A line-by-line translation

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar Translation Act 1, Scene 3

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Thunder and lightning. CASCA and CICERO enter.

CICERO

Good even, Casca. Brought you Caesar home?Why are you breathless? And why stare you so?

CICERO

Good evening, Casca. Did you walk Caesar home? Why are you breathless? And why are you looking around like that?

CASCA

Are not you moved when all the sway of earth Shakes like a thing unfirm? O Cicero, I have seen tempests when the scolding winds Have rived the knotty oaks, and I have seen Th' ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam To be exalted with the threatening clouds, But never till tonight, never till now, Did I go through a tempest dropping fire. Either there is a civil strife in heaven, Or else the world, too saucy with the gods, Incenses them to send destruction.

CASCA

Aren’t you disturbed when the entire earth shakes as if it were unsteady? Oh, Cicero, I’ve seen storms with gusting winds that have split ancient oak trees. And I’ve seen the ocean swell, rage, and foam, as if it wanted to rise all the way to the dark clouds above. But not until tonight—not until now—have I ever seen a storm that drops fire. Either there is a civil war in heaven, or the world—too disrespectful toward the gods—angers them so much that they send destruction.

CICERO

Why, saw you anything more wonderful?

CICERO

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CASCA

A common slave—you know him well by sight— Held up his left hand, which did flame and burn Like twenty torches joined, and yet his hand, Not sensible of fire, remained unscorched. Besides—I ha' not since put up my sword— Against the Capitol I met a lion, Who glaz'd upon me and went surly by, Without annoying me. And there were drawn Upon a heap a hundred ghastly women, Transformèd with their fear, who swore they saw Men all in fire walk up and down the streets. And yesterday the bird of night did sit Even at noon-day upon the marketplace, Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies Do so conjointly meet, let not men say, “These are their reasons; they are natural.” For I believe they are portentous things Unto the climate that they point upon.

CASCA

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CICERO

Indeed, it is a strange-disposèd time. But men may construe things after their fashion, Clean from the purpose of the things themselves. Comes Caesar to the Capitol tomorrow?

CICERO

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CASCA

He doth, for he did bid AntoniusSend word to you he would be there tomorrow.

CASCA

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CICERO

Good night then, Casca. This disturbèd skyIs not to walk in.

CICERO

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CASCA

Farewell, Cicero.

CASCA

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CICERO exits.

CASSIUS enters.

CASSIUS

Who’s there?

CASSIUS

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CASCA

A Roman.

CASCA

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CASSIUS

Casca, by your voice.

CASSIUS

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CASCA

Your ear is good. Cassius, what night is this!

CASCA

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CASSIUS

A very pleasing night to honest men.

CASSIUS

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CASCA

Who ever knew the heavens menace so?

CASCA

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CASSIUS

Those that have known the earth so full of faults. For my part, I have walked about the streets, Submitting me unto the perilous night, And, thus unbracèd, Casca, as you see, Have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone. And when the cross blue lightning seemed to open The breast of heaven, I did present myself Even in the aim and very flash of it.

CASSIUS

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CASCA

But wherefore did you so much tempt the heavens?It is the part of men to fear and trembleWhen the most mighty gods by tokens sendSuch dreadful heralds to astonish us.

CASCA

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CASSIUS

You are dull, Casca, and those sparks of life That should be in a Roman you do want, Or else you use not. You look pale, and gaze, And put on fear, and cast yourself in wonder To see the strange impatience of the heavens. But if you would consider the true cause Why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts, Why birds and beasts from quality and kind, Why old men fool and children calculate, Why all these things change from their ordinance Their natures and preformèd faculties To monstrous quality— why, you shall find That heaven hath infused them with these spirits To make them instruments of fear and warning Unto some monstrous state. Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man Most like this dreadful night, That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars As doth the lion in the Capitol— A man no mightier than thyself or me In personal action, yet prodigious grown, And fearful as these strange eruptions are.

