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SYNOPSIS

ACT I. A public place. Cassius and Brutus.
Act II. In Brutus' garden. Brutus and Lucius. The conspirators.

ACT III. Scene 1. The steps leading to the area before the Roman Capitol. The assassination. Antony.

Scene 2. The Roman Forum. Antony speaking at Cæsar's funeral.

Act IV. A camp near Sardis. Brutus' tent. Brutus, Cassius, the ghost of Julius Cæsar.

Act V. The plains of Philippi. The battle. Octavius and Antony victorious.

PROLOG-INTRODUCTION 1 The playlet deals with the patriots who tried to save the Roman republic in 42 B.C., when the admiration of the people for Julius Cæsar threatened to overturn the republic for a monarchy. Julius Cæsar was one of the greatest men of history, and the brilliance of his conquests almost deified him for the common people. Some of his former associates, however, remembered that he was a man of physical frailty and ordinary human weaknesses.

It was on account of these weaknesses that Cassius attacked Cæsar. Cassius was alert and understanding, but fiery-souled and unable to endure the sight of human frailty paraded as royal and immortal, as Cæsar almost claimed to be. Brutus, on the other hand, loving, noble, exquisite, struck at Cæsar because he could not bear the thought that Rome might make him king.

Rome had been a republic for nearly 450 years; now it was changing into an empire through the force of circumstance and the strength and personality of one man. The patriots struck. They assassinated Cæsar. But their purposes failed, as the purposes of those will fail who try to bring their ways about through force, as by the murder of a man whom the good will and choice of a majority of their countrymen support. rôle of the Second Soldier; and the four conspirators, Casca, Trebonius, Metellus Cimber, and Cinna, lend their voices to speak for the four citizens (who may appear only by their voices). As many supernumerary soldiers, senators, and citizens as are desired may appear.

i The Prolog lines may be assigned to Lucius.

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Note the distance and difficulties of travel which Brutus and Cassius had put between themselves and any army coming from Rome, as long as they remained at Sardis, and note how Brutus lessened these difficulties when he insisted, against the advice of Cassius, upon marching to Philippi.

It was not possible in such a way to stem the tide. Cæsar had been of untold benefit to Rome. The worship of the hero, corrupt politics, and the defects of its governmental system were sweeping Rome onward toward empire or dissolution. Without a representative form of government, the republic could not live and representation was unknown.

Rome fell into the hands of Antony, Lepidus, and the nephew of Cæsar, Octavius. Octavius became the future emperor Augustus, and ruler of an empire that lasted five hundred years, the finest nation, in many respects, that the world has known before or since. And not until the political reformations of the eighteenth century was the dream of Brutus and Cassius realized, the dream of nations guided without prejudice or fear, and under the control of sincere, wise, honest citizens.

The characters, Shakespeare took from Plutarch; and Brutus and Cassius, as they walk before us, speak largely the very words in translation that the ancient biographer handed down for them.

NOTE. Two parts of scenes in this playlet are printed in smaller type than the rest. They will have to be omitted to make the playlet read in forty minutes.

ACT I

Scene, a public place A hubbub of cheering can be heard, and, as the curtain rises, the last files of a procession and the stragglers of a great crowd of citizens can be seen leaving the stage 1 (R.).

Cassius detains Brutus, and they remain behind, their conversation interrupted momentarily by the shouting of the people [R.).

A trumpet sounds.
Cassius. Will you go see the order of the course? 2
Brutus. Not I. (Shakes his head sadly.]

1 leaving the stage. If the playlet is to be presented without a curtain, the procession and crowd of citizens may have to be omitted.

2 order of the course. As part of the ceremonies of the religious holiday, which was the feast of shepherds or herdsmen, Antony was to run course” through the streets, naked, except for a girdle about his middle, striking right and left with a whip of goat's hide.

а

Cassius. I pray you, do.
Brutus. I am not gamesome; I do lack some part

Of that quick spirit that is in Antony.
Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires;

I'll leave you.
Cassius. Brutus, I do observe you now of late;

I have not from your eyes that gentleness

And show of love I used to have.2
Brutus.

Cassius,
Be not deceived. If I have veiled my look,
I turn the trouble of my countenance
Merely upon myself. Vexed I am
Of late with passions of some difference,

Conceptions only proper to myself.
Cassius. Then, Brutus, I have much mistook your passion.

Tell me, good Brutus, can you see your face? Brutus. No, Cassius; for the eye sees not itself

But by reflection, by some other thing.
Cassius.

And it is very much lamented, Brutus,
That you have no such mirrors as will turn
Your hidden worthiness into your eye,
That you might see your shadow. I have heard,
Where many of the best respect in Rome,
Except immortal Cæsar, speaking of Brutus

'Tis so;

3

1 do lack: old style for lack. The do is not ernphatic.

2 show of love I used to have. Cassius had married Brutus' sister, but for some time, on account of political rivalry for the office of chief praetor, there had been a coolness between them. Brutus had been elected largely through the influence of Julius Cæsar, it was said.

passions of some difference: dis lant or conflicting emotions. 4 Conceptions only proper to myself: ideas which I feel I ought to keep to myself

5 shadow. The word had a wider meaning in Shakespeare's time. It included also the meaning of image or portrait; in this instance a very intimate and deep revealing portrait.

6 Except immortal Cæsar. This is meant ironically.

And groaning underneath this age's yoke,

Have wished that noble Brutus had his eyes.
Brutus. Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius,

That you would have me seek into myself

For that which is not in me?
Cassius. Therefore, good Brutus, be prepared to hear;

And since you know you cannot see yourself
So well as by reflection, I, your glass,
Will modestly discover to yourself
That of yourself which you yet know not of.

(A trumpet sounds.]

A great shout is heard (R.). Brutus and Cassius cross the stage anxiously and look into the distance (R.). Brutus. What means this shouting? I do fear the people

Choose Cæsar for their king. Cassius.

Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so.
Brutus. I would not, Cassius; yet I love him well.

But wherefore do you hold me here so long?
What is it that you would impart to me?
If it be aught for the general' good,
Set honor in one eye and death in the other,
And I will look on both indifferently;2
For let the gods so speed me as I love

The name of honor more than I fear death.
Cassius. I know that virtue to be in you, Brutus,

As well as I do know your outward favor. 4
Well, honor is the subject of my story.
I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life; but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.
1 general: public.

speed: prosper. 2 indifferently: without emotion.

favor: looks, appearance.

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