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OF this tragedy many particular passages deserve regard, and the contention and reconcilement of Brutus and Cassius, is universally celebrated; but I have never been strongly agitated in perusing it, and think it somewhat cold and unaffecting, compared with some other of Shakespeare's plays; his adherence to the real story, and to Roman manners, seem to have impeded the natural vigour of his genius. JOHNSON.
Decius Brutus is put in the following play for Decimus Brutus. The poet (as Voltaire has done since) confounds the characters of Marcus and Decimus, Decimus Brutus was the most cherished by Cæsar of all his friends, while Marcus kept aloof, and declined so large a share of his favours and honours as the other had constantly accepted. Velleius Paterculus, speaking of Decimus Brutus, saysab iis, quos miserat Antonius, jugulatus est; justissimasque optimè de se merito viro C. Cæsari pœnas dedit. Cujus cum primus omnium amicorum fuisset, interfector fuit, et fortunæ ex qua fructum tulerat, invidiam in auctorem relegabat, censebatque æquum, quæ acceperat à Cæsare retinere Cæsarem, quia illa dederat, perisse.
Jungitur his Decimus, notissimus inter amicos
Non illum conjuncta fides, non nomen amici
Ante alios Decimus, cui fallere, nomen amici
Lib. ii. c. 64.
Shakespeare's mistake of Decius for Decimus arose from the old translation of Plutarch.
The real length of time in Julius Cæsar is as follows: About the middle of February A. U. C. 709, a frantic festival, sacred to Pan, and called Lupercalia, was held in honour of Cæsar, when the regal crown was offered to him by Antony. On the 15th of March in the same year he was slain. November 27, A. U. C. 710, the triumvirs met at a small island, formed by the river Rhenus near Bononia, and there adjusted their cruel proscription. —A. U. C. 711, Brutus and Cassius were defeated near Philippi.
CINNA, a poet. Another Poet.
LUCILIUS, TITINIUS, MESSALA, young CATO, and VOLUMNIUS; friends to Brutus and Cassius.
VARRO, CLITUS, CLAUDIUS, STRATO, LUCIUS, DARDANIUS; servants to Brutus.
PINDARUS, servant to Cassius.
CALPHURNIA, wife to Cæsar.
PORTIA, wife to Brutus.
Senators, Citizens, Guards, Attendants, &c.
SCENE, during a great part of the play, at Rome: afterwards at Sardis; and near Philippi.