Act II. Scene I. - Rome. Brutus' Orchard.
Brutus: "Shall Rome stand under one man's awe?"
Brutus cannot sleep, revealing for the first time
his own true fears that Caesar may be growing too
powerful. A letter is discovered, which Brutus reads,
convincing him to join the conspiracy. The complete
group of conspirators meets at Brutus' house, discussing
Caesar's assassination. Brutus argues against
Caesar's right hand man, Mark Antony being
killed as well. Cassius and Trebonius have their doubts
but go along with Brutus. Brutus' wife Portia tries
to find out what her husband is planning, worried for
Brutus is having difficulty sleeping. Awaking, he
calls out the name of Lucius, his servant and bids him
to bring a taper (torch) to him in his study.
Now alone, Brutus thinks about his greatest fears for
Caesar as king... He has no personal grudge against
Caesar, but Brutus is still very troubled; he knows
that power can corrupt and absolute power can corrupt
absolutely. Already Brutus is thinking of Caesar's
death as not necessarily being a bad thing:.
I know no personal cause to spurn [hurt /
slight / attack] at him [Caesar], / But for the general
[general good]. He would be crown'd: / How that might
change his nature, there's the question: / It is
the bright day that brings forth the adder [snake];
/ And that craves wary walking [one then must be careful].
Crown him?-that! / And then, I grant, we put a sting
in him, / That at his will he may do danger with. The
abuse of greatness is when it disjoins [separates] /
Remorse from power.... (Lines 11-33)
Lucius now reenters and announces that not only is
the taper burning in Brutus' closet as desired
(it is night), but that Lucius has also found a paper
sealed up by the window (Lines 35-45).
Opening it, the letter tells Brutus to awaken: "Brutus,
thou sleep'st: awake and see thyself. Shall Rome,
&c. Speak, strike, redress! Brutus, thou sleep'st:
awake!" (Lines 45-48).
Brutus remarks that often such "instigations" have
been placed where he would find them and he ponders
the letters' contents thinking that yes he will stop
Caesar. "Shall Rome stand under one man's awe?"
Brutus asks (Line 52) and Brutus remembers his ancestors
who drove out the Tarquin "when he was call'd [called]
a king" (Line 54).
Brutus will now act: "If the redress will follow, thou
receiv'st / Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!"
Lucius now returns, announcing that fourteen days of
March have been wasted, it is the 14th of March just
one day before "the ides of March" the day
the Soothsayer warned Caesar about...
Brutus now hears knocking telling his servant to attend
to it. Alone again, Brutus remembers that he has not
slept well since Cassius first warned him of Caesar
Lucius reappears, announcing several men at Brutus'
door and Brutus lets in men he knows are part of a conspiracy
(Lines 69-84). Interestingly, though Brutus is now almost
one of them, he wonders whether they can find a cavern
dark enough to hide the monstrous visage (look), (Line
81) of what these men represent despite Brutus already
beginning to see an assassination as necessary for the
good of Rome.
The conspirators Cassius, Casca, Decius (full name
Decius Brutus not to be confused with Brutus, Caesar's
friend), Cinna, Metellus Cimber and Trebonius enter
and when Cassius suggests they all take an oath to swear
their loyalty to the assassination, Brutus refuses.
He explains that as Romans they have no need for this
and this speech perhaps best sums up Brutus' noble
character (Lines 113-140).
Cassius asks of Cicero's loyalty and finds it
is with their conspiracy; his high social standing according
to Metellus Cimber will also earn them respect instead
of hatred for their actions since Cicero is well regarded
in Rome (Lines 144-149). Brutus however disagrees, arguing
that Cicero "will never follow anything" (Line
150). Cassius agrees to leave Cicero out of their conspiracy...
The Cicero issue settled, some very important decisions
First Mark Antony, the dear friend of Caesar is
to be spared not killed. Cassius thinks he should be
killed (Lines 156-161) since Mark Antony is "A
shrewd contriver [a cunning manipulator / person not
to be trusted];" who could cause them all problems later
Brutus disagrees, arguing that if Caesar is the
head of a man then Mark Antony would be its limbs. Therefore
in Brutus' eyes, hacking the head (killing Caesar)
should make Mark Antony powerless.
Additionally if they kill Mark Antony as well as Caesar
they may appear cruel when they want Romans to see their
actions as the bare necessity to stop Caesar becoming
too powerful (killing his right hand man as well might
Brutus makes this clear when he argues killing Mark
Antony will lead to their band being called murderers
not purgers telling Caius, "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:" (Lines 166-167)
To kill Caesar without appearing vindictive, Brutus
explains that they must sacrifice Caesar, not butcher
him and that they should do this "boldly, but not wrathfully;"
(Line 172). They must bleed Caesar and carve him
up as a dish "fit for the gods," not "as a carcase
fit for hounds:" (Line 173).
Cassius is not convinced, remarking "yet I fear him
[Mark Antony];" (Line 184).
Brutus though, has his way arguing that Mark Antony
loves wildness, sports and much company; Caesar
is not the only thing he loves. He may not be such a
threat. Trebonius is not so naive, saying that by not
killing him "he will live, and laugh at this [the conspirators
not assassinating him too] hereafter [ever after]" (Line
Cassius now outlines the plan to kill Caesar in the
Capitol. He is however still worried. Caesar has
grown quite superstitious lately and may not turn up.
Decius tells them not to worry; he knows Caesar's
fatal flaw; he is vain and a pushover for flattery (Lines
Brutus now dismisses his group, telling them all to
be like actors and hide their dark purpose (the assassination).
Portia, Brutus' wife now appears and is worried
for her husband. She has noticed that he is not as hungry
as usual and has had great difficulty sleeping. Brutus
tells his wife he is fine but Portia wants to know the
truth, does the vow of marriage her status as "A
woman well-reputed," and as "Cato's daughter"
not entitle her to this? (Lines 261-308).
Lucius now announces another visitor, a Caius Ligarius,
saving Brutus from further "discussion" with his understandably
upset wife. Caius Ligarius has been recently sick but
upon speaking with Brutus, Ligarius announces that "I
here discard my sickness" (Line 321).
Brutus explains to Ligarius that they will do "A piece
of work that will make sick men whole" (Line 327) adding
that they must make someone sick (Caesar) to do
so. Ligarius ends the scene pledging to do something
he does not know, but adding that it is sufficient that
the noble Brutus leads him on...
Act II. Scene II. - The Same. Caesar's
Calphurnia: "'Help, ho! They murder Caesar!'"
Calphurnia, Caesar's wife, wakes Caesar
up after herself awakening from a terrible nightmare.
She tells Caesar, that her dream foretells doom
and succeeds in convincing Caesar not go to the
Senate on the "ides of March [March 15]" which is tomorrow.
Decius Brutus arrives and hearing that Caesar will
not be at the Senate tomorrow, flatters Caesar
into going so as not to show fear (allowing Brutus and
company to kill him there).
The scene begins to the sights and sound of thunder
and lightning. As Caesar puts it, "Nor heaven nor
earth have been at peace to-night:" (Line 1) since Calphurnia,
Caesar's wife has thrice (three times) cried,
"'Help, ho! They murder Caesar!'" (Line 2).
This concerns Caesar who instructs a servant to
tell his priests to make a sacrifice and then report
their findings to him (Lines 4-6).
Calphurnia, however is certain that her dream represents
only disaster for her husband. She tells Caesar
that in her opinion, Caesar "shall [should] not
stir [leave] out of your [Caesar's] house to-day" (Line
Calphurnia explains that though she "never stood on
ceremonies," (Line 13), she is sure her dream plus other
strange happenings in Rome can only mean disaster (Lines
12-25). Caesar however, arrogantly believes that
in "The face of Caesar, they [these threatening
things] are vanished" (Line 12)
Caesar argues that he cannot avoid his fate (Lines
25-37). Caesar remarks that "Cowards die many times
before their deaths;" adding "The valiant
never taste of death but once" (Line 33). Only
the news from the priests that advise Caesar not
to leave the house, forces Caesar's hand into
staying at home and avoiding going to the Capitol on
the 15th of March (the ides of March), (Lines 37-56).
Calphurnia suggests that Caesar say to Mark Antony
that he is ill which Caesar agrees with if only
he says, to humor his wife (Lines 48-56).
