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Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar Translation Act 2, Scene 1

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BRUTUS enters in his orchard.

BRUTUS

What, Lucius, ho!— I cannot by the progress of the stars Give guess how near to day . —Lucius, I say!— I would it were my fault to sleep so soundly.— When, Lucius, when? Awake, I say! What, Lucius!

BRUTUS

Hello, Lucius, where are you? I can’t tell by the position of the stars how near it is to dawn. Lucius, where are you? I wish I had the weakness of sleeping too deeply. Come, Lucius, come! Wake up, I say! Lucius!

LUCIUS enters.

LUCIUS

Called you, my lord?

LUCIUS

You called, my lord?

BRUTUS

Get me a taper in my study, Lucius.When it is lighted, come and call me here.

BRUTUS

Put a candle in my study, Lucius. When it’s lit, come here and get me.

LUCIUS

I will, my lord.

LUCIUS

I will, my lord.

LUCIUS exits.

BRUTUS

It must be by his death, and for my part I know no personal cause to spurn at him But for the general. He would be crowned. How that might change his nature, there’s the question. It is the bright day that brings forth the adder And that craves wary walking. Crown him that, And then I grant we put a sting in him That at his will he may do danger with. Th' abuse of greatness is when it disjoins Remorse from power. And, to speak truth of Caesar, I have not known when his affections swayed More than his reason. But ’tis a common proof That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder, Whereto the climber upward turns his face. But when he once attains the upmost round, He then unto the ladder turns his back, Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees By which he did ascend. So Caesar may. Then, lest he may, prevent. And since the quarrel Will bear no color for the thing he is, Fashion it thus: that what he is, augmented, Would run to these and these extremities. And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg— Which, hatched, would as his kind grow mischievous— And kill him in the shell.

BRUTUS

Killing Caesar is the only way. As for me, I have no personal reason to harm him other than the common good of the people. He wants to be crowned king. The question is, how might being king change him? Just as sunny days cause poisonous snakes to come outside, bad things can come from what looks good—and so we must step carefully. If we crown him king, then—I admit—we’d be giving him a power that he could use to do evil things, if he wanted. The abuse of power comes when power gets separated from compassion. And, to be honest about Caesar, I’ve never seen his emotions get the better of his reason. But it's a basic truth that an ambitious young man uses humility as a tool to move up the ladder. And then, when he gets to the top rung, he turns his back on those beneath him and shoots for the skies, while scorning what he did to get to the top. Caesar might do the same. Therefore, because he might, we must stop him. And since our argument has nothing to do with who he is right now, I must think of it this way:  if he got more power, his character as it is now would be transformed into the extreme one I've described. Therefore, we should think of him as a serpent’s egg—which, once it's hatched, grows dangerous, just as all serpents do. So we must kill him while he’s still in the shell.

LUCIUS enters.

LUCIUS

The taper burneth in your closet, sir. Searching the window for a flint, I found This paper, thus sealed up, and I am sure It did not lie there when I went to bed. [gives him a letter]

LUCIUS

The candle is lit in your study, sir. While I was searching on the window sill for a flint, I found this paper, sealed up like this. And I’m sure it wasn’t lying there when I went to bed. [He gives BRUTUS the letter]

BRUTUS

Get you to bed again. It is not day.Is not tomorrow, boy, the ides of March?

BRUTUS

Go back to bed again. It’s not daytime yet. Boy ,isn’t tomorrow March 15th?

LUCIUS

I know not, sir.

LUCIUS

I don’t know, sir.

BRUTUS

Look in the calendar and bring me word.

BRUTUS

Check the calendar and let me know.

LUCIUS

I will, sir.

LUCIUS

I will, sir.

LUCIUS exits.

BRUTUS

The exhalations whizzing in the air Give so much light that I may read by them. [opens the letter and reads] “Brutus, thou sleep’st. Awake, and see thyself. Shall Rome, etc. Speak, strike, redress!” “Brutus, thou sleep’st. Awake.” Such instigations have been often dropped Where I have took them up. —“Shall Rome, etc.” Thus must I piece it out: “Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe?” What, Rome? My ancestors did from the streets of Rome The Tarquin drive when he was called a king. —“Speak, strike, redress!” Am I entreated To speak and strike? O Rome, I make thee promise, If the redress will follow, thou receivest Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!

