Act V. Scene I. - The Plains of Philippi.
Brutus: "Words before blows: is it so, countrymen?"
On the Plains of Philippi, Mark Antony's and Octavius'
forces face Brutus' and Cassius' forces. A
barrage of insults, accusations and general name-calling
flies between the two sides, before Mark Antony's and
Octavius' army leaves...
Standing on the Plains of Philippi, we find Octavius'
and Mark Antony's army waiting for the army of
Brutus and Cassius. Octavius is pleased. Brutus'
and Cassius' forces have meet them on the Plains
of Philippi rather than staying on the high ground of
the nearby hills and "upper regions;" as was feared
A Messenger now arrives, informing Octavius and Antony
that yes, the forces of Brutus and Cassius are close
at hand, (Lines 12-15) adding that "something to [must]
be done immediately" meaning they should fight (Line
The Messenger is certain of this because "The enemy
comes on in gallant show;" (the enemy arrives, and making
quite a show of it) and "Their bloody sign of battle
is hung out," (they have displayed their war flag, a
clear sign they intend to fight.), (Lines 12-20).
Antony now takes charge of his forces, telling Octavius
that he should lead his forces from the left side of
the "even field" (Line 16). Octavius refuses, insisting
on the right.
This dispute over, Antony and Octavius decide to square
off against Brutus and Cassius before beginning battle.
Brutus is surprised by this asking, "Words before blows:
is it so, countrymen?" (Line 27).
A barrage of insults now fly between the two forces.
Octavius begins, answering "Not that we love words better,
as you [Brutus and Cassius] do" (Line 28), suggesting
that Octavius sees Brutus as a man who prefers words
to deeds since they are easier to produce.
Brutus replies saying, "Good words are better than
bad strokes, Octavius" (Line 29).
Antony replies that "In your bad strokes, Brutus, you
give good words:" suggesting that Brutus says nice things
whilst he does dishonorable deeds (like stabbing Caesar).
Just to make this point absolutely clear, Antony adds
"Witness the hole you made in Caesar's heart,
/ Crying 'Long live! hail Caesar!'" (Line 31).
Cassius replies that Octavius' words hardly bother
him (Lines 32-38).
Antony now attacks Brutus and Cassius, calling them
"Villains!" and adding that Brutus and company did not
act wisely when they "Hack'd one another in the
sides of Caesar:" showing their teeth like "apes,"
"fawn'd like hounds," and "bow'd like
bondmen, kissing Caesar's feet;" whilst the
evil Casca, struck Caesar in the neck from behind
(Lines 39-44). Antony ends this barrage by calling them
"flatterers!" (Line 44).
With Octavius calling Brutus and company hypocrites
(for saying nice things whilst killing) and Antony calling
Brutus and company two-faced cowards (for killing a
great man by stabbing him in the back), Brutus and Cassius
decide to return fire.
Cassius replies "Flatterers! Now, Brutus, thank yourself:
/ This tongue had not offended so today, / If Cassius
might have rul'd" (Line 45).
By this Cassius means to remind Brutus that if he had
ruled, making the decisions for the conspiracy, Antony's
tongue could not have offended them since he would have
been killed alongside Caesar.
Octavius suggests they now fight saying, "I draw a
sword against conspirators;" (Line 51) by which he means
Brutus and Cassius, adding that he should not raise
his sword again (stop fighting) until either Caesar's
"three-and-thirty wounds" are well avenged or he is
dead (Lines 53-55).
Brutus argues that Octavius whom he calls Caesar
(he was the adopted son of Caesar), could not die
at the hands of traitors unless he brought them with
him. In Brutus's eyes he is no traitor (Line 56).
Cassius calls Octavius "A peevish schoolboy, worthless
of such honour," (Line 61) adding that he is joined
by "a masquer and a reveller" (Mark Antony, a person
who likes revelries and going to masked balls), (Line
Antony insults Cassius calling him "Old Cassius still!"
Octavius challenges Brutus and Cassius to either fight
now or "when you have stomachs [the guts]" and Octavius
and Antony leave with their army (Line 66).
