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Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar Translation Act 5, Scene 1

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OCTAVIUS and ANTONY enter, along with their army.

OCTAVIUS

Now, Antony, our hopes are answerèd. You said the enemy would not come down But keep the hills and upper regions. It proves not so. Their battles are at hand. They mean to warn us at Philippi here, Answering before we do demand of them.

OCTAVIUS

Now, Antony, our prayers have been answered. You said the enemy wouldn’t come down, but would keep to the hills and high ground instead. They have not. Their forces are nearby. They mean to attack us here on the plains of Philippi, fighting us before we’ve forced them to.

ANTONY

Tut, I am in their bosoms, and I know Wherefore they do it. They could be content To visit other places, and come down With fearful bravery, thinking by this face To fasten in our thoughts that they have courage. But ’tis not so.

ANTONY

No, I know their secret thoughts, and I understand why they’re doing this. They’d be happier if they were somewhere else. They come here with a false show of bravery, to convince us that they have courage. But they don’t.

A MESSENGER enters.

MESSENGER

Prepare you, generals. The enemy comes on in gallant show. Their bloody sign of battle is hung out, And something to be done immediately.

MESSENGER

Prepare yourselves, generals. The enemy approaches with a great display. They’ve raised their battle standards as if they are about to attack.

ANTONY

Octavius, lead your battle softly on,Upon the left hand of the even field.

ANTONY

Octavius, lead your forces out slowly, to the left side of the flat field.

OCTAVIUS

Upon the right hand I. Keep thou the left.

OCTAVIUS

I’ll go to the right side. You take the left.

ANTONY

Why do you cross me in this exigent?

ANTONY

Why do you defy me at this critical moment?

OCTAVIUS

I do not cross you. But I will do so.

OCTAVIUS

I’m not defying you. But this is what I’m going to do.

The sound of drums and soldiers. BRUTUS, CASSIUS, and their army enter, including LUCILLIUS, TITINIUS, and MESSALA.

BRUTUS

They stand and would have parley.

BRUTUS

They haven't advanced, and want to talk.

CASSIUS

Stand fast, Titinius. We must out and talk.

CASSIUS

Stay here, Titinius. We must go and talk to them.

OCTAVIUS

Mark Antony, shall we give sign of battle?

OCTAVIUS

Mark Antony, should we give the signal to attack?

ANTONY

No, Caesar, we will answer on their charge. Make forth. The generals would have some words.

ANTONY

No, Octavius Caesar. We’ll only respond once they attack. Step forward. The generals want to speak with us.

OCTAVIUS

[to his army] Stir not until the signal.

OCTAVIUS

[To his army] Don’t move until we give the signal.

BRUTUS

Words before blows. Is it so, countrymen?

BRUTUS

Words before fighting. Is that it, countrymen?

OCTAVIUS

Not that we love words better, as you do.

OCTAVIUS

Not that we prefer words to fighting, as you do.

BRUTUS

Good words are better than bad strokes, Octavius.

BRUTUS

Good words are better than worthless fighting, Octavius.

ANTONY

In your bad strokes, Brutus, you give good words.Witness the hole you made in Caesar’s heart,Crying “Long live, hail, Caesar!”

ANTONY

Brutus, along with your treacherous strokes you say “good” words. For instance, the hole you made in Caesar’s heart while you cried, “Long live Caesar! Hail, Caesar!”

CASSIUS

Antony,The posture of your blows are yet unknown.But for your words, they rob the Hybla beesAnd leave them honeyless.

CASSIUS

Antony, we don’t know the effectiveness of your blows yet. But your words are so sweet, it’s as if you’ve stolen from the bees of Hybla and left them without honey.

ANTONY

Not stingless too?

ANTONY

Didn’t I take the bees' stingers too?

BRUTUS

Oh, yes, and soundless too.For you have stol'n their buzzing, Antony,And very wisely threat before you sting.

BRUTUS

Oh, yes, and their sounds, because you stole their buzzing. Antony, you seem to do a lot of warning about how you are going to sting.

ANTONY

Villains, you did not so when your vile daggers Hacked one another in the sides of Caesar. You showed your teeth like apes, and fawned like hounds, And bowed like bondmen, kissing Caesar’s feet, Whilst damnèd Casca, like a cur, behind Struck Caesar on the neck. O you flatterers!

ANTONY

Scoundrels, you did not give any warning before your vile daggers clashed, hacking away at Caesar's sides. You smiled like apes and fawned like dogs and bowed like servants, kissing Caesar’s feet. Then damned Casca, like a mangy dog, struck Caesar on the neck from behind. Oh, you flatterers!

CASSIUS

Flatterers?—Now, Brutus, thank yourself.This tongue had not offended so todayIf Cassius might have ruled.

CASSIUS

Flatterers? Now, Brutus, you have only yourself to thank. Antony’s tongue would not be offending us today if I’d had my way.

OCTAVIUS

Come, come, the cause. If arguing make us sweat, The proof of it will turn to redder drops. [draws his sword] Look, I draw a sword against conspirators. When think you that the sword goes up again? Never, till Caesar’s three and thirty wounds Be well avenged, or till another Caesar Have added slaughter to the sword of traitors.

OCTAVIUS

Come, come, back to the point. Arguing makes us sweat, but the real trial will produce blood. [He draws his sword] Look: I draw my sword against conspirators. When do you think I’ll put this sword away again? Never, until Caesar’s thirty-three wounds are well avenged, or until you traitors have killed me too.

BRUTUS

Caesar, thou canst not die by traitors' handsUnless thou bring’st them with thee.

BRUTUS

Octavius Caesar, the only way you will die by a traitor’s hands is if you have some mutinous soldiers in your army.

OCTAVIUS

So I hope.I was not born to die on Brutus' sword.

OCTAVIUS

I hope you’re right. I wasn’t born to die on your sword.

BRUTUS

O, if thou wert the noblest of thy strain,Young man, thou couldst not die more honorable.

BRUTUS

Oh, young man, if you were the noblest of your family you couldn’t die more honorably.

CASSIUS

A peevish schoolboy, worthless of such honor,Joined with a masker and a reveler!

CASSIUS

A cranky schoolboy, unworthy of such an honor, partnered with a masquerader and a partier!

ANTONY

Old Cassius still.

ANTONY

The same old Cassius.

OCTAVIUS

Come, Antony, away.— Defiance, traitors, hurl we in your teeth. If you dare fight today, come to the field. If not, when you have stomachs.

OCTAVIUS

Come, Antony, let’s go. 

[To CASSIUS and BRUTUS] Traitors, we throw our defiance at your teeth. If you dare to fight today, come to the field. If not, come when you have the courage.

OCTAVIUS, ANTONY, and their army exit.

CASSIUS

Why, now, blow wind, swell billow, and swim bark!The storm is up and all is on the hazard.

CASSIUS

Blow wind, swell waves, and may the ship float where it will! The storm has risen and everything is at stake.

BRUTUS

Ho, Lucillius, hark, a word with you.

BRUTUS

Hey, Lucillius! I’d like a word with you.

LUCILLIUS

[stands forth] My lord?

LUCILLIUS

[Stepping forward] My lord?

BRUTUS and LUCILLIUS converse to the side.

CASSIUS

Messala!

CASSIUS

Messala!

MESSALA

[stands forth] What says my general?

MESSALA

[Coming forward] What is it, my general?

CASSIUS

Messala, This is my birthday, as this very day Was Cassius born. Give me thy hand, Messala. Be thou my witness that against my will, As Pompey was, am I compelled to set Upon one battle all our liberties. You know that I held Epicurus strong And his opinion. Now I change my mind, And partly credit things that do presage. Coming from Sardis, on our former ensign Two mighty eagles fell, and there they perched, Gorging and feeding from our soldiers' hands, Who to Philippi here consorted us. This morning are they fled away and gone, And in their steads do ravens, crows, and kites Fly o'er our heads and downward look on us As we were sickly prey. Their shadows seem A canopy most fatal, under which Our army lies, ready to give up the ghost.

