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Low, crooked courtesies, and base, spaniel fawning;
Thy brother by decree is banished;
If thou dost bend, and pray and fawn for him, I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.
Know, Cæsar doth not wrong; nor without cause
But I am constant as the northern star,
The conspirators at this moment crowd around the doomed hero with pretended petitions—and, instanter, Casca stabs Cæsar in the neck, while several other murdering senators stab him through the body, and last Marcus Brutus plunges a dagger in the heart of his benefactor and father, when with glaring eyes and dying breath, the noble Cæsar exclaims:
"Et tu, Brute?" (And thou, Brutus ?)
Thus tumbled down at the base of Pompey's statue the greatest man the world has ever known! Then the citizens of Rome-royal, rabble and conspirators, were filled with consternation, while Brutus tried to stem the rising flood of indignation.
Mark Antony was allowed to weep and speak over the pulseless clay of his official partner and friend.
Gazing on the cold, bloody form of the amazing Julius, he utters these pathetic phrases:
"O mighty Cæsar! Dost thou lie so low?
As Cæsar's death-hour; nor no instrument
Of half that worth, as those your swords, made rich
With the most noble blood of all this world.
Now, while your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Brutus gave orders for a grand funeral, turning the body of the dead lion over to Antony, who might make the funeral oration to the people within such bounds of discretion as the conspirators dictated.
Standing alone, by the dead body of Cæsar in the Senate, Antony pours out thus, the overflowing vengeance of his soul:
"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!
Which like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue;
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
The wild citizens of Rome clamored for the reason of Cæsar's death, and Brutus mounted the rostrum in the Forum and delivered this cunning and bold oration in defense of the conspirators:
"Romans, countrymen and lovers, hear me for my cause, and be silent that ye may hear; believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, 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 Cæsar's, to him I say that Brutus' love to Cæsar was no less than his.
"If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Cæsar, this is my answer. Not that I loved Cæsar less; but that I loved Rome more!
"Had you rather Cæsar were living, and die all slaves, than that Cæsar were dead, to live all free men?
"As Cæsar loved me, I weep for him; as he was
fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honor him, but as he was ambitious I slew him!
"There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honor for his valor, 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 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."
And then the rabble, vacillating, fool citizens said, "None, Brutus, none," and continue to yell, "Live, Brutus, live! live!"
Brutus leaves the Forum and requests the human cattle to remain and hear Antony relate the glories of Cæsar!
Finally Antony is persuaded to take the rostrum, and delivers this greatest funeral oration of all the ages:
"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
When that the poor hath cried, Cæsar hath wept;
Which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?
And, sure, he is an honorable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
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,
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose