Saturday, July 19, 2008

Julius Caesar Act V Scene I

Ruins of Sardis

(Julius Caesar Act V,Scene I taken from the Julius Caesar Workbook for ICSE school students in India. Questions from the Workbook by Xavier Pinto published by Morning Star. If you have a query or need to clarify please post a comment below.)

1(i).Who are they referred to in line one. What warning would they give? From where would they come to Philippi?
“They” referred to in line one is a reference to Brutus and Cassius and their armies. The warning that they would give means that the armies of Brutus and Cassius want to declare their intention to attacking Octavius and Anthony’s armies in Philippi rather than wait for the armies of Octavius and Anthony to reach Sardis. They would come to Philippi from Sardis.

I(ii) Give the meaning of:
(a)Answering before we do demand of them.
Octavius says that the armies of Brutus and Cassius want to launch the attack even before they are challenged by the armies of Octavius and Anthony.
(b)I am in their bosoms
Anthony say this. The means that he know how the minds of Brutus and Cassius are thinking of when they plan to attack the armies of Anthony and Octavius without waiting for them to reach Sardis.

I(iii) Whose military strategy has dictated that the battle should take place at Philippi? What had Brutus argued regarding this strategy?
Brutus’s military strategy dictated that the battle should take place at Philippi. Brutus’s arguments for meeting the enemy at Phillipi, rather than wait from them in Sardis,are as under:
•Brutus said that the people between Sardis and Philippi were now compelled to be friendly to the armies of Brutus and Cassius. However, if the army of Octavius and Anthony reached Sardis the people would turn against Brutus and Cassius.
•If the people of Sardis turned their supported Octavius and Anthony then their army would get stronger and refreshed through the help that they received from the people. Therefore, meeting the army of the enemy in Philippi would deprive them of the help of the local people.
•Brutus also said that their fortunes were now good and therefore they must attack the enemy when the tides are in their favour rather than when the tide turns against them.

I(iv) What opposition did Brutus meet against this strategy?
The arguments that Cassius gave against this strategy to march to Philippi was that the army of the enemy will be tired after their march into Sardis. While the armies of Brutus and Cassius would be fully rested and will therefore be in a better position to take on the enemy.

I(v) What did Octavius hope that the enemy would do? What according to him is the intention of the enemy?
Octavius had hoped that the enemy would stay at Sardis awaiting for the armies of Octavius and Anthony to reach there. According to him the intention of the enemy is to attack them in Phillipi without waiting for them to reach Sardis.

I(vi)What according to Anthony is the planning of the enemy? Why does Anthony feel so confident that he knows what the enemy intnds to show?
According to Anthony the planning of the enemy is to attack them in Phillipi only to show the enemy that they have a courageous and confident army. However, according to Anthony the real situation is that the enemy is weak and the plans to attack them in Phillipi to trick the enemy into believing that they are strong and confident.

I(vii) What message I brought to Octavius and Anthony by the messenger? How do these two leaders react to this message?
The message that is broutht to Octavius and Anthony is that the enemy is approaching with a red flag which signifies battle. The two leaders react to this by deciding among themselves how they must attack the enemy. This also leads to a quarrel between Anthony and Octavious and who must attack on which side.

II(i) Who is the tongue that Cassius speaks of? Give the substance of what the tongue had said which so offended Cassius.
The tongue that Cassius speaks of is the way Anthony insulted Brutus. Anthony said that Brutus and Cassius had flattered and smiled at Caesar and bowed before him like slaves, kissed his feet to deceive Caesar and then attacked from behind to kill Caesar.

II(ii) Give a brief explanation of the earlier episode that Cassius is referring to when he reminds Brutus that that he himself has to thank for the present situation.
The earlier episode that Cassius is referring to is when Brutus allowed Anthony to address the citizens of Rome after the death of Julius Caesar. It was this speech of Anthony that turned the tide against Brutus and the conspirators. Cassius means that if Brutus had not allowed Anthony to speak, they would not have been facing this troublesome situation.

II(iii) Give the comments made by Cassius, in this next speech, when he scornfully describes Octavius.
Cassius says that Octativus was a silly schoolboy not worthy of dying at the hands of Brutus. He also scorned Octavius’s alliance with Anthony who he described as someone who was interested in wearing masks at parties and who loved noisy merrymaking.

II(iv) What does Octavius means by the cause? State in your own words the meaning of the last two lines of the passage – “ or till another… Caesar…sword of the traitors”.
When Octavius say “come to the cause” he asks Cassius to come to the point and not aruge unnecessarily. The meaning of the last two lines “ or till ……” means that Octavius would fight the traitors like Brutus and Cassius either till he killed all traitors or was killed by the traitors.

II(v) Was Octavius successful in this task of vengeance? How does the play end.
Octavius was successful in this task of vengeance. He was successful in killing Brutus, Cassius and some of the other traitors. The play ends with the death of Brutus. It also ends in a reconciliation between the enemies. Octavius offers service to all those who served Brutus.He takes Strato into his household. Anthony praises Brutus as “the noblest Roman of them all”.The play ends with a feeling that Brutus was victorious even in defeat.

III(i) In this extract Cassius narrates something he has seen. What is it? Did he believe in the significance of such things earlier in his life? Why?
In this extract Cassius narrates that on the way from Sardis two eagles followed them feeding from the soldiers hand. However, on reaching Philippi, the eagles vanished and ravens, crows and kites took their place. Cassius says that he did not believe in the significance of these things earlier in this life as he believed in the philosophy of Epicurus and therefore did not believe in omens.