BRUTUS

The meteors whizzing in the sky give so much light that I can read by them. [He opens the letter and reads] “Brutus, you’re sleeping. Wake up and see yourself for who you are. Will Rome … et cetera. Speak, strike, right the wrongs!” “Brutus, you’re sleeping. Wake up.” I’ve come upon many other encouragements like these, left in places where I would find them. “Is Rome going to … et cetera.”  And so I must complete the thought. Will Rome stand in awe of one single man? Really, Rome? My ancestors drove Tarquin from the streets of Rome when he was pronounced a king. “Speak, strike,  right the wrongs!” Is this letter asking me to speak and strike? Oh, Rome, I promise you, if a strike would result in the restoration of the Republic, then I would give you everything you're asking for from my very own hands!

LUCIUS enters.

LUCIUS

Sir, March is wasted fifteen days.

LUCIUS

Sir, fifteen days of March have passed.

A knock sounds offstage.

BRUTUS

'Tis good. Go to the gate. Somebody knocks.

BRUTUS

That’s good. Go to the gate. Somebody’s knocking.

LUCIUS exits.

BRUTUS

Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar, I have not slept. Between the acting of a dreadful thing And the first motion, all the interim is Like a phantasma or a hideous dream. The genius and the mortal instruments Are then in council, and the state of man, Like to a little kingdom, suffers then The nature of an insurrection.

BRUTUS

I haven’t slept since Cassius began to turn me against Caesar. The time spent waiting between the moment when you decide to do something great and terrible, and the instant when you actually do it, feels unreal or like an awful dream. The man who waits becomes like a little kingdom, in which the unconscious and the body join together in a conspiracy to overthrow the conscious mind.

LUCIUS enters.

LUCIUS

Sir, ’tis your brother Cassius at the door,Who doth desire to see you.

LUCIUS

Sir, it’s your brother-in-law Cassius at the door. He wants to see you.

BRUTUS

Is he alone?

BRUTUS

Is he alone?

LUCIUS

No, sir, there are more with him.

LUCIUS

No, sir. There are others with him.

BRUTUS

Do you know them?

BRUTUS

Do you know them?

LUCIUS

No, sir. Their hats are plucked about their ears, And half their faces buried in their cloaks, That by no means I may discover them By any mark of favor.

LUCIUS

No, sir. Their hats are pulled down over their ears and their faces are half-hidden behind their cloaks, so I can’t make out any features to identify them.

BRUTUS

Let 'em enter.

BRUTUS

Let them come in.

LUCIUS exits.

BRUTUS

They are the faction. O conspiracy, Shamest thou to show thy dangerous brow by night When evils are most free? O, then by day Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough To mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy. Hide it in smiles and affability. For if thou path, thy native semblance on, Not Erebus itself were dim enough To hide thee from prevention.

BRUTUS

It’s the faction that wants to kill Caesar. Oh, conspiracy, are you ashamed to show your face even at night, when evil things are most at liberty? If so, when it’s day, where are you going to find a cave dark enough to hide your monstrous face? No, don’t bother to find a cave, conspiracy. Instead, hide your true face behind smiles and friendliness. If you went ahead and exposed your true face, hell itself wouldn’t be dark enough to keep you from being found and stopped.

The conspirators enter: CASSIUS, CASCA, DECIUS, CINNA, METELLUS, and TREBONIUS.

CASSIUS

I think we are too bold upon your rest.Good morrow, Brutus. Do we trouble you?

CASSIUS

I think we may be interrupting your sleep. Good morning, Brutus. Are we bothering you?

BRUTUS

I have been up this hour, awake all night.Know I these men that come along with you?

BRUTUS

I was up. I’ve been awake all night. Do I know these men who’ve come with you?

CASSIUS

Yes, every man of them, and no man here But honors you, and every one doth wish You had but that opinion of yourself Which every noble Roman bears of you. This is Trebonius.

CASSIUS

Yes, every one of them. And every one of them admires you, and wishes you had as high an opinion of yourself as every noble Roman has of you. This is Trebonius.

BRUTUS

He is welcome hither.

BRUTUS

He’s welcome here.

