Julius Caesar ~ Shakespeare ~ 3/03 ~ Book Club Online
February 6, 2003 - 07:33 am

Julius Caesar
William Shakespeare

The Forum 2002
Click to enlarge

Texts Online:
  • Julius Caesar Online
  • Plutarch's Lives of Caesar, Brutus and Antonius
  • The North Translation that Shakespeare used of Plutarch
  • Suetonius on Julius Caesar
  • Suetonius on Augustus Caesar

    Comments and Reviews
    Quotes from the Play
    Quotes from Participants

  • An Analysis of Antony's Speech .. by Marvelle
  • Characters in the Play Examined .. by MegR
  • More Interesting Links
    Contact: Maryal and Ginny

  • Brutus and his coin

    Discussion Schedule:

    Week II:    Act II
    Week III:   Acts III and IV
    Week IV:   Act V et Sententiae

    For Your Consideration! Topics for Week IV Act V

    Questions for Week IV Act IV Scenes i, ii, iii

    Questions for Week III ~ Act III
    Questions for Week II ~ Act II..Page 1 ~ Act II..Page 2
    Questions for Week I
    Act I..Page 1
    ~ Act I..Page 2

    Julius Caesar
    Click to enlarge
    The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, written probably in 1599, and Shakespeare's shortest play, is full of surprising new lessons for 2003, of power corrupting (or did it?), of envy and jealousy producing severe consequences even for the best of men.
    Who is the protagonist of this play?

    Brutus: Babi
    Caesar: Anneo
    Neither: Maryal
    Justice: Ginny Ann
    Caesar: Marvelle
    Caesar: Jan



    Antony & Plebs
    Ginny Cassie Marvelle Bo(Cassius) Jan Alf (Andy)
    ??? ??? Tiffany (Brutus) Brendan (Casca) Luke (Antony) MegR
    ??? ??? ??? ??? Anneofavonlea Hats
    ??? ??? ??? ??? BaBi ???

         Books main page | B&N Bookstore | Suggest a Book/Discussion

    February 28, 2003 - 08:17 am
    Welcome all Romans and Rabble! I count myself one of the rabble, by the way. Or as they are called in the play, PLEBIANS. I always identify with the underdog.

    I look forward to this discussion and to the contributions you will all make. Lurkers, be ye many or few, please post if the spirit moves you.

    Let the games begin!


    March 1, 2003 - 05:40 am
    A bright good morning (actually it's drizzling, hope THAT'S not a portent!) hahahahaa to our Opening Day of Julius Caesar, we hope, as the curtain slowly rises on the stage, that YOU are all settled in your seats and ready to help make this one of our best.

    Just a few Program Notes on our Procedures:

  • We have put up today a few questions/ topics from the pool of a million and one possibilities to begin with which we hope will spark your congenial and informed discussion of some of the hundreds of points in Act I.

    The qeustions follow in order the events of the play, but do NOT have to be taken in that same order.

    We present more than one point for your consideration at a time so that if you didn't like Question I or Question 2, you might find Question 3 is just your style and give it a try, to give each person something to say.

    Please do not make a list of all the questions and answer them all at once, just choose one at first and let's let some of the others try their hand with their own input.

  • 2. One potential vexing problem might be that since this is real history, we need to figure out when to introduce what actually happened. For instance, the main question raging in my head is: does Shakespeare assume any knowledge on the part of the reader? This is, to me, a very important question. Were his Elizabethan audiences likely to know about Caesar's ambition? If so, that would dictate what he chose to present.

    We may have to do a Dan Rather Reality Check at the END of each week, and present what really happened for contrast. And there are big contrasts.

  • 3. Somewhere around Act II, we'll ask everybody to place themselves in one of three camps: Friends, (Caesar's side) Romans (on the side of Cassius and Brutus) and Countrymen (SPQR: The Senate and People of Rome). You will be able to change camps right up until the end, that might be fabulous, and personally interesting to all of us as we explain WHY?

    LI> 4. Lastly, don't let anything discourage you here as we all begin timidly together, or intimidate you, you hang IN there and we'll see it thru together: this opening act is a study in contrasts, from the confusing opening scenes of the joking cobbler in the crowd on the street, to the very....well.... what other instance is there in literature of pure "green eyed monster" envy as Cassius reveals in his speech to Brutus? THAT'S not something confined to ancient history, is it?

    There's so much to look at and talk about!! What element this morning seems the most important to begin with, to you?

    I normally only post once a day, in the morning, Maryal comes in more regularly during the day, so here is where you, our Loyal Readers, get to come up on stage and engage each other in exciting ideas: commence au festival!!

  • Ginny
    March 1, 2003 - 05:40 am

    For Your Consideration

    Week One: March 1-7:

    (Questions follow the order of events as they happened in the play)
    Act I:

    Scene i:

    "You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
    O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome."

  • 1. Do you understand the opening scene?
    Flavius and Marullus both view the common Roman citizens differently, and both are slow to grasp the cobbler's puns ( such as withal: "with awl"). Marullus considers the crowd ungrateful "this ingratitude," and Flavius thinks they can stop Caesar by taking down a few decorations and dispersing the crowd: "These growing feathers plucked from Caesar's wing
    Will make him fly an ordinary pitch..."

    a. This is our first glimpse of the Roman "Man in the Street," how does he fare against the Tribunes of the Republic?

    b. What dramatic purpose is served by this scene?

    c. How many puns or instances of figurative language are present in this short scene?

    d. Do you consider the Roman citizens to be "ungrateful?"

    e. What unwitting role do the Tribunes give to the common man? Is it carried out throughout the play? Is it a refutation of the fears of the Conspirators?


    Scene ii:

    "For who so firm that cannot be seduced?"

    "And this man
    Is now become a god, and Cassius is
    A wretched creature..."

    Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world
    Like a Colossus,and we petty men
    Walk under his huge legs and peep about
    To find ourselves dishonorable graves."

  • 2. The perusasion of Brutus by Cassius has to be one of the most powerful scenes in all literature, but IS it the conquest of evil over idealism?
    a. Cassius says he will be Brutus's mirror:
    --what does he reveal about himself in the process?

    --What of Brutus is revealed in Cassius's "glass?"

    --What one part of Cassius's speech seems to appeal to Brutus the most?

    --Does Brutus seem to have a weakness? If so, what is it?

    --Was Cassius's speech enough in itself to bring Brutus over to the Conspirators?

    b. Are you convinced that Brutus is operating from a position of honor? Is anything he does dishonorable? What are his apparent considerations or deliberations? What's his biggest hang up? What should be his biggest hang up?

    c. What appears to motivate Cassius the most?

    d. What evidence does either Cassius or Brutus give of Caesar's fault or "ambition?"

    "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

  • 3. Cassius reveals in this statement his understanding of fate versus man's ability to fashion his own destiny, an idea repeated later in the play. Would Caesar's fate have been different if he had heeded any of the portents ("Beware the Ides of March") or his own misgivings about Cassius:

    "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous."

    "He reads much,
    He is a great observer, and he looks
    Quite through the deeds of men."

  • 4. Caesar seems to be able to see through Cassius pretty clearly. Why does he then seem to put aside his concerns, stating, "but always I am Caesar?"

    a. What does this statement show about Caesar's character?

    b. Why does Brutus, who seems to know Cassius better than Caesar does, not seem to be able to see through him as well? What does his lack of understanding Cassius's possible motive show about Brutus's character?

  • 5. What do you make of Caesar's thrice refusing the crown offered by Antony? Why do you think this event takes place offstage?

          Lucius Junius Brutus, our Brutus's famous ancestor: (right)

    Scene iii:

    " But men may construe things after their fashion,
    Clean from the purpose of the things themselves."

  • 6. Signs and portents:

    a.. What does Cassius's interpretation of the raging heavens and signs and portents in scene iii show about him? How is it different from Casca's?

    b. . What does the repetition of the word "monstrous" as in "monstrous state" and "monstrous quality" allude to?

    c. What evidence in Act I indicates that Caesar is superstitious?

    Pompey's Porch (Click to enlarge)
    With permission of Suzanne Cross

  • Ginny
    March 1, 2003 - 06:27 am
    I think of all the topics above I would like to start with Cassius. I don't believe any more powerful example of pure green eyed monster envy exists anywhere. He's eaten up with it, and as so often happens, how we react in life often tells more about US than it does the person we're trying to overcome.

    Look at him, just spitting with hatred. Is this something confined to 45 BC? Or have we seen it (in lesser forms) in 2003? Is it inevitable as Caesar seems to think?
    "Such men as he be never at heart's ease
    Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
    And therefore are they very dangerous."

    What does this mean? Have we seen any instance of envy in 2003 we could point to? Have you ever felt envy, yourself? Envy is a terrible thing, it's hard to get any perspective on it, who is most likely to feel it? It seems to overcome judgment and reason. Is it like Cassius describes? Or does he take it a step further? What is the difference between feeling envy (wasn't it one of the original Seven Deadly Sins?) and deciding to ACT on it?

    Inquiring mind wants to know?


    March 1, 2003 - 06:42 am
    Ginny: Is your question # 1? The question in the heading does not display. My screen shows black after the quote.

    March 1, 2003 - 06:49 am
    Andrea, no, this is question number 1, but does not have to be taken in order, it just is Number One because it occured first in the play:

    "You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things! O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome."

    1. Do you understand the opening scene?

    Flavius and Marullus both view the common Roman citizens differently, and both are slow to grasp the cobbler's puns ( such as withal: "with awl"). Marullus considers the crowd ungrateful "this ingratitude," and Flavius thinks they can stop Caesar by taking down a few decorations and dispersing the crowd: "These growing feathers plucked from Caesar's wing Will make him fly an ordinary pitch..."

    a. This is our first glimpse of the Roman "Man in the Street," how does he fare against the Tribunes of the Republic?

    b. What dramatic purpose is served by this scene?

    c. How many puns or instances of figurative language are present in this short scene?

    d. Do you consider the Roman citizens to be "ungrateful?"

    e. What unwitting role do the Tribunes give to the common man? Is it carried out throughout the play? Is it a refutation of the fears of the Conspirators?

    What browser are you using, Andrea? Netscape by any chance?

    I'm glad you brought this up, tho. The questions (we'll see if we can get them fixed today, this may be an OMEN! A SIGN! A PORTENT! I always pay attention to those unlike our Caesar and Cassius haahahaha)

    Anyway, the "questions" or topics for consideration in the heading are not to be necessarily taken in order, but they are in the order the event happened in the play, so if you would care to choose another one or propose your own till we can get the first part displaying, I can see it clearly, how about the rest of you?


    March 1, 2003 - 07:27 am
    Well now! Question # 1 is "Do you understand the opening scene? " As I said, the question did not appear above for me, on my Netscape browser, even after hitting the "reload button."

    Here we are in Rome as we meet the tribunes & the commoners who have come to honor Caesar. Describing his difficult job of "curing" and mending bad "soles" (souls?) the poor 'ole cobbler is subjected to Murelles's anger "You blocks, you stones....." and listens to Murellus'es adoration of Pompey, the defeated one. He reminds them that it is inappropriate for Romans to celebrate triumphs over Romans and chides them about forgetting Pompey.

    The stage has been set for us by Mr. Shakespeare as Flavius swears to "drive the vulgar from the streets."

    My question is: Why were these two tribunes not loyal to JC? Was it because their loyalties were with the defeated one?

    March 1, 2003 - 07:37 am

    Something weird's going on. Long, black backgrounded pages w/ Caesar's (?) bust in top R corner & nothing else in block & next one w/ Cicero & quotes keep repeating & taking up huge blocks of onscreen page. In fact, when I went from post #3 to go to #4 these long black pages appeared in between again before I could find post #4. Could "Techie Wizards & Wizardettes" see if they can clean this up. It's really difficult to find stuff. Is this just my reception or going out to everyone?

    March 1, 2003 - 07:48 am
    OK thanks, Meg, I am not having a problem with it in IE, but it may be some kink in coding, I have asked in the Tech areas for help making the questions display, I have put Question #1 in my post above and will redo the table questions here for everybody now just as a temporary measure:

    Try this one till somebody can fix the main table. The HTML pages which have black backgrounds (FYI) are very tricky to maneuver but those are the ones I like.

    For Your Consideration

    Week One: March 1-7:

    (Questions follow the order of events as they happened in the play)
    Act I:

    Scene i:

    "You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
    O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome."

  • 1. Do you understand the opening scene?
    Flavius and Marullus both view the common Roman citizens differently, and both are slow to grasp the cobbler's puns ( such as withal: "with awl"). Marullus considers the crowd ungrateful "this ingratitude," and Flavius thinks they can stop Caesar by taking down a few decorations and dispersing the crowd: "These growing feathers plucked from Caesar's wing
    Will make him fly an ordinary pitch..."

    a. This is our first glimpse of the Roman "Man in the Street," how does he fare against the Tribunes of the Republic?

    b. What dramatic purpose is served by this scene?

    c. How many puns or instances of figurative language are present in this short scene?

    d. Do you consider the Roman citizens to be "ungrateful?"

    e. What unwitting role do the Tribunes give to the common man? Is it carried out throughout the play? Is it a refutation of the fears of the Conspirators?


    Scene ii:

    "For who so firm that cannot be seduced?"

    "And this man
    Is now become a god, and Cassius is
    A wretched creature..."

    Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world
    Like a Colossus,and we petty men
    Walk under his huge legs and peep about
    To find ourselves dishonorable graves."

  • 2. The perusasion of Brutus by Cassius has to be one of the most powerful scenes in all literature, but IS it the conquest of evil over idealism?
    a. Cassius says he will be Brutus's mirror:
    --what does he reveal about himself in the process?

    --What of Brutus is revealed in Cassius's "glass?"

    --What one part of Cassius's speech seems to appeal to Brutus the most?

    --Does Brutus seem to have a weakness? If so, what is it?

    --Was Cassius's speech enough in itself to bring Brutus over to the Conspirators?

    b. Are you convinced that Brutus is operating from a position of honor? Is anything he does dishonorable? What are his apparent considerations or deliberations? What's his biggest hang up? What should be his biggest hang up?

    c. What appears to motivate Cassius the most?

    d. What evidence does either Cassius or Brutus give of Caesar's fault or "ambition?"

    "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
    But in ourselves, that we are underlings."

  • 3. Cassius reveals in this statement his understanding of fate versus man's ability to fashion his own destiny, an idea repeated later in the play. Would Caesar's fate have been different if he had heeded any of the portents ("Beware the Ides of March") or his own misgivings about Cassius:

    "Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous."

    "He reads much,
    He is a great observer, and he looks
    Quite through the deeds of men."

  • 4. Caesar seems to be able to see through Cassius pretty clearly. Why does he then seem to put aside his concerns, stating, "but always I am Caesar?"

    a. What does this statement show about Caesar's character?

    b. Why does Brutus, who seems to know Cassius better than Caesar does, not seem to be able to see through him as well? What does his lack of understanding Cassius's possible motive show about Brutus's character?

  • 5. What do you make of Caesar's thrice refusing the crown offered by Antony? Why do you think this event takes place offstage?

          Lucius Junius Brutus, our Brutus's famous ancestor: (right)

    Scene iii:

    " But men may construe things after their fashion,
    Clean from the purpose of the things themselves."

  • 6. Signs and portents:

    a.. What does Cassius's interpretation of the raging heavens and signs and portents in scene iii show about him? How is it different from Casca's?

    b. . What does the repetition of the word "monstrous" as in "monstrous state" and "monstrous quality" allude to?

    c. What evidence in Act I indicates that Caesar is superstitious?

    Pompey's Porch (Click to enlarge)
    With permission of Suzanne Cross

    The apostrophes will not show in the above version but perhaps those of you with Netscape can now at least see the questions?

    let us know, sorry for the problem,

  • Ginny
    March 1, 2003 - 07:59 am
    An inauspicious beginning!! If I were a Roman I'd be running for cover!! Signs and portents!

    We have a temporary cobbled one up withal. haahahahah Hopefully you all can see the lettering, those black backgrounds are the pits for tricky coding, and Brutus's apostrophes are missing, not to worry, all will soon be fixed, meanwhile, ON with the show!

    Andrea, an excellent question, I'll add it to the list in the heading, thanks!


    March 1, 2003 - 08:10 am
    Prior Experience with Julius - Like most other folk, I read this back in high school ( eons ago!) and probably missed 3/4's of what was going on. Many years later, I taught the play twice (most recently - about 10 years ago) - sooooooooo it's been a while. It's almost like rediscovering Shakespeare's J.C. all over again. I finished reading Act I last night & realized somethings that I never noticed before! Discoveries
  • I haven't a clue about exactly what Julius is in the opening of the play.

    He's not the supreme ruler of the Roman Empire. We hear of him refusing the crown three times after the Lupercalian races. The crowd's there in scene i, "to see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph." According to side notes in my Folger edition, it says that "The Roman populace has turned out to celebrate the triumphant return of Julius Caesar (to Rome)" "that comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?" (I,i,54) Side note says that Caesar defeated Pompey's two sons in Spain.

    Soooo - in opening scene of the play, our Julius is a military man, returning from defeating Pompey's sons. Pompey was also a military guy & the Tribunes, Marcellus & Flavius, are probably loyal to this former military commander - hence their animosity towards Caesar, their dispersing of crowds who come to cheer Caesar, and their stripping the flags from statues decorated for the Lupercalia - which could be taken as festivities to honor Caesar.

  • BUT! Why are these two tribunes and Cassius sooooooooo ticked off with Julius? Is Cassius just jealous of Julius's military successes & popularity? Are Marcellus & Flavius just two guys super-loyal to their possible former commander? What exactly are the charges against Julius? What's the reason for this antipathy???

    Help me!!!! Can anyone explain???? Meg
  • MegR
    March 1, 2003 - 08:19 am

    Ginny, Whatever you did, worked. Removing black backgrounds on pages w/ pix of Caesar & Cicero to Pompey's Porch caused text to appear. Only thing - those pages again appeared between posts #9 & #10. Does that help? Meg

    March 1, 2003 - 08:27 am
    Thank you, Meg, yes, you've been a big help, many thanks.

    By this "those pages again appeared between posts #9 & #10" do you mean that the table or list of questions itself appeared in Post 9? If so that's by design? Each time we put up the Topics for Consideration at the beginning of each week (the next one will appear on March I will also put them in a post to draw attention to them, that's all that is.

    I like your questions, I think this is going to be very exciting, can't wait to hear what everybody else thinks!!


    March 1, 2003 - 08:35 am

    What I meant was that the two Caesar/Cicero/Pompey's Porch pages appeared after black one that heads this discussion & before "posting section" of page appeared ---- AND that the Caesar/Cicero/Pompey's Porch pages appeared AGAIN in the middle of posting section between posts # 9 & #10 or whatever numbers I said. Does this make this any clearer?

    March 1, 2003 - 08:35 am
    I don't believe that Mr. Shakespeare has adequately described the "emotional" loyalties and reasons that we are questioning. In Scene II we are innundated with Cassius's resentment towards Julius. Ginny is correct -- the green eyed monster jumps right off the pages at you, doesn't it, as he feigns "honor as the subject of his story." He hates Caesar and relates the tale of the Tiber story to Brutus. He exudes rage and animosity . Do you believe him? Would Caesar have challenged him to leap into the river? Can we believe that Caesar cried out to him and Cassius saved him from drowning? "And this man is now become a god, and Cassius is a wretched creature and must bend his body if Caesar carelessly but nod on him." Is this pure envy? Inferiority? Jealous transferance? He takes such delight in his tale of Caesar's fevered groaning and expresses his amazement of "A man of such feeble temper should so get the start of the majestic world and bear the palm alone." You really have to hate a guy to be so antagonized and incensed as Cassius is.

    March 1, 2003 - 08:59 am
    I think I'll be a Roman. It'll be interesting and a challenge for me to view things from that perspective when I'm emotionally a Plebian.

    Caesar rebelled against the Republic, while Pompey was the general appointed to defend the Republic and Caesar fought and defeated Pompey who died. JC came back to Rome and was heaped with titles by the Senate, perhaps as a way of appeasement to their conquerer's vanity and need for power and perhaps also to make JC a marked man. Accepting all those titles would set JC up for deadly envy.

    Anyway, JC was the rebel who defeated the Republic. Pompey's sons were still actively fighting for the Republic. JC went to Spain and defeated the sons at Munda and eventually the two sons of Pompey were killed. This is where Shakespeare's JC picks up the story in Act 1 with JC's triumphal return from Munda.

    From this chain of events we can see that JC conquered the Roman Republic and not barbarians of other countries. He didn't bring prizes to Rome as Pompey had in his conquering of other countries and that's why the Tribunes called the citizens ungrateful.

    I think the background of the Civil War andMunda must have been commonly known in Shakespeare's time because a lot of the audience's understanding comes from knowing the history. (I simplified the history tremendously for brevity's sake.) Back later for more....


    March 1, 2003 - 09:27 am
    Ginny noted that "One potential vexing problem might be that since this is real history, we need to figure out when to introduce what actually happened. For instance, the main question raging in my head is: does Shakespeare assume any knowledge on the part of the reader? This is, to me, a very important question. Were his Elizabethan audiences likely to know about Caesar's ambition? If so, that would dictate what he chose to present."

    Curiously, intro notes to my Folger edition addresses this. It says, The great outburst of intellectual activity that stirred all of Europe in the period that we call the Renaissance had its inception in the belief that classical learning and classical literature would have a humanizing and civilizing influence of vast benefit to mankind. The Greek and Roman classics became the basis of education and everyone who hoped to achieve any reputation for cltivation was expected to know them. Even those who could make no pretense to learning picked up scraps of classical lore, for inevitably stories and incidents from the ancient past became part of a well-worn tradition. The least enlightened grocer's apprentice of London had probably seen Julius Caesar among the Nine Worthies in some pageant or procession and had recognized him for a great Roman hero."

    This intro section goes on to explain why Julius was a character who would appeal to Shakespeare's audiences, but want to leave that for later. So, yes, Ginny - (according to Folger info) the grocer's boy would have been aware of Julius as some important guy. Not sure if he would have known about Caesar's ambition.

    (A Q: What was Caesar's ambition?) Does our Mr. Willie S clarify for us exactly what that was?????? Meg

    P.S. Marvelle, You posted while I was doing this one! Thanks so much for filling in historical info that our Willie S omitted. I couldn't find a history book in my house to check this out! Bless you! Thanks! That really clarifies some stuff for me that Shakespeare didn't explain. Later!

    March 1, 2003 - 10:03 am
    WoooooHooo. Time to begin. Thanks to Meg for the history and Marvelle for the questions and Andy for reporting for duty and more good questions. Just as soon as we clear up that somewhat huge header, there will be more posts that fit on a page. I hope.

    I notice the comedy in 1.1. The common folk pun and play with language and throw their "betters" into confusion. The cobbler is a man who works with soles/souls. This word play is characteristic of many of Shakespeare's plays. It must have appealed to the "groundlings" who paid a penny to see the play (while standing) to see common folk get the better of their betters, if only for a time.

    We also see, as Andy points out, that we don't know just where to place Caesar. Would Shakespeare's audience have known?

    As was pointed out, the Renaissance with its emphasis on the Classics occurred a little later in England than it did on the continent. It coincides with the reign of Elizabeth I. Every schoolboy would know something about Caesar--in all probability a great deal more than elementary children know today although Caesar's name is still one that even uneducated people recognize, so large a footprint he left behind him.

    I'll be back later to read and reflect some more.


    March 1, 2003 - 10:19 am
    my republicanism makes me look at Caesar much as Cassius does,like him I would as well be dead as live in awe of another human.Is that jealousy? For me it isn't. Caesar himself admits in scene ii that he finds Cassius dangerous because he is a thinker, a thinker will notice that Caesar is about self and monarchy, rather than republic.

    For me I can admire greatness in another human, untill they begin to believe their own publicity.Caesar says "such men as he be never at heart's ease whiles they behold a greater than themselves", no doubt Caesar personally feels himself greater than those around him, and wants only to be surrounded by fat, non thinking men with smoothly combed hair.

    March 1, 2003 - 12:11 pm
    For Your Consideration

    A link to the Questions is also at the bottom of Column Two...

    March 1, 2003 - 12:49 pm
    because I am assuming this is the correct thread in which to post, now that the discussion has begun.

    I am wondering what the patrons of the Globe Theater were expecting when they took their seats for the first scene. The puns and the double entendre of the cobbler were a lot funnier than I would have expected as an entry to a tragedy. There may have also been some anti-establishment satisfaction among the audience as they witnessed a tradesman get the better of two civil servants. Was Shakespeare giving the audience a heads up that the common man was not as easy to control and to manipulate as some of the conspirators might imagine?

    March 1, 2003 - 01:14 pm
    Caesar sprang from relatively humble beginnings, was a war hero, and maintained his own stable of gladiators to entertain the public, so it is not surprising he would have been popular among the comman men.

    Caesar's popularity must have grated on the political in-crowd, especially those who had ties to Pompey. They may have viewed him as an upstart who was trying to buy popularity and trade upon his war record. His rapid and (possibly) calculated rise may have truly concerned them with regard to exactly how lofty were his aspirations.

    In this setting, the celebratory mood of the population on Caesar's triumphal return may have struck the conspirators as ungrateful for it meant the crowd was rejecting their wise and informed guidance.

    March 1, 2003 - 01:14 pm
    You are indeed in the right place. You bring up a good point about the audience's reaction to seeing tradespeople speaking right up to those socially superior to them. What else do you make of this scene as an introduction to what quite soon becomes a very serious play?

    Every time I read a Shakespeare play, I am better able to actually SEE it on the stage of my mind.

    It helps to keep in mind that Shakespeare's plays were performed in the afternoon, used natural light, and had practically nothing that theatergoers expect these days. More or less a bare stage and a few props.

    So language had to do a big job of carrying meaning. Notice, for example, when time of day is spoken of.

    Back soon, Maryal

    March 1, 2003 - 01:21 pm
    Does history give us any hints about Caesar's health? Could he have had a seizure disorder?

    When Caesar passed out and foamed at the mouth while a crown was being pressed upon him, did he experience a grand mal seizure. Since this event happened off stage, we receive no additional details concerning the presence or absence of tonic-clonic movements.

    Or could falling out have been a convenient way out of an embarrassing situation in which Caesar wanted neither to be too conclusive in rejecting the throne nor to appear to be too rapidly warming to the offer?

    March 1, 2003 - 01:31 pm
    Julius Seizure indeed! From what little I remember of Caesar (outside the play) he did indeed have epilepsy. I think it was called the "falling sickness." Perhaps that name came later in history, but there are enough historical accounts of Caesar that I think we can be pretty sure he had epilepsy.

    As to the form it took, John, I agree with you. The falling and foaming business makes it sound like a grand mal seizure.


    March 1, 2003 - 01:38 pm
    Let me see...Cassius and Brutus were both at Pharsalus, the battle in which Pompey was defeated by JC. Brutus was also at Munda. Both men were pardoned by JC. Marriages were used to cement political alliances -- in making one family -- and Cassius was married to Brutus' sister.

    From what I understand of the Lupercali Festival, connected with Rome's legendary founders Romulus and Remus, there were two collegia of Luperci (priests) until JC set up a third one in 44 BC with Antony at its head. From 51.1911encyclopedia.org: "In the front of the Porta Romana, on the western side of the Palantine hill, close to the Ficus Ruminalis and the Casa Romuli, was the cave of the Lupercus; in it, according to the legend, the she-wolf had suckled the twins....(During the festival, the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of sacrificed animals and) ran in two bands round the walls of the old Palantine city, the line of which was marked with stones, striking the people who crowded near. A blow from the thong prevented sterility in women. These thongs were called februa, the festival Februatio, and the day dies februatus (februare = to purify); hence the name of the month February, the last of the old Roman year. The object of the festival was, by expiation and purification, to secure the fruitfulness of the land, the increase of the flocks and the prosperity of the whole people."

    I note a compression in time in Shakespeare's JC. The Lupercalia Festival, with the priests running in the street with thongs, was celebrated on Feb 15 while Mar 15 marks the death of JC. Is JC's death and the aftermath an ironic contrast to the Lupercalia? Or does the comparison depend on a person's political and social viewpoint?




    The Circus Maximus is like an oblong racetrack. Certainly there were chariot races held there and gladiator fights. I also read where JC actually flooded the interior of Circus Maximus, at one time, to recreate a naval battle. These grand spectacles are an older version of football and other modern sports, television/movies, and our own internet -- entertain the populace and keep them happy and diverted from serious concerns of the day?

    Meg, thanks for the information from the Folger edition, that Shakespeare's audience would know the history. I have the Folger too but need to read the explanatory notes, introduction and essay.

    I agree, Maryal, there's a lot of comedy in 1.1 -- the cobbler being 'impertinent' and not wearing his class-designating uniform is quite upsetting to the Tribunes consumed with the idea of status and civil order. Not knowing a man's occupation and place in society is anarchy to Roman society.

    Yet the Tribunes -- judges whose duty is to protect the rights of the people -- are part of the ruling class who have brought this anarchy upon themselves by neglecting the people. The Circus Maximus is only a temporary distraction and doesn't materially benefit the people.

    Question 1B "what dramatic purpose is served by this scene?" I believe it sets the stage for the rest of the play. The Plebians are inconstant (first they cheer for Pompey and then for Pompey's conquerer) as well as dangerous in the lack of concern for the Roman Republic's social order. The ruling class, as represented by the Tribunes, have no concern for the good of the people. Add to this combustible mix, the newly erected statues of JC intended to suggest to the common people JC's status as a demigod, garlanded and crowned. This is a mirror image of JC's revolt against the Republic and a slap in the face to the Republicans. The entire scene brings to the forefront the causes of the civil strife that follows and the responsibility of all the parties.


    March 1, 2003 - 02:53 pm
    I found a few sites that had more information on the Lupercali and I just bet Shakespeare knew this history. The information also answers my wondering about the purpose of the Lupercalia Festival in the play. Romulus and Remus were the legendary founders of Rome. From abacus.bates.edu:

    "It was (at the Lupercal Cave at the foot of the Palatine) that the she wolf suckled Romulus and Remus after their uncle ordered them tossed into the Tiber....Romulus himself used the feast of the Lupercalia to cover the movement of his men when he usurped his usurping uncle and gave the throne back to his grandfather."

    Antony, as a Luperci priest, ran the boundary of Rome and it was as a Luperci priest that he offered the crown to JC who refused it reluctantly. I do believe that JC put Antony up to his gesture to test the waters of the populace considering the legendary historic beginnings of the Lupercalia. But it also paved the way for other 'usurpers' like Cassius and Brutus. The Lupercalia Festival and crown is another foreshadowing then of what's to come in Shakepeare's play.


    March 1, 2003 - 04:21 pm
    Hooray for you John, you found your way to us at last. Welcome aboard. An email is forth coming to you.

    Maryal, the incorrigible. Julius Seizure- I almost fell off my 'puter chair reading that one. Nurse Ratchett is in agreement with the grand mal seizure theory.

    Marvelle Not only is the cobbler being "impertinent" he's making hay while the sun shines here. He's leading the men in the streets to wear out their shoes, thus creating more work for himself. How funny is that?

    March 1, 2003 - 06:09 pm
    Nine puns? The shoemaker only made puns in this scene rather than shoes? Another purpose besides amusement is to get Shakespeare's audience feeling a part of the "in" crowd. They knew the jokes while the Tribunes didn't and this is one of the ways in which the audience would be invested in the play.

    From www.geocities.com/caesarkevin, some of the honors that the Senate heaped upon JC which I feel made him a marked man:

    After returning to Rome following the defeat of the Republic at Pharsalus in Greece (and Pompey's death) the Senate granted a 40 day thanksgiving and "the right to appear in triumph on a chariot drawn by white horses and be accompanied by all Lictors of his current and prior dictatorships. Also the right to sit in a Curule chair with the consuls in the Senate and the right to speak first. Other grants were the right to start all races at the Circus Maximus, and a statue on the Capitol facing the god Jupiter. Another was the power of Overseer of all citizens for 3 years. This was basically a Censorship but twice as long and with more power. But the most important decree was the power of a Dictator for 10 successive years...."

    (Then JC left for Spain to battle the last of the Republican army and he defeated Pompey's sons, and before his return the Senate gave him other honours including) "one that allowed him to wear special triumphal clothing on all public occasions, along with the golden laurel crown of victor....Caesar was also allowed to use the title Imperator in front of his name for the rest of his life."

    The Senate further "decreed that an ivory statue of Caesar be carried in public at religious processions at games, along with the statues of the gods. Another statue of Caesar was set up in the temple of Quirinus with the inspection 'To the Invincible God.' The god Quirinus seems to be the way the Romans worshipped the Deified king Romulus...(The new statue of JC on the capital joined eight existing statues of which) were seven statues of the Roman Kings, and another of the first Consul Lucius Junius Brutus. Caesar's statue was set up next to this one."

    Upon Caesar's return to Rome, following his victory over the last of the Republican army the Senate granted him the title of Liberator and a temple to Liberty was to be built in his honor...(The Senate) let Caesar be voted consul for the next ten years. He (could) hold any office he wanted (and he could) appoint half of all magistrates. But all who ran for office needed his approval....Caesar began to wear the red shoes that were worn by the kings of Alba, hundreds of years before."

    "Other honors that Caesar received.... a tribe of the tribal assembly (was to be) named after him. His birthday (July 13th) was to be a national holiday. The month of Quintillius was to be named after Caesar. A priesthood was named specifically for him and his family."

    These were honors that JC accepted following his defeat of the Republican forces. JC -- the successful rebel -- saw his power increasing by leaps and bounds. I think that for most of the nobility the resentment and hatred was for the diminishment of their own power. Since they saw themselves as the Republic, rather than the 'mender of bad soles,' they felt the Republic was lost -- stolen by Caesar. The ridiculous amount of honors bestowed upon Caesar was a death sentence, for each honor and Caesar's acceptance of each honor targeted him as an aspiring Emperor.

    Two things that gall me the most out of all the honors -- and they are actually minor ones -- are Caesar wearing red shoes and his ironic title of Liberator.


    March 1, 2003 - 06:11 pm
    Ginny and Maryal, mark me as a Roman (Cassius and Brutus). This is a role I'm assuming, being a Plebian and anarchist at heart, to an attempt to see the argument from the 'other' side.


    March 1, 2003 - 06:43 pm
    I can be nothing, if not a plebian, think however the kids when they return on the morrow may disagree. This hostel is an autocracy, and I am its Caesar.

    March 1, 2003 - 08:52 pm
    I think that the first scene (apart from giving the ordinary people in Shakespeare's audience a chance to have some laughs, as Marvelle has said) is to show how the players in this Drama feel about the common people. Flavius speaks of their "basest mettle" in a play of words that suggests that the people can be worked upon by their Leaders just as an alchemist tries to turn base metals into gold.Caesar being a political alchemist!

    Their attitude though, seems to be kinder than that of Casca and Cassius in their little Tete a Tete. I really got a nasty taste in my mouth about these blokes and the way they feel about the commoners. Words like "common heard", "tag-rag people" and "Rabblement" with their "sweaty Night-caps" and "stinking Breath", give much more of a feeling of looking down on them than the Tribunes speeches. Flavius and Morellus seem good natured rather than sarcastic and demeaning.

    It certainly seems relevant to modern times with the Australian PM referring to anti-war Demonstrators as "the mob".

    I'm sure that Shakespeare and his audience would have been very familiar with the Caesar story, as there had been quite a bit written about him. Also, I can't see that a Playwright who needed an Audience would risk putting on a Show that was too obscure for them. He would have had an eye on the profit margin. Interesting that the Actors were dressed in Doublets not in Togas, a stretch of the imagination?

    By Shakespeare's time the name Caesar had had a long association with King. Did I read somewhere that Kaiser and Czar, derive from the name Caesar? There are references to the associations we have with the name Caesar, such as "yet if my name were liable to Fear". Obviously the Audience would get that Caesar had that aura or reputation.


    March 1, 2003 - 08:58 pm
    Anne, and do you wield your power like Caesar? Are they wretched creatures who must bend their Bodies, if you carelessly but nod on them? Only joking of course! Hope you're not flood bound.


    March 2, 2003 - 12:31 am
    jan but I can now type in color to tell you I am a benevolent dictator (by my own admission) and floods are gone

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 2, 2003 - 03:06 am
    Bernini's Aeneas and Anchises fleeing from Troy

    March 2, 2003 - 03:46 am

    Maryal & Ginny,

    I must have missed descriptors for "Friends, Romans & Countrymen". Not sure which category to join. "Friends" graphic seems to indicate military powers-that-be. "Romans" to be soldiers, and "Countrymen" to be senator types in togas. I want to be in the group that would include the buffoons (a role which you know I play quite well!) - like the cobbler & bunglers of the opening scene.

    Maryal, you incorrectly credited me for providing history. Marvelle deserves the credit and is the one who has so abundantly posted historical info (not me) in response to my query about info that Shakespeare failed to provide in Act I. Also cracked up over your Caeser pun. Had a kid write a paper ages ago who innocently kept referring to Julius Seizure throughout! Sort of up there with another kid's "A Lass & a Lack! Oooooooo! Woo be me! My poor Juliet be dead!"

    So many good ideas so far! I've added some to my notepad & will be back. Love it when you all make me use that muscle between my ears!!!

    March 2, 2003 - 05:08 am
    Flavius and Marullus seem to judge the commoners or workers as intellectually deprived or rather, Flavius and Marullus see the laborers as fickle. In other words, the commoners are seen as a group of people just out for a good time. They want a parade! A parade for anyone will do! If not Pompey, then, let there be Ceasar. I think the workers are just seen as rabble rousers who run wherever there is a crowd. These workers are seen as people who look for any chance to get out of work. A holiday is not a celebration. It's just a day to goof off.

    March 2, 2003 - 05:15 am
    In #16, Andrea said," I don't believe that Mr. Shakespeare has adequately described the "emotional" loyalties and reasons that we are questioning." I usually don't "hang wallpaper" in discussions, but, ALF, your comment reminded me of something that I read in my copy's intro notes! Folger edition says that:

    "Though Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is classified as a tragedy, it retains structural affinities with the history plays and lacks the concentration upon a single tragic hero demanded of classical tragedy. There is good evidence to believe that Shakespeare wrote Henry V early in 1599 and that it was performed at the Globe in the summer of the same year. The rapidity with which the popular chronicle play about an English hero-king was followed by Julius Caesar, which a German traveler, Dr. Thomas Platter, saw performed on September 21, 1599, will also help to explain why the new play has the episodic structure characteristic of Elizabethan historical drama. Though the acting company probably felt that it needed a tragedy, and Shakespeare was doing his best to supply one, he could not quite free himself from the techniques of the loose-hung history play that had already proved a stage success...."

    Seems to me that maybe our author felt pressure to pop out another commercial success and possibly just assumed that his audience would - if not know the minute details of Julius's life, would recognize his name, that he had been a power-wielder and how he died. Don't think that Shakespeare's was trying to present an accurate historical record (now that I think about it), but rather that this play is again - another example of his "borrowing" historical facts to use and manipulate to tell his story. [Example: Really was an ongoing feud between two wealthy merchant families in Verona in Middle Ages - but no historical Romeo & Juliet. Our Willie S "borrowed" the feud as a backdrop for his play.] What do you think?

    March 2, 2003 - 06:00 am
    hello there, is blue ok, and jan you really think dispersing "you blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!" indicates friendly feeling towards we plebs.

    Also I think this scene reminds us that the common man is always able to make his own choice. He may indeed wander offer sheepishly when challenged by his betters. However his liking for the charismactic Caesar is unswayed.

    March 2, 2003 - 06:40 am
    Wow. I believe this is a record for opening day posts, (yes, Anne, blue is fine) 38, amazing, and on the weekend, too, when we normally don't see ANY posts, we're off to a fabulous start!!!

    I am very pleased also to see so many insightful posts and such close reading of what Shakespeare said, many thanks, too, for the links Barb and marvelle, and for the historical background.

    Here's another quote from the new Folger edition:

    Many people in the Renaissance were passionately interested in the story of Caesar's death at the hands of his friends and fellow politicians. There was much debate about who were the villains and who were the heroes. According to the fourteenth-century Italian poet Dante, Brutus and Cassius the foremost of the conspirators who killed Caesar, were traitors who deserved an eternity in hell. [He put them in his lowest level in the Inferno, with Judas Iscariot]--g. But in the view of Shakespeare's contemporary Sir Philip Sidney, Caesar was a rebel threatening Rome and Brutus the wisest of senators.

    Shakespeare's dramatization of Caesar's assassination and its aftermath has kept his death alive among generations of readers and play goers. Is Brutus the true hero of this tragedy in his principled opposition to Caesar's ambition to become kind of Rome? Or is Caesar the tragic hero, the greatest military and civil leader of his era, struck down by lesser men misled by jealousy and false idealism. By continuing to address these questions, our civilization engages not only in the enjoyment of a great play but also in an examination of the ways it chooses to govern itself.

    In order to engage in a friendly debate, we need to hear from all sides so this morning I will take Caesar's side. Sorry that the coding disappeared from the heading, the choices are, for now: Caesar, Brutus and Cassius, and the others.

    The main problem we face is this: WHAT does "Everybody" know?

    Is what Shakespeare wrote ENOUGH for us to make a decision based on that alone?

    We need to look hard at what Shakespeare cites as Caesar's faults. We need to look hard at Brutus and what moves him. And we need to look hard at Cassius. There are a few things about each of them you don't know, perhaps, but first, let's look at only what Shakespeare is saying and why he's saying it and what YOU said, you have made some remarkable points, each of you, first a few on behalf of my client, Caesar (witness for the defense) and then on to the REAL meat, YOU!


    March 2, 2003 - 07:49 am
    Here are two things we need to beware of right from the get go?

    Well really three things? If you are new and you are having trouble seeing the posts, please adjust your Preferences to allow you to see more posts, our heading here will continually appear, there is no way to stop that, so we use it to pack it full of interesting (we hope) information, we hope that the depth of our discussions will help you overcome this slight hindrance. Maybe we can shorten the heading above even more, we worked on it (2 of us) all day yesterday, we'll try again, meanwhile why not enjoy the very substantive posts, till we can try to change: thank you for your patience.

    First, your opinion counts? It doesn't matter how many people are in the discussion, what YOU say, your own take on things, is what we need to hear.

    If you are reading the discussion and you don't think anybody agrees with your own thoughts, good, another new idea to add to the mix. We're not about everybody agreeing, we're about having to stretch our brains and offer our own opinions. That takes strength, we're here to see that your efforts are rewarded, please feel free, regardless of your own experience with either Shakespeare or the Romans, to voice your opinion.

    We have QUITE A FEW people in this group having their first Shakespeare experience and we NEED their feedback and honest opinions.

    And as Meg said, you can teach the thing for years and still learn from this reading, I know I have, already.

    And it's my hope we all will come away with a new understanding.

    Andrea asks "the green eyed monster jumps right off the pages at you, doesn't it, as he feigns "honor as the subject of his story." He hates Caesar and relates the tale of the Tiber story to Brutus. He exudes rage and animosity . Do you believe him? Would Caesar have challenged him to leap into the river? Can we believe that Caesar cried out to him and Cassius saved him from drowning? "

    Do we believe Cassius? Will put that in the heading along with some of the other super points you all have mentioned, PLEASE CHECK THE QUESTIONS PAGE DAILY?

    Notice in Cassius's speech what faults he finds in Caesar that Shakespeare relates? Notice how he continually points out what he sees as "faults." He can hardly compare military records or civil service, so what does he pick?

    (The following information is taken variously from Cicero by Anthony Everitt, The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, The Encyclopedia Britannica, and Plutarch's Lives)

    Are you aware that Cassius once had the same problems with Brutus? A fall out? Brutus was promoted and Cassius was not, and they fell out over it as Cassius thought himself the more worthy man. (surprise, surprise).

    Are you aware that it was Cassius and Casca in real life who placed the diadem at Caesar's knee?

    Would the goundlings of Shakespeare's day have known this? That's my main hang up, what does WHO know?

    Cassius was considered an angry man, a man who harbored grudges, and a man, despite having been pardoned by Caesar liberally and allowed to live despite his having taken arms against him, was angry in 44BC because he had not been given the promotion by Caesar he sought.

    Cassius had an ax to grind, (despite whatever else motivated him) but nobody would have followed him alone, he did not have the reputation, (too much whingeing about others being promoted) he did not have the standing, he needed somebody who did.

    And so he turned to Brutus.

    Brutus, having also been pardoned by Caesar for rising up against him at Pharsalus (if Cassius had been the winner the conquered would have lost their heads) and promoted to serving (at Caesar's appointment only) of governor of Italian Gaul, HAD this status, partly because Caesar granted it to him, partly because Brutus was descended from "The Liberator," Lucius Brutus, and partly because Brutus was a man who held inflexibly to ideas, a bookish man. Caesar loved him and considered him a friend. More forgiveness than I would have shown, how about YOU?

    I agree with Andrea that you really have to hate a person to feel the way Cassius does, but I wonder who he hates more, himself or Caesar?

    But what do you all think?

    Marvelle, thank you for the Munda information. Many people see Caesar as the rebel who destroyed the Republic. I disagree, what a super debate this will be!

    Maryal mentions the comedy and the groundlings. I was shocked (see the links page for a diagram of the Globe and more to come) but I was shocked to read in the Folger edition that there was room for 3,000 and more spectators packed. Boy they must have been packed, that thing can't hold that many and it's supposedly a dead on model, that's a heck of a lot of people. (They won't let you sit down today if you're a groundling, you get to stand the entire time).

    Anne mentions our own modern idea of Republicanism, and here I think we have to realize our own idea of the common man, freedom, and self government was a bit different in Caesar's day. Our British ancestors were hunched over a fire, wearing skins, painting their faces blue, and throwing rocks at Caesar when he arrived there.

    Our French and German ancestors were wearing skins and warring constantly amongst themselves, every common man subject to a warlord, whoever happened to win that week, in fact the great Vercingetorix was notable for his day in that he tried to make an alliance of different tribes, and is considered a hero of France to this day.

    The common man HAD no rights, unless somebody gave them to him, even in his own country, there simply were no rights for anybody.

    But one man gave the common "rabble" rights?

  • Caesar in 49 BC granted Roman citizenship to all of Cisapline Gaul (France) north of the Po River.

  • Caesar increased the size of the Senate from 100 to 900 people, "and made its personnel more representative of the whole Roman citizenry." (EB)

    Cicero was "shocked to find himself sitting next to trousered Gauls, bankers, industrialists and farmers. Worse that that, former centurions and sons of freedmen (slaves) were appointed to the Senate." (C)

  • Pompey had to join with Caesar initially as Pompey was ineffectual in getting the land grants his soldiers expected from the senate. The Senate and the Republic had declined at the time of our story, the Senate full of the excesses of bloated privilege, and infighting. Caesar got the men their land.

  • Caesar himself, in 46, reformed the calendar, it was his idea, working with Sosigenes: it was WAY off by the time he took it in hand. The resulting calendar, called the Julian, forms "the basis for the civil calender now used throught the world." (EB). The Julian calendar set the number of days of the year at 365. It lasted till Gregory XIII reformed it to the Gregorian in 1592. The Julian calendar was used in Russia until the Russian Revolution.

  • Caesar, after the defeat of Pompey "re-established order and had begun to restore the economic situation.

  • Caesar abolished tax farming in Asia and perhaps in other provinces.

  • At his death Caesar's plans included codfying the law.

    He was an excellent writer, many of his books are lost, had a wicked sense of humor which Cicero recalls and wrote a book of jokes which Augustus suppressed as not quite the thing, was the greatest speaker of the day according to the most famous orator of the time, Cicero, and was an extraordinary general and military hero, wearing a red cape so the enemy and his own soldiers alike could always see him in battle.

    "Among the army and the people Caesar's popularity was enormous, and the senate granted him virtually monarchial power as well as extraordinary emblems of monarchy; but, although he attempted to conciliate powerful senators by merciful treatment of his enemies, he was assassinated."

    There are always two sides to every coin.


    When you look at that above, and half of it is not there, and you recall Caesar's remark that Cassius would never be happy if there were one greater than he, ask yourself: what did Cassius do in that same period of time? What are Cassius's claims to fame?

    I think Caesar was right, he WAS greater than Cassius, and I agree that Cassius thought too much, about the wrong things, Cassius to me is like the saying, "idle hands are the devil's workshop," all he can claim for the same period of time is backstabbing Caesar.

  • Ginny
    March 2, 2003 - 08:51 am
    I do appologize for the length of these posts, but I have to try to address what you all have so splendidly brought up.

    So now we have, I hope, the grounds for honest debate. Who do you trust, as the Joker said, who do you trust?

    Throughout history "great" men or men of accomplishment have been assassinated. To me the double "ass" in assassinate is there for a good reason. I don't see it as EVER a solution, do you?

    Every time a man gets power others will be jealous or find some reason he should not be in the position he is. What of our own presidents? How many assassinated? How many death threats to those living? Fred Thompson just quit our own Senate in America, saying he was not that good an actor and acting is his profession!!

    Pompey, to me, is the one person who let slide the Republic but we need to get on to YOUR thoughts, so will table that for another day.

    SOOOO now what a wonderful set of points you've all raised!

    WHAT evidence of Caesar's ambition or sins does Shakespeare give? We've had two mentioned? What others that would justify killing a man? Was Shakespeare relying on knowledge the audience had to fill in the gaps? Was he thinking of Elizabethan England's own place in world politics at the time?

    Do we believe Cassius? If Cassius came to YOU would you listen? Would you be taken in by what he said?

    Oh John, two excellent points, don't you go anywhere:

    The puns and the double entendre of the cobbler were a lot funnier than I would have expected as an entry to a tragedy. There may have also been some anti-establishment satisfaction among the audience as they witnessed a tradesman get the better of two civil servants.

  • Again, a very important point, thank you and Meg for reminding us this IS a tragedy! WHOSE tragedy is this? Caesar's or Brutus's?

    And a very good question for our Questions Page:

    Was Shakespeare giving the audience a heads up that the common man was not as easy to control and to manipulate as some of the conspirators might imagine?

    A super point and we will need to continually refer back to it and watch the common man. Do WE think he's fickle?

    Excellent point about Caesar's being self made man and "Caesar's popularity must have grated on the political in-crowd, especially those who had ties to Pompey."

    O h John, why don't I just quote YOU continually:

    "In this setting, the celebratory mood of the population on Caesar's triumphal return may have struck the conspirators as ungrateful for it meant the crowd was rejecting their wise and informed guidance."

    I think so, too, what do the rest of you think? It's interesting to me Plutarch is the only one who mentions this 5th triumph and that makes me wonder. In the unprecedented 11 days of Caesar's 4 huge triumphs after the death of Pompey he was careful NOT to triumph over the Roman citizens, tho a depiction of Cato did appear. I don't know what to think about this 5th triumph with which the play begins.

    But if Flavius and Marullus are stupid enough to think that pulling off tributes from statues will stop Caesar, they are the blocks and stones.

    Wonderful point, Maryal on the time of performance, I keep forgetting this IS a play.

    Marvelle, wonderful information on the Lupercalia and the origin of the word February, thank you! And the February 15 opening date of the play!! The statues of Caesar were not the only newly erected ones, Caesar had Pompey's statues restored, too.

    Jan!! I love your take and sharp eye, not only for the remarks of Cassius but for the comparison of them with the Tribunes, well done! Oh and good contrast to the Australian PM!

    We need more parallels. Do any of you see any in other modern governments?

    Yes, Kaiser and Czar do come from Caesar's name, and again, we need to mark who endured and in what way, super point.

    Meg, don't have buffoons, but will put you in the Countrymen which includes a Vestal Virgin, a Senator and lots of folk!

    Hats, I love your take on how the Tribunes see the common man.

    That's our question du jour: WERE the common people fickle, were they stupid, (not in comparison to the Tribunes apparently? hahaahaha) and IS it true that all they want is "panem et circenses" (bread and circuses)?

    I think that Shakespeare's choosing to open the play with the obviously wiser common folk being accused of fickleness and worthlessness is important. We will all decide in the end how unimportant they really were.

    I have a new renewed appreciation for Shakespeare and his wonderful writing after this, and for you all in seeing so clearly what he's intending, that first scene always throws me, I look forward to finally understanding this thing with your help!

    So now, whose side are you on, it can be temporary and you can switch? (That is, of course, if you care to take a side, you don't have to at all or you can straddle the fence, just a fun way to debate the issues).

    What evidence is given of Caesar's sins?

    What in Cassius's speech seems to move Brutus the most?

    If Cassius had come to you, would you have been swayed? Why was Brutus?

    This is a tragedy, let's watch it unfold looking for: whose is it? Brutus's or Caesar's? Is Caesar doing anything that could cause his own downfall?

    Wonderful beginning, could not be better, please observe the Questions page and say on, we want to hear EVERY POINT OF VIEW!!!

  • Marvelle
    March 2, 2003 - 10:22 am
    Ginny, Ginny, you're stirring up a hornet's nest with your questions. Where to start? It's hard for me to be a Roman so it's nice to know that I can change from time to time.

    Shakespeare's JC is amazingly true to Plutarch's Lives and is one of the most historically accurate of all his plays.

    One fault of Shakespeare's JC is that he cannot hear out of his left ear and he had Antony step to his right side so they could converse. This implies that JC did not listen to everyone, but relies only on his inner circle for opinions. He no longer felt the need to convince anyone -- or hear arguments and opinions -- prior to/and after making decisions or orders.

    While with Cassius, Casca congratulates him on being able to hear and identify his voice in the dark which implies that Cassius listens to all (even though he may disagree with what is said). And Cassius shows us this when he adjusts his arguments to Brutus and Casca based on what he heard them say and how they felt. In that way he was a superb manipulator. Caesar acted as if he was above such two-way conversations.


    March 2, 2003 - 11:11 am
    that I am going to have to go back and reread all the posts that greeted me this morning.

    Ginny~As for your challenge, I am not sure whose side I am on yet. I see problems on both (all?) sides. I think in some ways Brutus occupies a middle position, not so determined to rid the state of Caesar as Cassius is, but also not wanting Caesar to become the single authority. I think he is faced with a difficult decision and a crafty temptor in Cassius. Cassius reminds Brutus of his family legacy and implies that he will not be acting according to his family's ideals if he does not go along with the conspirators.

    Marvelle~My apologies for crediting Meg with the research. I did enjoy reading it.

    HATS~I agree. The common people are seen by Flavius and Marcellus as being extremely fickle. They hoop and hollar for this leader and then that leader. Only recently they have been hailing Pompey and now it is Caesar, and tomorrow it will be.......? Bread and circuses, as Ginny reminds us. You keep the people entertained and well fed and they will pretty much go where you want them. However, it would be a mistake to count on their continuing support if another offers them better bread and more thrilling circuses.

    Still, I wonder, perhaps those common cobblers and others lived a more contented life, not having to worry about what their position would be tomorrow.

    Thoughts about Shakespeare and the composition of the Play. Shakespeare had already written the English History Plays when he turned to Caesar. He frequently condensed time in these plays. Perhaps one of the best examples is Richard III where murder follows murder in what seems like hours. In fact, there were years between the deaths of some. I believe this is a dramatic device since the play would be pretty boring if we had to hear everything that took place between the Lupercalia and the Ides of March.

    One other point I'd like to throw out is that it matters greatly WHO plays WHAT role when any Shakespearian play is produced. Julius Caesar is so carefully balanced between the two opposing powers that much depends on who plays Julius, who plays Brutus, who plays Antony. And so forth. The lines themselves can be read many ways with emphasis on different words. I will return to this idea later.

    One other point about Julius Caesar: this is the play Shakespeare writes just before writing Hamlet and the other great tragedies. Many of the same actors who appeared in Julius Caesar would have also appeared in Hamlet. More on this later as well.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 2, 2003 - 11:32 am
    With all the 100s of years of critique about the characters of this play I am having a problem with the accepted characteristics of Cassias. What I know about him so far is he is a very wealthy man who has been a childhood friend to Caesar. Sounds to me like an important citizen who probably finances some of the campaigns although I have not read anything to indicate that is one of his roles.

    Most seem to take his speech as one from a green eyed monster - I have a view of him with a 'head-speech' going on, much as the Foreign Minister of France displayed this morning with George Stephonopolus. Cassias is a man of passion who does not want to see his country swept out of democracy and into a nation of singular royalty - he sees much evidence of change in the world and he wants to hold it back - he fears these changes - to me we are watching a man of power both in influence and in wealthy act out in fear. We can almost taste in him, what fear acted out looks like and out of his fear of change he wants to kill off the catalyst of this change.

    He remembers how valued he was when he and Caesar swam the tumultuous sea. I do not think it is so much he saw himself as better than Caesar at the time but now, he feels his equal status is endangered and he revisits the memory seeing his great value to Caesar, given freely, as an equal. His status of freedom and equality is now at stake.

    Today we do not have a view of a small group of individuals taking history in their hands unless, we had been an intimate of Jack Ruby and gang or we knew personally who was behind the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. and so the best we can do is see Shakespear's characters today comparing them today to large groups within nations and whole nations that react to the exploits of a victor or what the media informs us about individuals on the world scene. So I wonder will Powell or Blair be our Brutes after the President crosses his Rubicon.

    To define this play as a tragedy in my opinion is begging the complete reading and understanding of the book or else we are taking the many critiques of the past and swallowing them as truth. I would like to find my own truth while reading this play but to respond, my thought is Brutes is where the tragedy lay - he, the loyal almost innocent support of Caesar, is emotionally tossed and chooses to change several times in this story while others remain the same often dying with their 'boots on' in other words with their same values intact.

    I am trying to figure out and have found nothing to help me - do any of you know who is Casca - not who he is in the play or even in history but does this Character have a beginning or family - who is he - did he just grow out of the cabbage patch and arrive as a player in this play?

    And the same goes for Flavius and Marullus - who are they?

    kiwi lady
    March 2, 2003 - 01:40 pm
    Gin here I am.

    Alfie - You are remembering that satire about Julius Caesar - old recording which referred to Julius Caesar as "Big Julie!" I really laughed at it and the dramatic music between each little scene!

    Sorry Gin but I could not help smiling when Alfie posted! I will try and be sensible.

    I think Caesar was a pretty cunning character. Playing to the people by refusing the crown etc (false modesty) he played the people with an Emperorship in mind.

    Brutus I believe was used- but was extremely passionate about retaining democracy. I have sympathy for Brutus. I am hostile towards Cassius.

    The more I go back in history the more it seems nothing changes! I do have a reference book here on the life of Julius Caesar but I have been so busy I have not had time to really get into it. I will make more of an effort.

    Some of you do put me to shame with your research!

    Back very late tonight when all of the Americans will be snug in bed and the British will he having elevenses!


    March 2, 2003 - 03:46 pm
    Carolyn so glad to see you here! I love your take on the different characters of the three men, Brutus, Caesar and Cassius! So you think Brutus was used but he was motivated by principle, do you see Caesar more good than bad or vice versa? I had to laugh at the Encyclopaedia Britannica, who conclude a most laudatory passage with "Caesar is not and was not loveable." Hahahahaa

    BARB!! Welcome WELCOME!! Welcome! We are so glad you've joined us, and I must thank you for that spirited thoughtful impression of Cassius!! Exactly what we need for our debate, and so well done! THANK you, and I agree we'll need to know more before we can make our final decisions on the "tragedy" part of this, the tragic hero needs to cause the tragedy (this is simplistic, on the tragic flaw thing....Maryal will get us all up to date on what a tragedy needs) so we just need to be watching for things either Brutus or Caesar did that might have contributed toward a possible tragic end? When you say, tho, that Cassius was a wealthy young man and a childhood friend of Caesars, etc., where you are seeing that, could you be thinking of Crassus, the spellings are so similar, who WAS a wealthy man, a financial power and did finance campaigns and did know Caesar when they were younger, there's nothing I can find that suggests Cassius was any of those things, I would like to read more. I really know nothing of the Brothers Casca, maybe some of our readers here can find out something more, I know they both killed themselves later.

    Thank you, too, for reminding us of the phrase "Crossing the Rubicon," which we use today, I've heard it too, about President Bush, it's amazing, it really is, how many things from Caesar's life continue in our modern world.

    My favorite line from this Act, actually, is spoken by Cassius, "Accoutered as I was, I plunged in." I absolutely love that line, I say it all the time, (and you have to say plungED, haahahah) it seems to cover so many occasions (maybe I just like the "cootie" sound? Hahahahah)

    Have we hit any line that any of you are accustomed to quote? Or will take up quoting after this experience? hahahahaah

    Maryal!!! One other point I'd like to throw out is that it matters greatly WHO plays WHAT role when any Shakespearian play is produced. Julius Caesar is so carefully balanced between the two opposing powers that much depends on who plays Julius, who plays Brutus, who plays Antony. And so forth. The lines themselves can be read many ways with emphasis on different words.

    Wow yourself! We need to know more of this, I've seen some awful Caesars, do explain more!!! (I also agree with your "crafty temptor" analysis of Cassius, he reminds me of a snake, but again, that's just my take), do we have any other Cassius supporters? VERY much like your analysis of Brutus, Maryal.

    Barb, would you like to be in the Romans group above?? Who else here sees some good in Cassius? How DO you all see Cassius?

    Marvelle, wonderful contrast in the two men and what they could HEAR, great sharp eye there for Shakespeare's writing, do we know if Caesar was deaf in either ear in reality?

    I'm amazed at what all Shakespeare has managed to pack into a few short lines (and thrilled I can come in today again here!!!) First place I go when I get up and before I go to bed, you all are that good!

    Now accoutered as I am, I'll walk 3 more miles while we wait for everybody to get here and say their piece so we can all say we plungED in, (accoutered as we are haahahah) with glee.

    Some great Topics Waiting For Your Consideration, Some by Our Participants!


    March 2, 2003 - 04:11 pm
    By the way, all these people in the play have been dead for more than 2,000 years. They are more than ash. What possible point is there in saying how we see them or how we think about Cassius and/ or Brutus? Is there any lesson any of them can teach us for today?

    For instance, no matter how you see Cassius, have you ever known anybody like him? Could you admit, even to yourself, that you ever felt like he does or said things like he did?


    Inquiring accoutered minds need to WALK!



    kiwi lady
    March 2, 2003 - 04:21 pm
    Blimey Ginny! I will have to take a nap now and think about it!


    March 2, 2003 - 06:24 pm
    Ginny, I read some interesting bits about the real Cassius and will try and post later tonight about him. He's much different from Shakespeare's Cassius who is a better man. Shakespeare gives us a Cassius with many sides Cassius and the other characters too are neither all good nor all bad.

    I feel the tragedy is about the Country as well as Brutus. I saw two movies on "Julius Caesar" and found that Brutus was the axis around which the play revolved. Neither movie had a really satisfactory Brutus who is, after all, hard to portray with all that silent thinking going on and his outward control of emotions.


    kiwi lady
    March 2, 2003 - 08:00 pm
    Something to think about from "Julius Caesar The pursuit of Power" by Ernle Bradford (P23)

    He (JCaesar)gave Servilia the mother of Marcus Brutus so prominent among his murderers, a pearl of inestimable value -60,000 gold pieces-and she is described as "the woman whom Caesar loved best" (It is possible that he was Brutus' father.) But he loved many and Suetonias lists a number of the wives of nobility whom he seduced at one time or another, among them those of most of his friends including Pompey, Crassus and Gabinius - and at that time when they were the leaders of the party to which he subscribed and whose goodwill he needed.

    This is an interesting picture of Caesar- quite the womaniser.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 2, 2003 - 08:06 pm
    In several sites a combination of what seems to be a profile of Cassius.
    Of a noble Roman family already famous for its civil and military services to Rome.

    He first appears in 53 BC as one of the commanders in the army of Marcus Crassus when Crassus is defeated by the Parthians in Mesopotamia.

    There were questions about Cassius' actions at Carrhae -

    Cassius reorganized the soldiers who escaped at Carrhae under his own command and won against the Parthians the next year.

    Cassius then established a power base in Syria. This base allowed him to extort money from anyone who wished to trade in his area which enabled him to increase his wealth.

    Cassius was appointed Tribune in 49 BC. He sided with Pompey and the corrupt "republican" Senate against Julius Caesar, and he was Pompey's naval commander off Sicily in the civil war. Cassius was on Pompey's side when Pompey was lost the battle of Pharsalus in Thessaly (Greece) in 48 BC, but, shortly after Ptolemy delivered Pompey's head, Caesar forgave Cassius and made him a legate.

    After Caesar's pardon, which also extended to many others among Pompey's former allies, Cassius became part of the opposition that became deeply involved in "republican" causes in Rome. Those who conspired against Caesar claimed to want a return to the republic but the real goal was to thwart the mercantile, monetary, and civil/military service reforms proposed by Julius Caesar.
    I still think Cassius is described in history by those who want to blame him and Brutes as "The" main conspirators. The words about him being slim and greedy comes from the mouth of Caesar who would have been leery, therefore characterizing him in a bad light. Caesar had not yet guessed Brutes' part in all of this so he does not describe Brutes in a bad light.

    In my mind it also goes hand in glove that, if the Republic was the way of ruling, then Caesar's reforms would not be taking place. I still see Cassius as trying to hold back time to an era where he was able to make forces work for himself.

    There was a site that I cannot find that explained how one of Cassius' slave girls readied herself for her master in his house in the hills. This leads me to believe Cassius must be a man of some wealth.

    I do not sympathize with Cassius’ actions but rather see him as a man trying to accomplish the impossible and out of fear he tries to manipulate events by gathering a group to kill Caesar. I see him as fear in action.

    March 2, 2003 - 08:58 pm
    and I wonder if I go to a present day play, do I have this much knowledge, or do I need it.Because I wonder how one comes to a conclusion if they have no prior knowledge,I have decided to allow the kids here to come to Julius with open minds.One because I do not wish to overload them and secondly because it is for them an exercise of beginning, not an end.

    The argument, that these were different times cuts little sway with me Ginny, greatness comes from going against the stream, and knowing against our background, that things are somehow wrong.

    Caesar, may well have improved the standing of the plebian, he was after all a politician.He knew he needed the masses behind him, to sway those around him but his motives do not appear altruistic to me. In deciding the rights and wrongs from a plebs point of view, it is very much like modern politics, who is the lesser of two evils.

    When Flavius (and I wonder also, who is flavius?"asks the plebian why they are there, the second speaker says "we make holiday to see caesar, and to rejoice in his triumph". Just as we, todays common man, will line streets to see Princes or celebrities, hoping that some of that will be trasferred to us.

    March 2, 2003 - 11:31 pm
    Barbara, I have that website that you quoted from about Cassius (www.mmdtkw.org/VCassius.html) and I wondered if the strong comments might come from Suetonius.

    In my Modern Library copy of Plutarch's Lives, Plutarch mentions that Crassus' forces, fighting the Parthians, went in different directions in an attempt to reach safety and that Cassius and his troops reached Syria. But I didn't find any hint of scandal in Plutarch's reporting of the fatal campaign of Crassus. (671)

    Plutarch mentions the slight given to Cassius when Brutus received a highly regarded apointment instead of Cassius. And Cassius was "a man of fierce disposition, and one that out of private malice, rather than love of the public, hated Caesar, not the tyrant, continually fired and stirred (Brutus) up....among other reasons on which he grounded his quarrel against Caesar , the loss of his lions which he'd procured...in Megara (which Caesar seized for himself. The lions were let loose when Megara was just taken and they) tore apart a great many unarmed persons...." (1190-1)

    "And that, some say, was the chief provocation that stirred up Cassius to conspire against Caesar; but they were much in the wrong. For Cassius had from his youth a natural hatred and rancour against the whole race of tyrants...(and young Cassius had boxed the ears of the son of Sylla the tyrant) on his boasting himself amongst the boys, and extolling the sovereign power of his father....(Cassius, in the presence of the adult Pompey, told Sylla's son) 'dare to seak those words that provoked me, that I may strike you again as I did before.' Such was the disposition of Cassius." (1191)

    "Men generally reckoned Cassius a very expert soldier, but of a harsh and angry nature, and one that desired to command rather by fear than love, though, on the other side, among his familiar acquaintance he would easily give way to jesting and play the buffoon." (1203)


    Ginny, I think Cassius' story of saving a drowning Caesar from the Tiber River is an allegory/parable and Cassius didn't intend for Brutus to take it otherwise? And I think Brutus understood, as well as Shakespeare's audience, familiar as they were with the then common art of oral story-telling.


    P.S. It was Brutus who convinced Caesar to pardon Cassius.

    March 3, 2003 - 12:15 am
    I'm spewin', as a teenage character on Comedy Company TV used to say!(Ozzies will know Kylie Mole). I was just finishing up my post, was on the very last words and the power went off. As a one finger typist this was a major disaster!

    Anyway, I think Cassius was driven by jealousy too, but even more by the need to look after number One. Caesar favoured the Plebs, and the Patricians held onto their power because of their great wealth and because the Electoral system gave them the upper hand. I think he was worried sick about losing his place in Society.

    The Patricians dreaded Caesar's return, and as a book I had from the Library said, they were frightened he'd squeeze them out of existence. "He will seize Rome and take power," the Patricians muttered to one another, "and then it will be the end for us." I wonder if they meant kicked out of Government, or something more sinister?

    Caesar seemed to do an awful amount of good and Rome certainly prospered under his rule, but after awhile I think Politicians start believing their own Publicity and they lose touch with reality. The Plebs had had enough of fighting(after 100 years?) and were content to live under him but it didn't sit well with the Senators.

    I think Brutus was genuinely more concerned about the erosion of Civil liberties and Cassius was SO aware of how to cast his line to hook Brutus in. Brutus seems a bit humourless and worthy to me, and Cassius is quick-witted and the proverbial number cruncher. He inflates Brutus's ego with his flattery and assurances about what a good bloke he is.

    I think the part that would have really swayed Brutus was the reference to Rome. "Rome thou has lost the breed of Noble Bloods. When went there by an Age, since the great Flood, but it was fam"d with more than with one Man"etc. Appealing to the nobler part of Brutus was definitely the way to go!

    Brutus needed to get behind a good cause, as he did seem to me to actually like Caesar the man.

    I think I'd like to be a Plebian, so I can watch things unfold without so much danger of being run through with somethin big and sharp!


    March 3, 2003 - 04:07 am
    Have just finished reading thru posts from #16 and feel the need to do some sorting, recapping,responding and have a proposition to make. Real vs fictional; opening scene; unnaturalness in Act I; Shakespeare's Caesar, Cassius & Brutus. Suspect this may end up being multiple posts. Here I go again! ________________________________________________________________

    Shakespeare's Caesar vs Historic Caesar - I feel so totally overwhelmed with all of the historical info being provided that my head is spinning. So many statements are being made about the historical Caesar and his contemporaries that are not and cannot be supported by Shakespeare's text, that I'm having a difficult time keeping accurate historical info and what Shakespeare actually chose to write separate. Must confess that I did attempt to start to read Ginny's Plutarch's Roman Lives (Pompey, Caesar & Marc Antony), but my brain reeled with the Busby Berkley casts of thousands in it. Felt like I needed a huge wall-chart to map so many characters & relationships. (Have only gotten up to Pompey's first encounter with Crassus in Plutarch) Have read enough of the Plutarch to know that what's happening in Shakespeare's play has happened over and over and over and over again in Roman history preceding Caesar's arrival on the scene. In fact, Caesar/Pompey/Crassus formed the first triumvirate of Rome. They were all allies at one time. Literal and figurative backstabbing played majorly in Rome's ancient history. Power grabbing seemed to be a major motif.

    Anneofavonlea questioned the need for prior knowledge in order to understand this play. Think you've made a really important point here, Anne! I totally agree with you. I feel this strong need to separate historic info and remove it from our discussion of the play. We are reading Shakespeare's work for this discussion - not Plutarch, not Cicero, not Encyclopedia Britannica. This play can stand on its own legs! Our Mr. Willie S made very deliberate choices as a writer when he composed this play. Don't you think that we should look at exactly what our author has said and at what points he seems to be making in this work - instead of adding & piling on all of this outside info on top of it to obfuscate things? Is anyone else having this difficulty?

    Proposition - Have a proposition to make to our group. Why don't we just read and discuss the play - as is - first. THEN, when we've discovered exactly what Shakespeare's done - we can look at historic Caesar and what & why Willie S chose to include- ignore factual info & what that tells us. What do you think? Also agree with ?Marvelle or Barbara? that we should table discussion of the play "as a tragedy" until the very end. Happen to think that that's a tag that our Willie S added to the title, but don't think that it really applies to this drama. ____________________________________________________________________ The Opening Scene - I've sooooo loved Golfer John, Barbara St. A, Jan, Maryal, Anne and Carolyn's connections with present political disaster of additional Mid-East war to Shakespeare's play. I was one of those who elected Bush's opponent, who is grossly upset by the systematic dismantling of US foreign relationships and about losing financially under this administration. Fear that, as Barbara points out, (when) "the president crosses his Rubicon," that he's going to drag the rest of the world down along with him. But let me stop. I can get so carried away on this that I start foaming at the mouth!

    The opening scene, basically a number of things. Some have already been mentioned. Am going to try to synthesize your comments and add a few. Act I, scene i serves a number of purposes for Shakespeare and for his audience. It (in no particular order):

  • focuses on commoners and two tribunes, Marcellus & Flavius (spear carriers/cops)
  • establishes that political conflict is present between those loyal to Caesar & those loyal to Pompey
  • establishes that the "common man", [a cobbler (a bungler)], doesn't fear the pompous <Ashcroft-Rumsfeld> police authority of tribunes when he teases them with his puns. (yeah, yeah - okay - I'll stop with my modern connections! lol) The common man isn't afraid of the two Pompey loyalists because they have Caesar as their leader and they like him
  • makes an immediate connection with the audience "groundlings" via humor and figurative nose-thumbing at the two tribunes
  • demonstrates the strong and passionate loyalty of the "opposing camp" to Pompey. This fervor foreshadows Cassius' venom and animosity
  • establishes tribunes' disdain of the commoners - to alienate the groundlings. Also foreshadows Cassius' comments and sets Cassius up as the villian for the audience.
  • establishes a day of rejoicing as the setting for Lupercalian festivities and Caesar's parade - sets up following scene and races

    This is getting long. Will post this then come back to other subjects.
  • ALF
    March 3, 2003 - 05:11 am
    Your're right, kiwi lady.  It is quite an interesting picture that we have of our "honorable" Caesar, all the way from breking his promise and engagement to his adulterous affairs, as a womanizer.  He did choose the beautiful, rich Cleopatra however, so we know that he's no dummy!  Wish he'd lavish some great gifts, expenditures and favors this way.

    I do however agree with anneof avolon and MEG.  Do we really need this much bloody information to kick back, (or stand up as Maryal says) and enjoy the richness of Wm. Shakespeares brilliant plays?  Does it matter that JC  valued his soldiers, was a skilled equestrian with grand powers of endurance?  Do we care that he went on to break engagement of his daughter and formed alliances with others?  Is it relevant that he lost his mother (who hasn't?)daughter and his grandchild to gaffaw at the double entendres presented by Willie?

    On the flip side we have JC who bribed, lied, took prisoners, reorganized the state, reformed the calendar and administered justice with concientiousness?  NOPE!  It doesn't matter.  Some are leaders, others followers and there is the good, bad and the ugly in each of us as well as JC, Brutus and Cassius.  So---oooo ,I can't make up my mind which side to choose, perhaps for the first time in my life I'll be a fence sitter, although the idea of being brutally stabbed 20 some times has no appeal to me. Maybe I'll stick with Jan, in the Plebian corner.

    March 3, 2003 - 05:24 am
    We just had the most splendid evening, where we adults tried desperately not to influence the youngsters.

    points so far, they feel a need to establish goodies and baddies, so have decided that is ok, as long as they themselves come to the conclusion, without hearing who we see in this role.

    to the last of them, they decided Flavius and Maurullus jealous, one of them noting that is why they would be pulling down anything that hung on statues of caesar.

    It was heartening to have them laugh at the cobblers lines, george read this bit and did act it up a bit, but they got the humour.

    we have briefly explained the plot, and though they were not to peturbed by the assasination, they were horrified at the manner.As luke said......"hate back stabbers, miss"......he meant this I'm sure about things in his life.

    The idea was raised, after I laughingly told them about my position of Caesar in the hostel, that assasination would only mean replacement by another adult, so it appears I am safe.

    Not all the children are keen,so we have decided on the toga party, by way of reward.

    I am content though as they spent the evening, these country kids talking freely about julius and william, and were disappointed when we stopped after one chapter.We have made robert our spokesperson, and will probably let him start doing the posting for kids.

    March 3, 2003 - 07:31 am
    I responded to Ginny's post #47 as she wondered about the actual historical characters. Shakespeare used the facts presented in Plutarch's Lives -- which is also listed in the discussion heading along with Suetonius -- and he really followed what Plutarch reported. Modern audiences don't normally know Ancient History as well as they did during Shakespeare's age so to reach an understanding of all that's been said in the play, I've had to read Plutarch and other sources.

    I'd suggest to those who don't want to read Plutarch or posts that discuss the background -- please don't. Just pass by such information and allow people to post as they feel.

    There are different ways of reading and enjoying which is exciting and invigorating to me. I learn a lot from seeing the many ways a text is read. Some ways are quite quite quite different from mine but I accept the differences and expect the same for myself? There's plenty of room at SN for all our perspectives.


    March 3, 2003 - 07:58 am
    CONGRATS & HOSANNAHS! to Ginny & Maryal & Techie Folkfor new method of presenting AND preserving each week's discussion questions!!!!! I'm such a slow doofus at times - just caught on last night to what you've done! The flaring NEW indicator in the middle column gives us this week's Q's with a simple click! What's great is that it's now possible to preserve every week's Q's without cluttering header - or without losing prior week's Q's when new ones are posted! Big fat ***GOLD STARS*** on your foreheads ladies!!!!!

    Marvelle, I'm not suggesting that historical stuff be ignored - not by any stretch. What I fear is that Shakespeare's words & work will be lost in inundations of so many other sources. What I'm proposing is that we give equal and individual time, respect and especially thoughtful consideration to each - but separately. I am curious about the differences between the real Julius and Shakespeare's Julius. Just want to look at Shakespeare's first(since he's the subject of this discussion), and look at him thoroughly before doing the real guy. Right now, I'm having an extremely difficult time sorting what info belongs to the real & what belongs to the fictional guy. Does this make any sense???

    March 3, 2003 - 08:13 am
    Ginny mentioned the above story that Cassius told Brutus in Act 1.2 and asked if it meant to be an actual occurrence. I think it's an allegory intended to relieve Brutus of any feelings of gratitude towards Caesar. Cassius' story for which he says the subject is honor:

    "For once, upon a raw and gusty day, the troubled Tiber chafing with her shores, Caesar said to me, 'Dar'st thou, Cassius, now leap in with me into this angry flood and swim to yonder point?' Upon the word, accoutered as I was, I plunged in and bade him to follow, so indeed he did. The torrent roared, and we did buffet it with lusty sinews, throwing it aside and stemming it with hearts of controversy. But ere we could arrive the point proposed, Caesar cried 'Help me, Cassius, or I sink!' I, as Aeneas, our great ancestor, did from the flames of Troy upon his shoulder the old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber did I the tired Caesar."

    Hey, I just realized that Shakespeare has Cassius start his story along the lines of 'once upon a time.'

    As the Tiber was humanized into the spirit of Rome and its people by the speeches of the tribunes Marullus and Flavius, so too does Cassius use the Tiber to signify Rome. The turbulent waters that Caesar invites Cassius to swim and from which Caesar needs rescuing would be the state of Rome -- Caesar plunges in beyond his ability.

    Caesar dared Cassius to swim with him which alludes, I believe, to the pardon granted by Caesar and then his appointment of Cassius to a post within Caesar's government.

    Cassius is trying to persaude Brutus that:

    -- 1) there's no cause to be grateful to Caesar

    -- 2) the pardon was for Caesar's benefit

    -- 3) Caesar is a man with weaknesses, not a god

    -- 4) Caesar would drown/fail without them

    Cassius said this was a story about honor. He asks why Caesar should be ruler when he is no better man than he, and he implies with his story that Caesar is a weaker man (weaker in body and judgment). Honor to a Roman I believe is high public esteem; fame; glory; evidence of distinction. If I'm right about the definition then the story about honor is saying that Caesar hasn't earned his honor except through the efforts of men such as Brutus and Cassius. Cassius therefore implies that he -- and Brutus too -- deserves honor.

    Perhaps someone can sort this meaning out better than I've been able.


    March 3, 2003 - 08:46 am
    Meg, we were posting at the same time. I was trying to understand Cassius' allegory of Caesar and the Tiber River to find after posting that you'd returned to the subject of our different approaches. I'm not the spokesperson for those of us who've investigated the historical JC so I can only reply for myself.

    Yes I appreciate your thoughts but ... aren't we all wonderfully different in our approaches? I gladly -- joyfully -- accept your right to approach Shakespeare's JC your way and I expect to be given the same respect? I learn from others.

    Shakespeare's JC follows Plutarch's Lives, which is linked in the heading. If the historical JC confuses you then bypass the historical bits. It's really that easy.

    Please understand that I won't keep restating my position or responding to others about this subject since I feel that, after a certain period, it takes away from the discussion.

    While I try to find points in a post to which I can respond positively, I may very well bypass other points. Many good points I don't respond to merely for lack of time on my part. There's only so much I can take into my pea-brain!

    Thanks Meg for mentioning the flaring new indicator in the middle column for new questions. I missed that!


    March 3, 2003 - 09:21 am
    Yes, thank you Meg for calling everybody's attention to the brand new Short Version Heading, prepared by Pat Westerdale, and just up this morning early, which has a page under construction of the Quotes from our Participants and a page of Quotes from the Play, and tons of other stuff, including the Topics for your Consideration. Thank you, Pat Westerdale, for the 10 hours you put in Sunday and this morning on this discussion. I think we're rolling now, it's short n sweet, two things I never was. hahahaahah

    I actually agree with both of you, Marvelle, and Meg, and I appreciate Meg answering the question I have been asking, HOW can we deal with both of these things, the play itself and the historical facts?