III(ii) Give the meaning of “As we were sickly prey : their shadows seem/A canopy most fatal” What do these line signify.
Cassisus says this. On the way to Sardis a few eagles had perched on this army’s cavalcade. This he interpreted as a good omen. However, upon reaching Sardis the eagles few away and crows, ravens and kites started hovering over his army. His Cassius has described in the lines above. He say that these crows, ravens, kits looked down upon them as if they were the birds prey, about to die. He says that the shadow of the birds cast a shadow of death over the armies of Cassius and Brutus.

III(iii)What did Cassius see on the previous day and on that particular morning? What do these signs signify.
On the previous day Cassius saw some Eagles hovering on the armies of Brutus and Cassius. This Cassius interprets as a good omen. However, on that particular morning the Eagles flew away and Kites, Crows and Ravens started hovering over their armies. This he interpreted as a bad omen indicating their defeat in the battle with Octavius.

III(iv) How can you conclude from what Cassius says, a little later, that he was prepared for a possible defeat.
We can conclude that Cassius was prepared for a possible defeat because he interprets the appearance of crows, ravens and kites as divine symbols of defeat. Even a little later he discusses with Brutus about the possibility of their death in the imminent battle.

III(v)How does Brutus console him?
Brutus consoles him by saying that their destiny has already been fixed by the Gods. He tells Cassius that they must suffer pain bravely without complaining.

IV(i) What has Brutus just said that makes Cassius say the words given in the extract? Which Roman practice is referred to in Cassius’ speech?
Brutus had just said that it is cowardly to commit suicide and that he would not commit suicide. He says that their destiny has already been fixed by the Gods. The Roman practice of parading prisoners thru the streets of Rome is referred to in Cassius’s speech.

IV(ii) State briefly to what extent Brutus bears a great mind.
We can say that Brutus bears a great mind because even when defeat is staring him in the face he does not loose his equanimity (cool) . Even when he is under great stress, he calmly advices Cassius that their destiny is already decided by the Gods. He says it is not correct to commit suicide in order to avoid the war. He says his final goodbye to Cassius saying that if this is their last meeting, they must part in the right spirit.

IV(iii) What began on the ides of March? How will the words of Brutus be prophetic.
The thought of killing Caesar originated with the prophesy of the soothsayer who said that Caesar must be careful about the ides of March. The words of Brutus will be prophetic because the told Cassius that he would never allow himself to be captured and be paraded through the streets of Rome. His words turned out to be prophetic because he killed himself before he could be captured by the enemy.

IV(iv) Do Cassius and Brutus meet again.?
No Cassius and Brutus do not meet again as both Cassius and Brutus give up their lives during the course of the battle.

IV(v) Brutus and Cassius are affected by the latest events. This makes them act in a different way than their normal behaviour. Give one incident to illustrate this.
Brutus had said earlier that it was wrong to commit suicide and that he would not commit suicide if he was captured. However, even before he was captured he committed suicide. Cassius was not a believer of omens as he followed Epicurus. However, so affected was he by the events that he believed that the crows,vultures and kites that hovered over his army was a bad omen.

Other Questions
Q.Who was Pompey? Why is he referred to in this extract?
A.Pompey was the son-in-law of Julius Caesar who was also an enemy of Julius Caesar. Cassius refers to Pompey because he says that like Pompey was forced to fight Julius Caesar he too was being forced into this battle.

Q.What is Cassius compelled to do? Who has compelled him? How? What would be the outcome of the decision which he is compelled to take.
A.Cassius is forced to go into battle even though he is not very willing to do so. His destiny has compelled to take part in the battle in which he may not survive. The outcome of the decision that he is compelled to take could be his death in the battlefield.

Q.Who is Epicurus? What was his view? If Cassius held the viewpoint of Epicurus, what makes him now to change his mind.
A.Epicurus was a Greek Philosopher. His view was that one should not believe in omens and signs as they did not have any significance in life. Cassius believed in the philosophy of Epicurus and did not believe in omens. However, now Cassius was depressed. He felt that defeat was the only possibility now and therefore he viewed the appearances of crows, kites and ravens as bad omen. So depressed was Cassius that he gave up his belief in Epicurean philosophy.

Q.Give the meaning of “ and partly credit things that do presage.
A.This indicates that the turn of events lead Cassius to believe in omens. Normally, Cassius believed in the philosophy of Epicurus which did not pay any credence to omens.

Q.Comment briefly on the uncertainty which Cassius feels about the outcome of the battle that day. How do Brutus and Cassius wish each other farewell at the end of the scene.
A.Before the battle, Cassius is a very worried man. His instinct tell him that defeat is in store for him. He is so uncertain that he interprets the appearance of crows, kites and ravens as an inauspicious omen. He tells Messala that he is being forced into this battle against his wishes. Brutus and Cassius wish each other farewell before the battle. While they wish that they live up to old age, they acknowledge that this may be the last time they are meeting. Brutus tell Cassius that suicide is not the way out of the ensuing suffering that they may face. They must face the suffering bravely. They part just before the battle by saying that if they do not meet again, they would at-least have the satisfaction of knowing that they parted cheerfully.

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