CASSIUS

This, Decius Brutus.

CASSIUS

This is Decius Brutus.

BRUTUS

He is welcome too.

BRUTUS

He’s welcome too.

CASSIUS

This, Casca. This, Cinna. And this, Metellus Cimber.

CASSIUS

This is Casca. This is Cinna. And this is Metellus Cimber.

BRUTUS

They are all welcome.What watchful cares do interpose themselvesBetwixt your eyes and night?

BRUTUS

They are all welcome. What nagging worries have stopped you from sleeping tonight?

CASSIUS

Shall I entreat a word?

CASSIUS

May I have a private word with you?

BRUTUS and CASSIUS step aside and whisper together.

DECIUS

Here lies the east. Doth not the day break here?

DECIUS

Here’s the east. Is that the break of day I see?

CASCA

No.

CASCA

No.

CINNA

O, pardon, sir, it doth, and yon gray linesThat fret the clouds are messengers of day.

CINNA

Oh, pardon me, sir, it is. Those gray lines that adorn the clouds are the messengers of coming dawn.

CASCA

You shall confess that you are both deceived. [points his sword] Here, as I point my sword, the sun arises, Which is a great way growing on the south, Weighing the youthful season of the year. Some two months hence up higher toward the north He first presents his fire, and the high east Stands, as the Capitol, directly here.

CASCA

You’ll both soon admit that you are mistaken. [He points his sword] Here, where I point my sword, the sun rises—way over toward the south, since it’s still so early in the year. Two months from now, the light of dawn will break a good deal further to the north. Due east is where the Capitol stands, right there.

BRUTUS

[comes forward with CASSIUS] Give me your hands all over, one by one. [shakes their hands]

BRUTUS

[Coming forward with CASSIUS] Give me your hands, all of you, one by one. [He shakes their hands]

CASSIUS

And let us swear our resolution.

CASSIUS

Now we should swear to our resolve.

BRUTUS

No, not an oath. If not the face of men, The sufferance of our souls, the time’s abuse— If these be motives weak, break off betimes, And every man hence to his idle bed. So let high-sighted tyranny range on Till each man drop by lottery. But if these— As I am sure they do—bear fire enough To kindle cowards and to steel with valor The melting spirits of women, then, countrymen, W hat need we any spur but our own cause To prick us to redress? What other bond Than secret Romans that have spoke the word And will not palter? And what other oath Than honesty to honesty engaged, That this shall be, or we will fall for it? Swear priests and cowards and men cautelous, Old feeble carrions and such suffering souls That welcome wrongs. Unto bad causes swear Such creatures as men doubt. But do not stain The even virtue of our enterprise, Nor th' insuppressive mettle of our spirits, To think that or our cause or our performance Did need an oath, when every drop of blood That every Roman bears—and nobly bears— Is guilty of a several bastardy If he do break the smallest particle Of any promise that hath passed from him.

BRUTUS

No, no swearing. If the unhappy faces of the men around us, the suffering of our own souls, and the corruption of our current time aren’t motivation enough, then we should break it off now and each one of us of us go back and rest in bed. Then we’ll just let the ambitious tyrant rule and kill each one of us when the whim takes him. But if these reasons are powerful enough—and I’m sure they are—to spark cowards to act and to strengthen with courage the failing spirits of our women, then, countrymen, what else do we need other than our cause to spur us to make things right? What bond do we need other than being Romans who have given their word to act and not back down? And what oath do we need other than that we have all said to each other honestly that either we will make this happen or die trying? Swearing is for priests and cowards and cautious men; for people who are old and feeble; and for those weak people who like to be mistreated. Oaths are only necessary for men you wouldn’t trust, who are engaged in causes that are bad. Don’t stain our justified efforts or the indomitable core of our spirits by thinking that either our cause or performance requires an oath, when every drop of blood in every noble Roman would be nothing more than bastard’s blood if he broke the smallest part of any promise he had made.

CASSIUS

But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him?I think he will stand very strong with us.

CASSIUS

But what about Cicero? Should we get a sense of his thoughts? I think he will strongly support us.

CASCA

Let us not leave him out.

CASCA

Let’s not leave him out.

CINNA

No, by no means.

CINNA

No, by no means.

