I am wondering about the meaning of the word "poor" in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene 2:
Antony But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there.
And none so poor to do him reverence.
(Line 1665 in Antony's "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” speech.)
As a native Italian speaker, I see it commonly translated with words referring to (low) moral standards, which somehow puzzles me. I appreciate such use could just be mirroring the irony used while referring to Brutus as honourable. Indeed if Brutus were honorable, anybody mourning Caesar might well be villainous.
The Cambridge Dictionary reports meanings such as:
- having little money or few possessions or lacking something important
- not good or operating well, or of a low quality or standard
- of a very low quality or standard; not good
It seems nevertheless tempting to consider it related to a condition of suffering, conveying the sense "nobody is suffering enough to pay him tribute", analogously to the common usage of the adverb "poorly" in British English to refer to poor health conditions or a state of psychological suffering.
What is then the correct interpretation of the "word" poor in Antony's speech?