Front Page Titles (by Subject) ACT III. - The Works of Voltaire, Vol. X The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Zaire, Caesar, The Prodigal, Prefaces) and Part II (The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems).
ACT III. - Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire, Vol. X The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Zaire, Caesar, The Prodigal, Prefaces) and Part II (The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems). 
From The Works of Voltaire, A Contemporary Version, (New York: E.R. DuMont, 1901), A Critique and Biography by John Morley, notes by Tobias Smollett, trans. William F. Fleming. Vol. X The Dramatic Works Part 1 (Zaire, Caesar, The Prodigal, Prefaces) and Part II (The Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems).
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- The Works of Voltaire
- The Dramatic Works of Voltaire Vol. X— Part I
- Dramatis PersonÆ.
- An Epistle Dedicatory to Mr. Falkener, an English Merchant, Since Ambassador At Constantinople, With the Tragedy of Zaïre.
- A Second Letter to Mr. Falkener, Then Ambassador to Constantinople.
- Act I.
- Act II.
- Act III.
- Act IV.
- Act V.
- Dramatis PersonÆ.
- Act I.
- Act II.
- Act III.
- The Prodigal
- Dramatis PersonÆ.
- Act I.
- Act II.
- Act III.
- Act IV.
- Act V.
- Preface to Mariamne.
- Preface to Orestes.
- Preface to Catiline.
- Preface to MÉrope.
- Preface to the Prodigal.
- Preface to Nanine.
- 1 Preface to Socrates.
- Note On Mahomet.
- Preface to Julius CÆsar.
- Voltaire the Lisbon Earthquake and Other Poems Vol. X— Part Ii
- Author’s Preface to the Lisbon Earthquake.
- The Lisbon Earthquake. *
- Preface to the Poem On the Law of Nature.
- The Law of Nature.
- The Temple of Taste. *
- The Temple of Friendship.
- Thoughts On the Newtonian Philosophy, Addressed to the Marchioness Du ChÂtelet.
- On the Death of Adrienne Lecouvreur, a Celebrated Actress.
- To the King of Prussia On His Accession to the Throne.
- From Love to Friendship.
- The Worldling. *
- On Calumny.
- The King of Prussia to M. Voltaire.
- The Answer.
- On the English Genius.
- What Pleases the Ladies.
- The Education of a Prince.
- The Education of a Daughter.
- The Three Manners.
- Thelema and Macareus.
- The Origin of Trades.
- The Battle of Fontenoy.
- The Man of the World. *
- The Padlock. *
- In Camp Before Philippsburg, July 3, 1734.
- Answer to a Lady, Or a Person Who Wrote to Voltaire As Such. *
- The Nature of Virtue.
- To the King of Prussia.
- To M. De Fontenelle.
- To Count Algarotti At the Court of Saxony.
- To Cardinal Quirini.
- To Her Royal Highness, the Princess of ***.
- To M. De Cideville.
- To ****.
- Epistle XIII. *
- To the Duke of Richelieu, Marshal of France, In Whose Honor the Senate of Genoa Had Just Before Caused a Statue to Be Erected. *
- To Madam De ***, On the Manner of Living At Paris and Versailles.
- To the Prince of Vendôme.
- To Madam De Gondoin, Afterward Countess of Toulouse, On the Danger She Had Been Exposed to In Passing the Loire In 1719.
- To the Duke Delafeuillade.
- To Marshal Villars. *
- To Monsieur Genonville.
- To the Countess of Fontaine-martel. *
- Written From PlombiÉres to M. Pallu, Intendant of Lyons.
- The Nature of Pleasure.
- The Utility of Sciences to Princes. to the Prince Royal of Prussia, Since King of Prussia.
- Epistle In Answer to a Letter, With Which, Upon His Accession to the Throne, the King of Prussia Honored the Author.
- Epistle to the King, Presented to His Majesty At the Camp Before Freiburg.
- On the Death of the Emperor Charles.
- To the Queen of Hungary.
