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Plain English Julius Caesar Act II
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Act II, Scene 1: Brutus' orchard in Rome
[Enter Lucius from the house.]
Lucius. Did you call, my lord?
Brutus. Get a candle and put it in my study, Lucius. When it is lit, come and find me here.
Lucius. I will, my lord.
[Brutus returns to his brooding.]
Brutus. It can only be solved by Caesar's death. I'm thinking only of the general welfare. He wants to be crowned. The question is, how would that change his personality? Give him a crown, and then we have put a poisonous bite in him that he can cause trouble with whenever he wants. This power will corrupt him and make him a tyrant. He will only be concerned with his own desires and not the good of the people. Rather than let him do that, we must prevent it. Caesar's true nature, if allowed to develop would reach terrible extremes; So we must think of him as a serpent's egg, which, if it hatched, would like all serpents grow dangerous, and kill him before he hatches.
[Reenter Lucius with a letter.]
Lucius. The candle is burning in your private room, sir. While I was searching the window for a match, I found this paper, sealed up, and I am sure it wasn't there when I went to bed.
[Gives him the letter.]
Brutus. Isn't tomorrow, boy, the ides of March?
Lucius. I don't know, sir.
Brutus. Look in the calendar and come tell me.
Lucius. I will, sir.
[Opens the letter and reads.]
"Brutus, you are asleep. Wake up, and see yourself! Shall Rome, etc. Speak, strike, right a wrong! Brutus, you are asleep. Wake up!" Suggestions like this have often been dropped where I have picked them up. "Shall Rome, etc." I must guess the rest of the sentence: Should Rome have such fear and respect for just one man? What, Rome? My ancestors drove the Tarquin from the streets of Rome when he was called a king. "Speak, strike, right a wrong!" Am I encouraged to speak and strike? O Rome, I promise you, if a solution for our troubles will come from my action, you will get everything you ask for from Brutus!
Lucius. Sir, we are fifteen days into March.
Brutus. That's good. Go to the door; somebody is knocking.
Since Cassius first aroused my suspicions concerning Caesar, I have not slept. The heart and mind debate the subject, while the man himself, like a small country, undergoes a civil war.
Lucius. Sir, it's your friend Cassius at the door, who wants to see you.
Brutus. Is he alone?
Lucius. No, sir, there are more people with him.
Brutus. Do you know them?
Lucius. No, sir. Their hats are pulled down around their ears and half their faces are buried in their cloaks, so that there is no way I can tell who they are.
Brutus. Let them in.
[Enter the conspirators, Cassius, Casca, Decius, Cinna, Metellus Cimber, and Trebonius.]
Cassius. I think we may have come too early. Good morning, Brutus. Are we disturbing you?
Brutus. I was already up, awake all night. Do I know these men who have come with you?
Cassius. Yes, every one of them; and there is no man here who doesn't honor you; and every one wishes you had the same opinion of yourself which every noble Roman has of you. This is Trebonius.
Brutus. He is welcome here.
Cassius. This, Decius Brutus.
Brutus. He is welcome too.
Cassius. This, Casca; this, Cinna; and this, Metellus Cimber.
Brutus. They are all welcome. What trouble keep you awake at night?
Cassius. Could I speak with you privately?
[Brutus and Cassius rejoin the others.]
Brutus. Give me your hands, one at a time.
Cassius. And let us swear our loyalty. What about Cicero? Shall we see what he thinks? I think he will support us.
Casca. Let us not leave him out.
Cinna. Yes, by all means.
Metellus. O, let us get Cicero to join us! People will say that his sound judgement controlled us, and therefore our plan will be seen as a good one.
Brutus. Don't mention him! Let us not confide in him, for he will never follow anything that is started by anyone but himself.
Cassius. Then leave him out.
About this Document
Act II of the "Plain English" series.