    I think it's fine and instructive to the group for people to bring forward anything they'd like to the discussion, let's not stop that, but if it's a good acceptable compromise I myself will only deal with the play in future, and that might help us not get off the track with ol Jules, one of my favorite people!

    Hahahaha Sorry about that! Mea culpa.

    So if you all will turn your attention to the Topics for Consideration, you'll find almost every question predicated on a quote from the play and pertaining to the play!

    Let's see where we are.

  • We've done a super job with the opening scene, Topic #1, and established a new....issue to watch, the POWER OF THE PEOPLE, I think we need a list of the topics we've covered.

  • We've started an in-depth look at the CHARACTERIZATIONS of Cassius and Caesar and will soon need to turn to Brutus.

  • Anne has suggested two evidences Shakespeare brings of Caesar's faults, and Meg adds one more, that there's apparently some frisson between the old forces of Pompey and the new that might cause trouble.

  • JAN has done a wonder with the question What seems to move Brutus the most in Cassius's speech? Yes, I think so, but NO!! Now that I reread what you said, I see you and I are saying something different!

    You said
    "Rome thou has lost the breed of Noble Bloods. When went there by an Age, since the great Flood, but it was fam"d with more than with one Man..."

    Appealing to the nobler part of Brutus was definitely the way to go!

    AHA!! You think it was the appeal to noblity and idealism that moved Brutus but when I saw that I thought Cassius was saying Rome now did not have the noble blood it once had, (which included Brutus's ancestor). Is this not FUN??

    Jeepers, two different interpretations of the same thing!! hahahahaha

    We're BOTH RIGHT! ( We are, you know? ) hahaahahah


    I say Shakespeare goes so far as to have Cassius hit below the belt:
    "There was a Brutus once that would have brooked
    Th'eternal devil to keep his state in Rome
    As easily as a King" (Act I, ii, 168-170).

    Now here we need to ask ourselves, perhaps, what is being appealed to here? Pride? Or shame in that Brutus has not held up the illustrious end of his ancestor? What do you think it was about this that brought Brutus over?

    More on your wonderful points, but first!!!

    ANNEOFAVONLEA~!!~ How marvelous to see your bracing remarks this morning and I am just amazed that the kids (our Auxiliaries as Caesar would call them) have seen JEALOUSY in Flavius and Marulllus!!!!!!!!!!! Now THERE is something I've never heard and I love it. What are they jealous of? We need to keep remembering the POWER OF THE PEOPLE here, as a topic, it's important, well done and Welcome Robert!! we are delighted to welcome you as our Envoy!

    Please tell us everything your group is saying, EVERYTHING!! and if they would like to choose a side. (I agree with Luke at this point) hahahaa

    I wish I could be there with you in the evenings, what fun and what an experience you will all have (and us, too, what fun)!~!

    I like to think about what we're reading and get up with new perspectives?

    This morning I have two, one of which woke me up at 3 am.

  • Do you realize the way Shakespeare fashions the characters, that there's just enough in each one that could be a little bit in any of us? I squirm when I see Cassius, but I can't say I haven't felt that way? Even "Sour Casca," who of us has not been sour? There's something in every character that every man can relate to, that's scary. I don't think it's by accident?

  • Suddenly the concept of "Gratitude" is leaping out at me from the pages, I have never seen anybody else write on it as regards this play, this might be a breakthru for us, does it seem to suddenly leap out at you? I'm not sure I can sustain it but it might be fun to try, the play sure starts with it (ingratitude). Jury will have to be out on that one.

    Listen, how about that question on the What do you make of Caesar's thrice being offered the crown? Why do you think it takes place offstage? I haven't a clue, what do you all THINK! That's an excellent question by our own Maryal, what do you THINK???????????

  • Deems
    March 3, 2003 - 10:05 am
    As Ginny has already pointed out, we all have Pat W. to thank for our new streamlined page complete with blinking attention getting star so that everyone can find the week's questions.

    Thank you so much, Pat, for those hours and hours and hours of work.

    I will return later with thoughts. Right at the moment I have to keep focus on 2Kings which is one of my classes assignment for the day.


    March 3, 2003 - 10:07 am
    You guys are really SMOKIN' here today, I'm really impressed with all you've submitted.

    Carolyn (Kiwi Lady) thank you for that information, I'm not familiar with Ernle Bradford (P23) so I especially enjoyed that.

    Barbara, I liked your slant on Cassius acting " out of fear." I've not heard that before either, I'm enjoying the different possibilties of each character as we reveal them, thanks!

    Andrea, does it matter? It does to me, but the desire of the group is more important. You can't expect an old Latin teacher not to give it a try, tho? hahahaa

    Anne, this is absolutely poetic!

    greatness comes from going against the stream, and knowing against our background, that things are somehow wrong.

    We haven't tried to define what we each mean by "greatness," let's keep it in the back of our minds!

    Marvelle, yes, there was some scandal in the fatal campaign of Crassus, actually. I've alwayd considered it sad.

    Now this that you said is VERY interesting?
    I think Cassius' story of saving a drowning Caesar from the Tiber River is an allegory/parable and Cassius didn't intend for Brutus to take it otherwise?

    Fascinating! And you also brought up the "gratitude" thing again, I had missed that! That's two for those who are counting anxiously. haahahaha

    And I loved this:

    Cassius said this was a story about honor. He asks why Caesar should be ruler when he is no better man than he, and he implies with his story that Caesar is a weaker man (weaker in body and judgment). Honor to a Roman I believe is high public esteem; fame; glory; evidence of distinction. If I'm right about the definition then the story about honor is saying that Caesar hasn't earned his honor except through the efforts of men such as Brutus and Cassius. Cassius therefore implies that he -- and Brutus too -- deserve honor.

    There's "honor" again and we know that Antony brings up HONOR later on too. And of course in the questions we see the word "dishonor" start appearing, we need to watch each man for honorable and dishonorable behaviors.

    Actually I wonder if we need to define here what we think of as idealistic, and honorable? Or do we need to define those characteristics or "greatness?" I bet we don't all agree on them. And then of course there's those fake letters coming up, you know? Hahahaaha

    don't you love it?


    March 3, 2003 - 10:16 am
    I find Ceasar's character interesting. Ceasar, to me, seems a bit paranoid. Immediately, he fears the presence of Cassius. I think Ceasar says that Cassius thinks too much, he's too thin, he reads too much. Ceasar, a man who has come into so much power, is afraid. Reading this made me wonder are all presidents, prime ministers and such people unable to enjoy or master their leadership roles because they must watch their backs or have someone else watch their backs. Do our own brave leaders always have a knot of fear in the pit of their stomach after they make a decision? Was paranoia a natural character trait of the "real" Ceasar?

    March 3, 2003 - 10:19 am
    Thank you, Pat W. for the beautiful and easy to understand heading. Oh, MegR and Marvelle thanks for helping me have a better understanding of the play. Of course, thank you Ginny and Maryal.

    March 3, 2003 - 10:29 am
    Oh good point in seeing fear in Caesar, Hats! And in the modern parallels, you always seem to put your finger on the crux of stuff, now what do you make then of him saying, sort of brushing away his fears,

    I rather tell thee what is to be feared
    Than what I fear; for always I am Caesar.

    And he keeps saying he doesn't fear him, or does he?

    But I fear him not
    Yet if my name were liable to fear
    I do not know the man I should avoid
    As soon as that spare Cassius.

    Looks like to me a struggle is going on with Caesar and it's his name or reputation and his "always I am Caesar" which is causing him to push aside his natural warnings and is he paranoic or unusually shrewd? Super point!!

    ginny going to take a Roman name for this thing! Since I have so much trouble spelling "font" am going to call self Fontinus (yes with the masculine ending) hahahaahah

    March 3, 2003 - 10:54 am
    Sorry to be so late. I got lost in the pre-discussion, and it took me a while to figure out where everybody had gone. (Doesn't that give you loads of confidence in my observations? Hoo--ooo--oo boy!)

    It is important, I think, to be aware that all powerful men had their "patrons", which means something different than it does now. These were people who looked to them for patronage, favor, assistance, etc. In return, these patrons gave their loyalty support against opposing factions. The fortunes of the patrons were tied to those of the men they followed. Thus, supporters of Pompey would be highly antagonistic toward Caesar and any who supported him.

    To me, the keynote of Caesar's character is arrogance. He knows Cassius is dangerous and to be feared, but his arrogance will not allow him to show any personal fear of him. He warns others of him, but will not permit himself to be kept from anything he has chosen to do. He is CAESAR, and very definitely above the common run in his own mind.

    In Shakespeare's day, (and excuse me if someone has already addressed this and I missed it) many actions were carried on offstage. There was no room for mob scenes, such as the offering of the crown to Caesar. Scenes such as the epileptic fit might be offensive, IMO, to the more aristocratic in the audience, who would not care to see a person of stature having a fit and foaming at the mouth. It is one thing to be aware that a person has such a malady; it is quite another to allow it to be seen in public. Just a thought on that particular off-stage event.

    On the offering of the crown, I got the distinct impression that Caesar wanted it, but was testing the temper of the crowd. When it became apparent that it was the refusal of it that the crowd applauded, he did so. But I believe he was hoping they would urge him to take it. ....My first, and belated, offering. ....Babi

    March 3, 2003 - 11:56 am
    I really like the lines you quoted about Caesar and his statement that he doesn't fear anyone because he is, after all, Caesar.

    But then immediately, we find the half withdrawal of the statement. "But if I were afraid of anyone, I think it would be that Cassius fellow." Shakespeare is such a genius at betraying our stouthearted statements and showing the anxiety that may well lurk underneath.


    March 3, 2003 - 11:59 am
    Good to see you. I'm glad you found your way over from the prediscussion.

    We were posting at the same time. We also made the same point that Ginny made about Caesar. I too think that Caesar is shown in the play as arrogant, but he is more complicated than that.

    He is also superstitious, but he claims to not be superstitious. He seems unwilling to admit that he is like the common run of people. He both believes and disbelieves in superstition at the same time. He calls the fellow out of the crowd who warns him to Beware the Ides of March and then dismisses him and his information.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 3, 2003 - 01:05 pm
    Yes Babi, every time the crown was offered there were some words to the affect that he fingered it - reminded my of my mother shopping for cloth and she fingered it all especially the cloth beyond her pocketbook that she would save up to purchase later.

    OK someplace I read that a story or play is told in the first chapter or scene. The ingredients are all there albeit disguised.

    Flavius and Marullus are tribunes who are elected representatives of the people (looks like we can’t compare them to Ashcroft and... who were not elected by the people) And so with a little perceived power they attempt to order about the common folks - They remind the common trades people that Pompey was a respect valued leader until Caesar took over the Triumvirate.

    It appears that Flavius and Marullus are supporters of the Republic which was set up to have three equal leaders. Behind the scenes Caesar had the name but little of the money necessary to making the state run. Pompey who had the money (as did Crassus) and had taken the glory for defeating Spartucus in addition to other great success, had a long standing rival with Crassus. At this time that rivalry was at a standstill.

    Caesar manipulated himself into power. His approach included becoming closer to Pompay and marrying his daughter to seal that closeness. Caesar uses generous amounts of Pompey’s money to buy the loyalty of his soldiers making them his army not Rome’s. He also racked up massive debt social climbing, giving lavish parties in order to break into the upper echelon of politics.

    Defeating Pompey, Caesar is the future who uses his power to order about and change things as a single power rather than as a member of a Republican approved Triumvirate.

    History is the victor's version of history that is the most well known - Caesar's name has gone down in history and therefore, it is easy to think on him as the moral correct leader - Hail to Caesar etc. When in fact there are two sides to this event.

    I would think Caesar was fearful of anyone who he thought was in his way to singular power and would be arragont as Maryal shares, since he was pulling off a coup affecting the civilized world of the day. Just as I think those who saw him taking the Triumvirate apart, in affect destroying the Republic as it was known, were either angry or afraid of his power.

    The common folks in scene one are fascinated with Caesar’s glorious entrance, understood by the elected Flavius and Marullus as Caesar receiving a great deal of adulation as compared to Pompey who now defeated for the first time in his life was a hero to Rome. Flavius and Marullus want to see Caesar out of the limelight and take down during an important feast all tribute to Caesar. This forshadows Caesar walking into the Senate, the building built by Pompey on March 15.

    All this would play into the Civil Wars in England that all lead up to Elizabeth. Shakespeare set many plays describing these English conflicts onto the stage of the Globe theater. We know an educated person at the time would have studied Latin and Greek therefore they would be familiar with the history of the Caesars. Where as I would think the common folks would see the recent battles of England played out on stage in Roman costume.

    We have heard the expression that England is a nation of shop-keepers and therefore having the opening scene filled with trades people would help pull the audience in so they could identify with the play.

    March 3, 2003 - 01:11 pm
    You may be late, but this plebian goes with your take on the arrogant Caesar.

    As for the "allegory" Casius is however you look at him a nasty little man, attempting to arrive at greatness by the pulling down of others.

    What is this greatness of which we speak, I guess someone who is still being analysed 2000 years on, achieved something. Still memorable and great are not necessarily bedfellows.I remember Atilla the hun as well.

    The other thing is, I love the diversity of opinion here, it forces me to to relook my attitude, a previously made up mind is beginning to soften here. Maybe julius has the odd endearing quality after all.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 3, 2003 - 01:28 pm
    anneofavonlea do you think that Cassius is acting out of his need to be great?

    I guess I am going to have to hold on to myself here in that I am such a believer in shared leadership and have real problems as I observe those who want it all for themselves and that is what I see in Caesar. Of course there would be no history of mythological preportions if Caesar had not been murdered but I wonder, what other vehicle is there that Cassius and Brutus could have turned to take out a tyrant who had closed off the accepted channels of shared power within their government and they had the army supporting Caesar so a coup was not in the cards. Sounds like Tito or Peron or (can't spell) Mosalovich.

    March 3, 2003 - 02:47 pm
    BaBi, you made me laugh as I visualized you "lost" in pre-discussion! That's something I would do too.

    Barbara, you've expressed your thoughts so clearly. I like the idea of shared leadership and would also add shared responsibility. I believe that Shakespeare has managed to give us characters of many dimensions who have good/bad traits in each.

    Fear and arrogance reside together in Caesar. He was an old man by then, he'd driven his frail body beyond its limits for too many years and his speeches in Shakespeare intimate that he realizes his death will come rather sooner than later.

    BaBi gave us the very substantial reasons for having the offered crown offstage. Shakespeare also is able to say much in few words and he overlays the offered crown/kingship with Cassius and Brutus discussing the very issue of The Man Who Would Be King, their conversation mixing with the cries of the crowd. Then Casca reports what he saw and heard which is another overlay of the offered crown. From these we experience firsthand the origins of Rome's alliances, conflicts and civil strife that will play out in Julius Caesar.

    One interesting note is that it's Casca alone, not Cassius, who calls the common folk such names as tag-rag and it's Casca who says that the third time Caesar reluctantly refused the crown

    "the rabblement hooted and clapped their chopped hands and threw up their sweaty nightcaps and uttered such a deal of stinking breath...."

    Shakespeare is brilliant in showing us Casca's particular prejudices.

    Casca also reports in that same Act 1.2 that "Marullus and Flavius, for pulling scarves off Caesar's images, are put to silence." So Caesar either imprisoned them or threw them out of office which would be an example of his arrogance in assuming an emperor's role as if the Republic were truly dead. President Bush isn't allowed -- yet, and hopefully never -- to take such actions against dissenting voices.

    After Casca leaves, Brutus complains that he's grown to be a 'blunt fellow' and Cassius replies that Casca's still a lively person "However he puts on this tardy form. This rudeness is a sauce to his good wit, which gives men stomach to digest his words with better appetite."

    From this I gather that Cassius is saying 'look beyond Casca's show of stupidity.' Casca is in many ways a Roman equivalent of the Fool who through his entertainment is able to impart otherwise unwelcome and stinging truths as he sees them (such as Lear's Fool). Still, Casca's prejudices are hard to take but then I would be one of the rabblement, clapping my chopped hands.


    March 3, 2003 - 03:13 pm
    A few posts ago I mentioned that it makes a difference who plays what role to influence whom we side with in this play. If you have someone like, say Robert Redford playing Caesar and (time jump here) someone like Edgar G. Robinson playing Brutus, then you are more likely to be on Caesar's side. Reverse the roles and you will see the play differently and are more likely to side with Brutus.

    Shakespeare's plays were acted by a company of players who took different parts in different plays. Some of these actors were so popular that Shakespeare wrote specific roles with them in mind.

    An interesting historical fact as well as an insider's joke--one that would have been understood when the play was first performed, but that now needs a footnote--is that apparently the actor who played Polonius in Hamlet had shortly before played Caesar in the play we are reading. The evidence is in Hamlet where the following exchange occurs. Hamlet says to Polonius:

    Hamlet: My lord, you played once in the university, you say?

    Polonius: That did I, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.

    Hamlet: What did you enact?

    Polonius: I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed in the Capitol; Brutus killed me. (Hamlet 3.2)

    Hamlet was first performed in 1599 or 1600 and thus followed close after Julius Caesar. It is very likely that the same actor who played Caesar in the latter play plays Polonius in Hamlet. Shakespeare's audience, who would recognize the actor, would get a little chuckle here with the reference to the prior play.

    And, if you have read Hamlet and remember what an old windbag Polonius was, you get some idea of the actor who probably played Caesar when the play was first produced.

    There's also a nice bit of foreshadowing here because shortly Hamlet, thinking that it is King Claudius, will stab Polonius fatally when Polonius is hiding behind the arras in the Queen's chamber.


    March 3, 2003 - 03:35 pm
    Ginny in my #57 post I did not mean to offend nor dismiss the wonderful history that has been presented in our heading. Great job Pat W.

    What I did want to stress was the question of HOW important did Willie think the historical past was to those who enjoyed his plays. My point was irregardless of what history we've learned or are ignorant of, the plays are to be enjoyed and entertaining.

    March 3, 2003 - 03:41 pm
    Oh Maryal, thanks for giving us the gift of being the in-crowd, in the know of Polonius and Caesar the windbags. Shakespeare's Caesar then wouldn't have been played sympathetic? Would he have been seen as a usurper or pretender?

    Oftentimes I leave final assumptions unsaid in my posts because I think they're so obvious but I decided to go back to Casca whose rude Fool exterior is used to impart information. For the time being I'm trying to understand what the characters are saying and doing and my judgments of those characters will have to wait a while.

    I believe that Casca's real message was that Caesar was testing the waters of the Tiber/crown, that he wanted the crown, and that the common folk would accept him as the emperor.

    That's Casca's basic truth which he covered up with a lot of nonsense, Fool that he is. What Casca says underlines the fears of the ruling class like Brutus and Cassius who prefer to have the power in their hands.


    March 3, 2003 - 03:57 pm
    Have been trying to again synthesize info that Shakespeare gives us on his characters to help clarify them and events (as our Willie has chosen to present them) for myself. Any additions in {}'s are mine for clarification. Have added my own interps in places and have attempted to include interps from our group. Please feel free to challenge, correct or further clarify anything that I've said. Am reacting to what I've read and interpreted in this play - and not outside stuff. I have a very thick skin and have absolutely NO problems with interps of Shakespeare's words that are other than mine. Want yours too to help me understand this play better too! Onward, Macduff - oops! but that's another one! (laughing)

    Am posting Caesar here & Cassius in next one because it's long. Have also done Antony and Casca & the omens. Will send those after I do supper.

    Shakespeare's Caesar
  • We can infer that he is in some position of local or national political & military power
  • Common folk like him and "make holiday to see Caesar and to rejoice in his triumph"(I,i,33) which is not explained or clarified by our author
  • is disliked by the tribunes Marullus and Flavius, who were loyal to Caesar's predecessor Pompey(I,i,35-78) [Sidenote: There is irony in the actions of these two in scene i! Dictionary says that a "tribune (was) the unofficial defender of the rights of the individual" which these two guys are not! ]
  • has slain his opponent's sons "And do you know strew flowers in his way that comes in triumph over Pompey's blood?"(l. 54-55)
  • is childless, superstitious and blames wife Calpurnia for this state. "Stand you directly in Antonius'way when he doth run his course....for our elders say the barren, touched in this holy chase, shake off their sterile curse."(I,ii,5 -11)

  • is conscious of cries from the crowd & politely asks for soothsayer to be brought before him. "Beware the ides of March" - BUT chooses to ignore the warning "He is a dreamer; let us leave him. Pass" (l.28)
  • had a boyish playful side - challenge to Cassius to swim across Tiber in armor (that male one-upmanship thing in action)
  • wasn't a good swimmer, had to be rescued by Cassius from the river
  • suffered from a fever in Spain
  • is deaf in his left ear. He says to Antony "Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf." (220) Think there's a little inside joke that Elizabethan's would have gotten. Ginny, correct me if I'm wrong - but isn't "sinister" Latin for "left"? So, Caesar couldn't hear from his left ear, the side of the threatening, unlucky, inauspicious, fraudulent, evil. He wants to hear Antony in his right ear - the side of honesty, & good stuff. (We saw him ignore/brush off the ominous warnings already of the soothsayer!)

  • offered crown three times by Antony after Lupercalia race (240)
  • according to conspirator Casca's testimony - not anyone else's (Casca does have an agenda here) - Caesar was sad & angry, "loath to lay his fingers off it" with having to refuse the offer of the crown. (241-259)
  • has epilepsy "the falling sickness"(260); grand mal seizure after his third refusal
  • again, acc. to Casca - before the seizure, Casca says that Caesar "perceived the common herd was glad he refused the crown, he plucked me ope{n} his doublet and offered them his throat to cut." ?to show that he didn't want to live with their ungratefulness???? (269-272) Was this true or just Casca stirring the pot? His comment that the crowd "forgave him with all their hearts. But there's no heed to be taken of them. If Caesar had stabbed their mothers, they would have done no less." ((278-280) Casca seems to have a tendency to exaggerate too like his good bud Cassius - and to manufacture his own truth too?
  • Casca also implies that Caesar or someone loyal to him have killed off opposition. "I could tell you more news too. Marullus and Flavius for pulling scarfs off Caesar's images are put to silence."(290-291)
  • MegR
    March 3, 2003 - 03:59 pm
    Shakespeare's Cassius
  • enjoys sports; wants Brutus to join him in watching the races
  • Paranoid or a ploy? Claims to feel estranged from Brutus/ not as trusted as he once was. "Brutus, I do observe you now of late; I have not from your eyes that gentleness and show of love as I was wont to have. You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand over your friend that loves you."(I,ii, 36-40)
  • flatters and lies as he begins his seduction of Brutus to his side/plot "Can you see your face {see yourself}?" " No, Cassius, for the eye sees not itself by by reflection, by some other things.""....you have no such mirrors as will turn your hidden worthiness to your eye, that you might see your shadow.{see your reputation as others see you}.....I have heard where many of the best respect{ed folks} in Rome (Except immortal Caesar), speaking of Brutus and groaning underneath this age's yoke {does he mean Caesar again?!} have wished that noble Brutus had his eyes. (56-67)
  • tries to deflect Brutus' suspicions. Offers to be Brutus' mirror/ "glass" to show Brutus his worth(70-75), says Brutus shouldn't be "jealous" (suspicious) of him, that he's not a common buffoon, a kiss-up or a drunk who blabs everything (ll.75-83)
  • gloms onto Brutus slip about fearing Caesar as king and presses his suit. "Ay, do you fear it? Then must I think you would not have it so."(86-87)

  • "claims" honor matters to him too. "I cannot tell what you and other men think of this life, but for my single self, I had as lief {gladly, willingly} not be as live to be in awe of such a thing as myself." (98-102) - BUT DOES NOT connect this ancecdote to any issue of "Honor"! His retelling of the swimming story is petty and a smear campaign!
  • enjoyed a free, well-fed and challenging life - as did Brutus & Caesar. Equates the three men (l04-105)
  • testosterone kicked in & accepts Caesar's dare to swim the Tiber in his armor! "...accoutered as I was, I plunged in and bade him follow." DUH!??!! {and where was Cassius' brain power? What idiot jumps into a river in armor to swim} and then he challenges Caesar to do the same!!! Caesar doesn't order Cassius to do this! Cassius takes the bait and jumps first!!!!
  • NOT a modest man! He compares himself to great Trojan hero Aeneas bearing his father Anchises on his back as they escaped burning Troy to his rescue of Caesar from drowning! Gimme a break!!!
  • blames Caesar for his own lack of sense in this "drowning" story, then nastily makes fun of Julius' weakness during a time of illness ..."this god did shake. His coward lips did from their color fly" etc. He calls Caesar names without providing specific evidence to support his claims! {why did he think Julius was a coward? because he was ill?} - & implies that these "weaknesses" of Caesar disqualify him as a ruler. (120-137)

  • has a tendency to hyperbole! "Why, man, he {Caesar} doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus, and we petty men walk under his huge legs and peep about to find ourselves dishonorable graves." (141-144) Cassius sure does hate Caesar - but we still don't know specifically why - except for possible inference that he's jealous of Julius' successes and popularity. And isn't this Colossus image just a bit disgusting? If "we petty men" look up - what's there to see but a gigundo bum & other paraphenalia overhead! NOT too pleasant a picture obliterating views of the sky! ! ! Guess this is old Willie having some fun with us again.
  • tries to use the "well-that's-life it's fate" lines to excuse his own failure to succeed as Caesar did. "The fault , dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings" (146-147)
  • ignores/forgets his country's own history - tries to inflammatorily slant the truth "When went there by an age since the great Flood but it was famed with more than with one man? When could they say (till now) that talked of Rome that her wide walls encompassed but one man?"(158-159) - So quickly Cassius forgets Tarquin Gracchus, Marius, Sulla, Cinna, Crassus, Pompey & Cicero - who kind of did their own things in Rome prior to Caesar's arrival on the scene.
  • Pulls the "ancestor" trick to sway Brutus " There was a Brutus once that woud have brooked {permitted} the eternal devil to keep his state in Rome as easily as a king." (165-167) (Folger's says "Lucius Junius Brutus, claimed by Brutus as an ancestor, according to legend opposed Tarquin, last of the ancient kings of Rome") So, since our Brutus' ancestor fought against having a king rule Rome - Brutus should follow family tradition and do the same. Yeah, right! My friend or sister's going to go bungy jumping - so I'm going to do so too??? Not in this lifetime!
  • is distrusted by Caesar. Not for only "thinking too much", but for not sleeping - for plotting during the night, for not living a balanced life with any joy in it, for being obsessed with others and what he doesn't have that they do! YES!!! Ginny's green-eyed monster thrives in this guy! "He reads much, he is a great observer, and he looks quite through the deeds of men. He loves no plays as thou dost , Antony; he hears no music. Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort {of way} as if he mocked himself and scorned his spirit that could be moved to smile at anything. Such men as he be never at heart's ease whiles they behold a greater than themselves, and therefore are they very dangerous."(208-217)

  • feels he can manipulate the much respected Brutus. "Well, Brutus, thou art noble; yet I see thy honorable mettle may be wrought from that it is disposed.....For who so firm cannot be seduced."(313-317)
  • knows Caesar finds him hard to tolerate as much as Caeser loves & respects Brutus. "Caesar doth bear me hard; but he loves Brutus." (318)
  • plans to send a bunch of phony letters (via Cinna) to Brutus from "several citizens" to convince Brutus that Romans admire him more than Caesar.
  • claims to be not frightened by the pretty scary omens of that night. This man has no sense!!!
  • challenges fate by baring his "bosom to the thunder-stone; and when the cross blue lightning seemed to open the breast of heave, I did present myself even in the aim and very flash of it." Does this guy have a death wish or is he so whacked out that he feels that he's impervious to any harm?

  • calls Casca a scaredy cat for not being afraid! "You look pale and gaze, and put on fear, and cast yourself in wonder to see the strange impatience of the heavens; But if you would consider the true cause why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts etc....."(63-75)
  • believes that all of the omens the "...heaven hath infused them with these spirits to make them instuments of fear and warning unto some monstrous state." He goes even further and continues slinging the generic (not specific) mud at Caesar!!! "Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man most like this dreadful night that thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars as doth the lion in the Capitol; A man no mightier than thyself or me in personal action, yet prodigious grown and fearful, as these strange eruptions are."
  • learns from Casca that Senate plans to crown Caesar the next day & is ready with his dagger to prevent this (90-105)
  • has a hard, hard hate on for Caesar, but has never really given us any specific evidence for his loathing
  • plans to meet with Casca, Cinna, Metellus Cimber Decius Brutus and Trebonius at Pompey's Porch to work on plans.
  • GolferJohn
    March 3, 2003 - 04:02 pm
    may have been, as Marvelle suggested, a self-aggrandizing allegory offered up by Cassius. Lean and cunning, he may have been comparing himself to the wolf who saved Romulus and Remus from drowning.

    My view of Cassius is that he would have had equal measures of appreciation for both JC's enourmous talents as well as his flaws. He might have seen himself as an instument for making Caesar whole. However, he was rejected when Caesar failed to promote him and, unlike Iago, was unable to hide his resentment.

    What could Cassius have done for Caesar? Well, kept him alive for one thing. Caesar was oblivious to the perils the man-who-thought- too-much would have found transparent. Cassius' lupine tendencies would have let him sniff out any assasination plot before it was fully formed and without the need to be smacked between the eyes by a sooth sayer.

    Is there evidence that Cassius understood he was more effective as part of a symbiotic pair than by acting alone? I think so. He sought out the Brutus to be his front man, knowing that Brutus had at least a veneer of honor. He didn't need Brutus' help to mastermind the plot, but he needed his image to make it sellable.

    March 3, 2003 - 04:22 pm
    Why was JC so oblivious to obvious signs of danger? Could hearing impairment have obscured his reception to the words of the soothsayer? After his seizure was he inattentive as part of a post-ictal depression?

    We have already discussed his seizure disorder, and in post #43 Marvelle9 shares that he couldn't hear out of his left ear. One way to tie these two conditions together would involve trauma to his left temporal bone.

    On the battlefield, JC signalled his presence to both friend and foe by riding around in a scarlet cloak. He must have been both a heroic figure and an inviting target. Is there any evidence he was ever wounded?

    I ask because one of the fascinating things about Shakespeare was his uncanny understanding of how health might affect behavior. His description of Lear's Alzheimer's disease would be a good case study even now, and of course, his description predated our knowledge of the disease by almost four centuries.

    March 3, 2003 - 04:34 pm
    the history was not important to me, was as much about my capacity to take in knowledge as anything. I certainly did not intend offense and apologise if my words were seen as criticism.

    Malryn (Mal)
    March 3, 2003 - 04:39 pm
    Hello. I am not, nor do I intend to be a participant in this discussion, but I have been reading these very astute and enlightening posts, and something came to my mind. What about the audience in Shakespeare's day? It was not the silent audience of people awed by Shakespeare's literary feats that one finds today. Below is a quote from an article I found, more of which can be seen at http://www.theatrehistory.com/british/bellinger001.html.

    "The house itself was not unlike a circus, with a good deal of noise and dirt. Servants, grooms, 'prentices and mechanics jostled each other in the pit, while more or less gay companies filled the boxes. Women of respectability were few, yet sometimes they did attend; and if they were very careful of their reputations they wore masks. On the stage, which ran far out into the auditorium, would be seated a few of the early gallants, playing cards, smoking, waited upon by their pages; and sometimes eating nuts or apples and throwing things out among the crowd. At first there was little music, but soon players of instruments were added to the company. The stage was covered with straw or rushes. There may have been a painted wall with trees and hedges, or a castle interior with practicable furniture. A placard announced the scene. Stage machinery seems never to have been out of use, though in the early Elizabethan days it was probably primitive. The audience was near and could view the stage from three sides, so that no "picture" was possible, as in the tennis-court stage of Paris. Whatever effects were gained were the result of the gorgeous and costly costumes of the actors, together with the art and skill with which they were able to invest their rôles. The inn-court type of stage required a bold, declamatory method in acting and speaking; and these requirements were no doubt speedily reflected in the style of the playwrights."

    March 3, 2003 - 04:53 pm
    Malryn, loved the quote! The audience was definitely involved in the story. I'm going to print out the quote to keep.

    Meg, you're summing up is wonderfully extensive. I'll touch on a couple of points.

    I think the gratitude example you mentioned, of Caesar with the crowd at the Circus Maximus, is an additional one if Ginny is keeping track.

    -- I looked but didn't find where Cassius lied to Brutus or Casca.

    -- Cassius doesn't blame fate but quite the opposite. He says the 'fault...is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.' Fate (aka stars) is not the fault, according to Cassius, but 'ourselves'.

    -- The swimming story wasn't actually a swiming story at all. The swim never happened literally, nor did Cassius play false. He prefaced the story with "the subject of my story is honor" and begins it with a fairytale-like "For once, upon a raw and gusty day" -- Shakespeare's deliberate near-echoing of 'once upon a time.' With this opening there'd be no mistaking allegory for literal facts nor was Cassius misleading Brutus. The Tiber is the spirit of Rome and it's people, an idea that Shakespeare carefully set up in the earlier speeches of Marullus and Flavius. This setup showed that the Tiber was commonly considered in Ancient Rome to signify the country's soul. Cassius' story is an allegory.

    -- Marullus and Flavius were put to silence but that doesn't mean death, rather imprisoned or stripped on their offices. I think the greatest punishment for them would be to lose their positions. JC -- he of the liberal clemency -- would not have dictated a death sentence especially so close to receiving the coveted crown.

    John, your look at Cassius brings up Cassius intelligence and his ability to listen to others. Listening is something Caesar didn't do except for his inside followers. Cassius would recognize that such limited hearing would be dangerous.

    Caesar's and Cassius' flaws are tragic ones, as are Brutus' flaws. We're seeing some good traits in Cassius (listening, adaptability) and many bad traits. Caesar was ambitious. Ambition was an admired and necessary trait for the nobility, yet Caesar went too far. I don't think Cassius was ambitious so much as envious and he hated tyrants.

    Honor was not 'right action' but was defined by Romans, IMO, as public esteem. It isn't what I'd consider a modern definition of honor.


    March 3, 2003 - 05:20 pm
    Whoops!! No need for any apologies!! We're all HERE, and we're all happy, and just LOOK at all the substantive posts!! It doesn't get much better than this--we're a good group! This is a groundbreaking discussion in more than one way, I'm actually totally chuffed, myself!

    I came in just briefly to point out two things you all may not know till tomorrow morning: First off, a new SN feature, the PRINT PAGE!

    If you'll look up to the very top right of this page you'll see the words PRINT PAGE and if you click on that, it does a VERY nice Printer Friendly print out and you can keep this post or that post you wanted to reread or refer to, give it a try if you like to print your things and think about them (I do). But LOOK LOOK at what it does? I don't believe my eyes!!

    If ink is a problem, you might want to click on it anyway, it's showing me right this minute posts 18-86 !!!!!! All of them!


    Also if you click on the Questions Page? The For Your Consideration? And you click PRINT on your browser, it prints out (at least mine does) a very nice copy with white background (and brown ink??!!??) but that's nice too for your reference, you all, this is just a SUPER beginning, I can think of none finer! Now I'm going to follow my own advice and print out all your posts and enjoy thinking on them over dinner!!!


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 3, 2003 - 05:43 pm
    Alf Sidenote: There is irony in the actions of these two in scene i! Dictionary says that a tribune (was) the unofficial defender of the rights of the individual which these two guys are not! ]

    hehehe or are they? I think it has a lot to do with which individual's rights you think they should be defending...the common man or trades people, those among the ruling class who will be less powerful because of Caesar's run for "A Crown" - Pompey's reputation, Caesar and his victory trophies...lots of competing individuals...

    March 3, 2003 - 06:03 pm
    I was beginning to think that I couldn't keep up with all these posts. I am most heartened to hear that I can print them out, or print some of them out with ease. For some reason I can always read the printed page better than I can the computer screen. I think it's because I can read better looking down than looking across.

    Thanks, Mal, for the theater information. It is incredible to me to realize that the theaters in Shakespeare's day could hold 2000-3000 people. The population of London at the time was only 100,000 and yet there were several theaters and competing theater companies. I think these numbers make it easier to understand why Shakespeare wrote so many plays in a relatively short period of time.

    In addition, most plays ran for only a few performances, so the acting companies were always in rehersal for new shows. The actors needed phenomenal memories as well as a gift for improvisation!


    March 3, 2003 - 07:23 pm
    Shakespeare's Brutus
  • is married. His wife Portia is with the company in the opening of this scene
  • like Cassius, not clear about his rank or position
  • is at Caesar's side and in his company in beginning of scene ii. Answers Caesar's Q about identity of soothsayer (I,ii,22)
  • not athletic & doesn't enjoy athletic events, isn't a gambler "I am not gamesome. I do lack some part of that quick spirit that is in Antony." (32-33)
  • is preoccupied with something that's bothering him BUT doesn't tell Cassius what this is!

  • claims he does consider Cassius a friend. "Cassius, be not deceived....I turn the trouble of my countenance merely upon myself. Vexed I am of late with passions of some difference, conceptions only proper to myelf....let not therefore my good friends be grieved (among which number, Cassius, be you one)....that poor Brutus, with himself is at war, forgets the shows of love to other men." (41-53)
  • admits that he doesn't see himself as others see him (57-58)
  • is suspicious of Cassius and recognizes his flattery "Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius, that you would have me seek into myself for that which is not in me?" (68-70)
  • slips up & admits his concern. "I do fear the people choose Caesar for their king."(84 &-85)
  • admits he does love Caesar, but doesn't want him as king. (88-89)

  • sees himself as a logical/fair man who values "honor more than I fear death."(95)
  • knows what Cassius is up to (168-169), but asks Cassius to not press him further. Claims he will consider Cassius' points & will talk later.
  • claims he fears what future political conditions (?under Caesar?) may bring. "Brutus had rather be a villager than to repute {consider, believe} himself a son of Rome under these hard conditions as this time is like to lay upon us.
  • notices the change in the mood of Caesar's entourage. "The angry spot doth glow on Caesar's brow, and all the rest look like a chidden train. Calpurnia's cheek is pale, and Cicero looks with such ferret and fiery eyes as we have seen him in the Capitol being crossed in conference by some senators." (190-195) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Shakespeare's Antony
  • athletically inclined. Runs the Lupercalia races. Has Caesar's ear and trust (I,ii,220)
  • offered Caesar the crown three times before the crowd of Roman citizens
  • knows that Caesar distrusts Cassius ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Shakespeare's Casca
  • reports his take on events following Lupercalia races.
  • is an ally of Cassius
  • is reportedly of "quick mettle" (quick witted) when went to school with the guys & Cassius says that he is now so in execution of any job given to him
  • relates strange & unnatural events of that evening, sees them as foreboding omens and agrees to join Cassius' conspiracy.(I,iii)
  • ALF
    March 3, 2003 - 08:59 pm
    According to the Riverside Shakespeare there had been a good many plays about Caesar before Shakespeare's. It continues on to say that there was a great deal of confusion of opinion reflected by the divergent opinions of Dante, who put Brutus and Cassius with Judas in the deepest part of hell. The last hundred and twenty years before Caesar were "troublesome and ugly, bloody and detestable."

    There was too much luxury, men died as often by the banquet as by the blade.

    Does this continue today, folks?

    Caesar, however, expunged this terrible record and was getting the state back into order when the disaster happened. TADA!

    I hate that F WORD--- FAT! Caesar says in 190-192, "let me have men about me that are FAT!" Does he mean the lazy, overweight bloke that will not rise to trouble himself OR does he mean the affluent (fat) cushy fellow that exists only for profit?

    Cassius, he says "has a lean and hungry look!" Hungry denotes a craving, ravenous spirit to me, hey?

    March 3, 2003 - 09:16 pm
    Thanks Ginny for the print info. My webtv I guess isn't compatible with that feature, what a tragedy!

    Question 2A

    Cassius speaks with Brutus and says he will be Brutus' looking glass so that Brutus may see himself.

    "...be not jealous on me, gentle Brutus. Were I a common laughter, or did use to stale with ordinary oaths my love to every new protester; if you know that I do fawn on men and hug them hard and after scandal them, or if you know that I profess myself in banqueting to all the rout, then hold me dangerous." (Act 1.2, lines 77-84)

    What does Cassius reveal about himself? He is saying that he's a steadfast friend; he doesn't fawn over or praise just anyone; he doesn't gossip about his friends (discrete); and he is choosy about his friends.

    What of Brutus is revealed in Cassius' glass? Brutus is honorable; he's as good a man as Caesar, probably the better man and stronger; he comes from a noble family; his ancestor is the man who overthrew a tyrant and who is thus renowned and honored for his action.

    What one part of Cassius' speech seems to appeal to Brutus the most? The mention of Brutus' ancestor, the Liberator Brutus. "O, you and I have heard our fathers say there was a Brutus once that would have brooked th' eternal devil to keep his state in Rome as easily as a king." (Act 1.2, lines 167-170)

    Does Brutus seem to have a weakness? If so, what is it? I'd say his weakness is his blind confidence in his own honor/virtue. The belief he has that since he is an honorable man, therefore whatever action he takes will be honorable and just. I can see the vanity of such an outlook.

    Was Cassius' speech enough to bring Brutus over to the conspirators? No. Brutus says he'll consider the argument but he offers Cassius hope by saying that he'd already considered such things under the weight of a tyrant.

    More on Question 2B...


    March 3, 2003 - 09:46 pm
    Question 2B

    Are you convinced that Brutus is operating from a position of honor? Is anything he does dishonorable? What are his apparent considerations or deliberations? What's his biggest hang up? What should be his biggest hangup? No, I'm not convinced, but Brutus convinces himself that all his actions have to be honorable because he is, after all, Brutus with all his moral rightousness. His deliberations are meant to reason what is the honorable course of action, but 'Brutus' emotions' will make the fatal decision even though he calls the decision-maker 'his reason'. His biggest hangup was being seen as honorable. What should have been his biggest hangup was questioning if his murdering Caesar was moral.

    What appears to motivate Cassius the most? He's proud and convinced of his own self-worth. This leads to envy of the more successful JC.

    What evidence does either Cassius or Brutus give of Caesar's fault or "ambition"? Caesar's staging of the offering of the crown and JC's reluctant refusal of the crown is the prime example. JC's strange eruptions (such as waging civil war) in order to gain even greater power and which caused the death of thousands of Romans. Caesar had killed the sons of Pompey the Great, a fellow Roman, rather than warring with outsiders, thus making the waters of the Tiber (Rome's spirit) turbulent and displacing civil order. That men such as Cassius must bend their bodies if Caesar so much as nods at them as if JC thought himself a god.


    Some afterthoughts to Question 2A:

    I think Cassius reveals himself as being a lonely man. He also reveals that he has a sincere affection and respect for Brutus. Cassius, from having listened to Brutus and knowing him, decides to send false letters to Brutus from 'admirers' of Brutus the Liberator, asking that this Brutus take action. This will be the final winning strategy in convincing Brutus to join the conspirators. That's basically what I found in Act 1 regarding Question 2.


    March 3, 2003 - 10:06 pm
    Andy, Dante was a monarchist, not a republican, and he felt that Cassius and Brutus usurped a monarchy. Dante wrote a famous essay defending the rule by monarchy as being the only proper rule.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 3, 2003 - 10:49 pm
    Wow Marvelle you did it and said it all - The phrase that struck me as well is:
    I am glad That my weak words have provoked this much strong Reaction from Brutus
    because I was in awe how he would slip in the middle of a sentence this thought about Brutus' honor and fathers etc.

    Oh it isn't going to hurt is it, if I go ahead and share how I pulled out the phrases and sentences that allowed me to arrive at the same conclusion that Marvelle arrived at.
    ...you don't have any mirrors that would show Your inner qualities to you,

    What danger ... to search inside myself

    Since you know you cannot see yourself... Things about yourself which you don't yet realize.

    Put honor on one side and death on the other, And I will face either one; For let the gods give me good fortune only if I love The name of honor more than I fear death.

    ... what you have just said is true about you,... as well as I know your outward appearance...honor is what I want to talk about. I don't know what you and other people Think about life, but just for myself, I would rather die than live to be In awe of someone no better than I am. I was born as free as Caesar, so were you;

    "Brutus" and "Caesar." What is so special about the name "Caesar"? Why should that name be spoken more than yours? Write them together: your name looks just as good. Say them, yours sounds as good.

    Rome, you have lost all your noble people!

    O, you and I have heard our fathers say That there was once a man named Brutus who would have tolerated The eternal devil ruling Rome As easily as he would a king.

    Brutus would rather be a villager Than to repesent himself as a son of Rome Under the difficult conditions that this time in history Is likely to put on us.

    I am glad That my weak words have provoked this much strong Reaction from Brutus

    Brutus, you are noble; but I see Your honorable nature can be manipulated Into something not quite so honorable.

    Cassius is very good isn't he at manipulating insurgency - he can slip in, very unobtrusively, like brain washing, the words that appear weak but provoke a whollop. I wonder if that is the skill which makes him look greedy.

    March 4, 2003 - 05:01 am
    Tonight we decided that all the people so far are pretty much baddies.

    Luke and I both think that Cassius is brainwashing Brutus, so he will do want he wants.

    Casca seems to sit on the fence and cant make up his mind, or wants to be agreeing with everyone.

    Cassie is sure that Cassius has a plan to get rid of Caesar, and she really likes Caesar, and wants to be him when we start doing the scenes.

    Bo says that Caesar is so full of himself that he didn't listen to the fortune teller three times, and that both Caesar and Cassius were a bit strange jumping into the Tiber.

    We all think that Antony is too trusting because he tells Caesar not to worry about Cassius, and we do not like the way Caesar talks about fat people, brcause they are no different to thin ones.

    I think that Caesar is a big note and pretty stuck up, because he thinks he is better than the others.I dont think smart people are better, only different.

    We thought you might like to see how our easy English is written so am writing first lines for you.

    FLAVIUS Go home, you idle wretches! Go home! Do you think today's a holiday? Don't you know you tradesmen should wear working clothes on weekdays? You- what's your trade.

    CARPENTER Me sir? I'm a carpenter

    MARULLUS Then where's your leather apron and your ruler? What are you doing with your best clothes on? You there! What's your job?


    March 4, 2003 - 06:29 am
    Dashing in to say what wonderful substantive posts, still reading them, ROBERT!!!!!!!!! and ALL of your Chohorts!!!!!!!!!!! You guys are FABULOUS!! Let me go read, mark, and inwardly digest all you've all said and return, I have more new and exciting 7 posts to read this morning, I did so enjoy everybody's printed out posts last night. Food for thought!

    First off, tho, for your entertainment, speaking of Shakespeare's theater, here's something from the Globe in London that you might enjoy: (note the link from the Globe Home Page in post 99 which shows the new Globe only seats 1,600 and the actual dimensions of both the old and new)

    Julius Caesar on stage at the Globe in London, Click to enlarge

    You can see the size of the thing, how on earth they packed in 3,000 or more is amazing, you can see the "groundlings" or standing spectators as they stand near the stage.

    AND as you have seen on the Interesting Links page above in the heading, here's what it looks like on the outside:

    The Globe in London, Click to enlarge

    Also, just FYI, the "Pompey's Porch" illustration (I thought I had mentioned this but I guess not) on the Questions page shows Pompey's Theater at the extreme bottom with a little. sort of front porch looking thing on it, that's NOT the "porch," Shakespeare speaks of, the "porch" was a huge colonnaded complex which went out behind it, it was some theater for the day.

    More anon....


    March 4, 2003 - 06:34 am
    Hi Mal,

    Your information is very interesting. I wondered did they have props on the stage. Your article mentioned a painted wall and castle interiors. So interesting. Now, I see Ginny has put up more stuff for me to enjoy.

    March 4, 2003 - 07:05 am
    Reader Alert!! Please read!

    The word is now in, if you only see a couple of posts at a time try this, please, and you'll know something a lot of others don't, maybe you can help others, yourself, pass it on:

  • 1. Look for the Preferences button in the row of buttons after the last message posted here. Click on it.

  • 2. Scroll down way down, look for some slim boxes and these words:

    Maximum characters to show per page:

    Type in 64,000

    Then look for these words:

    Maximum messages to show per page:

    Type in 50

  • 3. Scroll down to the very bottom of the page and hit SET PREFERENCES.

  • 4. A new screen comes up, scroll down to the very bottom of it and hit OK.

    You should now see more posts on each page. (There's a possiblity that might apply only to a new discussion you visit and not one where you only see one or two NEW posts, but something is better than nothing?) These are my own settings. SN is trying to figure out, (there IS an upper limit but these do work) what the upper limit is, try these for now and see what a difference it MAY make in your own viewing pleasure, FYI in case you did not know?

  • Ginny
    March 4, 2003 - 07:38 am
    And here is a link from the Globe Home Page which spells out the care they took in restoration and the actual architectural dimensions, if you are interested: (click on the RED buttons, it's a fabulous site) Globe Theater Restoration in London

    Interesting quote from that site:

    "It is believed that Elizabethan actors would not have left the stage to play in the yard because of the risk it presented to their persons and their clothing."

    I always wondered about that? Have been to several plays in this theater and the actors actually did experiment with getting in the crowd of groundlings.


    March 4, 2003 - 08:36 am
    Welcome, Robert, and congratulations on being the spokesperson for your group. Welcome also to Cassie and Bo. How many of you are there?

    I really enjoyed seeing some sample text from the play you are reading, Robert. Please put in any other text when you think it necessary to show why you all think what you do.

    What you said about Fat People was interesting, but notice that Caesar says that he prefers to have "fat" or well fed people around him instead of people who look hungry because they are thin. Cassius looks this way to Caesar. Maybe Caesar suspects that Cassius might be a little too hungry for power? Maybe he is suspicious of him? I don't think that any criticism of fat people is meant. In fact, it looks like Caesar prefers fat people.

    It is exciting that later you will all be acting out some scenes. I think one of the best ways to get "inside" a play is to do some reading aloud with different people taking different parts. Cassie, why do you want to play Caesar?

    We are so happy to have you join us!


    March 4, 2003 - 10:13 am

    Thank You So Much as I just changed my preference and Words: Typed in 64,000

    Messages: Typed in 50 and Wow what a Difference it made for me as I had 28000 and only 15 so you can Really see the difference. Now to check out your other lesson. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.


    March 4, 2003 - 10:15 am
    Welcome Robert, Cassie, and Bo! Wonderful to see the other version of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Yes, Caesar listens to only what he wants to hear and that means he's uninformed which is dangerous for a politician.

    Barbara, thanks for adding the quotes (my posts were so long due to the questions that I was afraid to add many of the quotes). What a team we are!

    The overarching thought for Question #2 that I hadn't addressed directly is "The persuasion of Brutus by Cassius has to be one of the most powerful scenes in all literature, but IS it the conquest of evil over idealism?" My answer would be 'no.' I don't see Cassius or Brutus as either wholly evil or idealistic.

    Cassius has the unique characteristic of a good politician of being able to perceive the true motives of men. He doesn't persaude anyone to do anything that they didn't want to do. Cassius gave Brutus reasons to do, with seeming Honor, what Brutus already wanted to do. The delay with Brutus is that after the murder he still needs to have public esteem (also known as 'Roman Honor).

    This is such a political play isn't it? Manipulation/persuasion doesn't reside only with Cassius. Remember that Caesar is manipulating the Countrymen/common folk by having his statues festooned with garlands as if he were already a god and emperor; and he orchestrated the offered crown at Circus Maximus (which held 250,000 onlookers -- as good in Ancient Rome as todays TV spot in promoting a politician!) JC was making widespread reforms that would persuade the Countrymen to appreciate him even more. JC had overthrown a very flawed Republic and was manipulating the common folk for their support so he could be Emperor and God. JC was the original spin doctor in this tragedy.

    Imagine what it'd be like if our Presidents and Prime Ministers declared themselves Gods and Emperors. Suddenly life's opportunities would be radically diminished. In Rome, where every noble's duty is to be Sisyphus and ambitiously pursue more and more glory for himself and family, this diminishment would be catastrophic. This is what Cassius and Brutus face. Their way of life is being destroyed.

    Certainly the nobles, and JC is also a noble, helped create this state of affairs....this monstrous state. Too much greed and ambition and too little thought for their Countrymen.

    Shakespeare explores leadership, responsibility, and persuasion.

    When answering Question 2 yesterday, it helped me flesh out Brutus and Cassius in my mind. I assumed Brutus was idealistic but realized he deceived himself about himself. I was very surprised when looking closely at Cassius to see his aching loneliness. He was courting Brutus to be his friend as much as he courted him to be a co-conspirator.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 4, 2003 - 10:18 am
    Hehehe - Marvelle!! Is this getting to be a 'thing' that I am posting as you are hahaha...

    Great Post Robert thanks for joining us...Interesting; Cassie likes or admires Caesar and Bo thinks he is stuck up - I wonder what Cassie sees in Caesar that is admirable - Cassie cannot like or admire a character without the character portraying a side that Bo does not see. I also wonder if Cassie sees what Bo does see in Caesar, his being stuck up, and she has decided that part of him is not as important as the side she sees and admires. Caesar is certainly a man of action isn't he.

    Sounds wonderful to me that you can talk in class about your differing opinions.

    After your post you have inspired me to take another look at Antony.

    Thanks Ginny for the support material - do you know anything about acting Ginny - I just wonder if Shakespeare's material gave enough stage direction - I thought a script for a play had more stage direction included - are these texts (original or modern translation) only the words with some secret stash that directors use to bring these plays to the stage again? - Or is that the mastery needed in order to successfuly bring a Shakespeare play to an audiance?

    March 4, 2003 - 10:41 am
    I'll jump in and grab the question you posed to Ginny because I happen to be here.

    Shakespeare didn't see any of his plays through printing. The First edition of the plays was put together from actors' scripts and memories. There were very few stage directions except for entrances and exits. And I believe those were added. Because the writer provided so little direction, directors have a wide range of possibilities when it comes to staging a play.

    I can think of one example. I have seen many different productions of Hamlet. In that play, Hamlet attacks his mother, asking her to look at two pictures, one of his father (old King Hamlet) and one of his Uncle Claudius (old Hamlet's brother and now the husband of Hamlet's mother, Gertrude.) The lines begin "Look you upon this picture and on this. . ."

    Because there are no stage directions, this scene can be done many ways. I have seen it done with large portraits of King Hamlet and King Claudius hung on stage. Hamlet makes large gestures back and forth as he calls his mother's attention to his father's virtues and his uncle's vices. I have also seen it done with minatures worn in lockets. Gertrude has a locket with Claudius' picture in it and Hamlet has a locket with his father's portrait. In one production I saw, Hamlet ripped the locket from his mother's neck.

    Of course, when miniatures are used, the audience cannot see the actual portraits.

    In many ways Shakespearian plays in production are limited only by the language of the play. Thus it would probably not be wise to cast a plump man in the role of Cassius.

    Hope this helps.


    March 4, 2003 - 11:06 am
    Barbara--I need to correct some of what I said in the previous post. SOME of Shakespeare's plays were printed during his lifetime, but there is no evidence that he corrected the proofs or saw them through the press.

    Julius Caesar was first published in the First Folio of 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death in 1616. It is evidently based on a theater playbook or a transcript of it.


    March 4, 2003 - 12:31 pm
    On one trip to England, our son and a group of his friends took my husband and I to see a Shakespeare play. It was presented in the ruins/courtyard of a castle... we had a picnic dinner on a blanket, in the grass in front of the ruins... the actors were in costume and mingled and chatted with the audience, in character, before the presentation and in breaks between acts. There were no props or scenery... just actors in costume. When it was over the young folks with us could hardly believe what a good evening they had had!!! And it certainly was a memory my husband and I cherish.

    Do you suppose this is an example of how traveling troupes performed in Shakespeare's time?


    March 4, 2003 - 01:31 pm
    Hi Lurker Lou, Yes, I'll bet they did. I would love to have seen the play as you describe it.

    Even on stage, in a theater, there was little or no scenery, minimum props--swords and such. And plays were performed in daylight under a partially open sky.

    I'm glad you're with us. Please speak whenever the spirit (let us hope it is not the ghost of Caesar) moves you!


    March 4, 2003 - 01:40 pm
    Lurker Lou!! Welcome welcome and what a memory you've shared, that sounds like madrigal plays, I have no idea if that's the way they went around, but I love it, sounds like Henry VIII, our Maryal can fill us in, she's a treasure, thank you Maryal for that information on the staging and the plays written out in Shakespeare's day and the leniency in the production, loved it!! How creative they were!

    Lurker Lou, what do you and your historian think of Cassius and Caesar?? Whose side are YOU on?


    Am going to make several short (for me) posts to try to cover everybody, please don't miss one tho you may miss something addressed to YOU! Hahahaha kind of snuck in there like a small hidden Easter Egg.

    Meg, thank you so much for those wonderful characterizations according to Shakespeare, we'll make a page of them, I think they will be wonderful for our Reader's Guide, and very useful to me, as well. You make some very good points there. (Did you all know we are going to make a Reader's Guide out of this discussion and EVERYBODY'S contributions will be needed: one thing's for sure, it will be a Reader's Guide like no other!)

    Malryn thank you for that super link, it's full of interesting information.

    Barb, no, I know virtually nothing about acting and the theater, or Shakespeare, for that matter, got that illustration from the Globe and thought you all might want to enjoy them. My field/ interest was Classical Languages: I taught Latin at the university level for some years. (That was back when I knew what day it was, hahahaha)

    Ginger, you're welcome, I hope it helps people see more posts, I did not realize everybody did not, tho I only see two when I come into new posts.

    Actually those illustrations are "Pages to Color," they are very nice and large, on card stock, with the stage area of the Globe on one side and the whole building on the other. I am an old woman but it's all I can do not to get crayons and color them (should I admit this?) because the original is gorgeous? The pillars of the restored Globe's stage are richly colored, royal blue and gorgeous burgundy reds, and golds, the whole thing is gorgeous, smells of new wood and the thatch and there, on the stage, are two levels on the main stage and in the last Lear I saw musicians sit and play upstairs. I can see how attending a performance was magic, it still is.


    March 4, 2003 - 01:41 pm
    Ohmigosh, the Ghost of Caesar strikes again!! BOTH Maryal and I posted "Lurker Lou" together, I was composing while she posted (I have to compose in Word I can't type well enough, too many errors)

    I think "Lurker Lou" is an omen! A sign! A portent! (Maryal has gone nuts?) hahaahaah



    March 4, 2003 - 01:58 pm
    One possibility is that JC had every intention of eventually accepting the crown from Anthony, but only after he had demurred enough to placate the crowd. However, the seizure intervened and the fourth offer never came. That unplanned occurence might explain why he and Cicero were angry afterwards.

    On the other hand, the scene may not have unfolded as JC had planned. The crowd may have hissed the offers and clapped for the refusals. As the situation fell apart, JC may have resorted to histrionics by first offering to slash his throat, and then falling into a swoon. Upon awakening, he attempted to rescue the situation by blaming any improper behavior on his infirmities and appealing for sympathy.

    The second scenario would suggest JC had miscalculated his ability to sway the emotions of the crowd and would be further evidence of his lack of self-insight -- a quality Cassius could have provided for him.

    I would appreciate the thoughts of others on what really happened.

    March 4, 2003 - 02:13 pm
    Great Caesar's Ghost!

    March 4, 2003 - 02:17 pm
    When you say "what really happened, " John, do you mean as Shakespeare wrote it? I was just getting to you and your remarkable insights on Cassius and Caesar. I wish I could type faster.


    Personally, I think he was fishing, playing, toying with the crowd. Crowds are dangerous things. I think he was extremely confident in what he expected, trying to build the crowd up to an apex of acclamation, maybe a little vanity there, and was surprised when it didn't happen. I don't think he staged it but some people do.

    He pushed it away once, twice, (he didn't need to put it away once, even Casca says the crowd would have applauded him if he had killed their mothers) he could have taken it the first time to great applause. So why DID he push it away?

    Was he teasing the crowd? Was he, as the great Communicator of his day, simply trying to build up acclaim? Why did he do that? And when he did not get it he then he dramatically opened his toga exposing his throat saying well if you don't want me you may as well kill me? That's in tune actually with some of the other dramatic flourishes he did, (which always worked). I would liked to have been able to see him in action.

    I don't believe he feigned epilepsy, wasn't it regarded as a weakness? I don't think Caesar was afraid, of anything, including a crowd.. Is an epileptic seizure ever caused by emotional upset? I don't know a lot about it, I am pretty sure it was not caused by bad breath as Casca, who held his, thought (what a master Shakespeare is).

    But note, note...once again...the people, the power of the people and who it affects this time? I think he expected and was courting for his own vanity, the crowd and was surprised when they did not come thru. That's my guess, what do the rest of you think?



    March 4, 2003 - 02:23 pm
    Hello John.........

    I don't have any idea what Caesar was really up to. I think, as Ginny said that he was figuring out which way the wind blew. Did the crowd want him to take the wreath or not? When he puts it aside, they cheer. He has his answer.

    However, I think Shakespeare was very wise to keep this scene offstage and only have it described.


    March 4, 2003 - 02:39 pm
    Oh good point, Maryal, about the offstage!

    John, you said that this might have shown that he "had miscalculated his ability to sway the emotions of the crowd and would be further evidence of his lack of self-insight -- a quality Cassius could have provided for him."

    Is it possible that he expected acclaim? And actually felt he deserved it? And it was not a lack of miscalculation of his ability to sway the emotions of the people but that he expected their emotions to be positive, felt he had earned it, actually? And possibly that it wasn't a lack of self insight at all but rather one of over confidence and as you say miscalculation, not of his ability to SWAY them, but of what they thought, again a fickle crowd, and reference to the power of the Plebs? hahaha I'm trying not to say the same thing you are and am not sure I'm succeeding!


    March 4, 2003 - 02:53 pm
    I was asking about Shakespeare's intent rather than about historical details, and I thank both of you for your responses.

    Testing the waters is certainly a frequent ploy for politicians. One of the modern equivalents is to make known one is thinking of seeking a certain office, and then observing the reaction.

    However, it seems to me that JC was hoping the crowd would demand he accept the crown. When that didn't occur, he resorted to begging for sympathy, and that was when the crowd was won over. If JC had just been testing the water, I believe his post-scene reaction would have been one of disappointment rather than anger.

    I agree that keeping the sceen offstage was vital to maintaining sufficient mystery about the character of JC to keep the audience, both then and now, from deciding too quickly who the good guys are.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 4, 2003 - 02:56 pm
    I wonder if the number three - three times has significance - because if this was the same crowd taking the day off from their trade to see his triumpheral return they would have cheered anything he said. Is it another omen that he played with like playing with fire - the cock crowed three times before the cruicifiction.

    When it comes down to it we are so into this story now we forget it is the author he wrote three times - three is the number of creative power, growth - in Greek it is the number for Fate, the Moirai, who are three-in-one as Moirai, Hecate is threefold, the Erinyes are three-in-one as are the Gorgons in Medusa. Aphrodite and Venus are the queens of three worlds.

    Is this another example of Caesar elevating himself to a God...

    At the time this is written we have an audiance very much into Christian tradition but their past and close neighbor includes the Scandinavians who also believe in the three phases of the moon as significant as the signs of Fate and Thor had three heads.

    March 4, 2003 - 02:56 pm
    John, I hope you know what a delight it is to be able to debate this stuff!

    Brutus says Caesar looks sad. ...
    Tell us what has chanced today
    That Caesar looks so sad." I,ii,228.

    Does that fit in with your thought that he would look disappointed, not angry?


    March 4, 2003 - 03:00 pm
    I was composing while you entered your most recent post, so it is fortunate that I came close to responding to you.

    Did the common man of Rome share the disdain for monarchs that Brutus and his famous ancestor held? If so, the tension among the crowd may have revolved around this sentiment versus their admiration for JC, and this is where JC may have miscalculated. His final plea for sympathy may not only have allowed Caesar to save face, but have given the crowd a chance to show their love in some way short of going against their principles to support JC.

    March 4, 2003 - 03:05 pm
    Oh Folks, Friends, Romans, Countrymen all, you have to WATCH our John! Look what he just snuck into that last post:

    both then and now, from deciding too quickly who the good guys are.

    Whoooo LOVE IT! whooooooooooooo

    hahaha John, tell me, is it possible to feign an epileptic seizure?


    March 4, 2003 - 03:06 pm
    I was perplexed by the reference to sadness because earlier Brutus had noticed an angry spot glowing on Caesar's brow while most of the rest of his entourage looked liked whipped puppies. By contrast, Cicero fiery eyes reminded Brutus of when someone had crossed him in the Senate.

    This reads like anger over a situation gone bad to me. Perhaps, the anger gave way to sadness as the full significance sank in.

    March 4, 2003 - 03:08 pm
    It is possible to feign an epileptic seizure, and can you guess who is the most skillfull in carrying out the ruse?

    kiwi lady
    March 4, 2003 - 03:15 pm
    Caesar wanted the Crown alright. Everything he did in his life was carefully calculated and motivated by his insatiable quest for power. I am reading a biography of Caesar where there is much reference to Plutarch and other ancient biographers. In my copy of the play in the extensive notes which accompany it the author states that Shakespeare used Plutarch and other biographers to research while writing the play so a fair bit of it would have been historically accurate of course with exaggerations and inventions added to make the play appeal to the audience of the day.


    March 4, 2003 - 03:23 pm
    Carolyn, we were posting together, please keep telling us more about what you've read! Why do YOU think he refused it then, not once but three times???!~!!??? If he was so keen on it, why refuse it?

    John, Really? You're kidding? But I thought that an epileptic was unaware of what actually happened while he was caught up in it? (Can we see who is learning stuff?)

    BUT does it fit in with "Always I am Caesar?" I'm asking, not arguing? I'm still hung up on your absolutely stunning theory on the hearing thing? That perfectly explains the Soothsayer and why Caesar called him over?
    "Who calls?"
    "Who is it in the press that calls on me?
    ....Speak. Caesar is turned to hear.

    "Beware the Ides of March."

    "What man is that?"

    "A soothsayer bids you beware the Ides of March"

    " Set him before me. Let me see his face."


    "What sayest thou to me now?
    Speak once again."

    "Beware the Ides of March."

    "He is a dreamer. Let us leave him. Pass"
    Now you could have taken that scene many ways.

    But if you look at that scene (ActI, ii, 16ff) from the point of view that Caesar had a hearing problem, all the other things fall into place! He simply did not hear him. He wanted to see his face, see his lips, once he heard what the message was, he said FAUGH!

    Maryal, why do you say Caesar was supertitious?

    Ok and on this? the tension among the crowd may have revolved around this sentiment versus their admiration for JC, and this is where JC may have miscalculated

    Gotcha (finally understand you) !!! Very finely put if I may say so!!



    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 4, 2003 - 03:39 pm
    superstitious would again make me think that the number three has some significance. Look...
    Symboic meaning for numbers

    Hecate rules over the great crossroads of life, Birth, Puberty, Marriage, Menopause, Old Age and Death- as well as Rebirth beyond.

    Hecate or Hekate is the representation of three worlds, the Heavens, the Earth and the Underworld; having rule over all.

    When the Hecate Woman (or Man) consciously integrates the Shadow and owns that Power, then that one can act as a light for those who are attempting to part the veil and who can help us bring together those lost parts of the self, long forgotten. Hecate is our personal link to those archetypes dwelling deep within the collective unconscious

    THE MOIRAI were personifications of the inescapable destiny of man. They assigned to every person his or her fate or share in the scheme of things.

    THE ERINYES (Furiae Dirae) were UNDERWORLD GODDESSES of vengeance and retribution (especially for the crimes of children against their parents). They were born from the blood of Ouranos' castration at the hands of his son Kronos and for this crime they gave their full support to Zeus as the agent of his father's downfall.
    Shakespeare does turn to the classical gods, witches, goddesses in his other plays so why not infere them to coincide with Caesar's desire to be God Like and his superstitions that are really our modern way of saying; associated with these ancient religions.

    March 4, 2003 - 03:48 pm
    we see in Act 1, Scene 2.

    At first I thought Brutus was somewhat vainglorious and rather shallow, and that's why he fell easy prey to Cassius manipulations? Cassius reinforces that notion after their conversation when he tells us he would not have been so easily been influenced if the roles had been reversed.

    But what did Caussius tell Brutus that was so convincing. He cited examples of Caesar's human frailities to counter the latter's god-like image. He claimed he, Cassius, was as least as strong as Caesar because he had hauled his... ah, person out of the teeming river and had nursed him during an illness. Cassius went on to make similar claims on behalf of Brutus because Brutus was descended from heroic stock and enjoyed a good reputation around Rome. By the end of this bit of high-pressure salesmanship, Brutus was ready to meet again, and the conspiracy was launched.


    Could it have been that Brutus was far more willing to be recruited than I realized at first. Was all that internal brooding a sign that Brutus was already keeping pace with Cassius?

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 4, 2003 - 04:02 pm
    since Cassius and Brutus were brother-in-laws are we seeing the Janus at work here?

    March 4, 2003 - 04:11 pm
    Wow, this was certainly exciting and fits in with the super stuff you all said still to come, but first!!!

    Robert, Cassie, Luke, Bo, Ben, Tiffany, Brendan, Kylie, Tama and George, and our own Caesar II, WELCOME, ALL!!

    Robert, will you ask everybody whose side of the three they would care to be on if they'll say? Will Cassie be on Caesar's? (I can see right now that Cassie and I have a lot in common!)

    Robert, is that the text you are using or are you all writing the text yourself? That's very clear and readable!

    Robert, very insightful reading on your and Luke's part on the brain washing, what do you see him trying to appeal to in Brutus most? We need to look at Brutus, what do you all think about him there in Australia? Do you think he's noble or honorable or not, you say he's a baddie too? How?

    Bo, I think you have got something there about Caesar being full of himself, do you think that's a drawback of accomplishment, that a man gets too full of himself? We may see that come to haunt him, a lesson for us all, maybe.

    WE need to ALL look at Brutus, Guys, at what's honorable about him and what's not. What moves him, what doesn't, we're about to see some not so cool stuff on his part.

    Now Marvelle saw Brutus as reflected in Cassius's glass as "honorable; as good a man as Caesar, probably the better man, and stronger....[with good ancestors and from a good family.]

    We will need to watch Brutus, so far he's behaved honorably. When might he slip? So far so good. Honest and upright. Sort of, he's listening, he's tempted, he's 3/4 swayed as Cassius notices, and only lacks the 1/4th that Cassius is about to deliver. Notice what that 1/4th is?

    Marvelle, what did you mean by this? "I assumed Brutus was idealistic but realized he deceived himself about himself."

    How interesting, what do you mean?

    Aching loneliness on Cassius' part? Interesting. I can see him eaten up by envy? In the panoply of sins of the world, when envy turns to outright plotting and malice, would you say the line has been crossed?

    Marvelle also says that she doesn't see either Brutus or Cassius as wholly evil or idealistic, that's the scary part, to me, neither is a cartoon character of any one thing, there's a lot of everyman in all of them, just like reality. (I wasn't keeping track of those gratitudes but I need to, that's three, thanks!!)

    I think John delivered the question of the day yesterday, when he said

    What could Cassius have done for Caesar? Well, kept him alive for one thing.

    That leads me to ask you all something that you can't answer before Caesar is stabbed but which never occurred to me before I read that: Who, what one person is the most responsible for Caesar's death?


    Don't answer that quickly or now, but let's think on it.

    If Cassius could have kept him alive, did he then cause his death?

    OR did Brutus?

    OR did Caesar himself?


    Andrea, I agree, there's nothing new under the sun!

    Caesar II (hahahaha Anneofavonlea) with your love of Republicanism, what do you think of our Brutus? I want to get your opinions and then I want to come back to you to see what you think later on, what fun!! I think there is a difference between Caesar and Attila in terms of real accomplishment but you're right, we do tend to remember famous names, like Jack the Ripper and Attila the Hun (when you start to list famous characters it's amazing who they are and who they are not?) But of all of the characters of history you can list, betcha you can't say with certainty the day any of them died to the day?? Except one!

    Hahahahaa Send Cassie over to me! hahahahaa

    Hats, where are you on all these folks, which camp do you think you'd be in? I am so fascinated by all the different takes on this thing and I agree with you, uneasy is the head that wears the crown, I don't know how any person in public service enjoys it, either, think of the threat to their children alone. Makes you realize why Colin Powell resisted for so long.

    How do you see Brutus?

    How do ALL of YOU see Brutus? I note our John today is having second thoughts! How about the rest of you?

    Babi, SOOO glad to see you and that you made it!@@@@@ For somebody lost in the huge Pre Discussion you came thru like a champ@ And I think your opinions are RIGHT ON! So you and our Caesar II (Anneofavonlea) hahaha see the keynote of Caesar's character as arrogant and I loved your take on why the crown thing was offstage. Good point on the supporters too, very fine point. What's YOUR take on Cassius? On Brutus?

    Barb, what makes you think Caesar thought of himself as a God other than Cassius's rantings??

    Who did I miss? I have 111 printed pages of your great stuff here and they just fell all on the floor, who did I MISS? Where is Jan today I miss her sense of humor about the knives, haahahahaha


    kiwi lady
    March 4, 2003 - 04:44 pm
    I think I already mentioned in an earlier post that Caesar was playing the crowd. He knew how they were thinking. He was an expert in playing the people! Also there also may have been some element of superstition in his decision. He was a very superstitious person when it suited him. Note he did not want to listen to the soothsayer it would interfere with his plans so he chose ambition over his usual superstition.


    March 4, 2003 - 05:52 pm
    Brutus had already decided that the tyrant JC should die for the sake of Rome before Cassius spoke to him. But Brutus was concerned about his public image. Cassius flattered Brutus and assured him that the murder would be seen as Honorable -- the fake, flattering letters are the final push to action for Brutus who uses the letters to convince himself.

    When I described how Brutus appeared in Cassius' glass, this was Cassius telling Brutus how he appeared to others, which isn't necessarily what I may feel about Brutus.

    Ginny, yes illness or weakness had a negative impact on how a Roman was seen and JC would not have faked an epileptic seizure. I accumulated a number of books on Rome to try to understand the politics and life and here is some of what I found in Daily Life in Ancient Rome by Florence Dupont (Blackwell 1989):

    "The body of a citizen was the man himself, the 'embodiment' of the truth about him....the body had to be kept under control and made to respond appropriately to the demands of each new set of events." (240-1)

    "In their [Roman] eyes, a sick body was often the result of a corrupt soul." (242)

    "Diseases of the body, at least in adult free men, were generally viewed as indications of diseases of the soul. Sick people were therefore always suspected of having committed some transgression or at least of being morally weak. Illness, while it was not deemed a punishment as such, was thought to be the inevitable effect of a slackening of the soul that rendered the body less tense and therefore more vulnerable." (252-3)

    Ginny, thanks for the hint about the Preference button and the number of messages I can read to a page. It helped tremendously!


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 4, 2003 - 05:53 pm
    Ginny by denying the crown I thought he was not only playing a political game but I also thought rejecting it three times was an allegory to other associations with the number three. The symbol of number three has god like associations and kings had god like statue.

    Turning to the text, Casca says; "Yes, by heaven, it was."
    Just as we can pull out of Cassius spoken words, other meanings that set Brutus up, we can look at that technique in other characters.

    Also the crown that Antony offers is a coronet (which is smaller than a crown) and Casca laughs seeing a joke in Caesar refusing the 'coronet' as does Cassius when he says Caesar does not have the falling sickness and both he and Casca have the falling sickness.

    Caesar must have played the crowd well since in what appeared to be out of anger that the crowd cheered his not accepting the coronet he offers his throat to them to be cut. He covers his faux pas when he gets up from his affected falling sickness and Casca suggests the nearby women would still praise him even if Caesar had stabbed their mothers.

    After all this hooray Caesar is unhappy speaking Greek -
    "Marullus and Flavius, for pulling decorations off Caesar's statues, are put to silence." My translation said, "put to death."

    Than opening scene III we have Casca speaking of angering the gods which can be taken as a forewarning of actions to be or it can be a case of the gods angry that a mere human wants to elevate himself to the status of a god.
    "Either there is a civil war in heaven, Or else the world, too disrespectful of the gods, Makes them angry enough to destroy it."

    We also have reference to Julius Caesar starting the Imperial Cult (as I understand it every non-Christian worshipped a god or goddess through a cult) this is a quote from this theology site - Historical Developments in the Imperial Cult
    Julius Caesar provided the model for the official cult of Augustus . The people called Caesar "god" and honored him as such in his lifetime. A statue was dedicated to him in the temple of Quirinus in 45 BC with the words "To the invincible god." Before his death he had his own temple under the name "Jupiter Julius"; this was the first step in establishing the cult, by honoring a living hero according to the Greek...after his death...he was transferred to the number of the gods. The senate and people declared him a god and during the celebration in honor of the divus Julius the appearance of a comet was taken as proof that his soul had been received into the number of the immortals.
    Somehow Shakespeare had to infer this god status that Caesar had achieved and that I suspect Caesar manipulated the people to achieve this status.

    March 4, 2003 - 06:38 pm
    Barb, I have a Folger Library copy of JC which defines "put to silence" as meaning they were either removed from their offices or perhaps imprisoned.

    Plutarch says they were "displaced" according to the heading link and my copy of Plutarch. Apparently the actual tribunes Marullus and Flavius had pulled the decorations from the statues and arrested those who'd put them up and a crowd followed them in the streets and cheered and called them 'Brutus.' Plutarch link:

    "Caesar so far resented this, that he displaced Marullus and Flavius, and in urging his charges against them, at the same time he ridiculed the people...."


    March 4, 2003 - 08:30 pm
    Remember that when Elizabeth I and James I (James VI of Scotland) were ruling, Shakespeare had no problems supporting them. He was a monarchist.

    It might be a good idea here to understand that Shakespeare believed that the King or Queen was God's chosen ruler on earth. Such was not the case in ancient Rome. Yes, sometimes emperors were elevated to the status of god, usually after their deaths, but there is a big difference between a polytheistic culture which had many gods, and a Christian culture which had one God and one divinely sanctioned monarch.

    When Shakespeare wanted to refer to pagan gods, he did so. (See King Lear.) To go beyond the text and speculate on what might have been is adding to what Shakespeare wrote.

    I think that writing about ancient Rome gave Shakespeare a certain freedom to explore power and politics in a way he could not when writing the English history plays. He could look at what happened to Caesar and why it happened without worrying about the present day situation in England.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 4, 2003 - 08:36 pm
    Thanks Marvelle - all to say Caesar was angry and what was he angry about - it could be simply that he did not receive the honor of a crown versus the coronet or that the crowd did not go further and demand more status or I think he was wanting more demand for status from the crowd to justify his elevated station that in his mind would go beyond just a crown - he may not have in his mind, actually saying, ‘I want to be a god’ but certainly, he wanted to show he had all the attributes of a god-like-leader that was so exalted, trashing the Republic was only step one in his elevation to this heavenly greatness.

    Napoleon displays some of the egocentric behavior and he wanted to rule the show rather than continue the Republic. Both men brought many wonders to humanity but again I do not like seeing the dismantleing of a Republic. Sure democracy is sloppy and takes time but it also bodes well for freedom and furthers the use of creative solutions in governing.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 4, 2003 - 08:40 pm
    aha Maryal you and I were posting at the same time - Maryal I tried to show in the text those phrases and sentences that speak to Caesar flirting with a god like status and it appears he was given that status while he was alive - I think Shakespeare was acknowledging that without bluntly saying it because as you say - and that is a great point - that there were many gods in 44 AD where as in the seventeenth century a Christian nation undstands only one God with a capitol G.

    March 4, 2003 - 10:14 pm
    Maryal, great point about Shakespeare using the past to talk about present-day issues. Shakespeare was even handed in his treatment of his characters though. He doesn't seem to passionately favor one 'side' above another in Julius Caesar.

    I think, Barb, that Caesar started to believe his own PR.

    I would not have fared well in Ancient Rome. I'd be afraid to admit to a cold because of their belief that illness of body reflects a corrupt soul. I'm not corrupt Countrymen, I just have a cold! Thank goodness we don't have that as a common belief anymore.

    With the constant treadmill of ambition and the rigid social structure and rules and superstitions --- no, I wouldn't have done well there. We may have some similar problems today but not as severe?


    March 4, 2003 - 11:16 pm
    These conspirators seem to be very trusting people. Cassius tells several stories about Caesar, his attempt to swim the Tiber, his fever in Spain etc. and these are accepted with no questions asked. Then he tells Casca that he had been walking around in the terrible storm and "when the cross blew lightning seem'd to open
    the Breast of Heaven, I did present my self
    Even in the Aim and very Flash of it."

    I had a funny feeling that Cassius could have undone his clothes just around the corner and presented himself to Casca, but nobody seems to doubt him. Were they a very gullible people? Where's the investigative journalism?


    March 5, 2003 - 04:54 am
     Let us not forget that our "Marcus Junius Brutus" was  a lawyer who after offering his support to Pompey,  was later pardoned by Caesar. Why then was he part of this conspiracy?  Where does everyone's loyalties lie?  Was he just caught up in the words of the manipulative Cassius?

      During the nine years of Caesars command and  successes he met with adverse fortune but three times in all, Seutonius tells us.

    I don't know John if this was a post-ictal response that Julius had or not.  Who is to say wheteher it was a feigned seizure?  I've seen some pretty convincing "feigned" seizures in a lifetime of neuro nursing.  However, in Julius'es day, these attacks were considered sufficient cause for the postponement of elections, or other public business. Maybe he had had enough glory with his ill health and really didn't want to be crowned.

    Wasn't it said that perhaps JC was planning on leaving Italy anyway?

     I always remember being impressed that Caesar did not indulge in the "orgiastic" and drunken parties so prevelant during these times.  He drank very little wine not even his enemies denied. There is a saying of Marcus Cato that Caesar was the only man who undertook to overthrow the state when sober.