Decius Brutus (not Marcus Brutus, Caesar's friend)
now enters and hearing Caesar's new plans,
fears the worst; the conspiracy will not be able to
kill Caesar if he is not at the Capitol (specifically
the Senate). Moving quickly he flatters Caesar
and when Calphurnia again suggests Caesar say he
is sick, Caesar hesitates. Can Caesar lie
Decius suggests that saying he is sick will result
only in his mockery by the other senators. This, the
vain Caesar finds intolerable. Caesar now
tells Decius the bad news of the prophets but Decius
turns this around, suggesting that Calphurnia's
dream of Caesar's statue spouting blood (Lines
76-89) is not a premonition of his death but that Caesar's
presence at the "senate-house [The Senate],"
will revitalize Rome. From Caesar's blood
Rome will renew itself, Decius says (Lines 83-89).
Decius now moves in for the kill, suggesting that if
Caesar does not turn up at the Capitol he cannot
receive the crown the Senate have decided to give him
(Lines 92-104). Knowing all too well Caesar's weakness
of his supreme vanity, Decius remarks that should "Caesar"
not appear at the Capitol, "shall they [the Senate]
not whisper 'Lo! Caesar is afraid?'" before slyly
apologizing for insulting Caesar; he says this for Caesar's
own good and out of "love" for him (Line 101)
Scolding his wife for making him think foolish thoughts,
Caesar now prepares to head off to the Capitol
and to his doom...
Before leaving however, Caesar meets with Mark
Antony. Caesar greets his friend by saying "See!
Antony, that revels long o'nights," emphasizing
Brutus' opinion that Mark Antony likes parties. Caesar
now also speaks with Trebonius says in an aside (private
speech) that he will be so near "That your best
friends shall wish I had been further [away]" suggesting
that he is a friend Caesar may be well be happy
to be away from in a few moments (Lines 112-128). Brutus
ends the scene mourning that the men his friend Caesar
has just called friends will soon assassinate him (Line
Act II. Scene III. - The Same. A Street near
Artemidorus waits in a street hoping to avert Caesar's
The scene begins with Artemidorus reading a newspaper.
In a letter he reads, he warns Caesar to beware
of the conspirators which he names (Brutus, Cassius,
Casca, Cinna, Trebonius, Metellus Cimber, Decius Brutus,
Caius Ligarius) though he has yet to warn Caesar
in person. Artemidorus plans to give his letter to Caesar
as he passes on his way to the Capitol, thus warning
him of the fate that awaits him.
Artemidorus: "If thou [Caesar] read this [his
warning], O Caesar! thou [you] mayst [might] live; /
If not, the Fates with traitors [the conspirators] do
contrive [will succeed]" (Line 15).
Will Artemidorus be able to warn Caesar in time?
Act II. Scene IV. - The Same. Another Part of
the same Street, before the House of Brutus.
Portia worries for her husband, hoping his "enterprise"
today will succeed. The Soothsayer waits in a narrow
street hoping to warn Caesar of imminent danger...
Portia, Brutus' wife is speaking with Lucius,
a boy she commands to run the errand of going to the
"senate-house;" to report to her how her husband
is and how Caesar is and what "the suitors
press to him [Caesar]." and then to return to her
immediately with what news he has. She fears for her
husband; when he left this morning "he went sickly forth;"
(Line 13). Portia laments that "I have a man's
mind, but a women's might. How hard it is for a
women to keep counsel!" (Line 8).
The Soothsayer now meets Portia and the two talk. Portia
asks the Soothsayer what his "suit" is to
Caesar, Portia asking the Soothsayer if he knows of
any harm intended towards Caesar. The Soothsayer replies
"None that I know will be, much that I fear may
chance [may happen]" (Line 32).
We learn from the Soothsayer that he intends to wait
in a narrow street for Caesar where hopefully he
can warn him of the danger that lies ahead. Portia now
hopes her boy (Lucius) will bring her news quickly of
her husband wishing him well in his "enterprise" whilst
adding that "Brutus hath [has] a suit request] / That
Caesar will not grant" (Line 43). Portia also tells
Lucius to run quickly so that he may report to Brutus
that his wife is well.