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Posts Tagged ‘Et tu Brute’

Et tu Brute

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I’ll spend a couple of weeks posting interesting things about Julius Caesar before I continue on my Reading Challange with Henry V

Found this on the phrase “Et tu, Brute”

The only ancient authority, I believe, for this famous exclamation is in Suetonius, I. 82, where Caesar is made to address Brutus (And thou too, my son?). It may have occurred as it stands here in the Latin play on the same subject which is recorded to have been acted at Oxford in 1582; and it is found in The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, printed in 1600, on which the Third Part of King Henry VI is founded, as also in a poem by S. Nicholson, entitled Acolastus his Afterwit, printed the same year, in both of which contemporary productions we have the same line: “Et tu, Brute? Wilt thou stab Caesar too?”It may just be noted, as a historical fact, that the meeting of the Senate at which Caesar was assassinated was held, not, as is here assumed, in the Capitol, but in the Curia in which the statue of Pompey stood, being, as Plutarch tells us, one of the edifices which Pompey had built, and had given, along with his famous theatre, to the public….The mistake which we have here is found also in Hamlet, where (iii.2) Hamlet questions Polonius about his histrionic performances when at the University: “I did enact Julius Caesar,” says Polonius; “I was killed in the Capitol; Brutus killed me;” to which the Prince replies, “It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there” (191).

Reference

Craik, George L. The English of Shakespeare. London: Chapman and Hall, 1857.

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Act three, Scene one

CASSIUS

………..How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown

I wonder if Shakespeare imagined that those words are still being spoke over four hundred years later

It’s the Ides of March (15th) and Caesar is at the Capitol. The Conspirators get ready for the bloody deed.  Decius Brutus asks Caesar to pardon his brother. Caesar answers

CAESAR

I could be well moved, if I were as you:
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me:
But I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumber’d sparks,
They are all fire and every one doth shine,
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place:
So in the world; ’tis furnish’d well with men,
And men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive;
Yet in the number I do know but one
That unassailable holds on his rank,
Unshaked of motion: and that I am he,
Let me a little show it, even in this;
That I was constant Cimber should be banish’d,
And constant do remain to keep him so. 

This is enough to kill him. The Conspirators stab him and we get the famous line of the play

CAESAR

Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar

 

Morte di Giulio Cesare ("Death of Julius ...

Image via Wikipedia

 

When I saw this at Stratford, this scene was incredible and very realistic.                “Who would have thought the old man to have so much blood in him”

Mark Antony enters and sees the bloody corpse of Caesar and breaks down.

ANTONY

O mighty Caesar! dost thou lie so low?
Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils,
Shrunk to this little measure? Fare thee well.
I know not, gentlemen, what you intend,
Who else must be let blood, who else is rank:
If I myself, there is no hour so fit
As Caesar’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.
I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard,
Now, whilst your purpled hands do reek and smoke,
Fulfil your pleasure. Live a thousand years,
I shall not find myself so apt to die:
No place will please me so, no mean of death,
As here by Caesar, and by you cut off,
The choice and master spirits of this age

Brutus convinces him that they mean him no harm. He will allow Antony to speak, after Brutus, to the public. Antony is left alone.

ANTONY

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!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,–
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue–
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial

Ate is the Goddess of Discord and Mischief.

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