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SHAKESPEARE himself has left us evidence that he knew of at least one tragedy based upon the conspiracy against Julius Caesar earlier than his own. For in Hamlet (Act III. Sc. 2) Polonius says that he "did enact Julius Ccesar" and was "killed in the Capitol" by Brutus. And as he also says that he did this "in the University," and Steevens cites a passage in an Appendix to Peck's Memoirs of Oliver Cromwell, which shows that a Latin tragedy upon this subject was written by Richard Eedes, and played at Oxford in 1582, we know almost with absolute certainty the play that Shakespeare had in mind. The allusions to the story of Julius Csesar in our early literature are very numerous, and early English plays were doubtless written upon it; but it appears that Shakespeare was indebted for his materials only to the lives of Csesar, Brutus, Antony, and Cicero in North's Plutarch. Selecting the events to be dramatized with admirable judgment, and arranging them with consummate skill, he followed his authority even to the detail of the little Scene in which Cinna the poet is slain for his name and his bad verses, and often adopted its very language.
As to the time when Julius Ccesar was written, we are without any other evidence than that of its style, which ranges it with Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, and Cymbeline.* It was probably brought out between 1605 and 1608. — It wras first printed in the folio of 1623, and with remarkable accuracy. — The period of its action is from the feast of Lupercal, B. C. 45, to the battle of Philippi, B. C: 42.
* See the last Note upon this play.
Marcus Antonius, V Triumvirs after the death of Julius Caesar.
M. iEMIL. Lepidus, J
► Conspirators against Julius Caesar.
Flavius and Marullus, Tribunes.
Artemldorus, a Sophist of Cnidos.
Cinna, a Poet. Another Poet.
Pindarus, Servant to Cassius.
Calpurnia, Wife to Caesar.
Senators, Citizens, Guards, Attendants, #e.
SCENE, during the greater part of the Play, at B-ome: afterwards at Sardis, and near Philippi.
Friends to Brutus and Cassius.
Servants to Brutus.
THE TRAGEDY OF
Scene I. — Rome. A Street. Enter Flavius, Mahullus, and a rabble of Citizens.
HENCE! home, you idle creatures, get you
1 Citizen. Why, sir, a carpenter.
Marullus. Where is thy leather apron, and thy rule? What dost thou with thy best apparel on ? — You, sir; what trade are you?
2 Cit. Truly, sir, in respect of a fine workman, I am but, as you would say, a cobbler.
Mar. But what trade art thou? Answer me directly.
2 Cit. A trade, sir, that, I hope, I may use with a safe conscience; which is, indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles.
T 2 (313;
Mar. What trade, thou knave? thou naughty knave, what trade?
2 Cit. Nay, I beseech you, sir, be not out with me: yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.
Mar. What mean'st thou by that? Mend me, thou saucy fellow?
2 Cit. Why, sir, cobble you.
Flav. Thou art a cobbler, art thou?
2 Cit. Truly, sir, all that I live by is with the awl: I meddle with no tradesman's matters, nor women's matters: but withal I am, indeed, sir, a surgeon to old shoes; when they are in great danger, I re-cover them. As proper men as ever trod upon neats-leather have gone upon my handywork.
Flav. But wherefore art not in thy shop to-day? Why do'st thou lead these men about the streets?
2 Cit. Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself into more work. But, indeed, sir, we make holiday, to see Caesar, and to rejoice in his triumph.
Mar. Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings
To hear the replication of your sounds
Made in her concave shores?
And do you now put on your best attire?
And do you now cull out a holiday?
And do you now strew flowers in his way
That comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?
Run to your houses, fall upon your knees,
Pray to the gods to intermit the plague
That needs must light on this ingratitude.
Flav. Go, go, good countrymen; and for this fault Assemble all the poor men of your sort: Draw them to Tyber banks, and weep your tears Into the channel, till the lowest stream Do kiss the most exalted shores of all.
Mar. May we do so?
Flav. It is no matter: let no images