"Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare, Act II

Brutus is a trusted confidant of the Roman general Julius Caesar, but when he becomes convinced that Caesar's ambitions are a threat to the republic, he plots his friend's assassination. Read the full text here.

Here are links to our lists for the play: Act I, Act II, Act III, Act IV, Act V

Here are links to our lists for other plays by William Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, Hamlet, King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Othello, A Midsummer Night's Dream
Read more...

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. taper
    stick of wax with a wick in the middle
    Get me a taper in my study, Lucius:
    When it is lighted, come and call me here.
  2. base
    of low birth or station
    But ’tis a common proof,
    That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder,
    Whereto the climber-upward turns his face;
    But when he once attains the upmost round,
    He then unto the ladder turns his back,
    Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees
    By which he did ascend.
  3. extremity
    a condition or state beyond the norm
    And since the quarrel
    Will bear no colour for the thing he is,
    Fashion it thus: that what he is, augmented,
    Would run to these and these extremities:
    And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg
    Which hatch’d, would, as his kind grow mischievous;
    And kill him in the shell.
  4. whet
    sharpen by rubbing
    Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar,
    I have not slept.
  5. interim
    the time between one event, process, or period and another
    Between the acting of a dreadful thing
    And the first motion, all the interim is
    Like a phantasma, or a hideous dream
  6. insurrection
    organized opposition to authority
    The genius and the mortal instruments
    Are then in council; and the state of man,
    Like to a little kingdom, suffers then
    The nature of an insurrection.
  7. faction
    a clique that seeks power usually through intrigue
    They are the faction. O conspiracy,
    Sham’st thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,
    When evils are most free?
  8. visage
    the human face
    O, then, by day
    Where wilt thou find a cavern dark enough
    To mask thy monstrous visage?
  9. affability
    a disposition to be friendly and approachable
    Seek none, conspiracy;
    Hide it in smiles and affability:
    For if thou path, thy native semblance on,
    Not Erebus itself were dim enough
    To hide thee from prevention.
  10. semblance
    an outward appearance that is deliberately misleading
    Seek none, conspiracy;
    Hide it in smiles and affability:
    For if thou path, thy native semblance on,
    Not Erebus itself were dim enough
    To hide thee from prevention.
  11. hither
    to this place
    He is welcome hither.
  12. interpose
    be or come between
    What watchful cares do interpose themselves
    Betwixt your eyes and night?
  13. fret
    decorate with an interlaced design
    O, pardon, sir, it doth; and yon grey lines
    That fret the clouds are messengers of day.
  14. spur
    something that encourages you to attempt something
    But if these,
    As I am sure they do, bear fire enough
    To kindle cowards, and to steel with valour
    The melting spirits of women; then, countrymen,
    What need we any spur but our own cause
    To prick us to redress?
  15. palter
    be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead
    ... what other bond
    Than secret Romans, that have spoke the word,
    And will not palter? and what other oath
    Than honesty to honesty engag’d,
    That this shall be, or we will fall for it?
  16. carrion
    the dead and rotting body of an animal; unfit for human food
    Swear priests and cowards, and men cautelous,
    Old feeble carrions, and such suffering souls
    That welcome wrongs; unto bad causes swear
    Such creatures as men doubt; but do not stain
    The even virtue of our enterprise
  17. commend
    express a good opinion of
    O, let us have him, for his silver hairs
    Will purchase us a good opinion,
    And buy men’s voices to commend our deeds.
  18. whit
    a tiny or scarcely detectable amount
    It shall be said, his judgment rul’d our hands;
    Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
    But all be buried in his gravity.
  19. gravity
    a manner that is serious and solemn
    It shall be said, his judgment rul’d our hands;
    Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear,
    But all be buried in his gravity.
  20. shrewd
    good at tricking people to get something
    ...we shall find of him
    A shrewd contriver; and you know, his means,
    If he improve them, may well stretch so far
    As to annoy us all; which to prevent,
    Let Antony and Caesar fall together.
  21. contrive
    make or work out a plan for; devise
    ...we shall find of him
    A shrewd contriver; and you know, his means,
    If he improve them, may well stretch so far
    As to annoy us all; which to prevent,
    Let Antony and Caesar fall together.
  22. hew
    strike with an axe; cut down, strike
    And, gentle friends,
    Let’s kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
    Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
    Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds.
  23. prodigy
    a sign of something about to happen
    It may be these apparent prodigies,
    The unaccustom’d terror of this night,
    And the persuasion of his augurers,
    May hold him from the Capitol today.
  24. augur
    predict from an omen
    It may be these apparent prodigies,
    The unaccustom’d terror of this night,
    And the persuasion of his augurers,
    May hold him from the Capitol today.
  25. bent
    a relatively permanent inclination to react in a certain way
    Let me work;
    For I can give his humour the true bent,
    And I will bring him to the Capitol.
  26. dank
    unpleasantly cool and humid
    Is Brutus sick, and is it physical
    To walk unbraced and suck up the humours
    Of the dank morning?
  27. rheum
    a watery discharge from the mucous membranes
    What, is Brutus sick,
    And will he steal out of his wholesome bed
    To dare the vile contagion of the night,
    And tempt the rheumy and unpurged air
    To add unto his sickness?
  28. resort
    act of turning to for assistance
    ... unfold to me, your self, your half,
    Why you are heavy, and what men tonight
    Have had resort to you; for here have been
    Some six or seven, who did hide their faces
    Even from darkness.
  29. appertain
    be a part or attribute of
    Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
    Is it excepted I should know no secrets
    That appertain to you?
  30. ruddy
    of a red color at the end of the color spectrum
    You are my true and honourable wife,
    As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
    That visit my sad heart.
  31. hark
    listen; used mostly in the imperative
    Hark, hark, one knocks. Portia, go in awhile;
    And by and by thy bosom shall partake
    The secrets of my heart.
  32. vouchsafe
    grant in a condescending manner
    Vouchsafe good-morrow from a feeble tongue.
  33. exploit
    a notable achievement
    I am not sick, if Brutus have in hand
    Any exploit worthy the name of honour.
  34. whelp
    birth
    A lioness hath whelped in the streets,
    And graves have yawn’d, and yielded up their dead
  35. entrails
    internal organs collectively
    Plucking the entrails of an offering forth,
    They could not find a heart within the beast.
  36. imminent
    close in time; about to occur
    And these does she apply for warnings and portents
    And evils imminent; and on her knee
    Hath begg’d that I will stay at home today.
  37. expound
    add details, as to an account or idea
    And this way have you well expounded it.
    Expound in this sentence means "to explain or interpret."
  38. revel
    engage in uproarious festivities
    Antony, that revels long a-nights,
    Is notwithstanding up.
  39. emulation
    effort to equal or surpass another
    My heart laments that virtue cannot live
    Out of the teeth of emulation.
  40. fray
    a noisy fight
    I heard a bustling rumour, like a fray,
    And the wind brings it from the Capitol.

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.