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IV. iii. S. d. For the 'Enter' of modern editions the Folios and Quartos have 'Manet' or 'Manent.' I.e., as explained in the note on III. i. S. d., no new scene was necessary here on the Elizabethan stage: the armies marched off and Brutus and Cassius simply ‘remained in conference, but the locality none the less was supposed to shift to the inside of Brutus' tent.
IV. iii. 20, 21. What villain touch'd his body, that did stab, And not for justice? 'What one of the conspirators was such a villain that he stabbed Cæsar from any other motive than for justice's sake?' Brutus means, of course, to imply that there was none such then, and they must be doubly careful to avoid giving ground for any such imputation now.
IV. iii. 25, 26. The infinite spiritual extent of true honor is contrasted with the petty material extent of a handful of money.
IV. iii. 28. Brutus, bay not me. 'Bay' (Theobald's widely accepted emendation of the Folio reading 'bait') is a savage and threatening quibble on Cassius' part: 'Don't bark at me, Brutus, and don't bring me to bay either (cf. note on IV. i. 48, 49), hedging me in with snarling accusations and goading me on with taunts, or I'll turn on you and then it will be the worse for you.' ‘Bait can be given almost the same interpretation, with reference to bear-baiting, but misses the neat repartee in the repeated ‘bay.'
IV. iii. 101. Pluto's. As god of the infernal regions, Pluto might well be supposed to command great wealth. As Milton says, 'Let none admire That riches grow in Hell; that soil may best Deserve the precious bane. Many editors, however, prefer to follow Pope in reading 'Plutus',' the god of riches. Confusion between the two occurred in classical times as well as in Elizabethan.
IV. iii. 109-112. This badly mixed metaphor can be straightened out if we punctuate 'lamb,-' and interpret 'That' as 'With one that, with a man who,' thus: O Cassius, you are associated with a mere lamb,—with a man whose anger is as negative and latent as the fire in a fint, which needs a hard blow before showing any flame at all and even then yields only a momentary spark.'
IV. iii. 152. grief. The grammatical construction breaks down here (though the sense is clear enough), unless we (1) construe 'grief' with 'impatient of' in the preceding line, thus: 'Unable to endure my absence and her own sorrow over Antony's success'; or (2) read 'grieved' for 'grief,' thus: 'Impatient and grieved, in this situation she fell distract,' etc.
IV. iii. 183. Nothing, Messala. Various more or less plausible attempts have been made to defend Brutus from this most unpleasant appearance of deceiving Messala in order to win applause for his fortitude under affliction, but the best way out of the difficulty lies in accepting the suggestion of J. Resch that two alternative versions of Brutus' stoical conduct have been accidentally taken over into the Folio text from the MS. or prompt-book copy.
V. i. 53. three-and-thirty. According to North's Plutarch the number of Cæsar's wounds was threeand-twenty, and several editors have followed Theobald in making the somewhat meticulous correction.
V. i. 111-115. In these lines Brutus has been charged by many critics with flatly contradicting his declaration against suicide in lines 101-108; but the inconsistency disappears if the significance of lines 113, 114 be grasped (by a proper interpretation of 'Must') as merely restating the stoical fatalism of lines 106-108, for Brutus really says simply this: 'No, Cassius, you are an Epicurean and do not understand, and I cannot take the time now to explain things to you. No, I bear too great a mind ever to go bound to Rome: but (my mere human mind does not have to settle this point, for) this same day Must (i.e., will certainly) end that work the ides of March begun.' I.e., 'I do not have to alter my resolution against suicide for Fate will decide, and to-day either we shall kill Cæsar's usurping successors as we killed Cæsar himself, or we shall ourselves die fighting and thus even the score, pay the reckoning, for Cæsar's death.' This, as Hunter points out, is Brutus' expression of mere speculative theory: if, like Hamlet, he does not live up to his professed principles and abstract resolution when the actual test comes, that is but part of his tragic failure.
V. iii. 109, 110. The 'second fight' really took place twenty days later. Cf. note on I. i. 35.
V. iv. 7. No speaker's name precedes this speech in the Folios, and it is accordingly assigned to Brutus on the strength of modern editorial authority only. Some editors, however, would assign it to Lucilius, in order to prepare the audience for his assumption of the rôle of Brutus in lines 12-14 below.
V. iv. 13, 14. Many editors supply a stage direction [Offering money] to explain 'There is so much'; but surely there would be little sense in offering to give part, where all would naturally fall to his slayer. So Lucilius presumably meant simply this: 'I yield only to ensure dying at once: and there is so much reason for my death and so much advantage in it for you that you will doubtless kill me immediately; for you have only to kill me, i.e., Brutus, in order to win great honor and rewards.'
V. v. 2, 3. This passage is somewhat obscure without its original context in North’s Plutarch: 'Brutus thought that there was no great number of men slain in battle: and to know the truth of it, there was one called Statilius, that promised to go through his enemies, for otherwise it was impossible to go see their camp: and from thence, if all were well, that he would lift up a torch-light in the air, and then return again with speed to him.'-Life of Brutus.
V. v. 71, 72. 'He consented to join them only on impersonal principles of honor and in the hope of promoting the welfare of all.'
SOURCES OF THE PLAY
There were, of course, earlier plays in Elizabethan England on the subject of Cæsar's career (Henslowe's Diary attests their popularity in the 1590's) and they may well have influenced Shakespeare's work. For a careful study of these possibilities, see H. M. Ayres' 'Shakespeare's Julius Cæsar in the Light of Some Other Versions' (Pub. Mod. Lang. Assoc. of America, 1910). Dr. A. Boecker also has put forward an elaborate effort to establish Shakespeare's indebtedness to Orlando Pescetti’s ‘Il Cesare,' a tragedy running to nearly four thousand lines of verse and published in Verona in 1594, 2d ed. 1604 (A Probable Italian Source of Shakespeare's Julius Cæsar,' N. Y. Univ. Dissertation, 1913). But after all due allowances have been made for this sort of influence, and for the less important possibility of indebtedness to classic authors such as Appian, it still remains true that the great source of the play is 'The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes, Compared together by that grave learned Philosopher and Historiographer, Plutarke of Chæronea: Translated out of Greeke into French by Iames Amyot and out of French into Englishe, by Thomas North. Imprinted at London. 1579, 2d ed. 1595, 3d ed. 1603. To this famous and splendid monument of Elizabethan prose Shakespeare owes the whole action or plot of the play, the separate incidents, many personal details of characterization, some few errors in fact, and occasional verbal suggestions: but his supreme skill in selecting, rejecting, combining, and arranging historical material has rarely been shown