could be well moved if I were as you.
If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.
But I am constant as the Northern Star,
Of whose true fixed and resting quality
There is no fellow in the firmament.
The skies are painted with unnumbered sparks;
They are all fire, and every one doth shine;
But there’s but one in all doth hold his place. (III.i.58–65)
These lines come from Caesar’s speech
in Act III, scene i, just before his assassination. The conspirators
have come to Caesar in the Senate under the pretense of pleading
for amnesty for Metellus’s banished brother, Publius Cimber. Caesar
replies that he will adhere to his word and not change his earlier
Comparing himself to the North Star, Caesar boasts
of his constancy, his commitment to the law, and his refusal to
waver under any persuasion. This comparison implies more than steadfastness,
however: the North Star is the star by which sailors have navigated
since ancient times, the star that guides them in their voyages,
just as Caesar leads the Roman people. So, too, is the
North Star unique in its fixedness; as the only star that never
changes its position in the sky, it has “no fellow in the firmament.”
Thus, Caesar also implies that he is peerless among Romans. Caesar
declares that he alone remains “unassailable” among men, and his
strictness in Publius Cimber’s case illustrates this virtue.
As it comes mere moments before the
murder, the speech adds much irony to the scene: having just boasted
that he is “unassailable,” Caesar is shortly assailed and killed.
In announcing his “constancy,” Caesar claims permanency, immortality
even. The assassins quickly prove Caesar mortal, however. But as
the later events of the play reveal, Caesar’s influence and eternality
are undeniable. His ghost seems to live on to avenge the murder:
Brutus and Cassius directly attribute much of their misfortune to
Caesar’s workings from beyond the grave; so, too, does the name
“Caesar” undergo metamorphosis from an individual man’s name to
the title of an institution—the empiric rule of Rome—by the end
of the play. In these more important ways, Caesar’s lofty estimation
of himself proves true.