Quotes in Context

"A Dish Fit For The Gods"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This saying has, through usage, come to signify the highest praise for products of culinary art. Its original context, however, has a quite different meaning. Brutus is a noble Roman, who, through a combination of personal conviction and the persuasion of Cassius, has become a conspirator against Caesar. Brutus, despite his personal friendship for Caesar, is convinced that the latter's personal, dictatorial rule will destroy the ancient freedoms of Roman citizens, and that he therefore must die. But Brutus refuses to allow the conspirators to assassinate Antony as well as Caesar. And when it comes to killing Caesar, he urges Caius Cassius that the murder be done boldly, knowingly, not in rage and not in butchery.


BRUTUS
Let's 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.
. . .

"Ambition Should Be Made Of Sterner Stuff"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Mark Antony, young friend and protégé of the murdered Caesar, is delivering a funeral oration over the body of his mentor. He has been permitted by Brutus and his fellow assassins to give a speech because they are sure the crowd sides with their cause–to free Rome from Caesar's dictatorial rule and to safeguard the ancient Roman freedoms in doing so. Antony pretends to sympathize with their deed, but knows in his heart that they are butchers. He must dissemble to gain time to wreak vengeance on them. Now, he is skillfully playing upon the crowd's emotions, winning sympathy and support for the dead Caesar and himself.


ANTONY
He [Caesar] was my friend, faithful, and just to me;
But Brutus says, he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He [Caesar] hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept.
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff,
Yet Brutus says, he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
. . .

"Ambition's Debt Is Paid"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Following his stirring victories over Pompey, Julius Caesar has returned to Rome and is swept up in the plaudits of "the common herd." In the rush of this popular acclaim, there is rumor that Caesar is on the verge of allowing himself to be crowned emperor. Such a period of political instability is the season of discontent both for those who, fed by personal ambition, see their own opportunities for power thwarted and also for those who are apprehensive lest the law of the land is to be subordinated to the individual and the freedom of the Republic lost forever. These two kinds of individuals are, of course, philosophies apart, but rebellion makes strange bedfellows. Thus it is that the ambitious aristocrats Cassius, moved by envy in his hatred of Caesar and possessed of "an itching palm," and Casca, who holds in high disdain the "tag-rag" multitude which heaps accolades upon Caesar, are joined in rebellion against their Roman leader. As for Brutus, he is as idealistic as his compatriots are practical. His love of Caesar is great, but his love for Rome greater. In the desperate efforts which he is convinced are necessary to save the Republic, he becomes a part of that which, were it for personal gain, he would loathe. Following the moment of Caesar's murder, he attempts to quiet the distracted populace:


CAESAR
Et tu Brute? Then fall Caesar.
CINNA
Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead.
Run hence, proclaim, cry it about the streets.
CASSIUS
Some to the common pulpits, and cry out,
Liberty, freedom, and enfranchisement!
BRUTUS
People and senators, be not affrighted,
Fly not, stand still. Ambition's debt is paid.
. . .
METELLUS
Stand fast together, lest some friend of Caesar's
Should chance–
BRUTUS
Talk not of standing. Publius, good cheer,
There is no harm intended to your person,
Nor to no Roman else: so tell them Publius.

"An Itching Palm"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Brutus and Cassius, conspirators in the assassination of Julius Caesar, flee Rome. Mark Antony has turned the populace against them. The state, instead of being preserved by Caesar's death, is torn by civil war. The conspiratorial leaders, Brutus and Cassius, are at odds not only with Antony but with each other. Brutus condemns a friend of Cassius for taking bribes and ignores Cassius' pleas on the man's behalf. Cassius reproaches Brutus for this slight. Then Brutus turns on Cassius.