CASSIUS

Messala, today is my birthday. On this very day, I was born. Give me your hand, Messala. Be my witness that I’ve been forced against my desire, as Pompey was, to bet all of our freedoms on one battle. You know that I used to believe in Epicurus' position that the gods did not send omens. Now I’ve changed my mind, and partly believe in signs that foretell what is to come. As we traveled from Sardis, two mighty eagles landed and perched on our front flag, and ate from the hands of the soldiers who marched with us to Philippi. This morning, they’ve flown away and in their place are ravens, crows, and kites, flying over our heads and looking down on us, as though we were their sickly prey. Their shadows are like a deadly canopy, under which our army lies, ready to die.

MESSALA

Believe not so.

MESSALA

Don’t believe it.

CASSIUS

I but believe it partly,For I am fresh of spirit and resolvedTo meet all perils very constantly.

CASSIUS

I believe it only partly, for I’m hopeful and determined to meet all dangers without flinching.

BRUTUS

[returning with LUCILLIUS] Even so, Lucillius.

BRUTUS

[Returning with LUCILLIUS] Right, Lucillius.

CASSIUS

Now, most noble Brutus, The gods today stand friendly that we may, Lovers in peace, lead on our days to age. But since the affairs of men rest still incertain, Let’s reason with the worst that may befall. If we do lose this battle, then is this The very last time we shall speak together. What are you then determinèd to do?

CASSIUS

Now, most noble Brutus, may the gods be friendly with us today so that we, who love peace, can live on to old age. But since the affairs of men are always uncertain, let’s think about the worst that may happen. If we lose this battle, then this will be the last time we speak to each other. What do you plan to do if we do lose?

BRUTUS

Even by the rule of that philosophy By which I did blame Cato for the death Which he did give himself — I know not how, But I do find it cowardly and vile, For fear of what might fall, so to prevent The time of life — arming myself with patience To stay the providence of some high powers That govern us below.

BRUTUS

By the same Stoic philosophy that made me condemn Cato for committing suicide, I will be patient and await whatever outcome the gods have in store for us. I don’t know why, but I find it cowardly and vile to cut off your life early by suicide, in order to prevent possible suffering later on.

CASSIUS

Then if we lose this battleYou are contented to be led in triumphThorough the streets of Rome?

CASSIUS

Then if we lose this battle, you’d be willing to be led in chains by those who defeated you through the streets of Rome?

BRUTUS

No, Cassius, no. Think not, thou noble Roman, That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome. He bears too great a mind. But this same day Must end that work the ides of March begun. And whether we shall meet again I know not. Therefore our everlasting farewell take. Forever and forever farewell, Cassius. If we do meet again, why, we shall smile. If not, why then this parting was well made.

BRUTUS

No, Cassius, no. Don’t imagine, you noble Roman, that I will ever return to Rome in chains. I am too great for that. But today will be the end of the work that we began on March 15th. I don’t know if we will ever meet again. Therefore, accept my everlasting farewell. Forever and forever, farewell, Cassius. If we meet again, why, then we’ll smile. If not, then this parting was well done.

CASSIUS

Forever and forever farewell, Brutus.If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed.If not, ’tis true this parting was well made.

CASSIUS

Forever and forever, farewell, Brutus. If we meet again, we’ll smile indeed. If not, it’s true this parting was well done.

BRUTUS

Why then, lead on. Oh, that a man might know The end of this day’s business ere it come! But it sufficeth that the day will end, And then the end is known.—Come, ho! Away!

BRUTUS

Then, lead on. Oh, if only I could know the outcome of today’s business before it happens! But it’s enough to know that the day will end, and then the end will be known. Come! Let’s go!

They all 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.