‘Oh look, Titanius,’ said Cassius. ‘Look, the villains are fleeing. And I have become the enemy of my own men. This ensign of mine was turning back. I killed the coward and took the banner from him.’
‘Oh Cassius, Brutus gave the word too early,’ said Titanius. ‘When he had the advantage of Cassius he took it too eagerly. His soldiers started robbing the corpses of the dead and Antony surrounded us.’
Pindarus was running towards them.
‘Retreat further away, my lord, go further away. Mark Antony is in your tents. My lord! Go, noble Cassius, go further away!’
‘This hill is far enough away,’ said Cassius. ‘Look, look, Titanius. Are those my tents where the that fire is?’
‘They are, my lord.’
‘Titanius, if you love me, mount your horse and bury your spurs in him till he’s taken you to those troops over there and come back and tell me so that I may rest assured whether they are friend or enemy.’
‘I’ll be back as quick as a thought,’ said Titanius.
‘Go Pindarus, get higher up that hill. My sight has always been weak. Go and look, and tell me what you see on that field.’
Pindarus scrambled up the hill.
It occurred to Cassius that this was the day that he had drawn his first breath. The time had come around and at the point where he began his life he would end it too.’ He called up to Pindarus. ‘What news sirrah?’
‘Oh my lord.’
‘Titinius is being pursued by horsemen who are catching him up. Yet he keeps going. Now they’re almost on him. Go, Titinius! Now some are getting off their horses. Oh, and he’s getting off too. They’ve taken him. And listen! They’re shouting for joy.’
‘Come down,’ said Cassius. ‘Don’t watch any more. Oh what a coward I am to live long enough to see my best friend taken before my very eyes.’
Pindarus joined him.
‘Come here, sirrah,’ said Cassius. ‘I took you prisoner in Parthia. And then I made you swear that, because I saved your life, you would do whatever I told you to. Come now, keep your promise. I’m setting you free in return for this: kill me with this sword. Don’t try and protest. Here, take the hilt and when my face is covered, as it is now, guide the sword.’
Pindarus held the hilt of the sword against his body and Cassius leant against its tip, placing it near his heart. Then he thrust himself hard on to it.
‘Caesar, you are revenged,’ he said, and dropped at Pindarus’ feet.
Pindarus pulled the sword out and threw it on the ground. ‘So I’m free,’ he said. ‘And yet I wouldn’t have been if I had not done this.’ He took a last look at his master. ‘Oh Cassius!’ He looked around. Then he started running. He would keep running till he was far away from this country, to where no Roman would ever see him again.
No sooner had he left than Titanius and Messala came back. ‘It’s the ups and downs of fortune, Titanius,’ Messala was saying. ‘Because Octavius has been defeated by noble Brutus’ army, just as Cassius’ legions have been by Antony.’
‘This news will certainly comfort Cassius,’ said Titanius.
‘Where did you leave him?’
‘Here, on this hill, all disconsolate, and with only Pindarus.’
‘Isn’t that him lying on the ground?’ said Messala.
‘He doesn’t seem to be alive,’ said Titanius. He knelt down beside Cassius’ body. ‘Oh my heart!’
‘Isn’t that he?’ said Messala.
‘No, this is he that was. Cassius is no more. Oh, setting sun, in just the same way as your red rays are sinking tonight, so in his red blood Cassius’ day has set. The sun of Rome has set. Our day is over: clouds, dews and dangers are on their way: our times have gone.’ He stood up. ‘Not waiting till my errand had been completed has caused this.’
‘Not believing that we could be so successful has done it,’ said Messala. ‘Oh terrible mistake – the child of depression – why do you seem to show men things that haven’t happened? Cassius’ depression caused this mistake.’
‘Pindarus!’ Titinius looked all around. ‘Where are you Pindarus?’
‘Go and look for him, Titinius,’ said Messala, ‘while I go and see the noble Brutus to thrust this sad news into his ears. I say thrust it because sharp steel and poison darts will be as welcome to his ears as news of this sight.’
‘Hurry, Messala, and I’ll look for Pindarus in the meantime.’
When Messla had gone Titinius gazed at Cassius’ body. ‘Why did you send me there, brave Cassius? Didn’t I encounter our friends, and didn’t they put this wreath of victory on my head and tell me to give it to you? Didn’t you hear their shouts? Alas, you misconstrued everything. But wait, put this one on your head.’ He knelt down and placed a wreath on Cassius’ head. ‘Brutus told me to give it to you and I’m doing as he told me. Brutus, come soon and see how I have honoured Caius Casius.’
He lifted Casius’ sword and placed its point on his chest. ‘With your permission gods,’ he said, ‘this is what a Roman has to do. Come Cassius’ sword, and find Titinius’ heart.’ He placed his hands on the hilt and pushed as hard as he could. The blade found his heart and he fell beside his general.
Not long after that Brutus and Messalo arrived to the sound of trumpets. They were accompanied by Strato, Volumnius, Lucilius, Labeo, Flavius and young Cato.
‘Where, where, Messala?’ said Brutus. ‘Where’s his body?’
Messala pointed. ‘Over there, and Titinius is mourning it.’
As they came nearer Brutus said, ‘Titanius is lying on the ground with his face upward.’
‘He’s dead,’ said Cato.
Brutus surveyed the scene. ‘Oh Julius Caesar,’ he said. ‘you are still mighty. Your ghost walks around and turns our own swords on ourselves.’
‘Brave Titinius!’ exclaimed Cato. ‘Look, he’s crowned dead Cassius.’
Brutus stood for a moment with his eyes closed. A tear rolled down his cheek. Then, as they all stood in respectful silence he spoke: ‘Are there two Romans such as these still alive? The last of all the Romans, farewell. It is impossible that Rome should ever produce your equals.’ He turned to his companions. ‘Friends, I owe more tears to this dead man than you will see me shed. I shall find time, Casius, I shall find time. So come, and send his body to Thasos. His funeral cermonies won’t be in our camp in case it demoralises us. Lucilius, let’s go, and young Cato, let’s return to the battlefield. Labeo and Flavius, set the battle on. It’s three o’clock: and, Romans, we’ll test fortune in a second fight.’
Read more scenes from Julius Caesar: