Table of Contents
ACT 2 SCENE 1
Julius Caesar Act 2 Scene 1 Summary
Brutus is contemplating the conspiracy against Caesar when his friend Cassius arrives to persuade him to join the plot. Cassius points out Caesar’s growing power and argues that he is not fit to rule. He also plants fake letters in Brutus’ house, supposedly written by Roman citizens urging Brutus to take action against Caesar.
Brutus ultimately agrees to join the conspiracy, and the two men discuss their plans to assassinate Caesar. They decide to gather a group of conspirators and carry out the attack at the upcoming meeting of the Roman Senate.
Brutus is visited by his wife Portia, who expresses concern for his well-being. She senses that something is troubling him and urges him to confide in her. Eventually, she kneels before him and pleads with him to reveal his troubles, citing her position as his wife and his promise to love and cherish her.
Brutus is interrupted by a knock on the door, and Lucius enters to announce the arrival of Ligarius, a sick man who wishes to speak with Brutus. Despite Ligarius’s illness, he is inspired by Brutus’s words to join his cause, and the two depart to discuss their plans.
Julius Caesar Act 2 Scene 1 translation
|Original Text||Modern Text|
|Rome. BRUTUS’S orchard. [Enter Brutus.]|
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!
Lucius: Call’d you, my lord?
Brutus: Get me a taper in my study, Lucius When it is lighted, come and call me here.
Lucius: I will, my lord. [Exit.]
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 crown’d:
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 sway’d
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 hatch’d, would, as his kind grow mischievous;
And kill him in the shell. [Re-enter Lucius.]
Lucius: The taper burneth in your closet, sir.
Searching the window for a flint I found
This paper thus seal’d up, and I am sure
It did not lie there when I went to bed.
Brutus: Get you to bed again; it is not day.
Is not tomorrow, boy, the Ides of March?
Lucius: I know not, sir.
Brutus: Look in the calendar, and bring me word.
Lucius: I will, sir. [Exit.]
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, &c. Speak, strike, redress—!
Brutus, thou sleep’st: awake!—”
Such instigations have been often dropp’d
Where I have took them up.
“Shall Rome, & c.” 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 call’d a king.—
“Speak, strike, redress!”—Am I entreated, then,
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!
Lucius: Sir, March is wasted fifteen days.[Knocking within.]
Brutus: ‘Tis good. Go to the gate, somebody knocks.—
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.
Lucius: Sir, ‘tis your brother Cassius at the door,
Who doth desire to see you.
Brutus: Is he alone?
Lucius: No, sir, there are more with him.
Brutus: Do you know them?
Lucius: No, sir, their hats are pluck’d about their ears,
And half their faces buried in their cloaks,
That by no means I may discover them
By any mark of favor.
Brutus: Let ‘em enter.—
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 pass, thy native semblance on,
Not Erebus itself were dim enough
To hide thee from prevention.
[Enter Cassius, Casca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus Cimber, and Trebonius.
Cassius: I think we are too bold upon your rest:
Good morrow, Brutus; do we trouble you?
Brutus: I have been up this hour, awake all night.
Know I these men that come along 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.
Brutus: He is welcome hither.
Cassius: This Decius Brutus.
Brutus: He is welcome too.
Cassius: This, Casca; this, Cinna; and this, Metellus Cimber.
Brutus: They are all welcome.—
What watchful cares do interpose themselves
Betwixt your eyes and night?
Cassius: Shall I entreat a word?
[Brutus and Cassius whisper apart.]
Decius: Here lies the east: doth not the day break here?
Cinna: O, pardon, sir, it doth, and yon grey lines
That fret the clouds are messengers of day.
Casca: You shall confess that you are both deceived.
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.
Brutus: Give me your hands all over, one by one.
Cassius: And let us swear our resolution.
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 valour
The melting spirits of women; then, countrymen,
What 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 pass’d from him.
Cassius: But what of Cicero? Shall we sound him?
I think he will stand very strong with us.
Casca: Let us not leave him out.
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.
Brutus: O, name him not! let us not break with him;
For he will never follow any thing
That other men begin.
Cassius: Then leave him out.
Casca: Indeed, he is not fit.
Decius: Shall no man else be touch’d but only Caesar?
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.