- Inscribed to the Gentlemen of the Academy of Sciences, Who Sailed to the Polar Circle and the Equator, In Order to Ascertain the Figure of the Earth.
- To M. De Gervasi, the Physician. *
- The Requisites to Happiness.
- To a Lady, Very Well Known to the Whole Town.
- Fanaticism. *
- On Peace Concluded In 1736.
- To AbbÉ Chaulieu. *
- Answer to the Foregoing.
- To President HÉnault, Author of an Excellent Work Upon the History of France.
- Canto of an Epic Poem. *
- Epistle On the Newtonian Philosophy. * to the Marchioness of ChÂtelet.
cassius, cimber, decimus, cinna, casca,with the rest of the Conspirators.
- At length the hour is come when Rome again
- Shall breathe, again shall flourish; unoppressed
- By tyrants, soon the mistress of the world
- To freedom and to fame shall be restored.
- Yours is the honor, Decimus, and Casca,
- Cimber, and Probus, but one hour and Cæsar
- Shall be no more: what Cato, Pompey, all
- The power of Asia, never could perform,
- We, my brave friends, alone shall execute;
- We will avenge our country: on this day
- Thus may we speak to all mankind: “Henceforth
- Respect the state of Rome, for she is free.”
- Behold thy friends all ready to obey thee;
- To live or die with thee; to serve the senate;
- To take the tyrant’s life, or lose their own.
- But where is Brutus, Cæsar’s deadliest foe,
- He who assembled, he who made us swear,
- Who first shall plunge the dagger in his breast,
- Why comes he not? The son-in-law of Cato
- Should not have tarried thus; he may be stopped;
- Cæsar perhaps may know—but see he comes;
- Gods! what dejection in his aspect!
- What sinks thee thus? what new misfortune? say,
- Doth Cæsar know it all? is Rome betrayed?
- He knows not our design upon his life,
- But trusts to you.
- What then hath troubled thee?
- A dreadful secret, that will make you tremble.
- Cæsar’s approaching death! perhaps our own!
- Brutus, we all can die, but shall not tremble.
- I will unveil it, and astonish thee.
- Cæsar thou knowest is Brutus’ foe; I’ve sworn
- To kill him, fixed the time, the place, the moment
- Of his destruction: ’tis but what I owe
- To Rome, to you, and your posterity,
- Nay, to the happiness of all mankind,
- And the first blow must come from Brutus’ hand:
- All is prepared; and now let me inform thee,
- That Brutus is—his son.
- The son of Cæsar!
- Yes: Cæsar and Servilia
- Married in private, Brutus was the fruit
- Of their unhappy nuptials.
- Art thou then
- A tyrant’s son?
- It cannot, must not be:
- Thou art too much a Roman.
- ’Tis too true;
- Ye see, my friends, the horror of my fate:
- But I am yours, for sacred is my word:
- Which of you all hath strength of mind sufficient,
- With more than stoic courage, far above
- The common race of men, to tell me how
- Brutus should act? I yield me to your sentence:
- All silent! all with downcast eyes! thou, Cassius,
- Wilt not thou speak? no friendly hand stretched out
- To save me from this horrid precipice!
- Cassius, thou tremblest; thy astonished soul—
- I tremble at the counsel I must give.
- Were Brutus one amongst the crowd
- Of vulgar citizens, I should have said,
- Go, be a brother tyrant, serve thy father,
- Destroy that country which thou shouldst support;
- Rome shall hereafter be revenged on both:
- But I am talking to the noble Brutus,
- The scourge of tyrants, whose unconquered heart
- Hath not a drop of Cæsar’s blood within it:
- Thou knewest the traitor Catiline, whose rage
- Was well nigh fatal to us all.
- If on the day when that abhorred monster
- Levelled the blow at liberty and Rome,
- If when the senate had condemned the traitor
- He had acknowledged Brutus for his son,
- How wouldst thou then have acted?
- Canst thou ask me?
- Thinkest thou, my heart, thus in a moment changed,
- Could balance ’twixt a traitor and my country!