    March 5, 2003 - 05:07 am
    Cassie likes the idea of people remembering her forever, and offering her crowns, and she thinks if people do that to you they must think you are a pretty good person.She would like to be on Caesars side.

    That is the text, we read it the way it was first written as well, but this makes it easier for the young ones to understand.

    Tama has gone to swimming championship, and he was glad because he is bored with Caesar, he only does it because we cant have the toga party if we dont try.

    We talked about Brutus, and he is pretty good, but if people say nice things to you all the time,it is easy to believe them.Cassius wanted him to think he liked him.We some times change our mind about people because of what other friends say.We also think because they didnt have television they got more excited about things, like the wolf thing.I mean Lupercal,was trying not to spell it.

    We will write some more in morning before school.We liked all the drawings and we are looking for pictures of Caesar.

    he only likes fat people because he thinks they are stupid, and we dont think fat people are.Bo is very skinny so he wants to be Cassius.Tiffany is Brutus and Brendan is casca.So that means the three murderers will be killing their sister in our play, as bo, brendan cassie and tiffant are all from same family.

    Luke is going to be mark Antony, because he likes him so far.Kylie just listens and doesnt say much, and neither does Tiffany.Ben isnt in this week so he has only been talking to us at school, he will say something next week

    March 5, 2003 - 05:09 am
    THE OMENS!   why did he neglect the omens?  Could he have changed the course of history had he been more vigilant?  what could he have done after the "tomb" of Capus was discovered?  Could he have believed the story aout the "rubicon" horses who refused to graze and wept copiously?  (I'd have trouble with that one, myself.)

    What of poor ole Spurrina, the soothsayer, should Caesar have had him beheaded for the admonition?  Would he have believed he would be next to "meet his Waterloo" after witnessing the king bird being devoured, while holding the sprig of laurel?  What could he have done about his dreams, another protend?  He knew!  He knew!  He knew that his time was limited yet he entered the senate in defiance of these omens.  Well, so would I have done that.  Go Caesar.  Heck the Ides of March are coming anyway!

    March 5, 2003 - 05:13 am

    March 5, 2003 - 05:45 am
    and then was denied access, will return tomorrow

    March 5, 2003 - 06:05 am
    Anne, I know exactly how that feels, you post this huge post, take your time, get it right, and WHAMMO it's gone!! Don't you HATE THAT? OH so frustrating!

    But hist! I see you dislike Brutus! Now there's a super thing for us all to ponder about till you can get back on (are you 6 hours ahead of us?) At any rate we will await your thoughts with interest, he's supposed to be the good guy in this thing, right? . How do the rest of you see Brutus, this is marvelous, really fine.

    I thought about Brutus all night, there's something nagging at me about him but I can't put a finger on it, something to do with listening? Or...

    I don't think Caesar thought of himself as a god, I don't see anything in Shakepeare which indicates that belief, and there's no evidence in any source I trust that the Romans ever worshipped him as a god in his lifetime, he's not on the list (and there are hundreds of very strange gods who are). He did claim to be descended from a goddess and so did half of the rest of them: that was as common for the Ancient Romans as Americans claiming ancestors who came over on the Mayflower and for about the same reasons.

    That's also perhaps a good indicator to us of the difference in the times. It is true that Shakespeare is making these characters seem modern and understandable, after all, he only wrote 500 years ago, and some emotions are the same in all centuries? But we're really not reading the words or thoughts of the ancients here, and they DID live in a vastly different culture than we do, in many ways, (and in some ways they seem remarkably like us: those are the things Shakespeare has focused on, emotions we think we can understand and relate to). The Romans were, quite frankly, superior to much of what we have outlined so far.

    We all are encouraged to read more about the background of the people in the play for our own learning, I myself read 4 books for this discussion, you'll get SOO much more out of the entire experience if you do. We here will concentrate on the play itself: please be careful in the choices of sources you choose if you want to emerge from your learning experience with knowledge which is worthwhile to your time.

    I don't know if Caesar was ever wounded: an excellent question there's a little nagging bell ringing but I can't find it and so won't say. Also I don't think, having read in the original every word left to us the man wrote, that Caesar was afraid of anything or anybody. If he did feign a fit it was calculated, but again, not sure: simply do not know, thank you Marvelle for those quotes on how illness was seen in the ancient world, that makes Cassius's using Caesar's illness as an example of his weakness even more striking, doesn't it?

    I don't think Cassius meant he had become a god literally any more than I think Cassius thought Caesar was 18 stories tall and bestrode the world like a Colossus literally.

    I am continually amazed at what Shakespeare reveals through his marvelous writing. I am getting a new appreciation for him through this experience, so much said in so few words, I wish I would.

    Those of you who enjoy researching things on the internet? We could desperately use for our Reader's Guide information on Shakespeare's life and his bibliography? For this purpose any site offered will have to have the words edu in the url, please, there must be a million sites out there, let's try to stick to those with edu in them for our Reader's Guide.

    One source I do trust, The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, says this about Quirinus:

    Quirinus in Roman religion , originally the local deity (perhaps the war god) of the Sabine community settled on the Quirinal hill berfore the foundation of Rome. When this community came to br incorporated into Rome, Quirnius was included among the state gods of the city with Juniper and Mars. His festival, the Quirinialia, was celebrated on 17 February, but nothing is known of his ritual. Quirinus was identified with the deified Romulus by the Romans of the late republic (but not by Livy). He had his own flamen the flamen Quirinalis.

    Also on the web I found another site which purported to say that in the late Republic statues of many people including Caesar were put in this old temple, Caesar's was labeled "hero, " but that site is full of inaccuracy and misinterpretation, so I don't trust anything it says.

    Andrea brings up the OMENS and asks some super questions. Let's look at the splendid points in the Questions today on Signs and Portents and who paid attention to them and who didn't.

    I LOVED Cicero's remark that

    But men may construe things after their fashion
    Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.

    We've all seen the old movies where the volcano erupts and the natives say oh the gods are angry throw on another sacrifice? And yet aren't there LOTS of people in 2003 who think some things are signs? Have you personally known anybody who felt XXX is a sign of YYYYY? There's a column in Sports Illustrated, (which is intended to be funny) , titled "Signs that the Apocalypse is Upon Us," and lists behaviors which seem bizarre, it's a hoot actually, or used to be when I read it.

    The weather Shakespeare describes in Act I, scene iii, lines 15 and following, to the superstitious Romans, is a horror, what does it mean? What could each of the manifestations symbolize?

    Note Cassius in the storm. I think Meg mentioned his behavior, that's just, by anybody's standards, bizarre!

    WHAT do YOU make of it this morning (do you take Caesar to bed with you? I do and it's wonderful reading Shakespeare right before you go to sleep, such beautiful writing!

    More on your wonderful posts! Some of you have posted while I was composing this one, back in a flash (I compose in Word because I'm tired of losing mine, too).


    March 5, 2003 - 06:05 am
    I am lost in reading all the messages. I am trying to catch up. Then, I am going to focus on Brutus like GINNY asked. I agree with BARBARA. I think that Ceasar manipulated the crowds. He wanted that crown more than he wanted anything. His pretended modesty excited the crowds. This makes me think that Ceasar was not only ambitious but "shrewd." I am using GINNY'S word here. Ceasar was a very cunning man.

    Oh, I just read CAROLYN'S POST #122. That is exactly the way I feel about Ceasar.

    March 5, 2003 - 06:42 am
    Hi, Hats! We're posting together, more later on,

    Robert, here is a picture of Caesar for your classroom, click on it and it will make a nice larger one:

    Julius Caesar. Click to enlarge

    March 5, 2003 - 06:43 am
    woo hoo, there are many many posts this morning.

    March 5, 2003 - 06:48 am
    Fine bust of Caesar, Ginny!

    March 5, 2003 - 07:20 am
    Hi Maryal,

    Ginny, thank you for the picture of the bust.

    I have been thinking about Brutus and Cassius. I think Brutus is far more complex than Cassius. Cassius speaks his mind. Most definitely Cassius is very envious of Ceasar. Brutus, I think, is a very deep thinker, and he listens well. His quietness might make him seem simple minded or slow or that he is easily led by someone else, but I think Brutus definitely has a mind of his own and knows what he wants to do.

    March 5, 2003 - 07:55 am
    Hats, I agree that Brutus is a deep thinker and has a mind of his own, but I disagree that he listens well. In my opinion (IMO) Brutus is like Caesar in that he listens to only what he wants to hear and disregards the rest. Actually, I think Brutus is more extreme than Caesar in this. We'll see more of the non-listening Brutus as the play goes on.

    Cassius is able to perceive men's true motives so all he had to do with Brutus was flatter him and reinforce what Brutus was already thinking.

    Cassius shouldn't be taken literally. His nose is always stuck in a book according to Caesar. He uses all the literary techniques of allegory, metaphor, simile etc. He never intended to be taken literally by the other characters when using literary techniques to make a point, and the other characters knew enough not to take him literally.

    I wonder why Shakespeare seems to have chosen Cassius to be the poetic character to an extreme? And Brutus is the literal one who speaks dryly (reason) rather than poetry? I know that the real Brutus was writing a history so he was more interested in facts and non-fiction. (Antony will come along next week and we'll see how he speaks.)

    The storm I believe to be an indication of Nature's omen of what's to come as well as the inner state of man; this was a common belief in Ancient Rome and still prevalent in Shakespeare's time -- and still exists in our own time. (Remember King Lear in the storm?)

    When Cassius says he bares his chest to lightning, he's really saying that he faces the danger and civil strife; he doesn't shy away from it. And this would show the directness and combative side of Cassius? Casca, on the other hand, is terrified of the strife and is more indirect in his actions? I'll have to re-read for my own interest, how Cicero reacted to the storm.


    March 5, 2003 - 10:51 am

    A super opening discussion this morning centering on Brutus, trust, complexity, listening and, it need to be added, honor. Do we know what Brutus thought of the Signs and Portents? The weather?

    We have Casca's opinion and Cassius's, do any of the other characters, Cinna, remark on the omens and portents?

    Andrea, where are you seeing the horses of the rubicon weeping, and the "tomb" of Capus ?

    Is that in Act I? Oh I like your question could Caesar have changed the course of history, VERY much, oh keep that on a back burner?

    Why do YOU think Caesar ignored the omens so far? Ignored the Soothsayer? Ego? Arrogance? Can we ally Caesar in our mind with any other great military genius of our time? Patton? McArthur?

    Marvelle, this was interesting

    I wonder why Shakespeare seems to have chosen Cassius to be the poetic character to an extreme? And Brutus is the literal one who speaks dryly (reason) rather than poetry?

    I had not noticed the difference in their speech!! But Hats picked up on it too. And Hats says that Brutus is more complex than Cassius, what do you all think?
    And Jan picked up on the "trust" thing, that was interesting, no they weren't credulous and trusting, any more than we are, it makes you wonder about Caesar himself, I spent a good part of last night wondering why he took Antony's word that Cassius was ok. Why do you all think? Did he just want to believe that, since he had pardoned so many of these people, they would be grateful to him?

    (And, marvelle, talking about Shakespeare and Cassius, why on earth did Shakespeare elevate ANTONY to such heights!)

    Poor Caesar, I believe I feel sorry for him. He needed people around him after all he had done and accomplished that he could trust. But he was no fool, why DID he trust?

    He needed men who sleep at night not lay awake with their stomachs aching just to foment plots. He trusted. He was magnanimous in his forgiveness (I tell you what? I love you all, but if you pick up a gun and try to kill me and get all the others here to try, too, and I end up defeating you, don't look for a hug and an appointment as Governor of Pauline from me) hahahaaha

    Robert, thanks for the report on your Cohorts there, good luck to Tama in the championships!!

    Thank you for indicating who everybody is going to play in your production and for the text, I really like your text, it seems very faithful to the original so far as we've seen, anyway. Are you leaning any particular way so far in the story, Robert?

    We'll get up everybody's name in the heading under which group they think they now want to be in, the names keep disappearing from the heading but we've got them back under the Friends, Romans, etc.

    I think you are correct in that Cassius appealed to Brutus as a friend "Cassius wanted him to think he liked him." I think when we look at what Cassius did appeal to in Brutus we may see that Brutus is not moved so much by honor as by something else, despite his idealistic self.

    Compromised idealism, when is it warranted?

    "Cassie likes the idea of people remembering her forever," You know, I have to tell you all this, young Cassie needs to go major in Classical Languages, she just put her finger on it again. Robert, tell Cassie that Caesar earned people remembering him forever through things not seen in the play, and that she has hit on probably ONE of the most important elements in the play, tell her to wait till the end and not forget it?

    Andrea asks, "Why then was he part of this conspiracy? Where does everyone's loyalties lie?"

    Good question, who should they be loyal to? Brutus? Who is he really being loyal to, the Republic, the countrymen, or himself?

    Jan, "Were they a very gullible people? Where's the investigative journalism?"

    Ask that again at the beginning of Act II! It's something I've never understood about Brutus. These beginning acts, was it Barbara who said they were little plays in themselves?

    You guys really astound me for your ability to put your fingers on the crux of the matter.

    Marvelle says, "I would not have fared well in Ancient Rome. "

    OK today we're looking at Brutus, we're running out of time in the week, so much to cover, and we're looking at the character of Brutus, what moves him and the Signs and Portents and what they seem to signify, who pays attention, who doesn't?
    This is a super way to do all those things?

    Ask yourself, put yourself in their shoes?

    How do you think YOU would do as an ancient Roman?

    Would you be the ruling class or one of the Plebs?

    Would you have been able to work your way up the ladder?

    If you were Brutus, put yourself in Brutus's shoes this morning, if Cassius came to you, what would YOU say?

    He's used every trick in the book, he's appealed to your friendship (you're at fault) he's appealed to your sense of "honor," (since you mentioned it first), he's appealed to your ancestor and your failure to carry on the noble family tradition, you're not the man your ancestor was, you've let the family and country and name of Brutus and reputation down, he's appealed to your vanity, he's appealed to your envy, (the name of Caesar is no better than Brutus) he's appealed to your lack of superstition, saying "the fault dear Brutus is NOT in our stars but in ourselves, ," (free will choice over fate)? He's appealed to your horror of one man taking it all over and the country returning to the very kings your ancestor threw out, on your watch.

    What would YOU say to him?

    What does Brutus say? Would you listen? Note that Brutus knows where Cassius is going with all this, too. Hats says she thinks Brutus knows exactly where he's going, John says, whoa! I'm changing my mind about Brutus.

    Inquiring minds (Great Ceasar's Ghost, Maryal? hahahaha I haven't heard that in years hahahahaha) want to know what you think this morning?


    kiwi lady
    March 5, 2003 - 12:03 pm
    The Politics of Rome were very complicated. In fact there was not a lot of democracy in action. Votes were bought, positions were bought and if all else failed assassination was common. The forum was the stage for many political killings before the stabbing of Caesar. When you read about the life of Caesar you begin to truly realise how many machinactions went on behind the scenes for a Roman to rise to power. Caesar made a pact with Pompey and Crassus early in his career and used them to rise to power. Pompey had the political clout and Crassus was a millionaire. Caesar played the people and made sure he kept on side with both the people and the army. He was less than honest with money and used his ill gotten gains to bribe his way to the top. This is not to say he was not a born soldier he was. He was in the thick of all the battles. However one gets the impression that he was interested more in furthering the cause of Caesar than the cause of Rome. I could go on and on but my main impression of Caesar is that he was driven by the need for power.


    March 5, 2003 - 12:08 pm
    Our study of this play has corrupted me (not that that is difficult) so that instead of grading papers, I decided to check out the story of North's translation of Plutarch's Lives.

    Here is what I discovered. We know that North's edition of Plutarch was Shakespeare's primary source. It was published in 1579 and remained the chief English translation for more than 100 years.

    Here is the interesting part. North did not translate from the original Greek. He translated into English Jacques Amyot's French translation of Plutarch. (Amyot did translate from the Greek).

    The question in the back of my head was "Just how reliable are our--or Shakespeare's--sources?

    We start with Plutarch, born in 46 AD, a Greek whose understanding of Latin was not completely sound. Caesar was assassinated some 80 years before Plutarch was born!

    So, it goes like this: Plutarch writes of the lives of Caesar, Brutus, Mark Antony and others in Greek. Many years later, Jacques Amyot translates Plutarch. Then North translates from the French.

    Whoa, I said to myself, we are at some remove from the "actual incidents" of 44 BC.

    Great Caesar's ghost!

    March 5, 2003 - 12:19 pm

    When reading about Ceasar ignoring the omens, I thought of John F. Kennedy. I can't remember the psychic's complete name. It was Jean something or other. She was really popular, I think, in the sixties. Anyway, I think Jean Blank told John F. Kennedy not to go to Texas on that fateful day. Does anyone remember her name?

    kiwi lady
    March 5, 2003 - 12:21 pm

    Plutarch would have got his information from the writings of Contemporaries of Caesar. There were several who lived throught the events of the time and recorded them.


    March 5, 2003 - 12:43 pm

    I think her name was Jeanne Dixon. Can't have wondering to long as I know how that is.

    March 5, 2003 - 01:01 pm
    Current leaders of state deal with many "omens" ranging from economic indicators to events in third world countries to opinion polls. Undoubtedly, similar issues existed in Shakepeare's day.

    Shakespeare could have added more political, social, ecomonic and theologic details from the time of Caesar, or he could have grafted contemporary issues on to the Roman scene to make the play more relevent to the audiences of 1599.

    However, either maneuver would have fixed the play in time, and one of the transcendent features of Shakespeare's works is their timelessness.

    Is it possible that the use of omens was a way to acknowledge that pitfalls prevailed without getting bogged down in details?

    March 5, 2003 - 01:15 pm

    That's her name!! By golly, I could not remember her name. Thank you. You know how you can't think of a name or face, it can drive you nuts!!

    March 5, 2003 - 02:06 pm
    I have to go back and read all the great posts. First, I'd like to offer these links on Shakespeare. These are ones I've had quite a while and I'll look for others too in case these don't suit:

    Shakespeare Biography

    Shakespeare Quiz

    The quiz is actually a part of the first link but I thought I'd make the quiz handier for fun.


    March 5, 2003 - 02:28 pm
    Ginny I quoted from the Suetonius link that you provided above. There's all kind of interesting information there about the omens..

    March 5, 2003 - 03:14 pm
    Yes, Jeanne Dixon is correct. She was quite the popular psychic.

    Carolyn~~True, there were contemporaries who wrote about Caesar. I think I'll try to find some of them.

    BUT they all had axes to grind because of their own beliefs, parties, livelihoods. I guess that was my point.

    By the way, the detail about Caesar suffering from the "falling sickness" is in Plutarch. Shakespeare did not make it up. He's not faking it to manipulate the crowd. As someone, and I apologize for not remembering who it was, pointed out, it was not a good thing at that time to have a physical disability or a condition like epilepsy.

    It would not be to Caesar's advantage to fake a siezure (or is it seizure?)


    March 5, 2003 - 03:50 pm
    He seems a man with a thoughtful disposition,evidence he is widely respected and he seems even to have a social conscience.

    He loses me because he is so easily manipulated, a few stories from Cassius which are dubious anyway, like jumping in the Tiber, and next thing Brutus invites Cassius home for more, where is his loyalty.

    His soliloquy from act ii scen i......."it must be by his death" appears to show that he is thinking of the needs of the common man.To me it is obvious that he makes the evidence in his head, he has no outward sign from Caesar, unless he miscontrue actions.he is manipulated by Cassius and a seered conscience.

    I am really changing my opinion of caesar, am I being brainwashed, need to watch myself.

    March 5, 2003 - 03:58 pm
    Thought someone of great importance died on Good Friday as well.Though I realise thats a moveable feast, you get my drift, I'm sure

    March 5, 2003 - 05:45 pm
    I just got back from vacation. It sure looks like I have some reading to do (all the posts) & Julius Ceasar (the play).

    March 5, 2003 - 05:58 pm
    Cassius' stories aren't intended to be literal events, instead think of Emily Dickinson the poet who wrote "tell the truth, but tell it slant."


    Here are some links on Shakespeare to pick and choose from, if you like any:



    The above 2 are both from "Talking to William Shakespeare" and are like the "Ask Caesar" link in the heading.

    On the first link, you can read questions and answers given on Julius Caesar and also ask your own questions which will be answered by William (expect a little delay in the answer).

    On the second link, click on the yellow BROWSE button, and when the next page comes up click on whatever section you're interested in, such as "Shakespeare's Life," or "Shakespeare's World" to see the Q&A there. And you can ask questions!


    Here are the rest of the links on Shakespeare:


    WS BIO (Univ N. Carolina)

    WS BIO (Washington State Univ)


    March 6, 2003 - 05:38 am
    Woo woo as Maryal would say. hahaahah I think this is making us all Great Caesar's Ghosts, hahahaha talk about your signs and portents, our heavens here have raged all night, the dog is hysterical and I hope to say on long enough to say something to you all, what super stuff here!!!

    First tho in case I get kicked off, was shocked to see we've covered most of what's on page I in the heading, here's some new questions or topics for today, just go right ahead and dont wait for me, the OMENS here are fierce! hahahaha

    For Your Consideration

    Week One: March 1-7: Page II
    Act I:
    "We sometimes change our minds about people because of what other friends say." –Robert and Cohorts in Australia

    Brutus: click to enlarge

    "Well Brutus, thou art noble." (ActI, ii, 320)

  • 1. Does Cassius seem surprised by this admission? Is he right? IS Brutus noble? What do we mean by "noble?"

    "Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius
    That you would have me seek into myself
    For that which is not within me?"
    (Act I, ii, 70)

    Brutus has said he loves Caesar, (I, ii 89: "I love him well.") he seems torn "poor Brutus, with himself at war," (I, ii, 52), Most people who read this play think of Brutus as an idealistic person torn between his love of a friend and his country. How do YOU see him?

  • Cassius says, "Therefore it is meet
    That noble minds keep ever since with their likes;
    For who so firm that cannot be seduced?
    (I, ii 323ff)

  • 2. IDEALISM:

  • Is Cassius right? Does EVERY man have his price?
  • 3. Is idealism such a weak attribute that it has to keep its own company or die?
  • What is Brutus's price?
  • Can any man be persuaded to turn against his friend for a more noble cause, especially if he can be persuaded his friend is a traitor? OR perhaps a criminal? Does this fall into the parent turning in a child to the police for wrong doing?

  • "I will this night
    In several hands in at his windows throw
    As if they came from several citizens
    Writings, all tending to the great opinion
    That Rome holds of his name, wherein obscurely,
    Caesar's ambition shall be glanced at." (I ii 327)

  • 4. Why does Cassius think that letters which are fake will have an impact on an honorable man?

  • 5. Shakespeare wrote comedies, histories, tragedies, and romances. Why would he find Roman history an expecially fruitful source from some of the tragedies and histories? (In other words, why Rome instead of Greece?

  • 6. Was Shakespeare's use of the omens allegorical? Is it possible that the use of omens was a way to acknowledge that pitfalls prevailed without getting bogged down in details? (John)

    Pompey's Porch (Click to enlarge)
    With permission of Suzanne Cross

  • Ginny
    March 6, 2003 - 10:48 am
    Are all of you struck by these awful storms? I wrote this offline and it looks like I can run in here and hopefully get all of your wonderful thoughts taken care of before the next run!

    I feel sorry for Brutus, but not for the reasons you may think. I went out of town this morning (we live near several small towns) and noticed that the local Veterinarian had closed his doors. That reminded me of my experience with him and what I thought was an example of honor, this is what I think honor is?

    We once had a retriever with an allergy so severe that her ears would swell and fill with blood and have to be operated on, it was constant. Dr XX operated almost yearly, said it was ear mites, much drugs, etc. Dr. Y did our farm animals so consulted him, no he said allergy, and we started on weekly desensitizing shots, to no avail. Had to be flown in from Chicago, the meds. One day Dr Y was not in the office and Dr. Z gave steroids, BINGO! That worked. Like a charm, but Dr. Z wouldn't give any more and Dr Y upon return would not either, "a quick end to an old (13 yrs) dog," he said.

    Dogs ears began swelling again.

    In desperation I sought the care of Dr. A in this small town, explained the long history and he said "I cannot treat Dr. Z's patients (these doctors are in two separate towns and 30 miles away from each other) it would not be right. " I said well how about if you became the small animal vet?? YOU?? And he said "I cannot do that, it would not be ethical."

    So unethical me slunk away and the dog continued until a fourth vet prescribed Benedryl and then it stopped till the dog died at 16. To me Dr. A was an honorable man. No person would have known if he had done what he was asked, there's nothing wrong in taking on new clients, but he was a man of honor and practiced that every day, in every situation.

    That's what honor is to me, I know we all try and I know we all slip because of circumstances.

    To me Brutus is not as caught up in honor or idealism as he is guilt. If he were, he would not have listened to Cassius at all. Cassius is not just griping, Cassius is suggesting murder.

    I base this "opinion" and that's all it is, on no other information than what Shakespeare is showing us, because that's what we're reading.

    Did you see the movie about john F. Kennedy Jr? I'm no fan of the Kennedys but even I did not realize what sort of a life that poor young man had, it was awful. He could not get on a bike, go to the grocery, etc.., etc., without being reminded of his family "legacy."

    I believe Brutus means well. I do think he's idealistic and that he tries to be honorable, whatever he thinks honor is. He says he's at war with himself. But I think what he's warring about is not idealism or honor.

    Brutus at this time was 35 years old. It's natural at that time of life to look back on what you've accomplished and not accomplished before it's too late to make your mark. If you are the ONLY one from a distinguished family of Jurists who couldn't pass law school, the ONLY klutz born into a family of Olympic Champions and you can't throw a ball, the ONLY person not elected to office in your family's history, that IS going to weigh on you, especially in your mid 30's.

    Cassius is no help here. He's continually in Brutus' face, reminding him of his ancestors. "There was a Brutus once...." (Brutus's ancestor, Lucius Brutus (see Questions page, did you know they painted the eyes of their statues?) THAT Brutus threw out the last king of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus (who happened to be his uncle: Tarquin the Proud). Makes you wonder about family honor huh?

    Cassius hammers on it, "Age thou art shamed! Rome, tho has lost the breed of noble bloods!" (I,ii, 160)

    Brutus you're not the man your ancestor was, you've let the entire country and your own family down. You're a loser. "There was a Brutus once that would have brooked
    Th'eternal devil..." but not you, you're a disappointment. "Why should that name be sounded more than yours?" (I ii 151)

    Cassius and Brutus share something else, too, they both speak of themselves in the third person, I wonder why? Why do you think?

    Brutus is worried about that "KING" business, "I do fear the people choose
    Caesar for their king." (I ii 86) KING is a dirty word with Brutus, because it represents a slide back into what his own family got rid of (and has traded on it ever since).

    That is a LOT for anybody to have to deal with. He's struggling all over the place, he's afraid his friend (and they were) Caesar is going too far. But Caesar is VERY popular. VERY. Brutus is not. Brutus has the name, and the reputation of honor. The fact that he even listens to Cassius shows he's not a man of honor, in my opinion.

    That's where I am at the end of Act I.

    Cassius thinks letters from "people" will move him, why does he think that? What will the content of these fake letters be? Cassius already has a crowd of conspirators assembled, lesser people, like him, I guess he expects to be....what? Elected consul? What does he expect? To get.

    That's where I am. I truly feel sorry for Brutus, he's caught by his own pride and we know what pride goeth before. Them's my thoughts on honor and Brutus as far as Act I goes, now let me, you've raised so many super points, let's see how many I can get to before the next wave hits here.

    Let's hear from you, do you think it's honor that stops Brutus?


    March 6, 2003 - 12:05 pm
    I think I'll write a little about honor since that is and will be shown to be a major characteristic--or virtue--of Brutus. If he IS honorable, that is.

    I think honesty and following the "right" path is part of honor. Although honor may be attributed to a certain family because of deeds done in the past, it is up to every individual to act honorably, according to his best conscience, in order to himself be considered a man of honor.

    One of the best definitions of honor that I know is that honorable people do what is right even when they are absolutely sure that no one is watching. This is something like your example of the veterinarian, Ginny. As you pointed out, no one would have noticed if he had taken on your dog from another vet, but he had principles and he stuck to them.

    For me the hardest thing in some situations is trying to be certain of what is "right" to do. Here we have to fall back on ideals taught in childhood as well as values we have come to find for ourselves.

    But I think that being honorable is extremely tricky and sometimes very difficult.


    March 6, 2003 - 12:37 pm
    Brutus' ancestor, Lucius Brutus not only deposed his uncle Tarquin and drove him out of Rome, didn't he also kill his own sons at that time for being on the opposing side?

    When I first read the play as a young student I thought Brutus was an idealist and a hero and Cassius was the villain who tempted Brutus to murder. I was surprised on re-reading the play to see qualities in Cassius and Brutus that I hadn't noticed before.

    I'd said in an earlier post that I didn't think Brutus was idealistic and that he deceived himself. IMO Brutus is constantly haunted by his own ghost of Lucius Brutus, by the public recognition of THAT Brutus' name and Cassius' reminders. Romans were competitive and ambitious and Brutus had to scale not the heights of a Caesar but the heights of his own ancestor.

    Brutus is considered honorable because of his ancestor but he needs to make his mark to keep that status he hasn't yet earned. This is what drives Brutus -- can we call it ambition, is this the right word, when it's this desire for immortality or making a name for oneself? It certainly isn't honor or ideals or love of the Republic.

    Cassius gives Brutus his vows as a friend in Act 1, ii, lines 77-4 which tells me the qualities Cassius claims but also the qualities that Brutus doesn't have -- honesty and loyalty. Brutus is Caesar's friend, Cassius never pretends to this, yet Brutus is considring murdering his friend Caesar.

    I'll return later with more coherent thoughts.


    March 6, 2003 - 03:48 pm
    In the first scene of Hamlet, Hamlet's good friend, Horatio tells the guards what he has heard about the portents that occurred before the assassination of Caesar:

    In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
    A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
    The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
    Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets;
    As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
    Disasters in the sun; and the moist star
    Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands
    Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.

    I do love that line about the ghosts squeaking and gibbering in the streets!


    March 6, 2003 - 04:42 pm
    aahahaha, Maryal, THANK you for that Hamlet reference, that's all I've done today: squeaking and gibbering in the streets! Yep, that pretty much covers it, but let me not stop there! Hahahaha

    Marvelle, if that's your idea of incoherent, I hope never to encounter you when coherent, you make more sense than I do on my best days! More in a sec on your great stuff, am using a split screen here (do you all do that) and I can see you all in order, I like that.

    Now I know we all see these characters differently and you make a good point when you say when you once read them you saw them differently than you do now, sort of like Jan's when we were young everything was black and white and much simpler, now it's not.

    I hate to say this, but I'm not seeing much change in my thoughts of Cassius, from my tender youth till now, and that worries me, he's the only one, how about you all?

    He says he feels sorry for Caesar, did you all catch that? Or is that crocodile tears? I can't decide? IS he actually showing some compassion because otherwise I don't see it, what do you think?

    GINNY ANN!! THERE you are, we have missed you and if our Babi can climb from the depths of the Pre Discussion you can too, we await your thoughts with glee!

    Welcome back!

    Hats, I see you, too, are thinking of the Kennedys! Small world, I had forgotten that and yes when you can't recall a name it will drive you NUTS!

    You mentioned about Cassius that "Cassius speaks his mind.". You know, I wonder sometimes what that's a symptom of? I do that all the time, why can't I be "suavaire" as my youngest used to call it and shut up? Why do some people just say what they think and others seem to have more...what's the word? Maturity? Or........cosmopolitanism? Or smarts? WE feel we know Cassius more than we do Brutus, or I do anyway, BECAUSE he speaks his mind? We seem to feel we know him (I sure wouldn't want to be married to him, that carrying on in the storm would be enough, wouldn't it?) hahahaha

    Defiance of the...omens, and I loved John's thoughts on the omens, too.

    I actually have a friend who likes to do that? Go out in bad thunderstorms and enjoy the power? Go figure?

    Carolyn, thank you so much for that historical background and the state of the republic at the time of the play, I thought this was super: "I could go on and on but my main impression of Caesar is that he was driven by the need for power." You know, I never considered what might be driving him, this statement of yours makes this assassination even more poignant to me because he got the power he wanted and was about to make good use of it.


    March 6, 2003 - 05:05 pm
    Anneofavonlea!! Hahahaah!! Touché! That's wonderful, (I knew you'd have a great answer and waited all day wondering what it would be!~ hahahaha) THAT was perfect! And on Ash Wednesday, too, well done!

    I loved this: "To me it is obvious that he makes the evidence in his head, he has no outward sign from Caesar, unless he miscontrues actions. He is manipulated by Cassius."

    I thought that was marvelous, the whole thing. That "misconstrue," stuff, I think, is very important, and I had not realized it might be in Cassius, too! And you may be changing your mind about Caesar?

    I wish somebody would change mine, so I could see a little humanity in Cassius, am having a lot of trouble with him this time around, all negative!!

    John, I've added your question to the Questions page, I love it!

    "Was Shakespeare's use of the omens allegorical?" " Is it possible that the use of omens was a way to acknowledge that pitfalls prevailed without getting bogged down in details? "

    What an interesting question I have no idea of the answer. We know that there was in reality (but that's not what you're asking) lots of strange (or there were recalled later on lots of strange natural phenomena. And there would be, afterwards? And it would increase I would think with the ages). Maybe we ought to look closer AT these manifestations that Shakespeare uses and see what we might make of them allegorically?!?

    Thank you for that one!

    Andrea, also on the OMENS< hahaaha Thank you for identifying Suetonius in the heading, I am not sure everybody here has read it but I bet they want to now (it's quite short).

    (Isn't he the one, Andrea, with Caesar's famous horse being three toed or five toed or cloven hoofed?) (you would never know I had ever read it, ahahahaha) I think he was. I have a horse whose feet are cloven and would be in more than two if it were not for the blacksmith, that's why I glommed on that tid and bit.

    Anything outré you can pretty much guess is Suetonius, the sort of National Enquirer of the ancient world, he loved to "dish," loved gossip and wrote the MOST juicy stuff, without caring too much about accuracy, good dish is good dish. And it IS! Hahaahahah

    Anyway, you all DO want to read his account (very short) OF the funeral of Caesar? It's nothing whatsoever like Shakespeare's? You'd not know it was the same occasion?!?@!?

    We may want to compare the three, Plutarch, Shakespeare and the North Plutarch and Suetonius on this occasion and see why they differ because two of them really do!!

    more (it's SOOO good to get caught up!)

    March 6, 2003 - 05:15 pm
    I made a typo and left some things out I shouldn't have in my post #167. Cassius vows of friendship to Brutus are from Act 1, ii lines 77-84. And Cassius is talking about how he is in personal relationships, not in business. (End of my correction to #167)

    Cassius says he is honest and loyal to his friends and he is choosy about his friends too. From this we know that his friendships are limited to a few. We'll see as the play progresses how Brutus and Cassius interact and if they remain friends.

    FONTINUS, another thing (besides honesty and loyalty in friendship) is to see that Cassius never tries to manipulate people into doing something they wouldn't want to do. There've been times I was manipulated to do what I DIDN'T want to do and I resented it; but Cassius doesn't persuade the unwilling. And he takes responsibility for himself and his words and actions as we see in Part 1?

    Since Caesar is Brutus' friend and Brutus wants him dead too, I see that as disloyal. And Brutus has to imagine WHAT IFs, such as 'what if Caesar becomes a terrible despot if he's crowned?' to justify his killing Caesar. As if he's desperate to set up a scenario to be on equal footing with that other Brutus, Brutus the Liberator?

    HATS and I agree a lot about Brutus and Cassius, especially that Cassius speaks his mind. Is our FONTINUS' questioning -- 'if Cassius speaks his mind/is honest is that a good thing or not?' -- I'd say that he's TOO honest and it's not a good thing to him to be that honest ALL the time. His honesty is both contentious and self-destructive.

    Oh boy, Cassius would be a terror to live with, there'd always be upheaval but he'd be loyal to you. I'm a quiet person and Cassius would be too much for me but Brutus would bring too little to a relationship, he wouldn't be forthcoming or share.

    Who's complex, Brutus or Cassius? I feel Cassius has dimensions to him while Brutus plays his cards close to his toga and therefore I don't know if there any depth to his inscrutability. Perhaps being inscrutable is a good way to hide deficiencies?

    Maryal, I loved the Hamlet especialy "the sheeted ghosts did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets." I'll bring this up again in Act II because I found something out about the sheeted ghosts.


    March 6, 2003 - 05:46 pm
    Marvellus, (hahaaha) Posting together, more anon!! haahaah and no I don't know why I keep using masculine endings!

    Maryal made TWO really fabulous posts a while back, I know I commented on one but I can't find it, but that bit about Elizabethan history and Shakespeare's idea of the monarchy is fabulous, Maryal, thank you very much. I wonder if England at the time ...with Elizabeth coming to the end of her reign childless, had any sort of...historical parallel to (I don't know enough to even ask the question) haahahaha, but unsettled times, I would think and anxiety on the parts of Shakespeare's land and the one the Romans were about to pitch into uncertainty? maybe??

    Another just ELECTRIC point Maryal made was on the NORTH TRANSLATION!! Now the North Plutarch translation is in the heading, along with the "regular" Plutarch, I have the Dryden translation.

    We know Shakespeare used the North which we now know was translated from the French first, so that really makes me wonder if anything got garbled in the two translations or skewed, and if there IS any significant difference in the two? Are they identical? Have any of you read the North and the Dryden or another one and can you say if there are any differences? Andrea, have you read them both? Now that this has been brought up, I myself want to read the burial scene, and see how they all differ.

    Thank you for that, Maryal!

    I think Carolyn is also right on Plutarch and found this very interesting bit about him:

    Plutarch's object [in writing the Lives] is to bring out the moral character of his subject, rather than to relate the political events of his times. He therefore gives his attention chiefly to anecdotes calculated to reveal the nature of the man, a "light occasion, a word, or some sort," which "makes men's natural dispositions more plain that the famous battles won, " But he was careful in his choice of historical sources, and dealt with them honestly and intelligently....The Lives contain, besides interesting anecdotes, many memorable historical passages, such as the catastrophe of the Peloponnesian War of the Athenian expedition to Syracuse, the defeat and murder of Pompey...great battle-pieces, and.....striking descriptions...

    The most famous translation of Plutarch's Lives into English was that of Sir Thomas North (1579). It was made not from the Greek but from the French version of Amyot. It was closely followed by Shakespeare in his three Roman plays, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, and Coriolanus (particularly in the first). Oxford Companion to Classical Literature

    So we can see why Shakespeare would want to use Plutarch, though sometimes don't you wonder what else he knew? He seems to have been very well read, to me.

    Marvelle, thank you for the super new links!!!

    That Shakespeare Quiz is fabulous, let's all take it. I bet I can't answer one question on it but maybe at the end I can get one right, I will consider that progress! And proof of learning! hahahaha

    (When was Shakespeare born, let's cheat on the first one) haahahah

    Love also the one where you can ask Shakespeare, love it. MANY thanks, Marvelle, marvelous!!

    Ginger, thank you for that name!

    Maryal, loved this, "honorable people do what is right even when they are absolutely sure that no one is watching"

    I've also heard (but not in connection with honor) that the measure of a man is how he treats people who can't possibly do him any good. That might be interesting to apply to our players in this play, actually, ????

    Marvelle coming up, great points!


    March 6, 2003 - 05:57 pm
    Marvellus, wow on this one:This is what drives Brutus -- can we call it ambition?

    Oh, can we? Is it possible there is more than one ambitions character here? I had just gone along all these years and accepted Caesar as ambitious (because Antony says so later) but now I have to wonder!?!

    You said, ...that Cassius never tries to manipulate people into doing something they wouldn't want to do. There've been times I was manipulated to do what I DIDN'T want to do and I resented it; but Cassius doesn't persuade the unwilling.

    How do you figure this? He's just about to burst his toga trying to convince Brutus? Can you talk...hmmm hmmm, what an interesting point here!! So you are really saying that Brutus, despite appearances, was willing? That's sort of where John was going too, how can anybody persuade or manipulate somebody to do something they don't want to do? What's the lever that works?

    Inquiring Minds Want to Know

    March 6, 2003 - 06:04 pm
    FONTINUS, we were posting together! I'll respond to your questions in my next post.

    Re Question 1 Cassius says 'Well Brutus, thou art noble.' (Act 1 ii, 320) Does Cassius seem surprised by this admission? Is he right? Is Brutus noble? What do we mean by 'noble'?

    I had some thoughts but mostly questions about this word NOBLE. I wonder if the Roman concept of noble is the same as in Shakespeare's England and would it really be the same today?

    To a Roman, being noble didn't mean kind or high-minded or idealistic. Noble acts -- often military conquests, achievements of wealth etc, acts especially that brought reknown to Rome -- had to be publicly recognized (important to remember the public recognition in JC) and occur for three generations in a row; and then the family earned the right to be called noble. But if just one succeeding generation didn't maintain the status (say our Brutus not achieving along the lines of THAT other Brutus) then the family and persons would no longer be noble. They'd lose their status and title and honors.

    And there was disdain for the "nouveau nobles," even such a one as Augustus because his claim to past generations of nobles was shaky at best.

    So is the social structure similar from Ancient Rome to Shakespeare's England? Was there a constant struggle to maintain one's position in society and also to achieve and live up to the feats/names of your ancestors?

    Was Cassius surprised? He'd inquired into Brutus' mind and was probably surprised to find that Brutus was already thinking about getting rid of Caesar, but how to do it and maintain his Honor? Thus, he would be taking a 'noble' step like his ancestor Brutus the Liberator, and our Brutus hadn't given indication before this of his thoughts about Caesar. Cassius would have felt Brutus out since Brutus was on the Republic's side, had been with Pompey at the Battle of Pharsalus, and had a family tradition to uphold. (Brutus the Liberator again, can't get away from him!)

    Is Cassius right that Brutus is noble? Yes, if my thoughts on the idea of nobility are correct. And therefore Cassius is noble too.

    I don't agree with this idea of noble or nobility. I think of noble as being personal; being of high moral character. But I don't think that's how Romans saw it. How did Shakespeare see it? I'm unsure about this and hope to hear from you all.


    kiwi lady
    March 6, 2003 - 06:21 pm
    My copy of JC is published by the Cambridge University Press and has all the information in it that any student would want. In my senior moments I did not realise that in the back is a precis of everything Plutarch ever wrote (north version) about Caesar! DUH. I did not have to borrow Plutarch and sift through it like I have been. In the front of the book is a whole lot about Shakespeare and the Globe including terrific illustrations - what a find this book was! $8.50 at my loved second hand book store! Its put together by an international Group of scholars.


    March 6, 2003 - 06:26 pm
    CAROLYN, I had a senior moment too with my Folger Library copy of JC! I was so busy reading the play that I hadn't checked out the intro and essays. Oh well, we managed to find the info in the end. Sounds like you have an incredibly useful copy of JC.

    FONTINUS, I believe the lever that works for Cassius in persuading Brutus is the mention of -- you guessed it -- THAT Brutus the Liberator. Once Cassius realized Brutus' thoughts and his sensitivity to THAT other Brutus, he gets the idea for the fake letters which Brutus uses to convince himself that the assassination will be Honorable (Honor being public esteem to a Roman).

    Caesar was ambitious but it's a career ladder that one can't step away from with Honor. And where did Caesar have to go once he was Dictator for Life? Emperor? God? Noble Romans were ambitious and the more they succeeded they more they had to strive. How utterly exhausting! No wonder Cassius felt sorry for Caesar even while he pursued his ambitions and plotted to assassinate Caesar. He didn't like him, hated him even and blamed him for the dying Republic, but he understood the drive of ambition in all Romans. It's a dog eat dog world, and if a man can best another to advantage, he has an obligation to do so. Goodness, there are so many people in the world who still practice that philosophy!

    "...why should Caesar be a tyrant, then? Poor man, I know he would not be a wolf but that he sees the Romans are but sheep...." (Cassius, Act 1 iii, lines 106-


    kiwi lady
    March 6, 2003 - 06:41 pm
    The importance of Brutus as defined in the Cambridge University Press version edited by Marvin Spevack

    - it seriously cannot be doubted that Brutus is the focus, dramatically, psychologically, politically and morally. It is no accident that he is present throughout: in the beginning he is the motor of the action; in the end his death resolves the action. Further proof though abundant would be tedious. And little is to be gained by such well- meaning Solomonic distinctions as 'Caesar is the titular hero, Brutus the dramatic hero': naming a play after a character does not necessarily confer hero status as a handful of Shakespeares histories demonstrates. That many of his plays are named for the main characters or characters who turn out to be the heros or heroines does not of itself solve the problem of the title of this play. What is really at issue in the matter of the hero, especially since it is Caesar or Brutus who is proposed is politics. Hudson's often quoted appraisal made more than a hundred years ago is still relevant and typical: 'As here represented (Caesar) is indeed little better than a grand, strutting piece of puff-paste; and when he speaks, it is very much in the style of a glorious vapourer and braggart, full of lofty airs and mock thunder'

    This is interesting stuff to me and after reading background information on Caesar the man I think I agree with him. Caesars big strength was his mouth. His skills in the oratory art.

    Brutus I have not yet made up my mind about; but I am leaning towards him being a man sincere in his beliefs.


    March 6, 2003 - 07:26 pm

    You are welcome. I know how it is to have a thought in ones mind and how much it can bother a person.

    March 6, 2003 - 09:19 pm
    CAROLYN, very interesting stuff from Cambridge. So you don't care for Caesar? What do you see as the beliefs of Brutus? Do you get a feeling of those beliefs from certain quotes?

    I saw two commercial movies of JC as I've mentioned before. Brutus is obviously a difficult part and the success of the play/movie, I think, depends on the actor who portrays Brutus more than any other character. But Shakespeare gives us many characters from which to choose our favorites.

    Hi, GINGER! What do you think of Brutus or Cassius or Caesar? What about being "noble" -- what is meant by "noble" as mentioned in JC? Is Brutus noble? Is Cassius or Caesar? I'm still stuck on finding a definition for "noble."


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 7, 2003 - 12:52 am
    Oh I've had a really long day and then came in so tired that while my supper was cooking I fell asleep on the sofa - of course awoke to burnt offerings and have been cleaning up ever since - ohhhhh

    I have thoughts that mull about Brutus and in fact I've been mulling upon the character of all these characters - not only am I too tired tonight but my thoughts aren't clear just yet - one thing for sure, some books really get you thinking and force you to sort out what you value -

    How important is freedom and group decision making as opposed to someone who has great skill in bringing about a better life although, acting on their own...and when you find your friends believing one way and they are going to act in order to assure their beliefs are enacted do you stand alone or join them...If you do not join them does that mean you could be next since they may interpret you're not joining them to mean you stand with the other guy...can you live so independent of others that you can afford to go off into the hills till they do their deed just so you are not caught up in either side...hmmmm...tomorrow folks after I have "thunk" on this...

    Before I hit my pillow I did want to share these great photos I found of various ruins in Rome attributed to this time in history.




    March 7, 2003 - 05:38 am
    LAST DAY!!!!!! How can that be? This is our LAST DAY in Act I!!! It slipped up on me!!

    And last night I thought I was getting ahead and peeked a few pages into Act II and nearly dropped my teeth! Holy COW!!! Has somebody changed this play? That's not the Brutus I thought I knew, or remembered?

    I got up wondering if something is wrong with my text!!!!!!!!

    Oh Barb you are so right, you are so right in what you said above, jeepers!!!

    BTW, what is this "soft," business? "But soft...." Shakespeare is always saying what light through yonder window breaks in Romeo and Juliet and now he's "softing" in Caesar, but soft! Hahahaa What does it mean? I take it to mean hold on a minute, or wait, but IS that what it means? What's the history of that word?? The etymology?

    Minds going soft in a hurry want to know? hahaahah

    Marvelle, loved your thought on noble and honor. "Noble" I just realized, is a word we don't use much anymore, do we? Or do we? Seems sort of stiff and outwardly applied compared to honor.

    I'm going to go and get my old 1950's anthology of the play, I can't BELIEVE ....I can't believe that it looks so different! Am I the only one shocked in the first few pages of Act II? One very good reason especially in our troubled political times, to reread the classics.

    What's left in Act I we have not covered?

    FABULOUS gorgeous pictures of Rome today, Barb, wonderful thank you so much, they almost clutch the heart, don't they? Trajan's column there, (113 AD) is just fabulous and worth another look later on!! Love the quality of those photos! Oh that one of Castel St. Angelo almost takes my breath away.

    What have we missed in Act I that you all want to talk about? Or ask??

    WHERE do you stand on the eve of the letters being sent out? Whose side are YOU on?

    Carolyn, that book is a treasure, just a treasure, and thank you for sharing it with us, THAT is a rare find!


    March 7, 2003 - 06:37 am
    Apologies for absence last few days. Have been playing hookey and galivanting with a sister from the boondocks who's escaped for spring break to the city for a few days. Haven't been on site & have to catch up on posts reading. Been having just too much fun! Anyhow, back to our Mr. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. I promised to include a list of the strange events, omens, that occur in scene 3 of the first act that illustrate a disruption of world order, provide a creepy-eerie mood, and a bunch of other stuff too. In this act/last scene, a number of really bizarre things occur. Casca and others witnesses & report:


  • earthquakes (I,iii,3-4)
  • tempests..{with}scolding winds {that}have rived the knotty oaks (5-6)
  • the ocean swell and rage and foam to be exalted with the threat'ning clouds.(7-
  • a tempest dropping fire (10)
  • A common slave...held up his left hand, which did flame and burn like twenty torches joined; yet his hand, not sensible of fire, remained unscorched.(15-18)

  • a lion roaming around the Capitol who glared at me and went surly by without annoying me.(20-22)
  • ...upon a heap a hundred ghastly women, transformed with their fear, who swore they say men, all in fire, walk up and down the streets. (23-25)
  • an owl, a nocturnal predator, hooting and shrieking in the market place at noon (26-27)
  • Cassius bares his breast to the cross blue lightning & challenges the sky/the gods to strike him
  • gliding ghosts,/open graves(67, 78)
  • old men [act the] fool and children calculate (69)

    Casca sees these omens as portentous things unto the climate that they point upon.(31-32) i.e. as signs from the gods that something just isn't right with the world. Cassius, on the other hand, claims that this night is a very pleasing night to honest men. DUH!?? Where's this man's brain? A pleasing/pleasant night? to see ghost floating, fire raining from the sky, people on fire, earthquakes, tidal waves? Naturally, our one-song-Harry here sees all of these disastrous things as a personal sign from the gods to him that he should rid this earth of that foul scourge, Caesar. Here he goes singing his same old hard-hate song for Caesar.

    Normally in Shakespeare's plays when bizarre things like these occur, our Willie uses them for a number of reasons. First, his audience was really into the supernatural - so he played to the audience that he knew. The appearance of thesupernatural also helps to create a mood of suspense & horror. Using the supernatural elements also pointed out that world order had been destroyed, that something wrong had occured that had to be atoned for/amended. We see this happening in Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear, etc., etc., etc., We can, at this point in this play infer a number of possible things. Unnatural events have occured as a result of wrong doing by someone of high status - i.e. Shakespeare's Caesar silencing (executing) Marullus & Flavius. Cassius & cronies have not committed murder by assassination yet, so omens don't indicate a crime of theirs. Omens could be a precursor of events to come on Ides of March - Soothsayer's appearance & prediction also would indicate this. We also know that those good old Romans were into astrology, reading of entrails, pronouncements from the oracles etc. They also show that something's rotten in the state of Rome (oops, wrong country!-laughing!) We'll just have to wait and see what our Mr. Shakespeare intends them to be as his play continues to unfold. What do you think?

  • MegR
    March 7, 2003 - 06:39 am
    Ginny & Maryal, would ya put me in the column with the plebs? Figure that's a good place for the buffoons too. Thanks. meg

    March 7, 2003 - 07:48 am
    Please notice the addition, just above Interesting Links in the heading, of "Characters in the Play Examined".

    March 7, 2003 - 09:22 am
    Loved the photos BARB, especially Trajan's Market!

    Was there a hint in the play that Brutus feared for his life if he didn't join the conspiracy? I didn't find any but it doesn't mean it wasn't there. Shakespeare does shows us a Brutus goaded about THAT other Brutus the Liberator and how he become a hero. Perhaps Brutus fears not being able to fill his ancestor's shoes.

    Did Caesar bring about a better life? He killed thousands of Romans in his insurrection. On the other hand, to rid the city of so many poor he reduced their grain dole and then opened farmland in the provinces for the poor willing to farm. He made many reforms which would've made the nobles uneasy. It's a balancing act, isn't it? One side of the scale is the disastrous, murderous Civil War and destruction of an established government and on the other side are the reforms that benefited the Countrymen (Plebians) and perhaps Rome itself. Perhaps his Civil War against the Republic lead to the inevitable events of the play, and the monumental changes to Rome that followed. Perhaps he upset the delicate balance of the social structure -- ambition limited by government -- when Caesar's ambition was greater, because he was more powerful, than Rome's government.

    FLOTINUS, see see I told you, Brutus is different now! I was less blinded than in my younger days by Brutus' reputation on this current re-reading and was able to see more in Cassius, Antony, and Caesar etc than I had before.

    Honor, like noble, is also outward to a Roman, it's public esteem and distinction.

    Here's part of what I find about "soft" in the Short Version of OED:

    Adv. 1. softly; gently; without harshness or roughness; quietly; not hastily or hurriedly.

    2. softly; gently; leisurely -- 1736.

    3. used as an exclam. with imperative force, either to enjoin silence or deprecate haste. Now arch. 1550.

    The OED gives examples of the later definition which would be how Shakespeare intended it here in JC?


    March 7, 2003 - 10:55 am
    Since I have only skimmed over what has already been said, I may be repeating this information.

    To understand the Elizabethan mind you need to understand what they believed to be true. For one of my Elizabethan classes we read Boethius: The Consolation of Philosophy. The educated audience of Shakespeare's plays were familiar with Boethius. While they were Christian, they were also 'believers' in the godess, Fortune, and her 'Fortune's Wheel.'

    "When Fortune turns her wheel with her proud right hand, she is as unpredictable as the flooding Euripus..."
    [a narrow straight seperating the island of Euboea from the coast of Boecotia, was most noted for iregular tides.] Poem 1 Book Two, The Consolation of Philosophy translated by Richard Green.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 7, 2003 - 11:13 am
    Oh no Marvelle, not in the play - just musing about the difficulty of choosing to support an issue or not. How a mind can work during such a difficult situation when you really are in reaction, in conflict, over your moral choice and how best to act on it. Although most of us believe we take a choice off the table long enough to think it through, we have learned that during that time we really try to come up with enough evidence one way or another to support an emotional decision.

    I think that is what we are doing when we judge these characters - we are going through the litany of: Creating winners and losers draws energy out of a system. I love this concept of processing this play from the various actions within the system. It keeps us from having these global concepts of what could happen if we believe this or that about a character (global concept like...They could do to me what they are planning for another if I do not join them)

    Yes, I leaped to a global outcome without testing my "Temple of Doom." I do think this is how most often when we are contemplating a serious commitment we do leap to our own "Temple of Doom" - (I will look a fool, I will not be liked, I will just die of embarrassment, there will be an uproar that I will go down in defeat, etc.) Therefore I see many characters trying to avoid their "Temple of Doom" which simply means they are acting out of fear. Fear of this worst case scenario that not only can happen but, in their minds, will happen.

    Cassius is easier for me to see his "Temple of Doom." Caesar I think wants to feel equal to and more important than Pompey and Crassus or else he will always feel like the poor kid from the wrong part of town. I am not so sure what Brutus' "Temple of Doom" is except possibly the 'I will die if other's who are important do not accept me' and I think he sees that his Caesar is no longer going to be there to hold up his worth as a player.

    kiwi lady
    March 7, 2003 - 11:20 am
    In the material I have read about Caesar it is reported that he used Pompey and Crassus and I believe he felt superior to them. He certainly manipulated them to gain his own ends. Most of the men who have held great Power over a nation or the world have had a inflated ego. This feeling of grandeur has often been their downfall.


    March 7, 2003 - 11:33 am

    "If praise makes a person famous, then those who recieve praise are famous...In my opinion, therefore, if there is anything to be said for nobility, it lies only in the necessity imposed on the nobility to carry on the virtues of their ancestors." Boethius Book 3 Prose 6

    Shakespeare knew that Julius Ceasar didn't have the ancestory to uphold. He only has his own pride in self and fame he earned by his own actions. Another thing to remember, they didn't understand psychology the way we do. One of the things that makes Shakespeare great is his understanding of human behavior.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 7, 2003 - 11:33 am
    Carolyn my take on it is, both Pompey and Crassus had great wealth and the proper connections from childhood where as Caesar had to build all of that - I think Caesar is using this inflated ego as a shield to hide from others that he really is not sure if he measures up and therefore he needs to outstrip those he fears are better than him. That to me is why he seems to believe his own 'press'.

    I think of my youngest who was so shy as a young child and when he became a teenager in order to fit in he seemed to talk the loudest and be the one with the quick joke - I knew he was a softy and sure enough when he was in his early twenties and after he married and with his boys he is a sweetheart but, I can always tell when he is nervous in a new situation because sure enough if his voice doesn't get louder and the macho man type jokes fly.

    March 7, 2003 - 11:47 am
    I am still thinking about Brutus. I think Brutus strives hard to see the positive side of people and situations. The lines in Act I, Scene 3 lead me to think this way. I hope the lines are not misinterpreted by me.

    Casca: O, he sits high in all the people's hearts: And that which would appear offence in us, His countenance, like richest alchemy, Will change to virtue and to worthiness.

    I think Brutus might be easily led by others, especially if others are making him think he is correcting a wrong. Brutus wants to make the right choices in life.

    Barbara, thank you for the beautiful pictures.

    kiwi lady
    March 7, 2003 - 12:14 pm
    Hats I think you are right.


    March 7, 2003 - 12:32 pm
    Thanks, Carolyn. I don't want to destroy Shakepeare's play by my interpretations. After all, we are talking about ghosts walking the streets. I don't want Shakespeare to chase me in my dreams tonight (smile).

    March 7, 2003 - 12:36 pm
    Cicero had it right, didn't he? "But men may construe things after their fashion, Clean from the purpose of the things themselves.

    Cassius insisted all the strange happenings were portents of heaven's displeasure with Caesar's rise. I would think it far more likely that any heavenly portents pointed toward Cassius and his murderous purpose.

    I agree with those who see Brutus as one whose own nobility of mind leads him to think others also act nobly. This makes him vulnerable to deception by such as Cassius. A man with a strong sense of duty can be misled into thinking his duty lies where he would of himself prefer not to go. ...Babi

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 7, 2003 - 01:34 pm
    hehehehe...hahaha..I am rolling Hats - " I don't want Shakespeare to chase me in my dreams..." I love it!

    The idea that you are all sharing about Brutus and his 'Nobility' is feeling good to me also...I need to look further into what 'Nobility' is and how it manifests itself and if Brutus stays true to what is Noble in his spirit.

    March 7, 2003 - 02:42 pm
    BABI, I hadn't noticed the "duty" part. There's so much to see in this play! What does Brutus feel is his duty?

    CAROLYN and HATS, what is the definition(s) of 'noble.' What are we talking about when we say the word 'noble?' These questions are derived from 'Page II of Act I Topics' in the heading. How does Shakespeare use the word 'noble?' I hear people saying Brutus is noble, but how/why is he noble? That's where I'm stuck.

    I don't see where Brutus acted nobly. I thought earlier about nobility, and read what Shakespeare said about it, and what I came up with was that Nobility in Rome is tied to one's ancestors and their achievements rather than personal high-mindedness -- nobleness is inherited. So Brutus' nobility is not of the spirit but is outward, if that makes sense? Anyway, I'll look at what everyone's said about this.

    BARB, your thoughts on the litany used in judging the characters were stunning! Your comments are definitely keepers.

    The Boethius is so apt to this play, GAJ. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    HATS, no hauntings from Shakespere. I'm sure he'd be thrilled that you're reading his play and taking a strong look at the characters and motives.

    Oh HATS you reminded me of something with the hauntings. I think Brutus was haunted all his life by THAT other Brutus the Liberator. Everywhere he went Brutus was preceeded by the ghost of his ancestor. I wouldn't consider his ancestor as acting nobly or high-minded. He was a brutal, unrelenting man who killed his own sons, yet he is considered Noble by Roman society, and OUR Brutus is considered Noble because of B. the Liberator and other ancestors.

    Brutus was haunted with having to meet extremely high expectations and he hadn't met them yet and it was late, he was in his mid-30's with no great accomplishments of his own. So Brutus already had a ghost who 'squeaked and gibbered in the Roman streets' and time was running out.


    March 7, 2003 - 02:52 pm

    Hi there I am not ignoring you just have nothing to say at this time except that I am enjoying all the posts.

    March 7, 2003 - 03:30 pm

    Is it possible that Brutus was pulled in two directions, the legacy of his ancestors' nobility, and also, the pull of his friend, Cassius? I don't see Brutus as an evil man. I see him as a man struggling with his past and his present. I think Cassius could see the struggle within Brutus. I think Cassius knew he would have a fight on his hand trying to pull this man away from the nobility of his ancestors.

    Hi Ginger.

    March 7, 2003 - 04:58 pm
    I've had a virus so am waaay behind and I must say when I turn the Computer on and see 30 or 40 posts piled up and can't be on line long enough to read them all thoughtfully, it makes my head swim. I wish there was some way I could read them at leisure without tying up my phone.

    I'm leaning a lot more towards Caesar than I did at the beginning. Sometimes I think the benefits he brought to the Government might outweigh the idealism of Brutus. After all what has Brutus promised is going to be better post-Caesar. He doesn't seem to have given this much thought, or if he has he's not saying much about it. What has Cassius offered up as a stable government after Caesar's demise.

    What makes everyone so certain that this is absolutely the right thing to do? After all Brutus could also get the feel for absolute power. Who WAS planned to be the new leader?

    Brutus had trouble in his past, he'd been involved in some shady money deals that didn't show him in the best light. A man that is greedy for money can be manipulated.

    I'm not sure what Cassius was going to get out of this besides revenge. If he'd had the power and respect to carry it off on his own, he wouldn't have needed to work so hard to get Brutus on side.

    Their lack of any obvious plan past the killing seems very strange.

    March 7, 2003 - 09:11 pm
    Hi GINGER!

    JAN, hope you're feeling better? I also changed my opinion of Caesar while reading & thinking about this play.


    Caesar gave so much to Rome; he conquered the Gauls; brought great wealth to Rome; was instigating land reforms, adding Gauls to the Senate, extending Roman citizenship to lands within the empire, etc etc. Before he crossed the Rubicon with his army, he'd offered a number of compromises which Pompey and the Senate refused and Caesar felt he had no other choice. Did you know that generals financed and used their armies commonly as a power base, so Caesar did nothing untoward in that way?


    I too agree that the conspirators didn't seem to have a plan for a future government or leader. Did they expect that the Republic would just snap back into place without any leader?

    JAN asks "What makes everyone so certain that this is the absolutely right thing to do?" That's the million dollar question about murder and violence and revenge. BARB, asked something similar. Do we see anyone in the play question the morality of assassination? Was that ever an issue in Rome?

    I found this quote in Everitt's Cicero: "The Romans were tough, aggressive and, to reverse von Clausewitz, inclined to see politics as a continuation of war by others means." (9)


    March 7, 2003 - 09:20 pm
    Hats & BaBi, I agree with both of you about Brutus being conflicted. Don't know why, but for some reason he makes me think of Hamlet at this point. A man who wants to do the right thing, but is unsure of whether course of action A or B or C is most valid, most logical, most ethical, most effective. Sort of see Brutus doing the same kind of mental waffling thing here in Act I that Hamlet does in the first two acts of that play. Does this make any sense? Off to read Act II.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 8, 2003 - 12:31 am
    I found this quote - it says so much to me that is brought out in this play and mentioned by Marvelle...
    ...change often comes with a heavy price, regardless of how desirable the final outcome is, and the outcome was indeed utopian in nature.

    March 8, 2003 - 03:24 am

    Exactly. I see Brutus as a "conflicted" man. I agree with Jan that he might become corrupted by government. I don't know, but at this point, I see him as a man torn between which action to take. Brutus, in the end, will definitely make a bad decision. Still, I think he did not jump quickly into the arms of the conspirators. Brutus is a man who will make an unwise decision. This doesn't mean he didn't fight with himself.

    So, there are two definitions of nobleness. Is it possible that any man, of any era, doesn't have an inner struggle with evil vs. good?

    March 8, 2003 - 03:32 am
    Like MegR, I think of Hamlet. Then, I think of Macbeth and Othello. In Shakespeare's plays, I see the characters as always fighting with their inner self, fighting and struggling to come to a decision, whether the decision is bad or good.

    March 8, 2003 - 05:01 am
    HO!! We're rolling now, back after I have some caffeine to reread mark, and inwardly digest (welcome back, Jan, so glad you're feeling better) ALL your great comments!

    I am so excited, yesterday in the mail I got a brand new book I have been coveting, and in it is a ...well...what I think is a stupendous photo of the ruins of something Agusutus built and dedicated before he left for Philippi, something about the avenger, it's really ...well it's just a ruin but thou shalt see IT when we get to Philippi!! and I guarantee you it will give you chills!!hahahahah

    Anyway, just bubbling on in to put up these new Topics to pick your brain over this morning till awake.

    Nota Bene: hahaahah These questions ONLY cover Scene I of Act II, I really really (did I say REALLY) need to hear your take on these elements, so succinctly and perfectly expressed by Shakespeare!

    More anon (the Questions page, when you will click on it in the heading later today, has more illustrations on it, this is just the public viewing one:

    Let the Conspiracy BEGIN!!

    Scene I only:

    For Your Consideration

    Week Two: March 8-14:
    Act II, Scene i:

    Power to the People?

    "Th' abuse of greatness is when it disjoins
    Remorse from power. And, to speak truth of Caesar,
    I have not known when his affections swayed
    More than his reason." (II i 19-22)

    "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..." (II i 22-27)

  • 1. What do these two passages mean? Is there any irony in the charge of separation of remorse from power? Who has been left behind on the ladder of success? What of Brutus's motivation is revealed in these few words?

    ...the base degrees
    By which he did ascend. So Caesar may,
    Then, lest he may, prevent.

  • 2. What is it Brutus says he is afraid Caesar may do here?

    "And since the quarrel
    Will bear no color of the things 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, hatched, would as his kind, grow
    And kill him in the shell." (II i 29-36)

  • 3. What does "since the quarrel/ Will bear no color of the thing he is" mean?

  • 4. Why do the conspirators hide their faces when they come to talk with Brutus? It is night, and most people are asleep.

  • 5. What are Brutus's reasons for wanting Caesar dead?

  • 6. What is meant by "the genius and the moral instruments..." in lines 69, 70 of Act II i.

  • 7. What is the reason Brutus gives for rejecting Cicero as a conspirator? Does his reason support or detract from the "honor" of the enterprise?

    "Speak, strike, redress! Am I entreated
    To speak and to strike? O Rome, I make thee promise,
    If the redress will follow, thos receivest
    Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus.

  • 8. Why has the letter Brutus has received impelled him to murder? Who is it from? Why does he trust the advice in it without questioning? What does he assume from the mysterious letters left around about the feelings of the Roman people?

  • 9. What is ironic about this line, "And what other oath
    Than honesty to honesty engaged
    (II, i, 139). When does a man need to swear an oath? Does Brutus see this enterprise as "noble?"

  • 10. What reasoning does Portia use to convince Brutus to tell her what is bothering him? How does she know that he is troubled? What do Brutus's answers reveal about his own resolution in this enterprise? What do Portia's feelings represent and what does it mean when Brutus spurns them?

  • 11. "Indeed, he is not fit." (II, i, 166) The conspirators decide who to ally with them and who to include in the murders. How does this one remark show the motivation and instability of the group of conspirators? What does it symbolize for the entire enterprise? What other plans have they for the government after the murder (Jan).

  • 12 Is assassination ever justified? If so, when?

  • 13. What instances of Brutus's misunderstanding and misinterpretation take place in this scene?

    Brutus's town orchard (garden):


  • Deems
    March 8, 2003 - 08:39 am
    Good morning to all. Don't miss the new questions for the first scene in our new act.

    After an exhausting day at work yesterday, I am currently playing with the answer to question number 2--or was it 3?

    At any rate, I will be back later after errrands and dogs are taken care of.

    Good to see you back, Jan.

    MegR and HATS--I too see Brutus as a man conflicted and I also think of Hamlet and Macbeth. Shakespeare has not yet written these plays, but it almost looks to me as if he is most interested in the conflicted person, one like us, both good and (sometimes) dark.


    March 8, 2003 - 10:06 am
    I think of the nobles who inherit their nobility -- as it was in Rome so it was in Shakespeare's England. Cassius says Cassius is noble, just as he says Brutus is noble. Brutus was haunted by a noble ancestor and the fact that he might be the last noble in his family if he didn't achieve something.

    This is the Roman system: it takes 3 generations of achievement for the empire to grant nobility to a family and only one generation to destroy their honors and title of nobles.

    I'd still like to hear anyone's definition of noble -- I'd already offered mine -- and how Brutus fits that definition, if he does.

    In the meantime I'll check out the other questions that followed the nobility question in Page II of Act 1.


    March 8, 2003 - 10:23 am
    Marvelle mentions "noble" and she may, actually, be on to something as regards the Ancient Romans, anyway. I never gave it a thought, actually, but according to the Oxford Companion to Classical Literature "noble" actually does mean something different to them.

    nobiles "nobles", i.e., the "well known." At Rome, those families, whether patrician or plebian, whose members had held curule magistracies (later, the consulship only), and were therefore allowed to have images (imagines) of their ancestors. They enjoyed high status. [Actually my new book has a super statue of a guy carrying TWO of his ancestor's heads, I must scan it for you!]

    Although all families at Rome which had a relatively recent ancestor in the senate were "senatorial" and they belonged to a fairly closed governing class, within this class the noblies became, toward the end of the republic , increasingly exclusive, believing that only the consulate conferred this entitlement. At all time it was possible, through rare, for a man not of a noble nor even of a senatorial family to achieve the consulship, usually with the backing of noble families; if he succeeded he was known as a novus homo ("new man") "recruit" These men were then absorbed into the nobility, which was thus revitalized. Under the empire the nobiles were those descended (on either side) from republican consuls.

    Isn't that interesting!! Sorry I can't make the long marks, and that seems to back up what Babi said too about patrons, in some cases.

    Wait till you SEE this guy with his two ancestors busts, NOW we know what it means for him to be carrying them, he must have been SOME kind of noble. No wonder he looks happy, coming right up! Good job, there, Marvelle!


    March 8, 2003 - 10:44 am
    LOOOK! Look Look Do you love this? I JUST opened this book last night and had never seen this before but when I read that about nobles I realized what this guy is doing!!

    Click to Enlarge: "The so-called Barberini Man Wearing a Toga a prosperous Roman, who holds the busts of two ancestors.

    Note how realistic the heads look, as Maryal's daughter explained, Roman art showed them as they really were unlike the Greek.

    Oh and remember goofy Pompey? Well according to this book: Rome Art and Architecture, his hair looks goofy for a reason? If you cover up the hair with your hand he looks fine. The book says, "The depiction of the hair standing up over the middle of his forehead—a motif referred to as an anastole—has been borrowed from portraits of Alexander the Great, and it is a clear sign that Pompey was attempting to present himself as the new Alexander."

    Is this not fabulous? One thing just leads to another!!!!!!!! NOW back to your posts who knows what you will come up with NEXT!


    March 8, 2003 - 11:32 am
    GINNY, what stunning pictures and information! The faces are made from the wax models molded from the person themselves. I understand that the wax effigies would hang in the family's home (atrium) except for those ancestors who didn't make the grade; their faces were shut away. At funeral processions, family members would carry the busts of their noble ancestors, if they were lucky enough to have any, which told fellow Romans of the noble importance of the recently deceased and those still living.

    Thanks again for the fabulous information and the pictures, esp the man carrying heads! And now we know why Pompey was so goofy looking.


    March 8, 2003 - 11:41 am
    Hi Ginny and Marvelle,

    Ginny, thanks for scanning the pictures. I am learning so much. I love the guy with the two heads. That picture helps me better understand the nobility idea that Marvelle was trying to get across.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 8, 2003 - 12:33 pm
    A real exercise in discovery - I think there is the Nobility and than there is the Noble wo/man - Seems to me the Brits like Rome use the word Noble to define the Royals and where they may have the title I do not see a lot of noble behavior. (hmmm I wonder is all Royalty labeled as the nobility? Is this a left over honor from the days of Rome? Rome did conquer most of Europe and left their mark.)

    This story seems to be filled with manipulation out of fear or greed, altering and changing circumstances for often personal reasons - Regardless what Rome labeled as Noble I need to determine what characteristics I consider identify a NOBLE person. That is how I'm better able to see the contradictions, change or growth in these characters.

    Looked at the dictionary, which speaks to high character...that stops short for me. We may all have our own definition of what behavior or characteristics we expect of someone who we think is Noble but this is what I would expect.
    Someone who has true fellowship among men based upon a concern that is universal; Not the private interests of the individual but rather the goals of humanity during even difficult and dangerous tasks.

    Someone not striving for any special advantage for himself but working unselfishly to bring about general unity and peace between people.

    Someone who believes the great goals of mankind are achieved only through each following his own path, without a 'neediness' to want what they think is the solution to materialize but rather, they trust, with humility, that what is to be learned in life will rise to the top. Therefore, they possess a perseverance toward keeping on the path of what is good and beautiful without a set of rules. In otherwords they are in tune with themselves without forcing their values on others nor do they watch others with their inner eye for signs of approval or rejection.

    Someone who acts with patience till there is a clarity, a breakthrough showing the details, a perception that enables the creative energy of all those involved to be developed.

    Someone who breaks the chain of decadent social attitudes passed from a preceding generation, not by justifying their behavior which manifests in their acting in reaction, by pressing forward to make a good impression or defending themselves in an effort to improve the situation but, by holding to the potential for good within themselves and others.

    Someone who is comfortable with modest advances, who is not restless trying to escape from lowliness, poverty or family reputation. No, not that they accept lowliness, poverty, or a family reputation but someone who is not pushing others out of the way in order to assure a swift flight forward but rather realizes it takes more than a singular effort to make change. Someone who brings others along with the change.

    Someone who avoids the dangers of power and influence but who embraces their responsibility to nourish others, who is modest in spite of the merit conferred on them by others.

    Having identified the characteristics that I believe identify a noble person I am not sure of Brutus now - He is a hero of both military and navel victiories - In this play so far I see him attempting to be noble but without the strength and patience to wait for the clarity that will allow him to act from his center.

    Marvelle if men inherit their nobility than it is even easier for me to understand all these men - some are trying to out live a break in their noble line, some are trying to build their noble status and others are comfortable continuing their noble status.

    Ginny - The drapery on "Man Wearing a Toga" is wonderful isn't it - a new book, how exciting! There is a small but fine museum here at UT and I remember a session my daughter and I attended a few years ago with the curators of the various departments. The gal that gave us a mini session in the progression of sculture explained how in the early works the body was not well defined and cloth was depicted in folds, almost like the woodwork on the walls of Elizabethan houses. I would have to go back because I forgot when the advances were made in form and features. But it was facinating to see the progression which they featured by placing work from each period next to each other.

    And all I can say about Pompey is - when will they learn - a young person's fashion always looks silly on anyone with a few years of age on their bones.

    March 8, 2003 - 12:39 pm
    Thanks,HATS. I think the concept of Roman nobles is perhaps why Shakespeare chose Rome rather than Greece. Rome had a similar social structure to England of nobles and commoners; plus the threat of usurping a monarch was very real in Shakespeare's time. And of course Julius Caesar was famous and a part of England's history.

    In funerals for a very honored noble, actors in the procession wore the funerary masks of the ancestors and the dead man & acted the parts. Casts made from the faces preceded the bier with the corpse whose face was covered.

    There were many customs to assure that the deceased was properly laid to rest, would have a good Afterlife, and would not return to haunt the living. The customs were also intended to reflect the deceased's place in the family and the continued importance of the living family.


    March 8, 2003 - 12:46 pm
    Ginny, those posts were great! I got so much out of them. And Barbara, you brought out very well a point that I also wanted to address. I think we need to make that distinction between a 'Noble' as defined by class or position, and a 'noble' person.

    It occurred to me that it might be more helpful to point out Brutus' reputation as an honorable man. There were many who were "Noble" who were far from being thought honorable. Of course, defining honorable can be just as thorny as defining noble. Basically, I mean by it that Brutus was considered by most to be a man who acted out of honorable motives. Cassius, by contrast, is acting out of what most of us surely see as dishonorable motives. ..Babi

    March 8, 2003 - 12:53 pm
    Oh my, I do admire that statue of the man holding the busts of his ancestors. It would look really nice in my sunroom.

    I'm glad you clarified that it was BUSTS we were going to see rather than HEADS. A statue of a man with the HEADS of two ancestors would be ominous indeed.

    Sort of the Roman equivalent of the Digtal Camera, say what?

    As for why Shakespeare gravitated to the Romans rather than the Greeks, part of the reason is the system of education at his time. We think that as a businessman's son, he attended a free school. He would have been taught Latin, Latin, and more Latin. The boys translated Latin into English, then English into Latin. And on and on through the years. Only at the upper levels would students encounter Greek which was thus not known by anywhere near so many people.

    Ginny--please send me that statue, not a photo of it, but the Real Thing. Many thanks.


    March 8, 2003 - 01:05 pm
    BARB, we were posting at the same time. You say "if men inherit their nobility than its even easier for me to understand all these men --- some are trying to out live a noble break in their noble line, some are trying to build their noble status and others are comfortable continuing their noble status." (I'm not sure anyone is comfortable though. What high stress there was in Rome trying to maintain your noble title, and one generational break and your entire family is no longer noble! I wonder if all the noble Romans had stomach ulcers? I would in their place.)

    Cassisus says he is noble and Brutus is noble and I think it's important that Shakespeare put that into the play. It indicates the inherited nobility. Perhaps the conflict within Brutus was his fear that he couldn't achieve at the level of THAT other Brutus and yet there was the need for his family line to keep the title and status and all its perks of noble.

    Brutus wasn't a military hero though, although Cassius was and Cassius had many years of experience in the military. Shakespeare would know this through his readings.

    According to Plutarch, our Brutus -- whose ghostly ancestor THAT Brutus the Libertor's honors preceded him everywhere he went -- our Brutus went to Pharsalus to join Pompey. Pharsalus was the site of Pompey's final defeat with Caesar the victor. When Brutus arrived at the camp, Pompey greeted him with open arms and didn't seem to mind that Brutus spent the majority of his time within the camp, where he read and wrote. Brutus spent very little time on the field of battle and Caesar had given orders that his men were not to harm Brutus at any cost. So Brutus was in this protective bubble, even during the short period he was on the battlefield, whether by virtue of his mother, once a lover of Caesar's, or the revered memory of THAT other Brutus.

    Ater the defeat of Pompey at Pharsalus, Brutus made his way by night into a nearby settlement and immediately wrote to Caesar who pardoned Brutus and asked him to join him which Brutus did.

    As Everitt writes in Cicero, that according to Plutarch, "he [Brutus] turned collaborator .... he advised Caesar that Pompey would flee to Egypt... Up to this point in his life, [Brutus] actions seemed to be governed by self-interest." (220-1)

    Shakespeare would know this from the sources available to him; he'd read Plutarch at the very least. Brutus hadn't accomplished anything up to this stage of his life to keep the noble title in his family; Brutus needed to do something.


    March 8, 2003 - 01:21 pm

    Ginny so thats a Toga, GEE I have seen lots of them just did not know the name of them. Wish I had gone to Minnesota instead of being a scardie cat.

    Ginger just a wave as passing thru learning so much from Your posts.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 8, 2003 - 01:26 pm
    nd so that is their "Temple of Doom" - they no longer have the status or is it the title of being Noble - they loose their memebership to the Washington Press Corp and the local memeber invited only country club...

    March 8, 2003 - 06:13 pm
    BARB, love it ... excluded from the members-only country club. hahahahaha

    Just so.


    March 8, 2003 - 08:08 pm
    According to the Random House Dictionary, the noun Ideals is defined as:

    1. a conception of something in its perfection

    2. a standard of perfection or excellence

    3. a person or thing regarded as embodying such a conception or conforming to such a standard, and taken as a model for imitation

    4. an ultimate object or aim of endeavor, esp. one of high and noble character

    5. something that exists only in the imagination

    I think some people can be persuaded to abandon ideals since perfection is difficult, if not impossible, to attain. Can a man be persuaded to turn against his friend if its for a noble cause? Since Butus' noble ideal or model was Brutus the Liberator, he would be following his ideal by joining in the conspiracy.

    I don't think turning against friend Caesar and joining a murder conspiracy is the same as turning in your child to the police for wrong doing. There are degrees of responsibility and seriousness between the two acts. Turning in your child to the police may stop wrong-doing and help your child before they commit some serious crime. Murder is a crime against another human being, outside of society and justice, and which cannot be erased and which can cause more violence.


    March 9, 2003 - 09:42 am
    I have my son's birthday today so have to put off all the notes I took on your SUPER perspectives till this afternoon, but I am struck this morning on the news about how this situation with Brutus and his decision is so ..the decision part is somewhat similar to the decision making (or it seems similar) being made by the world on Saddam Hussein, what to do about him (or you might think it's nothing whatsoever like, I realize there's no conspiracy, am talking about the process of decision and the reasons for it?) Have watched two interviews with Condoleeza Rice, has that struck anybody? Or does it not apply? But in fact you could apply Brutus and his struggle to make a decision to any decision people make. On any level.Any struggle people go thru before they make a big decision.