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:
O, 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 mark
Our purpose necessary, and not envious;
Which so appearing to the common eyes,
We shall be call’d 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.
Cassius: Yet I do fear him;
For in th’ ingrafted love he bears to 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.
Trebonius: There is no fear in him; let him not die;
For he will live, and laugh at this hereafter.
Brutus: Peace! count the clock.
Cassius: The clock hath stricken three.
Trebonius: ‘Tis time to part.
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 unaccustom’d terror of this night,
And the persuasion of his augurers
May hold him from the Capitol to-day.
Decius: Never fear that: if he be so resolved,
I can o’ersway him, for he loves to hear
That unicorns may be betray’d 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 flattered.
Let me work;
For I can give his humor the true bent,
And I will bring him to the Capitol.
Cassius: Nay, we will all of us be there to fetch him.
Brutus: By the eighth hour: is that the uttermost?
Cinna: Be that the uttermost; and fail not then.
Metellus: Caius Ligarius doth bear Caesar hard,
Who rated him for speaking well of Pompey:
I wonder none of you have thought of him.
Brutus: Now, good Metellus, go along by him:
He loves me well, and I have given him reason;
Send him but hither, and I’ll fashion him.
Cassius: The morning comes upon ’s. We’ll leave you, Brutus;—
And, friends, disperse yourselves, but all remember
What you have said, and show yourselves 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.—
[Exeunt all but 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. [Enter Portia.]
Portia: Brutus, my lord!
Brutus: Portia, what mean you? wherefore rise you now?
It is not for your health thus to commit
Your weak condition to the raw-cold morning.
Portia: Nor for yours neither. You’ve ungently, Brutus,
Stole from my bed: and yesternight, at supper,
You suddenly arose, and walk’d about,
Musing and sighing, with your arms across;
And, when I ask’d you what the matter was,
You stared upon me with ungentle looks:
I urged you further; then you scratch’d your head,
And too impatiently stamp’d with your foot:
Yet I insisted, yet you answer’d 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 seem’d too much enkindled; and withal
Hoping it was but an effect of humour,
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 prevail’d on your condition,
I should not know you, Brutus. Dear my lord,
Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.
Brutus: I am not well in health, and that is all.
Portia: Brutus is wise, and, were he not in health,
He would embrace the means to come by it.
Brutus: Why, so I do. Good Portia, go to bed.
Portia: Is Brutus sick? and is it physical
To walk unbraced and suck up the humours
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 unpurged 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: and, upon my knees,
I charge 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, yourself, your half,
Why you are heavy, and what men to-night
Have had resort to you; for here have been
Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
Even from darkness.
Brutus: Kneel not, gentle Portia.
Portia: 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.
Brutus: You are my true and honorable wife;
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
That visit 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 father’d 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?
Brutus: O ye gods,
Render me worthy of this noble wife!
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. [Exit Portia.]
—Lucius, who’s that knocks?
[Re-enter Lucius with Ligarius.]
Lucius: Here is a sick man that would speak with you.
Brutus: Caius Ligarius, that Metellus spake of.—
Boy, stand aside.—Caius Ligarius,—how?
Ligarius: Vouchsafe good-morrow from a feeble tongue.
Brutus: O, what a time have you chose out, brave Caius,
To wear a kerchief! Would you were not sick!
Ligarius: I am not sick, if Brutus have in hand
Any exploit worthy the name of honour.
Brutus: Such an exploit have I in hand, Ligarius,
Had you a healthful ear to hear of it.
Ligarius: 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 mortified spirit. Now bid me run,
And I will strive with things impossible;
Yea, get the better of them. What’s to do?
Brutus: A piece of work that will make sick men whole.
Ligarius: But are not some whole that we must make sick?
Brutus: That must we also. What it is, my Caius,
I shall unfold to thee, as we are going,
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.
Brutus: Follow me then. [Exeunt.]
|Brutus’s orchard in Rome. [Brutus enters the scene]|
Brutus: Lucius, where are you? I can’t tell how close it is to daylight by looking at the stars. Lucius! Wake up! I wish it were my fault that I slept so soundly. Lucius, where are you? [Lucius enters the scene]
Lucius: Did you call me, my lord?
Brutus: Get me a candle in my study, Lucius. When it’s lit, come and get me.
