Act II, Scene I Notes from Julius Caesar

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Julius Caesar Act II, Scene I

Meanwhile, Brutus is wide awake, anxiously pacing about his garden. He is trying to justify and understand Caesar's actions and personality: "Th' abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power; and, to speak truth of Caesar, I have not known when his affections sway'd more than his reason. But 'tis a common proof, that lowliness is young ambition's ladder, whereto the climber-upward turns his face; but when he once attains the upmost round, he then unto the ladder turns his back, looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees by which he did ascend. So Caesar may; then lest he may, prevent." Act II, Scene I, Line 18

His servant, Lucius, who Brutus asks to light a candle for him in his study, finds one of the notes Cassius has thrown into Brutus' house. These notes are written as if they come from Roman commoners, and imply that the Romans wish to have Brutus as their true leader. One of them says: "Brutus, thou sleep'st; awake, and see thyself. Shall Rome, etc. Speak, strike, redress!" Act II, Scene I, Line 46 After Brutus reads these, Cassius approaches Marcus Brutus to be his supporter, and invites his other conspirators to Brutus' house. Brutus remains skeptical of such a plot because he respects Caesar and does not wish to shed blood in any case, even to prevent tyranny. The group hatches a plan to kill Caesar at the Senate, or capitol, the next day, each man drawing his sword on Caesar at the same time. Cassius wishes to kill Mark Antony as well, because Antony is so loyal to Caesar, it is as if they are part of the same person. Marcus Brutus argues against this action, saying that the bloodshed should be kept to a minimum. In addition, he states that he is not taking part in this plan out of vengeance, but rather because Caesar is ambitious and therefore dangerous, in addition to being noble and able. Brutus says:

"Swear priests and cowards, and men cautelous, old feeble carrions, and such suffering souls that welcome wrongs; unto bad causes swear such creatures as men doubt; 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 pass'd from him." Act II, Scene I, Line 129

Just before the meeting, Brutus' wife Portia comes to him very worried about his state of mind. Brutus has been pacing around all night, looking worried and preoccupied. Brutus at first refuses Portia's request for information. After an impassioned speech in which Portia reveals that she has gashed her thigh to prove that she is strong enough to bear her husband's pain as an equal partner, Brutus is compelled by his love and respect for her to tell her what is troubling him. She says:

"I grant I am a woman; but withal a woman that Lord Brutus took to wife; I grant I am a woman; but withal a women well reputed, Cato's daughter. Think you I am no stronger than my sex, being so father'd, and so husbanded? Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose'em. I have made a 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?" Act II, Scene I, Line 292

He promises to tell her what is going on after he meets with his co-conspirators. Portia thanks him, but remains worried about his actions.

Topic Tracking: Excess 5
Topic Tracking: Dedication 2

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