognized Brutus.]
All the conspirators, save only he,
Some of the other fine delineations of the complete play of Julius Cæsar are: Flavius and Marullus.
I, i; ii, 288–290.1
I, ii, 1–24, 178–214.
III, i, 1–77; ii, 158–260.
I, ii, 215-306; iii. Portia.
II, i, 233–309; iv.
IV, iii, 144-157.
I, ii, 1–11.
1 The line numbers refer to The Macmillan Pocket Classics edition of Julius Caesar.
A Playlet in Four Scenes from
THE IMPERSONATIONS THESEUS (thē'sē-ús), hero of Grecian mythology, and the "duke"
of Athens. HIPPOLYTA (hy-pol'i-ta), queen of the Amazons, whom Theseus
marries. LYSANDER (lī-săn'děr)
HERMIA (hür'mi-a) and
and DEMETRIUS (de-mē'try-ús)
HELENA (hěl'é-nå). PHILOSTRATE (fyl'7-strāt), master of the revels for Theseus' wedding. QUINCE (kwỉns), a carpenter, and director of a play to be presented
at the wedding. BOTTOM (botům), a weaver,
PYRAMUS (pir'a-mūs). FLUTE (foot), a bellows-mender,
THISBE (thịz'be). SNOUT (snout), a tinker,
WALL. SNUG (snŭg), a joiner,
15 reading parts.* SETTING: Athens (ěth'ěnz), and a wood near there, in prehistoric times.
Scene I. Quince's house, in prehistoric Athens.
Scene II. A wood near Athens. Puck frolics with a fairy, watches a rehearsal, and takes part in it.
Scene III. At dawn the next day, before the palace wall. Bottom's awakening
Scene IV. On the evening of the same day.
* Cast reducible to 13 by doubling Hermia and Puck, Helena and the fairy.
1 Quince's house or Before the wall to Theseus' palace, an alternative setting; Quince's house preferred.
PROLOG-INTRODUCTION 1 The scene is in ancient Greece, before the dawn of history. Theseus is a hero of Greek mythology, and a contemporary of Hercules. He is marrying the queen of the Amazons, and a play for the revels at his wedding has been prepared by Quince, the carpenter, for Snug, the joiner, Bottom, the weaver, Flute, the bellowsmender, Snout, the tinker, and Starveling, the tailor. These men are not actors; they are the common working men of Athens. They probably can scarcely read or write. The play that Quince contrives is the oddest assortment of high-sounding phrases and tragic utterances ever heard. And each of the players, inaccurate and rough in memorizing, contributes a good share to the confusion of the comedy.
E U R O P E
A F R I CA
From the first meeting of the six worthies down to the final presentation of the play before "Duke" Theseus, the play goes through amazing adventures. But indeed, the fortunes of the play are not more strange than the adventures of Bottom, the principal actor, who at the rehearsal in the wood meets the fairies and disappearstransformed by the mischievous, fun-loving fairy Puck into a man with an ass's head.
1 The Master of the Revels, Philostrate, may take the Prolog lines.
That Shakespeare was able so successfully to bring together in a single play such a diverse set of characters as Theseus and Hippolyta from the Greek myths, fairies from the English folklore, classical Grecians, and the hard-handed men of Athens has been a never-ending source of wonder and delight to the critics. Indeed our own admiration becomes so great that when we lay down our books after the spell of A Midsummer Night's Dream is done (if ever really it is done), we share somewhat the feelings of Bottom as he looms up from the depths of the shadows outside the palace wall on the day after his strange disappearance: we have had a most rare vision. We have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man's hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what our dream was.
Scene 1. Quince's house in prehistoric Athens Quince, Snug, Bottom, Flute, Snout, and Starveling enter (R.). Quince. Here is the scrollof every man's name, which is
thought fit, through all Athens, to play in our interlude before the Duke and the Duchess, on his wedding-day at
night. Bottom. First, good Peter Quince, say what the play treats
Quince. Our play is, The most sad comedy, and cruel death
of Pyramus and Thisby. Bottom. A very good piece of work, I assure you, and a
merry. Now, good Peter Quince, call forth your actors by
the scroll. — Masters, spread yourselves. Quince. Answer as I call you. — Nick Bottom, the weaver. Bottom. Ready. Name what part I am for, and proceed. Quince. You, Nick Bottom, are set down for Pyramus. Bottom. What is Pyramus? A lover, or a tyrant? Quince. A lover, that kills himself most gallant for love. Bottom. That will ask some tears in the true performing of it. If I do it, let the audience look to their eyes. I will move storms. Yet my chief humor is for a tyrant. I could play Hercules' rarely, or a part to tear a cat in, a to make all split.
1 scroll: a paper written on, usually rolled up.
“The raging rocks
Of prison gates;
The foolish Fates."
I'll speak in a monstrous little voice, “Thisne! Thisne! Ah Pyramus, my lover dear! thy Thisby dear, and lady.
dear!” Quince. No, no; you must play Pyramus. Bottom. Well, proceed. Quince. Robin Starveling, the tailor. Starveling. Here, Peter Quince. Quince. Robin Starveling, you must play Thisby's mother. —
Tom Snout, the tinker. 1 Hercules (hûr'kū-lēz).
2 tear a cat in. He may be thinking of the killing of the Nemean lion by Hercules.
3 Phibbus (fxb'ús) car: Phæbus' car: the sun. Phæbus Apollo drove his chariot across the heavens every day. 4 mar (mär): defeat. wandering: in search of quests, as King Arthur's knights.