BRUTUS
Let me tell you Cassius, you yourself
Are much condemned to have an itching palm,
To sell and mart your offices for gold
To undeservers.
CASSIUS
I, an itching palm?
. . .
BRUTUS
. . .
Did not great Julius bleed for justice' sake?
. . .
What, shall one of us,
That struck the foremost man of all this world
But for supporting robbers, shall we now
Contaminate our fingers with base bribes,
And sell the mighty space of our large honours
For so much trash as may be grasped thus?
I had rather be a dog, and bay the moon,
Than such a Roman.

"Bestride The Narrow World Like A Colossus"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Brutus and Cassius, friends to each other, are disturbed and worried for different reasons by the great popularity of Caesar with the citizens of Rome. They talk about him as he is being lionized by the populace on the day designated to celebrate his victory over his arch political rival, Pompey. Cassius, jealous of Caesar, is bitter and sarcastic about his fame and greatness, while Brutus is worried about Caesar's dictatorial effect on Rome. [Shout and flourish.]


BRUTUS
Another general shout?
I do believe that these applauses are
For some new honours that are heaped on Caesar.
CASSIUS
Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.
. . .

"Beware The Ides Of March"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: As the play begins, the citizens of Rome are enjoying a holiday for two reasons; not only is it the Lupercalia, a holiday annually celebrated in honor of an ancient god, but it is also a day of festivities to celebrate Caesar's victory over Pompey, an erstwhile rival for political power. Thus, it is a proud, triumphant Caesar who, en route to the holiday's games and ceremonies, is hailed by a soothsayer who twice gives Caesar a sinister warning. Generally, this saying has come to mean any kind of warning or premonition in any situation.


CAESAR
Who is in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry Caesar. Speak; Caesar is turned to hear.
SOOTHSAYER
Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR
What man is that?
BRUTUS
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
CAESAR
Set him before me, let me see his face.
. . .
What sayst thou to me now? Speak once again.
SOOTHSAYER
Beware the ides of March.

"Constant As The Northern Star"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Julius Caesar, despite many signs and portents of danger, goes, on the morning of the ides of March, to the Senate House to accept, as he is flattered into believing, a crown as King of Rome from the senators. When he arrives, the conspirators, including Brutus, Cassius, and Casca, gather about him, and one of their number, Metellus Cimber, petitions Caesar to repeal his sentence of banishment on his brother, Publius Cimber. Caesar rebuffs the plea. Brutus and Cassius add their suit to Metellus Cimber's on behalf of the exiled rebel. Caesar momentarily weakens at Brutus' supplication, but when Cassius, whom he distrusts, adds his plea, Caesar stiffens and expresses his mind.


CAESAR
I could be well moved, if I were as you;
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fixed and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
. . .

"Cowards Die Many Times"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The night before Caesar's assassination, there are portents of disaster. The skies seem to rain lightning and blood, and thunder roars. Graves open. Terrified women declare they have seen men on fire walking in the streets. In Caesar's household, Calphurnia, his wife, has three times cried out in her sleep, "Help ho, they murder Caesar!" In the morning Caesar is resolved to go to the Senate to hear petitioners. Calphurnia has a premonition of evil and tries to dissuade him from going out. She says she fears these signs and portents and intimates that his life is in danger.


CALPHURNIA
When beggars die, there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
CAESAR
Cowards die many times before their deaths,
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

"Et Tu Brute?"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This famous quotation has been broadened to apply to any situation wherein an erstwhile close friend denies support to (in effect, turns against) one in a vital or even important crisis. More precisely, Caesar says these words when, after being repeatedly stabbed by his assassins, he sees his dear friend Brutus lift his dagger to strike him. Striving to stay on his feet during the assault, he gives up when he realizes Brutus is also against him. He then falls and dies.


CASCA
Speak hands for me.
[They stab Caesar, Brutus last]
CAESAR
Et tu Brute? Then fall Caesar. [Dies]

"For Brutus Is An Honorable Man"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Mark Antony is forced to appear cordial toward the assassins of his friend and mentor, Julius Caesar. He swallows his anger and outrage to gain time until he can right this wrong. He shakes hands with the murderers, professes sympathy with their deed, but really believes that they are butchers and swears vengeance on them. To gain his goal he asks for and is given the chance to speak over Caesar's body in the Forum. Brutus, who believes the youthful Antony to be a negligible threat to himself and his followers, has finished speaking, and the crowd believes Caesar's murder to be just and honorable. Now Antony plays skillfully upon the emotions of the crowd and wins sympathy for Caesar.


ANTONY
. . .
The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it.
Here, under leave of Brutus, and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man,
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
. . .

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend Me Your Ears"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Mark Antony, young friend and protégé of the murdered Caesar, has been forced to appear friendly with Brutus and the rest of the assassins of his mentor. He swallows his anger and outrage at this shocking event in order to gain time until he can bring justice down on the heads of the murderers. He shakes hands with them and professes sympathy for their deed, but in his heart he knows them to be butchers, and swears vengeance on them. To gain his goal he needs an opportunity to sway the populace of Rome. He asks the assassins for the opportunity to speak the funeral oration over Caesar's body. Brutus grants his desire, feeling, despite Cassius' objections, that nothing is to be feared from Antony; and as an additional safeguard, Brutus reserves the right to speak to the crowd first. When Brutus finishes, the crowd believes him and his fellow assassins to be honorable men and the murder of Caesar to have been just. Now Antony begins his speech:


ANTONY
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do, lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar.
. . .

"He Shall Not Live; Look, With A Spot I Damn Him"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Julius Caesar has paid the debt of ambition. Returning to Rome amidst great glory following his victory over Pompey, he was hailed by many of the common people as emperor, and his growing ambition was reflected in his being offered the crown on three occasions by his colleague Mark Antony at the feast of Lupercalia. The very thought that Caesar might accept the crown and thus subordinate the law of the Republic to the rule of a single man motivates dissension in Brutus, an idealist who loves Caesar as a man but loves his country more. Consequently, Brutus joined with others of less lofty motivation in a conspiracy to slay Caesar on his way to the Forum during the Ides of March. Following the murder the city, of course, is thrown into political turmoil as factions in defense both of the rebels and the slain Caesar begin to emerge. Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus organize the major opposition to Brutus and his followers. As is the case with any civil war, families and friends are divided in allegiance. Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus, in a council of state, consider those–friend or foe alike–who must be destroyed for the sake of the cause:


ANTONY
These many then shall die; their names are pricked.
OCTAVIUS
Your brother too must die; consent you Lepidus?
LEPIDUS
I do consent.
OCTAVIUS
Prick him down, Antony.
LEPIDUS
Upon condition Publius shall not live,
Who is your sister's son, Mark Antony.
ANTONY
He shall not live; look, with a spot I damn him.
But Lepidus, go you to Caesar's house.
Fetch the will hither, and we shall determine
How to cut off some charge in legacies.
LEPIDUS
What, shall I find you here?
OCTAVIUS
Or here, or at the Capitol.

"How Hard It Is For Women To Keep Counsel"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Portia, wife of Brutus, has somehow learned of her husband's participation in the conspiracy to assassinate Caesar in the Capitol on the ides of March. On the morning of that day, with Brutus on his mission to kill Caesar for the good of Rome, Portia is distracted and confused, in an agony of apprehension and fear for him. She orders her servant lad to run to the Senate House. He wants to know the errand, and she is about to blurt her fear and reasons for it to him, when she catches herself in time.


PORTIA
. . .
[aside.] O constancy, be strong upon my side,
Set a huge mountain 'tween my heart and tongue.
I have a man's mind, but a woman's might.
How hard it is for women to keep counsel!

