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Julius Caesar, ACT III - a short summary

Summaries of Act I and Act II are already done, so it's on to the middle of the play.

Act III

Scene 1

Caesar: It's the Ides of March and I'm still alive - nonny nonny boo boo!

Soothsayer: The day's still young.

Artemidorus: "Hail, Caesar! Read this schedule." (The line cracks me up - but Artemidorus wants Caesar to write his "watch out for backstabbers" letter ASAP, and Caesar is insisting on waiting until he's done his other business.)

*The scheming plotters scheme and plot, and decide that Casca is to strike first.*

Metellus Cimber: *sings "Please release him, let him go" in honor of his brother, Publius Cimber, who has been banished-Banished-BANISHED!*

Caesar: *is having none of it*

Brutus: I second the petition.

Cassius: I third it!

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-fix'd and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.

Cinna: "O Caesar - "

Decius Brutus: "Great Caesar - "

Casca: SIC SEMPER TYRANUS! (Oh. Wait. That's John Wilkes Booth's line.) "Speak, hands, for me!"

*Everyone stabs Caesar*

Caesar: "Et tu, Bruté? Then fall, Caesar."

*Dies*

Cinna: "Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!"

Cassius: Proclaim it far and wide!

Brutus: Hey everyone, don't be frightened. Things are cool now.

*Trebonius comes running in*

Trebonius: Mark Antony ran home! People all over the city are afraid!

Brutus: I have a GREAT idea!
. . .Stoop, Romans, stoop
And let us bathe our hands in Caesar's blood
Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords:
Then walk we forth, even to the market-place,
And, waving our red weapons o'er our heads,
Let's all cry 'Peace, freedom and liberty!'

Because nothing says "peace, freedom, and liberty" like bloodied men, hollering and brandishing swords.

Cassius: We are totally heroes! People will sing our praises for ages!

Brutus: We totally rock!

Cassius: We shall be called "the men that gave their country liberty!"

Decius Brutus: Shall we?

Cassius: Surely. Brutus can go first.

*Mark Antony's servant enters*

Servant: My master asked me to come to you, Brutus, and suck up to you a bit. He'd like to hear why you did this, and promises not to be mad about it if you have a good explanation.

Brutus: Sure thing. Invite him over!

*Servant leaves*

Cassius: To repeat my theme from yesterday, I don't trust Antony.

*Antony enters*

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

If you guys are going to kill me, I can't think of a better time or place for it than here and now, in the presence of this wonderful Caesar, etc., etc.

Brutus: Lighten up, Francis. We don't want to kill you. We still like you. We'd like to hug you. You'll see, this is a good thing.

Cassius: You'll still be powerful.

Brutus: Just let us go calm the masses, and then we'll sit down and explain ourselves.

Antony: Let me shake each of your bloody hands. I have something I want to say to you. But first, I want to directly address the corpse and talk about how horrible it is that I'm shaking hands with your murderers. *waxes eloquent about the horror - THE HORROR*

Cassius: Umm, Mark Antony . . .

Antony: Well, people are bound to say stuff just like this.

Cassius: We're wondering what the hand shake was about?

Antony: Sorry. I got distracted by the corpse. I'd like to know why you thought Caesar was dangerous.

Brutus: There were good reasons.

Antoony: Alrighty then. I'd like to speak at his funeral.

Brutus: Sure. Fine. Good.

Cassius: WTF? That is NOT COOL, Brutus. He'll incite the people.

Brutus: Good thinking. I'll establish conditions.

Cassius: I must say at least once more - I do NOT trust that Antony.

Brutus: Hey, Antony - you get to talk, but only after me, and also, no trash-talking us or we . . . won't let you speak. Yeah. That's it.

Antony: "Be it so./I do desire no more."

*Everyone leaves Antony alone to deal with Caesar's corpse*

Antony: I feel a magnificent soliloquy of wrath coming on.

O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,--
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue--
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
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.

Antony sees a servant who works for Octavius Caesar, and sends him off to report what happened. After helping him move the corpse, of course. And mentioning that he hopes Octavius will turn up to help set things right.


Scene 2

*At the Forum, with a large crowd of Citizens, who are splitting up to hear Brutus's and Cassius's accounts of what happened - they intend to compare their stories to see if they match up, and Cassius leaves with some followers*

Brutus: *sings "What I did for love"*
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? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;
as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was
valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I
slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his
fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his
ambition. Who is here so base that would be a
bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If
any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so
vile that will not love his country? If any, speak;
for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

Everyone: None, Brutus, none.

Brutus: Now that I have framed this as a question of patriotism, here comes Antony with the dead body. Unless you think I ought to kill myself?

Citizens: No! You should live! You should be the new king, even! We'll carry you to your house!

Brutus: Thanks, but I'll walk. Stay and hear what Antony has to say.

Antony: Thanks for the rousing intro, Brutus.

Citizens: Brutus is awesome! Caesar deserved it! Antony had better not say anything bad about him!

Antony: I feel a very famous soliloquy coming on!
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 answer'd 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.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He 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.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: 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.

*Antony pauses to catch his breath, and so the citizens can show that they've turned a good 90 degrees or so from where they were when Brutus finished speaking.

Antony: I now resume my soliloquy.
But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there.
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
But here's a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet, 'tis his will:
Let but the commons hear this testament--
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read--
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.

