Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Julius Caesar – Act II

Scene I – Brutus’ Orchard

  • Brutus received one of the false letters (originally written by Cassius, as if sent from the people).
  • In his monolog, Brutus decided that if Caesar was to endanger Rome, then it is his duty to protect Romans and kill Caesar, even though he did not have any bad feeling towards him.
  • The faction of conspirator visited Brutus: Cassius, Casca, Cinna, Desius, Metellus Cimber, Trebonius; and sealed the commitment. Cassius suggested that they made an oath, but Brutus believed that noblemen of Rome had the responsibilities in their heart, thus did not need to make oath.
  • Desius got a special task to convince Caesar to come to the Senate (despite of the bad weather).
  • Portia worried about his husband and demanded him to share the secret he had burdened with.
  • Ligarius (recommended by Metellus earlier) came in sick, but ready to be lead to action by Brutus.

* I begin to like the noble Brutus, especially on this….
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 passed from him.” –l. 329

* Cassius was the founder of the conspirator faction indeed, but they all instantly keep Brutus’ opinions as strict commands. About whether they should or should not invite Cicero to join the faction, for instance:
Cassius: “But what about Cicero? Shall we sound him?
Casca:   “Let us not leave him out.”
Cinna:   “No, by no means.
Brutus:  “O, name him not; let us not break with him,
             For he will never follow anything
             That other men begin.”
Cassius: “Then leave him out.
Casca:   “Indeed he is not fit.” –l. 338

Oh, so quick did they change their mind… :)

* Cassius was eager to kill Mark Antony too, but Brutus rejected the idea; Cassius just acted practical, and Brutus was being noble. But sometimes….politics need the practical way...
We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar,
And in the spirit of men there is no blood.”

* Portia and Brutus was a sweet couple, they respected each other. On that era women was not at the same level as men, but Portia didn’t think like that. For her, a wife should share his husband’s business and the husband should trust her husband, or otherwise she was not wife at all, but merely lover.
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.” –l. 387

And how about this?

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?” –l. 394
Did she really wound her thigh there in the scene? Or she had done it before, and was now showing the wound? (there’s no sign of action here, or have I missed it?)

And Brutus did not scowl her for putting herself at the same level as him, he respected her even more as a ‘noble’ wife. What a husband!

* Ligarius sickness was intriguing, as if symbolizing Romans situation in general under Caesar tyranny. More interesting was this dialog, which implicitly represented their plan to kill Caesar:

Ligarius: “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?” –l. 400.  Ahemm…

Scene II – Caesar’s House. Thunder and Lightning

  • Caesar had been woken by Calpurnia’s screams in her dream. Calpurnia begged Caesar not to go to the Senate that day as she had a nightmare that Caesar would be killed. This was confirmed too by the priests (augurers).
  • Superstitious did not move Caesar’s plan at first, but he melted down at Calpurnia’s beg, and cancelled his visit to the Senate.
  • Desius came and reminded Caesar that the Senate was going to crown him, thus they will laughed at him if he did not dare to come just because of his wife’s nightmare. At this, Caesar decided to go.
  • Brutus, Ligarius, Metellus, Casca, Cinna, Publius, Trebonius came to pick Caesar up, and so Mark Antony.

* Brutus disappointed that Caesar referred him as just “like friends”. Words did matter much, eh?
And we, like friends, will straightway go together.” –l. 453

Scene III – A street near the capitol

Artemidorus knew about the conspiracy, and planned to pass on a warning letter to Caesar when Caesar passed by him.

* And he knew exactly who’s who—Artemidorus, the rhetoric teacher. I wonder how he knew; did an intellectual suppose to get along with senators?

Scene IV – Another part of the same street, before the house of Brutus

  • Portia was so worried about Brutus, so he sent Lucius—the servant—to the Senate to watch over Brutus and to tell Portia as soon as possible had anything bad happened.
  • A soothsayer passed by, he had some plea to Caesar and would wait until he passed by.

* Poor Portia, I think she—by intuition—somehow knew that Brutus was up to something dangerous towards Caesar. May I call that ‘devoted wife’s intuition’?


  1. See? I love Portia. "If it be no more,
    Portia is Brutus' harlot, not his wife." That's very awesome in her part to say such a thing. Feminist in Shakespeare's era? Haha. Just a thought.

    1. I think she was. Well, feminist are a way of thinking, so it can come at any era, even Shakepeare's...


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