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Brutus and Cassius witness the triumphal march of Cæsar with jealous, vengeful and dagger hearts, and Cassius, the old, desperate soldier, first hints at blood conspiracy.
"What is it that you would impart to me?
Fine talk! Brutus is not the only political murderer that talks of "honor" through the centuries, a cloak for devils in human shape to work a personal purpose and not "the general good."
Cassius delivers this eloquent indictment against Cæsar, the grandest of its kind in all history:
"Well, Honor is the subject of my story-
And swim to yonder point? Upon the word,
And bade him follow; so, indeed, he did.
The torrent roared and we did buffet it
And stemming it with hearts of controversy.
Did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulders
Did I the tired Cæsar; and this man
Is now become a god, and Cassius is
A wretched creature, and must bend his body,
He had a fever, when he was in Spain,
And that same eye, whose bend doth awe the world
Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Why should that name be sounded more than yours?
Write them together, yours is as fair a name;
Unanimous applause followed this cunning conspiracy speech, and Jonson, Lodge and Drayton gave loud exclamations of approval.
Cæsar, with his staff, returning from the games in his honor, sees Cassius and remarks to Antonius:
"Let me have men about me that are fat;
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep of nights; Yonder Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous; And are never at heart's ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves!"
Casca, one of the senatorial conspirators, tells Cassius that Cæsar is to be crowned king, and he replies thus, contemplating suicide:
"I know where I will wear this dagger then;
Never lacks power to dismiss itself;
Brutus, contemplating assassination, says in soliloquy:
"To speak the truth of Cæsar,
I have not known when his affections swayed
This ingratitude of the great to the people is often recompensed by defeat and death.
After the senatorial conspirators decided that Cæsar should die, Cassius insisted wisely that Marcus Antonius should not outlive the great Julius, and said:
"Let Antony and Cæsar fall together!"
But Brutus would not consent to the death of 'Antony, believing that he was not dangerous to their future, yet insisting that "Cæsar must bleed for it."
"Let's kill him bodily, but not wrathfully;
And yet this is the sweet-scented assassin who prates of "honor," and is sometimes known as "the noblest Roman of them all!"
Portia, the wife of Brutus, felt a strange alarm at his recent conduct, and Calphurnia, the wife of Cæsar, implored him not to attend the session of the senate, reminding him of the soothsayer's warning "Beware the ides of March."
Yet, Cæsar threw off all fear and suspicion and said:
"What can be avoided,
Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods?
The hour of assassination has arrived, and Cæsar, seated in the chair of state, says:
"What is now amiss
That Cæsar and his senate must redress?"
Senator Metellus, one of the chief conspirators, throws himself at the feet of Cæsar and implores pardon for his traitor brother.
"Be not fond,
To think that Cæsar bears such rebel blood,