Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Since this is an election year, this was an appropriate read. Tedious but appropriate.

Most of us know at least the basics of the story. Caesar is stabbed to death by his colleagues. Most cruelly by Brutus, a man he trusted and thought of as a friend. Beyond that, I didn't remember why it happened or what happened afterwards.

Basically it boils down to ego and jealousy. One man was jealous of the glory and accolades that were given to Caesar. He, Cassius, had grown up with Caesar. He knew that Caesar was an epileptic and had witnesses a few seizures over the years. He decided that because of this 'weakness', Caesar was not fit to rule Rome. He knew, though, that popular opinion was against him. He needed a puppet for his plan to work.

Cassius began to work on Brutus and convince him that Caesar was ambitious to a fault but also had a weakness that would prevent him from being able to rule. Brutus was a weak willed man who seemed to go along with whatever was set before him. He buckled under the convincing sway of Cassius and agreed to join his band of conspirators. The play doesn't tell us who started it all but we're led to believe that it was Cassius. He had his other conspirators lined up before he got Brutus to join.

The conspirators were cowardly enough that they lured Caesar to the Senate that day under the guise of his receiving the crown. Caesar went against the wishes of his wife in order to receive the honor of ruling Rome. Instead, he was stabbed to death.

Cassius and friends hoped to sway the public in their view and thought if they could get the support of Marc Antony that nothing more would happen. Instead, Antony paid them lip service and conspired with Octavius against them that had killed Caesar.

Antony was able to get enough of the populous on his side, that many of the Senate were killed, most of them not part of the scheme at all. Antony and Octavius joined their military forces to battle the forces of Brutus and Cassius.

In the end, the conspirators lie dead. Most by their own hand, haunted by the ghost of Caesar and the evils of their own plotting.

Politics hasn't changed much for the better. Although, now we get awful advertisements (true and otherwise) on the television rather than actual assassinations. The whole petty ego driven spirit of it all seems about the same.

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