Lucius: Yes, my lord. [Lucius exits the scene]
Brutus: The only way to deal with Caesar is to kill him. I have no personal reason to dislike him, only the general concern. He wants to be king, but what kind of person will he become once he has that power? It’s like when an adder is born on a sunny day. You have to be careful because it’s at its most dangerous. If we make him king, we’ll be giving him a weapon to hurt us with. The problem with people in power is that they often become remorseless. I’ve never known Caesar to let his emotions control him more than his reason. But it’s a common fact that when someone is humble, they are ambitious to climb the ladder of success. But once they reach the top, they forget the people who helped them and only care about themselves. Caesar could become like that, so we should stop him before it’s too late. We can’t justify killing him for who he is, but we can make it seem like we are preventing something terrible from happening. We should think of him like a snake’s egg. If we let him hatch, he’ll grow into a dangerous creature. We should kill him before he has the chance to become a threat. [Lucius enters the scene again]
Lucius: The candle is burning in your study, sir. While looking for a flint to light it, I found this paper with a seal on it. I’m sure it wasn’t there when I went to bed.
Brutus: Go back to bed; it’s not yet daybreak. Boy, is tomorrow not the Ides of March?
Lucius: I do not know, sir.
Brutus: Look at the calendar and tell me.
Lucius: I will, sir. [Exit]
Brutus: The vapor in the air is so bright that I can read by it. [Opens the letter and reads] “Brutus, you are asleep. Wake up and see for yourself. Should Rome, etc. Speak up, take action, correct! Brutus, you are asleep!” Such incitements have often been dropped before me. “Should Rome, etc.” This is what I must make sense of. Should Rome be held under the sway of one man? What, Rome? My ancestors drove Tarquin out of Rome when he was called a king. “Speak up, take action, correct!” Am I being requested to speak and strike? Oh Rome, I promise you, if there is a remedy, you shall receive it at the hand of Brutus!
Lucius: Sir, it is now fifteen days into March. [Knocking within]
Brutus: That’s good. Somebody is knocking at the gate. [Exit Lucius] Since Cassius first stirred me up against Caesar, I have not slept. Between the thought of a terrible act and the first movement, everything in between is like a ghost or a terrible dream. The spirit and the human instruments are then in council, and the state of man, like a small kingdom, suffers from the nature of an uprising.
Lucius: Sir, your brother Cassius is at the door and wishes to see you.
Brutus: Is he alone?
Lucius: No, sir, there are others with him.
Brutus: Do you know them?
Lucius: No, sir, their hats are pulled down over their ears, and half their faces are buried in their cloaks so that I cannot identify them by any mark of favor.
Brutus: Let them in. [Exit Lucius] They are the conspirators. Oh, conspiracy, are you not ashamed to show your dangerous face at night, when evil is most free? Oh, then, during the day, where will you find a cave dark enough to hide your monstrous appearance? Do not seek one, conspiracy. Hide it in smiles and friendliness. For if you go about your business with your natural appearance, not even the darkness of the underworld will be able to hide you from being caught.
[Enter Cassius, Casca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus Cimber, and Trebonius.]
Cassius: I think we are disturbing your rest too much. Good morning, Brutus. Are we bothering you?
Brutus: I’ve been awake for an hour already, after being up all night. Do I know these men who are with you?
Cassius: Yes, I know all of them, and they all hold you in high regard. Every noble Roman has a favorable opinion of you. This is Trebonius.
Brutus: Welcome to my home.
Cassius: This is Decius Brutus.
Brutus: Welcome to you too.
Cassius: This is Casca, this is Cinna, and this is Metellus Cimber.
Brutus: Welcome to you all. What worries keep you up at night?
Cassius: Can I have a word with you?
[Brutus and Cassius whisper to each other.]
Decius: Isn’t the day breaking here in the east?
Cinna: Oh, excuse me, sir, it is. And those gray lines in the clouds are signs of day.
Casca: You’ll admit you’re both wrong. Look here, where I’m pointing my sword, the sun is rising. It’s still low on the horizon because it’s early in the year. In a couple of months, it’ll be higher in the sky toward the north. The eastern sky is directly above us, like the Capitol.
Brutus: Let me shake each of your hands.
Cassius: And let’s swear our loyalty to each other.