- Brutus, that word alone points out thy duty:
- It is the senate’s will, and Rome’s in safety.
- But say, hast thou indeed those secret checks
- Which vulgar minds mistake for nature’s voice,
- And shall a word from Cæsar thus extinguish
- Thy love for Rome, thy duty, and thy faith?
- Or true or false the secret that he told thee,
- Is he less guilty, art thou less a Roman,
- Art thou not Brutus, though the son of Cæsar?
- Is not thy hand, thy heart, thy honor pledged
- To us and to thy country? If thou art
- The tyrant’s son, Rome is thy mother still,
- We are thy brothers. Born as Brutus was
- Within these sacred walls, the adopted son
- Of Cato, bred by Scipio and by Pompey,
- The friend of Cassius, what wouldst thou desire?
- These are thy noblest titles, and another
- Would but disgrace them: what if Cæsar, smit
- With lawless passion for the fair Servilia,
- Seduced her to his arms, and gave thee birth,
- Bury thy mother’s follies in oblivion:
- ’Twas Cato formed thy noble soul to virtue,
- And Cato is thy father; therefore loose
- The shameful tie that binds thee to another:
- Firm to thy oaths and to thy cause remain,
- And own no parents but the world’s avengers.
- My noble friends, to you I next appeal.
- By Cassius judge of us, by us of Cassius:
- Could we think otherwise, of all Rome’s sons
- We were most guilty: but why ask of us
- What thy own breast can best inform thee? Brutus
- Alone can tell what Brutus ought to do.
- Now then, my friends, I’ll lay my heart before you,
- With all its horrors; O ’tis deeply wounded,
- And tears have flowed even from a stoic’s eye:
- After the dreadful oath which I have made
- To serve my country, and to kill my father,
- I weep to see myself the son of Cæsar,
- Admire his virtues, and condemn his crimes,
- Lament the hero, and abhor the tyrant,
- Pity and horror rend my troubled soul;
- I wish that fate you have prepared for him
- Would fall on Brutus: but I’ll tell you more,
- Know, I esteem him, and ’midst all his crimes,
- His nobleness of heart has won me to him:
- If Rome could e’er submit to regal power,
- He is the only tyrant we should spare.
- Be not alarmed; that name alone secures me,
- Rome and the senate have my faith, the welfare
- Of all mankind declares against a king.
- Yes, I embrace the virtuous task with horror,
- And tremble at it, but I will be faithful:
- I go to talk with Cæsar, and perhaps
- To change and soften him, perhaps to save
- Rome and himself: O may the gods bestow
- Persuasive utterance on my lips, and power
- To move his soul; but if in vain I plead
- The cause of liberty, if Cæsar still
- Is deaf to my entreaties, strike, destroy him,
- I’ll not betray my country for my father.
- The world, astonished, may approve or blame
- My cruel firmness, and this deed hereafter
- Be called a deed of horror, or of glory;
- My soul is not ambitious of applause,
- Or fearful of reproach; a Roman still,
- And independent, to the voice of duty
- And that alone I listen; for the rest,
- ’Tis equal all; away; be slaves no longer.
- The welfare of the state depends on thee,
- And on thy sacred word we shall rely,
- As if great Cato and the gods of Rome
- Had promised to defend us.
- Cæsar comes
- Even now to meet me, ’tis the appointed hour,
- And this the place, even in the capitol,
- Where he must die: let me not hate him, gods!
- O stop this arm uplifted to destroy him,
- Inspire his noble heart with love of Rome,
- And if he is my father, make him just!
- He comes: I have not power to speak, or move,
- Great spirit of Cato, now support my virtue!
- Brutus, we’re met: what wouldst thou? hast thou yet
- A human heart? art thou the son of Cæsar.
- I am, if Cæsar be the son of Rome.
- Was it for this, thou proud republican,
- We met together? comest thou to insult me?
- Not all my bounties showered upon thy head,
- Glory and empire, and a subject world,
- Waiting to pay thee homage, naught can move
- Thy stubborn heart: what thinkest thou of a crown?
- I think on it with horror.
- And passion blind thee, I excuse thy weakness;
- But canst thou hate me?
- No: I love thee, Cæsar;
- Thy noble deeds long since inclined my heart
- To reverence thee; before thou hadst disclosed
- The secret of my birth, I wept to see thee
- At once the glory and the scourge of Rome:
- Would Cæsar be a Roman citizen,
- I should adore him, and would sacrifice
- My life and fortune to defend his cause;
- But Cæsar, as a king, I must abhor.
- What dost thou hate me for?
- Thy tyranny.
- O listen to the counsel, to the prayers,
- The tears of Rome, the senate, and thy son;
- Wouldst thou desire to be the first of men?
- Wouldst thou enjoy a right superior far
- To all that war and conquest can bestow?
- Wouldst thou be more than king, nay more than Cæsar—
- Thou seest the world enslaved.
- Bound to thy chariot; break their chains in sunder,
- Renounce the diadem, and be a Roman.
- What hast thou bade me do?
- What Sulla did
- Before thee; he had waded in our blood.
- He made Rome free, and all was soon forgotten;
- Deep as his hands were dipped in deadly slaughter.
- He left the throne, and washed his crimes away.
- Thou hadst not Sulla’s cruelty and rage,
- Adopt his virtues then; thy heart, we know,
- Can pardon, therefore can thy heart do more;
- ’Tis Rome thou must forgive: then shalt thou reign
- As Cæsar should, then Brutus is thy son:
- Still do I plead in vain?
- Rome wants a master,
- As one day thou perhaps mayest dearly prove.
- Brutus, our laws should with our manners change;
- That liberty thou dotest on is no more
- Than the fool’s right to hurt himself, and Rome,
- That spread destruction round the world, now seems
- To work her own; the great Colossus falls,
- And in her ruin buries half mankind:
- To me she stretches forth her feeble arm
- To aid her in her perils. Since the days
- Of Sulla, all our virtue’s lost; the laws,
- Rome, and the state, are naught but empty names.
- Alas! thou talkest in these corrupted times
- As if the Decii, and Æmilii lived;
- Cato deceived thee, and thy fatal virtue
- Will but destroy thy country, and thyself;
- Submit thy reason to the conqueror
- Of Cato and of Pompey, to a father
- Who loves thee, Brutus, who laments thy errors;
- Give me thy heart, and be indeed my son:
- Take other steps, and force not nature thus
- Against thyself: not answer me, my Brutus,
- But turn thy eyes away?
- I’m not myself:
- Strike me, ye gods! O Cæsar—
- Thou are moved,
- I see thou art, my son; thy softened soul—
- Thy life’s in danger; knowest thou that, my father?
- Knowest thou, there’s not a Roman then but wishes
- In secret to destroy thee? let thy own,
- Thy country’s safety, plead my cause: by me
- Thy genius speaks, it throws me at thy feet,
- And presses for thy welfare; in the name
- Of all those gods thou hast so late forgotten,
- Of all thy virtues, in the name of Rome;
- Shall I yet add the tender name of son,
- A son who trembles for thee, who prefers
- To Cæsar Rome alone, O hear, and save me!
- Leave me, my Brutus, leave me.
- The world may change, but Cæsar never will.
- I am resolved;
- Rome must obey, when Cæsar hath determined.
- Ha! wherefore? stay, my son,
- Thou weepest, can Brutus weep? is it because
- Thou hast a king? dost thou lament for Rome?
- I weep for thee, and thee alone; farewell!
- [Exit Brutus.
- Heroic virtue! how I envy Brutus!
- Would I could love like him the commonweal!
cæsar, dolabella, romans.
- Cæsar, the senate, at the temple met
- By thy command, await thee, and the throne
- Already is prepared, the people throng
- Around thy statues, and the senate fix
- Their wavering minds; but, if I might be heard
- If Cæsar would give ear to one who loves him,
- A fellow-soldier and a friend, to augurs,
- To dreadful omens, to the gods themselves,
- He would defer the great event.