    What I see here in Brutus is a man to whom the Republic does matter, a man who would have happily kept in his own niche and gone along forever, whose position was established as noble in both senses of the word, he's set for life. He's seen as bookish, he considers himself idealistic and is known for that and honor (I have not read ONE WORD of actual history about Brutus, I wanted to see what Shakespeare said and I'm shocked), I'm really shocked by what I see in Act II Scene i, am I the only one? I think it's one of the most momentous scenes in literature, because, to me, and maybe to me only, it's the assassination of a soul: Brutus's own.

    In fact I now wonder if it had not been for Cassius if any of this would have happened (John's idea sort of augmented). Or would it? Would Brutus have come to this himself?

    Here's how I see it, he's decided to kill Caesar before the letter comes. But look at his reasons. I can't get over it, they just jump off the page at me. He ruminates and agrues with himself: Caesar wants to be crowned (but....didn't he turn it away?) and then Brutus comes up with this idealistic inflexible "Party Line" ...(well, "the abuse of power....etc")....(but.... I really have never seen that in Caesar...er...) but he MIGHT? He might abuse power. In just that way. (The "remorse" issue really plagues me, but more anon...)

    It's like his own mind is at war with himself!

    And then he says well people who climb up the ladder of success, when they get to the top, forget those who helped them. (Hello? How much higher can Caesar get? What is Brutus afraid of? How did Brutus help HIM? If Caesar forgave Brutus for trying to kill him once, what more can Brutus reasonably expect)...(He'lll forget me and I won't get to play a role. I'll get left behind and he'll call the shots). That, to me, is a long way from Republican ideals.

    "And since the quarrel will bear no color of the thing he is..."

    LOOK at that! Brutus ADMITS here, am I reading this correctly? Brutus says it's true Caesar does not fit ANY of our arguments, he's not what we say he is in order to do our righteous act here of removing him but what the heck, "fashion it this..." (rationalize it this way) what he is may get worse and so let's kill him. (hello??)

    Brutus says he MAY do this or...he MAY do that....er...he's like a snake in the egg, better kill him now before he does whatever it is we're afraid he will.

    What kind of rationalization is that?

    And once he makes that decision, what a change in our Brutus, what a dynamo he becomes. Throws himself in it totally. (Becomes the leader, note?) Gets to call the shots? Note why they don't want Cicero?

    I marvel at how afraid they are of Caesar, and how little real reasons they have for killing him. That really sticks out at me. Caesar is not a cannibal or tyrant, he's already pardoned and raised to fine estate not only Brutus but Cassius too. They hide and cower in the dark, they put on actor's faces in public, they are simply scared to death of what he might do if he found out, so they plot to decoy, surround, and kill a 63 year old unarmed epileptic who is deaf in one ear by a group stabbing, but they even try to put an heroic face on that, not carved up fit for a dog.

    Those of you who see Brutus as honorable and righteous, please point out to me where this is? WHERE do we see a love of country, I know it's there because I have seen it in the past!!! THIS is a revelation for me I keep thinking somebody has fooled with the text, hahahaha, what do you all see in Brutus in this one scene, it's dynamite!

    Don't be afraid to say what you really think. Brutus is dead and your guess is as good as anybody else's here, there are NO right and wrong answers, what do you see Shakespeare saying?

    Back later on!!


    March 9, 2003 - 12:07 pm
    E. M. W. Tillyard's The Elizabethan World Picture explains the 'looking to the heavens'. The Elizabethan's believed in THE CHAIN OF BEING.

    "The chain stretched from the foot of God's throne to the meanest of inanimate objects. Every speck of creation was a link in the chain..." page 26. "The chain is also a ladder." page 28.

    They looked to the stars (astrology) to see what was to occur, thus they looked to the heavenss to God and to the stars.

    March 9, 2003 - 02:47 pm
    Ginny this is why I'm leaning towards Caesar's side, the conspirators seem to be happy to kill a man because he MIGHT do something. In the First Act I thought they had a proven case against Caesar-signed, sealed and delivered, but in this act they seem to be on very shaky ground. I didn't think Brutus seemed to be the sort of man to be swayed like this, especially as Caesar promoted him over Cassius.

    Boy, there are some amazing similarities to our own situation. Are we the Co-alition of the Willing(well our Governments) poised to kill and dismember on the theory that someone might be thinking of doing something to us somewhere down the track?

    I think that if Brutus's motives are above board, and even if he seems a bit stuffy to me, I can't find any reason for thinking otherwise, it's all about Honour and Rome. Rome seems to be viewed by him in a way, that seems all out of proportion, almost as if it has Godly status of its own. Over and over, he uses the word "Rome" instead of "we". Shall Rome stand under one man's Awe? What Rome? O Rome I make thee promise.

    When he's not speaking the word Rome he uses "noble" or "honourable". The weight of the past seems to sit very heavily on Brutus ( and Portia) and I think a very cunning and astute Cassius has tapped into this. If Brutus dropped his Holier than Thou attitude for a bit he might realize a bit more of what's going on around him and recognize a damn good spin-doctor!


    March 9, 2003 - 04:12 pm
    Ah yes, I do admire this scene. What a wonderful beginning it has. Brutus sends his servant, Lucius to light a taper in his chamber and then has that marvellous soliloquy that Ginny has just referred to.

    Notice that it begins, "It must be by his death." Brutus has already done some thinking on this matter, before the scene begins because he is picking up here where he left off. We are given the conclusion in the first line.

    And then we get the reasoning. Although Caesar has shown no sign that he will become a tyrant--"And to speak truth of Caesar,/ I have not known when his affections swayed/ More than his reason." In the past, Caesar has not fallen prey to emotion, but has let reason guide him. But still, but still, he might, just might, become a tyrant.

    And then he gets to the snake image--and here he really cheats because a snake in an egg is sure to be born a snake, whereas it is quite clear that Caesar may OR may not become a tyrant. It is certainly not a given.

    With the snake egg and the snake we have a false analogy. Brutus probably knows that his analogy will not hold up, but he has to find a way to convince himself that Caesar must, for the good of Rome, die.

    And therefore think him as a serpent's egg
    Which, hatched, would as his kind, grow mischievous;
    And kill him in the shell.


    March 9, 2003 - 08:29 pm
    Ginny & Maryal,

    I so agree with you about Shakespeare's Brutus! His speeches are sooooooo full of conditionals - "what-if's, if - then may, etc." That and Shakespeare's Cassius' lack of specific reasons & hard evidence for hating Julius that neither man provides clear reason(s) for the need to assassinate Julius. (Yes, Ginny, I do too see so many parallels w/ current political situation & Bush's "I'm gonna get Saddam" policy. BUT, - I'm not gonna go there 'cause you know how rabid I can become.) Just finished reading Act II & found a speech that was never in the anthology that I used when I taught this. I can make sense of most of it, but last third especially has thrown me. Am going to email Anne's kids to see what their "modern translation" has to say about this (II,i, 121-147) Will come back to your Q's tomorrow in am, Ginny

    Hats, Maryal & Jan, Now that you gals bring up all of these other lead characters of our Mr. Willie S, really do see how he's trying to develop a multidimensional character in Brutus that he does so successfully w/ all of the others. More later, meg

    March 9, 2003 - 09:29 pm
    Been away shopping, for 3 days, in a most unplebian manner, and really need to read all the comments so excuse us for another day please.

    Have to tell you Ginny though that the toga is wonderful, kids love them, and that bust, did it make anyone else think "alas poor Yoric,I knew him well."

    I am beginning to feel like prior to this I knew nothing of Caesar, is it the wisdom of years making you guys see so much more, are there no blacks and whites here but ever murky shades of grey.

    Maryal this last post gets it right for me, re the "honourable" Brutus who has an end in sight and now seeks to justify the dishonourable means.

    Ginny, it is the mounting evidence that perhaps caesar was not bent on being a monarchial ruler, that has me wondering, had he lived longer, would Rome have declined so, and may history have been vastly different.Perhaps the love of the populace was more in his mind, I must go read the posts for last three days without further comment. Anneo

    March 9, 2003 - 10:09 pm
    Every time I make my mind up as to why the Conspirators did as they did, someone else says "this, and then this and this" and I feel as if I'm right back where I started!

    March 10, 2003 - 12:59 am
    bush the liberator, this is a bit near the knuckle for me, cant start here or I will be on my soap box.

    Marvelle, how can stabbing someone in the back be a noble cause. Do you think in these Roman times it may have been considered so, were they that far removed from us.Or worse could we still consider such behaviour.If my Prime Minister (casca)or the British P.M (brutus)were to talk to themselves, or if your president (Cassius)did, I should like to read what they would say.In that scenario we have no Caesar unless we consider the virtues in your declaration of independence, life liberty and the pursuit of happiness as the victims.

    Whatever one can only be amazed at Skakespeares timelessness, his ability to fit into any age, and be relevant.

    Ginny you confuse me, you think perhaps none of this would have happened were it not for cassius and yet you see dishonour in Brutus.If he really enjoyed the republic and his position in it how come he became so ignoble.I am afraid to me Brutus is WEAK WEAK WEAK.Consequently he is neither noble nor honourable.

    Marvelles point in post 216 interests me, did Brutus actually do this because he was previously unheralded by virtue of his own actions, and needed to bring nobility on himself.I keep wondering how murdering Caesar could ever do that, but if it were a sign of nobility to show ambition and ruthlessness, maybe it was the case.We sure are not letting Brutus go lightly.

    March 10, 2003 - 05:30 am
    Welcome back our UNplebian Shopper Anneofavonlea! hahahahaha If you don't watch out we'll put YOU in the Nobles spot! hahahaha

    That's a good point! WAS Brutus too "weak" (do we see him as weak?) to do this himself? To conceive of this himself? If Cassius had not come along, would Brutus have done this on his own? I think not. What do the rest of you think?? And WHY, very interesting point!

    This thing is waking me up at night. At 3 am I asked self this; is it possible for ANY MAN, any human being to make any decision important to him without some of these....what you might consider....self centered motivations?

    ANY man? Is it possible? Look back over your own momentous decisions (if you can do so without waking up at 3 am in angst over it) and look hard and dispassionately removed at them and ask yourself IF in fact there was so much idealism and dedication to the cause that there was NOT ONE HINT of self...just a little jealousy? Just a little anger? I don't believe, unless you are a saint, that it's humanly possible. IS it?

    And if it's not humanly possible then we should not, any of us, be so hard on ourselves, none of us are perfect, but maybe we could learn from this what really forms our own decisions, every one of them??!!?? And we should not put others on pedestals either, maybe?

    Barb said something way back there we need to pick up, now to your fabulous posts which keep ME, like Brutus, up at night wavering back and forth, confused, yet to me the evidence is becoming clearer and clearer that when he yielded to his own...dare I use the word "ambition," he fell.

    Hang on, more to come, and didn't Shakespeare do a heck of s job in this scene!!!!!!!!


    PS: Know what else I really like? I like having forgotten half of the play due to old age I guess, and I really like discovering it anew as if I were a child, but with the background of decades of watching others make decisions and making a few myself, and a little bit of the knowledge picked up over the years. I'm not going quite so far as to say it's a second childhood, but it sure is fun! A third age? No better wayt to spend it than with you!

    March 10, 2003 - 05:43 am
    Dadgum Word! I have to compose in Word rather than here because I can't type worth a hoot and you hit just ONE wrong key and it duplicates the post all over the place, I widh I knew which key that IS, had to pick out three Welcome Aneofavonleas out of that last one (well you're three times welcome, Anne!)

    Also got up thinking about Casca's remark, "It was Greek to me." Why has this come down thru the centuries? And people laugh when you say it and did then. Would it be as "catchy" if he had said "Cicero spoke in Euro Etruscan, it was Euro Etruscan to me." It's AMAZING how much of this play is quoted!!


    March 10, 2003 - 05:46 am
    you posted that p.s twice and removed it, or else I am going nuts.

    okay so my big descisions have selfish motives, and I am wont to jealousy and anger, especially about you people who see deeper than I. Would never do anything worse that stick my tongue out though, or RAISE MY VOICE.

    Also please dont make me a noble, I like to wallow in my self imposed humility.{smiling}

    March 10, 2003 - 05:49 am
    And I never cease to be amazed at how Shakespeare is quoted, even by those who have no idea where it came from, and who profess to loathe Shakespeare

    March 10, 2003 - 05:56 am
    Had three Welcome back Anneofavonleas, and two PSs, at last count, two signatures, I'm half afraid to hit any key, (and if you could only see me type, hahahah very few keys I miss , VERY few, whether or not they have to do with anything)


    Three Welcome backs, Two PS, and a Partridge in a Pearrr Treeeee.

    (Time for caffeine here this morning in SC?) hahahahaa

    March 10, 2003 - 07:17 am
    In Act II, Scene I, I see Brutus as a man who has fought with himself and come to a decision. His wife speaks of his haunted spirt, but Brutus is resolved in what actions he must take. In this scene, Brutus, to me, seems more aggressive and more brutal. Now, he seems like a man in control. He know what he wants to do and nothing can stop him. At this point, it seems like he and Cassius have switched personalities. Cassius seems almost weaker than Brutus.

    March 10, 2003 - 07:46 am
    Hats, did you find it interesting that he would not tell Portia? She's obviously used to sharing his secrets (I loved her, what am I, chopped liver?) hahahaahah But he sort of groans and says oh she's so honorable, and then asks the gods to make him worthy of this noble wife, I'm wondering what his hesitation is?


    March 10, 2003 - 08:23 am
    Brutus doesn't tell Portia right now because he is BIZZY. He has been up all night and now it is the Ides of March and the meeting in the Forum and he knows now what he "must" do. He does tell Portia that he will tell her everything later.

    There's a very similar encounter between husband Hotspur and wife Kate in Henry IV, part 1. Kate mentions that Hotspur has deserted his bed, that he is very troubled of late, and that she deserves to know what is going on. Hotspur tells her that he will tell her everything later. In this play, Hotspur is about to go off and join the rebels against the king.

    HATS--It certainly does look as if Cassius who was the apparent leader now yields to Brutus as leader.


    March 10, 2003 - 08:26 am
    Welcome back, ANNE! HATS, I think Brutus was always strong minded but it was because of Cassius that he decided to join the conspirators --- not because Cassius convinced him that assassination was the thing to do, but because Cassius showed Brutus the way he might bring off what he'd already considered while still keeping his Honor, i.e. do it in the name of Brutus the Liberator.

    "It's Greek to me" is Casca's line and I think is meant to be irony? Shakespeare knew that the real Casca spoke Greek, so it was either an author's in-joke or his audience was also "in" on the joke. (It's reported that Casca cried to his brother in Greek for help when Caesar fought back during the assassination.) Anyway, maybe that's why the line "It's Greek to me" stuck with Shakespeare's audience: Casca, as an educated noble, knew Greek, knew what Cicero said, knew the Plebians wouldn't understand what might have been insulting to them or perhaps didn't want to translate Cicero's words which might get Cicero in trouble.

    One of my favorite lines in Act 2:

    "The exhaltations, whizzing in the air, give so much light that I may read by them." Brutus (Act 2 i: 46-47)

    The meteor shower gives so much light that Brutus doesn't need a candle to read one the fake letters just handed to him. This is how Brutus responds to the 'monstrous' night of omens and portents.

    According to their natures, Cicero observed men during the storm, Casca was terrified, Cassius confrontational, while Brutus took advantage of the storm to use the light.

    Perhaps too this was another in-joke of Shakespeare's about Brutus' reputed penny-pinching in that rather than waste the expense of another candle, he'll figure out the letter by starlight.


    March 10, 2003 - 08:35 am

    I like Portia too. I think Brutus won't tell her about the conspiracy because by this time he knows he is involved in something very dangerous. Brutus does not want to involve Portia, just hearing about such treason could bring her harm.

    Also, I think, Brutus does not want to hear any opposing ideas. He doesn't have time to get into an argument with his wife who would probably tell him to forget the whole foolish idea. He doesn't want to hear her objections.

    I think assassinators must be very close minded. They are working against time deadlines, working in secret. Once their minds are made up, I don't think there is a chance of them changing their minds. So, Brutus weeds out Cicero, mentally locks Portia out of his thoughts and thinks he is on the way to victory.

    March 10, 2003 - 08:39 am

    There is one line that Portia says that puzzles me. If it's a dumb question, just ignore it. Anyway, in Act II, Scene I, Portia says,

    "I have made strong proof of my constancy, Giving myself a voluntary wound Here in the thigh:"

    Was that a Roman custom? Did wives mark or tatoo themselves in some way to prove their loyalty to their husbands?

    March 10, 2003 - 08:56 am
    Here are some catch up things that are too good to lose, will catch up with today's great stuff in a mo!

    Talk about being "a little behind," hhahah don't I wish, boy you all have made some fabulous points for all of us to think more on, what a gift!

    Meg, thank you for the super list of omens, and how Cassius hahaha and Casca saw them differently, I guess Mr. Cassius is in his element, I notice how many times Shakespeare uses the word "monstrous."

    THANK you so much for your explanation of why Shakespeare uses this type of thing!

    Hahaha "FLOTINUS, see see I told you, Brutus is different now!" FLOATinus (or are you referring to me as FLOTsam? hahahaah) You got me floating or flotting here? You're right, he's different, he used to be "good" and Cassius "bad," I am seeing a lot more in all of them.

    And thank you very much for the "soft!" But soft! Hahahaah

    Thank you Pat W for your work in the HTML pages and links, we really appreciate it, Pat has once again become our Recording Secretary and we really appreciate her work here.

    Ginny Ann, the Fortune's wheel information and how the Elizabethans saw fate and God is a super point, thank you for briging it up. I agere with you about Shakespeare's understanding of human behavior, you can really see it in this play. I LOVE this play!!

    Will all of you who have read something for this discussion or who know of a good book which might enhance others's understanding of the play please be making your own separate list of the Recommended Reading you think others might like? If you'll just keep the title and author, at the end we'll call for it in one big swoop and that will really help us out a LOT! We will lose all these super references posted, could we ask you to help us keep track of them?

    Barbara, I just loved your perspective thing on how readers approach a book or a book discussion, I have no idea how we can use that, but I think we need to save it, what would you title it? I want to keep it, MANY thanks, it's very useful.

    Carolyn, a very interesting point on what may have caused Caesar's downfall, critics are divided on this play (hatefully so) about who the tragic character is, I want us to look at that later on, super point!

    Hats, bless your heart, you can't destroy the play with your interpretations, you can only enhance our own understandings of it!!! Fear NOT!

    Babi, I loved your take on Cassius and Brutus, and I think you are right that a strong sense of duty can sometimes cause (why IS that?) a person to be misled.

    Marvelle, I am so enjoying your insights on Brutus and thank you for the historical information, MUCH appreciated and adds a lot to the discussion!~

    Jan, you can hit PRINT PAGE on the top right of the page and if you have enough ink it will print all the posts out so you can read them offline. I don't know any way to print only a few tho.

    Big time question by Jan also, "who WAS planned as the new leader?"

    That's a good one, I think we need to consider it as we watch the dynamics of the Conspirators.


    March 10, 2003 - 09:14 am
    ANNE, I don't think assassination is a noble or honorable act. I hope I didn't leave that impression? There are some words that are abstract ideas and therefore vague: ideals, honor, noble. That's why I had to define them before I used them and I've done that ad nauseum, but one more time in case there's concern, here's how I see Shakespeare using the words.

    Noble = something inherited such as in English nobles; for a Roman it took 3 generations of achieving something for Rome to earn the title and only one generation of not achieving to lose the title (this is how Brutus is referred to, sometimes ironically since he hadn't achieved anything yet); also, of an admirably high quality

    Honor = public esteem/distinction to a Roman, it has to be public (and honorable would be some act that promotes public esteem which the Republican Brutus may see as his reenactment of Brutus the Liberator who rid Rome of a tyrant, although Caesar wasn't actually a tyrant and that little hitch will cause problems later in the play)

    Ideals = a standard of perfection or excellence; a model of perfection or excellence to emulate; an ultimate aim or high or noble character (with Brutus his ideal model is THAT Brutus the Liberator)

    I'll say in future: noble/inherited, honor/public esteem, and ideals/model to clarify when those are my meanings.


    March 10, 2003 - 09:26 am
    Just one thing to add to Marvelle's point about Caesar and the Rubicon. Here is what the Oxford Companion to Classical Literature says about the real background skinny:

    Civil disturbances in Rome led to the appointment of Pompey as sole counsul for 52 [Caesar being off in Gaul] and his measures included a law that allowed Caesar to stand for the consulship in his absence.

    Caesar's governorship expired in 49 and he therefore needed the consulship for 48 if he was not to become a private citizen, liable to prosecution by the political enemies in Rome.

    The senate wished to recall him before there could be any risk of his becoming consul while still at the head of his army and the consul C. Marcellus proposed that he should lay down his command by 13 November. Pompey hesitated whether to give his support, but finally threw in his lot with Caesar's enemies.

    The Encyclopedia Britannica sheds more light on this series of events:

    The issue was brought to a head by...Gaius Claudius Marcellus. He obtained resolutions from the Senate that Caesar should lay down his command but that Pompey should not lay down his command simultaneously.

    Cuiro then obtained on Dec 1, 50, a resolution by 370 votes to 22 that both men should lay down their commands simultaneously. Next day Marcellus (without authorization from the Senate) offered the command over all troops in Italy to Pompey with power to raise more and Pompey accepted.

    On January 1, 49, the Senate received from Caesar a proposal that he and Pompey should lay down their commands simultaneously. [This WAS the Republican vote of the Senate?] Caesar's message was preemptory, and the Senate resolved that Caesar should be treated as a public enemy if he did not lay down his command "by a date to be fixed."

    Makes kind of a difference in that Crossing the Rubicon thing, when you have heard both sides, to me. Not to mention what the army was owed, and expected, upon returning to Rome. I think somebody made some kind of bad mistake there, and history records that neither Caesar nor Pompey desired bloodshed, look at this from the EB:

    The civil war was a tragedy, for war was not wanted either by Caesar or by Pompey, or even by a considerable part of the nobility, while the bulk of the Roman Citizen body ardently hoped for the preservation of peace. By this time, however, the three parties that counted politically were all entrapped.

    more,...just saw that bit by Marvelle and wanted to add more....

    March 10, 2003 - 10:07 am
    Thank you for the funeral information, Marvelle, weren't they marvelous, tho, just...marvelous!

    Thank you all for your nice comments on the statue, and Ginger, yes that's a toga, don't you love those folds, they look so real, and Barb made a super point about the development of their art that they hid lack of expertise in sculpture with folds of cloth, I loved that. People like to say that the Romans just copied the Greeks and their contribution to art was in building and architecture, they sure contributed there, that's for sure! Great points!

    Barbara, thank you for the definitions of noble, hahaah on Pompey I laughed all day on your remarks there (and considered another hair do, too, ahahahaha ahahahaa

    Bunion 2 Bunion

    Maryal, I wish I had one of those statues, too, in fact I wish I had managed to SEE it while I was there at the same museum?!? Hello? Here I am exploring Constantine's bunion at the Capitoline Muesum in Rome where the barbarini man is, now I can talk bunions!! (Do you want Constantine's foot? You can see it's not a problem to ship?) hahahaahah

    Thank you Babi, I appreciate that. I really liked your honorable man application to Brutus, that was good, how do you think Cassius was seen? Apparently he managed to assemble some....conspirators and I was surprised that Decius thought HE could persuade Caesar, he seems to feel they are quite close.

    I looked up "Decius Brutus" and the Oxford says it's "Decimus Junius Brutus", "only distantly related" to our Brutus.

    He served under Caesar in Gaul as a young man, and fought for him in the civil war against Pompey.

    Caesar trusted Brutus [this Brutus] so completely that he promised him the governorship of Cisalpine Gaul and allowed him to be his escort to the senate house on the day of his assassination.

    Fans of revenge will be glad to learn he himself was later betrayed and killed trying to get to Brutus in Macedonia. What goes around, comes around.

    Ginny Ann, another super reference, I do hope all of you will keep a list of these titles for us at the end! Wonderful point on the atrology beliefs of the Elizabethans, does that make Cassius's remark "the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves" that more stunning? I found that entire thing interesting, many thanks!

    Jan, are you LEANING toward Caesar enough to switch sides in the heading or is the jury still out? Hope you feel better!

    I agree there are amazing parallels to our lives today, even in the smallest decision.

    Good point on noticing stuffy and holier than thou, super points, in Brutus and Rome used so much! Rome as...Maryal what is that use, Rome as substantive, Rome as personification or something more, I think?!? and great point MARYAL on the false analogy of the serpent's egg, I missed that ENTIRELY!!!!!!!!!!

    Listen Maryal, I puzzle over the very last part of Act II, the Ligarius scene, why is that in there, what does it do and why does Shakespeare begin this Brutus scene with Lucius? Why is he doing this type of thing, you mention the opening, ". What a wonderful beginning it has. Brutus sends his servant, Lucius to light a taper in his chamber" Is that for dramatic...what?

    Meg, so are you saying there really IS a difference in the texts? That sounds a lot better to me than ginny has lost her marbles, I will get out my old text from '61, I kept it, and compare, let me go look tooo!

    And now we're all caught up and I get to revel (or wallow as Anne says hahahah) in your thoughts posted today for the rest of the day!


    March 10, 2003 - 10:37 am
    Excellent question, Ginny. Why does the scene end with Brutus approaching Caius Ligarius? If you look earlier in this scene, Metellus suggest that Ligarius has a grudge against Caesar (2.1.216-218) and suggests that he should be included in the conspiracy.

    Brutus responds, "He [Ligarius] loves me well, and I have given him reasons;/ Send him but hither, and I'll fashion him" (2.1. 220-221).

    At the very end of the scene, Ligarius says that he will follow Brutus wherever he leads. Thus, we see that Brutus has now become a leader.

    Ligarius: Set on your foot
    And with a heart new-fired I follow you
    To do I know not what; but it sufficeth
    That Brutus leads me on.

    Ligarius is willing to follow Brutus without even knowing what the plan is. He completely trusts him.

    March 10, 2003 - 11:09 am
    MARYAL, GINNY, ET AL, I'm late getting back in here, but I must go back to Brutus soliloquy in his garden. I saw that SO DIFFERENTLY than you did.

    Go back a line, to whereBrutus says:"The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins remorse from power; and, to speak the truth of Caesar, I have not known when his affections sway'd more than his reason."

    Brutus is saying that Caesar's "affections", ie., his emotions, have never carried more weight with him than his reason. In other words, having decided on a course of action, he would not be held back by any sense of remorse. Therefore,he was capable of abuse of power.

    Further down, acknowledging that Caesar has to this point done nothing for which he might deserve death, Brutus goes on to ponder:Fashion it thus; that what he is, augmented, Would run to these and these extremities;. He is saying that the character of Caesar is such that if he achieved greater power, he would be perfectly capable of abusing it. It is also apparent that Caesar is growing more powerful daily. That is why he draws the analogy of the serpent's egg, which is better destroyed before it hatches.

    Whatever Brutus may or may not have done in history, in Shakespeare's drama his reputation for rectitude and honor is essential. Remember Casca's words concerning Brutus, at the close of Act I,
    "O, he sits high in all the people's hearts 
                           And that which would appear offence in us 
                           His countenance, like richest alchemy, 
                           Will change to virtue and to worthiness." 

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 10, 2003 - 01:23 pm
    OK folks this is long BUT for me necessary - I was hehehe up all night like Brutus - at any rate trying to figure out what they were all afraid of in Caesar - was this just a power grab by Cassius - if so what was his motive - I can't find anything that says this is simply a figment of Cassius wanting power - Ok here goes - this is how I traced back in the play and than found some history that I think may be the basis for all this fear of Caesar, old, deaf in one ear, epileptic or not.

    Any quotes are from a paraphrase version of the play that a Kathy Livingston wrote using these sources: teachers' editions of the Prentice Hall Literature Platinum Edition (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1989) Literature and Language Blue Level (Robert S. Boone, McDougal, Littell & Company, Dallas, 1992). The Riverside Shakespeare (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, Massachusetts, 1974).

    Ok been working on this stuff for hours - as quickly as I think I found the motive - it slips but I think I've got it - I think I've got it - the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain da dah dah dada...

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 10, 2003 - 01:24 pm

    Caesar gives instructions to both Antonius and Calpurnia as well as gives the soothsayer permission to speak but ignores the soothsayer’s council.

    After Caesar leaves; Brutus says, he is not athletic and tells Cassius to do what he wants to do (this is in response to Brutus being asked if he was going to watch the race but like so many responses in this play words have more than one meaning.)

    Brutus admits he has mixed emotions - is "at war with himself" - followed by the exchange with Cassius who uses this admission as an opening to win his affections.

    Brutus says, What does this shouting mean?I am afraid the people Choose Caesar to be their king...I don't want it...but Caesar is my good friend
    ...Put honor on one side and death on the other... the gods give me good fortune only if I love The name of honor more than I fear death. (Honor valued more than death)

    The crowd shouts again? I think that all this applause is For some new honors that are given to Caesar... Brutus would rather be a villager Than to represent himself as a son of Rome Under the difficult conditions that this time in history Is likely to put on us... angry spot... everyone else looks... have been scolded... eyes like an angry ferret

    Caesar wants to be surrounded by non-thinkers - Cassius reads too much, is a great observer, and looks into the heart of men, does not enjoy games, music, seldom smiles when he does it Caesar believes he makes in fun and looks down on people. Caesar concludes Cassius cannot enjoy life because they see someone greater than themselves -

    And so we have Caesar tipping his hand that he believes he is greater than Cassius and wants to be treated as greater. He goes on to say he is Caesar therfore beyond being afraid of Cassius and yet he is not secure in his assessment, Caesar wants Antonius' support for his appraisal of Cassius.

    Antonius has already declared Cassius not to be a threat which says either Antonius is secure in himself or naive to the dangers men can wreck in their weaknesses.

    Then the whole business of the declining of the crown when Caesar exercises more of his power by silencing Marullus and Flavius and as Casca says more foolishness.

    This is followed by Casca responding to a dinner invitation with, "Yes, if I am alive," inferring Caesar’s use of power when Caesar is emotionally angry.

    Brutus invites Cassius to his house - so Brutus has serious considerations about Caesar that Cassius has only allowed him to voice - then the soliloquy when Cassius identifies Brutus' weakness.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 10, 2003 - 01:29 pm
    In Casca's return to Cicero he starts with "Doesn't it disturb you when the natural order of things Shakes like something that is unstable?" storms scold winds torn knotty oaks ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam To raise itself to the level of the threatening clouds a storm dropping fire.

    Elizabethan England would very much pick up on the symbolism of the choices Shakespaere chose - an author puts words into the mouths of his characters for a reason - to say something to the audience. Are we being given clues here to the fears of Brutus, Cassius and the others. Casca concludes by saying; Either there is a civil war in heaven, Or else the world, too disrespectful of the gods, Makes them angry enough to destroy it.

    To which Cassius says - Now I could, Casca, give you the name of one man Who is very much like this dreadful night That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars Like the lion (king of beasts but with cruelty, ferocity, a symbol of war, emblem of St. Mark and on the English flag emphasizing the royalty and majesty of Christ) in the Capitol; A man no mightier than you or I In his personal actions, but who has become enormous And threatening, just like these strange happenings are. Ok so this is all serious stuff with lots of omans to what - what is it that they all dread and feel so strongly that they must do something...

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 10, 2003 - 01:45 pm
    "Our acceptance of a dictator shows us to be like women, not men... The senators Plan to make Caesar king tomorrow, And he will rule over sea and land Everywhere except here in Italy..."

    To impress Casca he goes on with his logic that he, Cassius, will free himself from slavery - no prison (tower, walls of brass, dungeon, chains of iron) is stronger than death and if denied his freedom he would even choose death.

    Is he sincere here or is he only persuading Casca by speaking to what he believes are Casca’s inner yearnings? Does Cassius really feel that this is a war of Freedom versus death represented by the governing power of a triumvirate versus the singular power of a King?

    They need Brutus because "the people love him" and his "face is like magic" which allows any plan to appear "good and worthy."

    In the Garden Brutus notices there are no stars in the sky in his thoughts he appraises his fears if Caesar were to become king. “... the truth about Caesar, I have never known him to be controlled by his heart Instead of his head... But once he reaches the top...he turns his back...Looks into the clouds, scorning the lower levels...This what Caesare MAY DO... we must prevent it... We must shape our argument

    All the while the candle burns in the other room. (Candle - light in the darkness of life, illumination, the uncertainty of life as easily extinguished, the divine light shining in the world.)

    Then he blames Cassius for arousing his suspicions of Caesar which does not speak to original statement that he was in war with himself. But now he brings us this civil war with his heart and mind a second time. (Will we have a third time with Brutus being likened to Peter?)

    Cassius again throws in words that are the key to Brutus’s heart - "here is no man here Who doesn't honor you; and every one wishes You had the same opinion of yourself Which every noble Roman has of you."

    This issue of whether the sun rises in the east or in the south Then they are full of themselves when Brutus’ minimizes the need for an oath and yet they’re weakness shows when they want Cicero’s support.

    (east beginnings - west dying / straight up = 'The God of Righteousness' / th sun is the supreme power, the all-seeing, the center of being and intuitive knowledge, the universal Father)

    Aha these are not fears that Cassius alone feels and is wont to act upon we have Caius entering announcing he also wants action against Caesar - it looks like this is not the first time senators feared Caesar’s power.

    What is to be feared by having a King again - what is Rome’s experience with a king?
    • 510 BC: beginning of the Roman Republic; Rome, ruled by consuls, consolidates power throughout the Italian peninsula
    • 82 BC http://heraklia.fws1.com/contemporaries/sulla/”>Lucius Sulla, a Roman general, became the dictator for three years.
    Aha - who is this Lucius Sulla? - he was a Dictator that has got to be significant!

    Ah so - the biggie - similar to Caesar - He gained control by treating his soldiers to a lavish good time and won the allegiance of other generals' men. When the Roman senate requested that he turn over the control of his armies, he refused. Instead, Sulla's fiercely loyal armies marched on Rome and captured the city.
    • 71 BC slave revolt led by Spartacus, put down by Pompey
    • 60 BC The First Triumvirate was established a death blow to the Republican form of government. It was a three-man political alliance between Pompey, Marcus Crassus, and Julius Caesar.
    • 58-51 BC Julius Caesar conquered Gaul, present day France. The Senate feared his power so they ordered him to give up his command. - When Crassus died after the battle of Carrhae Caesar is at war with Pompey for the control of Rome.
    • 49 BC the senate, backing Pompey, ordered Caesar to disband his army and give up his province of Gaul. Instead of giving up, Caesar crossed the Rubicon invading Italy setting off a civil war.
    • 45 BC Caesar defeated Pompey and was sole ruler of Rome.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 10, 2003 - 01:57 pm
    And so we have a precedent of possible behavior set by a past dictator from 40 years earlier and the similarities between the two is enough to make them fear what Caesar could become if king.

    The other issue I wonder about - the issue of the 'unknown' which folks react by wanting to plug up that hole - and the issue of chaos - with change there are no known boundaries unless outlined by, in this case Caesar - so far all they have to work with is Caesars nature which seems volcanic when he is emotionally upset - therefore to these men that is a chaotic situation. Politics and government is about bringing order to the chaos of people living and working together and so I think underlying all of this fear is the fear of the chaos that living under Caesar's emotional reaction brings to their lives.

    March 10, 2003 - 02:10 pm
    Regarding part of Ginny's question #1 about the cloaked visitors to Brutus' house, Lucius tells Brutus he didn't recognize them:

    "Their hats are plucked about their ears, and half their faces buried in their cloaks, that by no means may I discover them by any mark of favor." (Act 2i: 79-82)

    Of course, the conspirators didn't want to be recognized in the streets, just yet, although few people ventured out at night. As in most pre-electric societies, and even today with lighting prevalent, the night appeared full of danger. In a realistic sense one could fall and hurt oneself, be attacked by animals, or be robbed or murdered in the dark; but also, superstition holds that evil spirits roam at night. Perhaps that's why Roman hearth fires were kept lit all night.


    Someone versed in ancient beliefs will have to tell me if the following conjectures are correct and where I've missed the mark:

    The Romans believed in the lemures, spirits of the improperly buried who wandered at night. Covered heads and veils, which we still see in many modern religions and religious practices, protected the living from the spirits or ill-omened sight. I think adults might be especially susceptible to evil spirits, rather than children. Another group of Romans who'd be susceptible would be those engaged in sacrifice, whatever the time of day, which is ritual violence and a borderland between the sacred and the profane.

    From harpy.uccs.edu: "The Altar of Peace [Ara Pacis] was dedicated to pietas and the pax romans of Augustus on July 4, 13 BCE....Replacing a temporary structure of wood and paintings, the beautiful altar was later rebuilt in Lura marble....It has been reconstructed near its original site on the Tiber in Rome. The Altar is decorated with reliefs representing allegorical, historical and mythological scenes."


    Continuing from harpy.uccs.eu: "In the main frieze, [known as The Ara Pacis Augustae: The First Family] Augustus played the role of...rex sacrorum the king/priest with his head veiled who performed the ancient rites of blood sacrifice....He is shown accompanied by the flamen diales, identified by their spiked caps and the lictors, who with their ceremonical axes will deal the death blows to the sacrifical animals. Marcus Agrippa is probably the older man also veiled as an auger pontifex..."


    When priests and emperors are depicted with the head covered by a hood-like fold of the toga, that's known as capite velato.

    My guess, and whoever knows about Roman beliefs please tell me if I'm wrong, is that the covering by the visitors to Brutus' house is done to avoid discovery but also as a protection against ill-omened spirits; and that this forshadows the next Act of the play.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 10, 2003 - 02:12 pm
    Marvelle - the second link is not working hon - have you copied the correct URL?

    March 10, 2003 - 02:21 pm
    BARB, I just corrected it. I ALWAYS have trouble seeing the link well enough to copy it. Thanks.

    There are a lot of recent posts with some great points and I need to take time to read & understand them. Back later....


    March 10, 2003 - 02:22 pm
    I don't see where I disagree with you. I too think Brutus to be an honorable man, one who makes a mistake by turning to assassination. I think his concerns for the future of Rome are real. However, Caesar has as yet shown no true sign of becoming a tyrant.

    I do think that Brutus has already made up his mind that Caesar must die at the very beginning of 2.1.

    As for the servant, Lucius, Ginny, I think we see a domestic and human side of Brutus because of his presence. Of course Brutus' time with his wife, Portia, also shows Brutus as human who has a loving wife.

    The wound thing. Portia shows Brutus a wound she has made in her thigh in order to prove to him that she can bare all things, even physical pain, with patience.

    Barbara~~I just read your posts. I think I lost your meaning somewhere in the midst of them.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 10, 2003 - 03:17 pm
    haha - yes - you got a picture of how I think and how I ask questions when I want answers to in order to find the answer to "why" they were so fearful of Caesar - so much so that they were motivated to act to be assured Caesar would not be their king -

    I was not looking for a moral justification or deciding if the means they chose to get rid of Caesarn were justified - only what in the world made each of them decide that Caesar had to go or, was it really Cassius who decided and they were all manipulated - and if that was true then what did Cassius fear -

    I thought there was a message in the words from Shakespeare that we lightly passed over since we as readers are not in the habit today of seeing meaning in things the way folks did in earlier history - I just kept on like the pink rabbit on TV till I satisfied myself to why I think they chose to do the deed - that it was a group of individuals who may have been organized into an active group by Cassius but it appears they all had their seperate and individual fear of Caesar and his receiving the crown as their king.

    March 10, 2003 - 04:17 pm
    Still digesting these fabulous submissions, Barb, a quick thought, you said, "49 BC the senate, backing Pompey, ordered Caesar to disband his army and give up his province of Gaul. Instead of giving up, Caesar crossed the Rubicon invading Italy setting off a civil war." You may find information I posted earlier today interesting as it goes into a bit more detail on this historic decision. In actuality, Caesar actually requested what the republican Senate had just voted on, see Crossing the Rubicon

    The Rubicon is the reason I came in here, mentions of the Rubicon, of course, 5 days from the actual event (is our timing good or is our timing good) is everywhere you look, here's the font page of the Sports Page of the local newspaper today:

    And of course you can see "The Die is Cast," from "Alea jacta est," supposedly what Caesar said on the occasion. The die is cast has become a slogan for making a decision from which you can't turn back. I bet you all are about to see TONS of references to March 15, too, it will be interesting to see what all they are and in what forms they occur!!

    More anon!

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 10, 2003 - 04:54 pm
    Good heavens I am so so so glad you provided that link - I do not know what happened or how it happened but there were about 10 posts that I had completly missed - an exchange from Hats - anneofavonlea - and a couple of long ones from you Ginny - I wonder if they were posted while I Had the discussion folder open most of the morning while I was putting all my thoughts on Word before I finally transfered them - the result these other posts had come in without my seeing them - quite a lot to read and digest here today - looks like we are all trying to come to terms with Brutus, Cassius and Caesar.

    Where I see bits and pieces of their historical behavior from what I have read there are many who believe this came about because of the incredible land growth of Rome - I wonder if what we are seeing today i world politics is as the result of the incredible growth in technology and wealth - I see bits of each of Shakespaere's characters in the political 'leaders' (ahum) of today but no pure, this one is like and he is the image of...

    Huh - even sports journelists quote Shakespeare! Not exactly my image of a sports writer!

    March 10, 2003 - 05:36 pm
    hahaah Barb on the sports writer, yes it's awful, actually, I miss so many posts, and once missed a very important one and all sorts of misunderstandings broke out! I'm glad you got to see all of them! (There are some great thoughts).

    You are right, that's just exactly what happens with this new software, apparently, you come here and begin posting or get your stuff ready to post, and while you're posting 20 people can post and when yours posts, they don't show as New and the person posting never sees them!! Happens to me all the time, and just in case somebody did not know, this is a good thing to know. (Especially considering how long it takes me to finally hit Post My Message, it's scary!)

    Is it SATURDAY that's the Ides? We'll have to do something special here because we won't be to Act III!


    March 10, 2003 - 05:43 pm
    Yes we WILL!!! I just looked at our schedule in the Topics for Consideration and by GUM, we'll take up Act III on the Ides of March, now you tell me we here in the Books are not au courant, that's amazing!!!!!!!

    (Of course Maryal planned it that way hahaahaha)


    March 10, 2003 - 08:03 pm
    Is there some reason that posts 248 through 253 are underlined? It makes it hard to read. Two of those posts are mine and I didn't underline my posts unless by mistake. How'd I do it?

    Regarding Cassius' persuasion of Brutus. In Act 1 first Cassius feels out Brutus' thoughts and closes his argument with

    "O you and I have heard our fathers say there was a Brutus once who would have brooked th' eternal devil to keep his state in Rome as easily as a king." (Act 1 ii: 167-170) My Folger edition says it means 'there was a Brutus once who would have permitted the devil to reign in Rome as soon as allow a king to reign.'

    So Cassius both needles our Brutus with his ancestor's achievement and also shows him how he might retain his Honor/public esteem by following his ancestor's example. Brutus responds to "there was a Brutus once" by saying he'd been thinking along those same lines. Brutus concludes with this promise to Cassius:

    "Brutus had rather be a villager than to repute himself a son of Rome under these hard conditions as this time is like to lay upon us." (Act 1 ii: 181-184)

    When we next meet Brutus in Act 2, as Maryal noted, he's decided on the murder. So I don't think Cassius needed to do any persuading beyond pointing out the example of Brutus the Liberator to our Brutus which is what caught Brutus' interest.

    HATS, Maryal gave the example of Portia. Women in Roman times were considered weak and Portia wanted to show Brutus that she was truly the daughter of Cato and thus worthy of Brutus' trust. It sounds from her stabbing her thigh that she's aware of some sort of conspiracy.

    In Everitt's Cicero he writes that Cato was on the side of the Republic during the Civil War. Caesar, of the winning side, showed that he was willing to extend clemency to Cato. Cato refused saying "I decline to be under an obligation to the tyrant for his illegal acts ... He is acting against the law when he pardons people over whom he has no authority, as if he owned them." Cato attempted suicide by stabbing himself and when a doctor was called and stitched together his abdomen, Cato ripped out the stitches and his entrails in order to die. (Everitt 231) (Gory scene I know even after I neatened it up a bit.)

    Brutus' wife Portia is this Cato's daughter which she proved with the dagger.

    I read all of today's posts; they're wonderful but I may not be able to respond to all of them. For some reason tonight I'm tired and feeling cold and will probably snuggle in bed with hot mint tea and a book. Oh wait, that's what I do when I'm feeling good too. Hahahaha


    March 10, 2003 - 08:16 pm
    I had the pleasure of visiting the Newberry Library in Chicago. What a treat that was They are one of the premier Shakespeare Libraries.


    March 11, 2003 - 08:23 am
    Wow! Quite a bit here today and I hate to say this but we're running out of time, need to finish up this scene so we can arrive, breathless and panting at Pompey's Theater on the Ides Saturday, but I have a feeling we will be too late.

    Today would we please look at questions 11 and 9? We need to focus on them, please feel free to give your thoughts!

    Here they are again, just for your viewing pleasure:

    For Your Consideration

    Week Two: March 8-14:
    Act II, Scene i:

    Power to the People?

    "Th' abuse of greatness is when it disjoins
    Remorse from power. And, to speak truth of Caesar,
    I have not known when his affections swayed
    More than his reason." (II i 19-22)

    "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..." (II i 22-27)

  • 1. What do these two passages mean? Is there any irony in the charge of separation of remorse from power? Who has been left behind on the ladder of success? What of Brutus's motivation is revealed in these few words?

    ...the base degrees
    By which he did ascend. So Caesar may,
    Then, lest he may, prevent.

  • 2. What is it Brutus says he is afraid Caesar may do here?

    "And since the quarrel
    Will bear no color of the things 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, hatched, would as his kind, grow
    And kill him in the shell." (II i 29-36)

  • 3. What does "since the quarrel/ Will bear no color of the thing he is" mean?

  • 4. Why do the conspirators hide their faces when they come to talk with Brutus? It is night, and most people are asleep.

  • 5. What are Brutus's reasons for wanting Caesar dead?

  • 6. What is meant by "the genius and the moral instruments..." in lines 69, 70 of Act II i.

  • 7. What is the reason Brutus gives for rejecting Cicero as a conspirator? Does his reason support or detract from the "honor" of the enterprise?

    "Speak, strike, redress! Am I entreated
    To speak and to strike? O Rome, I make thess promise,
    If the redress will follow, thos receivest
    Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus.

  • 8. Why has the letter Brutus has received impelled him to murder? Who is it from? Why does he trust the advice in it without questioning? What does he assume from the mysterious letters left around about the feelings of the Roman people?

  • 9. What is ironic about this line, "And what other oath
    Than honesty to honesty engaged
    (II, i, 139). When does a man need to swear an oath? Does Brutus see this enterprise as "noble?"

  • 10. What reasoning does Portia use to convince Brutus to tell her what is bothering him? How does she know that he is troubled? What do Brutus's answers reveal about his own resolution in this enterprise? What do Portia's feelings represent and what does it mean when Brutus spurns them?

  • 11. "Indeed, he is not fit." (II, i, 166) The conspirators decide who to ally with them and who to include in the murders. How does this one remark show the motivation and instability of the group of conspirators? What does it symbolize for the entire enterprise? What other plans have they for the government after the murder (Jan).

  • 12 Is assassination ever justified? If so, when?

  • 13. List the instances of Brutus's misunderstanding and misinterpretation which take place in this scene.

    Brutus's town orchard (garden):


  • more....

    March 11, 2003 - 09:02 am

    Cassius and his coin click to enlarge

    Cassius and his coin, just ...I dunno, not a very good likeness of anybody, but there it is.

    BABI!!!!!!!!!!!! Well done well done, I LOVED this, so different from mine, "Brutus is saying that Caesar's "affections", i.e., his emotions, have never carried more weight with him than his reason. In other words, having decided on a course of action, he would not be held back by any sense of remorse. Therefore, he was capable of abuse of power." OH that's good and exactly opposite how I saw it, I love this, well done!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Then you said, "in Shakespeare's drama his reputation for rectitude and honor is essential." Oh yeah exactly, that's what I'm on about, I don't see it. Hahahaahah IN the play, tell us more, tell us every time you see it, thank you for that!

    Barbara, Ok been working on this stuff for hours - as quickly as I think I found the motive - it slips but I think I've got it - I think I've got it Oh I know how you feel!! Hahahaah

    I spent half the night looking for the Tarpein Rock. It seems that it's either totally gone or there are a million photos of it, maddening. The photo of the Forum in the heading was supposedly TAKEN from the TArpein rock but it sure doesn't look like it to me in the photos, but soft, you'll want to hear more on the Tarpein Rock, story , coming right up with photo.

    Why Barbara, what an interesting find: In the Garden Brutus notices there are no stars in the sky but he does speak of "these exhalations," (meteors) which make him able to read the letter, I LOVE that exhalations business, the heavens themselves are erupting, but there are no stars in the sky, to the ancients that must have spelled doom.

    Thank you also for your mention of Sulla, I had just about forgotten him!

    Marvelle, thank you for those wonderful links to the Ara Pacis. I recall Thomas Hoving in his Art for Dummies book saying that was one of the most important pieces of Roman Art, it's in a huge glass enclosure or some kind of glass and they keep putting off the opening of it's now scheduled for 2005, I'll be there.

    You are the first person I have ever heard advance the theory of sacrifice in this, and I think it's very interesting, I don't know, but I think it is. All I can find about togas worn over the head is in reference to the
    Via Labicana Augustus (to follow in our discussion) "the veiled head of Augustus. The motif of the capite velato the veiled head, was taken from actual sacrificial practices and came to be a cipher for hte piety of Rome's rulers, and an expression of their respect for gods and ancestors." (Rome, Art and Architecture)

    So you may be on to something with your sacrifice idea, I've never heard it before.

    Maryal, he was bizzy? Haahahah Well in truth the action here takes place in the wee hours of the Ides, but I wonder if something else is not going on. You say, "Ginny, I think we see a domestic and human side of Brutus, " and I agree. I think personally the reason he didn't blurt it out is because he's ashamed of it, she and he have a different relationship from Super Brutus the Avenger, and she's used to hearing his inmost thoughts. He's become LiberatorBrutus, hung up on his fixed purpose now, and his not telling her (I bet she would have said are you nuts) and yet referring to her as honorable and noble means to me that, like other men, he's different with her and he's got her believing he's honorable. And what he's about to do is not. And he knows it no matter how much he tries to convince himself otherwise.

    And CLEAREYED Maryal, THANK you for the Ligarius scene explanation BECAUSE it fits in with the entire conspiracy. Ligarius will follow Brutus (Brutus now has his own followers, no matter WHAT he does, oh the moral pressures of power, he better watch out, he might turn into a Little Caesar here) and it shows again the conspirators are not reasoning things out themselves, just following). I could NOT figure out why he came on like that at the last, many thanks!!

    I'm not sure about Portia and the wound Didn't you love that "I grant I am a woman," repeated there? Why does that remind me of Elizabeth I, but tho I have the heart of a weak woman....I saw Portia as saying, hey, you think I'm only a woman? Hey you think my own ancestors did not make me strong? Hey, "Think you I am no stronger than my sex, Being so fathered and so husbanded?"

    Tell me your counsels; I will not disclose 'em
    I have made a strong proof of my constancy
    Giving myself a voluntary wound
    Here, in the thigh. Can I bear that with patience
    And not my husband's secrets?

    I think she's trying to demonstrate how much self control she has and that she can be trusted, that's pretty dramatic, here look I stab self and you think I'm not fit to hear?

    Marvelle: I don't see any underlining but sometimes if a link is not closed with the brackets /a thing underlining will occur, even IN a bed with some hot mint tea and a book! Ahhaahah Hope you are feeling warmer now.

    Ginny Ann, thank you for that marvelous link to the Newberry Library in Chicago, wow, that's fabulous, what do YOU think about our Brutus here? Honorable? Weak? Penny for your thoughts?

    One thing that strikes me also is.. would you call it irony in this scene? It seems to resonate with it, to me.

    Here's one:

    And what other oath
    Than honesty to honesty engaged
    Than this shall be or we will fall for it. (II, i, 138ff). Honesty to honesty? These men are the most dishonest you can get, they arrive disguised, they plan to decoy and murder, is this a case of "honor among thieves, " I thought that ironic, do you see something else there?

    Here's another one, and they're all from Brutus:

    But do not stain
    Th' even virtue of our enterprise.
    (II, i, 142).

    STAIN? There are about to be STAINS of every kind in Act III, for some reason, I don't know why, I think this is here for a reason.

    So let's look at 9 Whoops!! I just DID 9 ahahahah do you agree with me or not on the honesty thing? jeepers, oK pick a card ...er...any topic we've not covered to YOUR satisfaction in the current scene i, any card at all and go for it!) and 11 today and ....let's look at 7, and 11 today, 7 being Cicero, the conspirators decide who to kill and who not, who to include and who not, what do you all think about these three, we need to move on so we can be at the IDES on the IDES!!!!!!!!!!


    March 11, 2003 - 10:09 am
    Hats, I think, (in one of those posts which got skipped again!!!!!!!!!! Barbara, I've got it now, the Curse of Barb!! Sorry!!!!!!!!!!) had also advanced a good theory on Portia:

    Brutus does not want to involve Portia, just hearing about such treason could bring her harm.

    Also, I think, Brutus does not want to hear any opposing ideas. He doesn't have time to get into an argument with his wife who would probably tell him to forget the whole foolish idea. He doesn't want to hear her objections.

    I agree, and do you think, Hats, that she might not approve it as being honorable,or the husband she knew, aside from being foolish (which it was) I think he would have gotten in an argument with her, I think you're right on there!

    And somewhere in a post you talked about the crowd of conspirators and just reading your post gave me chills, something about they had made their decision (sort of a die is cast for them) and there was no turning back now and they were on the way, chilling and good stuff, thank you.

    Now those are both excellent reasons Brutus also would not tell her, so that makes 4 so far reasons, and I think we have some VERY sharp eyed and intuitive readers here!


    March 11, 2003 - 10:34 am
    Portia's getting on my last nerve as she nags Brutus about the cause of his "heavy heart."  He really does not wish to discuss it and he just blows her off.  she's not used to this kind of treatment.  After all-- she is the daughter of Cato.

    WHAT????  She bears a voluntarily inflicted  wound?  Hellllooo Portia, dear, that's called sado-masochism.  Was it a tatoo?????

    Allow me to ask a question that troubled me when I watched the movie also in  Act II - scene I .  WHY does Shakespeare make such a big production of Lucius bringing the bloody candle to his master?  Is it that Brutus trusts this lad to his secrets?  Does he expect him to listen as he yammers on about Caesar's conduct?  Is he introduced here to perform a major role  or just someone to remind us about the approaching Ides?

    March 11, 2003 - 10:47 am
    What is the reason Brutus gives for rejecting Cicero??  Question # 7.
    Each conspirator agrees that he is an added bonus to their plot, with his silver hairs and fine judgement.

    Brutus says "he'll never follow any thing that other men begin," and says not to tell him the secret.  NOW-- all of the sudden after he says that Casca and Cassius change their mind in midstream.

    "then leave him out; Indeed he's not fit" they proclaim.<HR>
    Is Brutus saying that Cicero can NOT be controlled by another man, that he will not follow their orders nor their commands?  Hmmm interesting isn't it that that should bother Brutus ?  POWER!!!  Could he fear Cicero's leadership abilities being superior to his own?  OR-- does he conspire plotting to become the dominant leader?

    Now they go for beloved, shrewd Mark Antony & Brutus admonishes the conspirators that it will seem too bloody!  Now that's a joke, stab a guy 23 times and it's not too bloody.
    How 'bout we stab Caesar 12 times and MA only 11 times.  There that's less bloody now, Brutus.

    March 11, 2003 - 12:40 pm
    These are just characters in a play, remember? My goodness, Portia is a loyal and devoted wife who is troubled about the fact that her darling husband is no longer sleeping with her. His whole personality seems to have changed, and she is worried about him. Apparently he always talks things out with her and this time he doesn't.

    And Lucius, the servant with the taper, is not on stage while Brutus muses about why it is necessary to kill Caesar.

    Ginny--I'm fuzzy on this, but I believe it was a not uncommon Roman practice to give oneself a wound in order to prove bravery. I do think that it would have been unusual for a woman to do so. Please clarify.

    Incidentally, it seems that Portia knows that something is up because she sends Lucius out to get information about what is going on in the forum. She speculates that Brutus may have a suit that Caesar will not grant. (2.4)


    March 11, 2003 - 12:50 pm
    My take on Brutus' comment re. Cicero was that Cicero was not a man who wanted to be a follower in anything. If it wasn't his idea, he wasn't for it. I may be misconstruing here, but I thought Brutus fear was that Cicero would go to Caesar if he knew what was being plotted. Which would explain why the other men immediately dropped the idea of trying to involve Cicero.

    Barbara, you have me on the alert now. I'll also be watching to see if Brutus struggles with this decision a third time. Although, after clasping hands with the other conspirators, I don't think his idea of honor would permit him to withdraw. ..Babi

    March 11, 2003 - 01:43 pm
    Maryal. Characters in a play you say? You mean this isn't for real?
    Don't we all know devoted women who pathetically nag their husbands (particularly if they no longer talk "pillow talk?" ) Devoted? How do we know that from this scene? She sounds more inquisitive and meddlesome than she does devoted.

    I stand corrected . Lucius has exited prior to Brutus'es rampage. Well, then, now I'm really stumped. WHY has Mr. Shakespeare put him in here Maryal?

    March 11, 2003 - 02:05 pm
    Ginny, As far as Portia, I do see HONOUR. I think, when Portia mentions that she is Cato's daughter, Portia is reminding Brutus that she has just as much "HONORABLE" blood as he and his family. Therefore, she thinks, why not tell me what is going on? I am not your underling. I am your equal. She does lose her steam by mentioning that she is only a "woman."

    Maryal, now, I see it. Her wound seems to be a sign of bravery. Portia says,

    "I bear that with patience...."

    I think Portia is saying, I am a woman. Yet, I am not too afraid to shed my own blood. What else do you want me to do to prove I am invincible?

    March 11, 2003 - 02:13 pm
    I am with Alf about Cicero. I think that Brutus is afraid of Cicero's leadership abilities. I think this is why Brutus immediately rejects Cicero. Brutus has decided to commit this assassination. Now, he wants all the glory! If Cicero were a part of the group, there is a chance that Cicero would be credited with all of the planning. Brutus wants his name to be remembered for the brutal act that will happen on the Ides of March.

    March 11, 2003 - 02:38 pm
    WHEE what super stuff!!! Just rushing in with some illustrations for today, love all the remarks so far!!

    Maryal I have NO clue about selfl mutilation or tatoos? I seem to recall something vaguely about some Eastern Cult Cybele or something brought to Rome who practiced self mutilation, and I know it's in the New Testament but as for the ordinary Roman, I do not know, sorry.

    Here's what I came in to say, this is a fascinating story, apropos of nothing whatsoever, but I just learned it last night! In Rome there is something called the Tarpein Rock, mentioned by Shakespeare in Coriolanus (and maybe here for all I know) and it was a tall rock at one end of the Forum from which criminals were thrown to their deaths (and some said dishonest men were, too).

    The whereabouts of the rock today are as mysterious as the legend, some tours purport to take you there, some authorities say it's gone and some show photos of it, so who knows? But here's what's interesting about it"

    Here is part of a frieze (am going to destroy my new book) from the Basilica Amelia in the Forum which depicts the story of Tarpeia, notable for being an early....famous woman in an age of men. The frieze dates either from Lepidus's restoration in 79 BC or that of Julius Caesar. It is 300 feet long. That's Tarpeia, up there under that reverse C scarf looking thing.

    You all know the famous painting the Rape of the Sabines? or perhaps the Sculpture by the same name?

    That thing depicts events in 753 BC when Romulus, lacking women for his settlement, invited the Sabines to dinner and ...well you know what happened. Bent on revenge, the Sabines attacked.

    Tarpeia, depending on who you ask (a goddess, a Vestal Virgin, guardian of the spirit rock) was entrusted with defending the hill against the Sabines. But in one version of many about her, her fascination for the glittering arm bands of the warriors (sort of like the Lady of Shallot and the reflection in the mirror) led to her doom. Rome Art and Architecture takes up the tale:

    Her greed for the jewelry of the Sabines led her to betray the entrance to the fortifications to them. She hoped for their gold armlets which they wore on their left arms. The victorious Sabines kept their promise to give her all they wore on their left arms, and they buried her under their shields [which they carried on their left sides]. The famous Tarpein rock is named after her.

    Isn't that something? See next post for what some of the gold (not of the Sabines but of the Romans looked like)

    There are several legends about Tarpeia, but that one, I think is stunning, and since I had never heard it I thought you might be interested. Talk about be careful what you wish for? I have a feeling Brutus is going to feel the same way very shortly, what about you?


    March 11, 2003 - 02:38 pm
    Here are some examples of Roman gold jewelry, which would have turned Tarpeia's head, if she saw them, found in Pompeii,

    gold jewelry click to enlarge

    the snake arm band was often used to ward off evil, the snake head bracelet was a very popular style throughout Roman history and the sack like thing (the Romans called anything with a rounded shape that looked as though it were full of water a bulla), was originally a pendant worn around the neck, sometimes of leather. In time it became a jewel rather than lucky charm, tho it sill contined amulets to ward off the evil eye. Bullae were worn by freeborn citizens.

    And here, just for Ginger, who taught us what toga parties really are, is a super toga here is Titus (of the Arch of Titus a bit after our time 79 AD) in his toga, but look at those folds!!


    March 11, 2003 - 02:52 pm
    OK, so I was searching all over the internet for information about Plutarch's account of Portia.

    Boy, there are a lot of false trails on the internet.

    My plan was to "save myself time" instead of searching out that part of Plutarch's Lives where Brutus and Portia are discussed.

    Bad idea.

    Finally, I picked up this little paperback Signet edition of the play, and lo and behold, in the back, are carefully selected passages from North's edition of Plutarch's Lives which is the one Shakespeare used.

    The wound is in Plutarch.

    "His wife Porcia was the daughter of Cato, whom Brutus married being his cousin, not a maiden, but a young widow after the death of her first husband Bibulus, by whom she had also a young son called Bibulus. . . .This young lady, being excellently well seen in philosophy, loving her husband well, and being of a noble courage, as she was also wise: because she would not ask her husband what he ailed before she had made some proof by herself: she took a little razor, such as barbers occupy to pare men's nails, and, causing her maids and women to go out of her chamber, gave herself a great gash withal in her thigh, that she was straight all of a gore blood: and incontinently after a vehement fever took her, by reason of the pain of her wound. Then perceiving her husband was marvelously out of quiet and that he could take no rest, even in her greatest pain of all she spoke in this sort unto him: "I being, O Brutus," said she, "the daughter of Cato, was married unto thee; not to be thy bedfellow and companion in bed and at board only, like a harlot, but to be partaker also with thee of thy good and evil fortune."

    The passage goes on to the point where Brutus beseaches the gods to be a husband worthy of so noble a wife.

    I found some other stuff as well, and perhaps will post it later.


    March 11, 2003 - 03:01 pm
    NEATO, Maryal, thank you! You're right about the internet and the false trails, hahaahah I looked thru 6 screens of google for ancient mutilation and tattoos, and when I got to this Brazilian man cutting off his...er...part, that was it, ahahahaha no more screens!

    hahaaha, so she did gash herself , it seems...forshadowing? or er...!


    March 11, 2003 - 03:22 pm
    Hi, all. Back from two days enduring dental torture.(laughing) I've just finished reading interim postings since I last checked in on site. Have a little different take on our Brutus.

    I think that deep down inside that he's ashamed of the actions that the conspirators consider. Think as so many have said that he probably was and considered himself and honorable man. Also think that his conscience is being nudged by doubts. What I don't get is why he chooses to ignore those doubts. Hats suggested that he didn't tell Portia what he was up to because he didn't want her to be involved with danger and treason; he wanted to protect her. A number of our group have indicated that he chose not to tell her the truth because she most likely would attempt to disuade him. Think it was Ginny who mentioned something about Brutus' self-image or role changing here. Think that's part of it too. Think he wants his wife to be proud of him and that somehow he'll be able hide this dirty little secret.

    My take on the "shame" thing:
  • Brutus doesn't tell Portia the truth for reasons above.
  • Brutus refuses to swear an oath with conspirators to "do the thing". Claims that oaths are for "priests and cowards and men cautelous (sneaky, overlycautious, crafty, untrustworthy hmmmmmmmm doesn't this sound familiar!) old feeble carrions and such suffering souls that welcome wrongs; unto bad causes swear such creatures as men doubt". That only the disreputable and weak need to vow/promise/ swear to an oath.
  • Brutus nixes the idea of recruiting Cicero to the group, as mentioned, because he's the venerable old man of the senate, a good leader, and most likely will try to disuade the conspirators. Also suspect that Brutus would be reluctant to have Cicero call Brutus a traitor to his face.
  • Brutus also discourages the idea of a bloodbath that would also include Marc Antony. ALF suggested that he did so because the conspirators would be seen as being too bloodthirsty, and therefore unrighteous in their actions. Isn't it Brutus who says that Antony shouldn't be taken seriously because he's basically a party animal for he is given to sports, to wildness, and much company.

    Brutus still does the dither thing in the beginning of scene 1 - the conditional "mights, would bes, if-thens &mays " punctuate that first soliloquy of his. In fact, I get the idea that' he's trying to talk himself out of joining Cassius. Brutus doesn't start singing a different tune until he reads the letter (composed by Cassius) that Lucius brings him. It's almost as if he's starting to think that the anonymous Roman citizenry want him to act acc. to Cassius' plan. Yuup. He's manipulated, but for all of his status & rep as being an honorable guy, he knows that murder's wrong. He knows that it's an act that one should feel ashamed to consider. He's just too dumb to realize just how much Cassius has played him for a fool! meg
  • MegR
    March 11, 2003 - 03:27 pm
    Ginny, reference to omitted speech about the oath taking was just an aside. Ancient literature anthology did include and abridged or edited version of this play for sophomores. Didn't realize that until I read this edition. Think that most single play title editions of the text include the entire play - as do Shakespearean anthologies. I checked a number of these that I have (not classroom anthologies) and found the complete text of the play. Does help to explain?

    March 11, 2003 - 03:40 pm
    Somewhere, and I can't recall specifics, remember either my old Latin teacher or a prof in a Shakespeare class telling an aside about Ligarius and his head scarf. Supposedly, folks w/ std's were required by law and on penalty of death to wear such a scarf as a warning to others. When Ligarius says "I here discard my sickness!" II,i, 340 that he's basically defying the law by removing that sign of his illness. Brutus has enabled Ligarius to remove this stigma by offering him the opportunity to serve Brutus as a "whole man". Anybody know anything about this. I really don't recall where I first heard this. This episode is just another example of something else rotten in the state of......

    March 11, 2003 - 03:50 pm
    Meg, have alraedy shot my wad in an earlier post about Romans and head coverings, but soft! hahahaha My Folger Shakespeare text says that in Shakespeare's England men and women wrapped their heads in linen headcloths when ill. Does that help? Maybe somebody here can find something out!

    Yes, I'm with you on the texts and yes that makes sense to me, especially since I got down my own old text, the Cambridge from 1942, and found that I thought I discovered all this stuff Portia said and ECCE! (or soft!) hahahaah it's in the little paperback Folger, too? (It just does NOT seem the same play, I guess it's my grey cells which are not the same)...more anon when I can read, mark, and inwardly digest everybody's posts today, so sorry about you and your poor tooth!!! (Are you wearing a kerchief?) When you get thru you will have to grin constantly at us with those gorgeous movie star choppers!hahaaha


    March 11, 2003 - 07:05 pm
    Covering one's head or face is seen worldwide as spiritual in that it shows a person being under god(s)' domain, especially during a sacred act, and also protects against outside evil or spirits. Here's a link from the British Museum:

    Roman Priestess

    Romans in war had been known to endure self-torture and mutilitation in order to convince the enemy that they were fierce and could not be defeated. And Portia was Cato's daughter -- the man who stabbed himself and ripped out his entrails because he'd rather die than be pardoned by Caesar in the Civil War -- and I think Portia is showing Brutus that she'd be an important ally to him. It also foreshadows something in the latter part of the play.

    Cicero was known to hate Caesar and Antony. He was mentor to many of the younger noblemen and well respected but he was a timid man devoted to literature and not the sword. Brutus knew this and that would be one reason why Cicero wouldn't be acceptable. Also, Brutus wanted to be the leader of the murder like that other Brutus, his ancestor.

    Brutus deceives himself that the assassination is noble and honorable while Cassius knows it isn't. Brutus' argument against killing Antony to preserve the honor of their actions against Caesar rings false to Cassius because he more fully understands the situation in which they're involved. I cannot see Cassius as the 100% villain and actually Brutus with his self-righteousness and self-deception is more chilling.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 11, 2003 - 07:37 pm
    Babi the threes seem to be the bees knees - the clock has struck three - Three times Calpurnia cried out in her sleep...let’s see I have not read that far ahead if Brutus struggles for the third time.

    Hats here is the skinny on Cicero - looks like in his early days he almost convinced the crowd to go against Roman law and execute a man - he lost the debate, was banished with his house burned and replaced with a shrine to Liberty. He seems to have spent his life not only having a lot to say and write that is still with us but he tried to straddle political fences never quite making the inside cut.

    Meg - you also see shame - I see it from an additional perspective - I would like to believe people act committed to shameless honorable behavior or if not, they know and recognize the assumptions that drive them but, I am more inclined to believe we act because of some basic need that if we do not honor we believe some huge doom will destroy us.

    Fabulous photos ginny - now I will have that gold neckless please

    Marvelle I like that - Portia proving she is more of a man than Brutus - but ouch - not only to herself but it sorta puts Brutus on a less than brave or fierce position - maybe that is why she is considered one of the stronger women in history - Marvelle I am not convinced Brutus is deceiving himself that the assassination is noble and honorable - I think he sees it as ultimately a noble (I forgot what word you were suggesting but I do mean moral nobility here) action for Rome. I think he is out of his element, he is not a man of action (not interested in sports or physical activity) nor a reader nor an observer of men - this time he cannot ride the fence, he must switch his loyalties and trust Cassius and this is going beyond his modus operandi.

    In my effort to understand Brutus I’ve compared his behavior to the difficulties of acting out of fear that I have accumulated over the years...

    Problems don’t go away if they are ignored instead they grow nasty.
    Difficulty is only fear - muster and dispatch quickly what is feared, because freedom from fear is our power center.
    OK this is what first Cassuis and then gradually the remaining group appear to be doing - dispatching quickly what they fear to regain their power center. They seem to be doing this before it grows nasty.

    We actually fear the fear, so we try not to even admit it exists.
    Does this explain the reluctance Brutus had in discussing or acting on his fear until Cassius opens the subject. Are all the characters coming to terms in Scene III and Act II with their fear of their fear over the outcome of their action versus their fear of feeling their fear of Caesar’s emotional behavior transformed to his style of leadership. Is this play showing us the process going from an emotional decision (Brutus loves Caesar) to a logical decision as we compare the thought out logic (Cassius). The plan as compared to Caesar’s emotional outbursts.

    Without creating a tight bond, actions taken can be worse than taking no action at all.
    And so they each must bond with this plan of action and Brutus seems to be talking himself into making that bond.

    Effort will be wasted if it empowers resistance and resentment.
    They appear to be assuring themselves that their effort will not be wasted by screening out anyone they suspect would offer resistance or resentment.

    If you’re going to do it, bond with all your heart regardless of the circumstances. If you have no interest in bonding, then there is no reason to go through the motion.
    Is this understanding of winning (They were all soldiers and know the pitfalls of not burning their bridges behind them) the reason we are not hearing a discussion over the morality of what they are planning?

    Is the reason Brutus is not swayed to hear Portia because he knows she may loosen his bond with this group and their proposed action - this link gives us a clue to the concept that Portia,
    Early Romans believed that they (women) succeeded to rule the world through moral excellence and their women served to inspire men to their duty or to show the way themselves.
    If Brutus listens to Portia he would be enlightened, as the candle represents enlightenment and is inside his house - inside his body, his heart, his person, could be described as inside his house - Portia comes to him with her self-inflicted wounded thigh (symbol of creative power, procreation and strength as the skull and cross bones represents the two vital sources of power- head and loins)

    Fear of lose is abandoning an accurate view of yourself - it brings on a shame attack. A shame attack is believing you are in-capable, limited, in-competent, trivial. Feeling in-adequate is trivializing yourself.
    Another fear - this one says more to me about both Caesar who fears loss, a man who has spent his life climbing the ladder of success - and Brutus who feels he 'needs' to assure his family continues as a 'Noble' family. If Caesar is going to be gone regardless what Brutus does he realizes he needs to ingratiate himself with the others who will determine his status in the "member-only country club" of Nobles.

    This fear of loss they all share - the loss of freedom under a king like Caesar is showing us how in-capable and limited they are feeling about taking on Caesar 'if' he were their king. They have trivialized their view of themselves as moral citizens of Rome and replaced it as warrior Romans believing they must rid themselves of a pestilence on Rome, a kingdom under an emotional tyrant Caesar.

    We become whatever we practice most.
    Brutus had not practiced intrigue, He appears to have played in life by creating friends where as Cassius reads and observes others therefore Cassius can see the foibles of men. Casca as a good servant would gather news and continues to gather news for the group.

    March 11, 2003 - 07:45 pm
    Shakespeare chose not to have Cicero as one of the conspirators, not feeling up to writing a Ciceronian funeral oration, that might only have thrown a monkey wrench into the plot.

    Portia wounded herself to see if Brutus could stand the sight of blood. To screw up his courage, so to speak. I think she was reading him correctly. A wife usually KNOWS what her husband is thinking.

    You're absolutely right, Barbara, about not looking for moral justification. These are all realistic generals and politicos, looking after their interests.

    Great discussion! For those who dread the bloody assasination scene, I would like to pass along a little quote. The huge painting The Massacre of the Innocents by Rubens, a truly horrific scene, recently changed hands. The new owner, asked if he didn't find it all too agonizing, said: 'It's horror is obscured by it's aesthetics.' Just so with Shakespeare's dramatic lines, isn't it.

    March 11, 2003 - 08:27 pm
    I don't know, did Portia achieve anything by gashing her thigh, apart from a horrible wound and loss of blood? Does Brutus tell her?

    I wonder if Brutus would have gone ahead and done anything to Caesar, if Cassius hadn't come along? He says "Since Cassius first did whet me against Caesar, I have not slept." I can't work out whether this means egged me into it, or brought this whole thing to my attention.

    I think Brutus is having serious doubts about his part in this Conspiracy, and is wondering how he got into this in the first place. All his images of the Conspiracy are dark and associated with evil and the underworld. "Sham'st thou to shew thy dang'rous Brow by Night etc. etc."

    Yet I think he's not a man who can admit he might have made a wrong choice and I think someone already said this. I wish I could flip back now and look, but I learnt early on that that's a no-no!<grin> Brutus's honour won't let him say, hang on, are we really justified in this act, which is murder after all, no matter how we attempt to dress it up.

    I've been struck by reading the notes on this Play, how many times Biblical references are thrown in. When Brutus says "What watchful Cares do impose themselves Betwixt your Eyes and Night?", the Christian audience are supposed to catch the implications of fidelity and obedience at this point in Brutus' career. Then again when they're weighing up the question of including Cicero, the words"his Silver Hairs will purchase us a good Opinion", have a Christian overtone. The words silver and purchase were to remind Elizabethan audiences of the thirty pieces of silver in exchange for Jesus. I hope these Audiences were quick and smart enough to take all this in without reading a script like we are!

    I also think Brutus is trying to dress the whole thing up to look a cut above your common and garden assassination. Which of course he is too noble to be mixed up in. He says "Shall no man else be touch'd but onely Caesar?", shying away from actually saying straight out killed. I just read a book that shows how in WW11 people said bought it, or a tank brewed up, to avoid saying the appalling truth.

    Uh Oh, could be a storm, I'd better get off. I wish I had a printer, that's why I was trying to find away to get the Discussion offline somehow.


    March 11, 2003 - 08:41 pm

    I CAUGHT THAT. Smile and Thank You.


    Even the ladies wore togas. Thanks for that post.

    Gee what you learn from just setting here listening/reading.

    Thanks to All of You Posters with All of Your Thoughts.

    I Remain your humble silent servent, Smile, Ginger

    March 11, 2003 - 11:17 pm
    GINGER, you always make me feel good when you log onto a discussion. Thank you.

    JAN, we agree on much in this play. Brutus has to self-deceive; he can't ask if any murder is morally justified. This is what gets me the most about Brutus and anyone who justifies their immoral acts saying it's for an 'honorable' cause.

    "It's horror is obscured by it's aesthetics." Nice, JONATHAN.

    The concept of fear in JC is interesting, BARB. Is every Roman driven by fear because their society is based on the drive to achieve in some public form?


    Question 7: What is the reason Brutus gives for rejecting Cicero as a conspirator? Does his reason support or detract from the 'honor' of the enterprise?

    Brutus rejected Cicero following Metellus speech that Cicero's

    "silver hairs will purchase us a good opinion and buy men's voices to commend our deeds. It shall be said his judgment rules our hands. Our youths and wildness shall no whit appear, but all be buried in his gravity." (Act 2 i: 156-161)

    First, Brutus doesn't want to share the stage of 'honor' with Cicero. Brutus wants his name and his ancestor to be the only lustre for the enterprise. (Brutus envys Cicero? Is jealous of his personally earned reputation?) Certainly Cassius doesn't claim it, nor Casca or the others. And Brutus only wants men who will follow his lead for he's decided on that role for himself which he shows in his decision making. Brutus' reasons detract from the 'honor' of the conspirators.

    This is where Cassius shows his understanding and acceptance of Brutus' nature and purpose. Cassius who originally wanted Cicero, supports Brutus' rejection of Cicero, even though it isn't a practical decision.


    March 11, 2003 - 11:49 pm
    scene 1 act 2. Robert is sick, so I am saying what we think today.

    Brutus keeps talking to himself, wondering about what to do, but he really doesnt think very well, because if he did he would change his mind.

    He wont talk to his wife, and my mum says dad never listens if he wants to do something he knows she wont like.We also think that Brutus must have thought about not liking Caesar before, or he wouldnt change so quickly from a friend to a murderer.

    Cassie thinks its funny that portia hurt herself, and she thinks maybe it is a tattoo because her mum has one.Miss got a tattoo also, and we said why, and she said it was to prove something, so maybe portia needed to prove something.Like how brave she was, or noble.Were women treated better then than now, we are not sure of that.

    We also think that Brutus was able to make up his own mind, Cassius wanted to murder Antony as well but Brutus said no, and all the conspirers agreed.He was the leader, not Cassius.It was also Brutus who said no to asking Cicero, so he was the natural leader of the murderers, and we think he is most to blame. Kylie

    March 12, 2003 - 12:06 am
    It seems to me, that Brutus is implying that Caesar is ruthless, never letting his head be ruled by his heart. Further he implies that he has climbed over his lesser people to get where he is and is now willing to discard them.Having reached great heights they are no longer needed.

    For me there is indeed irony, in that Brutus and his fellows, are prepared to conspire and murder for their ends, having not the least concern for friendship and familial relationships with Caesar.All this with no hard evidence that Caesar is a "man who would be king"

    And the great irony, Anne, the plebian of some passion, is continuing to have empathy for Caesar.Maybe he is after all the great champion of republicanism, done in on the whims of an envious Brutus and gang.

    March 12, 2003 - 12:13 am
    is so selfcentered. He is the "base degree" he feels, and is convinced Caesar may discard him. So lets have done with Caesar, the imagined serpent and promote himself.How is it this man is considered honourable, give him the noble according to the birthright if you must, but spare me from a friend such as he.

    March 12, 2003 - 12:22 am
    seems to imply, that even though Caesar has not acted like a snake, the circumstances and affection now being offered him may lead to his developing along serpent lines, so lets get him now, stop it before it happens.

    Lets kill him now, in case power corrupts him, unless he starts to see himself as something more.To be fair, it would appear to have been necessary in these roman times to be ever aware of the need to hold ones position firmly.Caesar didnt get where he was being weak, he has been shown to be ruthless, and it seems Brutus once fired up by Cassius was not prepared to take any risks.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 12, 2003 - 12:49 am
    Whoops can just see anneofavonlea we are posting at the same time - Love how the class saw Portia - in fact we are all saying much the same thing aren't we only using different words with at times slightly different views. I am so glad you and your class are sharing this discussion - it is fun for me to read how youngsters understand the same book that I am reading. Thank you for sticking with the discussion - I love it!

    6. What is meant by "the genius and the moral instruments..." in lines 69, 70 of Act II i

    This is Brutus' civil war - his morality argues with his mortal life - Seems to me it is the nature of that argument that we may all have a different belief - If you, to your toes, believe in freedom and there are no systems to assure the freedom then, in the name of protection a coup seems appropriate. Where as if you believe in the goodness of leaders who aspire to the highest powerful position in the then known world, and even without a document outlining that power you believe in the character of the leader you become like Antonius.

    The difference I think is that Antonius is a strong individual in body and spirit who does not feel threatened by Caesar. Where as, Cassius and Brutus and the others believe they would be jumping through hoops to please Caesar in order to prevent him from acting the emotional tyrant who could in his fury banish them or remove their 'Noble" status or what other loss of freedoms they are imagining.

    They are looking at their own well being - their families very important reputation - in fact I am now even thinking that Brutus saw Cicero having weathered disgrace and therefore, he believes Cicero would not share their passion to assure that disgrace would never happen by eliminating the source.

    I have trouble with question 12 since I do not think it really matters how I judge their choice - it seems to me this is a study of how folks react and act when their fear of the future and fear of their place in that future which seems so chaotic therefore, threatening, that they need to eliminate the source of the chaos in order to bring order and security back into their lives.

    Order has boundaries and expected behavior. Caesar, in his emotional outbursts, represents a boundary-less existence where each person’s imagined nightmare of what could happen seems real. Given those circumstances I think we all would react differently - we know now about flight, fight and freeze - Roman civilization had not yet developed a 'round table' approach to government. This civilization had just come off a 200 year war mentality and as warriors they chose to fight - they are also politicians and are trying to be as civilized as they know how, in other words not acting like Neanderthals who just knock each other over the head in public. Therefore, we have intrigue.

    Today we have additional options, systems toward assuring those involved work out the details of freedom in our homes, community, nation and in the world. My personal take is to address how we address differences in our homes because that is where we have direct influence as opposed to judging how people in history handled their fears and differences by comparing their choices to those that could be made today using current systems that support our moral choices.

    Just as years ago we thought no more of putting our children in the front seat, at times in Dad's lap, while he was driving. Today we expect children are not only contained in seat belts but in the back seat to protect them from an air bag smothering them. To judge ourselves or our parents based on today's values with today’s systems in place to support those values seems ingenuous to me.

    To use this story to help us sort out today’s world politics I think we are doing a dis-service to current political leaders. Yes, we can see characteristics among the actors of this play similar to our current political leaders but, to label and judge today’s leaders and actions is comparing them to a set of circumstances different enough with limited systems available to these Romans is begging 2000 years of additional knowledge, morality and diplomacy.

    March 12, 2003 - 04:34 am
    in 4 they hide their faces in shame, even darkness does not spare them guilt and shame. They act against it though, even though they know it will show on their faces.

    5 the reasons brutus wants Caesar dead are all based on ifs, if caesar should become king, if Caesar should be forgetful of his friendship of Brutus, were he to reach such heights. If Caesar were to start seeing himself as a God.

    6 "the genius and the moral instruments" is in my view the same as when Brutus suggests Caesar is always ruled by his head and not his heart. It is the conflict between what one knows to be right in ones head and what one feels is right in their heart.A touch of irony that Brutus murders Caesar by following his head, which is how he considers Caesar himself acts.Body and soul in conflict.

    March 12, 2003 - 04:44 am
    7. the reason given is that cicero will never follow anything begun by others..........This seems to suggest that Cicero would think for himself, and Brutus knows that were Cicero to think upon it he would disagree, may even take steps to prevent it.

    Thus the already dubious enterprise is now lessened in "honour", because it wont stand genuine debate with anyone with a conflicting opinion.

    March 12, 2003 - 05:06 am
    Little doubt this be one of Cassius's letters, and Brutus has now a mission, he needs evidence to suport it, as Cassius well knew, hence his descision to distribute such epistles.

    This one puports to be from a roman who urges Brutus to see things as they are, and he probably believes it, because he wants to.he sees similarities in the action of his ancestors in ridding themselves of Tarquin because he would be King.The populace he thinks, expect no less of him.I am prepared to concede brutus at least believed his motives honourable, unlike Cassius who was self based want only his own grandisement, caring nought for Rome and her citizenary.

    I dont buy the argument that we cannot compare their actions with todays politicians, I always feel that greatness is within us, good is prevalent and we either nuture it or put it away, because we are not disposed to swim against the tide.However I do not think Brutus conversion to the conspiracy was as quick as this, surely Shakespeare has condensed events to suit the drama, thus making the conspirators look fickle, when indeed they would have spent much longer mulling over the plot.

    March 12, 2003 - 04:55 am
    Wheeeeeeee!! We're smokin' now, LOOK at all the new thoughts to ponder!! YAY!!

    I thought I was losing it last night, was sitting here reading yet another yellowing text and "Cassius" came out of the TV!!


    I thought I had finally died of Caesaritis! I spun around and it was followed by "Brutus," and if you saw Jeopardy last night you know Brutus was one of the answers. Hahaahaha

    I really thought I was gone.

    Well here we are, about to meet the Great Man himself, and our Maryal will be OFF for today! Am not sure she hasn't snuck in his back door and is warning him!

    Would YOU have warned him?

    What will he be like when we meet him at home in his PJ's up close and personal??!!??

    We've only seen him distantly in the crowd and I felt quite excited the way he's been built up. I thought Shakespeare did a super job in that last scene, I felt almost there.

    The omens and signs in this part are almost overwhelming, I found some interesting information in a book called 501 Tidbits of Roman Antiquity on them that might pertain to the rest of Act II?

    Oh and John!!! We also have your answer, this book says "throughout the twelve or so years of his wars, Caesar received no wound of any consequence, some say not even a scratch."

    Here is the information on the Omens:

    The Romans, in their relations to the gods and as part of their religious contract with them, believed that the gods communicated their will and desires to them through various means, such as oracles, strange sights, singular events and remarkable coincidences;also by the flight of birds and entrails of animals slain at sacrificial ceremonies: hence the auspices (who foretold the future from an interpretation of the flight of birds) and the haruspices (who foretold the future from a study of the entrails).

    So all these signs might have been taken by all the players differently and Caesar apparently took them to heart? Or did he?

    The new page of topics you might like to consider is up for the rest of Act II which we'll look at through Friday, we solicit your own questions and I have only one question for you today?

    Why did Caesar go? What's the real reason?


    March 12, 2003 - 06:10 am
    Had to fix that, I had interrupted Anne, here's the questions for today they don't appear yet in the heading, Pat Westerdale is working on it, tho! Super Pat!!

    For Your Consideration

    Week Two: March 8-14:
    Act II, Scenes ii, iii, iv:

    "This dream is all amiss interpreted" II, ii, 88

    Julius Caesar

  • 1. 2.1 and 2.2 are parallel scenes. How many parallels do you see? What do we learn of the personal lives of Brutus and Caesar?

  • 2. Caesar tells Calpurnia "Cowards die many times before their deaths;/ The valiant never taste of death but once" (II,ii, 32-33). Do you agree with Caesar?

  • 3. How does Decius convince Caesar to come to the Capitol even though Caesar has determined not to appear in order to reassure his wife?

  • 4.Caesar refers to himself increasingly in these scenes in the third person. What does this indicate?

  • 5. Caesar says "What can be avoided
    Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods?" (II, ii, 27).

    Does Caesar seem a believer in fate versus free will, a preordained path through life? How does this contrast with the other characters in the play? Does he take the eruptions of the skies as omens or messages?

  • 6. At the end of Act II scene iv we see the excitement as the Great Man prepares to go to the senate with his escorts. What does Brutus mean in the last two lines?
    "That every like is not the same, O Caesar,
    The heart of Brutus earns to think upon."
    What does this show about his character?

  • 7. WHY did Caesar go? What made him decide? Was it a combination of factors or one particular thing? If he had decided not to go, do you think anything would have changed?

    Alea Jacta Est....Caesar Crosses the Rubicon

  • ALF
    March 12, 2003 - 07:11 am
     How are we to determine each man's motive?  By guess work as we translate the ambition, greed and loyalties of each character?  I guess we have to think along WS observations, don't we?  Did these guys actually have a reason to detest Julius Caesaer to such a degree?
    My Riverside Shakespeare says that he (WS) doesn't say that the "coolness between Cassius and Brutus at the beginning arose from JC having preferred Brutus over his brother in law, not that the "pale lean men" Caesar mistrusted were Brutus and Cassius.  He doesn't tell us that Brutus wounded Caesar "in the privities."  (what the heck does that mean?)
    He doesn't want to strip Brutus of any suspicion of mercenary envy.  Plutarch, on the other hand, insists that Cassius was motivated buy private malice, Brutus by hatred of tyranny.

    March 12, 2003 - 07:58 am
    Will try to respond to new Q's.

    1. (A.) II,i and II,ii are parallel scenes. Parallels? (B.)Personal lives of Brutus & Julius. (A.) Both scenes obviously:
  • show domestic situations for each man
  • show interactions between husband and wife
  • provide a small glimpse of the relationship of each marriage
  • show interactions between a "leader" and the conspirators
  • show each man's reactions to the night's omens
  • show/mention each man's reaction to fear

    (B.) Personal Lives of Brutus and Caesar: Here I go, talking thru my hat again. For some reason, I see Portia as more of a modern woman who feels that she has value as a person, regardless of whom she has married. See a real independent, chin - out streak in her. She basically comes out and says to Brutus, "Let's get real here, husband of mine. Talk & share - or else you're treating me like a servant or some whore that doesn't deserve respect - which I am not!" She calls him on his avoidance. Of course, Brutus dismisses her/ extincts her expressions of concern by sort of promising to "tell her later." He doesn't seem to consider Portia's observations, worries, etc. as having merit. He has other more important things on his mind. He sends her to her rooms when Ligarius comes calling.

    Calpurnia, on the other hand, seems to be one of those women who can manage a marriage with a silk glove. Like Portia, Calpurnia knows her husband very well, but Calp is much more successful in getting Julius to listen to her, in getting him to stay home and not go to the Capitol. Our Julius agrees to listen to his wife - unlike Brutus. So, Caesar's the better husband??? For some reason, (again - unprovable) - I have the sense that there's more affection between Caesar and Calp than between Brutus & Portia

    The "unnatural things" that Portia notices have to do with Brutus' daily behavior: not sleeping, eating, sighing, staring at her with "ungentle looks", scratching his head, crossing his arms as he paces & thinks, waves her off, doesn't answer her etc. Portia fears for his physical and mental health. ...my Brutus. You have some sick offense within your mind, Which by the right and virtue of my place I ought to know of..... She seems totally unaware of the signs in nature that Brutus & the conspirators report. Portia frets about Brutus & the unknown, but for some reason - I don't think that her fear is as great as Calpurnia's. (personal reaction/interp - not provable via text!)

    Calpurnia, on the other hand, seems to be very sensitive to these supernatural or unnatural disruptions to world order. She has that gruesomely graphic nightmare/prevision of Caesar's death - and takes it very seriously. She also reports that the lioness whelped in the street, graves yawned & yielded their dead, fiery warriors fight in the clouds (by the squadronfull) & drizzle blood upon the Capitol, raise the din of battle, horses neight, dying men groan and ghosts shriek & squeal about the streets. Calpurnia doesn't need a whack in the head to get that these events give proof of some great disaster to come! She gets it & is really terrified for her husband. Unfortunately, Caesar's swayed by Decius's statement and leaves. Anneo', think I'm beginning to lean a little more to your side. Seem to empathize more with our Julius & Calpurnia than with Brutus. Hmmmm! That surprised me!
  • MegR
    March 12, 2003 - 08:31 am
    #2. Caesar says to Calpurnia, "Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once." Do you agree with Caesar? Nope! Forget to whom the sentiment was attributed, but someone has said something to the effect that true courage or the courageous person is one who chooses to act - in spite of fear. It's not that "the valiant" only dies or "tastes" death once. Both the valiant and the cowardly man experiences fear. They just handle it differently. Is this statement showing us that our Julius is a little too full of himself?!!!!!

    #3. How does Decius convince Julius to come to the Capitol even though Caaesar has determined not to appear in order to reassure his wife? Decius basically appeals to Caesar's vanity. First, he implies that the senate will laugh to learn that Caesar's tied to his wife's apron (toga) strings - not too manly, or they'll consider him a liar! Decius next says that Calp's dream was misinterpreted. Instead of the dream showing his ....statue, which like a fountain with an hundred spouts did run pure blood and many lusty Romans came smiling and did bathe their hands in it..... - (i.e Caesar spewing blood from a hundred wounds & Romans relishing his death), Decius provides an alternate interpretation. He says, Your statue spouting blood in many pipes in which so many smiling Romans bathed, signifies that from you great Rome shall suck reviving blood, and that great men shall press for tinctures, stains, relics and cognizances. (Side note in my Folger's says that "tinctures... cognizances" are signs of heraldry; a badge worn to distinguish the retainers of a noble house") So, Decius implies that the dream means that Romans want to bask(bathe) in Caesar's glory and win/wear his favor.

    Decius then delivers the big plum! He tells Caesar that ...the Senate have concluded to give this day a crown to mighty Caesar. If you shall send them word you will not come, their minds may change. Then Decius says that Caesar will be mocked for listening to his wife's dreams AND would be considered a coward for doing so. Decius sure is pushing all of those macho buttons. Caesar doesn't seem to have any wiggle room after Decius boxes him in. It's a matter of face-saving now. He has to show up at the senate.

    March 12, 2003 - 08:44 am
    ALF, privities = groin and that's where Brutus stabbed Caesar.


    March 12, 2003 - 08:49 am
    Just flying by again haahahah to say look at this morning's Quote of the Day posted in our Welcome Center by Bill:

    "If power corrupts, being out of power corrupts absolutely." -- Douglass Cater, American author and educator'

    I thought that might apply or not?

    I can't decide why Caesar went, there are sooo many choices, if he had decided NOT to go, what would have happened??

    more more, still enjoying your posts! Taking NOTES even.


    March 12, 2003 - 08:59 am
    His privates? What?? Where is the honor in stabbing somone "below the belt?" A little Freudian there isn't it?

    March 12, 2003 - 09:46 am
    ALF, yes, I don't see the honor and...ouch, very Freudian.

    I brought up the religious sacrifice issue of the conspirators meeting because the entire scene is performed as a ritual by Brutus. His greeting each person individually and his talk of Caesar as a sacrifice for the gods. That's why the priest-hoods apply I think as foreshadowing by Shakespeare for Act 3.

    KYLIE, you all have made important points, like "Brutus must have thought about not liking Caesar before, or he wouldn't change so quickly from a friend to a murderer." It is a drastic, violent change isn't it? And this: "Maybe Portia needed to prove something, like how brave she was, or noble." I think that's important. Brutus doesn't listen to Portia or pay much attention to her? Unlike Caesar and Calpurnia. Does Brutus listen to anyone?

    I hope Robert gets well soon!

    GINNY, I never got around to saying how much I liked the picture of Brutus' garden that was in the previous set of questions. I could see the conspirators lurking about there in the orchard/garden. And now in the new questions we have a lovely painting of the fateful crossing of the Rubicon by Caesar. It's wonderful and amazing, the number of images you've found for us to enjoy; and I'm enjoying!


    March 12, 2003 - 11:21 am
    Well, Marvelle, Brutus certainly listened to Cassius, didn't he? Which inclines me to think that Cassius must have been saying some things Brutus was already thinking. You think?

    Meg, my personal feeling is that the impelling factor for Caesar's going to the Senate was the assurance that the Senate planned to give him the crown. He wanted that crown, and would not risk losing this chance. Only the temper of the crowd, cheering and applauding his refusal of it the previous day, kept him from accepting it then, IMO. (Your post was great, by the way.)

    And while I agree that courage consists of proceeding in the face of your fear, I also think that the person capable of doing this does not suffer the extreme effects of fear Shakespeare is describing.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 12, 2003 - 12:41 pm
    Caesar loved his first wife Cornelia. He grieved when she died. Together they had a daughter named Julia, his only legitimate child.

    He had many mistresses. The most famous was Cleopatra who gave birth to his son, Caesarion,( murdered after his Caesar's death by order of Caesar's adopted son Octavian)

    Caesar's favorite mistress was Servilia, the mother of Brutus. Caesar may have also slept with Servilia's daughter. Others called Caesar "every woman's man and every man's woman."

    Pompey had divorced his wife for having an affair with Caesar -- Caesar married Pompey's relative Pompeia, who was also the granddaughter of Caesar's old enemy Sulla. Sulla had earlier told Caesar to divorce his first wife whom he loved. Caesar refused and hid out in what is now Turkey till Sulla died.

    Pompey marries Caesar's daughter Julia! Although much older they fell in love. Julia acted as a peacemaker between her husband and father. She and her baby died in childbirth. Pompey was murdered by advisers of Cleopatra's brother/husband Ptolemy XII, who tried to please Caesar by presenting him with Pompey's head. Caesar wept.

    Caesar's marriage to Pompeia ends in scandal. Publius Clodius fell in love with Pompeia. Because Caesar's mother was always around, Clodius disguised himself as a female musician in order to sneak into Caesar's house during a holy festival (men were not allowed in the presense of women during the festival) He was discovered before he saw Pompeia. This led to a Senate investigation. Caesar's mother and daughter testified but when Caesar was called he didn't accuse Clodius of anything. Asked why he divorced Pompeia - Caesar replied, "Because my wife must be above suspicion."

    Caesar's third wife is Calpurnia; another politically motivated marriage, who he planned to divorce so he could marry Pompey's daughter. Pompey would not agree to the match.

    While married to Calpurnia and at the time of his death Caesar had installed Cleopatra in his villa near Rome, showered her with gifts and titles for almost two years. This is happening during the time when Calpurnia is showing concern for Caesar's life. Caesar even had a statue of Cleopatra erected in the temple of Venus Genetrix. It was rumored that Caesar intended to pass a law allowing him to marry Cleopatra and make their son his heir after he had accepted a lifetime dictatorship sitting on a golden throne in the Senate - intending to become the king of Rome.

    The man appears to be a busy one in bed. And it puts a different twist on Calpurnia's intentions to have a child - have not tracked down a good source but there is rumblings that Calpurnia actually aided the conspirators with inside information about Caesar...

    March 12, 2003 - 01:25 pm
    BABI, Brutus said that he'd already been thinking along the lines of Caesar's death. Brutus' interest was caught, however, when Cassius mentioned his ancestor, as Ginny called him 'Super Brutus the Avenger.' That's when Brutus finally listened.

    Did you note that in the garden scene Brutus rejected every proposal from the others -- Cicero as conspirator because he can't follow what others began, taking an oath, Antony's death?

    Will be back later to respond to Act 2 ii.


    March 12, 2003 - 06:09 pm
    NO Marvelle, I did not catch that ( Barb, three again!!) He sure did, didn't he? EVERY suggestion...I guess he's in Full Tilt mode. GREAT point!!

    I have REALLY enjoyed your posts today, I wish you could have them offline, too, Jan, it's such fun, if we didn't live an ocean apart I'd bring them over, ahahah but I had them over lunch and dinner (and dropped them on the floor where they went into all sorts of strange permutations, loose sheaf, sorry if I miss something great you said).

    JON-A-THAN!!! Is that really YOU!!?? Haahahha HEY there and welcome!! Loved the aesthetics thing, wouldn't the murder, tho, be offstage? We need Maryal. Or Meg. I seem to recall seeing it done ON STAGE at Stratford tho (sitting next to a poor woman who coughed the entire time. At one point Antony actually stopped and glared at her, we were quite close to the stage, but she said to me at the intermission, I'm so sorry, I have a cold, but I just HAD to come, well! What can you say, but I'm glad you did!!)

    Jonathan so you think that S did not want to write a Ciceronian oration, huh? Boy that would have been something to read, but as it was he put some kind of words in Antony's mouth, didn't he? Why Antony?

    Here is where we have to get out the Plutarch and the Suetonius in the heading and read JUST the funeral part, you will be surprised, I bet.

    Andrea, you are such a breath of fresh air, I just howled over the 12 for Caesar and 11 for Antony, you are such a hoot!!!!! Andrea is a nurse and I guess she's seen stabbings before. Thank you for that Riverside information!!!

    I'm kind of with you, I know we have all different opinions of Portia, which is super, but I saw her as also pretty demanding and like Meg I didn't see equivalent affection that C and C had?

    I was REALLY surprised at her at the end, am I the only one?

    Babi, I liked your slant on Cicero possibly telling Caesar if he knew, that actually would have made a super scene, would he or not? Oh that would be a good one. If we had been there, we would have told him, right? Like Artemidoris? I found his loyalty touching.

    Hats, I think you've got it on why Brutus rejected Cicero, and the glory thing, it's his chance, I guess he thinks, and he wants the "credit," and I think you're right, Cicero would have been remembered more. Well Brutus got his wish, huh?

    I personally loved Portia's remark about the suburbs hahaha "Dwell I but in the suburbs of your good pleasure?" And the metaphor of the "suburbs" of Shakespeare's day with their brothels, etc. Loved that.

    Meg, fabulous post!! You said, "What I don't get is why he chooses to ignore those doubts." I don't know either? Was he caught up in some kind of inflexible vise or something, honor/opportunity/fever of the crowd of conspirators, no wonder he can't sleep!

    Thank you for mentioning soliloquy. Would somebody like to elaborate on what these were and what they are supposed to convey?

    Marvelle, thank you, and I loved your point about Brutus wanting to be the leader just like his supposed ancestor the Liberator. Thank you for the illustrations, too, bring 'em on, we love them.

    Anne, believe it or not I'm changing, too, and I'm feeling a bit more sympathy for Brutus if possible, this is funny, I think he's (well I was going to say hoist on his own petard here) but I looked up "petard," just to be sure and am shocked at what IT means, hahahaah so I guess I'll let that one go...hahaha He's caught, propelled by his own desire and his...I think probably sincere love of Republicanism.

    Barbara, thank you for that analysis of the emotions the characters are probably experiencing, I think you're right, Brutus has not practiced intrigue, in a way he's like a sheep in Cassius's fold.

    Jan asked if Brutus would ever have done anything, I think that's a good question and will add it to the heading, what do you think? Would Brutus have thought all this up himself?

    And you mention another instance of Brutus; inflexibility: he's not a man who can admit he might have made a wrong choice So here we have Brutus inflexible and Meg later on talked about Caesar being sort of inflexible: Is this statement showing us that our Julius is a little too full of himself??

    I think we need to see what overrides Caesar's better judgment and why it occurs and which man is the MORE inflexible? Maybe that can also be a question!

    A lso, Jan, very good point on the euphemisms people used in WWII for death images!

    And thank you for the Christian symbolism in the play, I would never have known!!

    Meg those parallel answers are so good I think we need them in the heading, we may see more, thank you!!

    And WOWZA!! Portia "seems totally unaware of the signs in nature that Brutus & the conspirators report"!!!!!!! Well YESSSSSSSSSSSs!! The entire world is erupting and Portia never mentions it, good work!! (I don't know what it means but I love your having seen it!)

    And you say he's stuck, he HAS to go, that's why he goes. I think I'd like to get up a list in the heading of what everybody thinks in answer to that question, ASAP!

    Anne, I loved your explanations of irony in these scenes, and I think you're right, about the incidents being "condensed" in time to suit the drama. I was reading last night that it actually lasted a year, tho when these people met at Brutus's I don't know? It could have BEEN the night before. I think Babi mentioned the condensation also possibly in the Pre Discussion.

    LOVED this, "He is the 'base degree' he feels..." WOW!

    Kylie!! Salve! That's how the Romans said Greetings!

    We are sorry Robert is sick and very glad to see you here! I agree with Barbara and Marvelle, we love having you here, it's the MOST fun, and the thing that just amazes me is how smart you all are. I remember reading this play in the 10th grade, and I really didn't see half of what you all have. When you get to Caesar deciding to go, tell us what you all think about WHY, what reason made him finally decide to go, will put up everybody's ideas in the heading.

    Can anybody help out the class here , their question is "Were woman treated better then than now, we are not sure of that." Can our readers help them (and us) out here on the role of women in Roman Society?

    Now Kylie has said a very important thing and I wonder if it's time for us to ask ourselves, too: Who is the most responsible for Caesar's death? You all recall John was sort of going in this direction.

    What do you think? Another great question to be in the heading, Kylie says our Australian Cohorts say that Brutus "is most to blame."

    This is really a super thing we're doing here and I love it!

    "This dream is all amiss interpreted." Another of my favorite lines from this thing. I quote it all the time. And in just typing this now, it occurred to me that Cicero earlier had mentioned other misinterpretations and so we may have quite a few here, maybe we need to keep track of them, let's do get up a list of those, too. Will somebody volunteer to be our Secretary and keep a list of the misinterpretations and the instances of inflexibility we see as we go?

    These lines "and that great men shall press
    For tinctures, stains, relics and cognizance..." (II,ii, 93)

    These lines seem to have a double meaning, or maybe more, do they to you? What several things can they mean? I think this also needs to be in our questions, Why do I keep thinking of Al Capone? Did you know when Al Capone died people rushed forward and soaked their handkerchiefs in his blood and kept them on mantels all over the country? I have a feeling there's double meaning here, what could it be? (I have a pretty good feeling it's nothing to do with Al Capone?) hahahahaa

    Portia at the end of this Act is indecipherable, to me. She obviously knows about the conspiracy. She...but she...she is an accomplice in that she wishes him well, or is she afraid for him, or what's happening there?

    Gosh there's a lot in these few pages!

    Will get up the new questions and sit back and enjoy your thoughts!


    March 12, 2003 - 06:49 pm

    It is So Good to see You here as I Always read your post with much apprieciation for your intelligent and kind heart. I will be looking for you to post some more.


    March 12, 2003 - 07:26 pm
    I have been lurking because I am way behind in my reading. My cold has taken my energy. It is very interesting reading all of your posts.

    March 12, 2003 - 08:33 pm
    Calpurina spouts off the various omens & dreams and tells Decius   to "call him in sick" . What can be avoided whose end is purpos'd by the mighty gods, Julius  asks?  He will not go today because it is his will!  That is-- until he's told he's about to receive the crown from the senate and they might change their minds and scoff at Calpurnia's dreams.

    Now, one of my favorite quotes is read by Artemidorus:

                                    If youread this, O Caesar, thou mayest live;
                                   If not, the Fates with traitor do contrive.  "


    don't you love that? Read what I have read and face your conspirators; If NOT... (well beware....)

    March 12, 2003 - 09:37 pm
    BaBi:Yup! You're absolutilly right! Totally agree with you that our Julius goes to the senate because he does want the crown. I just didn't take comments to next logical step. Just got caught up in admiring the tidy, little, argumentative box that Decius figuratively created for our Jules to get him to go. (I'm soooo easily distracted by small things. My amusement level is very low! Laughing!)

    Barbara: Again, we're reading with different perspectives & purposes. Guess I'm down in the pit with the groundlings, scratching my derriere with one hand and bouncing an overly ripe tomato in the other - in anticipation of a boring or bad actor! That litany of how many wives, mistresses or offspring the historic Julius Caesar had really doesn't matter to me and to my groundling cohorts. (You just boggle my brains! I admire your energy and motivation and envy the time you have and must expend to locate all of that info!) We pit folk, come to see a play and to be entertained, enlightened or moved by it. We pitters only know and see what Mr. Willie wrote; his characters, their words and their actions are our entryways for trying to figure out what Mr. Shakespeare was trying to do or say with his story> My comments on Portia and Calpurnia were based solely on Shakespeare's characters and the impressions that they make. I make absolutely no claims to authenticity concerning any historic figure! But, have to remind you that in thisplay - Caesar's the one who insists that Calpurnia stand before Antony during the Luperalia races. In this play, he's the one who wants an heir.

    Ginny, You sure were a busy bee today!! (laughing!) You raised the Q about the murder being performed offstage & related your experience of seeing the act performed onstage in Canada. Are we talking about the "Et tu Brute?" bit here? It is in the dialogue and stage directions in Act III - to be performed on stage!

    Soliloquy- (homegrown definition) - a speech that an actor makes (often to the audience) where we get to hear what that character is thinking. Soliloquies during Shakespeare's time served the same purpose that voice-overs do in movies, soaps etc. - they're a "think-out-loud." Does this help? Am sure fancier defs are easily available. I'm just to lazy to round up the dictionary or a lit.terms text. meg

    March 12, 2003 - 11:13 pm
    How interesting! Meg and Barb have produced their individual litany on characters. Since Barbara works and has a busy personal life there's no need to envy her having time for Shakespeare; she just makes good use of her time.

    Barb is weighing what Shakespeare knew with how he presented the characters, what changes he made etc. -- it's an open, receptive learning approach.

    Meg lists what characters say and do. Both approaches by Barb and Meg are valid and show how we can look at literature from different perspectives.

    SOLILOQUY is a dramatic speech intended to give the illusion of unspoken reflections; it's the inner thoughts that obviously the other characters are not privy to 'hearing.'

    Meg, fancier defs or research into topics are never easily obtainable but you'll learn from it. Try it. With internet searches you'll be faced with a lot of deadends and choices and it's work but the rewards can make it worthwhile -- sometimes? usually?

    More on the questions....


    March 12, 2003 - 11:30 pm
    Question 8 from Jan: "If it had not been for Cassius, would Brutus have ever come up with or executed this plan himself?"

    We'll never know for sure will we? It's in the realm of 'might have beens,' but we can guess.

    Brutus told Cassius he was thinking along similar lines about Caesar but I think he needed that extra outside push from someone. Brutus needed public esteem and admiration and I don't think he would have acted alone. Actually, 'acted' is a good word for Brutus because he need an audience of admirers IMO, which is what he reduced his co-conspirators to in his own mind.

    On the other hand, if it wasn't Cassius, someone else would probably have approached Brutus with the thought of Super Brutus the Avenger.


    March 13, 2003 - 12:35 am
    Question 11: "and that great men shall press for tinctures, stains, relics and cognizance...." (II, ii 93) What do these lines mean? Could they symbolize more than one thing? Why would Decius tell Caesar this interpretation?

    Tinctures & stains would be the blood of martyrs.

    Relics are the remains of saints such as bones, clothing etc. which are preserved for veneration.

    Cognizance is recognition of nobility (Elizabethan coats armorial).

    These lines spoken by Decius can symbolize two things:

    -- 1. Romans come to Caesar as a saint for relics; to worship at his feet so to speak.

    -- 2. Romans come to Caesar as a prince for honors.

    But there's more to this meaning. The idea of relics brings up contrasting images, disturbing when related to Caesar. The picture I see is of the past; of a dead martyr who may be venerated for past accomplishments. (Not for the present accomplishments of the living man.) While Caesar may have seen the words as the image of what he'd sacrificed for his Countrymen.

    Could Decius have given this speech as a warning to Caesar? Caesar would only have listened if he wasn't susceptible to flattery and wasn't ambitious for the crown. Perhaps this was a test for Caesar's ambitions and Decius couldn't resist the sly irony of it.

    So the dual purpose or intention would be flattery on one side and warning on the other.


    March 13, 2003 - 05:32 am
    Meg, thank you and Marvelle for the soliloquy definition, so now are these used at any particular time for any particular effect? I'm trying to figure out if in fact we should pay any more attention to them, than we do our own talking to self? Hahaahaha Other than inmost thoughts and motivations revealed, I guess that's about the only way we'd know private thoughts? Unless they were told to somebody. It's interesting, I wonder what the history of the soliloquy in literature is.

    I hope your tooth feels better, Meg, I know how that feels and you've had quite a time, bless your heart.

    On this, "performed onstage in Canada. Are we talking about the 'Et tu Brute?' bit here? It is in the dialogue and stage directions in Act III - to be performed on stage!" No I'm talking about the actual stabbing scene itself, I thought Shakespeare preferred to show bloody stuff offstage? not sure...and it was at Stratford on Avon where I saw it, actually, and was surprised (actually every time I've seen Julius Caesar performed they do the stabbing onstage, maybe I'm mistaken about Shakespeare and violence offstage? Not sure).

    Ok so we can put you in the camp that it was Caesar's ambition for the crown that made him go! Thank you. I am leaning toward a combination of pride and inflexibility here, but want to hear what you all say first before I commit. haahahaha

    What do you all think? Love it.

    Marvelle, you're right on with your relics, a couple of wonderful takes on the possible meaning of the relics, etc., and a query on whether or not Decius might have been trying to warn him (what? Subliminally?)!! A last minute "test" of the big man? Interesting! Poor Caesar, can't even schlump around in his jammies and relax without somebody trying to out maneuver him.

    My Folger's edition also adds on the stains, etc., that "cognizances" are "a device identifying nobles of a royal house," and tinctures and stains "perhaps, referring to the dipping of handkerchiefs in the blood of martyrs; also of saints," (so I guess Al Capone's stuff had a long history), and that Decius here presents to Caesar the dual images of "a religious martyr and as a great prince:" just exactly what you said!

    But I read somewhere that these lines can mean also something else, it's driving me crazy (crazier) haahahah Anybody see anything else? Those are two (three?) good ones, but something else elusive continues to nag!

    Ginny Ann, we're glad you're catching up and reading along, want to hear your thoughts on this, thank you for the information you've provided so far!

    Andrea, and did you notice something else about Ligarius? He seems to be pretty frank with that "sick" stuff? Brutus says

    A piece of work that will make sick men whole.

    And Ligarius answers:

    But are not some whole that we must make sick?

    In addition to a super play on words (is this the first time the phrase "a piece of work" appears in the world?).... Ligarius, who doesn't really know the score, and has said he's in, whatever, he'll follow Brutus wherever, reveals a ...is he the first? To actually say outright the conspirators intend harm, not necessarily good or honorable or noble intentions? Something ephemeral there is nagging me.

    If you click on the clickable near the flashing yellow NEW sign in the heading you'll see our Super Pat Westerdale has put some new questions up and there's room today for your own answer as to why YOU think Caesar went? What REALLY motivated him?

    I think there are a LOT of possibilities in the answers and look forward to seeing what we come up with as we count down the days to the Ides!!

    (We must plan something special for Saturday when The Ides of March are come!) What would be good?!?


    March 13, 2003 - 07:28 am
    Afraid I dont subscribe to the idea that caesars attendance means he wanted the crown. Surely no one expects that a man who has achieved what Caesar had could stay at home, because of his wifes intuition or any other signs and portents that appeared.

    Up untill this point I have been gradually being drawn to a position of admiration for Caesar, and now Shakespeare (is it for dramatic effect) paints him in a bad light.He changes, in a sense a victim of any conversation he has, gives in to flattery and displays certain arrogance.

    Caesar has no choice though, he stays and whatever his intent he will look weak, go and maybe face death.He knows though that sooner or later he will be at risk and I admire his bravery in facing whatever is to come.He had to go, in my view he showed more nobility and honour in going.Had he not gone, they would have conspired again, the conspirators dye is long cast, the serpent must be trampled

    Unlike todays movies and soap operas, where writers tend to make us have sympathy for someone who is about to become a victim, Shakespeare seems almost anxious to show Caesar at his worst.Perhaps so that we may have sympathy with the conspirarors.

    Caesar was no coward, only one death for him, and Oh such a memorable death, almost more memorable than his life. Is it any wonder that we all know still to beware the ides of march.

    March 13, 2003 - 10:03 am
    GINNY, could stains and tinctures also be a person's stained reputation? Would Caesar recognize that and know that once seen as stained (by the Civil War and aftermath) that he couldn't change the resentment against him?

    Previously I tried to answer the question about stains, tinctures, and relics without getting to complex. Was I clear before that the warning was in the image of violent, bloody death suffered by martyrs? I do feel there were other reasons that Caesar went to the Senate.

    HISTORY: We know the real Caesar went about with a group of professional bodyguards and that he'd heard warnings of a conspiracy that even named Cassius and Brutus. He knew his life was threatened and yet he dismissed his bodyguards and went to the Senate.

    Shakespeare's Caesar is an old man, worn out by his service to his country as a soldier and politician, frail and given to seizures. He'd fulfilled his obligations to Rome and, in the normal course of things, he'd be able to retire from public life and live in the countryside. Caesar, however, can't retire because who was strong enough to succeed him and cope with a dangerously weak government? Would chaos reign if Caesar retired to the countryside?

    These issues are what I think Shakespeare's Caesar is facing. So he holds on and yet he becomes 'careless' by letting his bodyguards go, by showing interest in the crown (deliberately tempting fate?), by having close to him men of the opposition. I wouldn't say Shakespeare's Caesar had a death wish but he knew he was boxed into his current role and for once he was in the hands of fate.

    I felt a change in my response to Caesar from sympathy for his tender regard for his wife and his gracious host to his 'friends' who wish to accompany him to the Senate; to a feeling of distance when he exhibited arrogance. Did he recognize the warning in Decius' words and in the group of friends anxious to take him to the Senate and was he then preparing for the inevitable? Caesar was a warrior and not a coward and could he have seen this as a better end?

    ANNE, I think Shakespeare shows us an arrogant Caesar in this scene and the next so that the audience will be shocked by the later downfall. He did that with Lear as well with first a proud Lear and then a humbled Lear. In any case, Caesar becomes even more arrogant as he walks to the Senate and sits in front of the assembly and we, the audience, know what awaits him but cannot warn him. We have that insider information as the audience so are deliberately pulled in two directions by Shakespeare and that adds to the tension of the play and the, to me, ultimate horror of what is coming.

    In re-reading my post I've seen I've made a muddle but I'll have to let it stand as is.


    March 13, 2003 - 10:50 am
    Another afterthought. Decius says "great men shall suck from you reviving blood..." which sounds like a warning or threat of revenge. Could the image of blood also be the blood of the Civil War, the lost lives for which the Republicans blame Caesar?

    Help! What does it all mean?


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 13, 2003 - 01:30 pm
    Not ignoring y'all - out of pocket till tomorrow - folks want to buy and they must sell first...and our market is the pits...but I did get an award today at a luncheon of Woman's Council of Realtors - does that make me worthy enough to be a 'Noble' do you think? - Shucks no great family background though to warrant a Roman 'hail'...and I sure couldn't finance a war on anyone - except - could this work - I will finance a war on my leaves this weekend - hiring a young man this year to cart off the leaves - we loose our Live Oak leaves in the spring and the yard is covered...not a big war but a a little war?..Now just don't ask me to go stab someone please...nope can't go there... I'll do what I can to fit in but ahhuummm not that one thanks...

    March 13, 2003 - 01:38 pm
    Congratulations, Barbara!! What a Wonderful Reward!

    March 13, 2003 - 01:54 pm
    Congrats, Barb! You're definitely a noble, esp. going to war on the Leaf Family. Now, are you Roman or Friend?


    March 13, 2003 - 02:35 pm
    Barbara, LAUDAMUS TE!!!!!! We salute and praise you for your professional achievement and acknowledgement!!!! (Seeee, Miss Ginny! I actually remembered some of my high school Latin! Did I get it right?) Anywho, Barbara, it really is wonderful to be acknowledged professionally by your peers; wallow in and absolutely relish the glow! A champagne toast to you!!!

    Marvelle, you said that " fancier defs or research into topics are never easily obtainable but you'll learn from it. Try it. With internet searches you'll be faced with a lot of deadends and choices and it's work but the rewards can make it worthwhile -- sometimes? usually?" Fellow discussee, I've spent sooooooo many years doing research & fishing on the net that I just no longer choose to do it. (I've discovered that so much info on the net is of rather questionable origins & haven't the time or desire any more to weed thru all that stuff.) I frankly admitted that I was too lazy to go yank dictionary or literary terms texts off the shelf. Figured 30 plus years of experience entitled me to provide a lazy man's (or woman's) definition for a term that's pretty much common knowledge. (Have more than earned the right to be silly and lazy in this stage of my life - and - am thoroughly enjoying it for a change!!!) Don't take my mouth so seriously!!!!

    Ginny - On this, "performed onstage in Canada. Are we talking about the 'Et tu Brute?' bit here? It is in the dialogue and stage directions in Act III - to be performed on stage!" No I'm talking about the actual stabbing scene itself, I thought Shakespeare preferred to show bloody stuff offstage? not sure...and it was at Stratford on Avon where I saw it, actually, and was surprised (actually every time I've seen Julius Caesar performed they do the stabbing onstage, maybe I'm mistaken about Shakespeare and violence offstage? Not sure).

    Sorry, I misunderstood, confused Stratford in England w/ Stratford festival in Canada. Think we're both a little confused here, old pal. The "Et tu, Brute" scene is the actual stabbing scene of our Jules. It does happen on stage! Our Mr. Willie was not totally averse to showing bloodshed! The audience gets to see the gory ending of our Julius, of Polonius (whom Maryal told us next played Julius), of Claudius, of Laertes & Hamlet in his play about that disfunctional Danish family. We also get to see Mercutio run thru by Tybalt & Tybalt's subsequent skewering, as well as Juliet's self-inflicted puncture. There're many many more examples. Those old Elizabethan's enjoyed their gore (their early versions of today's slice & dice films) as much as folks enjoy horror flicks today! Nah! We'll get to see this scene in living color!

    Have to make supper. Will try to get back later tonight to answer some more Q's above! Vale! (See, Marvelle, you inspired me to get my old Latin I primer to look that one up! )- Chuckling meg

    March 13, 2003 - 03:37 pm
    Gee whiz, it MUST be close to the Ides, everybody's gone nuts, Meg's speaking Latin and Barbara's gone noble on us! hahahaha Leafdom, huh Barb? hahaahah instead of fiefdom? hahahaaha

    Congratulations, Barbara! on your award!! Tell us about it, while I print out these posts, and enjoy dinner, where are the rest of you, speaketh right out on why YOU think Caesar really went? Which argument do you think or which reason do you think swayed him? I peeked a little ahead and our Caesar realy aquits himself in this next scene. But more anon, (are you all coming in costume on Saturday?) hahahaaha


    OH PS: Oh Meg, sorry, I did not realize the Et Tu Brutus scene haahaha and the stabbing hahaha were the same one HAHAHAH Can't you be more specific? hahahahaaha (That et tu thing really is, to me, off on another planet of its own but you're totally right!)(about that) hahahahaha

    March 13, 2003 - 04:17 pm
    Whoop! Major storm front moving thru, have to get off, here, just for your delectation, is the new revised For Your Considerations Page:

    For Your Consideration

    Week Two: March 8-14:
    Act II, Scenes ii, iii, iv:

    "This dream is all amiss interpreted" II, ii, 88

    Julius Caesar

  • 1. 2.1 and 2.2 are parallel scenes. How many parallels do you see? What do we learn of the personal lives of Brutus and Caesar?

  • 2. Caesar tells Calpurnia "Cowards die many times before their deaths;/ The valiant never taste of death but once" (II,ii, 32-33). Do you agree with Caesar?

  • 3. How does Decius convince Caesar to come to the Capitol even though Caesar has determined not to appear in order to reassure his wife?

  • 4.Caesar refers to himself increasingly in these scenes in the third person. What does this indicate?

  • 5. Caesar says "What can be avoided
    Whose end is purposed by the mighty gods?" (II, ii, 27).

    Does Caesar seem a believer in fate versus free will, a preordained path through life? How does this contrast with the other characters in the play? Does he take the eruptions of the skies as omens or messages?

  • 6. At the end of Act II scene iv we see the excitement as the Great Man prepares to go to the senate with his escorts. What does Brutus mean in the last two lines?
    "That every like is not the same, O Caesar,
    The heart of Brutus earns to think upon."
    What does this show about his character?

  • 7. WHY did Caesar go? What made him decide? Was it a combination of factors or one particular thing? If he had decided not to go, do you think anything would have changed?

  • 8. If it had not been for Cassius, would Brutus have ever come up with or executed this plan himself? (Jan)

  • 9. Both Brutus and Caesar exhibit evidence of certain inflexibility. Which man is the more inflexible? How does Shakespeare show this? Which man suffers most because of it?

  • 10. Who is the most responsible for Caesar's death?
  • Brutus is most to blame:   Kylie and the Australian Cohorts
  • 11.   "and that great men shall press   For tinctures, stains, relics and cognizance..." (II,ii, 93)

    What do these lines mean? Could they symbolize more than one thing? Why would Decius tell Caesar this interpretation?

    Alea Jacta Est....Caesar Crosses the Rubicon

    Questions ~ Act I Scene i

    Questions ~ Act I Scene ii

    Questions ~ Act II Scene i

    Questions ~ Act II Scenes ii, iii, iv

  • Ginny
    March 13, 2003 - 06:01 pm
    I certainly enjoyed, Anne, your take on why Caesar went to the Senate, and especially your pointing out the change and why Shakespeare may have done that. I loved this sentence, "He had to go, in my view he showed more nobility and honour in going." I think that's very fine. I agree with you.

    Marvelle remarked on the arrogance, that she also saw, and Marvelle, I had the impression that Caesar, as you say an old man and tired, did not regard the Civil Wars as a disgrace, and certainly not the aftermath (do you mean Pompey's sons?) My personal opinion is that he had tons of plans and ideas he wanted to finally get to carry out and had started when Pompey's sons made him go to war again. Once returned to Rome, he should have had a clear field for his many proposed initiatives.

    Warsley says:

    Caesar had in mind to do many things for the advantage of the Roman people and state, following the end of his military campaigns.

    Among some of the proposed projects, he planned to drain the great Pontine marshes because of the unhealthy air they caused and because he would make the land serviceable for housing projects; he intended to open a communication between the Ionian and the Aegean Seas, by cutting through the Isthmus of Corinth; to build harbors along the coast of Italy; to open wide roads over the Apennines; to have a canal dug from the Anio and Tiber to the sea, and to rebuild Carthage and Corinth. He had many plans to build splendid public buildings and for establishing public libraries in Rome, to revise the whole code of Roman laws of the Twelve Tables by reducing them to simpler form. Augustus followed through on some of these proposals.

    At Caesar's death he was on the point of starting out on a military campaign to avenge Crassus and his death (Andrea mentioned he planned to leave) by the Parthans.

    Now you felt a distance from Caesar with his "arrogance," let's look at that scene and see what we all think and as Anne mentions why this behavior might be there, I did not see arrogance, what do you all see?

    OK here's what I see, Caesar is up in his jammies because Calpurnia's nightmares keep him up. So she says don't go don't go and he breaks into third person almost immediately!

    I don't know about you but if my husband suddenly said Anderson will go. I'd think he'd lost a marble.

    But maybe here he is saying "Caesar shall forth," for a reason. He explains that ...apparently he's up to any danger and when danger sees the PUBLIC Caesar it flees. He switches into the PUBLIC man.

    She tells the omens and he says well who can escape the will of the gods, besides it's for everybody not just me (that does sound like Mr. Anderson). Hahaaha

    And she says, not with comets for the common man. This is big!

    And here come the "augurers" and they say don't go. No heart in the beast. I'm not a beast without a heart, a coward, I'm going. In Edit: NO NO I'm wrong! He says "Caesar shall not...Caesar is more dangerous...And Caesar shall go forth!" All in the third person speaking of himself as Caesar!

    She says, "Alas my lord, your wisdom is consumed in confidence."

    I don't know what to make of that one. Is Shakespeare telling us he's too proud? Is she telling him to cast off the Caesar Mantle for a minute and listen to his head? That he's too inflexible AS "Caesar?"

    Why do you think Shakespeare put that in here?

    She kneels down and he says oh ok ok I won't go. For your sake (note).

    Then ol Decius comes in and Caesar says tell them I won't come, I won't lie about it, I'm not sick (how many of us have ever called in "sick" when we weren't? Be honest?) Caesar won't call in sick, but he doesn't work for anybody either, he's the MAN. So he says "The cause is in my will. I will not come."

    Now I don't see a thing wrong with that? Do you? All I see is honesty. I don't see anything negative, he's a strong man, he says I will not go. That's my reason.

    Now Decius starts his work, he's the snake.

    Ahhh he says "this dream is all amiss interpreted," puts the spin on it that Marvelle mentions and maybe more, who knows, Caesar says you explained that well.

    Decius says, hey they are going to give you a crown, if you say you won't come their minds may change (I don't think that was a concern of his at all. I really don't.

    Then Decius deals the blow, "Besides, it were a mock apt to be rendered,..." if somebody says we'll have to convene the Senate when Caesar's wife will let him come and some will say he's afraid.

    That does it. Caesar says, boy Calpurnia, your fears look pretty foolish now and I'm ashamed I listened, I'm gone.

    I think that he decided to go because (and notice now that when he speaks to Calpurnia and says this:

    How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurnia!
    I am ashamed I did yield to them.
    Give me my robe, for I will go.

    LOOK at this! This is not CAESAR in the third person posturing in the third person here? He's not arrogant. This is Caesar the man, the real man, speaking in the first person, "I am ashamed," saying that he's ashamed, and admitting that he...what? Was afraid that moment? And was thus ashamed of his fears?

    I don't think CAESAR the Third Person Public Figure would have admitted that. I think we're seeing the real man here, the private man and he more or less has to go? Once again he has to prove that he's CAESAR, it's a tough call. He can't afford, having entrusted Dccius (it apparently doesn't occur to Caesar that Sweet Decius did not have to TELL them all why he did not come!),

    Why would he be AFRAID to go to the Senate? I think he knows Decius would have told about the dream and they would have laughed and considered him weak, heck Decius admits they would say let's adjourn the Senate till Caesar's wife says he can come, they would not have known that had D not told them!

    They would have no reason to call him henpecked or afraid if Decius kept his yap shut, like a real friend would. But it never seems to occur to Caesar that Decius should not have told them anything. I have a feeling Caesar knew what sort of snakes he was surrounded with and is going anyway, there's nothing he can do now, the dream (cat's) out of the bag, without escort, bravely as Anne said. What else could he do? He already said cowards die many times before their deaths, and now he's putting his money where his mouth is.

    That's what I think I see,

    How do you all see Caesar in this scene? Has Shakespeare convinced you of his arrogance and tyrant like mein? How do you feel about him now?


    March 13, 2003 - 07:44 pm
    Ginny, you have me, and I was no pushover.All the kids are cross because now they think Cassie got it right, in being Caesar.George says to tell you its the first time I have changed my mind in 33 years(a slight exaggeration).

    Seriously though, I think Shakespeare himself saw Caesar as a genuine hero, I now find the prospect of the assasination chilling, for the first time I want him to survive,this is no "beast without a heart".I think it interesting that Brutus felt he was out to quell Caesars spirit, rather than his body

    "Lets be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius we all stand up against the spirit of Caesar, And in the spirit of men there is no blood.etc.

    Shakespeare really is the master of irony, in effect the conspirators killed Caesars body--- and their own spirit and that of Rome.

    Ann.........ever a plebian......newly a flag bearer for Julius

    March 13, 2003 - 09:06 pm
    #8. If it had not been for Cassius, would Brutus have ever come up with or executed this plan himself? (Jan) I don't think so - from the info that Shakespeare provides - again, historic records may prove otherwise, but we're dealing with what Shakespeare tells us. Think that our younger members from the Southern Hemisphere have made a few really good points on this Q and the next one. KUDOS! to Rob, Cassie, Kylie and the rest of you critical thinkers of the House of Anneofavonlea! Rob said, "Brutus talks to himself, wondering what to do, but doesn't think very well because if he did he'd change his mind......won't talk to his wife.... if he wants to do something he knows she won't like..."

    We hear and will hear - over and over and over again that Brutus is an honorable man. Shakespeare also tells & shows us that Brutus was favored by Caesar. Who in his right mind would agree to kill a friend, an ally because of some annoyingly jealous pest bizzin' in his ear??? If Brutus truly is/was honorable, then agreeing to commit murder is not the act of an honorable man. Shakespeare's Brutus basically gets suckered by Cassius & blindly allows himself to be manipulated. If we look back at Shakespeare's Brutus' initial response to Cassius' spiel, we'll discover that Brutus did NOT commit to joining Cassius. B only promised to consider what Cassius said. B does NOT align himself w/ conspirators until AFTER he reads letter(s) from the alleged Roman citizens (Cassius). B may interpret this as a public cry for help from the citizenry - but that's still not really clear.

    Again, I agree w/ Robby- Brutus isn't thinking very well. One anonymous letter & B's ready to join the bad guys???? One of our younger responders (Sorry guys & gals - I can't find name of who said this) also pointed out a major flaw in Shakespeare's storytelling here too - "We think that Brutus must have thought about not liking Caesar before - or he wouldn't change so quickly from a friend to a murderer." It is annoying that Shakespeare does not explain why "honorable" Brutus not only decides to join the conspirators' group, but also to act with them. We can argue 'til the cows come home and will not be able to prove definitively why Shakespeare's Brutus does this. Sort of like that ambiguity myself - that not having all of the answers - because it allows each reader, each director, each actor playing Brutus the opportunity and challenge of trying to analyze/interpret Brutus' motivations. Those grey areas always intrigue me more than clear cut black and white ones. For me, both Brutus and Caesar's characters are well imbedded in the middle of that grey area. There are traits that I like and dislike in each of these characters of Shakespeare - but I'm not willing or able to side with one over the other. Cassius & gang are definately the villians. Antony's another story all together.

    #10. Who is the most responsible for Caesar's death? Brutus is most to blame: Kylie and the Australian Cohorts Again, I have to agree with Kylie and her pals. Without Brutus, Cassius' plan has no respectable front man. Cassius is the snake, the tempter. Brutus had a choice to join the plot or not to do so. Brutus' voice evidently carried some weight, as our teens point out, because he prevented the group from adding Antony and Cicero to the list of "to-be-slain." This "honorable" and much respected man of ours (or rather of Shakespeare's) is/was the conscience of this group, "the leader" , the one who could/should have stopped the assassination plan. He was given an opportunity to (as Nancy Reagan used to say)"just say NO!" and he didn't. Morally, - in this play at least - Brutus carries the onus of guilt. - Okay - open field day on this one - Go ahead! (chuckling!) meg

    P.S. Ginny, there was something in your 'Jules in his jammies' post that tweaked somethin in this scrambled-egg brain of mine. Will look at it again in a.m.

    March 13, 2003 - 09:08 pm
    GINNY, I thought I was clear but guess I wasn't? I responded to the question of "what did Decius mean" and not what I felt.

    I do see some arrogance with Caesar as I did in Lear and that's deliberate by Shakespeare to sway our affections and then shock us out of that with what follows. Shakespeare didn't see anyone as all good or all bad but it seems we'll have to disagree on that.

    What intrigues me about Shakespeare's Caesar is the fact that he doesn't appear that often in the play yet he's a force throughout. Everyone speaks about him, thinks about him, dreams about him, acts because of him. When we finally are presented with Caesar we know he is a great man because of this. His reactions to Calpurnia and his guests show the human side. His royal 'we' shows the ruler. In the end I think he is the most three-dimensional of all the characters in the play even though the speaking part is small.


    March 13, 2003 - 09:35 pm
    My apologies for absence. It was caused by my temporarily losing my ISP, which is through work. Tehy were updating something or other and thus I had no connection to the internet.

    I have missed you.

    I've just been playing catchup on posts and have a few comments.

    Marvelle--I agree with you about fate, or history, or some mighty force beyond these little men that seems to be in ultimate control. You said that at a certain point Caesar is "in the hands of fate." I agree. And the great irony of history is that, as we all know, although the conspirators manage to assassinate Caesar, the Roman Empire has replaced the Republic. Caesar wins in the end. Or perhaps I should say Caesarism wins.

    Meg noted that the stabbing takes place on stage, which it does. Ginny, I think you are thinking of Greek tragedies where the violence always takes place offstage and is reported to the characters onstage.

    But Shakespeare has many a bloody scene onstage. Meg has provided several. I think one of the most brutal, and hardest to watch, even though you KNOW it is a play and not really happening, is the blinding of Gloucester onstage in King Lear. I've seen this play several times, and it has always hurt me to watch that scene.

    One exception I can think of is Macbeth's murder of King Duncan. That takes place offstage and is described by Macbeth.

    Meg, I think it was you--I know it was someone--who remarked that Brutus was acting on the basis of ONE anonymous letter. Actually, as Brutus begins to read the letter, he says, "Such instigations have been often dropped/ Where I have took them up." That's why, when he reads, he puts in all those etceteras. He has read much the same thing before, a number of times.

    Barbara, congratulations on your award and good luck with those leaves.

    I think Brutus acts out of noble aspirations, that he is a man of honor who believes that he is truly acting in the best interests of Rome. I note that he wishes he could remove Caesar without killing him. Both Brutus and Caesar have good points and bad points, which is what I think makes this play difficult to interpret.

    More tomorrow, assuming that the connection holds.


    March 14, 2003 - 04:38 am
    Good evening, well here it's only about three hours till the Ides of March, but of course for most of you, there's another day. Still time for Caesar to change his mind!LOL. I've just read nearly 30 posts, so my mind is swimming.

    I really agree with you Marvelle, when you said that Brutus saw the Conspirators as an audience of admirers and that he needed a push from someone. That echoes my feelings about him. If he was around now, I think he'd be checking the Polls, to see his approval rating!

    There must have been something in the air that night, judging by the stuff Calphurnia speaks about. Lions whelping, Graves yawning, fierce Warriors in Ranks and Squadrons drizzling blood on the Capitol, ghosts shrieking and squealing! Is this an example of Hysteria? Or just someone tying to psyche people out?

    I had to laugh when Caesar says he'll stay home sick for Calpurnia-"for thy Humour I will stay at Home." As soon as Decius turned up and Calphurnia said "Say he is Sick", Caesar does a 360 degree turn. Of course, what else could he do, with all his friends watching! This is such a familiar scene in Oz. "You're under the thumb mate! Yep, there's a little bald spot on the top of your head mate!" Calphurnia must have been kicking herself for blurting it out!

    I thought it was interesting that the line "Alas my Lord, Your Wisdom is consum'd in Confidence" which Calphurnia said of Caesar, means that Caesar has a condition called pleonexia, according to my Guide. Pleonexia, or Security leads to ate,a blindness to danger, and often to hubris, an intolerable violation of cosmic limits that results in self-destruction. Wow, live and learn! Where can I drop that into my next conversation.!

    The dream interpretation has me baffled! I can't believe that Caesar could let himself be so easily persuaded that Calphurnia's meaning was wrong and that Decius's version was correct. After all, Decius hadn't even said the stuff about the crown. I tend to agree with whoever said that Caesar was more or less aware that something may happen and was taking a fatalistic approach to it all. After all, he would be revered as a saint, and have the immortality he craves.

    After all what is the meaning of Life, if you're a Roman of Caesar's stature? Not 42 as per Douglas Adams, so it might as well be living on in the hearts and minds of people as--Caesar.


    March 14, 2003 - 05:56 am
    It rained buckets yesterday & thunder boomed! At 7 am the sun is sooooo blaringly bright & busy, busy,busy chirpy birds woke me! Just makes me grin; I want to do the Snoopy happy dance! And even better - it's going to be in the 60's tomorrow & Sunday here! After weeks of snow, slush, ice & temps on or around freezing in the daytime and in single digits or teens at night -SPRING IS A COMIN'! Yipee-kigh-oh-kigh-yay!!! (Told ya that I have a very low amusement level!)

    March 14, 2003 - 05:58 am
    Ginny,It's all your fault! I woke this morning with a picture in my head of our Julius in footie pj's with a backflap & red longjohn construction - with a small laurel leaf ringlet on his head. Now that's just sick!!! Are we spending too much time with our jewel (Yah, yah, I hear the groans for the pun -laughing) (also know that costuming is totally inappropriate - but it was your "jammies" that did that for me)

    I thoroughly enjoyed your paraphrase of the scene between Caesar & Calpurnia. You noted that she says, "Alas my lord, your wisdom is consumed in confidence." I don't know what to make of that one. This line just made me laugh. Sort of heard the undertone here of a "Well, Fred, you're just soooo full of it" singing out.

    You also added, "Is Shakespeare telling us he's too proud? Is she telling him to cast off the Caesar Mantle for a minute and listen to his head? That he's too inflexible AS "Caesar?" I have a feeling Caesar knew what sort of snakes he was surrounded with and is going anyway, there's nothing he can do now, the dream (cat's) out of the bag, without escort, bravely as Anne said. What else could he do? " Isn't it possible for all of these to be present in a multidimensional character?

    One other thing to throw into this mix of yours & Anne's, I also think that Julius (or at least Shakespeare's Julius) is a realist. Everyone in the audience would have known, most likely, that Caesar was a military man, and would have faced death/seen death frequently on the battle field. It wasn't a stranger to him. Immediately after his "Cowards die many times" line he says, "Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come." This is before the augurer's report, call-off-sick discussion and the appearance of Decius. I'm not saying that Caesar's ready to die, but rather that he's realistic about the possibility of his own death, has thought about it, and has opted to not go into avoidance mode with this subject as many of us tend to do. That acceptance brings a kind of calm/peace to the soul, & I suspect that Shakespeare's Julius is in that place too. For some reason, that adds a layer of maturity onto the man for me too. What do you think?

    Am going to "hang wallpaper in the next post. Found an interesting passage in my Folger intro that addresses this too.

    March 14, 2003 - 06:00 am
    My Folger's intro says:

    "To the Elizabethans, Caesar was a character of consuming interest. They were vastly interested in strong men who could impose order in a chaotic world. We should remember that civil was and social chaos had been the state of England in the yars before the rise of the Tudors, and Englishmen particularly valued the stability that Queen Elizabeth and her predecessors had established, as they feared a return of strife if she died without a settled succession. Caesar had been a leader with the capacity for rule such as the Elizabethans understood and approved. They did not have our modern distaste for dictators, for the days of Mussolini and Hitler were still some centuries ahead, and they adimired forceful and successful leaders like Caesar, as they admired Henry V, Henry II, Henry VIII, and their own Queen. If Caesar on Shakespeare's stage sounds pompous to us, his manner was not objectionable to the spectator at the Globe. It was the manner than an Elizabethan would expect of one who had conquered most of the known world."

    Does this help or add another layer to our dissection of Caesar? Another example of our dear Willie giving his audiences what they wanted?

    March 14, 2003 - 07:06 am
    hahaah Meg, am on my way out of town for today and just looked in at all the great posts and just (can't stay away 5 minutes) had to look in, look at Jan and Anne and Cohorts, they're...are they now IN the Ides? This is an amazing experience Australia is IN the Ides of March!

    And And HOLY COW!!!!!!!! I can't believe my eyes! Anne!!!!!!1 I don't believe it!!! (Shall we move your name above? Somebody take a picture of the screen while it lasts!) Where are the rest of you? I'm going to move Anne before she changes her mind@ hahaha Poor Cassie, that stabbing scene may need police protection! hahaha)

    But I had to laugh at Meg's sleep deprived night, I couldn't sleep, either, and discovered a pencil (to take Caesar notes with) sticking self in thigh when I awoke and when I threw back the covers Caesar the Play fell out and clattered to the floor so now I know anyway why it's keeping ME awake hahahaaha.

    As Maryal would say,
    Great Caesar's Ghost!
    What super points and posts!

    Back on the Eve of the Ides (if the storm will allow, have printed them out just in case!)

    Whare do the rest of you all stand now? It's time to declare! We're about to leave for the Senate, you'll not have another chance to say where you are, be bold! Choose one!!

    And while we're choosing:

    Who do you think is MOST responsible for Caesar's death?

    Here are ...some...possiblities? Who is left out?

  • Brutus
  • Cassius
  • Decius
  • Caesar
  • Other:

  • ALF
    March 14, 2003 - 12:43 pm
    Yikes! We're leaving for Ireland in 4 days and here I am letting JC carry me away to Rome. Your post are brilliant and I must say once again, folks like you are the ones who "bring the past to life." I will return this evening after my dinner party.

    "Let the farce be with you."

    I'm starting to worry about you Ginny, stabbing yourself in the thigh, imitating Portia. Oh you are so B-R-A- V-E-- or is it honor?

    March 14, 2003 - 12:50 pm
    Not long to wait now. The Ides is fast approaching, as Jan reminds us. And it looks like we will be hitting the very act where the assassination occurs right at the right time.

    I refuse to declare, Ginny. I just can't figure it out. I see so much positive in Caesar and in Brutus. I am by nature one of the people, but the people don't do much in this play except sway from one side to the other. You can put me down as NOT for Cassius or Decius or Casca or any of those folks.

    I'm really looking forward to discussing the funeral orations in Act 3. First Brutus addresses the crowd and then Mark Antony. I remember being struck by these two speeches when I read the play in high school, long time before I ever thought of teaching English.

    I'm in my before the Oscars moviegoing frenzy and will return tonight to see what's going on. I have about four movies left to see, or maybe it's five.


    March 14, 2003 - 12:53 pm
    Have a fine time in Ireland, Andy! You lucky duck.

    March 14, 2003 - 01:15 pm
    I say "other" are responsible for Caesar's death. The other being the tottering political system, weakened long before the Civil War, and the culture that demands extreme competition, ambition, and of course achievement in the name of Rome.


    March 14, 2003 - 01:29 pm
    Marvelle--I like that. I'll be put under "other" as well, as long as I don't have to define it! I'll stick with your definition.

    AN OMEN--Today, in the mail, there arrived one of those Free Samples. This time it is a free sample of CESAR (no A) dog food, "sophisticated food for sophisticated dogs." I shall give it to the Jack Russells tomorrow on the Ides, even though neither one of them is sophisticated in the least!

    How are the rest of you planning to commemorate the Day?


    March 14, 2003 - 01:49 pm
    I'm going to a Roman spa and indulge myself.

    March 14, 2003 - 01:58 pm
    that we are masters of our own destiny, and Caesar I think more so.

    It is the morning of the Ides here, and the children are gone for weekend, and I read and reread, hoping to apportion blame to one or all of the conspirators, or even the "others".

    Suddenly it occurs to me the answer is in that question, why does he go to Pompeys theatre.It isn't really why does he go today, so much why does he go on being Caesar, at all.If he had been prepared to sell himself short life may well have been his.

    Our Cassie had it right, Caesar wanted remembering long after his death, and he did indeed achieve a modicum of immortality, by not just accepting his destiny, but actually seeking it.

    "What can be avoided.........Whose end is purpos'd by the mighty gods? Yet Caesar shall go forth; for these predictions are to the world in general as to Caesar."

    March 14, 2003 - 02:31 pm
    My postings over the next week will be brief, I fear. My son and granddaughter will arrive tonight to spend a few days, so you will understand I will be spending considerably less time browsing thru' SeniorNet. I will continue to read Julius Caesar, and when I find something I absolutely have to talk about I'll dash in and shove it under the door (so to speak). Mostly, it will be quick scanning to find out what everybody is thinking. Ta....Babi

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 14, 2003 - 04:23 pm
    Whew gone for a bit and there are twenty odd posts plus a few I didn't get to see yesterday...goodness!

    Meg - nope - research for me is just a curse that has been with me since childhood - drove my parents and teachers crazy with - WHY?

    But do I agree with you - as the saying goes "One swallow a Spring does not make" - and Caesar listening and agreeing with Calpurnia does not change his "need" to be admired by others and to see himself as a man who does not fear, fear. - Sorry Ginny but Caesar in his nighties just not persuade me that he is speaking from some inner sense of vulnerability. Rrather, I simply hear the inner voice of what drives Caesar, which is an engine exclusive of relating to others as his equal and his being strong like brave horse driven in battle by a master. Caesar's master is to be better than everyone around him. Rome is at its zenith and Caesar is in his heart a match to equal Rome.

    When I read the exchange between Caesar and Calpurnia it sounded in my head like a self-important man minimizing her, using a tone of voice that was spoken like a put-down - Heck the gods determine death he says with confidence - no sooner said and then what I thought was her coup de grace she brings up Antony. I could see the asp under her tongue - this young powerful man who can stay up all night reveling will go in Caesar's place - oh no, that will not be the way for our egocentric Caesar.

    Again tone of voice here can make his speech to Decius sound mocking rather than humble. And then Caesar isn't above a bit of stinging, saying he loves Decius but he has not professed any love to Calpurnia - only that, she is his wife! A piece of baggage who has dreams would you believe, dreams I, Caesar, am supposed to take seriously. She baths herself in these dreams and then the final to his play acting with her "How foolish do your fears seem now, Calpurina!" using Decius as his shill. Caesar uses Decius just as Decius manipulates Caesar playing on Caesar's ego. They each play with each other.

    Did any of you read the "Good morrow, Caesar." by Publius, as if Robin Williams briefly entered the script with his "Good Morning America." - it was like an ironic announcement to - and the games do start this morning -

    I do not see any one of them responsible for Caesar's death - Caesar had his part as did they all - in my minds eye I have this picture of the gods or a heavenly suction pulling all the forces of the day prevalent and all the characteristics of these people - like the look of a storm in the sky when all around is clear and this black column from ground to some outer depth of sky is pulling both the moral and immoral, all being sucked into the swirling gray-black column, mingling with all the other's morality and the issues of the day - so that like a train wreck it is all being sucked into this one blinding explosive event. After all the misshapen changed pieces will tumble back to earth and lie there for us to sort through, identify its original shape and purpose and determine how it all should fit together again.

    Caesar - courageous, un-afraid of fear, having successfully amassed great power, desiring to run the show alone and wanting, 'needing' adulation.

    Brutus essentially a kind man that easily makes friends struggles with his own inner demons wanting to do the 'right' thing and is caught between Caesar being right for Rome or a collective body, Rome, having a say in its future. And then Brutus also has his 'need' to be approved of by those in power.

    Cassius the rebel who has the brain power to see the possibilities for abuse and observes the characteristics of men so he can start the engine of sedition - I think Shakespeare leaves him to the audience to determine if he is a patriot for addressing the issue of, Caesar wanting to be king and enthrone his son for the future or, a rebel in sheep’s clothing for showing up to Rome, the audiance and the other characters, the flaws if Caesar became king.

    Decius is simply part of 'a' crowd. Albeit more active with a face and name but who knows how he benefits except that he can get to Caesar and knows how to push Caesar's buttons.

    March 14, 2003 - 05:54 pm
    Good and interesting analysis, Barb, and welcome back, tell us about your award!!!

    Babi, we will surely MISS you, I know you will enjoy your family, watch out for tomorrow and the Ides of March, we shall see thee at Phillippi!

    Maryal, there's no way you will know one movie from another if you see 5 in the next few days hahahahaha "Cesar" dog food! An OMEN, Maryal! Let's hope it's not shaped like knives (would that not be tacky?)

    Ah well tomorrow's the day, I hate to see him go, have prolonged it as long as we can, and no, no orations tomorrow, let's wait for Sunday. Tomorrow let's please look hard at Scene One only let's give him one more day till we roar, full tilt into Sunday and the rest of Act III and IV and the wonderful funeral oration!

    Anne, here's something on the place of Women in Roman Society (check out those curls!) for the class. I'm not sure if it's all that helpful but I hope it is. There's also a site called Teacher Net? And they have quite a bit on Roman women and their Women in Roman Times and their Clothing

    I'm not prepared to speak to the authenticity of any information on that second site? The Teacher/Net one, but but the clothing area was very interesting and descriptive with drawings.

    Marvelle, I do have to apologize to you haahahaha there's NO way I'm going to say Caesar is arrogant, but I did understand what you meant and after tomorrow hopefully I can lay poor Caesar down (am such a fan) haahahah But I thought you made a super point about Shakespeare presenting arrogance to sway our emotions and shock us later. I think Scene I which we'll look at only tomorrow, has a lot of those types of things in it, and now that you've called our attention to that point, we can look for them!

    I loved your thing about even tho Caesar does not appear much he dominates the play!! It's going to be interesting to see if he continues after death, and in what way, too.

    Loved your "Other" reasoning, I think you're right on, and loved Meg's Brutus being the most at fault. There's so much depth in these characters and their circumstances, it's hard to choose, but without Decius, Caesar would not have gone that day, and maybe Artemidoris could have gotten the letter thru and warned him. I'm going to say Decius. Without him Caesar would have stayed home. Possibly. At any rate, he's the man, for me.

    Anne has made another super point here on her Ides of March in Australia, in which she mentions Caesar's "spirit," quoting "we all stand up against the spirit of Caesar." It's that spirit we may see again, I think we will see how effective Brutus actually was. Thank you for that, I actually missed that reference. (And I loved this one: "If he had been prepared to sell himself short life may well have been his.")

    Maryal thank you for mentioning the fate thing. I am seeing some instances like Cassius in which they think maybe they can alter fate, too, and it would be interesting to get in a philosophical discussion of fate versus free will in this play. And Maryal has explained Question 6, that Brutus does feel regret, so can we say he's acting against his own feelings in killing his friend for the good of the country?
    Jan, I never heard of "pleonxia," isn't that something. What Guide are you using, and are we on course? Oh super point about "living on in the hearts and minds of people as---Caesar" Yeah that's one thing apparently Brutus and Cassius failed to think of, that by making Caesar a martyr they themselves sealed his immortality forever. I can't understand how they thought the way they went about this would be seen as....I don't understand them. VERY intriguing question you ask about hysteria.
    Thank you Meg, for that super explanation of the political times of England in Shakespeare's day, that explains a lot! And I do like your maturity angle thrown in.

    Even IF Jules in his jammies as you paint him looks a tad bizarre! hahahahaa

    I was intrigued by your statement of Caesar as a multidimensional character, I know several of you (Maryal) see Brutus the same, I would have said Cassius was not but something he said in Scene I of Act III surprised me (Brutus surprised me, too. Well heck Caesar surprised me three hahahaha I want to look closely at Scene I tomorrow only!)
    No, Andrea!! Don't you know I like to get INTO books when we read them? Yes I'm right there mentally, stab in thigh and everything hahaahaha . I hate you're leaving for Ireland, declaim on the plane, please, to all who will listen? Print out tomorrow's picture of Caesar!!!
    Here we are, getting ready to leave for the Temporary Senate House, I can't get over how well Shakespeare writes. I don't believe I have ever appreciated one of his plays as much as I'm appreciating this one this time. (but I love this play) Just about every word is marvelous. Note the touching thing with Artemidoris? ("I don't have a chance, but I'll stand over here and maybe I can get him to look"....and then... well we'll see tomorrow what he said, in his anxiety, to queer the deal. I feel sorry for him, I often do that type of thing. ( Did you know the only paper Caesar was carrying in real life when he entered the Senate was Artemidoris's suit? Unread? )

    Artemidoris said, "My heart laments that virtue cannot live
    Out of the teeth of emulation." (II, iii, 13).

    Is he right? Can virtue exist without jealousy? When does this happen?

    Well Friends, Romans, and Countrymen, tomorrow's the big day. The Conspirators are nervous, we've addressed all the questions, the Soothsayer is going to try to warn him again, Portia now knows the story and she's most un-Cato like, flitting about anxiously, Caesar's up because Calpurnia can't sleep, there are storms and omens everywhere (or people report they see them) I don't know what more Shakespeare could have packed into this scene in anticipation.

    If we just had a time machine.

    See you on the Ides!

    March 14, 2003 - 06:18 pm
    I also see Brutus as a good man and honorable who struggles mightily with himself. He prefers to think of the murder of Caesar as a "sacrifice" to the gods. I don't think any of the conspirators can imagine the storm they have let loose.

    Brutus: Let's be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius.
    We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar,
    And in the spirit of men there is no blood.
    O, that we then could come by Caesar's spirit,
    And not dismember Caesar! But, alas,
    Caesar must bleed for it.

    For Brutus, a conflict between his two loves, his love for Caesar and his love for (republican) Rome, rages. He finally decides that he loves Rome more.


    March 14, 2003 - 06:29 pm
    Just read your post, Ginny. Will confine self to only the first scene of Act 3 tomorrow. Fortunately, it contains some of my favorite lines in the play!

    March 14, 2003 - 06:36 pm
    Me too, in fact, I love the whole thing. I'm really enjoying the intelligent debates we have going on the merits and character of the various people involved, it's a pleasure.

    Brutus fans, more is coming tomorrow, gird on your armor! hahahaahah

    Where's Hats and Ginny Ann, hope John can return soon, how about Carolyn, we miss you!

    It's really strange to be reading this on the eve of the Ides, isn't it?


    March 14, 2003 - 06:56 pm
    Caesar has lured me back in here on a Saturday morning! Unheard of! He also kept me up pretty late last night, because I had this feeling of Doom and time running out for Caesar. My son says, whatever turns you on, Mum!LOL

    feel resigned now, because we here in Australia are halfway through the Ides and what will be will be. Someone should write a song about that and call it Que Sera, Sera. Sorry, lack of sleep makes me silly!

    Anyway, once again I'm agreeing with Marvelle, he's a victim of the Times. I suppose you could say in any situation in History, if a couple of things happened differently, then the whole course of the world is changed.

    Barbara, did you say that it was his vanity that did him in? I'll go back and check straight after I post this. I think you're right that it has an awful lot to do with his decisions. You could say it's his Achilles Heel.

    I read before we started this, about the time he was taken by Pirates and did his nana because they weren't offering a reward big enough, for what he thought was his worth. When the Pirates upped his reward money, Caesar was satisfied, BUT, after his release he went straight back and hunted them down and killed them. I think this speaks volumes about his character. If the Senators had scoffed at him because of his wife's fears, who knows what he would have done?

    Maybe this is a part of him that Cassius has picked up on? Caesar is fine when things are going well, but woe betwide anyone who gets on his bad side. But then he did pardon people instead of putting them to death. Oh dear, i've confused myself. Perhaps his intentions were good, to rule honourably and fairly, except for this big character flaw.

    I think Cassius is a pretty bold opportunist. He sees a chance to kill two birds with one stone. These other people are having big doubts and Cassius sets to, to manipulate things to his own end. You'd never want him running the show, but boy he'd be good to have around if you were a Politician. He knows his people!


    March 14, 2003 - 07:21 pm
    My notes say(Ginny, I just have an Everyman Shakespeare, with a page of notes facing each page of the Play) that Shakespeare was associating the assassination of Caesar with the crucifixion of Christ, when Caesar says "Good friends, go in, and taste some wine with me." Also says Dante had placed Cassius and Brutus with Judas in the lowest circle of Hell. Boy that's harsh!

    It also says Shakespeare may have found a hint for his portrayal of Brutus as a Judas in Plutarch's statement that the conspirators took Caesar "by the hands and kissed his head and breast."

    Barbara that's an interesting viewpoint you make about Caesar and Antony, the contrast of their age and vigour.

    Well, it's all over now in Oz and there's only the Post Mortem left. Vale, Caesar!


    March 14, 2003 - 09:58 pm
    Maryal, Thanks for correction catch about the letter(s) business. I looked at ...I found this paper......gives him the letter....opens the letter and reads" and failed to catch ...Such instigations have been often dropped where I have took them up. You're right; one letter didn't sway Brutus as I stated. Just got in & have to catch up on reading posts and scenes for tomorrow. Been a busy week. Meg

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 14, 2003 - 10:16 pm
    Interesting thing about awards - they are fun and over in a day - they also amaze, since when you are about your passion, you aren't thinking award - several received awards for various contributions to the Real Estate Community and the Woman's Council - I seem to have a knack for getting new agent's feet off the ground while helping them see that sticking to 'ethical work' benefits them as well as the public.

    Helped more than the average number of agents in the past year - what was interesting to me was that this year it was more fun then usual because I loved the bright enthusiasm of these new agents who know the nuts and bolts of computers and calculators basic to our work - we have had huge layoffs in the High Tech industry that is the main focus of the Austin economy - many not getting a job decided to try Real Estate - it will be interesting to see how many stay the course as many of them think they can make this business a 9 to 5 job with just a little overtime - well who is to say, maybe they can - but they all picked up the concepts quickly and even added some new approaches to our (training) discussions. We had a high time and the word got out so there were more than the average number of groups getting together who all seemed to have a high old time - viola an award.

    Side bar - on the clothing - the decoration on clothing - Printed cloth did not become an option till the nineteenth century - earlier, design was either embroidered on the cloth or woven in the cloth or stitched into the cloth or the threads of the cloth were tied together to create the first lace -

    The first design were bands - decorative bands - and interesting enough they started as a series of connected boxes where the top on one box was dark alternately the next box reversed - then these boxes were further broken into shapes that were essentially reversed till you had the one box with the top half of a circular shape connected to the next box, (now made invisible) where the bottom half of the circular shape was woven or stitched into the cloth, creating a long wavy line -

    Then if you look at these round and complicated shapes in borders, rather then trying to unravel the design from the edge of each shape, look at it by cutting the shape in the middle, as if two boxes adjacent to each other made the shape and you begin to see how the shape is created.

    Believe it or not, the mystery author Agatha Christi had a great book explaining this progression of design - she also dated designs with Acanthi leaves as used during times of great economic well being and the use of the Laurel leaf when the economics of the area was down the tube.

    I have no knowledge of crown decoration to venture a guess as to Caesar's preference for the Laurel leaf crown - if the choice was a reflection of anything more than historians telling us that he did not leave his house without this crown of leaves since it helped to cover his balding head. The article I read said he was a snappy dresser, clean shaven with clean trimmed hair and preferred to hide his baldness with a forward combing and his laurel leaf crown.

    Interesting thought I have been having reading Shakespeare's Caesar - seems to me once you become firm in any value, regardless how honorable the value, you are in a static position. Protecting that value leaves you vulnerable to manipulation because we become so adamant that we are no longer open to another view point. Sort of a polarization by values - growth is change and a static view of a value leaves little room for change therefore can there be growth... - just musing here - books do this to me - I find they always have some bigger question to explore...

    March 15, 2003 - 04:02 am
    Well here we are, The Ides of March are come.

    The Ides of March (click to enlarge)

    First off, Jan, hahaah on your son, mine are nonplussed, they don't know what they are missing, do they? And here I am up too!

    I LOVE the Everyman series, love the little poem in the front about being your guide and by your side, and the ribbon, just bought one for Nicholas Nickelby.

    On the pirates? Caesar was a man of his word, wasn't he? They mocked and taunted him in captivity, and he boldly told them while they had him in chains, never mind, I'll crucify you for this, and they laughed. And he did, (and actually that adventure in itself, the entire enterprise, was quite an undertaking). Kidnapping is not a lot of fun apparently.

    I hadn't thought about an epitaph!! And it's the IDES!! Here's something slapped from the encyclopedia, jeepers:
    "Caesar was a "supreme virtuoso... great beyond—and even in conflict with—the requirements of his political ambition. He showed a human spiritual greatness in his generosity to defeated opponents, which was partly responsible for his assassination... he [is] a giant by comparison with the common run of human beings." Encyclopedia Britannica
    That's not a bad epitaph 2000 years later.

    I tell you what, I can find a better one, at the end maybe, Warsley says,
    "Julius Caesar is considered by many historians to have been, in natural talent, one of the most remarkable men that ever lived...He was military genius, an orator, a statesman, an historian, an astronomer, and engineer, a poet, a writer, and a grammarian."

    So he WAS a giant, Cassius was right: a Colossus, and note in this next scene how the mighty have fallen and the reactions of al the characters!

    ..Maryal quotes Brutus as saying, " Let's be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius."

    Well, there's another good intention. What went wrong, do you think? (Jan, on the Dante, and the Inferno, seen through the Christian symbolism you mentioned, the betrayer...There's something in some critique which points to this next scene and Brutus's movements as parallel to that of Judas, unfortunately I can't remember which parts are which, maybe we can piece it out!)

    (We probably need to look at what Brutus thinks he's sacrificing, too?)!??

    Jan, I LOVED this, "You'd never want him running the show, but boy he'd be good to have around if you were a Politician. He knows his people." OH good point, he does look "right through the deeds of men," Caesar was right. Why would you not want him running the show??


    That's a super point! Looks like Brutus doesn't want Cassius running the show, either. Brutus thinks his judgment is superior for some reason, I wonder if it's what Barb was saying about inflexibilty once you commit to a position, but he's the one who's been manipulated. Fascinating story, wonderful plot and characters and writing, what more could you want?

    Barbara, I think this is fabulous, (congratters again!) "once you become firm in any value, regardless how honorable the value, you are in a static position. Protecting that value leaves you vulnerable to manipulation because we become so adamant that we are no longer open to another view point."

    Now that's a super point we need to watch, in all of our characters in this Scene 1 today? I think this scene is very powerful, (in fact , let's face it, the whole thing up to this point has been moving very fast and boffo).

    But soft!!! Hahahaha In this scene, things are almost haywire, to me? ALL of the characters suddenly seem either to do or say strange things, this scene, to me, was a jolt. I know Shakespeare did this for a reason, what that reason IS at the moment eludes me, let's see what you all make of it!

    Coming right up, for your delectation, some thoughts to spur your interest, your submissions always solicited!!!

    The Ides of March are come.


    PS: Those of you with Netscape, does the heading above take too long to load?

    March 15, 2003 - 04:02 am

    For Your Consideration

    Week Three: March 15-22:

    Act III: Scene I

    The Ides of March
    "The Ides of March are come."
    "Ay, Caesar, but not gone."
  • 1."What touches us shall be last served." (III, i, 6)

  • As the procession moves to the temporary senate house the Conspirators are nervous (Cassius says he will kill himself if found out) and Caesar is besieged with suits.

  • Why doesn’t Caesar read the scroll that Artemidorus manages to slip into Caesar’s hand?
  • How does Shakespeare contrast the demeanor of each of the participants? What effect does this have on the viewer? Did Shakespeare do it as Marvelle has mentioned, to heighten the shock coming?
  • How does Caesar's refusal to look at what touches him personally illustrate the delicate balance between the public and private man. Is Shakespeare saying hubris caused his downfall?
  • What parallel can be seen in Brutus' decision to give the funeral oration?

  • 2.
    I could be well moved if I were as you,
    If I could pray to move, prayers would move me.
    But I am as 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 everyone doth shine;
    But there's but one in all doth hold his place. (III, i. 58-65)

  • Why does Caesar compare himself to the Northern Star?
  • What is ironic about this speech, in terms of what happens in this scene and at the end of the play?
  • Why would Shakespeare include this speech at this particular point in the play?

  • 3. "Et, tu, Brute" has to be the most quoted line in this or any play. What is significant about it??

  • 4. It would seem that the reaction from the senators and populace is not what the Conspirators expected. The Conspirators reassure what senators have not fled, but Trebonius reports "Men, wives, and children stare, cry out, and run
    As it were doomsday." (III, i, 108).

  • Why then would Brutus think that stooping and bathing (up to the elbows) in Caesar's blood might reassure them?
  • What possible motivations are shown in these remarks:
    "How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,
    That now on Pompey's basis lies along
    No worthier than the dust!" (Brutus, III, i, 129)
    "So oft as that shall be
    So often shall the knot of us be called
    The men that gave their country liberty!" (Cassius III,i. 132)
  • Has history rewarded these men with their wish? How is this assassination seen today?

  • 5. Antony delivers some of the most powerful speeches of the play.
  • What is your first impression of Mark Antony? He speaks quite a lot for someone who has hardly been in the play up to this point.
  • Does he really mean it when he tells the conspirators that he is ready to die? What on earth is he doing shaking the bloody hands of the conspirators?
  • Brutus says that Antony shall speak at the funeral, but that he will speak first. What plans does he have for his speech?
  • Why does Antony mark Trebonius with Caesar's blood? How does the blood on Antony's hands differ from that conferred by handshake to Terbonius?

    Oh pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
    That I am meek and gentle with these butchers.
    ...And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
    With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
    Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
    Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war." (III i, 280 ff)
  • Does this speech make Antony's intent clear? What is it?

  • 6. Why does Brutus agree, despite Cassius's misgivings, to allow Antony to speak? What was he thinking?

  • 7. How does Brutus handicap himself with this line: "Or else were this a savage spectacle?"

  • 8. What role do the plebeians, the populace, described in the opening scenes as "fickle," now begin to play? "Mob mentality" is a dangerous thing, especially with a crowd already proved fickle. Why would the Conspirators take any chance at all with it?

  • 9.. Brutus had earlier mentioned they would kill the spirit of Caesar (Anne), but Antony seems intent on calling it forth. In what ways in the coming scenes is Caesar's spirit mainfested?

    Questions ~ Act I Scene i

    Questions ~ Act I Scene ii

    Questions ~ Act II Scene i

    Questions ~ Act II Scenes ii, iii, iv

    Questions ~ Act III Scenes i

  • BaBi
    March 15, 2003 - 07:50 am
    A quick not to tell Barbara how much I enjoyed her post. Her point about how the tone of Caesar's speech to Decius could completely change it's interpretation was so right...and something I had never considered. I am suddenly aware of how many different ways Shakespeare's plays could be presented, depending on how the director and actor's saw the roles. ...Babi

    March 15, 2003 - 08:23 am
    My own quick note to tell GINNY that I don't see Brutus as being manipulated. He was looking for an honorable/public esteem way to get rid of Caesar and Cassius filled his purpose. I don't see the murder as honorable, neither does Cassius, but Brutus wants the Roman people to see it that way.


    March 15, 2003 - 08:32 am
    Babi!! Welcome here on the Ides with your house full of company, it wouldn't have been the Ides without you!!

    Ooo Marvelle, are you then saying that Brutus is too smart to be manipulated and so he was just using Cassius as an opportunity? That casts another light on him and on his actions in this next scene?

    What a point this morning!! Many thanks!


    March 15, 2003 - 08:45 am
    Anneof avonlea  remarks that Caesar achieved a modicum of immortality.  This AM when I turned on CNN, flashing across the bottom of the screen was this:  (paraphrased)
    Today is the Ides of March.  In 44 B.C. Julius Caesar was stabbed to death and Rome returned to war.
    Now, how cool are we?  Here we are studying the script and STILL talking about those bloody conspirators today.

    Barbara sees JC as wishing to be better than anyone around him.   Act III, scene I, 7 Caesar responds to Artemidorus plea to read a document with :

    "What touches us ourself shall be last serv'd" - did he mean that he is putting himself last?  Maybe, because of the portends he "knew" the news was not good.
    Ginny:  You said to print out JC and pictures for the plane.  Here, next week, I'll be flying in international air space carrying a Roman statemans picture, a brand new passport, tickets for Ireland,  Italian garlic breath and  Greek olive juice stains on my .  Whew!  From whence DID I come they'll ask.

    Riverside says:  ...The play is throughout beautifully bruilt, as in the fast-moving, variously lit passage from II.ii to III.i- the decision of Caesar to go to the Senate, Portia's anxiety, the tense minutes before the assassination, the arrival, large and menacing of Antony and finally of Octavius' messenger:  500 lines tightly written, describing one great dramatic curve, followed instantly by the next movement:

    March 15, 2003 - 08:45 am

    March 15, 2003 - 09:44 am
    Really puts you in the mood, doesn't it? Ginny has worked hard to find those pictures and Pat W to put them up.

    So it is now the Ides of March which have not yet gone. And Caesar will fall at the hands of those closest to him. And betrayal by, not one (Judas) but by many, including his "angel" Brutus. Ginny, yes I think that most people would recognize "Et tu, Brute" although they might very well not know where it came from. Same with "Beware the Ides of March."

    One of my favorite lines in this play is Antony's "Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war." I get such images from these lines. The dogs of war are large and snarly with very BIG teeth and huge powerful jaws. Once unleashed, the dogs will go after all in their paths, sort of like the Hounds of Hell. (The hounds of hell are from Milton's Paradise Lost).

    The dog imagery in this scene extends to Caesar himself who does not want his petitioner bowing and scraping to him like a SPANIEL (3.1. 44).

    Metellus Cimber presses his petition that his banished brother be pardoned, and Caesar responds:

    Be not fond
    To think that Caesar bears such rebel blood
    That will be thawed from the true quality
    With that which melteth fools--I mean, sweet words,
    Low-crooked curtsies, and base spaniel fawning.
    Thy brother by decree is banished.
    If thou dost bend and pray and fawn for him,
    I spurn thee like a cur out of my way.

    First the spaniel-like groveling before great Caesar, which Caesar does not fall for (compare Brutus's similar response to flattery) and then the dogs of assassination take Caesar down, and then, according to Antony the Dogs of War will be set loose. Lovely, just lovely.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 15, 2003 - 11:58 am
    Excerpt from In Memory of W. B. Yeats by Auden
    In the nightmare of the dark
    All the dogs of Europe bark,
    And the living nations wait,
    Each sequestered in its hate;

    Intellectual disgrace
    Stares from every human face,
    And the seas of pity lie
    Locked and frozen in each eye.

    March 15, 2003 - 01:26 pm
    for those dogs of Europe. The dogs are just abounding all over the place today.


    March 15, 2003 - 02:34 pm

    March 15, 2003 - 07:01 pm
    Can I say 'Happy Ides Of March" lol

    More to come tomorrow, I promise.

    March 15, 2003 - 11:30 pm
    The ritual sacrifice begun by the hooded conspirators in the garden is undone by Antony at the Capitol.

    In the garden Brutus took the hand of each man and said:

    "Let's be sacrificers, but not butchers .... We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar, And in the spirit of men there is no blood .... Let's carve him as a dish fit for the gods, not hew him as a carcass fit for the hounds." (Act II, i 179-187)

    This idea of a bloodless, ritual sacrifice is one of Brutus' delusions.

    At the Capitol the conspirators kneel ritually & respectfully, befitting the sacrifice, at Caesar's feet (and this is horrible hypocrisy for there is nothing respectful or fitting about murder). Then Casca stabs Caesar in the back and then the others stab until Caesar, the mortal man, is dead.

    IMO Brutus gets the sickening idea of murder as public sacrifice -- for the Republic's benefit -- by having each man bathe their arms in Caesar's blood. Then all the conspirators can think to do is brandish their blood red swords in the streets, shouting empty slogans.

    The irony here is that they didn't sacrifice, bloodlessy, the spirit of Caesar but instead killed Caesar the man in a bloody massacre.

    Antony undoes the sacrifice in subtle ways when he first faces the murderers over Caesar's body. He praises Brutus but in comparison to Caesar: "Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and honest; Caesar was mighty, bold, royal, and loving. Say, I love Brutus, and I honor him; Say I feared Caesar, honored him, and loved him." (Act III i 141-4) Brutus cannot compare to Caesar in Antony's ironic flattery.

    Every sentence of Antony hammers home the bloody murder of Caesar by these other men. As Brutus in the garden took the conspirator's hands to seal the sacrifice of Caesar; now Antony reverses Brutus' conceit of ritual sacrifice by taking each man's hand -- "Let each man render me his bloody hand" (Act III i 201) -- and calling each by name. This Antony does to mark the murderers with the naming I believe; he will not forget who they are and what they did and they will soon realize this. This is Antony's own ritual to reverse Brutus' imaginary sacrifice to the butchery it actually was. Antony convinces Brutus, through mock flattery of appeal to his nobleness, to allow a funeral oration. We, the audience, know that Antony plans revenge. Alone with Caesar's body he says:

    "O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth, that I am meek and gentle with these butchers. Thou art the remains of the noblest man that ever lived in the tide of times. Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!" (Act III i 280-4)

    The entire scene 'reeked and smoked' of blood and unclean hands... so different from Brutus' waking dream in the meteor-lit garden of conspirators.

    Is anyone else besides me having trouble talking about this scene?

    This is a long post because I'm having difficulty with the topic. I didn't think it would be this hard to address. Hopefully, with a few initial posts we all can respond to this section of the play. I mainly addressed the conspirators' false sacrifice with Antony destroying that 'noble' idea and revealing it as the ugly murder it is.


    March 16, 2003 - 05:32 am
    Marvelle, this scene makes me dislike Brutus. It seems that he is justifying a bloody act. Self justification, to me, seems terribly destructive because if a person can find a just reason for all of their actions, what is it that they won't do? Brutus proves this. He seems to have a good reason for every single step that he takes. I have no pity for Brutus. He has only made me feel sympathetic towards Ceasar.

    Maybe, it's that "honour" thing that is a part of Brutus. Because of his past ancestors, he can not accept the fact that he has taken part in such a bloody deed. Does Brutus fear that he has disappointed his ancestors? Maybe, this is why he shows the attitude of self justification. Brutus knows he will have to live with himself and Portia days and years after the dirty deed is done.

    I am not sure that I understand Antony. Marvelle, I am going to read your post over because I feel that you have a better understanding of him.

    Barbara, thank you for the poem.

    March 16, 2003 - 05:38 am
    This IS a difficult section of the play and I appreciate you and Maryal starting us out, Marvelle, so MUCH to discuss in these few pages!! YAY Hats for starting us out too! We are posting together, good on you!!

    Thank you all for the nice remarks, I wanted to do something commemorative yesterday, and I think we succeeded here.

    This week we have to do Acts III and IV by SATURDAY!! and right where we are is some of the finest and most beautiful writing Shakespeare ever did, let's finish this page of thoughts today if we can and move on to "THE SPEECH" tomorrow!

    But I hate to tell you all we're going to need EVERY ONE OF YOU to help us get to and through Act s IV and V! Why do I say that? Because Marvelle mentioned earlier that it's amazing how many times, for a man who has not appeared much in the play, the play focuses on Caesar.

    The whole play has seemed to revolve around him, we have talked about him, focused ON him, he's the star, he's A star, and just to be sure nobody misses it, Shakespeare has him SAY he's as constant as the Northern Star (why?? Why does he say that and 3 minutes later lie gone on the floor? He's not fixed and unwavering, he's dead?) He's gone, right?

    This is only one of my crazy theories, now, but I note a huge shift in act IV from the preceding acts. Gone is the focus, the power. Act IV jolts us back being in what some people call , "A Difficult Shakespeare. Play, " (Now don't scream fans of Shakespeare, help us undertand it!) ~ It suddenly seems hard to read, and you almost need a translator (I do) (that's why I'm so grateful for all of YOU! We hve YOU!) ...and the power of the scenes is much diminished in scope, exemplified by the fabulous "Did too...did not....DID!.......NOT!!! " squabble scene, I love that. Like two little boys.

    Why am I talking about Act IV in the midst of such powerful stuff? Because I think the switch (my opinion only) is deliberate. (Makes you appreciate this section more)

    I think Shakespeare in this contrast has done a brilliant job in showing us how the Roman world felt bereft of their polar star., look what they have left, squabbles on every front from every person, pettiness, struggles for power, (13 actual years of Civil War not mentioned)....But we here still get to glory in the aftermath of glorious writing, while the body cools, at least.

    OK, let's turn, we Romans, like the Roman people had to do and look at what we have left? How are we to understand Brutus here in this rich panoply of emotion and writing? Try to put yourself in his shoes. He's done what he thought had to be done, the word "sacrifice," as Maryal pointed out and Marvelle does so well, has been used? He's sacrificed his friend for his love of country.

    Why does he keep making such bad decisions? Why on earth does he think that fickle mob will hear? I got caught in a mob in Rome this past summer and will say that's the last place you want to be if any emotion other than "I need a Pepsi" is in the air?It's really frightening, but he may not have known about mob mentality?

    All I can think of is he's convinced he's done the right thing and if people could just HEAR, they'd agree, but the smearing up to their elbows in blood when the people are running scared to death, I'm stumped. In some ways it does remind you of something called "blooding" when a hunter kills his first deer.

    Do any of you, Marvelle has started us off, have ANY rationalization of what he could be thinking of with the "Stoop, Romans Stoop!" things, why he agrees to let Anony speak, what Antony is doing shaking hands with the conspirators and why he took care to mark Trebonius, we need to watch and see what happens to Trebonius, isn't he the one who led Antony off? Why did Caesar not read Artemidoris's suit, was that "what touches us shall be less served," grandiose for the crowd by Shakespeare's design, or did Caesar mean it?

    A merry go round of potent stuff, grab ONE ring, do help us out, we need YOUR thoughts? Pick a card, any card (er....the Topics are in yellow near the flashing yellow sign in the heading), give it a GO, and hang ON!!

    Let's hear from all of you!! Do NOT hang back and worry that YOUR POV is not the "right" one, it never bothers me not to be "right??" It's all of our combined perspectives which make it SING! hahahaahaha Say what you think and we'll all learn from each other.


    March 16, 2003 - 07:05 am
    I had to come in and make this note before the scene shifts.

    Caesar's words: "These couchings and these lowly coutesies might fire the blood of ordinary men." And, "But I am constant as the northern star, of whose true-fix'd and resting quality there is no fellow in the firmament." Finally, "Hence, will thou lift up Olympus?"

    What could he have more likely to confirm his assassins in their opinion. He is saying there is no one like himself; he is superior to all "ordinary men". He is Olympus compared to other men. That did it; have at him!

    Nowadays, if we heard someone talking like that, we would urge commitment for psychiatric examination. ...Babi

    March 16, 2003 - 07:20 am
    Babi- that's an interesting posture to take. "Wilt thou lift up Olympus?" I took that to mean the mountain in Greece, itself. I thought he was talking to Cimbar, who he's told "I spurn thee like a cur out of my way". Hey Cimbar, quit begging, what are you trying to do lift the mountain itself? Brutus then interjects and asks for Cimber's freedom and JC will have no part of that-- he, the great one, remains unmoved by their pleas. "..I was constant that Cimber should be banished and constant do remain to keep him so.".

    March 16, 2003 - 07:40 am
    ALF, I would say Caesar is definitely saying attempting to move him from his position is like trying to move Olympus. He has already compared himself to the Northern Star, and states that he is the only man he knows who "unassailable holds on his rank, unshaked of motion". This has seemed to me to be why he refers to himself in the third person. In his own mind he has grown larger than life. ..Babi

    March 16, 2003 - 11:02 am
    We have decided to spend this week on Act 3 (since it has so much to discuss) and then read Acts 4 and 5 next week.

    Babi--Yes, Caesar seems to me to be comparing himself to Mt Olympus, which will not be moved. He has, as you point out, already said that he is the North Star, the one star that does not move and by which sailors of old took their navigation points.

    Caesar is surely being pompous at the wrong time. I wonder what would have happened if he had granted Cimber's petition to pardon his brother?

    I think it would have made no difference, since the petitioner KNOWS that Caesar won't grant it; he is merely keeping Caesar busy while the assassins take their places.


    March 16, 2003 - 11:05 am
    What would have happened if he had said, Senators, I have an annoucement to make, I've decided to retire and go live in the country, you need to hold elections?


    March 16, 2003 - 11:55 am
    I'm just going to retire and turn the government over to. . . er, let's see, Octavius is still a boy. Cassius can't be trusted. Hmmm. How about another triumvirate? Nope, that didn't work out to well.

    I am Caesar. Can't retire until Octavius is old enough to replace me.

    But the very idea that ANYONE could replace Great Caesar.

    On second thought, I'm not going to retire just yet.

    Now, Cimba, what was that petition you were pressing on me?

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 16, 2003 - 11:59 am
    The scene took all the air out of my body...and not the image of the stabbing...

    All I want to do is repeat and repeat Auden's words
    In the nightmare of the dark
    All the dogs of Europe bark,
    And the living nations wait,
    Each sequestered in its hate;

    Intellectual disgrace
    Stares from every human face,
    And the seas of pity lie
    Locked and frozen in each eye.

    "In the nightmare of their dark" in their effort towards secrecy and exclusivity they assumed more of the senators would be with them and would all "Bark" the war cry in celebration that they, the infamous 12, took the plunge and plunged their knives for Liberty! Freedom! Tyranny is dead!

    They were each "sequestered in their individual hate" that they used their "Intellect to their own disgrace" as all the People and senators were afraid, created a tumult, "And the seas of pity lie Locked and frozen in each eye" so that they had to protect themselves and their deed by standing together. My own thoughts quickly went to "At what price freedom" but then I have 2000 years of history, literature and other men's bravery to call on.

    This scene of them not getting the reaction they imagined was for me like they, the event, the day, forever more noted by the least educated as the Ides of March, rather than being a day celebrating a successful coup or revolution was a miss-calculated blot on the virtue, honor, courage of mankind.

    Upon protecting themselves they must continue an effort to calm others that they intend no harm - they are not heroes but the feared enemy - they must justify their deed by washing in the blood.

    They now have fallen beyond the pale therefore anyone not within the conspiracy is suspect. Anthony shows them his fearless nature not only in saying he was prepared to die but also, by not cringing from them and their act, he first acknowledges their wisdom and allows them their dis-honor (represented by the blood on the hands) Antony faces their dis-honor down like a superior general who does not think in terms of such behavior, which is how I see his shaking their bloody hands.

    Antony is also a realist - his Caesar is dead - he can honor and praise him but he still must live with the conspirators therefore let them explain "This savage spectacle."

    And still the manipulation goes on as the funeral speeches are choreographed - the death of Caesar does not change the overall issue of how best to govern. How best to give what impression so that the vast numbers will have the impression the few hope to create.

    Sorry but I am not looking forward to spending a lot of time discussing this scene - my heart is so far to the floor as I read this that for the first time my hands have no strength as I type...for such nobility to go so wrong before our eyes is unfortunately what I think happens to most planned out crimes that are supposed to be cure-alls...rather then cure they open a hole in the psyche of mankind that we all fall through.

    It all seems facinating as the preperations are planned and weighed but the deed does not bring glory but rather the sounds of hounds baying after a kill. Hounds now feared...Where is our own dog and is it capable of being a killing hound...

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 16, 2003 - 12:22 pm
    Oh my - I finally had the courage to finish reading the scene and I see that Shakespeare says it so much better than I through the voice of Antony in his soliloquy “O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,” with one caveat - as Shakespeare says Italy, an identifiable earthly land, I see this as the wounding and cursing of men with a civil war in the landscape of the collective souls of men forever more...

    March 16, 2003 - 12:29 pm
    Maryal, "Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war..." just sends chills up & down every time I read it. Especially true now, since I have godsons nearing draft age and this current Bush (who has never experienced the battlefield) seems determined to send our country into war tomorrow. Odds are that it won't be a fast and dirty raid, but quite prolonged and quite expensive on many, many levels. Have one of the g'sons & his sister here for weekend (arrived yesterday) Will try to catch up on posts & add some later tonight. Prayer for today is "Dona nobis pacem", even though it sounds as if that will be quite unlikely. Things look about as optimistic for us in the immediate future as they did for Rome, the conspirators etc. after Caesar's murder. Little boys still playing power trips. Has much changed?

    March 16, 2003 - 12:39 pm
    Just suppose Caesar had a stroke and DID say he was retiring? (I know that's the last thing on his mind: he had too many plans as I've listed earlier that he had waited too long to get the chance to do, ( GREAT point on thinking of the suceession, Maryal!) He was in the catbird's seat at last: the top of the mountain). But what IF he said he was? Would the Conspirators have continued anyway?

    That's my question for myself today, and it speaks to their real motivation?Would anything he said (other than "Guards, arrest these men!)" have stopped them?


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 16, 2003 - 01:39 pm
    I do not even think it would take his retiring or having a stroke Ginny - I think if he was willing to continue the Republic and could give a sense of assurance that he believed in the Republic - even continue to be one of the triumverate governing Rome and that he was not attempting to make his son the next sole power - none of this would have happened.

    We learned in the first scene the people had recently loved and honored Pompey therefore it would have been easy to promote his value continuing that love along with a new member to replace (I never get his name correct) Cassas (the wealthy one that died).

    P.S. I do think once the die was cast there was no turning back for any of them - I also think if Caesar had taken himself out of the limelight and retired leaving the position open for debate or for Rome to continue as a Republic, the group would have disbanded. Of course we could re-write the story or history and had Caesare die in other circumstances even at the hands of this group but not in the house of government which even then symbolized something akin to a shrine - a shrine to Freedom and Liberty.

    March 16, 2003 - 02:00 pm
    He suggested that very thing to Pompey, Barb, (in real life which may not be fair to bring in) that they meet as equals when he came to the Rubicon and the Senate even voted that was the way it should be?

    But that did not happen.

    (I think Pompey misjudged there, and I think HE is the one who actually caused the end of the Republc, but I also see your point. Pompey surely didn't help).

    Alas Pompey is gone now in the play, and...I'm not sure of the timeline here, it's very confusing to me, Shakespeare has condensed a lot of time here, The Victory over Pompey's sons at Munda was in 45BC on March 17 (!!??) and our events take place in 44, also in March.

    I hear what you're saying, if he had said oh let's have several to share the power, I hear you, I guess he was tired of the clueless, maybe he thought that "having amnestied his opponents wholesale and [given] a number of them responsible positions in his new regime" he had done his part in sharing.

    I asked the question originally because I think they were going to do it anyway, regardless? It may be a moot point, hahaha, but it interests me, and I wondered if anybody else was thinking about the Conspirators in that light.

    I believe I know why Brutus let Antony speak, but I have no clue why he thought bathing up to the elbows in blood would calm the populace. What did you make of that, Barb?

    There are two other things here in Brutus I'm not sure fit in with the noble honorable Republican:

  • "So are we Caesar's friends, that have abridged
    His time of fearing death." (III,i,116-117). I thought that was kind of snide, and unnecessary coming from somebody who has just helped give somebody 23 stab wounds. Caesar, as Shakespeare took pains to point out, did not fear death. So what is this here for?
  • "How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,
    That now on Pompey's basis [lies] along
    No worthier than the dust!" (III, i, 129).

    "No worthier than the dust," sounds to me as if it's personal, and not the sacrifice of a friend for a country? Or is it? Is this just testosterone flowing here, the adrenaline running?

    Good play, isn't it? Good discussion, too.

    more anon, am getting the tax stuff together and wanted some tax relief, I HOPE to see thee at Phillipi!

    Or however you spell it hahaahaha

  • Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 16, 2003 - 02:14 pm
    That to me is the saddness - the utter sadness - like a baptism of their deed which they now must justify - had they represented the people, had this been a revolution rather than a private exclusive mens-club coup this would not be the event that to me has opened the gaping wound of humanity.

    March 16, 2003 - 02:50 pm
    I'm too tired to do much right now, I was up at four this morning and late to bed last night. I just want to say I'd like to get Brutus and shake the living daylights out of him! How could someone in Public Office be so dense! I can't believe he actually thought he was justifying his actions to the Populace OR Antony.

    Caesar's failings might be an unshakeable belief in himself, but honestly I think Brutus has the same problem. Cassius knows! He knows the problems they face, and the danger Antony can be to them. His dilemma is that he badly needs Brutus's credibility, to pull this whole thing off. He HAS to let Brutus do things his own way, or risk losing him altogether. He's thinking, just let us jolly him along, and fingers crossed, we'll make it.

    The washing hands in blood seems to me to be an outward sign of we're all in this together. Brutus thinking, they'll see we all agree, this many people can't be wrong. Antony has great control, great thinking on his feet. He could have given in to emotion and blown his chances.

    Ginny, I didn't get a poem and a bookmark in my Everyman. Just straight into Shakespeare's Bio. on page 1.

    On Good Morning Australia(ABC Radio) yesterday, Macca was talking about Shakespeare and how we quote him so many times without realizing it. He gave lots of examples, the first being our very own "It's all Greek to me." Did you hear it Anne?

    Today, 17th. of March is the anniversary of Caesar's battle against Pompey's sons at Munda in 45BC, I think. Also the death of someone, a Caesar? Was there a Caesar Aurelius?

    I love the posts here before mine, I can't say enough how much I've gained from reading everyones views.


    March 16, 2003 - 05:04 pm
    Caesar, 'I'm retiring to the country to raise cabbages.' Brutus kills him then asks 'Huh? What'd ya say?'

    I don't think Caesar's retirement would have stopped Brutus who was slow to make up his mind and who stubbornly clung to his decisions no matter what. Brutus' motive is to earn the public reputation of his ancestor, Super Brutus, and he wouldn't be deterred by anything Caesar could have said or done. Certainly the liberal granting of pardons didn't stay the conspirators daggers.

    GINNY, the correlation between the blooding of a hunter following his/her first kill with that of Brutus and co-conspirators bathing their arms in Caesar's blood is right-on IMO. Both are public marks of 'now you've earned your right to be called a man', that sort of thing. Brutus may have thought he was marking himself as Super Brutus II. What a serious miscalculation on Brutus' part but it is excellent theatre for Shakespeare with more shock value to show that the sacrifice was really a butchery.

    BARB, that was the line that I found most affecting especially when contrasted with Brutus' line:

    "O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth...." (Act 3.1:280) Antony mourning.

    "[Caesar dead] no worthier than the dust!" (Act 3.1:129) Brutus

    March 16, 2003 - 06:11 pm
    I was interrupted in post 380 and forgot to sign off. Oh well.

    JAN, I agree with you assessment of Brutus and Cassius. Cassius knows what's important to Brutus and that Brutus must have his way or else he could walk. I also could see Cassius changing his mind about Caesar's death if Caesar said he was retiring from public life but don't believe Caesar would have retired.

    Will try to sign on again late tonight to discuss this section of the play. It's so overpowering emotionally that it's hard for me to talk about.


    March 16, 2003 - 07:31 pm
    I finaly read Act II! Now what act are we supposed to be discussing? lol I will quickly read Act III and IV before my next comments. Some random thoughts:

    Shakespeare has Caesar use the term "graybeards" meaning the old men of the senate. Does anyone know when this term came to use?

    I had forgotten that it is Ceasar that says

    "Cowards die many times before their deaths;

    The valiant never taste of death but once.

    Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,

    It seems to me most strange that men should fear;

    Seeing that death, a necessary end,

    Will come when it will come."
    To me this is a very important quote. It gives insight to how Caesar could go into so many battles, he claims to not fear death. The Roman's didn't believe in an afterlife (heaven) or did they? However, the Elizabethans sure did believe in heaven and hell! Is it hell that makes people fear death?
    Tonight on the news they showed many of the soliders praying and straightening out stuff with the chaplans. The possibility of going into 'action' maakes a person confront themselves. With the number of battles Caesar fought in, he sure must of learned what he was made of.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 17, 2003 - 12:31 am
    Been ruminating - wonder where we came up with the idea that one person is to blame for a catastrophic event.

    I look at this and if we blame Brutus then we are saying the virtues of Freedom and Liberty are not worth protecting at all costs, nor fighting for when they are being threatened -

    If we then go to the concept that Brutus was more about saving his place in society by proving himself more worthy than past family members then we are saying his personal desires are the impetus for his actions - But then we could also say, that Caesar wanted to prove he could play and govern with the big boys, having come from the wrong side of the track so to speak and therefore his impetus was also personal - these two men were really the opposite sides of a coin, both having a family past to set right.

    It took awhile - I think I finally figured out what drove Caesar on - on a similar level as Brutus’ drive toward Freedom and Liberty expressed through the Republic rather than in a Kingdom with a sole ruler.

    It hit me, Rome had achieved in over 200 years of war the zenith in Power, land, wealth. Caesar was a wining general achieving for the State the largest land holdings as well as his own great wealth. It would be logical to think that with each personal success he could imagine building his own personal success like a North Star or to match the North Star that was Rome - the power of Rome known throughout the western world. He had the brains and charisma to break barriers that others had never even tried to break. Why not go all the way and prove that a man could keep going just as Rome kept going.

    Then of course there are those because we know the outcome of these event in March use hindsight to say they should have left things as they were, Rome continued with 600 years of Caesars.

    Another bit comes into my mix - the current world scene - it is so easy to see aspects of the characters in this play in the characterizations of some of the players in our current world scene. It is then too easy to get wound up comparing what happened in this Play as an omen of what will happen to the leaders we have assigned to these various parts. And more, I find it interesting that many in their sincere upsetment have likened Saddam to Hitler and pre WWII and there are just as many others who are also bringing up Hitler saying President Bush is like Hitler...and so I am thinking we may each have assigned different characters in this play to different current world players.

    I am also thinking on another, maybe more appropriate, phase in our history. We have had some North Stars in "John, Robert and Martin." Seems to me that in the cases of John and Martin there were some backroom planners - the difference - we did not see all those involved in the planning on stage and the other biggie in my mind is there is a difference in being shot down while on TV while in a public place as compared to being stuck with knives by those in government closest to you and in the very shrine of Liberty and Freedom.

    But more - what this does say to me is North Stars are never allowed by the greater society to reach the heavens. We admire them and they bring us further on the road to our own greatness but it is as if they are out on a tether and we cannot in mass follow them as quickly so either the tether is cut or the Star is killed.

    I can now understand and even accept the paper that suggested Caesar like Jesus - both North Stars and both had to be killed because they were taking us too far too fast. What Brutus wanted would have slowed Caesar so that he would be within a Constellation rather than a North Star. I think Caesar was only thinking he, an individual man, could achieve the kind of greatness that was the greatness of Rome and it would never have crossed his mind to be part of a constellation.

    What I got out of all this is, if we can blame someone for what makes us uncomfortable we can distance ourselves from the act by demonizing the one blamed, who of course we could say, has nothing in common with ourselves. I also think if we can blame someone we then think we can put in place systems so that someone could not do that again. In other words we can try to control the future.

    I’m thinking in our hearts and minds walk into the painfilled event, feel the horror and realize we could not prevent all the details that made it happen - AND we CANNOT control the future, either events or other people; this is what happens sometimes.

    There are many ways to look at the same set of circumstances; because not everyone shares what we each value most, at any time we can be creating a collision course. There is absolutely nothing we can do to stop it. As much as we want to push and shove people and events into boxes so that we can feel safe, we cannot eliminate differences. Maybe all we can do is as Caesar, learn not to fear, fear.

    March 17, 2003 - 06:05 am
    Barbara, what a beautiful post, I loved this: What I got out of all this is, if we can blame someone for what makes us uncomfortable we can distance ourselves from the act by demonizing the one blamed,
    I'm on my way out of town to get my car at the shop (dealer is in another city) (thank God for AAA towing 100 miles, huh?) anyway, when I get back I hope to address ALL of your splendid points!!

    (GINNY ANN, HEY!!!! We're looking only at ACT III this week and we're now moving into Scens 2, the powerful speech, while at the same time Scene 1 is open for comments (see flashing yellow NEW above and the yellow questions link, click on it for more!!) I like your greybeard question!!!

    This morning let's look at THE SPEECH while still musing over Scene 1, here's something that might jump start us off:

    The first part of the Antony question on our Topics Page is an excellent point? Who IS this Antony, he's certainly blabby. He's played almost no role to date and fled to his house, now he sends word he'd like audience.

    I think that took guts? Would YOU have? Everybody left in fear, even Cicero fled, but here Antony is saying I want to come back. What a sight must have greeted him! They're literally covered with blood. Holy Cow.

    That took guts, especially since Cassius as we know was none too eager for him to live.

    But Brutus is starting out well in his new regime, he says, we'll ALL have a part, Antony, you too. I can see him saying to Cassius, we'll ALL have a part, with sort of a stern look.

    But here we really need the North Plutarch text because Shakespeare veers violently off the real history: Brutus did speak briefly to the crowd, and they stood silent. I regret I can't get the North Translation to load this morning but Dryden's Plutarch relates this: (it's important to see what Shakespeare did differently, so we can figure out what he intended to say in the play?)

    "When Caesar was dispatched, Brutus stood forth to give a reason for what they had done, but the senate would not hear him, but flew of doors in all haste and filled the people with so much alarm and distraction, that some shut up their houses, others left their counters and shops. All ran one way or the other.

    The day after Brutus with the rest [they had marched thru the streets that afternoon calling to people to come join them, and a few did, to their eventual doom] came down from the capitol and made a speech to the people, who listened without expressing either any pleasure or resentment, but showed by their silence that they pitied Caesar and respected Brutus... [The senate took measures to reconcile all parties, ordered Caesar to be worshipped as a god, and nothing, no matter of the slightest consequence, should be revoked that he had begun. At the same time Brutus "and his followers," were given command of the provinces. "So that all the people now thought things were well settled, and brought to the happiest adjustment."]

    But when the will was read all hell broke out among the PEOPLE.

    And the most startling point of all is...... there WAS no Antony playing a role? Giving a speech at this point, not in the Plutarch or the Suetonius, In Edit: not till the funeral a week later (hindsight is always the best sight? hahaahah)

    That entire fabulous speech was entirely Shakespeare, the question is Why use Antony as a pivot for the crowd?

    ANTONY, what is ANTONY's role in this great speech that almost everybody has heard,and what part does the fickle crowd suddenly play again?

    I was moved yesterday to see, Barb, that you really were affected I think by the scene and Marvelle says the same, and I think it's a great thing when literature comes alive, I've felt the same way.

    I think Shakespeare knew that the crowd needed more push and he knew the will turned them totally against Brutus and his conspirators and THAT is why Shakespeare had Brutus allow Antony to speak, Brutus really thought Antony, having been Caesar's friend, would seal the affections of the crowd. Isn't it ironic, that's just what Cassius and Co. thought Brutus would do for them. I'm not sure we can blame Brutus here entirely for that decision but I AM surprised that they LEFT THE STAGE and the scene and (that's most unCassius like) left it to Antony with no interruption, that was not too smart, either? Does that mean Brutus is too trusting? Cassius isn't? Does their having left the stage to Antony mean Brutus has taken total control of this new Order?

    Some WONDERFUL points you raised yesterday, just wanted to move on to the SPEECH, back anon after the car is picked up (assuming it will run home?) hahahaha ANDREA Andrea when do you leave? We will miss you!! Hats, Jan, Anne, Marvelle, Babi, not foregtting you, just out of time, wanted to jump start today if possible, say ON and help us all out!

    Am late, but wanted to touch base!


    March 17, 2003 - 06:32 am
    Ginny, in re Antony: this isn't the only case of Shakespeare taking an historical event & using it as the basis of a fictional piece. He also did this with Romeo & Juliet. Took the factual story of two feuding Italian merchant families, and created main characters of R & J & set them in the middle of that loosely parallel setting. Our Willie is again playing fast & loose w/ historic facts w/ Marc Antony. For some reason, he's always been more of a major character? catalyst? a key to Shakespeare's voice or take on power for me (I'm fishing for something here & haven't nailed it yet) than either Caesar or Brutus. One thing's for sure as you point out: Antony is in this play for a reason. meg

    March 17, 2003 - 06:51 am
    MegR, that is so interesting. I did not realize that there was any truth to the story of Romeo and Juliet.

    For me, so many of Barbara's posts have been really helpful. In one BARBARA wrote,

    "for such nobility to go so wrong before our eyes is unfortunately what I think happens to most planned out crimes that are supposed to be cure-alls...rather then cure they open a hole in the psyche of mankind that we all fall through."

    Barbara, I am going to write this down in my book journal. WOW!!!

    March 17, 2003 - 07:31 am
    Ginny asks, "Who is this Antony?"

    First, we shouldn't be surprised to learn, as Ginny points out, that there was no Marc Antony at Caesar's funeral orations. This isn't unusual with Shakespeare. He frequently lifted or borrowed some historic bit and used it as the framework or background for a story that he wanted to tell. These are Shakespeare's Julius, Brutus, Cassius & Marc Antony - not historical figures. Our Willie did the same thing with Hamlet, with Romeo & Juliet and a number of others that escape me. In R & J, Shakespeare "borrowed" the historic tale of two feuding merchant families in Italy. He used them as the backdrop setting in which to plop his two creations of R. Montague & J. Capulet. There was no evidence of either of these two kids' existence in real life. They came to life via our Willie's imagination. He's again using "history" here to tell his own story and and to make his own points - as he's doing with Antony.

    Who is Shakespeare's Antony? Well, from what we've seen so far, we know that he has been favored by Caesar who considered him a friend. Antony and Calpurnia are at Caesar's side the very first time that we see Julius in this play just before the Lupercalia race. Antony is the one Caesar chose to touch his wife so she'd become pregnant. Antony is also the one who offered the crown to Julius three times - soooooo, Shakespeare's Antony must be a man of stature & power himself because: 1.) he is aligned with Caesar, 2.) he is able to publically offer the crown to Julius - (seeminly without fear of public reprisals) 3.) he is feared by Cassius. During the planning meetings, Cassius quickly offers Antony's name to start a list of others to be assassinated. Cassius is the one who makes sure that Trebonius removes Antony from the scene when the conspirators are getting ready to kill Caesar so that Antony cannot come to Caesar's aid. Cassius is also the one who objects to Antony being allowed to take charge of Caesar's funeral & eulogy. Finally 4.) Brutus considers Antony to be a valuable ally when B asks A to join with them to build the new future (whatever that will be).

    We also see, especially in this Act, that Antony is loyal to his friend - even though he mouths platitudes to the conspirators. As someone already mentioned, Antony names and shakes the bloody hands of each conspirator to mentally add each man to his get-revenge list. He even makes a point of seeking out Trebonius. Trebonius, for Antony, is as guilty of murder as the others - even though he was not present for the actual murder because he was waylaying Antony.

    Antony is also exceptionally bright and canny. Yes, he flees to his house when he learns of the assassination. Makes sense to me - especially if you don't know HOW things stand. Yes! It did take "guts" for him to not only request an audience, but to actually show up in front of the conspirators. He plays the role of the confused, grief-stricken man well. I'm not saying that he merely feigns emotion here. I do think Antony genuinely grieves for Caesar, BUT - (and I think it's a testament to him) Antony is still able to think clearly, coldly and rationally and to plan - in spite of his emotions. Unlike the conspirators who don't see it, - we get to see his subtext to his initial speeches to the Cassius & Brutus boys. Antony "scopes out the competition". He seems to play their game by taking a bit of Caesar's blood from each as he shakes their hands. He plays at being one of them, he plays at being a sympathizer to their cause - while he plans to avenge his good buddy who lies dead at his feet. Granted that both Brutus & Cassius are bright guys on their own terms - but have the feeling that neither of them is able to look at things as coldly, objectively and rationally as Antony does. Brutus' thinking/motivations are colored by his need to be "honorable"; Cassius' thinking/ motivations are colored and ruled by his tangible jealousy and hatred of Caesar. Each of these two men, even though I suspect that each would deny it, allow emtions to taint the rationality (or irrationality as the case may be) of their thinking and actions. On the other hand, Antony is able to maintain a clear objectivity - inspite of his emotions in these first two scenes. He has more self-control, self-discipline than either Brutus or Cassius. Antony seems to me to be the conscience of the play so far.

    March 17, 2003 - 07:36 am
    Apologies for repeat of info on Shakespeare's use of factual to frame one of his stories. I didn't think the first post went thru. Thought I lost it on my end before it even made it out to cyber space! meg

    March 17, 2003 - 08:35 am
    Does Antony not prove Brutus' point that Caesar had to go.Antony was nothing and yet he rises from Caesars Ashes. Does he love Caesar so?

    How is it that he was so unaware before the murder and yet so fast to take advantage.Canny, downright devious I think.Had Brutus had half his nous, he would have protected his own position way more.

    Since he (Antony) sent the servant in to test the water, why is this courage. He made the conspirators speak that he was welcome, and then came in.Methinks the servant was the one in danger, had he not returned to Antony we may not have seen him so brave.

    No doubt Shakespeare wanted us admiring Antony, his oratory is poignant, arousing emotions and stirring plebians and audiences to his cause.Antony's cause in my view was to further Shakespeares belief that here indeed, in Caesar, was a hero, a man to be ever remembered.

    Antony continually uses the word honourable, devalueing it with over useage, untill we find it difficult to see honour in any of this.

    Lastly as for how ones emotions were wrenched by this dreadful deed I can only quote my absolutely favourite words from this play


    March 17, 2003 - 08:40 am
    ANNE, we were posting at the same time. Do you think then that Shakespeare used Antony to be his own editorial voice? About his being brave or not brave -- I'd have to think about that.

    Caesar, Brutus and Cassius and quite accurate depictions rather than "Shakespeare's" anything. It is only "Shakespeare's Antony" whose actions diverge from the historical Antony.

    Shakespeare stuck closely to Plutarch's Lives except for Antony and for that we have to ask why? What was Shakespeare's purpose in changing Antony's actions and adding to his role?

    This is where knowing the history as reported by North's Plutarch's Lives can help because, as Ginny says, Shakespeare changed events involving Antony for a reason. The rest of the characterizations are quite true to life but Antony is now Shakespeare's Antony.


    March 17, 2003 - 08:48 am
    in Macbeth which goes "under him my genius is rebuked" I think Shakespeare is telling us this in Caesar as well, that under real greatness it is impossible for lesser men, who may normally be great to shine.We see it so much in life that people are born in the same era, with potential and ambition, which goes unheralded.

    Brutus and Mark Antony could never have fulfilled their ambitions against a living Caesar.Brutus chose Aggressive action, Antony seized his opportunity.

    March 17, 2003 - 09:12 am
    It is probably irritating to historical scholars, but I honestly dont consider history in my appraisal.One because history has never been my forte, and English is, two...history stops me from searching for the meaning in the words. In the end this is foremost an entertainment,for me, at least.

    Plutarchs history after all is coloured by his bias, as is everything written. I sincerely believe that William Shakespeare admired Julius Caesar and also had a view that standout people stifle others, for good or ill, I know not.

    It seems to me that you, and some of the others, have this wonderful capacity to take in the background and find truth in there......For me there is no right or wrong, I started a plebian and will finish one, closer looking though at some of yours and others posts led me to a passion for Julius the man........This was not an easy movement for me, I had long held the view that Caesar was a boorish brute of a man.Yet this evening reading 3 with the kids I was moved to tears, at the hideous death.Not because of historical facts, but because I am at last grown up enough to do what the folio edition suggested.......... I have read him and now understand him, and as a consequence like him.

    March 17, 2003 - 11:19 am
    Antony's speech makes me more aware of the relationship between Ceasar and Brutus. I get the idea that Ceasar and Brutus were like best friends. Antony calls Brutus "Ceasar's Angel." Until Antony's speech, I did not realize the intimacy that Brutus shared with Ceasar. I must have missed it in earlier acts and scenes of the play.

    Antony's speech moves me, if possible, more than the actual murder. With the murder, I could control what pictures entered my mind. So, I did not choose to see the bloody knives and hands.

    There is nothing to fear in abstract words. So, I took in Antony's speech fully, and it is then, that I grasped the awful and cruel actions of the conspirators.

    March 17, 2003 - 11:19 am
    And I think what Anne just said right there is so important, I'm back and printing out 36 pages (I use big print) of your thoughts, they're all frameable, and all make good points, but I was struck by Anne being moved to tears when reading and I really think that's a great thing, for a lot of reasons, I mean look at the example alone she sets for the kids of how literature can move us and teach us and inspire us, that's wonderful. .

    For this reason, also:

    The play Julius Caesar is often bypassed in favor of the biggies: Hamlet, Macbeth, etc., dare I even say disregarded, and not taken seriously, a play to teach 9th or 10th graders who can understand some of the emotions, but generally take the charcters as black and white: (Brutus: good/ Caesar: bad) but not a play people think should be taken seriously, and thus they rarely look at it in any depth. But note the Riverside Shakespeare now says it's now thought to be one of the most difficult to interpret well, that means it's worth the close look we're giving it. I'm very pleased, because to me, some of the most exquisite beautiful lines anywhere are in this play, and such subtle depth and skill...it's almost unbelievable. I want to come back to Artemidoris again, I think Shakespeare did something very fine there.

    I am loving your takes on Antony and what Shakespeare may have intended.

    Before Caesar is carted off stage I think I need to ask myself, anyway, IF there has been enough demonstration of character flaws or a tragic flaw (since he...does not appear again or does he) to justify being called the Protagonist of this play?

    The title is The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, and scholars as we've said, and it's certainly too soon to come to any conclusion as Meg noted earlier, but people have argued ever since over who the protagonist IS, Brutus or Caesar, since Caesar is leaving us now let's just cast a wee thought (for St. Patrick's Day) to him and what flaws Shakespeare IS having him show??

    I'm glad we archive these discussions, I agree with Hats, some just super stuff being said here, back with Artemidoris and something Maryal said way back there of importance.


    March 17, 2003 - 11:27 am
    HATS!! You and I are twins, we are always posting together, hahaah, what a beautiful post, yourself!! What a super point, too, the words themselves painted a more vivid picture for you, I love that. Maryal mentioned earlier that it makes such a difference how the play is performed, what interpretation the actors give the various words, and it's shocking to keep having to tell yourself there ARE no stage directions? In the "pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth" speech, you would not have known that the wounds gaped like so many mouths crying out until he told you. Stage direction wise, there's "Exeunt" at the end of the scenes, "they all go out," but there are (the Folger puts stage directions IN my new text, and explains why) NO stage directions in my 1940 text and so Shakespeare has a terrific burden here in having to describe in the characters's own mouths, what happened, what's going on, where people are moving on the stage, don't you just LOVE it and wasn't that some speech, and note, the CROWD, those fickle blocks and stones and worse than senseless things were moved before he even GOT to the will? That speech almost has no equal, how dumb or overconfident Brutus and Cassius (if Cassius had the choice at this point) were to leave him in control of that situation! Wonderful post!


    March 17, 2003 - 03:36 pm
    Me again!! Finally caught up and a series of wonderful posts and very fine points from all of you.

    Meg has brought up the idea of FRIENDSHIP and Hats picked up the "Caesar's angel" in Antony's speech. Friendship is one element we have not looked at and it's important, between all the characters and husbands and wives too.

  • IS it possible to sustain a friendship when one friend rises above the other??:

    IT looks like in Hollywood it's hard to sustain a marriage when that happens, is friendship different? Did you HATE Brutus's "As Caesar loved me, I weep for him" aggg, that hurts me to read it. I want to slap him, sorry.

    (By the way, I just noticed something different about Brutus's speech, did you all catch it? I wouldn't have but for trying to find "As Caesar loved me," let's compare the two tomorrow, we'll need Maryal and Meg to explain why it's different from everything else so far (I think).

    "He was my friend, faithful and just to me—" breaks your heart, doesn't it?

    And it gives more meaning to "Et tu, Brute?" (literally and you Brutus?... you too, Brutus?) "Then fall, Caesar. " In that you can see Caesar's heartbreak, and how wretched it is to be betrayed by a friend, no matter how great you are.

    " For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it; neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him; But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company" (Psalm 55:12-14)

    One of the reasons people know that quote "Et tu, Brute," is the heartbreak and the betrayal behind it, so much so that he ceased struggling.

    I think Hats mentioned she had not seen a lot of evidence of their friendship in the play before this, I think she's right, so in this speech we're now getting it, maybe like the crowd did, do you think??

    It's effective this way, makes the audience swing back and forth too, quite startling, in fact, to me.

    In fact you can see Caesar's own puzzlement when Brutus throws himself at his knees? He can't figure it out? "What? Brutus?" He asks?

    Barbara noted another important element running through this: FATE: "and realize we could not prevent all the details that made it happen AND we CANOT control the future, either event or other people: this is what happens sometimes." Cassius is trying, tho and I'm not sure Brutus isn't either, to control the future.

    And also Barbara mentions what LESSONS we might learn from this play and I hope we can say at the end IF we have, in fact, learned anything, I think that would be interesting and something also to ask our young cohorts in Australia, too.

    Ginny Ann, I don't KNOW about the greybeards!! Good question, maybe somebody else will know? Good reading. The Roman position on the afterlife is somewhat obscure, according to my sources,

    "It appears to be thought that the spirits of the dead survived, capable of influencing in some vague way the fortunes of the living. These spirits were at first regarded as hostile later the fear of them gave place to a more friendly feeling and a sense of a bond between the living and the dead members of the family developed. The idea of deities of the underworld arose, perhaps through Greek influence. " (OCCL)

    I know Cicero wrote tons of stuff about the soul and the body and how they differed, quite interesting, actually. Good questions!!

    Marvelle, I agree, (you had a fabulous post way back there I mean to keep commenting on!) and your "O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth," especially seemed poignant, to me because of course you would talk to the corpse, you would explain to the corpse, I know that first hand, I thought that was just....splendid.

    Babi mentioned that she thinks it's Caesar thinking he's larger than life that's the reason for his referring to himself in the third person, and I'm hung up on Artemidoris and what touches us... that US? That Royal "we?" I think Elizabethan audiences might know that signified somebody who thought or was royal, too, and there's no doubt that Caesar here is being portrayed as larger than life. I am not sure who is doing it tho, Caesar himself or Shakespeare for a reason, but it's there.

    Jan, thank you for mentioning Good Morning Australia! There was a Marcus Aurelius, who died of the plague on March 17, 180 AD

    He is the one, incidentally, on the horse? In the famous statue, with the one hand raised, now in the same museum in Rome as the Barberini man.

    I agree with you that Brutus has the same attribute, an unshakable belief in himself, I just wonder if that is going to get him in trouble later on, great parallel and great, also, Meg, on the analysis of Antony as Shakespeare presents him.

    I thought Jan had an interesting point that the washing of the hands meant they were all in that together, the blood seems to be taking on all sorts of meanings, and when you add Meg's Antony marking them all, it's as if he's using the blood for another purpose. Trebonius at that point would not have had any blood on him, I don't think? And so Antony makes sure he gets some.

    Who was it (have lost pages again) who said Antony might be the conscience of the piece? Wow, do you all think so? If so, he's an eloquent one!

    Let's put up the speech and look at it, Anne mentioned (and gosh what a poignant line you've chosen, Anne, for your most memorable line, breaks your heart, doesn't it? Beautiful writing.

    And Anne points out the continual use of "honorable" and how it changed in meaning, boy, could there BE a meatier role for an actor? WHAT a speech!@

    Note at the beginning how the people are totally on Brutus's side? And Brutus gives a good speech , too. Let's put them both up in the heading and compare them tomorrow!

    Note the reaction of the crowd to Brutus' speech: "Live, Brutus, live!...

    Give him a statue with his ancestors!....

    Let him be Caesar!...."

    What? Let him be Caesar? Is the name of Caesar already taking on a new context?

    "Caesar's better parts
    Shall be crowned in Brutus."

    Whoops, there's a crown already appearing and this time the crowd wants Brutus to wear it?

    Then Antony comes on and Brutus says stay and hear him and the crowd says...

    "'Twere best he speak no harm of Brutus here.

    This Caesar was a tyrant.

    Nay that's certain.

    We are blest that Rome is rid of him."

    Where are they getting that? WHAT did Brutus say exactly that was evidence of Caesar being a tyrant?

    I want to mention Artemidoris but need a new post! And since I don't want to post a million times a day I think I'll post it and the two speeches in the morning and we can look at them both if you like?

    It's strange to be reading this in our own unsettling times, isn't it?

    It makes you wonder WHAT the quality of real friendship is? I thought friends rejoiced in the accomplishments of their friends, when would they NOT?

    You have to ask yourself, who is the real friend here, and what part loyalty plays in real friendships?

  • anneofavonlea
    March 17, 2003 - 03:53 pm
    Show me loyalty, I am your friend for life.Loyalty whether I am right or wrong, loyalty whether I deserve it or not, loyalty based on my desire to achieve rather than my achievments.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 17, 2003 - 04:58 pm
    hehehe probably no place for levity here but can't help it - loyalty, unless you achieve more than I expect of you and Loyalty, except if you ask me to support you in your drive for an elevated position that I see as my loosing something precious like freedom and liberty and my status given my family background.

    anneofavonlea - I love the words you pulled out of this play to describe our feelings...

    At first I thought Antony was coming on the scene as a "Jack Armstrong - the all American boy" kind of figure till the end of the scene and it appears he is no better than the others taking advantage of a situation to better his own standing and drive for power. Are there no heros in this story?

    March 17, 2003 - 06:39 pm
    I believe in human truth rather than historical truth, ANNE. Never ever can I be considered an historical scholar; nor would I wish to be. Literature is my forte and I'm a mere visitor to historical research. There are many people eminently qualified as historians but I'm not one of them.

    I feel that historical writings -- whether written yesterday or 2000 years ago -- are constantly being 'revised' due to changing values and perspectives. But for myself history has to be considered, as well as its changing nature, when reading literature or philosphy because it helps to understand the background of the literary writer, where he acquires his knowledge, and how he perceives events. This is where I'm at with Shakespeare; knowing his times, his culture & important events, and his sources helps me get a more in-depth understanding & appreciation of his works than I previously had before my close look.

    For instance, it helps to know history when reading Locke's Treatsies on government. If we acknowledge that he didn't write in a vacuum and that he wrote in a certain period in history, we may question some of his statements such as (to paraphrase): if land isn't being used then no one owns it and picking nuts fallen from a tree is not using the land, therefore, Locke's argument goes, you may seize the land, cut down trees to use it properly and you then have the right to defend your used land. Or Locke's statement: if people behaved like wild animals they forfeited their freedom and their right to life.

    Some of Locke's connection to Africa and the Americas, include the facts that he:

    -- was secretary to the English Lords who owned the American colonies

    -- supplied the ships for the colony

    -- had a financial share in the colonies

    -- owned slaves in the Americas

    -- traded goods for slaves

    -- wrote the first constitution in America which set down a slave's duty to the master etc etc.

    Knowing this, aren't we sceptical about the inspiration for Locke's treatsies which were used to justify taking land from the Natives in the Americas and making slaves of Africans who fought invaders? And this justification was set out in the form of a philosophy. We know, however, that this new philosophy of Locke wasn't formed in the air but based on English history and Locke's real-life background.

    Thus, I look closely at authors and their backgrounds and the history they make use of in order to better understand, critique and appreciate their writings. I opt for the close look at literature for myself.

    Now I thoroughly sidetracked myself and I'll get off my Lockeian soapbox and think abot some of the questions posted about Caesar, Antony, Brutus and friendship. (Cassius remained a friend to Brutus throughout the play, despite Brutus' disregard of Cassius' opinions and military experience. I'll re-read to see if any other friendship was sustained in the play.) Back later....


    March 17, 2003 - 07:51 pm
    There are other sources to the funeral oration besides Plutarch and they would have been well known in Shakespeare's England. I believe that Shakespeare chose the more dramatic funeral scene as a way to move his audience and embellished the scene to be, as GINNY has said, the conscience of the play.

    Plutarch, 46 ACE-120 ACE, wrote the life of Caesar approx. 75 ACE. Suetonius (69 ACE-140 ACE), the offical biographer and Appian (95 ACE-165 ACE) the Greek scholar and historian of Rome also wrote about the funeral.



    In the above two links, it states that Appian derived his account from Suetonius and I've verified Suetonius' reportage of the oration with some edu sites. I've expressed above my opinion about why Shakespeare chose the dramatic oration by Antony. I also believe that there are intimations in Antony's speech of the disastrous part revenge will play in this 'play.'

    Brutus' speech in Shakespeare was dispassionate and reasoned. His speech might engage the mind but not the heart. Antony's speech engages the heart. Perhaps Shakespeare also is showing us his viewpoint on the danger of crowd rule; the danger of chaos and "Cry Havoc!" He was a monarchist after all and England was facing an uncertain future with the aging Virgin Queen and no successor in sight and the potential for utter chaos in England as a result. (This is how I see Shakespeare's perspective and isn't necessarily my own.)


    March 17, 2003 - 08:54 pm
    I guess you prove your point here, because well argued as your Lock post was, it means nothing to an ignorant Australian, who has honestly never heard of him.I need history to comment.

    I merely say, that I want to find Shakespeare in his writing, of course I do not wish to impose that on anyone else.............In turn you will find me in my writings, without knowing the facts of my life.Enough to say I come biased, it colours my thought and my action and were you to be subjected to enough of my writing you would well be able to make a judgement about me........I happen to think that judgement will be only as good as my writing is. Since I consider Shakespeare the absolute epitome of all that is good in my beloved English, who he is......is in these words.

    This computer dialogue lends so much, I have detected Ginnys enthusiasm, Jans egalitarianism, Megs kindness and your thoroughness here, from your posts.How much more can I find in the collected works of Will Shakespeare.

    March 17, 2003 - 11:04 pm
    JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704), English philospher.

    Locke's revolutionary writings influenced many countries, including the U.S. and France, and continues to influence today. He denied the divine right of rule. In Two Treatsies on Government he stated that a government rests on popular consent and that revolution, therefore, is permissable when the government subverts the ends for which its established -- namely the protection of life, liberty and property. His other famous writing, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, set up the principles of modern empiricism (we learn through experience).

    I thought of Locke when considering an example of how knowing an historical framework creates a deeper understanding of a work; and because his revolutionary ideas are the extreme opposite of Shakespeare's monarchist ideals; and because of BARB's thoughts on freedom and liberty; and because Locke's honored beliefs in liberty, freedom and possession ended up ironically as being for the select few rather than all the people (certainly not for Native Americans and people destined in Locke's philosophy for slavery).

    Brutus would have approved of Locke's theories of government in the abstract (but not if he -- Brutus -- achieved power for then the plebians like me would have been out of luck).

    ANNE, we each have our ways of looking at literature. As a writer I take a close look at structure, technique, plot, characterization, and influences to a writer's work etc. I enjoy and learn so much with that exploration, historical and literary, as well as with the comments of others. I feel that inclusion of history in a 1599 work is a valid perspective when discussing an historical tragedy, but understand that others view it sans history. Our combined perspectives make for a wonderfully insightful look into Julus Caesar IMO.


    March 18, 2003 - 12:01 am
    Marvelle, I guess you are saying everyone brings their own baggage with them. It's very hard to divorce yourself from all past experiences and all that you have seen and heard in a lifetime.

    Oh I wish I could read off the Computer. I keep making notes and when I try to expand on them, I can't make them out properly and I'm completely in the dark. I can't write much in longhand because I have hand problems. I had a brainwave yesterday,when I noticed the email this page at the top of the screen. I thought, I'll email each page to myself and Bob's your uncle, I can read offline. What a shock to discover Seniornet only transmits the URL! Bugger, as we say in Oz!

    I think Brutus's position can be summed up with his words "not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more." He seems to think that if he makes this statement, then all is revealed. No need to go on and on about it, these are the Facts. Oh Brutus, if only life were that simple!

    The crowd certainly don't get the point, because straight away one says "Let him be Caesar." Stright over their heads all that nobleness! Then he tells them wait around for Antony's speech as if it's a job that someone has to do, or a duty, which makes me wonder how much he really felt of the love for Caesar he keeps proclaiming.

    Actually Brutus doesn't seem to have much real depth of feeling, either for Portia OR Caesar. Perhaps as a Stoic he just has a poor way of expressing himself. He certainly doesn't have much imagination in my opinion, I can't believe he went off and left Antony alone with the crowd.

    Antony's speech is masterful, he has played the crowd like a violin. For one thing he doesn't use the euphemisms that Brutus does. A says "I fear I wrong the Honourable Men, Whose Daggers have stabbed Caesar: I do fear it." Compare his "stabbed" with the Conspirator's "touched". I could almost feel the Plebians wince! Ditto, "envious Casca", "well beloved Brutus" and "cursed steel". All designed to touch an emotive chord with the crowd.

    He also uses Diplomacy "Shall I descend? And will you give me leave?" I feel he's subtly aligning himself with the people, not speaking to them from a lofty viewpoint, but as an equal,even if it's for his own ends. Anne, don't you think his heart's in the coffin thing, was just a ploy to let his words sink in?I love his thing with the Will, he's just like an angler reeling in the Big One.

    Ginny, I think people can stay friends if one rises above the other, but I think it takes conscious effort.

    I have to go, the Dog is tapping his watch. Time for his walk.

    Great, great posts! Anne, you do mean it as a compliment, I hope?


    March 18, 2003 - 12:29 am
    Aint that the truth.

    Of course compliments Jan.how could i not, being a plebian and all. No I think the heart thing is sincere.I may see Antony as an opportunist, but I dont doubt his affection for Caesar.The mark of good oratory for me, is let the feeling out, in these days of speech writers for public figures one rarely sees emotion,because it is not a transferable quality.Unless of course you have a speech writer of the calibre of Shakespeare.

    March 18, 2003 - 12:43 am
    We did the murder last night, and it was good to do. Cassie was still glad to be Caesar even after she was dead. We thought she would change, but she didn't.

    I think they are all full of it, the people who decided to kill Caesar.We are not very happy with Antony but Miss says we should wait till tonight to decide.

    We think they enjoyed doing it and enjoyed showing off, it made some of us very angry.Bo didn't want to stop, he really wanted to go to the funeral and see what happened.

    Thank you for all the pictures and things that were there after the weekend.At school we had this Quiz thing and some of the questions were about Caesar and we knew the answers so it felt good.

    A new girl arrived here yesterday, her name is Kirsty and she is in Grade 8 and we had to tell her what had happened so far.

    miss asked what we thought was good about the play so far, and we think it is good because you cant really tell what will happen next, as the people seem to change. Robert

    March 18, 2003 - 01:17 am
    Hi, Robert and Australian Cohorts! Welcome, Kirsty! I'm glad Cassie still wants to be Caesar. He's been remembered long after his death and I think always will be. How thrilling that you knew the answers to Caesar on your quiz! I've written below about the funeral so you may not want to read my following remarks right now. Please tell us what you all think about the funeral when you read that part of the play.

    Brutus' speech is short and simple. First, he appeals to reason rather than the emotions -- a serious error for a politician. He's dispassionate and his speech is filled with generalities and not specifics. Some of Brutus points:

    Caesar's ambitions would have made Romans into slaves or bondmen rather than freemen.

    in effect 'if you don't believe me then you're not a Roman and you're vile.'

    Brutus invokes his own honor

    Caesar loved him and had fortune and valor on his side

    Brutus loved Caesar but loved Rome more

    Brutus killed Caesar for C. ambition.

    Brutus says 'I'll kill myself too if you want'

    Brutus says in effect 'oh yes, I made up a list of grievances that's filed away somewhere and you plebs can go find it and read it sometime, later. I'm not going to give you the actual reasons for what I did to Caesar.'

    Brutus tells the crowd Antony didn't kills Caesar but gets the benefit of his death and he's allowed Antony to speak

    Now the crowd is mildly worked up but Brutus was dry in his speech. He spoke in generalities such as ambition, valor, love, fortune. He says he slew Caesar (but doesn't say how specifically) and I think that admission has to do with Brutus' need to be the next Super Brutus the Avenger. Brutus speaks more of himself than of Caesar.

    Shakespeare uses the technique of prose for Brutus versus the poetry that Antony will later speak. Poetry gives specific examples: you say maple rather than just a tree, Madonna lily rather than flower. Brutus' prose is general and reasoned to instruct the mind in as few words as he can possibly manage. Antony's poetry is emotional and vivid and evokes images in your mind's eye and feelings in your heart. These images and feelings are artfully strung together to create the planned for emotional response of the crowd. The very beginning of their speeches, just a few of those lines, shows the stylistic differences:

    "Be patient to the last. Romans, countryman, and lovers, hear me for my cause, and be silent that you may hear." Brutus (Act 3.2:13-15)

    "Friends, Romans, countryman, lend me your ears." Antony (Act 3.2:82)

    (Brutus invokes Romans first while Antony calls them Friends. Brutus' words are rather clumsy and dull while Antony's words are immediately personal and memorable.)

    "Believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor that you may believe." Brutus (Act 3.2:15-17)

    "I come to bury Caesar not to praise him." Brutus (Act 3.2:83)

    (Brutus thrusts his abstract honor at the crowd, while Antony reminds them that Caesar is truly dead and he subtly puts in the word 'praise' which he'll follow with examples of praise-worthy deeds.)

    So there's a rhythm between the two speeches as they continue. Prose vs. poetry, general vs. specific, reason vs. emotion, justification vs. grief, dispassion vs. rage. Cunning Antony knew how to sway the crowd as Brutus never could. Would we say that Brutus is alienated from other people being so self-absorbed? More....


    March 18, 2003 - 03:10 am
    In looking at Antony's funeral oration in Act 3.2:68-276, I find there's an emotional structure orchestrated by Antony. First there's a prologue and then 4 parts follow which I've divided as well as I could. There are many ways to look at this funeral oration.

    The Prologue, lines 68-81: Antony gently eases into the crowd, knowing they've just finished listening to Brutus who's told them he's allowed Antony to speak at the funeral of Caesar. Antony says: "For Brutus' sake, I am beholding to you." The crowd grumbles a bit and then settles down to listen.


    Part 1, lines 82-129 "Caesar's Deeds vs Brutus' Honor": Antony says "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." Antony continually reminds the crowd that Caesar is dead, that Brutus was one of the men responsible for the death, and ironically follows up the fine qualities & deeds of the dead Caesar with Brutus' words of ambition of honor. It's a refutation of Brutus' claims of the righteous murder of ambition.

    "You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown, which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious, and sure Brutus is an honorable man."

    Each time Antony gives an example of the good that Caesar did for Rome, he follows with the irony of Brutus' claims to his own honor and to Caesar's ambitions. Left vividly unsaid is the fact that Brutus did not give Rome anything except Caesar's death, the death of Rome's benefactor. Antony says he & the crowd love Caesar which joins them together emotionally. Antony pauses to weep over Caesar's coffin which reinforces the idea of death and Rome's loss.


    Part 2 - lines 130-180 "What Wrongs-Rome's Loss": Having established Caesar's greatness and the conspirators dubious claims to honor, Antony begins Part 2 of his oration: "But yesterday the word of Caesar might have stood against the world. Now lies he there, and none so poor to do him reverence." Then he suggests 'mutiny' and 'rage' and stresses the 'wrong' of such action. Immediately Antony tantalizes the crowd with hints they are heirs in Caesar's rich legacy of a will. He says "I have o'ershot myself to tell you of it. I fear I wrong the honorable men whose daggers have stabbed Caesar" which turns the wrong to be one of the murderers against Caesar and Rome. Now the crowd begs to hear the will and Antony asks and receives the crowd's permission to descend the steps to be closer. In this Antony establishes intimacy with the crowd. (Antony asks the crowds' permission, giving them the welcome sense of power.)


    Part 3 - lines 181-221 "Traitors Established": Now Antony pulls out more stops, knowing he has inflamed the crowds' grief for the loss of Caesar. He shows the crowd Caesar's cloak and says "in this place ran Cassius' dagger through....[see the rent] the envious Casca made....through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed...Caesar's angel...then burst his mighty heart...great Caesar fell....[and with this the] bloody treason flourished over us." Antony lift's Caesar's cloak to show the terrible wounds and utters the word 'traitors' with the crowd reacting a more violent echo of Brutus' words in the garden (Speak, strike, redress). Here the crowd responds with Revenge, burn, fire, kill, slay! whipped into a frenzy by Antony's skillful speech.


    Part 4 - lines 222-276 "Caesar's Wounds Speak": Antony isn't finished with the crowd yet. He needs to make sure they won't waver in their resolution of revenge. He's sly in that he says he doesn't want to stir them to mutiny but he also debunks the murderers claims to a righteous killing by calling their reasons "private griefs" rather than public/Roman grievances. He claims to be a rough speaker compared to Brutus' overly polished speech (but Antony is only fooling the crowd with that remark) and says he'll let Caesar's wounds do the talking by visual display of the violence done to a ruler:

    "But were I Brutus, and Brutus Antony, there were an Antony would ruffle up your spirits and put a tongue in every wound of Caesar that should move the stones of Rome to rise and mutiny."

    The crowd is more frenzied then ever but Antony doesn't let them go just yet as he tells them what is bequethed them in Caesar's will at which they resolve to burn down the traitor's houses. Antony walks away, satisfied at last that "Mischief, thou art afoot; Take thou what course thou wilt."


    Antony is superb in rousing the crowd to violence yet he doesn't care where that violence will lead. I see Antony here as a premier spin-doctor, turning the crowd into a dangerous mob, but that doesn't make Antony a hero. It could be ambition for him and revenge on a huge scale and I don't see any pardons coming from Antony. Neither hero nor villain?


    March 18, 2003 - 05:07 am
    of Charles Spencers eulogy to his sister at Princess Diana's funeral.

    This very ordinary man stirred the masses on that one day, by well chosen words which appealed to the masses.Did Antony do the same?

    March 18, 2003 - 05:21 am
    up of the words of Brutus and Cassius, thanks.Certainly Antony gets the better of the bargain, Shakespeare on this occasion leaves Brutus looking less eloquent.

    Its never cut and dried though, the waters are indeed murky.For me Brutus is believable when he says

    "I have the same dagger for myself,when it shall please my country to need my death"...............if we believe this to be true, then of course we need to consider Brutus an honourable man, even if he has a flawed outlook...............................Anne

    March 18, 2003 - 06:09 am
    This morning we have, thanks to Pat Westerdale, the words of Brutus's speech and Antony's great oration parallel in the heading. It's not really fair to put them thus, note when you lose the crowd interjections, you lose the mounting excitement and fervor, but I thought maybe we could look at the differences in them up close and personal.

    "He was my friend, faithful and just to me.
    But Brutus says he was ambitious,
    And Brutus is an honourable man."

    Antony's speech is a masterpiece of psychology. He appears to be deferential and laudatory while all the time chips away at the credibility of the deed, which recalls his shaking hands with the murderers, seeming to join them while marking them in Caesar's blood: it's a parallel. Don't you love the things we are discovering about this play??

    What devices do you see used in Antony's speech on the right? Brutus uses some of the same devices to less advantage (on the left)

    Brutus's speech looks all jumbled up? Marvelle mentions it's PROSE! , Here's a good time for those of you who really know your Shakespeare to let loose on us!

    So Shakespeare then is poetry? How so? Brutus seems pretty poetic too, can somebody explain why Brutus would suddenly launch into prose here? Good stuff here this morning, good stuff!

    Why on this most important occasion (and it is) to convince the people would Brutus launch into prose? (Has it struck you that the people are in the dark here initially? They don't seem to KNOW why Caesar was killed? Note they are not saying YAY YAY Hitler is dead?

    Did that strike you as strange? It does me all of a sudden? If he's such an awful scourge and tyrant wouldn't they be glad to get that slavery off of them?

    Oh boy so many points of yours to address, but HIST? I believe Caesar's chief fan has made a mistake here!!! Let's "piece it out?" (I may never be the same after our experience here, picking up all sorts of new phrases, hahahaha)

    I really appreciate Marvelle putting in here the Suetonius and Appian! It's important because you want to know, as readers of the play, that the new bookCicero goes into some length about the FUNERAL which was held 5 days later on March 20 (in real life) of Caesar and has all kinds of bizarre stuff: choirs, heralds, and dirges, and a "wax effigy (the corpse itself was lying out of sight on the bier) was lifted up. It was turned around in all directions by a mechanical devise and twenty-three wounds could be seen, on every part of the body and on the face." (Cicero)

    So you don't want to be reading this play and think you have it down, and this brand new and hot book comes out in 2002, and have people talking about stuff you would never have heard here, you'd feel bad?

    Suetonius, in the link Marvelle provided, says, Antony "added a very few words of his own, " and even the Cicero says the same ("He added a few comments.") The dirges and choir and heralds had the most to say, apparently, but it appears, as I mentioned quite a bit earlier in this discussion, that there were several totally different versions of this occasion and they don't all agree. Appian seems to have heard a lot more than anybody else. (I thought for one fleeting moment we had discovered something here nobody else had!!!! I really did?) That Shakespeare had to have read Suetonius? Or Appian as his sources? (That was another pet theory I was building up to at great fanfare? hahaahah Now in the dust as well!) BECAUSE....

    But then I remembered Plutarch is funny how he writes? He puts things in funny places, and so I went to look, and if you read the section on Antony way in the back of the book, you will find Plutarch does mention Caesar's funeral, (not in Caesar's section, but in Antony's). And he does mention Antony as speaker on that occasion, and so we can't say with certainty that Shakespeare read other than Plutarch.<br.
    Doggone it. ( I really thought we had discovered something here! ) ahahahaha

    So I'm going to say that while the speech is still a pure invention of Shakespeare, (both of them) and so are the events as he presents them, and the way he presents them didn't happen, and I do think they are there for a reason, but I think I also want to say I was wrong in saying that Shakespeare came up with the idea of Antony as speaker, because it looks like he did speak at the funeral a week later, (I got very confused over the time sequences, becase Brutus speaks of calming the crowd immediately, which he did, and more than once, and this funeral which was a week later on) and I appreciate, Marvelle, your bringing that here! It IS important.

    (By the way, Anne, you talk about courage? Antony actually sent his own son as " hostage!! " Now how much guts does THAT take? Hahaah Your plebian instincts were right on

    Barbara, what kind of a question is that? I love it!

    Are there no heros in this story?

    Now today let's look, having feasted on the historical sources, at the two speeches in the heading, and see what we can see in each one, how skillfully and differently they were written, if YOU had been in the crowd, which way would YOU have gone?? And then let's take Barb's question seriously and ask ourselves, ARE there any heroes in this story? I spent a lot of time last night considering that thing, and enjoyed every minute of it!

    GREAT stuff here today, just super, I love it!

    And....you've said so much more and HIST we have a new cohort Kirsty, Welcome, Kirsty!! I think your class there is about as exciting a thing I have heard of in a long time, this entire expedition is just full of (for me) surprises and new learning, I know what I'm going to say when asked at the end what I learned! hahahahaa

    MORE...on what YOU said

    March 18, 2003 - 06:27 am
    And there's Anne with another question we really have not but are all thinking about and need to consider:
    Is Brutus an honorable man or not?


    March 18, 2003 - 07:15 am
    Ginny and Anne,

    Nooooo!! I don't think Brutus is an honorable man. I think he is a shame to his ancestors, to his wife and his fellow countrymen.

    Marvelle, you felt the way I did about Brutus' speech and then, Antony's speech.

    Marvelle wrote,

    "Brutus' speech in Shakespeare was dispassionate and reasoned. His speech might engage the mind but not the heart."

    Wow!! That's exactly how I feel.

    March 18, 2003 - 07:30 am
    Hi Anne,

    You seem to have a wonderful class. I love what Robert said about Cassie.

    "Cassie was still glad to be Caesar even after she was dead. We thought she would change, but she didn't."

    That just cracked me up!

    This is all so enlightening. Ginny and Maryal, would it be possible to have a Shakespearean Corner? We could do all of the Shakespearean plays!! I would depend on the help of all of you!!

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 18, 2003 - 07:45 am
    Well it has been a long time since I have gotten so emotionally involved in a piece of literature. (I guess this shows the glory of Shakespeare) Usually I find it facinating to read like a voyeur observering situations and behavior I do not daily experience - this time I am talking to myself, shaking my head - nah lets face it - not just emotional at all - Judgmental - yep, my judgment of behavior has been flying - although I attempt to see into the psyche of each of them to understand their behavior all I can say I am disgusted with the lot of them - Neither of those speeches to me were about Caesar - they were both orchestrated to save their A__es - sorry - blunt - but good grief -

    I know this sounds pitiful in today's society, as if I am talking only about using the correct fork or not talking while you are chewing your food but for me it was so instilled in me the words, "Where are your manners" meaning your whole moral structure - as a child my mother would shake her head as we learned of one new atrocity after the other committed by Hitler and all she would say is "Where are his manners." And then mumble, because she had determined just before the war started there would be no more German spoken in the house, but she and my grandmother would go around with head lowered in dispair saying over and over ‘gosseweise, gosseweise’.

    Well here I am, I cannot believe myself but I have been shaking my head and saying ‘gosseweise’ - They are all so self-absorbed in their own needs and wants they have no feelings for anyone - they minimize and dismiss all except to manipulate for their self-aggrandizement.

    Jan your use of the word stoic led me on a chase - vaguely I remember reading about a stoic philosophy and had to brush up on it. In the process found this great page on the internet - It was fun to then relook at these characters through the eyes of they being either Stoics and Epicureans - I would never have guessed that Cassius was an Epicurean in his approach to life.


    March 18, 2003 - 08:54 am
    Barbara, that is SOOO a wonderful link! So clear and about Shakespeare, too, love it!

    Tell us the reasons you would not have guessed about Cassius and Epicureanism? (I had just read this thing somewhere about the ways Shakespeare's Cassius veers off from his Epicureanism--which was big news to me, since I did not know he was one) and your link explains it beautifully AND as regards Shakespeare.) Tell us how you see him diverging from being an Epicurean?

    It sure fits in with and explains his behavior in the storm, huh? Love that link Nota Bene (hahaha) Do NOT read the link unless you have read Act IV as it spills a bean, but if you have read Act IV, it's a superior link!) I love the way they ...are they including Brutus too? That's news?!? I didn't know that?

    But it sure explains Cassius and the storm?
    fear of the supernatural is merely a superstition* that diminishes one's free enjoyment of life.

    So he's out there gallivanting and unafraid, that fits, but you say some of him does not? The jealousy and passion or what I see as jealousy? Tell us more?

    hhaha Hats, you are SUCH an UPPER! We need to bottle you! Shakespearean Corner, I love that, love the enthusiasm, thank you, we'll mention it to the Books DL's and see what they say, we've never had a series like that, appreciate the wonderful suggestion!

    But hist! Now YOU say he's not honorable! We're getting back to our own conceptions of honor, note Anne's quote swings us the other way!

    I think, pushing aside the idea of HONOR for a moment, that Brutus....the big question for me is not is he honorable but is he idealistic, really.

    When we read The Remains of the Day, I initially was the lone voice in the wilderness talking about "idealism." Not too many people saw it in Stevens,, have you all read that book?

    A man who sacrificed everything important to him to seek a goal, his "ideals" were not what we would think of as ideals, but he was fixed on them, and idealists often are. They're usually intense and focused and dispassionate. They are often wrong, sometimes tragically so. But they're determined.

    In the scenes following the murder I saw the idealistic Brutus, believe it or not, in his stupid and trusting fairness to Antony and letting him speak and saying Everybody will have a place. I did not see it before. I still don't understand his motivations before the attack.

    Do you think it's possible to put on idealism after something like this murder, in an attempt to justify it? Or was he idealistic all along (maybe not your or my ideal but idealistic none the less?).

    And what relation does idealism have to honor? Are they always bedfellows?