"If You Have Tears, Prepare To Shed Them Now"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Mark Antony, young friend and protégé of the murdered Caesar, has been permitted by Brutus, Cassius, and their fellow assassins to deliver a funeral oration over Caesar because they are sure the crowd sides with their cause. Antony has more in mind than a eulogy, however. Although he pretends friendship with the murderers, Antony hates them and hides his true feelings to gain time to wreak vengeance on them. Now, in his masterful speech, which is near its climax, he skillfully turns the mood of the crowd against the assassins by producing Caesar's will. He hints at its bequests to the citizens of Rome, but refuses to read it, a device which merely whets the crowd's desire to hear it.


ANTONY
Have patience gentle friends, I must not read it.
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.
. . .
Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?
I have o'ershot myself to tell you of it.
I fear I wrong the honourable men,
Whose daggers have stabbed Caesar; I do fear it.
. . .
You will compel me then to read the will?
Then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar
And let me show you him that made the will.
. . .
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
. . .

"It Was Greek To Me"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This famous saying, usually heard now as "it's Greek to me," signifies any lack of understanding. Shakespeare, however, created it as a specific piece of dialogue. Cassius, a disgruntled Roman, jealous of Caesar's great popularity and success, is engaged in urgent conversation with noble Brutus, Caesar's good friend, sounding him out as a possible co-conspirator against Caesar. As they talk, Caesar and his entourage return from the games and festivities marking his victory over Pompey, a political and military rival. Following Caesar is their friend Casca. They hail him. Joining them, he tells them that Caesar, in the stadium, three times refused a king's crown. Then Caesar suffered a seizure of epilepsy and fell down. After rising, he begged the pardon of the crowd, who forgave him his infirmity. Casca is then questioned by Cassius:


CASSIUS
Did Cicero say any thing?
CASCA
Ay, he spoke Greek.
CASSIUS
To what effect?
CASCA
Nay, an I tell you that, I'll ne'er look you i' th' face again. But those that understood him smiled at one another, and shook their heads; but for mine own part, it was Greek to me. . . .

"Let Slip The Dogs Of War"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Youthful Mark Antony, devoted friend and protégé of Julius Caesar, flees when Caesar is attacked and murdered in the Senate House. He soon returns, however, under a safe-conduct by Brutus (one of the assassins) to gain time so as ultimately to right the wrong done to Caesar. After he takes each assassin by the hand and assures him that he is on his side, he asks only one small favor: that he be allowed to speak at Caesar's funeral. Although Cassius, one of the assassins, distrusts him, the others grant Antony that favor. They leave him then to prepare the body and meet them at the forum. Now, alone with Caesar's corpse, Antony speaks his true thoughts.


ANTONY
O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers.
. . .
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,
. . .
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury, and fierce civil strife,
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy.
. . .
And Caesar's spirit ranging for revenge,
. . .
Shall in these confines, with a monarch's voice,
Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

"Not That I Loved Caesar Less; But That I Loved Rome More"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Marcus Brutus, a respected, noble Roman, is a member of the group of assassins that kill Julius Caesar. He does so because he believes Caesar's dictatorial power and immense popularity to be a danger to Rome's ancient freedoms. To calm the people's fears and confusion after the murder, Brutus speaks to them in the Forum and seemingly succeeds in explaining his reasons for killing Caesar.


BRUTUS
. . .
Romans, countrymen, and lovers, hear me for my cause, and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his. If then, that friend demand, why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer–not that I loved Caesar less; but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? . . .

"O Judgment, Thou Art Fled To Brutish Beasts"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Before the Capitol of Rome Julius Caesar has been stabbed to death by a group of conspirators, including his friend Brutus, who later explains to the citizens in the Forum that the murder was committed to protect the freedom of the Romans from an ambitious man. The citizens are next addressed by Mark Antony, who, while seeming to agree with Brutus, subtly enrages the mob against the conspirators by recalling Caesar's faithfulness as a friend, his compassion for the poor, and his refusal of the crown. Antony continues:


ANTONY
. . . Was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says, he was ambitious;
And sure he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am, to speak what I do know;
You all did love him once, not without cause,
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause, till it come back to me.