- Defer such glorious business! lose a crown!
- What power shall stop me?
- Nature doth conspire
- With heaven to blast thy purpose, and foretell
- Thy death.
- No matter, Cæsar’s but a man;
- Nor do I think that heaven would e’er disturb
- The course of nature, or the elements
- Rise in confusion, to prolong the life
- Of one poor mortal; by the immortal gods
- Our days are numbered; we must yield to fate;
- Cæsar has nought to fear.
- Cæsar has foes,
- And this new yoke may gall them; what if these
- Conspire against thee!
- Thy heart’s too confident.
- Such poor precautions
- Would make me look contemptible, perhaps
- Would do me little service.
- For Rome’s safety
- Cæsar should live: at least permit thy friend
- To attend thee to the senate.
- No: why alter
- Our first resolve? why hasten the decrees
- Of fate? who changes only shows his weakness.
- I quit thee with regret, and own I fear.
- Alas! my heart beats heavily.
- Better to die than be afraid of death:
- What hero better could deserve
- The homage of mankind? O join with me,
- Ye Romans, to admire and honor Cæsar;
- Live to obey, and die to serve him—heaven!
- What noise is that, what dreadful clamors!
- [Behind the scenes.
- Die, tyrant: courage, Cassius.
cassius,a dagger in his hand,dolabella, romans.
- The deed is done: he’s dead.
- Assist me, Romans,
- Strike, kill the traitor.
- Hear me, countrymen,
- I am your friend, and your deliverer,
- Have broke your chains, and set the nation free:
- The conquerors of the world are now the sons
- Of liberty.
- O Romans, shall the blood
- Of Cæsar—
- I have slain my friend, to serve
- The cause of Rome; he would have made you slaves,
- And therefore have I slain him: is there one
- Amongst you all, so base, so mean of soul,
- As to be fond of slavery, and regret
- A tyrant’s loss? is there one Roman left
- That wishes for a king? if one there be,
- Let him appear, let him complain to Cassius;
- But ye are fond of glory all, I know
- Ye are, and will applaud me for the deed.
- Perish his memory! Cæsar was a tyrant.
- Preserve these generous sentiments, ye sons
- Of happy Rome, ye masters of the world;
- Antony means, I know, to tamper with you,
- But you’ll remember, he was Cæsar’s slave,
- Bred up beneath him from his infant years,
- And in corruption’s school has learned from him
- The tyrant’s art; he comes to vindicate
- His master, and to justify his crimes;
- Contemns you all, and thinks he can deceive you:
- He has a right to speak, and must be heard,
- Such is the law of Rome, and to the laws
- I shall submit; but in the people still
- Is lodged the power supreme, to judge of Cæsar,
- Of Antony, and me: ye now once more
- Possess those rights which had been wrested from you,
- Which Cæsar took, and Cassius hath restored:
- He will confirm them: but I go, my friends,
- To meet great Brutus at the capitol;
- To those deserted walls once more to bring
- Long absent justice, and our exiled gods;
- To calm the rage of faction, and repair
- The ruins of our liberty: for you,
- I ask you but to know your happiness,
- And to enjoy it: let no artifice
- Deceive you, but beware of Antony.
- If he speak ill of Cassius, he shall die.
- Romans, remember these your sacred oaths.
- The friends of Rome shall ever be our care.
antony, romans, dolabella.
- What can he dare
- To offer?
- See, his eyes are bathed in tears;
- Hark, how he sighs, he’s deeply troubled.
- He loved him but too well.
- I did indeed;
- I loved him, Romans, would have given my life
- To save my friend’s; and who amongst you all
- Would not have died for Cæsar, had you known,
- Like me, his virtues? to the laws he fell
- A noble sacrifice: I come not here
- To gild his memory with a flattering tale,
- The world was witness to his deeds, the world
- Proclaims his glory; I but ask your pity,
- And beg you to forgive the tears of friendship.
- Cassius, you might have shed them for your country,
- For Rome in slavery; Cæsar was a hero,
- But Cæsar was a tyrant too.
- A tyrant
- Could have no virtues: Cassius was our friend,
- And so was Brutus.
- I have naught to urge
- Against his murderers; they meant, no doubt,
- To serve the state; whilst generous Cæsar poured
- His bounties on their heads, they shed his blood;
- But, had he not been guilty, Rome would ne’er
- Have acted thus, he must have been to blame:
- And yet, did Cæsar ever make you groan
- Beneath his power? did he oppress his country?
- Did he reserve the fruit of all his conquests
- But for himself, or did you share the spoil?
- Were not the treasures of the conquered world
- Laid at your feet, and lavished all on you?
- When he beheld his weeping countrymen,
- From his triumphal car he would descend
- To soothe their griefs, and wipe their tears away.
- What Cæsar fought for, Rome in peace enjoys;
- Rich by his bounty, by his virtues great;
- He paid the service and forgot the wrongs
- Which he received; immortal gods! you knew
- His heart was ever ready to forgive.
- Cæsar was always merciful.
- Could his great soul have ever stooped to vengeance
- He yet had lived, and we had still been happy.
- Not one of all his murderers but shared
- His bounties; twice had he preserved the life
- Of Cassius—Brutus—horrible to think!
- O heaven! my friends, I shudder at the crime,
- The base assassin, Brutus, was—his son.
- I see, it shocks your souls,
- I see the tears that trickle down your cheeks:
- Yes; Brutus is his son: but you, my friends,
- You were his children, his adopted sons:
- O had ye seen his will!
- Rome is his heir; his treasures are your own,
- And you will soon enjoy them: O he wished
- To serve his Romans, even beyond the grave:
- ’Twas you alone he loved, for you had gone
- To sacrifice his fortune and his life
- In Asia’s plains: “O Romans,” oft he cried,
- “You are my sovereigns, I am the world’s master,
- And you are mine.” Could Brutus have done more,
- Or Cassius?
- Cæsar was
- The father of his country.
- But he’s gone;
- Your father is no more: the pride, the glory
- Of human nature, the delight of Rome,
- Cut off by vile assassins; shall he go
- Unhonored, undistinguished to the tomb?
- Shall we not raise the funeral pile to one
- So dear, the father, and the friend of Rome?
- Behold, they bring him here.
- [The farther part of the stage opens, and discovers the lictors carrying the body of Cæsar, covered with a bloody robe; Antony descends from the rostrum, and kneels down near the body.
- Behold the poor remains of Cæsar! once
- The first of men, that god whom you adored,
- Whom even his murderers loved, your best support,
- In peace your guardian, and in war your glory,
- Who made whole nations tremble, and the world
- Bow down before him: is this he, ye Romans,
- This bleeding corse, is this the mighty Cæsar?
- Mark but his wounds: here Cimber pierced him, there
- The perjured Cassius, and there Decimus;
- There, with unnatural hand, the cruel Brutus
- Deep plunged the fatal poniard: Cæsar looked
- Towards his murderer, with an eye of love
- And mild forgiveness, as he sunk in death
- He called him by the tender name of son;
- “My child,” he cried—
- The monster! O that heaven
- Had taken him hence before this fatal deed!
- [The people crowd round the body.
- The blood still flows.
- O it cries out for vengeance:
- From you demands it: hearken to the voice;
- Awake, ye Romans, hence, and follow me
- Against these vile assassins; the best tribute
- That we can pay to Cæsar’s memory,
- Is to extirpate these usurpers: haste,
- And with the torch that lights his funeral pile
- Set fire to every traitor’s house, and plunge
- Your daggers in their breasts: away, my friends,
- Let us avenge him; let us offer up
- These bloody victims to the gods of Rome.
- We follow thee, and swear by Cæsar’s blood
- To be revenged: away.
- [To Dolabella.
- We must not let
- Their anger cool, the multitude we know
- Is ever wavering, fickle, and inconstant:
- We’ll urge them to a war, and then perhaps
- Who best avenges Cæsar may succeed him.
End of the Third and Last Act.