METELLUS

O, let us have him, for his silver hairs Will purchase us a good opinion And buy men’s voices to commend our deeds. It shall be said his judgment ruled our hands. Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear, But all be buried in his gravity.

METELLUS

Yes, we should bring him in. His age and renown will ensure that people see us in a good light and speak in praise of our actions. It will be said that that Cicero’s good judgment directed our plans. Our relative youth and recklessness will be obscured by his sober seriousness.

BRUTUS

O, name him not. Let us not break with him, For he will never follow anything That other men begin.

BRUTUS

No, don’t bring him up. We shouldn’t speak with him, because he’ll never follow anything that other men have started.

CASSIUS

Then leave him out.

CASSIUS

Then leave him out.

CASCA

Indeed he is not fit.

CASCA

Indeed, he’s not a good fit for this.

DECIUS

Shall no man else be touched but only Caesar?

DECIUS

Should Caesar be the only one we target?

CASSIUS

Decius, well urged. I think it is not meet Mark Antony, so well beloved of Caesar, Should outlive Caesar. We shall find of him A shrewd contriver. And, you know, his means, If he improve them, may well stretch so far As to annoy us all; which to prevent, Let Antony and Caesar fall together.

CASSIUS

Good point, Decius. I think it would be a bad idea to allow Mark Antony to outlive Caesar, since Caesar loves Antony so dearly. We’ll find that he is a cunning schemer. And, as you know, if he took advantage of his wealth and reputation, he could hurt us all. To prevent this, let Antony die along with Caesar.

BRUTUS

Our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius, To cut the head off and then hack the limbs, Like wrath in death and envy afterwards, For Antony is but a limb of Caesar. Let us be sacrificers but not butchers, Caius. We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar, And in the spirit of men there is no blood. Oh, that we then could come by Caesar’s spirit And not dismember Caesar! But, alas, Caesar must bleed for it. And, gentle friends, Let’s kill him boldly but not wrathfully. Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods, Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds. And let our hearts, as subtle masters do, Stir up their servants to an act of rage And after seem to chide 'em. This shall make Our purpose necessary and not envious, Which so appearing to the common eyes, We shall be called purgers, not murderers. And for Mark Antony, think not of him, For he can do no more than Caesar’s arm When Caesar’s head is off.

BRUTUS

Caius Cassius, it will seem too bloody if we cut off Caesar’s head and then also hack off his arms and legs—because Mark Antony is just one of Caesar’s arms. We want to be sacrificers of Caesar out of necessity, not butchers who are just out for blood. We are standing up against Caesar’s spirit, what he stands for, and there’s no blood in that. Oh, if only we could overcome Caesar’s spirit without having to cut up Caesar himself! But, sadly, our only option is to kill Caesar. Noble friends, let’s kill him boldly—but not with anger. Let’s carve him up like a dish fit for the gods, not hack him up like a carcass fit for dogs. Like subtle masters do, let’s make our bodies—as our servants—act in obedience to the anger in our hearts. And then, afterward, we will seem to disapprove of our bodies’ bloody deeds. This will make our actions seem necessary and not driven by envy, ensuring that commoners will see us as surgeons instead of murderers. As for Mark Antony—don’t think about him. He'll be able to do nothing more as Caesar's right-hand man once Caesar’s head is cut off.

CASSIUS

Yet I fear him.For in the engrafted love he bears to Caesar—

CASSIUS

But I still fear Antony, because of the depth of his love for Caesar—

BRUTUS

Alas, good Cassius, do not think of him. If he love Caesar, all that he can do Is to himself: take thought and die for Caesar. And that were much he should, for he is given To sports, to wildness and much company.

BRUTUS

Alas, good Cassius, don’t think about him. If Antony loves Caesar, then he can only hurt himself—by falling into despair and dying for Caesar. And he’s not likely to do even that, because he enjoys sports, excitement, and parties too much.

TREBONIUS

There is no fear in him. Let him not die,For he will live and laugh at this hereafter.

TREBONIUS

There’s nothing to fear from him. Let him not die. He’ll live and laugh at this later on.

A clock strikes.

BRUTUS

Peace! Count the clock.

BRUTUS

Quiet! Count the chimes of the clock.

CASSIUS

The clock hath stricken three.