"O Mighty Caesar! Dost Thou Lie So Low?"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: When Caesar is attacked boldly and stabbed to death in the Senate, his close young friend, Mark Antony, flees in amazement and terror, as do many other persons who are present. The conspirators are about to capitalize on their deed by making a bold show of their bloody swords and hands and crying "Peace, freedom, and liberty!" in the streets. But before they do so, a servant, recognized as belonging to Antony's household, comes to Brutus and conveys a message from Antony: though Antony loved and honored Caesar, he is ready to follow the fortune of Brutus. All that he asks is a safe conduct to come and hear from Brutus' lips his reasons for killing Caesar. This request Brutus grants, erroneously convinced that Antony will prove harmless now that his mentor, Caesar, is dead. Antony arrives; and before coming directly to Brutus, he stops at the body of Caesar and says, with breaking heart:


ANTONY
O mighty Caesar! Dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.
. . .

"O What A Fall Was There"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Whenever anyone in high place or position dies or loses his place and prestige, we hear the familiar saying "What a fall was there." Specifically, the famous saying occurs during Mark Antony's funeral oration over the body of his fallen friend and mentor, Julius Caesar. Antony has gathered the crowd of Roman citizens around him as he points out Caesar's gaping wounds and skillfully turns the mood of the crowd to one of vengeance on Caesar's murderers, who, led by Brutus, believe they killed Caesar as the only way to preserve ancient and precious Roman freedoms. Now, at the climax of his masterful speech, Antony plays upon their volatile emotions.


ANTONY
. . .
Then burst his mighty heart,
And in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statue,
Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
O what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I, and you, and all of us fell down
Whilst bloody treason flourished over us.
. . .

"The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Julius Caesar has been stabbed to death before the Capitol of Rome by a group of conspirators. Later, in the Forum, the citizens of Rome are addressed first by Brutus, a friend of Caesar and a conspirator, who explains that the hero has been killed because of his ambition which would lead to the enslavement of free Romans; and then by Mark Antony, who, pretending to agree with Brutus, subtly enrages the throng against the conspirators. Antony speaks:


ANTONY
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do, lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious;
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it.
Here, under leave of Brutus, and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man,
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
. . .

"The Fault, Dear Brutus, Is Not In Our Stars, But In Ourselves"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Cassius, jealous of the fame and greatness of Caesar, pours his dislike into the ears of Brutus, whom he is sounding out as a possible co-conspirator against Caesar. Brutus, although a friend of Caesar, fears his dictatorial power and its effects on the ancient freedoms of Roman citizens. As they converse, shouts in the distance proclaim Caesar's hold on the Roman populace, who practically deify him on this day designated to celebrate his victory over Pompey, a political and military rival. Cassius reminds Brutus that none of this is foreordained or inevitable, that they have only themselves to blame for the present state of affairs, and that Brutus is as great as Caesar.


CASSIUS
. . .
Men at some time are masters of their fates.
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
Brutus and Caesar. What should be in that Caesar?
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
. . .

"The Heavens Themselves Blaze Forth The Death Of Princes"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In his home in Rome, Julius Caesar arises early, and, still in his nightgown, discusses with Calphurnia, his wife, whether to go to the Senate as he has intended, since this is the Ides of March, the day against which a soothsayer has warned him. Calphurnia pleads with him to stay at home, recounting the ominous events of the night reported by a watchman–in addition to thunder and lightning, a lion has whelped in the street, graves have opened for the dead to escape, fiery soldiers have battled in the clouds, raining blood upon the Capitol, and the streets have been filled with the sounds of horses whinnying, of the dying groaning, and of ghosts shrieking. Caesar, contending that the portents of the night are directed at all the world as much as at him, continues the discussion:


CAESAR
What can be avoided
Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods?
Yet Caesar shall go forth; for these predictions
Are to the world in general, as to Caesar.
CALPHURNIA
When beggars die, there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.