Brutus: No, we don’t need an oath. If our desire for justice, our souls’ suffering, and the abuse of time are not enough to motivate us, then let us end this now and go to sleep. Let tyranny reign and let fate decide our fate. But if these reasons are enough to ignite even the most cowardly among us and give strength to women’s tender hearts, then fellow citizens, we don’t need any other motivation to fight for our cause. We have the bond of being secret Romans, who have spoken the word and will not betray it. Our only oath is honesty to honesty, to ensure that our cause will succeed or we will fall trying. Let the priests, the cowards, and the deceitful men swear to bad causes, as well as the old and weak who welcome wrongs, and any creatures that are doubtful. But we must not taint the even virtue of our endeavor nor our unbreakable spirits by thinking that our cause or our actions require an oath. Every drop of blood that a noble Roman sheds is guilty of treachery if he breaks even the smallest promise he has made.
Cassius: But what about Cicero? Should we approach him? I believe he will support us strongly.
Casca: We cannot leave him out.
Cinna: No, absolutely not.
Metellus: Let us have him, for his wise counsel and reputation will gain us favor and support. People will say that it was his judgment that guided us, and our youthful recklessness will be hidden behind his gravitas.
Brutus: Don’t mention him. Let’s not involve him, for he never follows anyone else’s lead.
Cassius: Then we’ll leave him out.
Casca: He’s not suitable anyway.
Decius: Should no one else be targeted besides Caesar?
Cassius: Decius, that’s a good point. I don’t think it’s appropriate for Mark Antony, who was so loved by Caesar, to outlive him. We’ll find that he’s a clever schemer, and with his resources, he could easily harm us all. To prevent that, let Antony and Caesar fall together.
Brutus: Caius Cassius, our plan will appear too violent If we cut off Caesar’s head and then mutilate his body, Like rage in death and envy afterwards, For Antony is just a part of Caesar. Let us be sacrificers, not butchers, Caius. We all stand against the spirit of Caesar, And in the spirit of men there is no bloodshed. Oh, if only we could obtain Caesar’s spirit Without dismembering him! But alas, Caesar must die for it! And, dear friends, Let’s kill him bravely, not with anger; Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods, Not hack him up like a carcass for dogs. And let our hearts, like skillful masters, Stir up our servants to an act of rage, And then seem to reprimand them. This will show That our intention is necessary, not envious, And so, in the eyes of the public, We will be called purgers, not murderers. As for Mark Antony, don’t worry about him; Once Caesar’s head is off, he is no more dangerous Than Caesar’s arm without his head.
Cassius: Yet I fear him, For he is deeply loyal to Caesar—
Brutus: Don’t worry about him, Cassius. If he loves Caesar, all he can do Is to die for him, and that would be enough; For he’s given to sports, to wildness, and much company.
Trebonius: There’s no need to fear him; let him live, For he will live and laugh about this later. [The clock strikes.]
Brutus: Quiet! Count the clock.
Cassius: The clock has struck three.
Trebonius: It’s time to go.
Cassius: But it’s still uncertain Whether Caesar will come out today; For he’s become superstitious lately, Abandoning his former beliefs In omens, dreams, and ceremonies. These prodigies we’ve seen, The unusual terror of this night, And the warnings of his soothsayers May keep him from going to the Capitol today.
Decius: Don’t worry about that. If he’s decided, I can persuade him, for he loves to hear That unicorns can be trapped with trees, Bears with mirrors, elephants with pits, Lions with traps, and men with flattery. But when I tell him he hates flatterers, He says he hates them most when he’s being flattered. Let me work; For I can steer his mood in the right direction, And I will bring him to the Capitol.
Cassius: No, we will all be there to receive him.
Brutus: Is the latest time we should be there the eighth hour?
Cinna: Let that be the latest time, and do not be late.
Metellus: Caius Ligarius holds a grudge against Caesar, Because Caesar rebuked him for speaking well of Pompey. I am surprised that none of you have thought of him.
Brutus: Now, good Metellus, go along with him: He loves me well, and I have given him reason; Send him here, and I will convince him.
Cassius: The morning is upon us. We will leave you, Brutus. And, friends, disperse, but remember What we have said, and be true Romans.