Cassius and Brutus now talk for the rest of the scene,
contemplating their position (Lines 72-125).
Act V. Scene II. - The Same. The Field of Battle.
Brutus sends orders via messenger Messala to Cassius'
forces on the other side of the battlefield...
With the battle between Mark Antony and Octavius and
Cassius and Brutus beginning on the plains of Philippi,
Brutus instructs Messala, a messenger to give bills
(orders) to Cassius' forces (the legions on the
Brutus comments that he thinks Octavius' forces are
low on morale, saying they are in "cold demeanour" (Line
4) which he sees as an opportunity to destroy them with
a "sudden push" (Line 5) or attack.
Act V. Scene III. - Another Part of the Field.
Cassius' forces are losing ground to Mark Antony's
forces. Brutus has defeated Octavius' forces but
instead of reinforcing Cassius' forces, have instead
sought out spoils or bounty from the field.
Needing information, Cassius sends Titinius to a
nearby hill to report if it is friendly or not. Cassius
instructs Pindarus to go atop a hill to report Titinius'
progress to him. Pindarus sees Titinius pulled off his
horse and fears Titinius has been captured. This would
mean Brutus' forces have been beaten so Cassius
kills himself on Pindarus' sword.
Titinius now returns and it is realized that Titinius
was not captured but was greeted by Brutus' victorious
forces when he was pulled off his horse. Brutus learns
of Cassius' death. Titinius, mourning Cassius,
kills commits suicide.
With the battle now raging, Cassius remarks to Titinius
that his troops appear to be retreating saying "This
ensign here of mine was turning back;" adding that he
slew (killed) the coward for doing so (Lines 1-4).
Titinius explains to us what has happened. Brutus seeing
he had an advantage over Octavius' forces, gave
the word to let his troops search for spoils (take anything
of value) from the retreating forces of Octavius. Unfortunately
because Brutus' forces were busy searching for
these spoils, they were unable to reinforce Cassius'
forces which have now been "enclos'd" (Line 8)
or surrounded by Antony's forces. (Lines 4-8).
Needing information on what is really going on, Cassius
makes a fateful decision. He sends Titinius to mount
his horse and head towards some soldiers in the distance
to tell Cassius whether they are friendly or not (Lines
Cassius then tells Pindarus to climb a nearby hill
and tell Cassius what he sees of Titinius whilst he
is making his trip (Line 20).
From atop the hill, Pindarus now reports on Titinius'
movements. Pindarus sees bad news. He tells Cassius
that Titinius was surrounded by troops and that they
seen to be trying to pull him off his horse. Then having
heard shouts of joy, Pindarus tells Cassius that he
fears his friend has been captured by the enemy (Lines
Cassius now instructs Pindarus to kill him (Lines 36-46)
which he does, whilst Cassius exclaims "Caesar,
thou art reveng'd, / Even with the sword that kill'd
thee [you]" before dying (Line 45).
Titinius however, now arrives back from his scouting
mission. This should be impossible, but it is revealed
that Octavius' forces have been overthrown (defeated)
by Brutus just as Cassius' forces have been overthrown
(defeated) by Antony's forces (Line 52).
Titinius hopes this news will cheer up Cassius but
soon Titinius learns of Cassius' fate. Mourning
his comrade, Titinius is told to find Pindarus whilst
Messala heads off to tell Brutus what has happened.
Instead Titinius, still mourning Cassius, kills himself
by falling on Cassius' sword (Lines 52-89).
Messala now returns with Brutus, Young Cato, Strato,
Volumnius and Lucilius.
Messala shows Brutus Cassius' body, Brutus noting
that he died with his head facing upwards (Line 92).
Brutus asks now on seeing the bodies of Titinius and
Cassius "Are yet two Romans living such as these?" (Are
there any Romans today living as worthy as these two?),
(Line 98), bidding them good-bye with the lines "The
last of all the Romans, fare thee well! It is impossible
that ever Rome / Should breed thy fellow" (Line 99).