CASSIUS

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CASCA

'Tis Caesar that you mean. Is it not, Cassius?

CASCA

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CASSIUS

Let it be who it is. For Romans now Have thews and limbs like to their ancestors, But—woe the while!—our fathers' minds are dead, And we are governed with our mothers' spirits. Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish.

CASSIUS

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CASCA

Indeed, they say the senators tomorrowMean to establish Caesar as a king,And he shall wear his crown by sea and landIn every place save here in Italy.

CASCA

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CASSIUS

I know where I will wear this dagger then. Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius. Therein, ye gods, you make the weak most strong. Therein, ye gods, you tyrants do defeat. Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass, Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron Can be retentive to the strength of spirit. But life, being weary of these worldly bars, Never lacks power to dismiss itself. If I know this, know all the world besides, That part of tyranny that I do bear I can shake off at pleasure.

CASSIUS

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Thunder sounds again.

CASCA

So can I.So every bondman in his own hand bearsThe power to cancel his captivity.

CASCA

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CASSIUS

And why should Caesar be a tyrant then? Poor man! I know he would not be a wolf But that he sees the Romans are but sheep. He were no lion were not Romans hinds. Those that with haste will make a mighty fire Begin it with weak straws. What trash is Rome, What rubbish and what offal, when it serves For the base matter to illuminate So vile a thing as Caesar! But, O grief, Where hast thou led me? I perhaps speak this Before a willing bondman. Then I know My answer must be made. But I am armed, And dangers are to me indifferent.

CASSIUS

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CASCA

You speak to Casca, and to such a manThat is no fleering telltale. Hold, my hand.Be factious for redress of all these griefs,And I will set this foot of mine as farAs who goes farthest.

CASCA

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CASSIUS

There’s a bargain made. Now know you, Casca, I have moved already Some certain of the noblest-minded Romans To undergo with me an enterprise Of honorable-dangerous consequence. And I do know by this they stay for me In Pompey’s porch. For now, this fearful night, There is no stir or walking in the streets, And the complexion of the element In favor’s like the work we have in hand, Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible.

CASSIUS

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CINNA enters.

CASCA

Stand close awhile, for here comes one in haste.

CASCA

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CASSIUS

'Tis Cinna. I do know him by his gait. He is a friend. —Cinna, where haste you so?

CASSIUS

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CINNA

To find out you. Who’s that? Metellus Cimber?

CINNA

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CASSIUS

No, it is Casca, one incorporateTo our attempts. Am I not stayed for, Cinna?

CASSIUS

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CINNA

I am glad on ’t. What a fearful night is this!There’s two or three of us have seen strange sights.

CINNA

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CASSIUS

Am I not stayed for? Tell me.

CASSIUS

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CINNA

Yes, you are.O Cassius, if you couldBut win the noble Brutus to our party—

CINNA

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CASSIUS

Be you content. Good Cinna, take this paper, And look you lay it in the praetor’s chair Where Brutus may but find it. And throw this In at his window. Set this up with wax Upon old Brutus' statue. All this done, Repair to Pompey’s porch, where you shall find us. Is Decius Brutus and Trebonius there?

CASSIUS

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CINNA

All but Metellus Cimber, and he’s goneTo seek you at your house. Well, I will hie,And so bestow these papers as you bade me.

CINNA

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CASSIUS

That done, repair to Pompey’s theatre.

CASSIUS

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CINNA exits.

CASSIUS

Come, Casca, you and I will yet ere day See Brutus at his house. Three parts of him Is ours already, and the man entire Upon the next encounter yields him ours.

CASSIUS

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CASCA

Oh, he sits high in all the people’s hearts, And that which would appear offense in us, His countenance, like richest alchemy, Will change to virtue and to worthiness.

CASCA

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CASSIUS

Him and his worth and our great need of him You have right well conceited. Let us go, For it is after midnight, and ere day We will awake him and be sure of him.

CASSIUS

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They exit.

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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.