Citizens: Yeah! Read the Will!

Antony: No, I don't think I should.

Citizens: Yes! You should!

Antony: Have you all been very good boys?

Citizens: We have! We deserve to hear the will! Also, those guys who stabbed Caesar were traitors and villains and rogues! Read the will!

Antony: Shall I read the will? Are you sure? Shall I come down there among you and read you the will? (Etc., and further winding-up of the crowd)

Antony: *comes to stand near Caesar's body and play show-and-tell*

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle: I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on;
'Twas on a summer's evening, in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii:
Look, in this place ran Cassius' dagger through:
See what a rent the envious Casca made:
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd;
And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar follow'd it,
As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knock'd, 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 traitors' arms,
Quite vanquish'd him: then burst his mighty heart;
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey's statua,
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 flourish'd over us.
O, now you weep; and, I perceive, you feel
The dint of pity: these are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what, weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar's vesture wounded? Look you here,
Here is himself, marr'd, as you see, with traitors.

Citizens: LET'S GET THEM!

Antony: Hold up. I still have some more soliloquy left.
Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honourable:
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it: they are wise and honourable,
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him:
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men's blood: I only speak right on;
I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
Show you sweet Caesar's wounds, poor poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.

Citizens: LET'S MUTINY!

Antony: Dudes, you're forgetting Caesar's will. Look. He left you all 75 drachmas each, plus has donated all his property to the state as a park.

Citizens: MUTINY AHOY! LET'S RIOT! *Crowd rushes off to burn, kill, and mutilate Brutus and the other conspirators*

Antony: "Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,/Take thou what course thou wilt!"

*Enter Servant, with word that Octavius is already in Rome - that's right, Antony's soliloquy was so long that he had plenty of time to travel and hole up at Caesar's house with Lepidus*

Antony: "Fortune is merry,/And in this mood will give us any thing."

Servant: P.S. - I hear Brutus and Cassius have done a runner.

Antony: Probably heard I got the crowd riled up. Take me to your leader!


Scene 3

In which we find violent comic relief in the streets. The scene opens with quite a bit of comedy, but ends up tragically.

*Enter Cinna the Poet, who plays something akin to the "Who's on first?" game with the Citizens, who want to tear him to pieces because they think he's Cinna the conspirator, and then, on sorting out that he's a different Cinna, want him torn to pieces for writing bad verse, so he's dragged offstage to be killed.

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Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2010 01:30 am (UTC)
Bizzaro, isn't it? Brutus's reasoning makes no sense at all. And yeah - poor Cinna the Poet.
p_sunshine
Jun. 16th, 2010 11:59 am (UTC)
LMAO! This was wonderful!!

Wow. I know I've seen this before and was amused by the repetition of "is an honourable man" but I didn't realize that it was in there 4 times. I'm trying to think of any other time Shakespeare used a word or grouping like that 4 times. There are plenty of 3s - words, words, words... tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow... (was there a 3x no more from Ophelia?) Where there any other 4s?
I guess it could be argued that this is a 3, since there's "Brutus is an honourable man" 3 times, with "is an honourable man" implying Brutus on the 4th.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
What he is doing, through that repetition, is turning the idea of "honourable" on its head. At first it sounds like a straight-up compliment, but as he proceeds and progresses, it becomes patently obvious that Brutus's actions were NOT honourable, and that each mention of the word is an additional twist of the knife (so to speak). It's a brilliant piece of work, and an excellent example of sarcasm and of someone saying one thing but meaning a complete other - and every one hearing it knew that.
p_sunshine
Jun. 17th, 2010 12:11 pm (UTC)
Oh definitely! I saw this in '08 in DC and the first time, the actor played "honourable" true, and then as he progressed through, he added more and more saccharin to it and he got quite a few laughs from the audience until the weighty, absolute silence before "But here I am to speak what I do know." He whispered that line, but that whisper carried. Very cool moment.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 17th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
Ooh. I bet everyone in the audience got chills just then, because I did just thinking about it!
mostly_irish
Jun. 16th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
"I feel a magnificent soliloquy of wrath coming on." (I feel like that all the time!)

Also? I haven't read the "Friends, Romans, countryman" soliloquy in a long time and had forgotten how very much I enjoy it. Thanks! :)
kellyrfineman
Jun. 16th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)
I considered trying to summarize Antony's words, but it's such a tremendous piece of writing - in what it says and what it means and how Shakespeare twists the meaning of words through there - that I just couldn't bring myself to do it.
p_sunshine
Jun. 22nd, 2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
Okay, I've commented about the "honourable men" bit already, but here's my favorite line of yours: "Antony: Let me shake each of your bloody hands. I have something I want to say to you. But first, I want to directly address the corpse and talk about how horrible it is that I'm shaking hands with your murderers. *waxes eloquent about the horror - THE HORROR*"
And may I add... Antony: But it's all good, because now my hands are bloody, as a sign of solidarity. Not that I'm joining where you are. Just letting you know I'm there for you, C-man. I feel for you, brother. From down here.
kellyrfineman
Jun. 22nd, 2010 11:15 pm (UTC)
You and Jenn Hubbard should talk. You guys think very much alike.
p_sunshine
Jun. 23rd, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
lol, after reading her lj, I'll take that as a compliment. =)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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