"The Last Of All The Romans, Fare Thee Well!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Brutus, the idealist who would protect the Roman Republic from degenerating into a dictatorship, has joined with Cassius, Casca, and others, who from malice and ill-fed ambition would grasp more power for themselves. As a coalition, they have murdered Julius Caesar and consequently thrown the city into political turmoil. The civil war which has resulted has turned friend against friend and kin against kin. Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus–leaders of the faction which supports the cause of the slain Caesar–gather their forces to do battle with Brutus and his followers on the plains of Philippi. When a parley between the opposing generals produces nothing but mutual recriminations, the battle begins in earnest. Brutus enjoys initial success against Octavius but Cassius' forces are pushed back by Antony, and Cassius, ordering his servant to strike, dies like a Roman. Titinius, following the example of his general, also strikes home with Cassius' sword. Dejectedly observing the scene of selfdestruction, Brutus avers that Julius Caesar is mighty yet: "Thy spirit walks abroad, and turns our swords in our own proper entrails." Perhaps anticipating his own moment of selfsacrifice, he pauses to speak a brief eulogy over the bodies of his comrades-in-arms:

Are yet two Romans living such as these?
The last of all the Romans, fare thee well!
It is impossible that ever Rome
Should breed thy fellow. Friends, I owe moe tears
To this dead man than you shall see me pay.
I shall find time, Cassius; I shall find time.
Come therefore, and to Thasos send his body.
His funerals shall not be in our camp,
Lest it discomfort us. Lucilius come,
And come young Cato, let us to the field.
Labeo and Flavius, set our battles on.
'Tis three a clock; and Romans, yet ere night
We shall try fortune in a second fight.

"There Is A Tide In The Affairs Of Men"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Brutus and Cassius and two of their commanders discuss military strategy. They are engaged in a civil war following the assassination of Julius Caesar, an event in which they were conspirators. Against them is arrayed the army of Mark Antony, Octavius, and Lepidus. Cassius believes it is better to let the enemy seek them, but Brutus argues that it is wiser to march to Philippi and fight there. He is persuasive.


BRUTUS
. . .
You must note beside,
That we have tried the utmost of our friends;
Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe.
The enemy increaseth every day;
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

"This Was A Man"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Marcus Brutus, an honorable Roman, leads the conspirators who assassinate Caesar. He does so from no selfish motive but to save Rome from the dictatorial power of Caesar and to preserve ancient Roman freedoms. But the murder results in civil war which sweeps Italy. The army led by Brutus and his fellow conspirator, Cassius, is defeated by the forces of Mark Antony and Octavius at Philippi, and, rather than be captured, Brutus runs upon his sword and dies. Now Antony pays him tribute.


ANTONY
. . .
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him, that Nature might stand up,
And say to all the world, this was a man.
OCTAVIUS
According to his virtue let us use him,
With all respect, and rites of burial.
Within my tent his bones to-night shall lie,
Most like a soldier, ordered honourably.
So call the field to rest, and let's away,
To part the glories of this happy day.

"This Was The Most Unkindest Cut Of All"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This quotation has been changed by usage and in today's speech is usually heard as "that's the unkindest cut of all," and means the cruelest remark or insult possible because of intimate knowledge or the intimate relationship of the parties involved. In its original sense the line refers to the wound made by Brutus in the body of Caesar which was totally unlooked for on Caesar's part. It was the blow that completely disillusioned Caesar regarding Brutus' professed friendship for him, the thrust that killed Caesar's spirit as well as his body. Now, during his funeral oration, Mark Antony, friend, protégé, and vowed avenger of his murdered mentor, points to the wound and employs masterful imagery and irony as he says:


ANTONY
Look, in this place ran Cassius' dagger through.
See what a rent the envious Casca made.
Through this, the well-beloved Brutus stabbed,
And as he plucked his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar followed it,
As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knocked, or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, o you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him.
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitor's arms,
Quite vanquished him. Then burst his mighty heart,
. . .

