Page images

them, as a wild beast taken of hunters. For it was agreed among them that every man should give him a wound, because all their parts should be in this murder: and then Brutus himself gave him one wound about his body. Men report also, that Cæsar did still defend himself against the rest, running every way with his body: but when he saw Brutus with his sword drawn in his hand, then he pulled his gown over his head, and made no more resistance, and was driven either casually, or purposely, by the counsel of the conspirators, against the base whereupon Pompey's image stood, which ran all of a gore-blood till he was slain. Thus it seemed, that the image took just revenge of Pompey's enemy, being thrown down on the ground at his feet, and yielding up his ghost there, for the number of wounds he had upon him. For it is reported, that he had three-and-twenty wounds upon his body: and divers of the conspirators did hurt themselves, striking one body with so many blows.

When Cæsar was slain, the Senate (though Brutus stood in the midst among them, as though he would have said somewhat touching this fact) presently ran out of the house, and flying, filled all the city with marvellous fear and tumult. Insomuch as some did shut-to their doors, others forsook their shops and warehouses, and others ran to the place to see what the matter was: and others also that had seen it ran home to their houses again.

But Antonius and Lepidus, which were two of Cæsar's chiefest friends, secretly conveying themselves away, fled into other men's houses, and forsook their own.

Brutus and his confederates on

the other side, being yet hot with this murder they had committed, having their swords drawn in their hands, came all in a troop together out of the Senate, and went in the market-place, not as men that made countenance to fly, but otherwise boldly holding up their heads like men of courage, and called to the people to defend their liberty, and stayed to speak with every great personage whom they met in their way. Of them, some followed this troop, and went among them, as if they had been of the conspiracy, and falsely challenged part of the honor with them: among them was Caius Octavius, and Lentulus Spinther. But both of them were afterward put to death, for their vain covetousness of honor, by Antonius and Octavius Cæsar the younger: and yet had no part of that honor for the which they were put to death, neither did any man believe that they were any of the confederates, or of counsel with them. For they that did put them to death took revenge rather of the will they had to offend than of any fact they had committed.

The next morning, Brutus and his confederates came into the market-place to speak unto the people, who gave them such audience that it seemed they neither greatly reproved, nor allowed the fact: for by their great silence they showed that they were sorry for Cæsar's death, and also that they did reverence Brutus. Now the Senate granted general pardon for all that was past, and ordained besides that Cæsar's funeral should be honored as a god, and established all things that he had done: and gave certain provinces also, and convenient honors unto Brutus and his confederates. whereby every man thought all things were brought to good peace and quietness again.

But when they had opened Cæsar's testament and found a liberal legacy of money, bequeathed unto every citizen of Rome, and that they saw his body (which was brought into the marketplace) all bemangled with gashes of swords: then there was no order to keep the multitude and common people quiet, but they plucked up forms, tables, and stools, and laid them all about the body, and setting them afire, burned the corpse. Then when the fire was well kindled, they took the firebrands, and went unto their houses that had slain Cæsar, to set them afire. Others also ran up and down the city to see if they could meet with any of them, to cut them in pieces: howbeit they could meet with never a man of them, because they had locked themselves up safely in their houses.

There was one of Cæsar's friends called Cinna, that had a marvellous strange and terrible dream the night before. He dreamed that Cæsar bade him to supper, and that he refused, and would not go: and then Cæsar took him by the hand, and led him against his will. Now Cinna hearing at that time that they burned Cæsar's body in the marketplace, notwithstanding that he feared his dream, and had an ague on him besides: he went into the market-place to honor his funerals. When he came thither, one of the mean sort asked him what his name was? He was straight called by his name. The first man told it to another, and that other unto another, so that it ran straight through them all, that he was one of them that murdered Cæsar (for indeed one of the traitors to Cæsar was also called Cinna as himself), wherefore taking him for Cinna the murderer, they fell upon him with such fury that they presently despatched him in the marketplace. This stir and fury made Brutus and Cassius more afraid than of all that was past, and therefore within a few days after they departed out of Rome.

Cæsar died at six-and-fifty years of age: and Pompey also lived not passing four years more than he. So he reaped no other fruit of all his reign and dominion, which he had so vehemently desired all his life, and pursued with such extreme danger: but a vain name only and a superficial glory, that procured him the envy and hatred of his country. But his great prosperity and good fortune that favored him all his lifetime, did continue afterward in the revenge of his death, pursuing the murderers both by sea and land, till they had not left a man more to be executed, of all them that were actors or counsellors in the conspiracy of his death. Furthermore, of all the chances that happen unto men upon the earth, that which came to Cassius above all other is most to be wondered at. For he being overcome in battle at Philippi," slew himself with the same sword, with the which he struck Cæsar. Again, signs in the element, the great comet which seven nights together was seen very bright after Cæsar's death, the eighth night after was never seen more. Also the brightness of the sun was darkened, the which all that year through rose very pale, and shined not out, whereby it gave but small heat: therefore the air being very cloudy and dark, by the weakness of the heat that could not come forth, did cause the earth to bring forth but raw and unripe fruit, which rotted before it could

11. This was a city in Macedonia, the scene of the battle between Brutus and Cassius on the one hand, and Antony and Octavius on the other.

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

ripe. But above all, the ghost that appeared unto Brutus showed plainly that the gods were offended with the murder of Cæsar. The vision was thus: Brutus slept every night (as his manner was) in his tent, and being yet awake, thinking of his af

« PreviousContinue »