CASSIUS

The clock struck three.

TREBONIUS

'Tis time to part.

TREBONIUS

It’s time for us to go.

CASSIUS

But it is doubtful yet Whether Caesar will come forth today or no. For he is superstitious grown of late, Quite from the main opinion he held once Of fantasy, of dreams and ceremonies. It may be, these apparent prodigies, The unaccustomed terror of this night, And the persuasion of his augurers May hold him from the Capitol today.

CASSIUS

But it's still not certain that Caesar will leave his house today. He’s become superstitious lately—a total shift from the opinions he used to hold about fortune-tellers, dream interpreters, and rites meant to tell the future. It might be that these strange omens, the unusual terror of this night, and the advice of his fortune-tellers will stop him from coming to the Capitol today.

DECIUS

Never fear that. If he be so resolved, I can o'ersway him. For he loves to hear That unicorns may be betrayed with trees, And bears with glasses, elephants with holes, Lions with toils, and men with flatterers. But when I tell him he hates flatterers, He says he does, being then most flatterèd. Let me work. For I can give his humor the true bent, And I will bring him to the Capitol.

DECIUS

Don’t worry about that. If that's what he's planning, I can persuade him otherwise. He loves to hear me tell him how unicorns can be captured with trickery around trees, bears with glasses, elephants in holes, and lions with nets—just as men can be tricked by flatterers. When I tell him he hates flatterers, he agrees—even though that is the instant when I’m flattering him the most. Let me work on him. I can shape his mood in the right direction, and I’ll bring him to the Capitol.

CASSIUS

Nay, we will all of us be there to fetch him.

CASSIUS

No, we’ll all go there to bring him.

BRUTUS

By the eighth hour. Is that the uttermost?

BRUTUS

By eight o'clock. Is that the latest we can do it?

CINNA

Be that the uttermost, and fail not then.

CINNA

Let’s make that the latest, but be sure not to arrive any later.

METELLUS

Caius Ligarius doth bear Caesar hard , Who rated him for speaking well of Pompey. I wonder none of you have thought of him.

METELLUS

Caius Ligarius doesn’t like Caesar, who berated him for saying nice things about Pompey. I’m surprised that none of you thought about including him.

BRUTUS

Now, good Metellus, go along by him.He loves me well, and I have given him reasons.Send him but hither and I’ll fashion him.

BRUTUS

Good Metellus, go to see him. He likes me very much, as I’ve always been good to him. Send him here and I’ll persuade him.

CASSIUS

The morning comes upon ’s. We’ll leave you, Brutus.—And, friends, disperse yourselves. But all rememberWhat you have said, and show yourselves true Romans.

CASSIUS

The morning comes. We’ll leave you, Brutus. And friends, go your separate ways. But all of you: remember what you’ve said and prove yourselves to be true Romans.

BRUTUS

Good gentlemen, look fresh and merrily. Let not our looks put on our purposes, But bear it as our Roman actors do, With untired spirits and formal constancy. And so good morrow to you every one.

BRUTUS

Good gentlemen, look happy and well-rested. Let's not allow our faces betray our plans. Instead, let's carry ourselves as our Roman actors do—with bright spirits and calm faces. And so, good morning to every one of you.

Everyone exits except BRUTUS.

BRUTUS

Boy! Lucius!—Fast asleep? It is no matter. Enjoy the honey-heavy dew of slumber. Thou hast no figures nor no fantasies, Which busy care draws in the brains of men. Therefore thou sleep’st so sound.

BRUTUS

Boy! Lucius! Fast asleep? No matter. Enjoy the sweet nectar of sleep. You don’t suffer from the phantoms or fantasies which the cares of the world bring to all men. That’s why you sleep so soundly.

PORTIA enters.

PORTIA

Brutus, my lord.

PORTIA

Brutus, my lord.

BRUTUS

Portia, what mean you? Wherefore rise you now?It is not for your health thus to commitYour weak condition to the raw, cold morning.

BRUTUS

Portia, why are you here? Why have you woken up so early? It's not good for your health to expose your weak body to the raw, cold morning.