"This Was The Noblest Roman Of Them All"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Two contending armies tear Italy apart following the assassination of Julius Caesar. The army led by Mark Antony and Octavius meets and destroys the forces of Brutus and Cassius at Philippi. Brutus, who led the conspirators in the assassination of Caesar, did so for no selfish reason but to save Rome from Caesar's dictatorial powers and to preserve ancient Roman freedoms. Rather than be taken, when he faces certain defeat, he runs upon his sword and dies. Now his enemy, Mark Antony, pays him tribute.


ANTONY
This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did, in envy of great Caesar;
He only, in a general honest thought,
And common good to all, made one of them.
. . .

"Though Last, Not Least"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: This famous saying is now usually heard as "last but not least," and connotes, in a positive sense, that though a person or thing is last in enumeration, this position in no way reduces his or its importance. Originally, Antony's words subtly convey "though last, not least" in guilt although the complete quotation is "Though last, not least in love." It is vital, however, to understand Antony's true thoughts and ultimate intentions toward the men with whom he is speaking. When Caesar is assassinated in the Senate, Antony flees in fear. Now he returns with a safe-conduct from Brutus (one of the assassins). The conspirators assure him that they acted out of love for Rome itself. Antony takes the hand of each assassin as a sign that he believes him. He really does not, but he is stalling for time to right this monstrous wrong against Caesar. Shortly before Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar (1598-1600), Edmund Spenser used the same phrase, "Though last not least" in Colin Clouts Come Home Again (1595) as later did Pope "the last, not least . . ." in The Dunciad (1728).


ANTONY
. . .
Let each man render me his bloody hand.
First Marcus Brutus, will I shake with you;
Next Caius Cassius do I take your hand;
Now Decius Brutus yours; now yours Metellus;
Yours Cinna; and my valiant Casca, yours;
Though last, not least in love, yours good Trebonius.
. . .

"Upon What Meat Doth This Our Caesar Feed, That He Is Grown So Great?"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Cassius, jealous of the fame, success, and greatness of Caesar, pours his dislike into the ears of Brutus, whom he is sounding out as a possible co-conspirator against Caesar. Brutus is a highly respected Roman. Although a friend of Caesar, he fears his dictatorial power and its effects on the ancient freedoms of Roman citizens. As they talk, shouts in the distance proclaim Caesar's hold on the Roman populace, who practically deify him on this day designated to celebrate his victory over Pompey, a political and military rival. Cassius reminds Brutus that Caesar, like Brutus, is a man, a Roman, and not a god; that Brutus' name is as valuable as Caesar's; that the idolizing of Caesar portends misfortunes for Rome.


CASSIUS
. . .
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a name.
Sound them, it doth become the mouth as well.
Weigh them, it is as heavy. Conjure with 'em,
Brutus will start a spirit as soon as Caesar.
Now in the names of all the gods at once,
Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed,
That he is grown so great? Age, thou art shamed.
Rome, thou hast lost the breed of noble bloods.
. . .

"Yond Cassius Has A Lean And Hungry Look"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Julius Caesar, returning from the games and festivities which mark his victory over his political rival Pompey, catches sight of Cassius conversing with Brutus. Cassius, a disgruntled man, jealous of Caesar's fame and accomplishments, is sounding out Brutus, a friend of Caesar, as a possible co-conspirator against Caesar. Although Caesar does not hear what Cassius and Brutus are discussing, he is struck by the intensity and brooding countenance of Cassius. He calls his young friend and companion, Mark Antony, to his side for consultation. (Shakespeare improved upon the original saying found in the chapter on Antony in Plutarch's Lives: Plutarch phrased it less aptly, thus: "'It is not,' said Caesar, 'these well-fed, long-haired men that I fear, but the pale and the hungry-looking'; meaning Brutus and Cassius.")


CAESAR
Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep a nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.