Brutus now ends the scene, speaking proudly of his
fallen comrade (Cassius) and pledging to renew his fighting
against Antony's and Octavius' forces:
"We shall try fortune in a second fight" Brutus decides
Act V. Scene IV. - Another Part of the Field.
Brutus inspires his men to keep fighting. Lucilius
who is mistaken for Brutus is captured. Eventually Mark
Antony realizes this. The battle rages on and Antony
issues orders for Brutus to be captured, dead or alive...
Amidst the fighting of soldiers at Philippi, Brutus,
Young Cato and Lucilius, make their entrance. Brutus
inspires his men to keep fighting, telling them, "Yet
countrymen, O! yet hold up your heads!" (Line 1).
Young Cato is inspired, proclaiming himself son of
Marcus Cato (Lines 2-6). Brutus now leaves and very
shortly after, Cato is overpowered and falls.
Antony's forces now arrive and Lucilius who is
mistaken for Brutus is taken prisoner. Lucilius explains
his real identity to Antony defiantly telling him, "Brutus
is safe enough: / I dare assure thee [you] that no enemy
/ Shall ever take alive the noble Brutus:" (Line 21).
Antony realizes Lucilius is not Brutus but proclaims
him "A prize, no less in worth" telling his men to keep
him safe (Line 27). He explains that they should show
Lucilius kindness, wisely adding that, "I had rather
have / Such men my friends than enemies" (Line 28).
Antony now instructs his men to find Brutus, dead or
alive and to tell him of their progress in Octavius'
tent where he shall be waiting (Lines 28-30).
Act V. Scene V. - Another Part of the Field.
Mark Antony: "This was the noblest Roman of them
Tired, weary, but still alive, Brutus finds a place
to catch his breath with his few remaining followers.
One by one Brutus asks first Clitus, Dardanius and Volumnius
to kill him but each refuses. Finally Brutus gets his
wish by falling on his sword, killing himself. Octavius,
Mark Antony, Messala and Lucilius now arrive. Strato
explains how Brutus died. Mark Antony pays tribute to
Brutus' noble spirit by famously saying, "This
was the noblest Roman of them all...." Octavius tells
his soldiers to stand down, the battle is now over...
Brutus enters our view, followed by Dardanius, Clitus,
Strato and Volumnius. The scene is one of weariness
from fighting. The end is near...
Brutus in particular is tired and tells his friends
"Come, poor remains of friends, rest on this rock" (Line
1). Brutus' followers are concerned about the dangers
of resting, Clitus reminding Brutus that Statilius "
show'd the torch-light;" but did not return...
Brutus tells his friends and Clitus in particular to
take a rest and sit down. Whispering, Brutus tells Clitus,
"slaying is the word; / It is a deed in fashion" by
which Brutus means he wants Clitus to kill him (Line
Clitus refuses, saying "No, not for all the world"
(Line 5) would he kill Brutus and that "I'll rather
[I would rather] kill myself" than kill Brutus (Line
Next, Brutus tries asking Dardanius to kill him instead.
Dardanius like Clitus will not kill his leader (Lines
Noticing that Brutus now meditates, Clitus makes his
admiration for his leader very clear, saying: "Now is
that noble vessel full of grief, / That it runs over
even at his eyes" (Line 13).
Brutus tells Volumnius that "The ghost of Caesar
hath [has] appear'd [appeared] to me / Two several
times [twice] by night; at Sardis [a location] once,
/ And this last night here in Philippi fields [and last
night, here at Philippi fields]" (Lines 16-18).
Famously, Brutus tells Volumnius that because of this,
"I know my hour is come" (I know my time is up, soon
I will die...), (Line 19).
Volumnius tells his friend he is wrong but Brutus is
certain of his fate. Brutus explains to Volumnius that
they have lost; "Our enemies have beat [beaten] us to
the pit [metaphor for defeat]:" adding that "It is more
worthy to leap in ourselves, / Than tarry [fight] till
they push us" (Lines 23-24).
