Shakespeare Quotes: It's Greek to Me
It's Greek to Me
I'm Casca, and I'm one of the conspirators against Julius Caesar. That guy really bugs me, especially the way he pretends to not want the crown when he really does. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's phonies. And you know what I think?
Nay, an I tell you that, Ill ne'er look you i' the
face again: but those that understood him smiled at
one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own
part, it was Greek to me. I could tell you more
news too: Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarfs
off Caesar's images, are put to silence. Fare you
well. There was more foolery yet, if I could
remember it. (1.2.278-284)
Who Said It and Where
This quote comes to us from Julius Caesar, in which a group of conspirators are planning to overthrow Caesar because they're worried about absolute power corrupting him. When the people offer Caesar the crown one day, a group of his so called friends flip out. There's no monarch in a Republic, right?
You'd think their fears are all for nothing when Caesar rejects the crown not once, but three times. But actually, that just adds fuel to the fire. (Go figure.) Casca thinks the crowd was stupid for not noticing how hard it was for Caesar to resist taking the crown. Each time Caesar refused it a little less wholeheartedly.
Apparently the whole thing was so upsetting that it prompted one of Caesar's epileptic seizures in the middle of the marketplace. Caesar had fallen down and started foaming at the mouth, unable to speak. When he came to, he apologized for any weird behavior, blaming it on his sickness, and everyone happily forgave him. Casca, ever the cynic, is convinced the people would've forgiven him for stabbing their mothers, as they are all just foolish sheep when it comes to Caesar.
Hearing this story retold, another conspirator, Brutus, asks if Cicero, the great orator, had anything to say about all of this commotion. Casca says Cicero did speak, but Casca couldn't understand it because he was speaking Greek. Casca, not an orator himself, doesn't know Greek. Hence the phrase, "It was Greek to me." Casca means that everything sounds the same in a foreign language, because it is all foreign and unintelligible.