    March 18, 2003 - 09:47 am
    Have just caught up w/ reading posts & have cut & pasted exerpts. This will be a pretty disjointed entry.

    1. ANNE said, "No doubt Shakespeare wanted us admiring Antony, his oratory is poignant, arousing emotions and stirring plebians and audiences to his cause. Antony's cause in my view was to further Shakespeares belief that here indeed, in Caesar, was a hero, a man to be ever remembered."

    Do agree with you on this one, Anne. Antony's the absolute best "celebrity endorsement" that I've ever heard. His emotional, logical and stirring words do reveal the depth of his feelings for Julius which in turn are communicated to our Willie's audience.

    2. Anne also added later that, "There is a line in Macbeth which goes "under him my genius is rebuked". I think Shakespeare is telling us this is in Caesar as well, that under real greatness it is impossible for lesser men, who may normally be great to shine. We see it so much in life that people are born in the same era, with potential and ambition, which goes unheralded."

    Do you really think that this is always true? Maybe the question here for me is rather - what qualifies as "real greatness" or maybe - is it something else??? Word I'm searching for eludes me at present. Shakespeare's a man of real greatness - but he enabled "lesser men" (i.e nonpoets) - his actors - the opportunity to shine. Help me out here, Anne!!!!

    I've been fortunate to have had the experience of working under some really great, nationally recognized and brilliant directors and supervisors - some of whom were & are personal friends. What really impressed me about them was their ability to draw out and inspire the best in me and my coworkers. They encouraged growth, risk-taking, new paradigms - of looking "beyond the box". They instilled a sense of excitement, challenge, confidence and respect for our efforts that one rarely finds in management. Although in positions of authority, these folks enabled us to claim ownership of our successes during their terms of office. Potentials were tapped, successes were achieved. Heralding wasn't a priority, and for many of us, not even a consideration. Satisfaction of a job well-done was enough. The work and the efforts of all of us were of primary importance - not the individual. Think my problem here in trying to figure this one out is with the word "great" or men of "greatness". I'm not really sure what that means - or even who I'd place in that category. Our Mr. Willie S - definitely!!! - but in terms of contemporary folk or charactes in this play? Have to think about that one for a while. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    March 18, 2003 - 09:56 am
    3. Hats said, "Antony's speech makes me more aware of the relationship between Ceasar and Brutus. I get the idea that Ceasar and Brutus were like best friends. Antony calls Brutus "Ceasar's Angel." Until Antony's speech, I did not realize the intimacy that Brutus shared with Ceasar. I must have missed it in earlier acts and scenes of the play. "

    and Ginny adds, "But note the Riverside Shakespeare now says it's (Julius Caesar) now thought to be one of the most difficult to interpret." You know, as I reread this and not Maryal's info on Hamlet parallels, I'm beginning to wonder of this play was a practice piece for Shakespeare. He's loosely playing with the assassination of Caesar and the aftermaths of that act - but seems to be having a hard time focusing on just who he wants to be the protagonist of this piece. "Reveals" are eked out. How many times have we stopped reading in this play and done a "Say What???" Hats is absolutely right - Shakespeare gives us very little info on the relationships between Caesar & Brutus and Caesar & Antony. We don't really get any explanations until we're well into Act III. Think about his other plays. We usually know relationships of characters by the end of Act I or beginning of Act II. Not so here! WHY??? As Ginny noted, this play is "one of the most difficult to interpret". I suspect that this is so because of Shakespeare's inability to delineate a clear protagonist for us. Deliberate choice or not? I'm not sure. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    4. Marvelle added, "But for myself history has to be considered, as well as its changing nature, when reading literature or philosphy because it helps to understand the background of the literary writer, where he acquires his knowledge, and how he perceives events. This is where I'm at with Shakespeare; knowing his times, his culture & important events, and his sources helps me get a more in-depth understanding & appreciation of his works than I previously had before my close look."

    Marvelle, when I read this statement, a big klieg light went on! I finally get what you're saying and understand now a little more clearly our differences of approaching reading. One word did it! To paraphrase: Background info enriches your understanding of a work that you previously had before your close look. This statement implies not only prior experience and knowledge of the play, but also a prior examination of it - as a primary text. Now, I can also understand your need/preference for further enrichment to that initial experience. I get that.

    On the other hand, I still feel an obligation to this author and any other writer to experience and digest his work - as a complete and independent piece of labor that can stand on its own merit. For me, layering on all of that historical info - on basically what amounts to a first read (or first read in many, many years) for many of us -imposes info on the work that our author does not provide (i.e - who really was at Caesar's funeral or who his wives & mistresses were); this imposition of exterior info can also muddy the meaning of the texts. That initial joy of discovery in a first reading is a precious gift. I know I'll sound sappy, but first reads to me are a sacred journey of discovery for each of us; it's one that I feel we all honor. Sure, afterwards, additional background info can enrich our appreciation and knowledge of a work. Think that many of us may have done that too. For me, and I think Anne too, this is a sequential process - primary text in depth - THEN, enrichment; for you it is a simultaneous one. Have I gotten "it"?

    March 18, 2003 - 09:59 am
    <5. Ginny noted, " Before Caesar is carted off stage I think I need to ask myself, anyway, IF there has been enough demonstration of character flaws or a tragic flaw (since he...does not appear again or does he) to justify being called the Protagonist of this play? ...since Caesar is leaving us now let's just cast a wee thought (for St. Patrick's Day) to him and what flaws Shakespeare IS having him show??

    Ginny, three more questions on this one: a.)Is Caesar the protagonist???? b.) Does he have to have "tragic flaws"? and c.)Barbara'sAre there no heros in this story? I'm not sure that either A or B is applicable to this play! Barbara's (for me anyhow) is a key Q to figuring out this drama! Can we save these questions until the absolute end? (Know these are "stir the pot" queries!) Don't think that we have enough info yet to answer them here - although we know I can go off on my bandwagon (laughing!). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    6. Ginny adds, "(By the way, I just noticed something different about Brutus's speech, did you all catch it? I wouldn't have but for trying to find "As Caesar loved me," let's compare the two tomorrow, we'll need Maryal and Meg to explain why it's different from everything else so far (I think).

    Ginny, I'm not sure what you want to compare - other than obvious, which Marvelle stated - that Brutus' speech is in prose & Antony's in poetry. BUT! Did discover something that I never saw before & it's all Maryal's fault! I'm beginning to think that this play was a practice piece before he wrote Hamlet! Did anyone else catch Brutus' comment that seems to foreshadow Polonius' similarly foolish one? "With this I depart, that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself when it shall please my country to need my death." (i.e. - Here's the dagger I killed Julius with; it's here ready to kill me if "Rome" wants me dead- III,ii,44-47) Polonius says a similarly foolish thing when he reads Hamlet's love letters to Claudius & Gertrude and then tells the King to "Take this from this, if this be otherwise." (II,ii,155) (i.e. Chop off my head from my shoulders if the cause of Hamlet's madness is not Ophelia's rejection!) See next item for another bit of Brutus' foolishness! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    7. Jan said, "Actually Brutus doesn't seem to have much real depth of feeling, either for Portia OR Caesar. Perhaps as a Stoic he just has a poor way of expressing himself. He certainly doesn't have much imagination in my opinion, I can't believe he went off and left Antony alone with the crowd.

    Jan, I never thought of Brutus as a stoic. You provided as loud of a Hmmmmmmmmm! moment for me with that one as Brutus created a DUH!? one when he just walked away!!!. Don't ya just wonder where the man's brain went?!!!!!

    Also loved your catch on Brutus' use of euphemisms vs Antony's "straight talk", Antony's diplomacy, common man appeal, flare for the dramatic an manipulation of the crowd. You made me laugh. But - I do feel that Antony's grief was genuine - unlike Brutus' which you mentioned. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Ginny, What's up with this Artimedorus thing? I don't get it.

    March 18, 2003 - 10:02 am
    MEG!! Posting together, back anon... (Artemidoris is my pet theory, but I'm having to bend it just a tad). ahahaha

    Jan!!! I thought you had invented the wheel!! I was set to announce your email discovery to the world! (Link, huh?) so sorry. How you can make such intelligent comments when you can't even print it out is beyond me!

    (Why do you keep saying Oz?) You don't mean the TV show about the prison, surely?

    He seems to think that if he makes this statement, then all is revealed. Well said, what does that show about Brutus?

    Then he tells them wait around for Antony's speech as if it's a job that someone has to do, or a duty, which makes me wonder how much he really felt of the love for Caesar he keeps proclaiming.

    OH well said, well said, these little creeping in things make us question....now I'm swinging back away from my new Brutus the Idealist theory, these are very complicated characters and men to be in such a short play!

    What did YOU mean by "nous" yesterday, Anne??? Inquiring minds want to know? These are Aussieisms? I think we need to read a book about Australia, I'm very impressed by the people we've met here from Australia so far, and thank you Anne, for that very fine compliment to everybody here and I agree, it is something else!

    But back to Jan who mentions Stoics, now which ones were Stoics, I'm beginning to wonder, having understood Barb's site more than the other stuff I read, if Caesar fit in with either of those?

    And back to Anne hahahaah Loyalty is very important to me, too, it makes me wonder what earns it, tho? One person is not loyal all the time to EVERY person or is he?

    I must say that Marvelle has done one of the most splendid analyses of the speeches I believe I ever saw. And I think we need to save that post along with an earlier one Meg made as HTML pages of their own, as an aid in our Study Guide, that, Marvelle, was superlative.

    This is just wonderful:
    Now the crowd is mildly worked up but Brutus was dry in his speech. He spoke in generalities such as ambition, valor, love, fortune. marvelle Antony's poetry is emotional and vivid and Each time Antony gives an example of the good that Caesar did for Rome, he follows with the irony of Brutus' claims to his own honor and to Caesar's ambitions .evokes images in your mind's eye and feelings in your heart 'traitors' with the crowd reacting a more violent echo of Brutus' words in the garden (Speak, strike, redress).

    Oh well done that's really fine.

    This is also a fabulous thought she had: " (Cassius remained a friend to Brutus throughout the play, despite Brutus' disregard of Cassius' opinions and military experience)>"

    OH so are you saying that Cassius remained a friend and Brutus did not? Oh wow, let's ponder the implications there!

    And how about the other implicationso of Antony as marvelle mentions:

    Antony is superb in rousing the crowd to violence yet he doesn't care where that violence will lead. I see Antony here as a premier spin-doctor, turning the crowd into a dangerous mob, but that doesn't make Antony a hero. It could be ambition for him and revenge on a huge scale and I don't see any pardons coming from Antony. Neither hero nor villain?

    Whoa! In Edit: Going back over this thing, wrote it too fast, Whoa here, NO PARDONS coming from Antony? So he's not another Caesar is he?

    Hellooooo, Robert!

    Cassie is right on, the question was asked yesterday if there are any heroes in the play? There was one, a real hero, the Audie Murphy of the ancients, sat with his men all night long if sick, always on the front lines, knew all their names, yeah there was one, but he's dead. Good for Cassie.

    At school we had this Quiz thing and some of the questions were about Caesar and we knew the answers so it felt good.

    Oh I am SOOO proud of you all, doesn't it feel good to know something when a question comes up!!?? Did you all know a lot about Caesar before you started reading the play? Can we come to the toga party? You will have to serve ancient Roman refreshments! Hahaahah And just think, you'll always remember this, it will be interesting to hear what you all have learned from it, we're so enjoying learning your points of view. I wil NEVER forget reading A Tale of Two Cities in the 8th grade (I was 13-14) and hating every minute of it, hated it, we had to draw pictures of what we thought the characters looked like. I canNOT draw, but I can tell you the characters to this day. (Wish I had kept the drawings)! Send us a photo of your toga party!!!

    miss asked what we thought was good about the play so far, and we think it is good because you cant really tell what will happen next, as the people seem to change.

    Wow, oh yes they do, don't they? They sure do, to the point that I can't figure Brutus out. And now we have Antony as marvelle says, inciting to violence but not, apparently, caring what happens as an aftermath (he knows it won't be directed at him, right?)



    March 18, 2003 - 10:11 am
    THREE CHEERS! Marvelle, you must have posted that excellent roadmap to Antony's speech while I was typing away. It's wonderfully organized, concise and clearly informative!! Will go back & reread it later tonight! Have been on computer for most of morning and have kitchen to clean & floors to scrub! Meg

    March 18, 2003 - 10:19 am
    Meg, yes, we can save all three questions till the end of the play, we sure can, but I wanted, while the iron was hot, or the blood was running cold, so to speak, to get people to look closely at Caesar's possible flaws (I thought every tragic hero had to have a tragic flaw that caused it? No?) before he was carted off, if they change their opinions later on, that's ok, and note that out of respect also for you I have not uttered the THEME word in this entire play tho it's KILLING ME not to!

    But out of respect to you we can wait, but they are good questions, I think, altho I don't agree that the "hero" element is the key to the play, or Caesar as Protagonist is not applicable to this play, myself, In Edit, AHA I see your first post and I see you saying, "I suspect that this is so because of Shakespeare's inability to delineate a clear protagonist for us. Deliberate choice or not? I'm not sure." OK!! I get you! Oh good, let's debate this at the end!! I look forward to it!

    I don't know about the practice piece idea! It sure looks like you've had an AHA moment with Hamlet, tho! Certianly looks similar, and something nags me that it's somewhere else, too: thank you, by the way, for the Romeo and Juliet explanation, forgot that yesterday, have had a couple of big days here on the old farm meself, actually, but we're all running fine now.

    Yeah the prose and poetry thing was what I meant by the difference in the two speeches (among many) , am not sure that everybody here knew that Antony's speech was poetry, actually?

    Did you post before the post with 5) in it? I have a feeling you did, will look!


    March 18, 2003 - 10:19 am
    And a special welcome to Kirsty who has to catch up. Read fast, Kirsty. We are glad to have you with us. Hi Robert. When you acted out the scene, who got to be Brutus and Cassius? And who struck the first blow?

    WOW!! There were so many posts to read and such excellent points and observations from all of you that I hope my computer connection holds while I write this. We've been having a little trouble at work.

    Ginny asked a probing question when she said, "And what relation does idealism have to honor? Are they always bedfellows?"

    Now, there is a question to make me scratch my head. I think it goes right to the heart of the matter. Brutus was an idealist; he truly believed in the Roman Republic; he honestly thought that Caesar had too much power and might well seize more. I think that in his own eyes he believed that he was doing the honorable thing. His honor would be shown in sticking to what he believed. Which brings us to another question: Can two honorable people believe two diametrically opposed ideas?

    Just a little here on Brutus' speech at the funeral. He makes several mistakes: he speaks first and then leaves. He should have stood there listening to Antony. But he is apparently secure enough to leave. Bad move.

    Brutus believes in REASON. Another mistake when dealing with a crowd. In the circles in which Brutus moved, reason was a powerful tool. Explain why a deed must be performed, ie. give the reasons, and reasonable people will understand. The crowd however is not reasonable. Remember the beginning of the play? Those two Romans got after a couple of representative plebians because they were now offering praise to Caesar just as they had offered praise to Pompey. They have completely forgotten Pompey and what he did for them.

    These are people who are going to swing one way and then another. Therefore, if Brutus did allow Antony to speak, he should have been careful to have him speak first. The thing we best remember is the last thing we heard. The last thing the crowd hears is that Caesar was kind to them in his will.

    Notice that initially the crowd is pleased with what Brutus says; in fact they want him to be the next Caesar. Fickle fickle group. They will turn to Antony's side in a few minutes.

    More later, assuming that I can get on the internet.

    I have some points to make about Antony's speech.


    March 18, 2003 - 12:55 pm
    O, am just rereading Antony's ....I have no words to describe it...speech in the heading, glorying in the words, when HIST! Look what I see:

    You are not wood, you are not stones, but men...

    By gum, does that remind you of anything? "You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things? How ABOUT that? Antony wasn't there, was he?

    Nice touch by Shakespeare! Every time I read that thing I suddenly see something else! (Do you love that part about putting tongues in Caesar's wounds so they could speak too?) WOW, what a speech, Toastmasters would definitely give HIM the crown!

    And it's interesting that some of you don't think it was done for Caesar's sake at all? You all come up with some of the most intriguing ideas!

    Maryal, THANK you for your take on Brutus's mistakes and that he should have taken care to speak LAST!! Of course!! Wonderful points!! I look forward to hearing what you thoughts about Antony's speech when you are able to connect (I'm having trouble with my ISP too, and it's sooo frustrating).

    LOVED this, "His honor would be shown in sticking to what he believed. Which brings us to another question: Can two honorable people believe two diametrically opposed ideas?"

    I would say yes, what do the rest of you think?

    Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd;
    And as he pluck'd his cursed steel away,
    Mark how the blood of Caesar follow'd it,
    As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
    If Brutus so unkindly knock'd, or no;

    Now this...is it simile or is it metaphor (I see "as" but an not sure?) this picture in words of Brutus knocking at the door by stabbing and the blood rushing out...now my text does not give any explanation for "resolved," there, does somebody understand what that meant?

    Wow powerful stuff, the whole thing is just amazingly wonderful to read. What's your favorite line of this speech?


    March 18, 2003 - 03:08 pm
    I need to go over all this. The epicurean stoic link was just brilliant, but can i be a stoic epicurean.PLEASE

    Oz= australia............Nous= street smarts, or thinking ability, the use of ones scone, brain etc.

    I dont mean (cant remeber who asked) that Caesar and his ilk stopped people from shining. Here in oz when Keiren Perkins was world champion 1500metre swimmer, we had another young man who was the second fastest in the world.Perkins personally was his friend, and yet he was never known and I dont think many people would even remember he existed.Great people inspire us, but there is only one spot at the top, Caesar held it then and for the likes of Brutus and Antony whilst he lived they were ever in his shadow.

    I cant remeber who said it but "out upon thee" if we have a permanent Shakesperean corner I will be forever there, wallowing in it, to the detriment of 'my other life' which is presently on hold. Anneo

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 18, 2003 - 04:32 pm
    OK as usual can't leave a new chain of thinking alone - here is the best of what I found -

    I must admit as much as I would love to think I could be an Epicurean (they sound like the have so much easy fun) I am a Stoic at heart - but truth be told for me the concepts of Taoism are closest to my personal philosophy - which one of these sites explains that Taoism is close to the philosophy of Stoicism. My difference is I had learned a long time ago that there is no reading other folks motives since I can only interpret motive from my own life experience and knowledge, another may have a very different set of life experiences and other knowledge that I can not even imagine.

    Stoic logic is, in all essential, the logic of Aristotle... Since all knowledge is a knowledge of sense-objects, truth is simply the correspondence of our impressions to things. How are we to know whether our ideas are correct copies of things? How do we distinguish between reality and imagination, dreams, or illusions? What is the criterion of truth? It cannot lie in concepts, since they are of our own making. Nothing is true save sense impressions, and therefore the criterion of truth must lie in sensation itself. It cannot be in thought, but must be in feeling.


    The Major Tenets of Stoicism are listed in addition to several links including a link to excepts from the Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius


    We do not possess a single complete work by any of the first three heads of the Stoic school: the ‘founder,’ Zeno of Citium in Cyprus (344-262 BC), Cleanthes (d. 232 BC) or Chrysippus (d. ca. 206 BC). Chrysippus was particularly prolific, composing over 165 works, but we have only fragments of his works. The only complete works by Stoic philosophers that we possess are those by writers of Imperial times, Seneca (4 BC-65 AD), Epictetus (c. 55-135) and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180) and these works are principally focused on ethics.


    Be an experiential epicure... Find the small things that you know give you a little high--a good meal, working in the garden, time with friends--and sprinkle your life with them. In the long run, that will leave you happier than some grand achievement that gives you a big lift for a while. - David Lykken ______The site has many links -


    Epicurus (c340--c270 BC): Epicurus was a Greek philosopher who taught that a person should only rely on his senses. The object of the Epicurean philosophy was to reduce man's natural anxiety, viz., to eliminate superstition and the dread of death. It is a misunderstanding of the philosophy of Epicures, as is disclosed in the normal usage of the word epicure, to conclude that the Epicurean is one who is singularly devoted to sensual pleasures.

    Great site speaking to the positive and negatives of Epicurean Philosophy


    Could not find a good clear site explaining the Idealist - most use words that need further interpretation to even understand their thesis - this is the best I could find -


    I prefer the explanation given in my Introducing Philosophy class with Dr. Solomon here at UT - If Plato is the Father of Idealism then Kent is THE GodFather - before Christianity there was no concept of immortality of a human soul - stuff existed called materialism or immaterial entities pretty much assigned the mind to this category - Idealists are dealing only with the mind - nothing spiritual here except how the mind perceives it.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 18, 2003 - 04:53 pm
    good think to have brought up Ginny - I would have to agree that the main characters are all Idealists - not much feeling or spirituality going on with any of them - Cassius, we know is a head case (I am not sure the sum of Cassius says to me he is an Epicurean but then the site I found was not considering Plato's views) - Brutus, had his own self argument and justifies Caesar's death with head thinking in his Funeral Oration - Caesar thinks through his lack of fear of fear, another head clue, although that could so easily be an emotional response so that Caesar is the only one that I am still not clear about his philosophy of life. Antony in one breath sounds truly a feeling friend but his Funeral Oration is orchestrated to get a certain reaction from the crowd that will benefit his future - another Idealist - as I understand it Idealists or Idealism has little to do with moral right and wrong but rather where personal freedom emanates - is it pre-ordained or self-caused.

    March 18, 2003 - 06:06 pm
    Caesar was more Epicurean than not; Cassius was Epicurean according to Cicero and other writers of the day and after (and later in the play Shakespeare has him say he's Epicurean).

    Brutus was a Stoic and studied philosophy in Athens (his half-uncle Cato was a famous stoic and Brutus, as we know, married Cato's daughter Portia, by her actions another Stoic).

    Funny to think f C & C following the same philosophy but they basically did -- especially regarding friendship and loyalty.

    BARB, I was posting this then saw your remarks about the philosophy and the websites you posted. I'll have to look at the links later.

    The philosophy of Epicureans would be why great Caesar's heart burst, knowing that Brutus his angel, turned against him. I do remember reading how considerate Caesar was with his soldiers. Once, when only one room was available for lodging, Caesar said that the oldest and frailest of his company should have the room (a philosopher-secretary I think?) and Caesar himself slept outdoors with the rest of his men. This he did even though he was not in robust health himself. Such behavior and his generosity earned him the love of his soldiers.

    Brutus as Stoic would not be moved by emotions unlike the Epicureans Caesar and Cassius.


    March 18, 2003 - 06:40 pm
    I've done a complete turn-around in my original feelings for the characters. What I felt as a teenager reading JC was that Brutus was 'noble and honorable' and I didn't question the meaning of those words. Cassius was the villain. Now, reading the play again (and again and again) I find Brutus to be cold and ambitious for public recognition and will do whatever it takes to reach his goal. Yes, Brutus was a Republican. Yes, he was an idealist but Brutus as an idealist changes my perception of an idealist, and it isn't necessarily noble or honorable. I suppose we could say Hitler was an idealist or Franco...perhaps a disembodied ideal, if held too firmly in the mind, chokes the moderating humanism of the heart?

    Cassius is emotional, even volatile, and a loyal friend which Brutus is not. Antony is ambitious too and vengeful; he knows how to move a mob but I doubt he has the ability to run a government.

    Does anyone besides me see Caesar growing in stature as each of these lesser men try to assume his place on the Roman stage? And did we really know Caesar until this third act of the play?


    MEG, I read first for pleasure. I'm a writer and poet and I automatically notice such things as allegory, metaphors, similes and the other techniques; I've studied Ancient History because I love the Ancient literatures (among others). So I notice things as I read; but I don't dwell on those "things" on a first reading because first I want the pleasure of entering a book's world and losing myself in it. Only later will I return, if I find the book interesting, and give a close reading & research if necessary...and a third, or fourth depending on how complex the book and how deep my pleasure in the book.

    I tried these book discussions without reading the work first but found I missed out on so much over the length of a one-month discussion. I finally decided that to get the benefit of everyone's comments, experience, knowledge, insight -- like having my own private tutors -- it helped if I read the work before the discussion. The one time I can't do that is with a mystery because I don't want to know the ending of the book until near the discussion's end. Anyway, that's how & why I read -- for both pleasure and learning.

    I sidetracked myself again and will come back later tonight to try to answer some of the questions posed by everyone.


    March 18, 2003 - 08:25 pm
    Oh boy, Anne I don't doubt Antony's genuine affection for Caesar either, but I think when it came to this speech he had a big Plan. His mission is to win over the mob, and to do this I think he's blanked out everything else except what it takes to do it.

    I had to chuckle at your Kieran Perkins reference. I thought, nonsense, I remember him very well! But, I can't think of his name, his face is clear, but the name escapes me. How many points do you want for that?VBG

    Marvelle, when it comes to Brutus, I'm feeling a little bit more kindly towards him now. I really believe it's the whole Rome thing, that I mentioned a fair way back. I really can't see anywhere where he says, now I'm going to be the Big Cheese around here.He says

    The Question of his Death is enroll'd in the Capitol: His Glory not extenuated, wherein he
    was Worthy:nor his Offences enforc'd for
    which he suffered Death.

    Does this mean literally written out and deposited in the Capitol for the consideration of the powers that be, I wonder? That doesn't seem the act of an about to be dictator.

    Ginny, I truly believe that two honourable people can believe two diametrically opposed ideas, Here in Oz, we had a Referendum on becoming a Republic, or staying a Monarchy, and there were passionate honourable people on both sides of the fence.

    You asked about the meaning of "resolved" in, "as rushing out of doors to be resolved If Brutus so unkindly knocked or no:" My Guide says to be resolved means to have all doubts removed.

    Maryal, so true, the thing we remember best is the last thing we hear! I guess that's why in court cases, the Barrister who sums up last has a subtle advantage. If only Brutus had more of a common touch, there would be a different outcome to this story. As soon as the deed is done, Brutus is out of there mentally. He's moved on, to his detriment.

    If only he'd had a little more understanding of the role feelings play in anything, he would have been so much more careful. Caesar, had the common touch. Using Anne's analogy to Diana, I remember the depth of feeling against the Queen immediately after Diana's death when the people of England and London in particular were grieving so badly. The Queen didn't lower the Flag to half-mast at Buckingham Palace( I forget the exact reason, something to do with protocol?) and didn't appear in public.

    The newspapers were outraged, "Ma'am, your people are hurting!", screamed the Headlines. A lot of words like cold and unfeeling, were bandied about. I don't think that's true, but she often comes across as remote and lacking in emotion, utterly unlike Diana. I can see so many parallels to Brutus and Antony, in the actions of Elizabeth and Diana.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 18, 2003 - 08:48 pm
    Marvelle thanks for your post - yes, I can see now that Caesar would be an ep - I am still having trouble though seeing Cassius as an ep - but than I am not experienced in seeing the signs and yes, other sites seem to say he is an ep - it is just that his ability to reason, read, understand people gets in my way and I have not read as much about the Epicurean Philosophy - in fact I was surprised to find how difficult it was to find information on the net about the Epicurean Philosophy. And yes that much I learned, as amazing as it seems, folks like Hitler were Idealists.

    Interesting how we all see these characters differently - I think Brutus was cut off from his emotions long before he studied stoicism - it is like the man is frozen and needs to run everything through a calculator of right, wrong, will it advance my needs or not - actually I understand and can have compassion for Brutus as compared to Antony who, to me simply sweeps in and uses a bad situation for his own benefit - to me he is really low when he works the crowd so they would turn against Brutus. Whew - now that to me was brutal. As horrendous as murder is, Casear is dead - where as Antony effectively assures Brutus a living death without a trial, as if Brutus alone were the murderer and the architect of the plot to kill Caesar.

    I guess I keep picturing what it would be like if 12 members of Congress were to knife to death one of our Presidents as he stepped into the Senate chambers - would there be a Senator that would take advantage of the situation to promote himself? I wonder...and what is even more amazing is how we often think that is what ought to happen to other rulers that we believe are evil. They should be taken down by their own people and yet, it would be just as horrendous if we think of all men equally and remove our expectations of how they govern.

    Then even more I think of all the deaths in history because men fought for more personal freedom and liberty - that is when I freeze not knowing what price freedom and liberty, how many are pure in their intent fighting for self-determination rather than living as a victim of fate, a cog in a mechanical universe, pawn in society.

    Determination says that everything happens in the universe by the laws of nature but it does not say that any event is inevitable, it insists only that if certain conditions exist, then a certain kind of event will take place. Where as Fate says our destinies were already decided for us, no matter what our actions, the outcome was settled therefore the action of a person is not different then the movement of a glacier or the growth of flowers.

    One other difference that I brushed up on was the list of Aristotle's moral virtues - one big difference for most of us to accept or understand is that Pride to the extreme is on the list where as to a Christian pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Another virtue is Wittiness, buffoonery, boorishness which we think of as a personal asset but rarely as a virtue. Aristotle thinks that people who are incapable of telling a joke or who tell a bad joke are actually inferior. Fun is an important. And the concept of Justice, cardinal to the Greeks, the need for lawful and fair treatment of men which as both Aristotle and Plato discuss does not mean equal treatment of men. Justice is simply the mean between two extremes and has nothing to do with retribution, getting even.

    Hadn't looked for any wittiness in this play but I remember a site speaking about it - can't find it now but it would be neat to look at that aspect of the play.

    March 18, 2003 - 11:31 pm

    Reading any of the posts in BOOKS is like having our own "private tutors." I never thought of it in that way. How true!

    March 18, 2003 - 11:46 pm
    I have not read all of Act III. Have I been taken in by Antony? Am I one of the mob? Am I fickle? Many times I am fickle in these discussions.

    Anyway, I felt that Antony truly meant what he said. I sincerely felt that Antony loved Ceasar. I don't see Antony's speech as wrong. Antony was overcome with emotion because these people had murdered his friend. It's like when a relative or friend dies, you want the whole world to stop and take notice, to feel your pain. Antony wanted the world to stop spinning! He had lost his beloved friend.

    Antony used his mouth to get everyone to feel what he was feeling. I can't feel angry with Antony. Perhaps, later I will see what others have already seen in Antony's motives. For now, I see him crying, and he wants the world to cry with him.

    As far as honorable. Brutus' murderous act was not honorable, but I feel that his intentions were honorable. I think there is an old saying or cliche, "the way to hell is paved with good intentions."

    And Marvelle, I have not forgotten the definitions of honorable that you tried so desperately to share with us. It's just difficult for me to grasp the idea, but I do get it! Ancestors, etc.

    March 19, 2003 - 01:13 am
    A century ago in Paris the painter Degas thought he would write some poems. A week after he'd made this decision, he met his friend Stephane Mallarme, the poet, and Degas lamented that despite much time and effort his poems weren't good enough although he had many ideas. Mallarme replied "But my dear Degas, poems are made with words, not ideas."

    The function of poetry is to create an emotional reaction to the sound and sense of words. That's the basic PURPOSE of poetry; the poet's aim is to shake the listener to a waking state & to feel life in all its intensity.

    The sound of poetry rests with rhythm, meter, the nature and order of vowels and consonants, alliteration & all sounds, the flow of the poetic line with its stops and starts that add emphasis to particular words; so different from average prose.

    Looking at the two orations in the heading, and speaking them aloud, the differences between the two are clear. Spoken aloud -- with punctuation to mark a pause or a line break; & the length of a line -- there is emotional intensity and compression to Antony's speech. While Brutus' abstract ideas run together with little rhythm or pauses. Brutus' speech doesn't aim for an emotional reaction. Nor does it attempt to persuade.

    A poem consists of the suggestions that the words accumulate, one word laid next to another to another, in addition to a dictionary meaning to a single word. Antony's oration has done this & the sum is greater than its parts. Brutus' rhetoric has not succeeded in part because his ideas don't string together into any greater meaning or emotional truth.


    March 19, 2003 - 01:34 am
    HATS, you always bring wonderful common sense into a discussion. (We were posting at the same time.) You say that "Antony used his mouth to get everyone to feel what he was feeling." That's what a good poem does.

    I agree that Antony felt deep grief and he moved the crowd to grieve as well. But he also deliberately moved their emotions in another direction with his words of "traitors" and "mutiny" and the repeated use of "wrongs."

    IMO Antony mourned and he wanted revenge & control (which he got for a moment with the crowd). He was a complex man as were all of our Romans.

    I've been trying to figure out Ginny's question: Has there been enough demonstration of character flaws or a tragic flaw for Caesar to justify his being called the protagonist of this play?

    I'm going to rest overnight on this question which isn't as easy as it initially appeared to me because another character keeps intruding into my thoughts about Caesar's flaws. Perhaps someone (HATS? with your common sense) can tackle the question too.


    March 19, 2003 - 06:04 am
    An Analysis of Antony's Speech .. by Marvelle

    March 19, 2003 - 07:22 am
    Flowers are budding,
    Back porch is mudding,
    Birds returning
    March winds churning!!

    Ginny is hanging on for dear life.
    She will be back as soon as the storm passes

    March 19, 2003 - 07:37 am
    Pat, I like your poem. I am in the mood for spring.

    March 19, 2003 - 10:46 am
    Back again, and way behind. Antony's speech is unquestionably a masterpiece. He completely turns the crowd from one belief to it's opposite. Yet you notice he remains within the strictures he agreed to when Brutus agreed to the funeral oration. He repeatedly affirms that Brutus "is an honorable man", while convincing his hearers that Brutus has acted dishonorably. (I wonder if any of the politicians of Shakespeare's day were smart enough to hire him to write their speeches. :>) ) ...Babi

    March 19, 2003 - 10:48 am
    PS: I think I must opt to be a "countryman". I don't think I would have qualified as a 'friend' of the mighty Caesar and I cannot agree with the 'Romans'. ..Babi

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 19, 2003 - 10:57 am
    Pat - when I click on Marvelle's analysis all I get is a gray screen -- HELP...

    March 19, 2003 - 11:09 am

    I am a "countryman" too.

    March 19, 2003 - 01:09 pm
    Babi, welcome back, and we'll add you and Hats as Countrymen asap!!

    Dodging lightning bolts here ahahah and it's to continue and get worse tomorrow, Tomorra is to be a horra , hahaha, apparently, so am flashing in when possible, have really enjoyed taking your printed out posts and having a nice rainy morning with Jules and your company, loved the Tutor thing, Marvelle, Companions in Learning! More on you all in the next post, some random lightning jolted thoughts first, hahahahaa

    I'm kinda agreeing with Hats on Antony here, tho I think there's something of what everybody said in him. I think there would be something wrong with somebody who just the day before looked on the bleeding dead body of a friend unjustly murdered and did not feel some anger, even in 2003, and a sense of wanting somebody to pay. I think of Elizabeth Smart, even though not murdered, thank God, but how her father must feel with the revelations of the prosecution this morning. You have to remember Antony predates Christian theology and the necessity of forgiveness, and it's obvious that Vengeance is something very much on the minds of the times. I have a stunning photo coming up of what remains of a temple Augustus built to Julius Caesar, the result of a pledge he made before Philippi, The Temple of Mars Ultor ("the Avenger.)" I think at this point in the play via Antony's speech, a new character enters the play, "Revenge," and stays until the very end.

    I think the power of the Plebeians and their importance is once again underscored by Shakespeare in both Brutus's and Antony's speeches: would the Groundlings of his day have appreciated that?

    Brutus may have decided on prose to be "one of the guys," and fit in with the crowd a bit better. It's straightforward (though the repeating phrases are beautifully written) and simple. He couldn't very well stir them up in pity for the murder victim, so he takes the high road, throwing in a few "tears for his love," and trying to appeal as concerned citizen right along with them. They seemed to understand him?

    Ironically Antony even though using poetry, blends with the common people better, and understands them more. Appealing to their emotions, he weeps openly, showing a vulnerable personal side, he comes down from the podium to mingle among them, unafraid, indicating he's one with them, and he uses all sorts of devices to move the crowd. One thing he does, I love the name of, is praeteritio when you say you won't mention something and then go right ahead, as in :" It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you....'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs." (They do now). It also has the effect, I think, of making the listener listen harder and pay more attention to what might be behind words, which the crowd certainly does. There are plenty of "honorables" after that and the mood changes, as marvelle pointed out stronger words enter the picture, and words like "envious, unkindness, ingratitude, traitors" enter the picture.

    That speech is a masterpiece of psychological manipulation, and I can't think less of Antony for it, he wants vengeance, he's angry and he's grieving, it's just one day after the event, I think he just wants vengeance without too much thought for what will happen, but again, I'm not sure because of the word Mischief which he uses at the end, how did you all take that? A mob mentality is such a dangerous thing.

    And of course what happens is in the last scene, we all need to read this now, as we are coming to the end of the week and Act III, and we can see another horrible murder, (which really happened), and we can see in scene 3, the anarchy and hysteria and , the atmosphere of the city. In this murder of the wrong man, it's possible to make another parallel to the other murder of a wrong man, and although Caesar, as Barb, said is gone, after all, it looks like his memory is still dominating the people in the play, and Revenge, having been called forth by Antony ( and even stated so by the Second Plebian: "Most noble Caesar! We'll revenge his death, " III,ii, 258) begins to play a role. Caesar's body is dead, but his memory lives on, in the hearts of those who mourn him, now the populace, and it will be interesting to see where else this dead Caesar appears.

    I like best, I guess, in all of Antony's lines, tho it's hard to pick just one, like a Lays potato chip,
    "O,what a fall was there, my countrymen!
    Then I and you and all of us fell down."


    March 19, 2003 - 02:00 pm
    A few odds n ends here before I am totally blown off the planet hahahaha by the storms, Ginny Ann your question is driving me nuts, did you have that as an ulterior motive? Haahahah "Greybeards," the Romans were clean shaven, why does Caesar call them greybeards, inquiring minds want your giant brains to come up with something, what do your texts say? Inquiring mind going nuts here.

    Anneo, another vote for the Skakeseare's Corner, we appreciate that enthusiasm! Your life's on hold hah? Hahahaah Me too, but it's fun to wallow as you put it, it sure is. There's a real satisfaction in doing something the best you can, I don't care what it is, and I agree with marvelle (that was beautiful, marvelle), about the value of the group experience here.

    Meg you wrote a gorgeous thing I want to use again about facilitation (am not sure that's what you were referring to at all but that's how I want to use it) haahaha Many thanks!

    Anne, how is "nous" pronounced? Like the French (noo) or the New Jersey (nouze) or? How?

    Barbara, thank you for that wonderful explanation, and links, I loved the Lykken quote, there's a hot new book out right now that espouses the same thing, I wonder if this precept of Epicureanism is making a comeback. Yet I got hung up on your reducing "man's natural anxiety," I would say Cassius is about as anxious and wound up as you can get, maybe in that way he's different. (I see our man Cassius as just plain green eyed an driven, myself).

    Marvelle, Brutus's being a Stoic makes sense! That explains a lot about him, poor guy and actually gives me more empathy to him. I'm having to WORK at empathy for Brutus because of what he did, but I'm coming around: the "idealist" theory is helping me explain him.

    I agree with you totally about how age has added so much difference to our understanding of these characters.

    Jan ,excellent question about "The Question of his Death is enroll'd in the Capitol." I don't have a clue what that means, do any of you have any sort of explanations in your texts?? Thank you very much for the resolved definition, even when I had it I had to figure it in several times, I'm not sure what Shakespeare meant there? What does that mean, Brutus knocks by stabbing and the blood rushes out.....not to be denied? Oh it's tickling but I can't GET it?

    Oh interesting parallels you and Anneo have made on the Windsors and Diana....I would say if I had to that she got her wish, she's the People's Princess, in spades, she won at the end, and maybe Caesar will too, you never know. I know one thing, making him a martyr is not going to help Brutus's cause. They might also have thought of that one? I spent much time this morning trying to figure out what they COULD have done differently?

    IF Pompey had just done what the Senate voted, IF he had just met Caesar as an equal THEN Caesar would not have crossed the Rubicon .. I really don't see that Caesar had any other choice...and he would not have been killed. POMPEY is the man who was entrusted with the security of Rome and who fled the city like a distracted chicken, leaving it in disarray. Poor Brutus, I don't know what he thought would happen, but I have a feeling it's not what did happen.

    Barb, that stuff about Determination and Fate, Free Will etc., is, I have read, important to the play, but I can't grasp it enough to see when it's happening and/ or not, so please keep us alerted when we should be noticing it, because I won't know!

    Pat, thank you for putting up Marvelle's wonderful analysis, am going to add some more points to it too, like Maryal's and those here who analyze them, for a final document comparing the two: ready reference for people wanting to look at the speeches! Many thanks to you for your unsung tireless work in this discussion!

    Loved the poem, did you write it yourself?

    And again in Act III we have poor Cinna, another person who disregarded omens (I really MUST get back to my Artemidoris theory!) (he dreamed he ....let's look at that, Barbara, where are you with the Determinism and the Fate, and the Free Will, let's all look at this:

    I dreamt tonight that I did feast with Caesar,
    And things unluckily charge my fantasy.
    I have no will to wander forth of doors,
    Yet something leads me forth.

    What's going on here? Another man ignoring or misunderstanding the omens and signs and "something" leads him forth? I don't know what's being said?

    These last scenes in each act, here's another strange one, we had Ligarius before, , and now we have this strange thing. Would there be any merit in looking at the first and last scenes of all three acts to see if there's a pattern? Or not? I'm not a Shakespearean scholar so I don't know, but here's another scene, seems to me something's being said but I don't know what!

    Now have we hit ALL the questions in the heading for Act III? Look up for the flashing yellow sign and click on the link? There are some from yesterday just put up, have we covered everything well enough?

    What would YOU like to bring up about Act III? Do YOU have a problem with any certain part or wording? Or an interpretation we have not covered? How about either speech, what's YOUR favorite line in either?


    March 19, 2003 - 02:06 pm
    hahaha Hats, me too! hahaahha

    NOO then, as in NOO YAWK! (as they used to say in old NJ) hahahahaa

    What a strange word "nous" is, wouldn't you love to know the derivation of it? What IS the history of that word, our Aussie Jan and Anneo? (That's how she signed her name above and I love it).


    March 19, 2003 - 02:07 pm

    You caught me!!!! I just knew you would catch me! Hahaha.

    March 19, 2003 - 02:10 pm
    hahahaah I THOUGHT I was going nuts for a minute, our Hats disappeared!!

    This is what I thought happened to her: (point your cursor in the blank space below these words and drag it for the message?)

    I thought for a minute Great Caesar's Ghost had come to the discussion and grabbed Hat's post! ahahahah


    March 19, 2003 - 02:25 pm

    Your a mess!! That is so funnny!

    March 19, 2003 - 03:15 pm
    and his speech. He certainly does know psychology as Ginny mentioned, and he knows how to play to a crowd, a fickle one (not that all crowds are not fickle).

    I've decided what I find most interesting about Antony's speech is that he does little to defend Caesar of the charge of ambition. Remember the charge is ambition, overreaching oneself, or to the Greeks, hubris.

    He begins by what is called in argument, a refutation. He says that Brutus has said Caesar was ambitious and then follows with "IF it were so"--with the implication that it may not be. In a formal refutation section, the writer or speaker admits any good points on the other side of the argument and then goes on to show why his proposal is better.

    Then Antony offers the evidence that Caesar was his good friend, "faithful and just." This has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Caesar was ambitious.

    He then moves on to the captives brought back to Rome as well as the spoils of war. This also has nothing to do with ambition. It may be a piece of evidence that Caesar was not greedy, but that's not the charge.

    Then he says that Caesar empathized with the poor--again, this has nothing to do with ambition.

    Then he reminds the crowd of when he offered Caesar the crown at the Lupercal and that Caesar thrice refused. This is a piece of evidence, the first one yet.

    And then there's the strong emotional appeal at the end--"You all did love him once. . .what cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

    At the very end of the speech Antony must pause because he is overwhelmed.

    It is fascinating to me that during this pause one of the plebians says "Methinks there is much reason in his sayings." There has been practically no reason at all. No real evidence that Caesar was not ambitios, only the crown thing. It's pure emotional appeal, and there is nothing in it that the crowd doesn't already know.

    As for those greybeards. That's one of the anachronisms in this play. There were lots of greybeards around in Shakespeare's London, so he naturally uses the term for the elders. Ginny has already noted that the Romans were cleanshaven.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 19, 2003 - 03:16 pm
    wheeee - thanks Ginny for getting back to us between the thunder bolts....

    Look all self-Determination is - is the desire for a say that we interpete as freedom, liberty, and particularly some form of democracy or representative government. Fate is really basic to those who speak of omans and the need to bribe God or the gods - that a position in life is pre-destined and so a King is supreme and a society has its class system that you do not budge from one class to another since that kind of movement would be an example of social-determination.

    I still can't see Marvelle's analysis - whaaaaa - would someone consider copying it and pasting it on an e-mail to me???

    March 19, 2003 - 05:59 pm
    ah something about my graybeards question. "As for those greybeards. That's one of the anachronisms in this play. There were lots of greybeards around in Shakespeare's London, so he naturally uses the term for the elders. Ginny has already noted that the Romans were cleanshaven." Maryal

    March 19, 2003 - 08:15 pm
    Brutius: Grant that, and then is death a benefit: So are we Caesar's friends, that have abridged His time of fearing death. Stoop, Romans, stoop, And let us bathe our hands in Caesar's blood Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords: Then walk we forth, even to the market-place, And, waving our red weapons o'er our heads, Let's all cry 'Peace, freedom and liberty!' after the body is taken away."

    Caesar had said he didn't fear death. Yet here is 'supposed friend' says he did.

    ANTONY Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot, Take thou what course thou wilt!

    I love that line. He personifies mischief and steps back from the havoc it could bring.

    ANTONY: And thither will I straight to visit him: He comes upon a wish. Fortune is merry, And in this mood will give us any thing.

    Fortune as in the Wheel of Fortune. This is something the superstitious Elizabethans would understand. Shakespeare knew his audience.

    March 19, 2003 - 09:14 pm
    Links are repaired.. These links:

    An Analysis of Antony's Speech .. by Marvelle

    Characters in the Play Examined .. by MegR

    More Interesting Links

    all work now in Netscape 4.7.. That was the only version that they didn't work... Jane found the problem..

    March 20, 2003 - 12:02 am
    "...the well-beloved Brutus stabb'd; and as he pluck'd his cursed steel away; mark how the blood of Caesar follow'd it, as rushing out of doors, to be resolv'd if Brustus so unkindly knock'd or no." (Act 3.2: 178-82)

    According to the Arden Shakespeare edition: to be resolv'd = to learn for certain; and unkindly = perhaps a play on two meanings of cruelly or unnaturally.

    The image is of someone knocking at a door -- 'let me in' -- only it isn't a wood door but a living, flesh and blood Caesar and the knock isn't by the well-beloved Brutus' gentle flesh and blood hand but by a cutting sword. Antony is describing such an unbelievable treachery to Caesar that his life's blood follows the killing weapon to confirm Brutus as the traitor. With the image of these lines, Antony shows us a Caesar who believes in friendship and loyalty and a Brutus who turns Caesar's trust into an opportunity for murder.

    Again from the Arden Shakespeare about Brutus' talk of the murderers' grievances against Caesar: "The question of his death is enroll'd in the Capitol...." (Act 3.2:38-39)

    The Arden states "there can hardly have been time for a debate in the Senate. Perhaps Shakespeare, though he does not use it in his play, had in mind another speech that Plutarch says (Sk., p 120) Brutus made in the Capitol when he and the other conspirators took refuge there immediately after the assassination."

    I discussed the 'question of his death' quote in an earlier post #406, looking at Brutus' speech. And Brutus made a serious error here, as in many other parts of his speech. His entire speech was general (noble, honor, ambition) without concrete examples. His killing of Caesar was even mentioned in the abstract, which was good for him, except he left it open for Antony to vividly describe the bloody murder. For Brutus to leave out specifics (not an abstract 'ambition') of the grievances was an error when he tells the crowd 'you can always go research our reasons for the murder if you're so inclined.' Dumb, dumb, dumb. The crowd needed to know then and there. Brutus should have used the moment, the opportunity, to show the crowd why/how he thought Caesar had to be killed.


    March 20, 2003 - 12:47 am
    Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel. Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him! This was the most unkindest cut of all, for when the noble Caesar saw him stab, ingratitude more strong than traitors' arms, quite vanquished him. Then burst his mighty heart...."

    Like Hats, the most moving lines to me are the ones above, esp the first 'Caesar's angel.'

    The imagery of Brutus stabbing Caesar as the knock at a door is stunning. A house is your safe place and who knocks normally but a friend? It was as a friend that Brutus was given entry to Caesar's home and heart and the treachery was all the more heart-rending given the trust and love of Caesar.


    March 20, 2003 - 02:09 am
    Caesar's greatest flaw is not being able to perceive men's motives, unlike Cassius. Caesar expected all men to be as he was. This is my speculation only and I hope you all will weigh in with thoughts about Caesar's flaw(s).

    Shakespeare symbolically makes Caesar deaf in one ear so he hears from only one side. (The real Caesar had no physical hearing problem.) Caesar had his own kind of naivety in that he believed that what he felt and the standards of his behavior were common to all men.


    Cassius and Caesar were Epicureans but Cassius had difficulties with being satisfied & happy. According to the wonderful links that BARB provided, the Epicurean beliefs are:

    -- don't fear god

    -- don't worry about death

    -- what's good is easy to get

    -- what's terrible is easy to endure

    -- all knowledge is based on perception of the senses (not reason)

    -- pleasure is obtained in a stress-free life, music & friends

    -- friends are our most important defense against insecurity and are our greatest sources of strength, after the truths of Epicurean philosophy

    -- more satisfying & valuable than public office is the development of personal relationships of mutual confidence for a friend will come to your assistance when an ordinary member of the public will not

    -- to live tranquilly without fear of other men, make friends. Those you cannot make friends, avoid making them enemies, and if that cannot be done, avoid all intercourse with them


    Brutus is a Stoic and the links show Stoic beliefs to be:

    -- extinguish all desires -- friendship, love, anger/hate, passion etc -- in order to be happy

    -- reason is humanity's special link to god

    -- the cardinal virtues are prudence, justice, fortitude, & temperance

    -- virtue is the only good & vice the only evil

    -- live in the present without hope or fear of the future

    Caesar so lived by his philosophy that he was willing to ignore, or couldn't see, that other men -- like Brutus his friend -- could believe and behave differently than he? But he 'feared' Cassius because he knew his philosophy and because Cassius couldn't be made a friend?


    March 20, 2003 - 08:09 am
    Have been sentenced to yet another dental torture for last day & a half. Caught up w/ post readings. Am going to do another odds & ends thing here.

    1. Ginny's said, "I thought every tragic hero had to have a tragic flaw that caused it? No?" Yep, you are right - if you're only sticking to classical definition of "Tragedy" with a capital "T". I've always preferred Walter Kerr's definitions because, for me, they don't provide a pat answer. I find it a greater challenge to try and figure out just what that "force" is. Kerr says that:
    Tragedy occurs when one chooses to fight a force greater than himself (God, the gods, nature, society etc.) even though there is most likely no hope of defeating that force and the challenger will most likely be destroyed by the encounter. This choice to challege ennobles man.
    Comedy, on the other hand, occurs when man "bumbles" against a force that may seem greater, but he is never really in danger of being harmed. Comedy illustrates our human foibles and quirks; it humanizes us.

    Example: Lots of folks claim that Hamlet's a tragedy because this prince dithers around too much and too long and that his "ditherings" (his "tragic flaw") cause the ensuing deaths, chaos & disasters that occur. But, when you attempt to discover "the force" that he challenges - you realize that it's a world with NO Absolutes. His father's been murdered and there is no absolute authority for him to turn to for justice. The law (police/courts), military and governmental authority are the murderer. Religious authority has no voice because the king(murderer) overrides its laws and rulings. Parental or familial support is impossible because his mom married the murderer. Friends are of no help - Ophelia and Laertes are swayed by the murderer's chief of staff. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are bought by the murderer, Polonius & Queen to spy on Hamlet. For me, this play is tragic & Hamlet a tragic figure because he struggles impossibly in a hopeless void of absolute authority to find justice for his father's murder. His cause is just and honorable, but there's no support or recompense for him - except for emotional support of the loyal Horatio. It's the futility of his heroic efforts that touches us. Does this make any sense?

    I know, I know! This is my personal peeve - along with naming "THE Theme" or "The Moral of the Story". No need to avoid the "theme" word, Ginny. We've seen a number of recurring themes thus far: betrayal, loyalty, two-facedness (is there such a word?), self-delusion, etc. We can add lots more to this list. For me, trying to track repeated themes or images helps me to try to figure out what the author's doing in any given work. Trying to identify "The Theme" or "Moral of the Story" seems simplistic and an insult to any writer to assume that his or her work can be reduced to one simple aphorism. Okay. I'm done with this one. Please, Ginny, no need to avoid the "theme" word! We do need to begin to consider what repeated themes, motifs, images, etc. that our Mr. Willie has provided as we continue our immersion in this play. Harummpphhhh! Bet that one surprised you!!!

    March 20, 2003 - 08:11 am
    2. Maryal - in re Antony's speech Well, you provided a real slap in the head! (laughing!) I, who listen to political speeches with great scepticism & obnoxiously mutter subtexts or editorial comments under my breath, was totally suckered by our Antony! You're absolootolly right about the no concrete evidence bit! Our Mr. Shakespeare & his Antony just reeled me in. I never noticed your points before! Congrats! Just love it when someone makes a discovery like this!!!!! Hip-hip-horray for you - for us for sharing it!!!!!

    3. Anneo said, "I dont mean (cant remeber who asked) that Caesar and his ilk stopped people from shining. Here in oz when Keiren Perkins was world champion 1500metre swimmer etc." Anneo, I was that who. This entry of yours clarified for me what you meant. I get it now. Thanks!

    4. I can't remeber who said it but "out upon thee" if we have a permanent Shakesperean corner I will be forever there, wallowing in it, to the detriment of 'my other life' which is presently on hold. Anneo (Laughing - with ya, mate!) You'll have company there too!

    5. Pat Westerdale, thank you for wonderful stuff above and for your poem! SPRING IS HERE! Today's the equinox!!! Actually saw the tops of croci peeking up in the yard yesterday! Hopefully, the last snow of this year ended with that 82" dumping inColorado yesterday!

    6. HATS-I have not read all of Act III. Have I been taken in by Antony? Am I one of the mob? Am I fickle? Many times I am fickle in these discussions. Well, this member of "the mob" welcomes you to the crowd! Don't you just love it when a writer provides something sooooo rich that there isn't just one pat way of looking at his work! That he forces you to examine and reexamine your ideas of what he's written! That's what makes reading so exciting. Remember how much we all changed loyalties repeatedly when we read House of Sand & Fog? I just love it when a writer gives us characters who are so multidimensional!

    March 20, 2003 - 08:13 am
    7. BaBi & HATS - Welcome to the countrymen group! We plebians are growing in numbers! (lol)

    8. "GINNY_I think the power of the Plebeians and their importance is once again underscored by Shakespeare in both Brutus's and Antony's speeches: would the Groundlings of his day have appreciated that? Antony for it, he wants vengeance, he's angry and he's grieving, it's just one day after the event... Ginny, a Q: Why do you say that "it's just one day after the event"? I always thought that Antony took Caesar's body directly to Pompey's statue after his talk & handshaking with the assassins - on the same day of the murder. Don't know why I think this. Why do you say it was on the next day in this play? What'd I miss? Help me out here, my friend. Oh - stopping into Mr. Cunningham's shop tomorrow.

    Meg you wrote a gorgeous thing I want to use again about facilitation (am not sure that's what you were referring to at all but that's how I want to use it) haahaha Many thanks! I'm brain foggy with painkillers - have absolutely no clue what you're talking about here. This is a real DUH moment for me on this one!????

    9. Maryal-As for those greybeards. That's one of the anachronisms in this play. There were lots of greybeards around in Shakespeare's London, so he naturally uses the term for the elders. Ginny has already noted that the Romans were cleanshaven. Maryal, it's all your fault - with bringing in that tidbit about same actor playing Caesar and Polonius! This greybeard business reminds me of Hamlet's teasing/tweaking Polonius when he says, <breakquote>"...for the satirical rogue says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lace of wit, together with most weak hams..."</breakquote>

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 20, 2003 - 11:54 am
    Meg there are many who seem to divide Shakespeare's work into only Comedy and Tragedy groupings - I am having a hard time seeing the Tragedy here in that I am lost to see a clear protagonist fighting an honorable force without hope of success - the fact that Cassius and Brutus and others do not change the course of history does not sound to me like a force stronger than their action - Those who continue Caesar's legacy are simply politically more astute and powerful. Therefore to me, this is a Historical piece, which some do give as a grouping for Shakespeare's plays. Are you comfortable with this play falling into the category of History or do you see this as a tragic situation?

    I understand that Brutus sold his soul and did not achieve his intent, but the reason was not another force - he seemed to do himself in with his speech at Caesar's Funeral. Is the tragedy in the fact that Brutus does not have the skills to carry out his ideals?

    Marvelle I love this thought Caesar's greatest flaw is not being able to perceive men's motives, unlike Cassius. Caesar expected all men to be as he was. This is my speculation only and I hope you all will weigh in with thoughts about Caesar's flaw(s) I love it because I think that is typical of most of us - we do look at others through our own experiences and understanding based on our own experiences and education therefore, we are often shocked when we learn of other's behavior that appears so off the wall to us that our mouth literally drops. I think the idea tht we only look at others expecting all to be as we are is at the heart of sensationalism - which looses its ability to shock once we accept that kind of behavior is not only possible but usual for a certain segment of society.

    I must beg one difference though - as I understand the stoic - it is not that he desires not to have or experience joy, sadness - the passions of life - but that he does not "need" them - he is not acting from a needy place - it is the word desire that many people interpret as - not wanting or trying to eliminate - rather it is the elimination of being 'needy' for these feelings - therefore, that lack of neediness can be described better by saying the elimination of desire for ... - if passions come into one's life - go for it - but do not act just to bring a feeling, a passion into our life - act with honor, dignity, justice etc. and if the by-product is any of the pleasures or sadnesses - the passions of life - so be it.

    It would be like telling a good joke - the emphasis is on polishing your skill to tell the good joke which will bring about laughter - not just off the cuff saying anything to keep the laughter going because it makes you feel good or in control of a group or because you like laughing yourself etc. etc. The emphasis is in polishing the skill not in the outcome of the skill.

    After reading Antony's speech and the follow up of his intent, it is easy to see how easy it is for public figures to sway a crowd to act as they would prefer. I vaguely remember hearing an old wives thing about 'beware the honey mouthed speaker.'

    March 20, 2003 - 12:38 pm
    Shakespearean tragedy is not Classical T and today's more personal and down-sized sense of tragedy has changed from Shakespeare's use of it. Shakespeare wrote from his perspective of tragedy and those of his times. In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar I think the problem is in deciding who the tragic hero is?

    According to A.C. Bradley, Shakespearean tragedy is:

    "a story of exceptional calamity leading to the death of a man in high estate....The calamity proceed mainly from the actions of the hero [which contributes to his death]....No play which ends with the hero alive is, in the full Shakespearean sense, a tragedy." My note: this isn't so with Classical Tragedy in which the hero may survive.

    Bradley: "In Shakespeare, the hero, recognizes his own responsibility for the catastrophe, which befalls him too late to prevent his death." My note: Caesar recognizing he didn't understand Brutus, his trust was misplaced, as Brutus too stabs him? Is this a self-recognition of his (Caesar's) pride, the greatest of the 7 Deadly Sins? Is it pride at all?

    Bradley: [Only great men in Shakespeare qualify as tragic heroes and] "...his fate affects the welfare of a whole nation or empire; and when he falls suddenly from the height of earthly greatness to the dust, his fall produces a sense of contrast of the powerlessness of man, and of the omnipotence -- perhaps the caprice -- of Fortune or Fate which no fate of private life can possibly rival." For a detailed look at S. tragedy see:



    The Seven Deadly Sins, a well-used conceit in Elizabethan times & by Shakespeare -- and the animal equivalents of the sins -- are: Pride (aka vanity)=lion; Envy=dog; Gluttony=pig; Lust=cow; Anger=bear; Greed=wolf; Sloth=goat.

    Greed is a desire for material wealth or for gain, ignoring the spiritual; aka avarice or covertness. Pride is an excessive belief in one's abilities that interfere's with an individual's recognition of the grace of god. Pride is the greatest/worst of sins from which all others arise.

    Now Decius Brutus says Caesar is vain and can be flattered (pride); while Brutus says Caesar was ambitious. What would be Caesar's fatal flaw (aka flawed perceptions & human frailty)? Pride because he thought his abilities to win people over as friends blinded him to Brutus' nature and motives, & those of other men?

    Is Brutus' fatal flaw that of greed because he covets his ancestor Super Brutus the Avenger's honor/public esteem which is an ambition? Is this the "needy place" for Brutus that BARB talks about? Brutus is a penny pincher and there are indications, later in the play, as to his greed for money-- an arrow pointed by Shakespeare to identify his flaw; just as Caesar's partial deafness is a pointed arrow to his flaw?

    Does Cassius have the fatal flaw of envy?

    In Shakespeare there can be more than one tragic hero, but I don't know if there can be three?


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 20, 2003 - 01:04 pm
    I simply see that Caeser lacked Cassius' ability to see men for what and who they are - he was blinded by his own assessment of men as you pointed out. I also think Caesar was so intent on pushing the envelope as a man who could achieve a greatness that never existed before, similar to the greatness that Rome had achieved.

    Brutus has a good heart regardless where he places it but again, he is a man lacking the intelligence to save himself or to involve others before hand or to involve the crowd after the murder. He seemed to me to be a one man friend and that one friend was Caesar - other men he was friendly with but he did not make them his friends - that says to me he was not a good people person and therefore his diplomacy to gather the public around him was lacking.

    I still do not see any words or actions that Cassius acted from envy - I know some thought his early spoken parts were words of envy - I need to go back and re-read but I remember at the time not seeing envy in his spoken part. Not a deep passion either - more like, look guys this is a problem - do you not see this problem - look how this problem is affecting and going to affect your life - we need to do something. If he was acting from envy I would think he would be interested in the crown or at least shared leadership for himself - so far I have not seen Cassius vying for leadership. I think his motive was a simple ability to see what others were missing and he wanted others to have the same ability as he had to see others for what he thought they were and how they would affect society.

    In that respect I see Cassius and Brutus as two side of the coin - one with heart the other with the mind neither with passion - where as I see Caesar with the passion to achieve greatness as so singular he has a narrow view of life and men so that he misses the wide angle view of Cassius. And so to me we have the heart, mind and spirit of Rome in these three men - Antony - - well so far he could be the jealous angle - lets see what happens - this is my first read and after the end of the play I may reverse many of my opinions.

    March 20, 2003 - 01:35 pm
    I've reversed my opinions many times already in this discussion, and will probably do so again (and again)!


    March 20, 2003 - 01:55 pm
    For me this is not a tragedy?

    Am I too simplistic? Surely we can find Shakesperean "experts" to convince us of any given point of view.Certainly I have changed my opinion here, about Caesar himself, about the value of this particular work, and about the honourable characteristics of this man Brutus.

    Dont underestimate your own opinion and reading however, because though it is now impossible for me to say who of you affected (or is it effected) this change in me, I did note in every case it was from your "feeling" of the work.

    Barbara, you do not think Cassius' view on people was coloured by his lean mean streak? Are any of us not biased in assesment of people.I am prepared to concede Brutus may have had good intentions, but a good heart escapes me. Anneo

    March 20, 2003 - 02:03 pm
    Shakespeare wrote comedies, tragedies, histories, and romances. Those are the traditional categories.

    What is interesting is that The Tragedy of Richard III, for example, is grouped under the history plays while Julius Caesar is grouped with the tragedies.

    I think that the classification of the plays into categories goes back to the First Folio edition (1623), published after Shakespeare's death. Some of his plays were published during his life, but this particular one (JC) not until the First Folio.

    Let's worry only about the difference between tragedy and comedy. The most basic definition is that a comedy is a play that ends happily (often with a marriage). A tragedy is one that ends sadly (with a death or deaths).

    Since most of you have read Romeo and Juliet which is a tragedy that ends with the deaths of the two major characters, let's use it as an example of how this play could have been a comedy. If the friar's plan had worked, and Romeo had not thought Juliet was dead, he would not have killed himself; and Juliet, upon awakening from her drugged condition, would not have killed herself. The play, had it been another play, could have ended with the reconciliation of the two families--and with the marriage of Romeo and Juliet.

    Back to Julius Caesar. If I were doing the classifying, I would put it with the history plays, along with Antony and Cleopatra. But these plays were classified as they were long ago, and it doesn't really matter.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 20, 2003 - 04:03 pm
    Maryal - hauh and whew - this tragedy thing was confounding me - so lets just now worry huh - OK by me...

    anneofavonlea I love it how we all have our own definition of words - the heart part to me is that he seemed to make decisions with his emotions and his brain seemed to only go in gear when he was trying to justify to himself his emotional response - so like buying something, most people want it but must justify its value or their right to own it by running down the rational why it would be in their best interest to act. Just as his relationship with Caesar seemed to be based on pure friendship and therefore from the heart his belief in Freedom and Liberty seemed to be also a knee jerk emotional response, not an abstract idea.

    And so to me he was operating from his heart not his brain and he was torn between two conflicting heartfelt feelings - Caesar or Freedom and Liberty. And so I see his with a strong heart - not necessarily a moral heart - but then from what I gather Rome was not about a moral heart - and again I see these three as if a coin with three heads, all representative of Rome.

    Actually to be honest Brutus scares the heck out of me - in my book anyone who chooses to act from their heart is open for manipulation and will easily fall for anyone who offers to take struggle (investigation or anything that is hard) from their experience.

    Those who offer to relieve anyone of struggle does not have an other's best interests at heart, even though they may act, or pretend to act, out of a sense of compassion, they will cheat and betray - they do not empower or make the heart centered person who has become dependent on them feel proud of them selves but rather simply take advantage of the person or the situation. In that respect I see Brutus not having turned ot other sources to verify what Cassius has said and I see Brutus having been used by both Cassius and Antony - Brutus did not put his head in gear. He was too busy fighting his inner battles.

    Maybe because it was done more public or, for his personal climbs to glory and power or, that he climbed on the back of Brutus - what ever- I have more problems accepting what Antony did than I do Cassius who also manipulated Brutus. Maybe it is because I too would go to the ends for Freedom and Liberty where as Antony seems to be all about getting power.

    March 20, 2003 - 07:05 pm
    I have finished Act III, Scene, III. Poor Cinna, he can not win! Those people were going to beat him whether he was a poet or a conspirator. The mob was angry and just wanted to kill and destroy. They have been aroused by Antony. Now, I can see that Antony's uncontrolled love as led to evil.

    Now, I am a bit angry with Antony, but Antony is not totally responsible. No matter what they were told by Antony, I think the people were responsible for their own emotions.The masses should have listened, thought and weighed their decisions. It was up to the crowd to remain in control of their emotions.

    Now, I am ashamed to be a Plebian. I would like to divide myself between Brutus and Antony. Brutus used reason and Antony used his emotion. To be a complete man, we must have reason and emotion.

    Meg, I see many themes. One theme I see is that it is important to control our emotions. We have to remain in touch with our minds as well as our hearts. Secondly, we can not blame others for our actions.

    March 20, 2003 - 07:24 pm
    Our Hats, just love your honest, common sense! Yup, we plebes have our faults as well as Antony & Brutus. Know what? I like this theme that you note. Want to sleep on it some more. Ginny, can we possibly start a list of repeated themes, images etc. in this play at the top?

    Barbara said, "Meg there are many who seem to divide Shakespeare's work into only Comedy and Tragedy groupings - I am having a hard time seeing the Tragedy here in that I am lost to see a clear protagonist fighting an honorable force without hope of success - the fact that Cassius and Brutus and others do not change the course of history does not sound to me like a force stronger than their action - Those who continue Caesar's legacy are simply politically more astute and powerful. Therefore to me, this is a Historical piece, which some do give as a grouping for Shakespeare's plays. Are you comfortable with this play falling into the category of History or do you see this as a tragic situation?"

    Barbara, Yup! Totally agree with you. I loved it when you asked the following Q earlier! You asked the question -"Are there no heros in this story? You expressed something that had been nagging at my lazy brain & I hadn't been able to put into words yet. For me, a literary tragedy has to have a protagonist. Just haven't felt that any of our Roman guys in this play fit the bill. That in & of itself disqualified this play as a tragedy for me. Yes, I agree with you that this drama fits the historical category better.

    Marvelle comes to this subject via the "tragic flaw" strand. Marvelle says," I love this thought Caesar's greatest flaw is not being able to perceive men's motives, unlike Cassius. Caesar expected all men to be as he was. This is my speculation only and I hope you all will weigh in with thoughts about Caesar's flaw(s) I love it because I think that is typical of most of us - we do look at others through our own experiences and understanding based on our own experiences and education therefore, we are often shocked when we learn of other's behavior that appears so off the wall to us that our mouth literally drops. Marvelle, your comments about how each of us perceives and makes meaning of what we read rings with truth. One thing that I adore and that frustrates me at the same time is that Shakespeare gives us three guys- Caesar, Brutus & Antony. We can admire and empathize with each man AND simultaneously be disgusted or disappointed by each one's weaknesses, faults and foibles. On some very primal level, they are each of us. We each are flawed, we each stretch beyond ourselves at times - often in spite of ourselves (laughing!), we each are noble occasionally. I really can't choose one of these three men as my favorite character, though I do enjoy Antony's eloquence. (Act IV shows us that he can be as much of a stinker as Brutus!).

    Marvelle also added, " In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar I think the problem is in deciding who the tragic hero is?......Bradley: [Only great men in Shakespeare qualify as tragic heroes..." You and Maryal below, reminded me that maybe my focus should be narrowed. If I adhere to Bradley's def, that only "Great Men" can be tragic heroes - then Bradley's def would discount someone like Willie Loman or the father character (senior moment - am blanking on his name) in (Fences cannot be tragic figures/heroes.

    Anneo asks, "Can I not just say for me this is not a tragedy? Am I too simplistic?" Girlfriend, you have company in the land of simpletons! (laughing!) It's nice to have company in the land of the mad hatter! --I think we're beginning to suspect that the title of the play may be a little inappropriate!

    Maryal, our most respected, learned expert and Resident Queen of Shakespeare (I have a wonderful cardboard tiara covered in sequins for you to wear on official SN Shakespeare airings! ) advises us to, "Let's worry only about the difference between tragedy and comedy. The most basic definition is that a comedy is a play that ends happily (often with a marriage). A tragedy is one that ends sadly (with a death or deaths). You are right, I do recall way back in the day that some prof in a Shakespeare course provided this same definition for categorizing Shakespeare's plays. But, are they enough to satisfy? Don't we sell Shakespeare short by simply using marriage or death as measuring sticks? These rulers don't account for the complexity of character, nobility, strengths, weaknesses and challenges that our Willie's most memorable characters exhibit. Am I projecting 2003 MegR onto our Wills? Somehow I have a real need to see a test of the individual's mettle that makes him noble. If we stick to marriage/death def's then this is a tragedy acc. to that def, but have to admit that it leaves me unsatisfied - BUT -I yield to your Shakespearean delineations as you are our respected and acknowledged expert. (appropriate deep curtsy should come here, Maryal, but I'm such a clutz that I'd probably land on my rearend. - laughing!)

    You added, "Back to Julius Caesar. If I were doing the classifying, I would put it with the history plays, along with Antony and Cleopatra. But these plays were classified as they were long ago, and it doesn't really matter. As noted before, I agree. Think the attempts to classify here are only attempts for clarification.

    You also stated as part of your subsequent explanation and example from Romeo & Juliet, "Since most of you have read Romeo and Juliet which is a tragedy that ends with the deaths of the two major characters..." True, According to marriage/death def - this play does fit "tragedy" category. But - to stir the pot some more (laughing!), Don't you really think that this play (R&J) is pathos bordering on bathos?!!? (See what you started when you brought in that factoid about actor playing Caesar subsequently doing Polonius!) That's why it (R&J) has always been so appealing and great to read with freshmen! Right now, we have 3 definitions of tragedy. Guess each of us can choose the one that works best for each one of us.

    -------------------------Different Topic________________________ Barbara noted, "-Actually to be honest Brutus scares the heck out of me - in my book anyone who chooses to act from their heart is open for manipulation and will easily fall for anyone who offers to take struggle (investigation or anything that is hard) from their experience. " Barbara, I know this comment isn't on trying to label this play, but I think you've also crystalized something for me. I too find Brutus scary, acting only from the heart or emotions while attempting to manage or stifle them at the same time and he's easily manipulated. Think he bears this in common with the plebians that Brutus & Antony address, and we see where that ends up! Can also go into a royal rant on parallels with this type of behavior/mentality today w/ this horrific political and now military situation, but will not inflict my fervor here. Heart without logic is scary; reason without emotion is too. Which is the worse?

    Think I've babbled enough for one night! The drugs are working! Tooth's stopped throbbing. Am off to curl up in toasty bed to listen to rain & read final two acts. Sleep well all! Meg

    March 20, 2003 - 07:43 pm
    that I am a dyed in the wool plebian, acting and reading with illogical emotion.Must be the Antipodean in me I guess.

    However, I love Shakespeare, as the ordinary theatre patron of his day did, and probably have no ability to disect it.In my mind now confusion reigns supreme and my heart says stop.So I shall. Anneo

    March 20, 2003 - 09:07 pm
    Shakespearean tragedy ends in a death or deaths fed by a fatal flaw(s) of a character(s). This is pretty straight-forward. I'm interested in this play which ends in deaths and the character(s) fatal flaws although my answer to the discussion question was surely inadequate.

    HATS, love your take on the play. The poet Cinna couldn't win, could he? It actually happened. I think Shakespeare was showing the chaos of mob rule. Being a monarchist, he could have been warning England what could happen with a successor to the throne undecided? I also think this is a poet's dark humor shown by Shakespeare. Poetry has always been seen as dangerous & a form of anarchy and Shakespeare could see himself as the personally harmless and innocent Cinna in a choatic England.

    Perhaps too we've been shown in JC that neither the heart nor the mind should rule alone but be partners? Brutus' mind led him into vicious murder and disaster for all of Rome. The mob, ruled by the heart's emotions, murdered innocent Cinna. I'm with ANNE in being led by my emotions & reading Antony's speech made me more so. I always struggle with trying to achieve mind-heart in public life.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 21, 2003 - 02:14 am
    Cinna's experience as Hats points out is because of the mob mentality taking over the masses - I wonder if that is what happens when we put prisoners to death - is there still a mob mentality I wonder since we have learned mistakes were made - seems to me hangings were public affairs with a carnival like atmosphere surrounding the event - I only have the movie's from my youth as a memory but I vaguely remember black and white films with members of a mob getting the crowd revved up to be a mob as they would urge or make in fun of the prisoner as he was being readied to die - I understand not only do those protesting the death penality wait outside prisons but to this day there are others just wanting to be there - hmmmm

    As to our Cinna, talk about not being able to stop something - like as if you could put your arms out hands up and stop what ever was coming but just can't. I wonder how many in Shakespeare's audience would know about mistaken identity that led to death...

    March 21, 2003 - 02:38 am
    Barbarba, that is what I thought of too. The mob who love to picnic and laugh while the hanging takes place. I think this must have happened many times during the French Revolution.

    If I am wrong, there are school teachers here who can correct me. I am also reminded of A Tale of Two Cities in which there are mob scenes. I read the book a long time ago. I am reading Slammerkin, and I think their is a happy mob, in that book, during a hanging.

    Even today, if there is a car wreck, motorists tend to stop and crane their necks for a better sight. As a youth, I wanted to see too. I ran with my friends to see what in the world was happening. I ran with the crowd to see a school fight. Now, I look away from any turmoil. I know that injuries and death are causing someone's heart to bleed. That could be my son or grandson in that wrecked car.

    Marvelle, thanks for reminding me. This is your quote which speaks to me.

    "Poetry has always been seen as dangerous & a form of anarchy." Wow!! So sad but true. I think this happened during the Cultural Revolution. It's always the thinkers who are imprisoned, and poets do think. They have to get down into their gut and find what hurts or brings joy. I think of the Irish poets too. Weren't they feared by the English? I remember learning about a "spirit of nationalism." I call it the spirit which makes us want to protect our own cultural identity from a tyrant who might displace our language, etc. So, poets sing to reach the people.

    My facts might be totally off. Anyway, I like what Marvelle said. I have many senior moments and can't remember one fact from another, tend to mix my thoughts up and come out with a good tossed salad.

    Meg says,

    "to me, this is a Historical piece, which some do give as a grouping for Shakespeare's plays."

    Meg, I hope it can be called a Historical piece. I have learned so much Roman History from you, Barbara, Marvelle, Maryal and Ginny. And I have enjoyed trying to take it all into my tiny brain.

    March 21, 2003 - 02:54 am
    Someone might have covered this already. Brutus kept saying he would tell his reasons for his actions. I didn't read them yet. Did I miss them? But by golly, I heard Antony read that will!!

    Is Brutus a murderer and a prevaricator? I could say "liar," but I don't know whether I am misjudging him so, I won't use that term.

    March 21, 2003 - 05:20 am
    hello, my fellow Shakespearians. What good messages to read this morning. I agree with you all that it is way more complicated than just tragedy or comedy. What sets Shakespeare apart, in addition to the language, is his psychological analysis. Way before Freud and the others, he looked deep into the hearts of people and saw, guess what? Contradictions and multiple purposes. After his early plays, he doesn't provide black and white characters.

    Meg--Yes, I agree that there is something bordering on pathos in Romeo and Juliet. Still, it is formally a tragedy. Its type does not force anyone to look at it as a play of the stature of, say Hamlet. I used it only to show that a "tragedy" could have been a "comedy" without altering it very much. Not all comedies are funny, and there are funny spots in many of Shakespeare's tragedies.

    Perhaps Ginny will be out from under those thunder storms yesterday. We had endless rain rain rain in Maryland yesterday, BUT the basement did not flood, and that is very good news.


    March 21, 2003 - 07:12 am
    Good heavens, such wonderful comments, and posts, you've raised so many points! I regret I can't address each by name, there are so many.

    One of the real joys of our discussions here, for me, is that as readers, we all will come to our own opinions, and hold them, that's natural with every book you read, but our book discussions here allow us to share. those opinions with other informed and knowledgeable readers, to hopefully have the strength to debate them in cordial company, and to learn from the others. You can already see open minded readers swinging back and forth in their previously thought out positions: (Anneo, Hats) That's the joy of a book discussion (a good one).

    But here because of the company of so many informed readers, we're actually more free to push the envelope with our thoughts because we have a safe framework to work within, and are not in danger of getting too far off the beam: it's a sure haven we can advance any crazy theory (MY specialty: see bslow: hahahaha) we'd like, and bounce if off the group enjoyably and everybody think about it, and be assured we won't be TOO far wrong, because of the knowledge of all of our readership here, an assurance you don't have everywhere. I love it.

    Personally I'm going to continue to try to figure out who the real protagonist of the play is, because it interests me. It's got to be either Brutus or Caesar, the play's not over, so at the end we can ask, for those of you who would like to try, who you think it is. Scholars have wasted many trees expounding on this one point, I think for the effort we've put in so far we can, too.

    I love the new definition of Tragedy: one that ends sadly (with a death or deaths). now that one I can hang on, I may have to revisit "Tragedy" in this play, it SURE is no comedy, and I can accept this as a History play also (while whispering in the background "it's a Tragedy hahaha It's a Tragedy!") hahahahaa. Thank you Maryal for that great and easily remembered explanation!

    Odd's n Ends:

    Barbara, Pat with Jane's help has fixed Marvelle's points in the heading, can you read them now? The problem is the older versions of Netscape, apparently.

    Maryal, thank you for that anachronism definition of greybeards! I LOVE anachronisms! I love watching Hollywood's version of Roman movies and seeing the Roman soldier reveal a Rolex watch. Ahahahah Does anybody see any other anachronisms in the play? Thank you, Ginny Ann, that one went right over my head!

    What do we call that part where Cassius and Brutus refer to the play being performed many times hence? That may not be an anachronism, what was it? Was Shakespeare the FIRST to do a play of Julius Caesar? We know Plutarch wrote about it, but he did not perform it as a play?

    Here's another interesting anachronism, here's the new cover of the new book Cicero: what's wrong with the cover? Haahahahah Just noticed that last night, thanks to Maryal's way of looking at things!

    Great idea, , Meg, we can get up a list of recurrent themes in the heading, and tell Mr. Cunnings (sp) hello! (Mr. Cunnings has a candy shop in PA which makes all sorts of things by hand, INCLUDING those old timey cocoanut Easter Eggs, with the chocolate on, and they're to die for and he will ship! (FYI)

    Another very important theme we have not mentioned is the theme of misunderstanding, or misinterpreting things, it's repeated continually, and is about to be again.

    Marvelle and Hats both mention Brutus and his reasons for killing Caesar not being spelled out. (Thank you Meg for the same day head's up! I had thought it was the next day). So that means Brutus stood there clotted in blood up to his elbows. Now if we apply Maryal's analysis (forever known to me henceforth as the "Maryal Principle," how I admired that, Maryal, your analysis of Antony's speech: AWESOME and logical, AWESOME!!) we may see some new things in Brutus's speech. Actually this also reminds me of our earlier question, WHAT evidence does Brutus give of Caesar's crimes?

    If you apply .....or does this work. If we apply Maryal's Principle to Brutus's speech, does he come to a logical conclusion when he says, "Then none have I offended?"

    I don't think so.

    What actual questions does he ask?

    I've actually broken down Brutus's speech. (This is something that I just like to do, I don't know why, it's a personal twitch or something). But it is actually very tightly constructed, let's look at it a moment? (Here I need to acknowledge Marvelle who started all this looking at Brutus's speech and Maryal for the MP Principle!) haahhaah

    Brutus, clotted in blood, begins his speech, I think, nervously, with orders.

