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Plain English Julius Caesar Act I

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Act I, Scene 1: A street in Rome

Flavius. Go home and quit playing around in the streets. Shouldn’t you workers be at work? You, what do you do?

First Commoner. Why, sir, I am a carpenter.

Marullus. Where is your leather apron and your ruler? Why do you have your best clothes on? You, sir, what trade are you?

Second Commoner. Truly sir, in respect of a fine workman I am only, as you would say, a cobbler.

Flavius. But why are you not in your shop today? Why do you lead these people through the streets?

Second Commoner. We are taking the day off to see Caesar and to celebrate his victory.

Marullus. O you hard hearts, you cruel people of Rome! Didn't you know Pompey? Many times You climbed up to walls and battlements, to towers and windows, yes, to chimney tops, your babies in your arms, and there you sat all day, patiently waiting, to see great Pompey pass through the streets of Rome. And when you barely saw his chariot appear, didn't everyone shout, so that the Tiber shook under her banks to hear the echo of your sounds made in her concave shores? And do you now put on your best clothes? And do you now choose a holiday? And do you now throw flowers in the path of the man who comes in triumph over Pompey's blood? Be gone!Run to your houses, fall on your knees, Pray to the gods to hold back the deadly disease that would be a fair punishment for your ingratitude.

Flavius. Go, go, good countrymen, and for this weakness gather all the poor men like you; Bring them to the banks of the Tiber, and weep your tears into the river, until the water overflows.

[Exit all the commoners]

We'll see if their poor characters are affected. They feel so guilty that they leave without speaking. You go down that way towards the Capitol; I'll go this way. Strip the statues of any decorations you find on them.

Marullus. Can we do that? You know it is the feast of Lupercal.

Flavius. It doesn't matter. Let no statues be decorated with Caesar's trophies. I'll go around and scatter the rest of the commoners. Do the same yourself wherever they are forming a crowd. These growing feathers that we pull from Caesar's wing will make him fly at an ordinary height, when otherwise he would soar too high to be seen and keep us all under him and afraid.

Act I, Scene 2: [A public place in Rome]

[A flourish of trumpets announces the approach of Caesar. A large crowd of Commoners has assembled; a Soothsayer is among them. Enter Caesar; his wife, Calpurnia; Portia; Decius; Cicero; Brutus; Cassius; Casca; and Antony, who is stripped down in preparation for running in the games.]

Caesar. Calpurnia.

Casca. Be quiet! Caesar speaks.

Caesar. Calpurnia

Calpurnia. Here, my lord.

Caesar. Stand in Antony's path when he runs the race. Antonius.

Antonius. Caesar, my lord?

Caesar. In your hurry, don't forget, Antonius, to touch Calpurnia; for the old people say that barren women, touched by someone running in this holy race, lose the curse of sterility.

Antonius. I shall remember. When Caesar says "Do this," it is done.

Caesar. Do what you need to do, and don't leave out any part of the ritual.

About this Document

I use this with my regular English II students. I wrote this several years ago when I just couldn't get my students into Caesar.