Brutus: Good gentlemen, look fresh and cheerful. Let not our appearances reveal our intentions, But bear it as our Roman actors do, With unflagging spirits and steadfastness. And so, good morning to you all.— [All exit except Brutus.] Boy! Lucius!—Fast asleep? It doesn’t matter; Enjoy the sweet dew of slumber: You have no worries or imaginations That busy thoughts fill men’s minds with; That is why you sleep so soundly. [Portia enters.]
Portia: Brutus, my lord!
Brutus: Portia, what’s wrong? Why are you up now? It’s not good for your health to expose Your fragile condition to the cold morning.
Portia: Nor is it good for yours either. Brutus, You left my bed rudely, and last night at dinner, You suddenly got up and walked around, Lost in thought and sighing, with your arms crossed. When I asked you what was wrong, You stared at me with unfriendly eyes. I asked again, but you didn’t answer. Instead, you impatiently scratched your head, And stamped your foot with anger. But I persisted, and you still said nothing, But gestured for me to leave you alone. So I did, fearing to worsen the impatience That seemed to be inflaming you too much; And hoping that it was just a passing mood, That affects every man at some point. It won’t let you eat, talk, or sleep; And if it affects your appearance As much as it affects your mood, I wouldn’t recognize you, Brutus. My lord, Please tell me what’s troubling you.
Brutus: I am not feeling well, and that’s all.
Portia: Brutus is wise, and if he weren’t feeling well, he would seek a cure for it.
Brutus: Well, I do seek a cure. Portia, go to bed.
Portia: Is Brutus ill? Is it physical for him to walk around without armor, breathing in the damp morning air? Is Brutus sick and leaving his healthy bed to risk catching some disease from the night air? Will he tempt fate and add to his illness? No, my Brutus, you have some illness of the mind that, by virtue of my position as your wife, I should know about. On my knees, I charge you, by my beauty, by your vows of love, and by the vow that made us one, tell me what is troubling you. Who did you speak to tonight? Six or seven people were here, hiding their faces even from the darkness.
Brutus: Do not kneel, gentle Portia.
Portia: If you were truly gentle, Brutus, I wouldn’t have to kneel. Within the bond of marriage, am I not allowed to know your secrets? Am I only here to eat with you, comfort your bed, and talk to you occasionally? Do I only exist in the outskirts of your good pleasure? If that is all, then I am not your wife, but rather your mistress.
Brutus: You are my true and honorable wife, as dear to me as the blood in my heart.
Portia: If that is true, then I deserve to know your secret. Yes, I am a woman, but I am also the woman that Lord Brutus married. I am well-respected, the daughter of Cato. Do you think I am weaker than my gender suggests, given my background and marriage? Tell me your secrets, I won’t tell anyone. I have proven my loyalty, having cut myself here in the thigh voluntarily. If I can endure that pain patiently, I can also endure my husband’s secrets.
Brutus: O gods, make me worthy of this noble wife! [Knocking within.] Listen, someone is knocking. Portia, go inside for a while, And soon you’ll hear the secrets of my heart. I will explain all my commitments to you, And the signs of my troubled face. Leave me quickly. [Exit Portia.] —Lucius, who is knocking? [Re-enter Lucius with Ligarius.]
Lucius: There’s a sick man here who wants to speak with you.
Brutus: Caius Ligarius, the man Metellus spoke of. Boy, step aside. Caius Ligarius, how are you?
Ligarius: I wish you good morning, although my tongue is weak.
Brutus: Oh, what a time you have chosen to wear a kerchief, brave Caius! I wish you were not sick!
Ligarius: I am not sick, if Brutus has an honorable deed at hand.
Brutus: I do have such a deed in mind, Ligarius, if only you were well enough to hear of it.
Ligarius: By all the gods that Romans bow before, I cast aside my illness. Soul of Rome! Brave son, descended from noble ancestry! You, like an exorcist, have summoned my despondent spirit. Now command me to run, and I will strive with impossible things, and overcome them. What must I do?
Brutus: A task that will cure sick men.
Ligarius: But aren’t there some who are already well that we must make sick?
Brutus: We must also make some sick. I will explain it to you as we go, Caius, to whom it must be done.
Ligarius: I am ready to follow you, my heart newly fired, to do I know not what. But it is enough that Brutus leads me on.
Brutus: Then follow me. [Exeunt.]