Julius Caesar Fate and Free Will Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Act.Scene.Line). Line numbers correspond to the Riverside edition.
Men all in fire walk up and down the streets.
And yesterday the bird of night did sit
Even at noonday upon the market-place,
Hooting and shrieking. When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say
"These are their reasons, they are natural,"
For, I believe, they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon. (1.3.25-32)
Uh oh. Crazy weather and strange bird behavior are never good signs in a Shakespeare play. Casca's observation about these "portentous things" reminds us of Macbeth, where nasty storms and animals gone wild also signal political turmoil and the murder of an important leader.
Indeed, it is a strange-disposèd time.
But men may construe things after their fashion,
Clean from the purpose of the things themselves. (1.3.33-35)
Ever the cynic, Cicero accuses Casca of reading too much into the strange events that have been occurring in Rome. He says you read anything into an "omen," creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I know where I will wear this dagger then;
Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius.
Therein, you gods, you make the weak most strong;
Therein, you gods, you tyrants do defeat.
Nor stony tower, nor walls of beaten brass,
Nor airless dungeon, nor strong links of iron,
Can be retentive to the strength of spirit;
But life, being weary of these worldly bars,
Never lacks power to dismiss itself.
If I know this, know all the world besides,
That part of tyranny that I do bear
I can shake off at pleasure. Thunder still. (1.3.92-103)
Cassius has already proposed his plan of conspiracy, yet here he brings up the fact that he could take his own life and be free no matter what else happened. This is eerie given his death later in the play. It seems Cassius has a prophetic sense of how the entire matter will end for him and takes the opportunity to tell us that he accepts that fate nobly.