PORTIA

Nor for yours neither. Y' have ungently, Brutus, Stole from my bed. And yesternight, at supper, You suddenly arose and walked about, Musing and sighing, with your arms across, And when I asked you what the matter was, You stared upon me with ungentle looks. I urged you further, then you scratched your head And too impatiently stamped with your foot. Yet I insisted; yet you answered not, But with an angry wafture of your hand Gave sign for me to leave you. So I did, Fearing to strengthen that impatience Which seemed too much enkindled, and withal Hoping it was but an effect of humor, Which sometime hath his hour with every man. It will not let you eat nor talk nor sleep, And could it work so much upon your shape As it hath much prevailed on your condition, I should not know you, Brutus. Dear my lord, Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.

PORTIA

It's not good for yours, either. You rudely snuck out of our bed, Brutus. And last night, at dinner, you suddenly got up and paced around with your arms crossed, worrying and sighing. And when I asked you what was wrong, you stared at me with a rude look. I repeated my question, and you scratched your head and stamped your foot impatiently. I insisted, but you did not answer. Instead, with an angry wave of your hand, you signaled that I should leave you alone. So I did, because I didn't want to further strengthen your anger, which was already inflamed. Yet I hoped that it was just the result of a bad mood, which can from time to time affect anyone. Your bad mood won’t let you eat or talk or sleep. If it could affect your appearance as much as it has affected the way you are acting, I wouldn’t even recognize you, Brutus. My dear lord, tell me about what is making you upset.

BRUTUS

I am not well in health, and that is all.

BRUTUS

I’m not feeling well, that’s all.

PORTIA

Brutus is wise, and were he not in health,He would embrace the means to come by it.

PORTIA

No. Since you’re wise, if you were feeling sick, you’d do the right thing to make yourself better.

BRUTUS

Why, so I do. Good Portia, go to bed.

BRUTUS

And that’s what I’m doing. Good Portia, go to bed.

PORTIA

Is Brutus sick? And is it physical To walk unbracèd and suck up the humors Of the dank morning? What, is Brutus sick, And will he steal out of his wholesome bed, To dare the vile contagion of the night And tempt the rheumy and unpurgèd air To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus. You have some sick offense within your mind, Which by the right and virtue of my place I ought to know of. [kneels] And upon my knees I charm you, by my once-commended beauty, By all your vows of love and that great vow Which did incorporate and make us one That you unfold to me, your self, your half, Why you are heavy, and what men tonight Have had to resort to you. For here have been Some six or seven who did hide their faces Even from darkness.

PORTIA

Are you sick? And is it good for your health to walk outside with an open jacket and breathe in the dampness of the morning? Really, Brutus? You’re not feeling well, but you sneak out of your warm bed, letting the humid and dirty air make you even sicker? No, my Brutus. You have some sickness within your mind. According to my rights as your wife, I deserve to know about it. [He kneels] On my knees, I beg—by my once-praised beauty, by all your vows of love, and by that great marriage vow which brought the two of us together and made us into one person—that you reveal it to me. As I am one-half of yourself, tell me why you’re unhappy and what men felt the need to visit you tonight. For there were six or seven men who came, and who hid their faces even in the darkness.

BRUTUS

Kneel not, gentle Portia.

BRUTUS

Don’t kneel, noble Portia.

PORTIA

[rising] I should not need if you were gentle, Brutus. Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus, Is it excepted I should know no secrets That appertain to you? Am I yourself But, as it were, in sort or limitation, To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed, And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs Of your good pleasure? If it be no more, Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife.

PORTIA

[Standing up] I wouldn’t need to kneel if you were acting nobly, Brutus. Tell me, Brutus, don’t the bonds of our marriage mean that I am supposed to know all the secrets that concern you? Am I part of you only in a limited sense—getting to eat meals with you, sleep with you, and talk to you sometimes? Do I exist only on the borders of your happiness? If it’s only that, then I’m your whore, not your wife.

BRUTUS

You are my true and honorable wife,As dear to me as are the ruddy dropsThat visit my sad heart.

BRUTUS

You’re my true and honorable wife, as precious to me as the blood that runs through my sad heart.

PORTIA

If this were true, then should I know this secret. I grant I am a woman, but withal A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife. I grant I am a woman, but withal A woman well-reputed, Cato’s daughter. Think you I am no stronger than my sex, Being so fathered and so husbanded? Tell me your counsels. I will not disclose 'em. I have made strong proof of my constancy, Giving myself a voluntary wound Here in the thigh. Can I bear that with patience, And not my husband’s secrets?