Reminding Volumnius that they both went to school together,
Brutus asks his friend to "Hold thou [hold you] my sword-hilts
[my sword out], whilst I run on it" (whilst I run
onto it, killing myself), (Line 28).
Volumnius refuses, saying "That's not an office
[duty, position] for a friend, my lord" (Line 29).
Alarms sound the approach of Brutus' enemies,
Clitus telling Brutus to flee at once.
Instead Brutus bids Volumnius farewell, as well as
Strato who he mentions has been asleep during most of
the action in this scene. He also regrets that Octavius
and Mark Antony will rule instead of him but notes that
he will have more glory in his defeat than those two
men will enjoy from "this vile conquest [victory]" of
theirs (Line 38).
Brutus again reminds us that his days are numbered
before alarms interrupt him (Line 40).
These alarms sound and to the shouts of "'Fly, fly,
fly!'" (Run!), Brutus flees as does Clitus, Dardanius
and Volumnius who exit from our view.
Alone now with Strato, Brutus asks again for help in
ending his life. Brutus asks his friend to hold out
his sword while he runs on to it, telling Strato to
"turn away thy [your] face," (Lines 44-48).
Strato tells Brutus to first give him his hand one
last time, and wishes his master well.
Brutus tells Strato, "Farewell, good Strato-" and runs
onto to Strato's sword, stabbing himself fatally
Mortally wounded, Brutus ends his life, saying "Caesar,
now be still [rest in peace]; / I kill'd [killed]
not thee [not you] with half so good a will" (Line 51)
a line suggesting Brutus did not kill Caesar with
half the certainty or intent that he took his own life
with, reminding us that Brutus was the reluctant assassin.
Alarms now sound general retreat, a sign that the battle
is won, Octavius' and Mark Antony's forces
no longer need to keep advancing...
Octavius, Antony, Messala, Lucilius and their army
now enter. Messala asks Strato where his master Brutus
is? Strato answers "Free from the bondage [binds] you
are in Messala;" a reference to the fact that Messala
very recently was free, fighting on Brutus' side
and not a prisoner as Strato believes (Line 54).
Strato tells Messala that "The conquerors can but make
a fire of him;" (they may burn his corpse), (Line 55)
but that they cannot claim any glory or honor from killing
him since Brutus "only overcame himself," a reference
to Brutus committing suicide (Line 56).
Octavius graciously announces that he will take all
those who served Brutus under his own command instead
of making them prisoners or killing them as was usually
the case for supporters of defeated enemies (Line 60).
Messala asks how Brutus died and Strato explains that
"I held the sword, and he did run on it" (I held the
sword out and Brutus ran onto it, stabbing himself),
Messala asks Octavius then to take Brutus' loyal servant
as one of his servants (Line 66).
Antony now graciously sums up Brutus' character
by famously saying: "This was the noblest Roman
of them all; / All the conspirators save only he" (everyone
except Brutus) in Antony's opinion, killed Caesar
out of "envy" whereas Brutus, Antony explains, joined
these assassins out of the "general honest thought"
or opinion that killing Caesar was a "common good
to all," or was an action that best served everyone's
interests, not Brutus' own unlike the other conspirators
Continuing his epitaph of Brutus, Antony adds that
Brutus' life was "gentle, and the elements / So
mix'd in him [his virtues so well mixed] that Nature
[nature itself] might stand up / And say to all the
world, 'This was a man!'" the highest possible compliment
Antony could make (Lines 73-75).
The play now ends with Octavius announcing that because
of Brutus' qualities, he shall be buried with honor,
Octavius announcing that Brutus' bones will remain
in his tent tonight, a sign of great respect, which
Octavius says is "Most like a soldier, order'd
honourably" (is like a soldier whose bones are arranged
honorably before burial), (Line 79).
Commanding his forces to withdraw and cease all actions,
Octavius announces his intention for those exit the
battlefield and to leave the glories of this day...
Octavius: "So call the field to rest [tell the troops
to stand down]; and let's away [let's set off],
/ To part the glories [leave the glories] of this happy
day" (Line 80).