From Julius Caesar. Ed. Henry Norman Hudson. New York: Ginn and Co., 1908.
SCENE I. The Folios give no indication of place, but that
Shakespeare intended the scene to be in Rome is clear from ll.
10, 11, where Lepidus is sent to Cæsar's house and told that
he will find his confederates "or here, or at the Capitol." In
fact, however, the triumvirs, Octavius, Antonius, and Lepidus,
met in November, B.C. 43, some nineteen months after the
assassination of Cæsar, on a small island in the river Rhenus
(now the Reno), near Bononia (Bologna). "All three met
together in an island environed round about with a little
river, and there remained three days together. Now, as
touching all other matters they were easily agreed, and did
divide all the empire of Rome between them, as if it had been
their own inheritance. But yet they could hardly agree whom
they would put to death: for every one of them would kill
their enemies, and save their kinsmen and friends. Yet, at
length, giving place to their greedy desire to be revenged of
their enemies, they spurned all reverence of blood and
holiness of friendship at their feet. For Cæsar left Cicero to
Antonius's will; Antonius also forsook Lucius Cæsar, who was
his uncle by his mother; and both of them together suffered
Lepidus to kill his own brother Paulus. Yet some writers
affirm that Cæsar and Antonius requested Paulus might be
slain, and that Lepidus was contented with it."--Plutarch,
1.prick'd: So in III, i. 217. See note, p. 95, l.
4-5. According to Plutarch, as quoted above, this was
Lucius Cæsar, not Publius; nor was he Antony's nephew, but his
uncle by the mother's side. His name in full was Antonius
6.with a spot I damn him: with a mark I condemn him.
12.slight unmeritable: insignificant, undeserving. In
Shakespeare many adjectives, especially those ending in
-ful, -less, -ble, and -ive, have both an active and a
passive meaning. See Abbott, § 3.
27.commons: This is a thoroughly English allusion to
such pasture-lands as are not owned by individuals, but
occupied by a given neighborhood in common. In 1614
Shakespeare protested against the inclosure of such 'common
fields' at Stratford-on-Avon.
32.wind: wheel, turn. We have 'wind' as an active
verb in 1 Henry IV, IV, i, 109: "To turn and wind a fiery
34.in some taste: to some small extent. This meaning
comes from 'taste' in the sense of 'a small portion given as a
37-39. As the textual notes show, modern editors have
not been content with the reading of the Folios. The serious
trouble with the old text is the period at the close of l. 37.
If a comma be substituted the meaning becomes obvious: Lepidus
is one who is always interested in, and talking about, such
things--books, works of art, etc.--as everybody else has got
tired of and thrown aside. Cf. Falstaff's account of Shallow,
2 Henry IV, III, ii, 340: "'a came ever in the rearward of
the fashion; and sung those tunes to the over-scutch'd
huswives that he heard the carmen whistle, and sware they were
his fancies or his good-nights." 'Stal'd' is 'outworn,' or
'grown stale'; and the reference is not to objects, etc.,
generally, but only to those which have lost the interest of
freshness. 'Abjects' in the Staunton-Cambridge reading, is
'things thrown away'; 'orts,' 'broken fragments.'
40.a property: a tool, an accessory. The reference is
to a 'stage property.' Cf. Fletcher and Massinger, The False
One, V, iii:
this devil Photinus
Employs me as a property, and, grown useless,
Will shake me off again.
Shakespeare uses 'property' as a verb in this sense in
Twelfth Night, IV, ii, 99: "They have here propertied me."
41.Listen: The transitive use is older than the
42.make head: raise an armed force. 'Head' has often
the meaning of 'armed force' in Shakespeare. So in sixteenth
century literature and old ballads. It usually connotes
44. The reading adopted is that of the later Folios. It
makes a normal blank verse line. Cf. II, i, 158-159.
48-49. The metaphor is from bear-baiting. Cf. Macbeth,
V, vii, 1.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Henry Norman Hudson. New York: Ginn and Co., 1908. Shakespeare Online. 20 Dec. 2009. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/julius_4_1.html >.