PORTIA

If that were true, then I’d know your secret. I admit that I’m just a woman. But, even so, I’m the woman that Lord Brutus took for his wife. I admit that I’m just a woman. But, even so, I'm a woman with a noble reputation, and Cato’s daughter. Do you think I’m no stronger than the rest of my sex, having such a father and such a husband? Tell me your secrets. I won’t tell them to anyone else. I’ve proved my trustworthiness by giving myself a voluntary wound here in my thigh. If I can bear that pain, can't I bear my husband’s secrets?

BRUTUS

O ye gods,Render me worthy of this noble wife!

BRUTUS

Oh, gods, make me worthy of this noble wife!

A knock sounds offstage.

BRUTUS

Hark, hark! One knocks. Portia, go in awhile. And by and by thy bosom shall partake The secrets of my heart. All my engagements I will construe to thee, All the charactery of my sad brows. Leave me with haste.

BRUTUS

Listen, listen! Someone knocks. Portia, go inside for a while, and soon you’ll know the secrets of my heart. I’ll explain all my plans to you, and all the reasons behind the sad expression on my face. Leave me quickly.

PORTIA exits.

BRUTUS

Lucius, who’s that knocking?

BRUTUS

Lucius, who’s that knocking?

LUCIUS and LIGARIUS enter. Ligarius wears a handkerchief wrapped around his head.

LUCIUS

He is a sick man that would speak with you.

LUCIUS

Here’s a sick man who’d like to speak with you.

BRUTUS

Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spake of. Boy, stand aside. —Caius Ligarius, how?

BRUTUS

Caius Ligarius, whom Metellus spoke of.

[To LUCIUS] Boy, stand aside.

[TO LIGARIUS] Caius Ligarius, what is going on?

LIGARIUS

Vouchsafe good morrow from a feeble tongue.

LIGARIUS

Please accept this greeting of “good morning” from a sick man.

BRUTUS

O, what a time have you chose out, brave Caius, To wear a kerchief! Would you were not sick!

BRUTUS

Oh, what a time you’ve chosen to get ill, brave Caius! I wish you were not sick!

LIGARIUS

I am not sick if Brutus have in hand Any exploit worthy the name of honor.

LIGARIUS

Brutus, I’m not sick if you have something for me to do—something that is worthy of being called honorable.

BRUTUS

Such an exploit have I in hand, Ligarius,Had you a healthful ear to hear of it.

BRUTUS

Ligarius, I do have just such a thing for you to do, if you are feeling well enough to hear about it.

LIGARIUS

[removes his kerchief] By all the gods that Romans bow before, I here discard my sickness! Soul of Rome, Brave son derived from honorable loins, Thou, like an exorcist, hast conjured up My mortifièd spirit. Now bid me run, And I will strive with things impossible, Yea, get the better of them. What’s to do?

LIGARIUS

[He takes off his handkerchief] By all the gods that Romans worship, I now throw away my sickness! Soul of Rome! Brave son of honorable ancestors! Like an exorcist, you have raised up my dead spirit. Now just tell me what to do, and I will take on the impossible task, and succeed. What is there to do?

BRUTUS

A piece of work that will make sick men whole.

BRUTUS

A bit of work that will make sick men healthy.

LIGARIUS

But are not some whole that we must make sick?

LIGARIUS

But aren’t there some healthy men whom we’ll have to make sick?

BRUTUS

That must we also. What it is, my Caius,I shall unfold to thee as we are goingTo whom it must be done.

BRUTUS

We must also do that. My dear Caius, I’ll explain what we have to do as we walk toward the one to whom it must be done.

LIGARIUS

Set on your foot, And with a heart new-fired I follow you, To do I know not what. But it sufficeth That Brutus leads me on.

LIGARIUS

Start walking, and I’ll follow you, with my heart newly full of fire. I don’t know what we will be doing, but it is enough that Brutus leads me.

Thunder sounds.

BRUTUS

Follow me, then.

BRUTUS

Follow me, then.

They exit.

Julius caesar
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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.