    He addresses the people and his first 7 verbs are orders.

  • Be patient
  • hear me
  • be silent
  • Believe me
  • have respect
  • Censure me
  • awake your senses

    Now we may regard these as "hortatory" or urging, pleading but I think he starts out commandingly because he's nervous.

    Then he moves into Conditional clauses (how I would love to debate here the Condition Contrary to Fact, but won't)

  • If there be
  • If then that
  • Had you rather

    In which he attempts to say he was Caesar's greatest friend (deliver me from friends like Brutus) and you all would be slaves if he were alive (news to them).

    Then he moves into

  • As Caesar loved me
  • As he was fortunate
  • As he was valiant
  • as he was ambitious

    What is this rhetorical device? The repetition of As at the beginning of clauses?

    so here the one charge is "ambitious," but that ambition is not proved in anything Brutus says except the strange charge that they are now freed from slavery, which they did not seem to realize?

    Then he moves on to these parallels:

  • There is tears for
  • joy for
  • honor for
  • and death for...

    And finally HERE are the questions:

  • Who is here so base that he would be a bondsmen?
  • Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman?
  • Who is here so vile that will not love his country?

    And each one is followed by three:

  • If any speak, for him have I offended
  • If any speak, for him have I offended
  • If any speak, for him have I offended

    Another rhetorical device.

    This is the entire speech?!? A VERY tightly wound thing of subterfuge.

    So he asks, and qualifies any negative with the pejoratives, "base," "rude," and "vile," the questions

  • Would you be a slave?
  • Wouldn't you be a Roman?
  • Don't you love your country?

    Well if you disagree with that you're base, rude, vile, and I have offended you by murdering Caesar (that's not one of the questions) Speak up?

    There's illogical reasoning there, this thing, in its way, as as tricky as Antony's.

    So they say None of us want to be slaves, would not be a Roman and don't love our country, so he says,

    Well the conclusion is none have I offended by the cold blooded plotted murder of an infirm unarmed 64 year old war hero.

    Fans of logic here or geometry will find that conclusion not proved, huh?

    The very MINUTE Brutus says "Then none have I offended," he lapses into conversation, go look!! Completely different prose, which is not full of repetitions, anaphora, or any other rhetorical devices. It's almost as if you can see him exhale. OK I put that one over, whew, now let's talk.

    That's an amazing speech, viewed grammatically, really?

  • Ginny
    March 21, 2003 - 07:44 am
    I spent much of yesterday in the rain trying to figure out only one thing:

    Is it possible for an idealist to act in a dishonorable way to achieve his goals?

    Does the performing of dishonorable deeds destroy the idealism in the first place and prove that he was never an idealist in the first place?

    In Brutus's case, could he have had some vague notion of idealisms of Republicanism first and then put on the mantle of Idealist after the deed?

    You know, when I think of committing murder, I think of extreme circumstances, really extreme. To save your own life, to defend your children,...I'm not seeing that here.

    What other possible venues were open to Brutus?

    Let's look at Act IV Sunday Monday and Tuesday and move into Act V on Wednesday if you like? We're about to move away from Rome and on to the battlefield, and we'll now meet Octavian and see a side of Antony we did not know existed. Remember Octavian was a teenager (our Australian Cohorts will love this) of...was he 18 or 19? at this point and Antony was a seasoned soldier 20 years his senior, we need to remember this and watch our man Antony.

    I meant to get this in yesterday, March 20, the anniversary of the actual funeral, I regret, due to the storms, I could not. It seems a shame, to me, in the Forum so filled with stunning triumphal monuments like the Arch of Titus, that this pitiful thing of Caesar's remains, but it was a temple, but it's gone, and they're trying to put some shelter over this rock, but here's something you might enjoy seeing:

    The site of Caesar's funeral pyre in the Forum in Rome in 2002:

    The Site of Caesar's cremation preserved in Rome: click to enlarge:

    This photo is reproduced with the kind permission of René Seindal, and was taken 2002-09-04. Here is a link to his beautiful site: Photographs and explanations of Rome.

    From the site:

    T he Temple of Caesar (Aedes Divus Iulius or Templum Divi Iuli) was built by Augustus after the senate deified Julius Caesar after his death. The temple was dedicated August 18th, 29 BCE. It stands on the E. side of the main square of the Forum Romanum, between the Regia, Temple of Castor and Pollux and the the Basilica Aemilia.

    After Julius Caesar was murdered, his body was carried to the forum, near the Regia, which was his official residence as pontifex maximus. A funeral pyre was built and his body cremated. Initially a commemorative column was erected on the spot with a dedication to the "father of the fatherland", but soon after Augustus started the construction of a temple for his adoptive father who the senate had declared a god. The temple was finished and consecrated in 29 BCE.

    The temple was built in the Italian style. It rested on a tall podium in opus caementicium with access stairways on the sides of the temple. It was prostyle, hexastyle with two columns on the sides of the pronaos. No columns have survived but the temple was probably of the Corinthian order. In the front of the pronaos there was a semi-circular recess with a small altar inside. This might indicated the location of the funeral pyre. The protective wall in front of the altar was added later by Augustus.


    March 21, 2003 - 07:48 am

    Thank you for sharing the photos. It adds to my reading of the play.

    March 21, 2003 - 07:58 am
    Thank you Hats! I hope you and everybody here will love this one!

    Herewith a labor of love, my personal passion, worked on this all day yesterday, because of SN regulations about numbers of photos in posts (when a DL wants to include photos and has no room in the heading) I now have to spread this out over 3 posts, I apologize for that, but I hope you enjoy it.

    I thought maybe before we left Rome for the battlefield Sunday, our Australian young Cohorts and our avid readers here might enjoy seeing just one of the engineering triumphs of the Romans, something of great fascination to me, an example of Roman engineering and hydraulics: the Aqueduct.

    The Romans did not invent the aqueduct, but elevated the concept to new heights. Over a distance of more than 500 kilometers on what Goethe called "a succession of triumphal arches," the Romans brought tremendous volumes of water, estimated at 150-200 million gallons per day,(Guide to the Aqueducts of Ancient Rome... Aicher) into the city of Rome, stored it in various stages of collection tanks, and distributed it to the 13,000 public fountains, 11 gigantic public baths called Thermae, 856 other public baths, and wealthy private homes, which did have running water. The water also helped flush refuse from the city in the huge sewer, the Cloaca Maxmia, still in use today.

    The aqueduct

    illustration of aqueduct's path: click to enlarge:

    operated on a principle of water running along a channel on the top, slanted to a gradual fall to control the volume and pressure. Among the more famous aqueducts the Romans built remaining are this one in France, (Gaul) the Pont du Gard

    The Pont du Gard in France: click to enlarge:

    which has the astounding drop of 7mm over a hundred meters, an amazing feat of engineering.

    Julius Caesar would have known four of the eleven eventual aqueducts, the Appia (312 BC, 75,000 cubic meters a day) the Anio Vetus (272-269 BC) (180,000 cubic meters per day.), The Marcia (144-140 BC: 190,000 cubic meters of water per day) and the Tepula, a warm water channel from a hot spring often mixed with the others as desired, (126-125BC) 17, 800 cubic meters per day.

    The Aqua Marcia of Caesar's day is still partially seen here

    The Aqua Marcia in 2002: click to enlarge:

    in remains in a park in the suburbs of Rome in 2002. This Park of the Aqueducts has an astonishing confluence of mammoth arches and aqueducts. Here the Claudian arcade

    The incredible sight of the Aqua Claudia in 2002: click to enlarge

    marches into the countryside.


    March 21, 2003 - 07:59 am
    The Aqua Claudia, built in 38-52 AD, was 69 kilometers long and 67 meters high, bringing in 185, 000 cubic meters of water per second into the city. Its mammoth ruins

    The Aqua Claudia up close: click to enlarge:

    even now inspire awe, tho they let archaeological tour busses drive underneath it!

    When water came into the city, the public fountains came first in distribution, and then the baths, and then the private homes. The most famous Roman Thermae or huge Baths left in ruins are the Baths of Caracalla (212 A.D. )

    Reconstruction of the Baths of Caracalla: click to enlarge:

    (capacity 1,600 bathers) and Diocletian(300 A.D.),

    The Baths of Diocletian: click to enlarge:

    (capacity 3,200 bathers) huge complexes of many acres, with tremendous mammoth vaults, hot rooms, cold rooms, saunas, warm rooms, gymnasiums, pools, the Super Gym of the ancient world.

    The Baths of Diocletian were partly saved by Michelangelo, and are now the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Michelangelo adapted the huge tepidarium (or warm room) of the Baths of Diocletian, the largest bath ever built in Rome, and thus can be visited today. This room is a jaw dropping experience, the vastness of the ancient vault is simply almost unimaginable

    March 21, 2003 - 08:02 am
    The warm rooms of the baths were achieved by means of hypocausts

    hypocaust: click to enlarge

    Here heating for a caldarium or hot room is shown. From the oven, hot air passed under a section of the pool, maintaining it at a constant temperature as a result of the convective flow typical of fluids, which means that cold water tends to fall and warm water to rise. The hot air was conveyed to the hypocaust (the cavity under the floor which was supported by pillars) and then rose to the vents on the roof, flowing through the brick pipes that entirely covered the wall s of the caldarium. (Ancient Rome) The floor was often too hot to walk on and bathers used wooden-soled clogs. Ruins of hypocausts can be found in every country the Romans occupied, here a model in France

    hypocaust model: click to enlarge

    showing how it worked. One of the best extant examples of hypocausts is in Bath, England.

    One of the greatest contributions the ancient Romans made to the world was in the area of engineering, construction, and architecture, and their aqueducts, still seen in satellite photos of Africa, stand, aided by the detailed descriptions of them by Frontinus and Vitruvius, as monuments of achievement in the ancient world.

    The Claudian Aqueduct, Rome: 2002: fabulous close up: click to enlarge!

    NOW I'll quit hogging the conversation, hahaha but not before pointing out the fact that the Park of the Aqueducts is something that many visitors to Rome have never seen, only recently available from the Archaeological Society's Archeobus for the Jubilee (which may be discontinued any day now). So it's rare to have the opportunity to veiw it.

    What do you think about Brutus and his dishonorable act, we know Idealists make mistakes, but do they do dishonorable things in the service of Idealism? Or is there some way we can see the murder as honorable?

    Does that render it not Idealism but something else?

    Let's hear from YOU? It's YOUR opinions we are discussing!


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 21, 2003 - 08:54 am
    In respect to Hats - had copied an Poem in the Poetry folder that particularly affected Hats so much that she asked if I would bring it here to this discussion - rather than copy it I am providing a link - the poem is in post #43 - I notice that even though I copy they post number in the URL it sometimes picks up the posts just before or after so just look for post #43 - I belive Hats responded in posts #45-46-47

    - Poetry" 3/19/03 5:55am

    March 21, 2003 - 09:05 am
    Thank you, Barbara, here's the whole post, it's amazing how reading one work of lieterature informs others:

    In Edit: here is the entire original poem from Barbara's post to which Hats refers below:

    An Irish poem...

    A Grafted Tongue
    by Johm Montgue

    bloodied, the severed
    head now chokes to
    speak another tongue -

    As in
    a long suppressed dream,
    some stuttering garb -
    led ordeal of my own)

    An Irish
    child weeps at school
    repeating its English.
    After each mistake

    The master
    gouges another mark
    on the tally stick
    hung about its neck

    Like a bell
    on a cow, a hobble
    on a straying goat.
    To slur and stumble

    In shame
    the altered syllables
    of your own name:
    to stray sadly home

    And find
    the turf-cured width
    of your parents' hearth
    growing slowly alien:

    In cabin
    and field, they still
    speak the old tongue.
    You may greet no one.

    To grow
    a second tongue, as
    harsh a humiliation
    as twice to be born.

    Decades later
    that child's grandchild's
    speech stumbles over lost
    syllables of an old order.

    In Julius Ceasar, my mind wandered onto this sort of situation. This part of the poem moves me to tears.

    To grow
    a second tongue, as
    harsh a humiliation
    as twice to be born.

    Decades later
    that child's grandchild's
    speech stumbles over lost
    syllables of an old order.

    I think this poem should be taught in Literature classes but also in History classes. Very, very, moving.


    March 21, 2003 - 01:28 pm
    Here's another great question we never got to from Act I, what do you think??

    Shakespeare wrote comedies, histories, tragedies, and romances. Why would he find Roman history an expecially fruitful source for some of the tragedies and histories? (In other words, why Rome instead of Greece?)

    That's a toughie, I have no idea, what do you all say??


    March 21, 2003 - 04:17 pm
    Actually, weren't most of the histories English? As for the Roman over Greek, perhaps the average audience would be more familiar with the Roman than the Greek, or perhaps Rome was in fashion at the time. I always bear in mind that Shakespeare was writing plays for a contemporary paying audience, not literature for future generations. It's just our good fortune that he was so great at it. ...Babi

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 21, 2003 - 05:16 pm
    Do you think it would have something to do with familarity - seems to me that not only do the educated study Latin and Greek but for Shakespaere - now just how far is it from Stratford to Haadrian's Wall? Certainly London would still have some left overs from the days of Roman Control.

    March 21, 2003 - 05:32 pm
    One of my thoughts on the play is the many times the men proclaimed their love for Caesar or that he loved them. In modern times a man doesn't talk about loving his fellow man. He is too concerned in being seen as unmanly or womanish. Or even gay. But the Elizabethan men would even cry to show their deep emotion. It was the 'in thing' to write poetry. Shakespeare and other poets and playrights often dedicated or wrote to praise their patrons.

    I can't see the real Romans as speaking so freely of love. Admiration yes. Love no. Any other thoughts on this?

    March 22, 2003 - 08:27 am
    Barb, and Babi, those are both good points, and make sense, that's one of our Maryal's questions to which I know not, so I look forward to the explanation, too, I can't get over what all I'm learning this go around, it's quite enriching!

    Ginny Ann, I noticed that too, made me a bit uncomfortable, another super question and again I have no clue. I do know that Cicero's letters, which he did not intend published, are full, especially the ones to his best friend Atticus, of emotion and the words for love ("amo").

    Here's an example: Letter to Atticus III, 5, 6,

    I beg of you, since you have always loved me for myself, to preserve your affection for me. I am still the same. My enemies have robbed me of all I had, but they have not robbed me of myself. Take care of your health.

    The Latin is

    Tantum te ori, ut, quoniam me ipsum semper amasti ut nunc eodem amore sis; ego enim idem sum. Inimici mei mea mihi, non me ipsum ademerunt. Cura, ut valeas.

    You can see the translator used "affection" as one of the translations.

    Also here's a startling quote (with a footnote huffily saying the phrase is in doubt):

    Speaking of Caesar: (Atticus IV 19)

    If one does not fall in love with such a man, which of the others could one fall in love with?

    The Latin: Hunc tu non ames? Quem igitur istorum?

    So Shakespeare may have been aware of these letters, the various definitions of amo and its derivatives which take up pages in Lewis and Short, seem to imply Cicero as philosopher using the word in the area of personal affection or high regard, but there seem to be a million interpretations. I have no idea if they spoke so floridly to each other in person, I would guess not, actually, I notice in the play when Cassius accuses Brutus of not having the same love he once had, you could translate that as "regard," or "esteem, " so I really don't know. Maryal may know more on the Shakespeare front, or maybe our readers here can find something on the internet about personal address of the Romans, great point!

    As we start Act IV (I really think Shakespeare is assuming knowledge on the part of his audience, but you can take it either way): if you know the background, the characters are exquisitely fashioned, just saying just enough to indicate reams. If you don't, strangely enough, you may understand more in the way he presents it, let's check at the end and hear from those who knew nothing of the Romans and those who knew a bit, how their perceptions differ??

    It IS a marvelous play. Tomorrow we begin with another bit of history eclipsed. There are a couple of things you might want to know to enrich your understanding of what's going on:

    As we join Scene I of Act IV, we find the Second Triumvirate has already been convened, consisting of Antony, Octavian, and Lepidus, and the proscription in progress.

    A proscription was a strange thing, a published list of Roman citizens who were declared to be outlaws and their property was confiscated and auctioned by the state. [in this way money was raised.] Those proscribed could be killed by soldiers with impunity; rewards and punishment were used to encourage their friends and families to betray them. Sulla did one from 82 to 81BC., and was said to have named 40 Senators and 1,600 equites

    The sons and grandsons of the proscribed were excluded form public life, but were restored to their rights by Julius Caesar in 49BC.

    "It was greatly feared that whoever was victorious in the civil war between Caesar and Pompey would reintroduce proscriptions. In the event Caesar was merciful, but the Second Triumvirate less so. Their lists included about 300 Senators and 2,000 equites , among them Cicero, but may escaped, to be restored later to their full rights." (OCCL)

    So when Act IV opens we've had a time lapse, we view the Second Triumvirate, formed in October of 43, and the pricking out the names for the proscriptions. "On the first list sent to Rome Antony wrote Cicero's name, and on 7 December 43, Cicero bravely submitted to execution."

    O Antony. We need to watch Antony and Octavian, ("Octavius" in this play) to see what, if any signs of vengeance or revenge show up, I think the eve of Act IV is quite exciting, I'm glad we divided it this way. Who will be marked? Is Antony as high minded as Brutus in the sharing of power? Aren't you glad you live now and not in those times?

    See you tomorrow! Can't wait to hear what you make of Act IV!!!

    Oh, PS: Nobody sees anything wrong with the cover of Cicero? His name is presented in front of the Flavian Ampitheatre, (the Colosseum) dedicated in 80 AD, 120 some years after his death: he never saw it and had no connection with it, another anachronism, but it's pretty, isn't it?

    Does anybody have any last thoughts on ANYHING In the first three acts? NOW is the time to voice them, things are going to change tomorrow for all of us as we soon move, our Northern Star and focus gone, onto a battlefield, isn't it amazing how art imitates life? We'll do all of Act IV Sunday Monday Tuesday and Wednesday and then move on to Act V.

    Lemme just steal a phrase here from Cicero above, to keep us all in the mood, and say Curate, ut valeas! hahahaha

    March 22, 2003 - 10:22 am
    "I always bear in mind that Shakespeare was writing plays for a contemporary paying audience, not literature for future generations. It's just our good fortune that he was so great at it." ...Babi

    Yes, me too, Babi. And it is very much our good fortune that he was so invested in entertainment. He was also very successful and earned enough from his plays and part ownership in a theater that he bought land in Stratford and was able to retire in comfort. He was a rare combination of literary genius and successful businessman.

    Perhaps his greatest quality was his thoughtful consideration of the complex natures of human beings. And, of course, his gift of language--"what was oft thought but ne'er so well expressed."

    I have to read Act IV sometime today in the midst of papergrading and Bible reading.

    Ginny--Those are wonderful photos. I had no idea what was wrong with the photo on the bookjacket of CICERO which shows you how very little I know of Roman history. I even knew that I was looking for an anachronism and STILL didn't get it.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 22, 2003 - 11:28 am
    "looking for an anachronism and STILL didn't get it" ditto I need more explanation please.

    "It was greatly feared that whoever was victorious in the civil war between Caesar and Pompey would reintroduce proscriptions." was the civil war fought between Caesar on one side and Pompey on the other side or was it a civil war between the time in history of Caesar and Pompey - what civil war are you refering to - several sites and they seem to call several of the wars Civil Wars for various reasons.

    I am feeling a bit confused but then maybe if I read the scene it will all be made clear...

    March 22, 2003 - 12:05 pm
    Sorry not to be clear, Barb, (when am I ever? hahahaha)

    On the Cicero cover, the book is about Cicero's life, and purports to be an indepth scholarly look at his life and times, (the author says it's sad so many people don't know the story) and Cicero's name appears in big letters on the cover positioned in front of a photo of the Colosseum, but the Colosseum has no connection with Cicero, or his times, was not built until 120 years after his death, and thus has no bearing on the book or Cicero or anything to do with him at all, and is not mentioned in it. The Colosseum on that cover is an anachronism: something out of place from another time in Roman history.

    The quote you memtion refers to the....I guess you'd say Civil War when Caesar crossed the Rubicon? It was feared that whoever won that one, Pompey or Caesar, would start that proscription business again in order to wreak vengeance and also raise money, but it did not happen because Caesar did not do it. Not so the trio we're about to meet: the Second Triumvirate, Octavian, Antony and Lepidus, who, when Act IV opens, are doing exactly that: "look, with a spot I damn him."

    THANK you for asking, I hope that helps clear up my meandering if enthusiastic blurbles! hahahaaha


    March 23, 2003 - 04:52 am
    Friends, Romans, Countrymen! Hahaahah Here we are in the final week, settling back in our seats after the break for refreshments, and raring to go! (Thank you, Maryal, for the nice comments on the photos, appreciate that.)

    To me things are different now, am I the only one who sees change? My little Folger's paperback with the text on the right and the explanation on the left has suddenly EXPLODED with definitions and huge paragraphs. This is scary to me, I fear missing something. But with our loyal crew here, we can piece it out together!

    And the language!! Seems like I need a translator! I think we have entered a dark wood here, we need to hold hands and see if we can find the way out ...I've dropped all my breadcrumbs, Hansel. Ahahaha There are no more!

    To me the first three acts, everything up to now, have revolved in one way or the other around one man: Julius Caesar. His name is in the first scene of the first Act and the last scene of Act III.

    To me, (and this is my own crazy theory so please don't hesitate to voice your opinion) everything in the play till this point has been re active, the characters are reacting around the Northern Star, Julius Caesar.

    But now he's gone. And....is this a form of Republicanism? Many now vie for the top spot, or to run the world, and they seem all to have differing reasons, in Acts IV and V, to ME, they are proactive...so far. I'm anxious to see how long that keeps up, if it does.

    I really see quite a change, am I the only one?

    Following are some topics in hopes they may spark some of your thoughts on Act IV scenes i, ii, and iii for today, and we can do the other scenes by Wednesday, if you like, but above all, let's hear from you and what you made of Act IV!!


    March 23, 2003 - 04:54 am
    (That's Octavius on the top right in the hood, as a young man. That statue was not even found until 1910!!)

    For Your Consideration

    Week Four:

    March 22-31:
    Act IV:

    The Threefold World Divided:

    Scene i:

    "He shall not live; look, with a spot I damn him." (IV, i,
    Act IV opens with the members of the Second Triumvirate, Antony, Octavius and Lepidus, pricking out names of people to be killed in the proscription.

  • 1. What two things are revealed about Antony's character in this first scene?

  • 2. What has Lepidus done to earn Antony's emnity? Was it because he allowed his own brother to be on the proscription list?
    What do Octavius's comments about Lepidus show about him and reflect on Antony?

  • 3. How do these three men, who have divided the known world between them, compare to Brutus and Cassius in scene ii? Which group seems more honorable?

  • 4. How would you describe Octavius's attitude and bearing in scene i? Would you have guessed he was a teenager?

  • 5. How would you describe the world that the Conspiracy has thrown the characters into? Is it one of order and deliberation or chaos and tyranny?

  • 6. Why does Antony compare Lepidus to his horse?

  • Scenes ii and iii:

  • 7. What purpose does (scene ii) with Lucilius seem to serve?
    Why do you think it's in the play?

  • 8. What does this mean?

    "When love begins to sicken and decay
    It useth an enforced ceremony.
    There are no tricks in plain and simple faith;
    But hollow men, like horses hot at hand,
    Make gallant show and promise of their mettle." (IV,ii, 22ff).

  • 9. What seems to be the real cause of the disagreement between Cassius and Brutus?

  • 10.
    "For I am armed so strong in honesty
    That they pass by me as the idle wind
    Which I respect not. I did send to you
    For certain sums of gold, which you denied me,
    For I can raise no money by vile means." (IV, iii, 76 ff)

    Brutus again states his honorable and honest position. What, however, is ironic about this speech?

           Roman tent reconstruction: (right)

    The Threefold World Divided: Antony in teal, Octavian in green and Lepidus in gold:

    Questions ~ Act I Scene i

    Questions ~ Act I Scene ii

    Questions ~ Act II Scene i

    Questions ~ Act II Scenes ii, iii, iv

    Questions ~ Act III Scene i

  • Deems
    March 23, 2003 - 10:05 am
    Ginny, Thank you for that reconstruction of a Roman tent. Now we know just what to imagine when Brutus invites Cassius to come into his tent to air his grievances.

    And the map of the world divided among Antony and Octavius and Lepidus tells us a lot, doesn’t it? It certainly looks like Lepidus is given the smallest and least important part of the empire.

    These two illustrations really help me to read Act 4.

    Act 4 has its major focus, as Ginny points out, on what do we do now that the great Caesar is gone. First we see Antony checking off the names of those who are to die. (I can't help thinking of Mme. Dufarge from Tale of Two Cities with her endless knitting in which she encodes the names of those who are to die.)

    And in the same scene we see Antony putting down Lepidus. A different Antony than the funeral orator, indeed. Octavius seems very much a younger and if-not-clueless at least willing to listen to Antony participant. He says that Lepidus has always been a good soldier but nonetheless goes along with Antony's judgment. OK, here we see the side that is going to "win" and already an Antony who is going to change Caesar's will so that it is more to his advantage.

    Then we get a scene with Brutus and Cassius who almost come to blows with each other.

    It doesn't look good for Rome, not good at all.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 23, 2003 - 10:34 am
    This seems like such a disconnect If I were just seeing the play and knew nothing of Roman history - all of a sudden we have these new characters on the stage with no explanation of how they got there...

    Busy busy day...will be back tomorrow -

    March 23, 2003 - 12:52 pm
    I feel like this new order is one of "chaos and tyranny." It pained and surprised me to hear Brutus and Cassius fighting with one another. I am reminded of old westerns where a treasure of gold is discovered. It seems the robbers are brothers as long as the search continues. It is when the search ends that the robbers become distrustful of one another.

    So, with Brutus and Cassius, they could hear and accept the ideas of one another before the murder of Ceasar. Only after the murder, do they become bitter against one another.

    March 23, 2003 - 01:15 pm
    Chaos is a wonderful word for characterizing the world after Caesar--or maybe semi-chaotic since there is still some organization and the two sides have to stay together until they have the battle at Philippi.

    Barb--I think your experience of feeling that there are suddenly "all these new characters" in the play would be helped if you were watching the production. In the first scene, you would certainly recognize Antony and in the second scene, you would know both Brutus and Cassius.

    However, we are certainly dealing with fragmentation now.

    I was thinking about why Shakespeare decided to tell the story the way he did, with the death of Caesar in the middle of the play. He could have done it any one of a number of different ways.

    For example, he could have told more of what happened before the assassination.

    I think perhaps his problem was that he did not know how to end the play unless he put the assassination in the middle.

    I'll do some more thinking about this.


    March 23, 2003 - 01:39 pm

    I can't take the credit. Ginny used the word in her question #5.

    Maryal, I felt very badly about Portia's death. If I read the lines right, she committed suicide.

    March 23, 2003 - 02:25 pm
    Doesn't it happen more often than not, that when a grand scheme does not turn out as planned, the planners turn their disappointment into quarrels with one another? The quarrel between Cassius and Brutus is so well done, so true to life. Starting with resentments on both sides, building to a shouting match and harsh words spoken. Then the realization that they are going to need each other if they are to get through this mess, the backing off, the apologies.

    The question about the coldness that marks the falling away from affection and regard reminds me of a friend of my mother. She was raised in a very proper fashion by an English mother. She told me once that when she became angry or offended by anyone, she found that she became very cool, very formal in her language, extremely polite. She described, to my mind, exactly what Shakespeare was referring to here. ...Babi

    March 23, 2003 - 03:07 pm
    It's Monday morning, here and a very busy day for me, so I'll have to be brief till tonight. This Act certainly shows a whole new ball game. I must say, I feel that Antony's behaviour here diminishes the passion of his funeral speech, for me anyway. I have to feel that some of it was put on.

    Antony comes across here as man who has no sentiment. His brusque treatment of Caesar's Will, really puts me off. "Fetch the Will hither, and we shall determine How to cut off some charge in Legacies." Where's the emotion now? He's dismissed his Nephew as if discarding a piece of rubbish, and poor Lepidus, he's not even to be considered to get a part of the spoils.

    Revengeful, greedy, intolerant Antony, I'm getting a much warmer feeling about Brutus and Cassius and particularly Caesar. Cassius and Caesar are showing themselves to be very good judges of character.

    To work! I'll drag Caesar around with me on my errands and try to think deep, meaningful thoughts!


    March 23, 2003 - 03:08 pm
    Hats--Yes, poor Portia "swallowed fire." We'll have to check Plutarch to see what this means. My guess is that she swallowed coals from the fire.

    Babi--Me too. Whenever I feel cool toward someone, I become very correct and formal, falling back on old taught-long-ago formal behavior. I sometimes do the same thing when I am very angry.

    Shakespeare certainly knew what it is to be human, didn't he?

    March 23, 2003 - 03:56 pm
    Have returned to town from visit w/Mom, w/ making a gazillion stuffed cabbages, salmon patties and a continuous onslaught of tv bulletins, breaking new flashers etc. Ginny, sorry to say, Mr. Cunningham is no longer making caramels, turtles, mints, nougats or any of his specialty chocolates. Only chocolate bark w / stuff floating in it (like chunks of peanut brittle). He is making Easter eggs & solid chocolates.

    Have just read posts that I missed while out of town, added Q's & some of your observations to notepad & will come back later tonight to respond.

    Maryal, Know I was beening silly with tiara bit (I do have one for you though!), but want you to know that I do consider you our reigning Shakespeare Queen. You started my brain going off on this wacky side track w/ Caesar/Polonius actor tidbit. As I read more & more of this play, I'm really wondering if our Wills really did use it as a writing practice piece to help him figure out exactly what he wanted to say - and solidified those ideas - in Hamlet. Won't go into song & dance here,-but - am seeing more & more text evidence that might support this fancy of mine. Will post later tonight - after the Oscars. Yes I'm venal! Saw all of the movies but Adaptations & About Schmidt (I don't like Nicholson as an actor) & am curious to see what & who will win. Am rooting for our Pittsburgh boy - the director of Chicago!

    March 23, 2003 - 04:02 pm
    Hi Jan, Good to hear that you will be thinking deep thoughts while going about what you must do. I think some of my best thoughts after swimming.

    Hey, Meg, I am very glad to be offered a tiara, having never had one of any kind, even paper. I'm a movie nut too, and I recommend you see "About Schmidt" in which Jack Nicholson makes you forget that he is Jack Nicholson. I missed "Adaptation" too, but it is on my list. I also have not yet seen "Gangs of New York." I love the Oscars, even though it keeps me up way too late when I have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning.


    March 24, 2003 - 06:24 am
    I can't get over this morning thinking how instructive it is to be reading this while our own country is in the field of battle. It's helpful to me to look at the people behind the battles in Julius Caesar to see if there are any lessons we can learn for the future from the past.

    Thanks, Maryal, (I agree with Meg, the Palm d'Or to you!) actually there's a whole set of societies who reproduce and do battles in Roman gear, so we, thanks to them and Trajan's column which Barb put up earlier, have a pretty good idea of what the armor and tents looked like. That tent is not very big looking to me, to have so many people in it as Brutus invites, not much room for a ghost or for people to miss one, am looking forward to discussing that bit.

    Hats and Maryal, on Portia, at the end of Act II, she got most un-Cato like, there, bleating about "how weak the heart of woman is," and worked herself into a frenzy, now it appears she's ...what? Swallowed hot coals? Jeez, that's no help, what was she thinking of?

    We need to look at the TWO announcements of her death too and see what's going on? Something screwy there?

    When you think about it, that's some kind of hideous death, what happened to her and the knife she was throwing around before? Do you suppose she SAID something she was ashamed of? That's a strange episode there.

    (By the way, do you notice that Shakespeare, in an attempt to explain Cassius's bad temper [did Cassius deserve that bad temper? Was he the wronged one? We need to look at that] but there's a little blurb about [Act IV, iii] Have you not love enough to bear with me
    When that rash humor which my mother gave me
    Makes me forgetful?)

    And Brutus replies:

    Yes, Cassius, and from
    When you are over-earnest with your Brutus
    He'll think your mother chides, and leave you so. (Act IV, iii, 139ff.)

    I have a feeling that's a joke. But what's the punch line?

    Jan, you said, "Fetch the Will hither, and we shall determine How to cut off some charge in Legacies." Where's the emotion now?

    Yeah and where's the sense of honor or doing what Caesar wanted? Warsley estimated the amount of Caesar's fortune to be 50 million dollars by 1953 standards, that's a lot of money.

    But it would appear Antony (have been watching old Soprano reruns and can't see "Antony" without hearing Livia call Tony "AAAANNNNtony" in that NJ broad accent). Ahhahah Anyway, it would appear Antony is going to purge the list of heirs a bit.

    Lepidus is no flake, I am having trouble understanding Antony's focus here, or what he's doing.

    Antony starts out ordering Octavian around after the funeral, a Man in Charge after his oration, (tell him not to come, it's too dangerous here, I'll send for him) and guess what?

    A servant says "Sir, Octavius is already come to Rome," (again with the servants, I'm beginning to wonder what role they play in this,) note the extended Lucilius [not a servant but a soldier, but an underling none the less] episode in Act IV which I don't understand at all and the Lucius stuff as well, (ditto) What are those about? Why are they in there?

    Ok, so Octavian comes to Rome anyway. I am really struck by his demeanor. Here he is, a teenager, standing in the company of two famous soldiers and Caesar's most famous supporters, Antony and Lepidus.

    Note his remarks and the bearing he has here.

    On Lepidus when Antony for whatever reason starts

    "This is a slight, unmeritable man,
    Meet to be sent on errands. Is it fit
    The threefold world divided, he should stand
    One of the three to share it?"

    And Octavian replies (I've always loved that quote above even tho I now see I have been quoting it incorrectly a long time!) ahahahah

    "So you thought him
    And took his voice who should be pricked
    In our black sentence and proscription.

    So Antony raves on about how HE is more experienced (paralleling Cassius in the next scene?1?) and Lepidus is like a beast of burden for them.

    Is our Antony is a "user," after all?

    So Octavian, all...what 19 years of him, says, "You may do your will,
    But he's a tried and valiant soldier."

    Ok here we see something quite subtle? You may do your will....you may. I, all 19 years of me, speaking to you, the Top Man in Rome and 20 years my senior, and a famous soldier, say, you MAY (I give you leave) do your will (I don't seem to have much choice at this point) BUT my opinion which your oratory does not shake, is..."he's a tried and valiant soldier."

    I think here in these few words Shakespeare is showing us a foreshadowing of a very resolute young man who is not only NOT in awe and deference, but totally unswayed by emotional oratory, too, still feeling his way. If Antony is smart, he'll heed this. Let's see how smart Antony is.

    Reality check History records Lepidus was very smart, if somewhat vacillating at this point in time. One of Caesar's most trusted soldiers, he himself was consul in 46, and Caesar's magister equitum in 46-44 (the Dictator's right hand man when he died). He was head of the army nearest Rome at Caesar's death. This may have threatened Antony, as he certainly had as good credentials as Antony, you might say better (that's why he was one of the three in the first place) minus the funeral oration.
    Lepidus on a coin the three did, one for each of them, thanks to Marvelle for this illustration.) Hope Marvelle can rejoin us soon!

    He was also smart enough to stay out of the way. When his army deserted him for Octavius in 36, he retired to a principality, living in peace, dying in 12 or 13 BC, outliving Antony. He was married to Brutus's sister, and that did not help him, so he gracefully withdrew, and stayed out of the way of the two major figures. You see, however, that he had Octavian's respect.

    Let's see if Antony who so cavalierly dismisses him, is as smart.

    Right now Antony is delivering another impassioned speech, this time about his horse and how Lepidus is just their lackey. Why is this speech in here? What does it mean?

    And OH my gosh, what IS Brutus saying??? I can't believe my eyes, but am I right? (#10 in the heading)

    Babi and Maryal, me too, I go all stiff and formal when angry, BUT are we all saying that then when people love each other they are always straightforward? What a "oft was thought but ne'er so well expressed" moment (#. In that case, then anybody should be able to see a divorce coming, right?

    Even tho the scene has violently shifted almost as Hats and Maryal have noted (great job) to a Madame Defarge like situation, Shakespeare keeps laying on the subtlety. But why is Antony doing this? What is he saying? Do you get the feeling if there HAD been no Octavian that Mr. Antony would be Dictator Antony? He's sure not interested in sharing power and Octavian may realize that, too?

    Penny for your thoughts, we're off to a grand last week, thank you all, you've done a splendid job of it!

    Ginny Penny

    March 24, 2003 - 07:05 am
    And, just a note, you can see Pat W has put up the Recurring Themes in the heading (thanks, Pat) and now if you will bring forward ALL of the recurring themes you see in the play, we will put them up.

    Also please keep your list handy of books you will recommend to people for more reading at the end of the play.

    Also if you want to, you can, at the end, describe the various film treatments and which one or which actor comes closer, in your opinion, to what we think of this play.

    Tell you one thing, wouldn't you HATE to be an actor playing Brutus or Cassius in the, to me, hilarious "Did too!" "Did not!" "Did!" "Not!" scene?


    March 24, 2003 - 11:43 am
    Yes, indeed, Antony was a 'user'. He did love Caesar, and was fully determined to be avenged on his killers. He was also going to take full advantage of this opportunity to advance himself and clear some opponents out of his way.

    When Octavius calls Lepidus a "tried and valiant soldier", Antony's reply was that his horse was tried and valiant, but that didn't mean he was going to give him anything more than a good pasturage as a reward. Antony plans to use Lepidus and does not see him as having the strength to stand against him. In that he is apparently correct, as Lepidus discreetly retired from the competition. (Thank you, GINNY, for that information.)

    I suppose Antony expected Octavius, given his youth, do defer to him and follow his lead. As has already been pointed out, Octavius is showing signs of being someone to be reckoned with. He does wind up, as Caesar's heir, in possession of Italy and most of the Roman Empire.

    The scene with Lucilius...Ginny, are you referring to the one at the end, referring to the youth being sleepy, playing the instrument, etc? If so, the purpose of this scene, to me, is to demonstrate that Brutus is a kind and compassionate man, a considerate master. The tragedy of this play is not only the assassination of Caesar, but the ensuing death of a man of the caliber, the goodness, of Brutus. ...Babi

    March 24, 2003 - 02:03 pm
    GINNY, I'm back for a while. Still have obligations to fulfill that aren't fun but have this afternoon fairly free.

    Having read some of the history, Antony was 'left in charge' when Caesar waged war and Antony proved to be a poor administrator and didn't Caesar then replace Antony with Lepidus? So it's a matter of jealousy and unwarranted revenge on Antony's part?

    The quote in #8 is finished with

    "But when they should endure the bloody spur;

    They fall their crests and, like deceitful jades,

    Sink in the trial...."

    Such beautiful language and imagery -- of a prancing horse who is tried by a rider to its limited abilities and who is discovered to be a broken-down nag. IMO the entire quote says that weak, fair-weather friends (hollow men) start out true blue but such friends prove worthless and fickle under adversity. This is what Brutus says of Cassius but wouldn't it be more true of Brutus? Brutus as we know wasn't a loyal friend (ask Caesar) but he expected more of Cassius. Why the suspicion that Cassius had cooled on his friendship? Because he didn't readily share a bribe? And we know that Brutus was a penny-pincher and, historically, had extorted money as an official of Rome.

    This ties in to question 10 when Brutus so high-mindedly scolds an offended Cassius regarding a bribe and then, ironically -- and Brutus fails to see the irony -- demands to be given a share of it.

    Brutus still deceives himself and can complain about money without seeing the additional irony that men who murder have no moral high ground on which to stand. Cassius in this case is the realist about their situation while Brutus still thinks he can clink coins together righteously.

    Cassius is right when he said that he's the seasoned soldier, not Brutus, and the more abler of the two to make combat decisions. Yet he gives in to Brutus' rash, grand gesture, of exhausting their men in a march to Philippi when the highlands they were stationed at was strategically better for them.

    I see this as a turning point for Cassius, for whatever reason (and I hope Ginny can tell us the historical reason) -- for whatever reason, Cassius will accept what he knows is a fatal decision by Brutus to march to Philippi rather then be a "hollow man" in his friendship to Brutus. This turning point is the saddest for me with Cassius. He's a friend to the very man who has proved himself to be a "hollow man" and Cassius knows this but stays true to his Act 1 vows of friendship to Brutus.

    The entire scene does play out like little brothers squabbling or else spouses. The two spouses being an exasperated, tolerant Cassius and strong willed Brutus. We know who'll win that argument. Funny, except that they're playing with their lives and the lives of so many others.

    The argument doesn't feel to me like fighting over the spoils but more one of Brutus testing how far he can go with Cassius, although I'm not sure of this. Brutus flexing his emotional power over Cassius? Doesn't it seem that Brutus is the one with the bad-temper here? Cassius apologizes to help Brutus save face?

    Eventually Brutus too says that he's out of sorts because his wife Portia took her life and Cassius rushes in with sympathy, grateful, I suspect, to have an excuse to forgive. It appears to me to be a 'limited' emotional response by Brutus to his wife's death because I think the heat of the argument was fanned more by money than by grief. Perhaps I have a wrong impression here and it's a combination of the different stresses on Brutus.


    March 24, 2003 - 03:11 pm
    Lucilius the poet-fool leaps into the tent in fear that C&B have a dangerous disagreement and tries to jolly them out of their bad temper. It's mercurial Cassius who laughs at the poet-fool while Brutus angrily orders Lucilius out. Cassius, tried friend that he is, reiterates Brutus' command in a more tolerant manner. Lucilius' entry and departure, however, broke the spell of the tense argument and was a good transiton for the audience.

    It is at this point that Brutus, repairing more fences, tells Cassius that Portia is dead. (She took her life swallowing hot coals. Was she proving herself worthy of her stoic husband and her stoic father, Cato, who took his life in a similarly gruesome manner. Or was it something she said that shamed her as Ginny intimated? Perhaps having a 'woman's weak heart' which is not acceptable for a stoic so she had to prove she wasn't weak, as she defines weakness?)

    Next the commanders, Titinius and Messala, enter the tent -- such a busy, tiny tent! -- while Cassius says "Portia, art thou gone?" (stage direction: quiet voice? so the two commanders wouldn't overhear?) and Brutus shushes him. The commandrs get down to business and Messala tells Brutus that Portia is dead. Brutus pretends both ignorance of her death and stoicism upon hearing of it:

    "Why, farewell, Portia. We must die, Messala.

    With meditating that she must die once,

    I have the patience to endure it now."

    Now this is a sham. Brutus already knew Portia was dead but he wants to appear stoic, to live up to his image. Messala replies: "Even so great men great losses should endure." And Cassius, having been shushed once, knows now to take his cue from Brutus and says in pretend-admiration of his stoic 'greatness':

    "I have as much of this in art as you,

    But yet my nature could not bear it so."

    Art means theory. And Cassius is saying 'in theory, on paper, I may be as great as Brutus but I'm not because look how well he bears up on first hearing of his wife's death. I couldn't do so.'

    I tell you, I'd rather have a husband who grieved for me openly. It wouldn't be the stoic way; it'd be Cassius' way of grief.

    Brutus needs his image of nobility, of being Super Brutus II, of being stoic. Cassius proves his loyalty as a friend once again by helping Brutus with his honor/public image/esteem and being Brutus' audience and chorus.


    March 24, 2003 - 03:14 pm
    Great Caesar's Ghost !!


    March 24, 2003 - 04:02 pm
    So, what do you all think about Brutus' encounter with

    Great Caesar's Ghost ?

    March 24, 2003 - 08:38 pm
    Was it a ghost? I'm not sure. I lean more to the thought that it was Brutus's mind that has produced a delusion. Or even perhaps he's dozed off for an instant.I think Brutus is getting those little chilly feelings of foreboding that say maybe what we've done wasn't such a good thing. He's been doing such a good job of convincing himself and it worked well while they still had those noble ideals firmly in front of them.

    The realities of life though, mean that things like money, and what you have to do to get it, have to be faced. It's much easier for the down to earth Cassius, with his lower expectations of human nature to get to grips with the mechanics of living. I've got a feeling that Brutus has always left it to someone else to do the dirty work, while he removes himself to his mountain top of virtue.

    I'm puzzled why Portia had to die? Would the Coalition have harmed her if they were victorious? Was it just overwhelming love for Brutus? They did seem to be more in the habit of decking themselves at any set-back in those days. For the life of me, I can't see why she couldn't wait to see how things worked out. She must have expected it to have an enormous effect on Brutus's morale. Although, perhaps she knew there wouldn't be much reaction.

    I can't help thinking about Lindy Chamberlain and her behaviour when she was accused of murdering her baby. She had claimed all along that a dingo stole her baby, Azaria, from their tent at Ayer's Rock or Uluru, as it's now called. Australian's vilified her for her cool composure and stony appearance. In the end she was vindicated and it served as a huge warning about judging people's behaviour.

    What I'm trying to say, is that we don't know what Brutus really felt. I remember when a young husband was killed his wife went into a hysterical rage and smashed everything their Office. When something happens to me, draw back into myself and shut down.

    Having said that, I still find dear old Brutus to be a holier than thou, kind of person. He's very smug about his own motives, but he doesn't seem to want to know how Cassius gets the money, If I don't know what's happening, I don't have to face up to it!

    I'm seeing a more conciliatory Cassius, a Cassius who's willing to give up a few skirmishes with Brutus in order to win the War. My notes say Cassius lets himself be awed by Brutus, but I'm inclined to think he's cluey enough to know you don't waste your energies on fighting between yourselves.

    How do you actually kill yourself by swallowing fire? Burn your throat maybe, then wouldn't it go out? Or is it a euphemism for poison?

    Oh Dear, I've been jumping all over the place. Summing up-- Brutus starts to see Heroes are only human and he doesn't like it, Cassius does some placating, Antony turns out to be arrogant and calculating and Portia throws up her hand in horror and decides to give the whole thing a miss and let someone else, or something from the spirit world, sort the whole mess out!


    March 24, 2003 - 10:31 pm
    Antony and Octavian have an interesting confrontation, similar to/but different from Cassius and Brutus. (Since I'm behind in the discussion I'm backtracking a bit.)

    I think Octavian was 18 years old and yet he already knew the course he would take. We can tell from his interaction with Antony that Octavian has a strong will and we see how Antony wants some of Caesar's money that'd been left to others. There's a feeling here that young Octavian was well chosen by Caesar to be his successor.

    Historically, Antony seized most of Caesar's money for his use, I think funding his army in part, and Octavian, the 18 year old, borrowed from friends and family and used his own money too in order to pay the legacies in Caesar's will. Quite a contrast in character between the two.

    Brutus -- who historically had a scandal of his own when he extorted money -- is not above getting down and dirty when it comes to money. What a relief it must have been to him then, as ANN mentions, that he can let Cassius do the dirty work while he tries to take the high moral ground. (Yet he, Brutus, demands his share. What delicious irony.) Amazing how in a few lines Shakespeare can draw such finely etched personalities to marry the characters in his play to what was known historically about them.

    ANN, I enjoyed your post so much that I can't pinpoint just one item to say 'yes, yes' to but here are some of your points -- Brutus and his evil spirit; Cassius placates; Antony arrogant and calculating, Portia giving the whole thing a miss.

    Caesar's Ghost is with us all yet today.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 25, 2003 - 03:08 am
    As the play is unfolding I have felt removed, no longer engaged ever since the poet Cinna's death - All of a sudden there are all these new characters who have not established themselves within the play - I have to guess at what drives them, how they act in a pinch so to speak - I know that Octavious is Caesar's adopted son but I have to know that - there is nothing in the play that introduces him - and Lepidus - was he mentioned before act IV - if so I do not remember him and what he represents - any of his characterizations - Anthony is not the 'Nobel' I first imagined and so for me there is no security in feeling close to the action - as if a gauze curtain dropped between me and those on stage - I now am simply an observer no longer caring what happens to any of them - at least when Brutus and Cassius come back on stage, although they are in this round robin quarrel, I sit up a little straighter and feel a connection again.

    Even the quarrel isn't clear - something about money Brutus asked Cassius to extend - it is not clear if he didn't get the message or if he just didn't send the money and he thinks Brutus should not blow that out of proportion - I just didn't get it - then this whole bit about, who was a worthy murderer and who wasn't - Oh my - looks like these two are in the vacuum of not having a shared goal to plot and plan; and their last venture (killing Caesar) didn't get the response they hoped for and so they feel badly and are letting out their frustrations on each other.

    Then what is all this with Portia - she did not have a big scene earlier and now she kills herself - OK we know that suicide is 'The' big control issue - gotcha and now you cannot get me back - The play does not give any real reason for her death only how Brutus handles the news. He sure didn't give Portia much attention earlier when she tried to convince him of her loyal affection by wounding herself. I think Portia is the conscience of Brutus that he just does not want to listen to - Portia's suicide put him square in the face of using his head to control his passions (for freedom and liberty) - he let his passions take control and now he is facing the fact that he blew it - if he had kept his passion in tact and remained true to his stoic philosophy he wouldn't be in the pickle he finds himself in now. And so Brutus' response is to really shut down to prove to himself and everyone around him how dis-passionate he really is...Which is another reason I can see that Portia was for so long considered this strong women - this would have been back when the only influence or role a women had was to be the conscience of men...

    Brutus says that Cassius committed the murder for personal reasons - early on we never did find out if Cassius had any personal reason to kill Caesar and now he is being accused of having a personal reason - hmmm let's hope what ever his reason we find out before this play is fini...

    Then who is this Pindarus - another newbie with no characteristics established. He just comes onto the stage as if walking into my house without anyone introducing him to me - no - go away till I know who you are...

    I think for me the murder of Caesar so took my breath away and reduced me to a quiver that all I want is security and any new character that was not a part of the build up to that scene or part of the scene seems like an intruder.

    Twice Shakespeare has the poet dismissed - first in death by the mob and then out of the tent where the important affairs of men are being discussed by Brutus and Cassius. I get the impression Shakespeare is saying something here that in our efforts to give attention to those affairs of men requiring action we kill the poet who is also the philosopher. That our spirit is not connected to our whole when we become part of a mob, which takes on an intoxicating mentality of its own, which is what happens when men dressed for war are engaging in verbal war or making plans to outdo another in war, they also have a disconnect and do not listen to their spiritual selves.

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 25, 2003 - 03:15 am
    So many quotes in this act that I remember hearing in common conversation since childhood - "And some that smile have in their hearts..." with the remaining part of the quote understood while everyone present would slowly and wisely shake their heads up and down -

    "He must be taught, and trained, and bid go forth." If Sister Boniface said that once she must have said it to us a 100 times when we were in the fifth grade. Only she substituted You for the 'He' - You must be taught...

    "Speak your grief softly" my grandmother with firmness would declare whenever we tearfully came home with our wounds; and according to my grandmother heheheh one of my uncles had an "itchy palm" -

    One of the kids older brother must have read this play because when we were about 11 or 12, that summer it was all the thing to say sarcastically to another kid who was annoying or that we thought that we were better than "I'll use you for my mirth." With the emphasis on mirth!

    "Richer than Gold" I heard many times in my youth - my Mom would follow that with her own truism "she, he or they are rich from having money" or sometimes the reverse "she, he or they are only poor from not having money" - I remember off handed saying that in the presence of my daughter-in-law who did not get it at all with this first blank and then incredulous look on her face - It never occurred to me that anyone would not understand since I heard it my entire growing up years.

    "The enemy increaseth every day" only it was said as "My enemy increaseth every day." Accompanied with a great sigh -

    Then the grand daddy quote of them all - "There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune" this quote also suffered a bit in translation because the ending was 'leads "us" to "our good" fortune.'

    The next part of the truism was really mangled - it was said as - "if omitted your life will be bound in misery." I love it how they would own ‘our’ good fortune but distance themselves from the misery with ‘your’ life will be...

    March 25, 2003 - 04:11 am
    Marvelle i couldn't agree with you more about Shakespeare drawing finely etched personalities for his characters. Some authors seem to write great reams and don't convey as much.

    Barbara, I had to laugh at your post, especially about someone walking into your house without being introduced. I'm still chuckling about that one.

    We all seem to feel as if the rug has been pulled out from underneath us in this new scene, don't we? I feel we're missing a clearcut Hero. We want a good guy in a white hat, and a baddie with a black hat and then we can all cheer and hiss in the right places.

    Shakespeare did this thing before, I remember, jumping in at the end and working backwards. He says in Act scene 1

    It must be by his death:and for my part,
    I know no personal cause to spurn at him,
    but for the general. He would be crown'd:
    How that might change his Nature, there's the question.

    Reading it back, I'm not sure now whether it's the same sort of technique, but I thought of it immediately, so I'll leave it here. He states the end and goes on to explain all the reasons after.

    I had a bit of a light bulb moment when you pointed out the part about the poets, and the soldiers disconnecting their spiritual selves.

    I love reading things that I would never have thought of myself. Add to this Marvelle's thoughts on Portia, and I have a lot to think about. I talked the Library into extending Julius for the third time, against the Rules, I think they realized no-one was fighting over this Best Seller!


    March 25, 2003 - 06:51 am
    My mind sticks on Portia. Perhaps, because she is a woman. Suicide is never logical. You can't turn back the clock. Once you choose death, you can not undo your decision.

    But I think the reasons why Portia chose to die are written clearly. In the play, it says she missed Brutus and she had heard about the strength of Antony and Octavius' army. Two clear reasons are given for why she chose to die.

    I am reminded of the young wives who are left at home while their husbands are in Iraq. I am sure that their are some days when it is very difficult for them to get up in the morning. I don't know if any would choose to commit suicide or have done the awful deed, but if they have thought about it, I can well understand.

    Portia was alone. Her husband had committed a treasonous act. All of what happened is still secret to her. She doesn't know whether he will return dead or alive. A stronger army is coming against him. That army might kill her too. Portia is afraid, lost and confused. Perhaps, her mind did become unhinged for a moment. I can only feel sorry for her. I refuse to call her weak.

    Swallowing fire sounds like an awful death to choose. I never heard of such a thing. How in the world do you swallow fire? When women chose suicide in Roman times, was this the popular method?

    March 25, 2003 - 07:16 am

    I can't quote you exactly, but you spoke about Brutus' reaction to Portia's death. I believe we are thinking in the same way. I think that everyone grieves differently. One person's reaction might be to scream and just about tear their hair out. Another person might speak quietly and never shed a tear, at least, not in the presence of others. Who is to say that one person or the other grieved and loved harder than the other.

    It took me a long time to deal with different types of grief. My husband's family are very formal in their grieving process. My family, well, we let it all hang out. We cry loudly, and everyone knows we have lost a loved one.

    Back to Brutus. I think Brutus is able to compartamentalize. While the forces are coming against him, his mind is on strategy. Later, he will deal with Portia's death. I think his short reply to Cassius rings of pain. He's hurting but not showing it in the way we might think is correct.

    March 25, 2003 - 07:28 am
    Barbara's thought made me really start thinking, and I am still, thinking about it. Barbara wrote,

    "Twice Shakespeare has the poet dismissed-first in death by the mob and then out of the tent where the important affaris of men are being discussed by Brutus and Cassius. I get the impression Shakespeare is saying something here that in our efforts to give attention to those affairs of men requiring action we kill the poet who is also the philosopher....."

    March 25, 2003 - 09:22 am
    Babi, thank you for the explanation of the Lucilius scene, yes that's the one, and the Lucius thing, so that's to show Brutus is kindly huh? I appreciate that, I know everything is here for a reason, and I see Barb has explained the poet thing which I also could not get, we're GOOD here!! THANK you!

    Marvelle, I'm so glad to see you back and yes on Brutus and his, what was it 46 percent interest as a money lender, and you see this as a turning point for Cassius! I don't know the historical reason here, that was a beautiful paragraph about Cassius having to decide on a fatal march or being a "hollow man," loved it. You know much more about Cassius than I ever will, what do you think prompted him to do that, since he had more experience in the field than Brutus (of course here, he always thought he was the better man, remember Caesar?) (had to throw that in?) hahahaha

    You have always liked Cassius and considered him more true than Brutus, You are right on the ironies of Brutus, holier than thou on raising money by no vile means, demanding a part of which he condemns Cassius for raising by vile means, apparently it's OK as long as it's laundered. Hahahaha

    Now THERE is a really creative IDEALIST at work. (Sorry)!

    Oh I think your explanation of the TWO announcements of the Portia death is brilliant, my notes say it MAY be a mistake of Shakespeare (hard to figure out why he wouldn't correct it when it was performed). I like your very careful explanation better! And it calls into play the staging, too!

    And now here's our Maryal saying how bout that Caesar's Ghost? What makes you think it's Caesar's Ghost? hahahahaah He doesn't SAY he is? He SAYS he's "thy evil spirit." That can mean several things. We need to ask that, perhaps??

    Do all of your texts identify this "ghost" as "Caesar's Ghost?"

    I like Jan's delusion thing. So "thy evil spirit" might have been Brutus's own mind, guilty conscience, plaguing him?

    I liked your take on down to earth Cassius, too!

    The Portia thing that so many of you have been aghast about, jeez louise, I have no clue. My books say this about her only, that "Porcia," her real name (Brutus was her second husband) "After Brutus sailed for the East she became ill, and in the early summer of 43 committed suicide, it is said, by inhaling fumes from a brazier." (OCCL)

    That makes more sense than swallowing coals of fire, what a mess.

    I have no clue, she must have been nervously deranged.

    Oh prophetic thing here, Marvelle, "Caesar's Ghost is with us all yet today." Apparently so, we can't seem to stop talking about him, ahahahah

    Barbara, I thought your Portia as Brutus's conscience very exciting, and how do you see the Ghost then?

    Where is the part about Brutus saying Cassius committed murder for personal reasons? That backs up my jealousy theory?

    OH well done Barbara on the TWO poets being dismissed, missed that entirely!! THANK you for explaining the poet and the tent, you all have seen so much more in that than I did!

    I can't BELIEVE you've encountered THESE quotes before, they are obscure to me! Sister Boniface, huh? Amazing and you still remember them!

    Barbara you mention the "There is a tide in the affairs of men..." quote, how does that fit in with your fate/ free will thing? Or Stoicism?

    Oh good point, Jan, on the stating of the end and the explanations afterwards, good point!! Hahaha on the best seller! I bet the library is proud of you!

    Hats, I wish Shakespeare had broadened the character of Portia a bit so we might understand her motivations more but I think you have put your finger on it, certainly she was worked almost to a frenzy of worry before the assassination, she may have just worked herself to death. I can't find much on her, can anybody? Her real name was Porcia, daughter of Cato, wife of Calpurnius Bibulus first, (who was Caesar's co-consul) She was actually quite pretty, I have an illustration of her, I'll upload it, very sweet face.

    But now, you've all done so well so far with the truly tricky parts, but now to the ghost. Jan says it might have been a delusion, a guilty conscience.

    The Ghost (and my Folger text identifies it as "Enter the Ghost of Caesar,"

    The ghost is a

    monstrous apparition.
    It comes upon me.—Art thou any thing?
    Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil,
    That mask'st my blood cold and my hair to stare? [love that]
    Speak to me what thou art.

    Thy evil spirit, Brutus.

    Why com'st thou?

    To tell thee thou shalt see me at Philippi.

    Well, then, I shall see thee again?

    Ay, at Philippi.

    Why, I will see e thee at Philippi, then.
    [Ghost exits]
    Now I have taken heart, thou vanishest.

    OK here (am I the only one reminded of Scrooge and Marley? Brutus is taken aback by the horror of what he thinks he sees. What IS it? What does "thy evil spirit" mean? Have you noticed that Caesar has re-enterd the play? What does the ghost mean, "thou shall see me at Philippi?" What does Brutus interpret it to mean?

    Inquiring minds want to know.


    March 25, 2003 - 10:36 am
    I think Brutus's evil spirit is beginning to haunt the Books, it is Caesar? If so it's benign to us! hahahaha, is it Brutus? hahahaaha

    Where is Anneo? Have we lost our Anneo to the warring factions outside the city?

    Barb mentioned feeling cut off with Caesar's death and I think that's exactly what happened and what Shakespeare intended in the way he presents these scenes.

    You have to hand it to Shakespeare, it appears, through your own careful reading, that nothing he did was purposeless, I am personally taken aback by what he KNEW, it's just amazing.

    This period of Roman history has more written about it than any other time in its 1,200+ year life and I've been drowning, looking for Trebonius.

    Remember him? The guy who led Antony off? The guy Antony took pains to mark with Caesar's blood, marking HIM as one of those guilty?

    Holy cow, I found out what happened to him, holy COW! If we have young persons present, they must avert their eyes here.

    The book Cicero goes into some detail, but stops short of saying Trebonius was the one who led Antony off. Had to read reams of stuff, but did find it in a source I do trust and he was the one.

    Well sir, remember that old Western song those who live by the gun will go the same way?

    Golly moses. Want to know how he turned out?

    Trebonius, who had been a general under Caesar in Gaul and one of his most trusted aides, made Consul by Caesar and promised the governorship of Asia, became proconsul in Asia when things were distributed in 43, according to Caesar's wishes.

    Dolabella, the man Caesar nominated to stand for him in his absence as consul in Parthia, and a rival of Cassius for Syria, was refused passage by Trebonius.

    Dolabella broke into the town by night. He captured Trebonius and tortured him for two days with a whip and rack before having him beheaded. Some soldiers kicked his head around like a football." (Cicero)

    See there's a LOT, here's a new person, Dolabella, as Barb mentions, we never heard of, Dolabella, but there were tons more? The thing just broke open. There were Pansa and Hirtius, people we never hear of in the play.

    We don't learn a lot about Octavian, later called Augustus, in the play: his size, his illnesses, the fact that 18/ 19 year old Octavian went out and raised his own army of his uncle's supporters when he first came to Rome, so as to have a base of power and be taken seriously. We don't know in the play that, ironically the ONE person who DID listen to omens, who did not disregard them or misinterpret them was Octavian, and being warned in a dream, he backed off the attack on Brutus, leaving the victory to Antony.

    But here's one thing we can look for and not underestimate this young man: his sense of revenge. Here is the famous "Prima Porta" statue of Octavian?

    Augustus: click to enlarge

    from Livia's villa.

    What's important about this statue, aside from the fact that it's the most famous statue of the older Augustus there is, is is the breastplate he's wearing.

    Here you can see depicted in his armor the return of the standard lost by CRASSUS (not Cassius) in 53 BC in a battle against the Parthians. You remember Caesar was setting out to go do just that, in Parthia when he was killed.

    This important diplomatic success was skillfully given a pictorial rendering by Augustus (Octavian in later years) in order to secure his dynastic aims.

    So here we can see a young man who never forgot that Caesar was going to avenge Crsasus's loss, and who finished the job for him. Peacefully, in accordance with his own ideas about how the empire should be run. A young man who even in later years did not forget a slight, and to whom, and it will be instructive to see how Shakespeare shows us this, vengeance and revenge are important concepts.

    Speaking of revenge, what do YOU think about Brutus's evil sprit? What has come to haunt him? What do you think of Brutus's show of strength, why did it leave?

    A million questions for Inquiring Minds, what are YOUR takes on it?


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 25, 2003 - 12:01 pm
    Interesting how we all handle grief and funerals differently - Hats brings up the differences in her family - this is one aspect of life, (yes, I was made comfortable with death being part of life) - it is an aspect that my children have not experienced since their generation are spread further and do not have strong ties to all the cousins and mass of family in my family - their father was very much a person who believed in creating a new life with little connection to family - ah so - well during a wake or 'viewing' my family would gather from the four corners - some only seeing each other when funerals took place - They drove in from Fla. and Georgia and New York (the burial was always being delayed till this aunt or uncle got there) and it was a big loud gathering that I remember the funeral director would come in and hush us, closing the double doors - there would be stories about the deceased and if a man, cigars put in the upper pocket of his suit - people would walk over and talk as if the dead person were still alive and part of the party - turns were taken to go out for dinner with a big dinner after the burial where half of them tied one on growing louder and laughing hilariously at various antics or jokes on the now buried member of the family -

    This was even more so when my grandfather died - since neither my father or my aunt's house was big enough Pop was waked in Mrs. Passman's house, a good friend of my Aunt Amanda, my father's sister - This was one of my first funerals and having been told times before I was too young I expected some horror to greet me - instead it was this wild party - I kept looking at Nana to see if she thought they were all rude and if she wanted to cry - she sat quietly in black seeming oblivious to all that was going on. I asked my father and still remember him saying, 'No, they are both in a better place and mom knows it' - well little did I know till I was an adult that Nana was a battered women - ah so - I did not get the idea this loud beer drinking party with Pop laid out in a box on the table was a revenge or thankful party - they simply celebrated all that was good and bad in a person.

    My mother told me many stories of how because someone had to stay awake all night when various family members were laid out and how when she was a kid the kids did these awful things to each other scaring the daylights out of themselves and the sleeping adults alike - they would hide under the table with the body and pop out with sheets on, as ghosts and if who ever was on guard started to doze they would go outside beneath the closest window and moan - looks like there was just no tradition to take death in our family as anything more than a big raucous Halloween party...

    After, the women always wore black for a year when they went out of the house - they all wore Dr. Locke shoes that were black - these shoes had laces and yet the shoe had a higher heel - not spike but high - around the house they all wore what were called ‘Hoovers’ after President Hoover - they were wrap around flower printed cotton dresses - it had one long tie that came through a hole on the side of the waist and tied to the other tie - often there was a thin spaghetti tie further up the front of the dress. Gads - memories - they feel so real that it always shocks me that my kids do not have these same images in their heads.

    All to say ghosts had a different meaning even when I was a kid - I remember having to be taught in school by the nuns that there were no Ghosts - I came home aghast and had to work on it with my mother who was also aghast - we really believed in Ghosts - but the nuns knew best and we decided it was just a church thing and if we were going to be good Catholics we better just agree with them. But mom just shook her head in amazement and accepted with blind faith what seemed unreal to her.

    I am reading THE POETICS OF SPACE The Classic Look at How We Experience Intimate Places by Gaston Bachelard - I cannot find the spot now to quote but he says that in the past there were less people, that forests were broad intimate places and as we ‘day dream’ now, a place we need to go for a sense of security - in our day dreams as children we often experiences nightmares that are similar to earlier man who did not have the many lively images in daily life that we experience - therefore, the subliminal mind imagined the empty spaces and forest sounds as ghosts and the further back in history we go the more the mind reacted as a child’s does today - with the ability to day dream we conjure up beauty and horror. This new information satisfied me as to why my family still believed in Ghosts -

    March 25, 2003 - 12:15 pm
    with those incredible photos, especially the one of Caesar Augustus (Octavius in the play).

    But I have a question.

    What's with the babe hanging onto the tassle of his robe?

    Who is dat?

    And is Caesar Augustus pointing in the direction of the future, showing the babe which way to go.

    Ginny, who is that baby?

    I am convinced that this is indeed Caesar's ghost, and the part may have been played by Shakespeare. At this stage in his career he took minor parts in some of his plays, famously playing the ghost of old King Hamlet. There's a ghost in Macbeth also. If we take the psychological approach, it may be Brutus' own guilty conscience that cause him to see it, but certainly this threatening apparition means no good. Elizabethans, at least some of them, believed in ghosts (as well as witches). Elizabeth's successor, James I, wrote a book on witchcraft. It was a superstitious age.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 25, 2003 - 12:41 pm
    Maryal isn't it interesting how today we use this languague - it was a 'superstitious age' - as if we all know better - amazing how far we have come - wouldn't it be interesting to learn what groups of people today still believe in Ghosts - According the Gaston Bachelard the less educated and the closer someone lives to the land in uncrowded areas or this world the more likely it is that you believe in all sorts of phenomena...

    Ginny I think the difference is, you do everything with such enthusiasm that it would be difficult for you to see this quote sans an emotional reaction - "There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads 'us' to 'our good' fortune 'and if omitted your life will be' bound in misery"

    Where as even now, that I have studied Tao for 18 years the concept is - there is an ebb and flow within everything and to use the flow or else life is made more difficutl than necessary - the example given that there is a point when a dead animal has hung enough to allow the slaughter to be easier and to learn how to find the spaces around the muscles so that there is very little cutting which allows the knife to stay sharper longer and the process to go quickly. I you choose to grieve over the difficulty, you are putting yourself in an emotional roller coaster that is unnecessary - life is not ment to be a misery - you have chosen to react to your ignorance by making life seem a misery.

    This concept of ignorance coupled with misery was the basis of my family's thinking - so that the more educated, the better our life would become. I was primed early without knowing it in a Tao way of approaching life.

    March 25, 2003 - 01:13 pm
    Yes, it is interesting. I suspect that we, in our own way, are just as "superstitious" as those Elizabethans were. I see much of the New Age interest in crystals and aromatherapy and gobs of other stuff as superstitions of a kind.

    I don't think human nature has changed at all which is why Shakespeare is still so relevant.

    Clothing styles change, and science has made enormous leaps, but people--I don't think so.

    March 25, 2003 - 06:06 pm
    The little boy by Augustus' foot is Cupid. Augustus' being barefoot is a sign of divine status. (This was a link Ginny and I shared with each other.) More about the statue of Augustus from virginia.edu:

    "Cupid riding on a dolphin besides [Augustus'] right foot reminds the viewer of Venus, the divine ancestress of the family of Augustus.... [Augustus] holds a spear in his left hand, and his right hand is extended as he addresses his armies..... The arrangement of the locks of Augustus' hair is another sign of divine status."


    March 26, 2003 - 12:43 am
    Thank you, Ginny and Marvelle. I never looked closely at a breastplate. It is interesting to know that a story is being told on Augustus' breastplate. I thought of breastplates as just protective gear.

    I would like to know the name of the book Brutus is reading, but Shakespeare didn't tell the title. Was it a ghost story? (laugh)

    I have never seen a ghost. I don't believe in them, but I do like a good ghost story. I think there was a sea captain ghost in an old movie. I believe it was a love story. I can't remember the name of the movie. I think the title included a woman's name. Oh, I can't remember it.

    Barbara, the book your reading sounds interesting. Thanks for the title.

    March 26, 2003 - 12:47 am
    At first, I didn't see the dolphin. I had to go and look again. Now, I see it. There is a lot of symbolism. This is all sooo good!!

    March 26, 2003 - 05:24 am
    may have been a great orator,but here in the last of the speaking scenes, before we hit the action, he is suddenly callous, ruthless, cynical and arrogant.He dismisses lepidus...."this is a slight unmeritable man", good enough to do the dirty work.

    Brutus the noble suddenly is ice cold and taunting towards Cassius, and ironically the previously unlikeable Cassius, is passionate throwing new light on this character.

    Why now? Does Shakespeare want to remind us again of the shades of grey in all of his characters, how was this play ever consdered black and white.

    Henry Bradley, considered the argument between Brutus and Cassius irrelevant, and yet I now have a slight empathy with Cassius, he at least showed some sadness at the death of Portia.Cassius is able to calm Brutus with his speech which is really the truth about brutus' affection for Caesar................."when thou didst hate him worse. thou lov'std him better than ever thou lov'std cassius.

    The speech changes Brutus, he has no heart for stabbing Cassius, he already is sensing from Portias hot coal suicide that he has erred.

    I have little doubt that the apparition is Great Caesars Ghost, when Brutus asks it replies after all............."thy evil spirit, Brutus", hardly an apt description of ones conscience.Mind you Brutus still goes on to Phillipi, just as Caesar went forth on the Ides of March and I think within himself already the knowledge that his time is short.


    March 26, 2003 - 05:48 am
    In Edit: THERE'S our Anneo! Welcome back, soldier!! Gosh I thought I had the Tide quotation in the heading, SO sorry! I'd like to look at it today, I think it's important!

    Barb, I do envy you your studies in Tao, thank you for explaining some of the interesting ideas!

    Maryal, thanks, and thanks Marvelle, for identifying the cupid, I did not know what it was but I knew it was not an angel. Actually that Prima Porta photo came from my new book and so did the quote so I should have cited properly, from Rome Art and Architecture, but Marvelle is too modest, she's sent me a million sites, which have all been as gold, and we've sent them back and forth happily, and from which, and again I was in a hurry yesterday and did not cite that the hooded Augustus, was taken,form one Marvelle supplied: many thanks, Marvelle!

    Me, too, Hats, in looking up what that cupid was I found enough hornet's nest scholarly interpretation of that breast shield to choke a horse, there are about 20 interpretations of the figures on it and its being the second statue, and one of them kept talking about the dolphin and saying the right hand had never been found! (I thought they had the wrong statue? Hahahahaha) Nope apparently not, suffice it to say, scholars are divided on the breastplate, and each one says he's right.

    Of course I did not realize what Parthia was? Would you believe it's the Persian Empire: Iran (and possibly Iraq, but I don't know).


    I'm so sorry I did not get this up, it's VERY important, this is our LAST DAY on Act IV!! Hasn't it gone fast?

    Tomorrow Act V and I read it last night! Very exciting, gone are the long translations on the left side and I truly got so excited reading what small ones there were mine eyes like ping pong balls kept running back and forth.

    We at the height are ready to decline.
    There is a tide in the affairs of men
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we not afloat,
    And we must take the current when it severs,
    Or lose our ventures. (IV, ii, 269ff)

    Ok here, as Brutus attempts to convince Cassius to march on Philippi, despite Cassius's misgivings, he shows, what, to me, is a change somewhat in philosophy and it's kind of interesting, I wonder if you all would like to look at it?

    You recall Caesar, when told that the omens were poor, said, well the omens are for every man, not just me. He said he couldn't understand fuss over death, since, death, a necessary end, would come when it came. Thus Caesar seems to feel the governing hand of a fate larger than his own, whether or not inspired or ruled by God, that propels him thru life.

    Brutus seems to liken this to an ocean, and the tide is up. But intstead of saying let's ride it out, he seems to say, hey, Carpe Diem: Seize the moment because if you don't, the rest of your life is going to be a mess.

    Brutus, here, to me, seems to be saying that we're carried, all of us, by fate or God's will, if you like, for 2003, but you get these openings? And you better take them? And you better realize them when they come?

    But this is so ironic for a whole set of characters who NEVER seem to understand the omens and signs? They are always misinterpreting things?

    How does that compare to today? If we, for instance, feel we are on a predestined course, then what good is it TO try? Can a man, by ambition and ideas and strength and courage, achieve in the world, or was it simply fated that he would do so in the first place? CAN we in fact ALTER our destinies by our own methods?

    Fascinating quote, and a marvel, really, coming as it does in THIS play where the recurrent theme of misunderstanding and misreading the cues occurs. How important is it in our own lives to recognize the opportunity when it occurs? How can we be SURE it's the right opportunity knocking?

    Fascinating line of thought from our Brutus this morning, and when coupled with the Ghost, makes for very fine thought. If it is the Ghost of Caesar then Caesar has once again entered the play. Let's see what influence, if any, he has. Note the circumstances, before a great battle. I could tell you stories of my own family and when ghosts have appeared before momentous events, but this is not a friendly ghost, he's an "evil spirit," and he's not come to give comfort or direction. Brutus stands up to him, (why didn't he pause and say, hey this might be a tide in the affairs of men here?) and the ghost disappears, but he's left his mark, it would appear. Could the Ghost be Brutus's own evil spirit, like the angel and the devil which sit on your shoulder? Does anybody know why scholars think (and they do, my own Folger SAYS this is Caesar's Ghost?

    So Brutus thought he was done with Caesar. And he thought, poor idealistic soul (and I believe that) bookish idealistic soul that he is, that he would restore the Republic. I would say he thought that because he figured everybody was as idealistic as he is, but....I'm not so sure? As Jan pointed out very early, he had no plan.

    What do you think? Do you think there IS a tide of life? Are we just floating on it? Can we change it? Is there any use to try?

    I hate to leave Act IV, and enter the battlefield, because that means our journey is almost over, we'll start on the battlefield and watch the ancient strategies, not so far removed from what we're seeing on television today, of Act V tomorrow.

    Is there ANYTHING in Act IV we have not covered you have a question on or would like to talk about? Brutus's attitude about Portia in front of his men versus his friend? The public and private Brutus again?

    The floor is now open for your thoughts. I'm off to Asheville, NC to have lunch with a SeniorNetter and I'm carrying my Julius, I figure there can't be that many people in Applebee's with a copy of Julius Caesar in their hand? Hahahaah But I may be wrong. I'll let you know! If the entire restaurant has a copy of Julius, then I'll know YOU are all there! hahahahaha Perfect day for it, too, I have a housefull of carpenters, hammering away!

    Let's hear your thoughts on Act IV or anything else you'd like to say at this time!! Tomorrow: the Battle!


    March 26, 2003 - 05:49 am
    Like HATS, I never even saw the dolphin. So, the babe is Cupid. I'll have to go find the statue again and look at it anew.

    It is also interesting to read about the information on Caesar Augustus' shield.

    Anneo--Indeed, we see a different Antony in this act. Shades of grey indeed. Shakespeare's people are three-dimensional, just like us.

    Lots of work to do today; I'll check in late in the afternoon.


    March 26, 2003 - 05:51 am
    HEY there, our Anneo! We were posting together, good points, all and I like the way you decide for yourself, rather than listen to what the critics say, more on your thoughts when I get back, welcome back!!


    March 26, 2003 - 05:51 am
    Morning, Ginny!

    March 26, 2003 - 05:55 am
    Good mornin', Captain!

    (Captain, in the case, now, of the comma there and the "mornin'" would the comma be: mornin', or would the comma be: mornin,' ?? Inquiring commas want to know?) hahahaah

    Portia was pretty, wasn't she? Sweet face! I keep waiting for the TIDE to come by here so I can jump on my surfboard and take it at the flood, I wonder if I would recognize it if it did? Like the guy who spent his entire life looking for the tiger, only to find it was there, all along, he just did not recognize it!

    ginny greenjeans

    March 26, 2003 - 07:03 am
    Romans were a superstitious lot; there are many ghost stories that originated in Rome. Romans believed that if you didn't die properly with respect or if you weren't buried properly then your spirit would come back and haunt as an evil spirit. So it is Caesar's Ghost haunting Brutus, his beloved (so Caesar once thought) friend who murdered him. I also believe that the evil spirit is Brutus' conscience.

    Another thing about Roman deaths, there was a tradition that a dying man should be given all honors by his family and his closest relative should be there to take in the man's last breath. (I'm saying dying 'man' as I'm thinking of Caesar but it applies to all Romans.) It had something to do with reverence and keeping the spirit of the man in his family where he would continue then to live in a way. This would be a good spirit.

    Togas were Roman status symbols -- some togas were bordered in purple cloth for the very great -- which indicated their public worth. Romans were buried in their togas so in a sense they took their wealth with them to the grave (like the rich Texas woman some years back who was buride IN her Rolls Royce).

    I think covering one's face with a toga when dying has to do with keeping the spirit inside the dying person so it isn't free to roam the countryside after death. Caesar didn't get a chance to cover his face.


    March 26, 2003 - 07:30 am
    From what I've read, Cassius was devastated by the rumors that he deserted his general, Crassus, at Parthia. He hadn't, of course, but he was blamed for having survived while Crassus died. Being an Epicurean with strong beliefs in friendship, the rumors must have hurt him greatly. The past accusations and his Epicurean beliefs must have made Cassius anxious to prove himself with Brutus. Since he kept threatening to kill himself throughout Shakespeare's play, I believe Shakespeare understood the real Cassius' despair.

    Brutus had to have his way even though Cassius said 'it isn't practical to exhaust our soldiers on a march when we have a superior strategic position where we are right now. Let them come to us and exhaust themselves.' Brutus wouldn't listen and Cassius, despite his experience as a soldier and knowing what could happen, agreed to march to Philippi.


    The next link has photos showing the city, mountain, and the plain.


    Philippi is located in eastern Macedonia; 115 miles northeast of Salonika (Thessaloiki), now close to the Bulgarian border. The city occupies the edge of a plain -- once swampy until drained in the early 1900's -- tucked in a valley of Mount Pangeo (aka Pangaeus I believe), the sacred mountain of Dionysos in antiquity.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 26, 2003 - 08:14 am
    What wonderful links Marvelle - thanks for sharing - wow Ginny the windup - this has been great - it moved along while we were still able to go into some depth - just great - I will get back later - another busy day...

    March 26, 2003 - 10:46 am
    ANNE, I'm getting the same picture of Antony. Despite his oratorical skills, it becomes obvious that he has a very high opinion of himself and tends to "put down" everyone else. He is trying to do this with Octavius, without success. At Phillipi, Antony takes charge and tell Octavius where to position himself for battle, and Octavius promptly replies he's going to the spot Antony planned to take. Doesn't even explain or argue, simply tells Antony he's going to do it, period. I'm finding this young man highly intriguing.

    [Hats, I think the ghost story you're thinking of was "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir".] ...Babi

    March 27, 2003 - 04:01 am
    Ginny, I can not find Portia's photo. Is she Dollabella?? I am so ashamed. I looked through the photos, but I don't see her. I am blind as a bat. Love your name, Ginny Greenjeans. That's so cute!

    Babi, That's it!! The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Thank you.

    Marvelle, I know you have given some goody links. I will digest them later. Can't wait. I caught the word Toga. I like learning about costumes or dress of a certain period. All those movies, and know nothing about Togas. Was it difficult to get into a Toga on? I wonder.

    March 27, 2003 - 05:08 am
    Hats, here is Portia:

    She was in my last post, sometimes the pictures don't come up right away and actually look like blanks at first, I will try to do a better job saying where a picture is, my own modem is so slow half the time I don't see my own pictures. hahahaha Isn't she pretty? A sweet, if worried, face.

    I like what you all have said here, the changes in Brutus (AND Cassius), let's look at both these men on the eve of their deaths here in Act V, the last act, for the rest of the week and hear your own conclusions.

    Anneo said, Brutus the noble suddenly is ice cold and taunting towards Cassius, and ironically the previously unlikable Cassius, is passionate throwing new light on this character.

    In fact the characters are so different, I find myself shocked and thinking this is a different play, and having to puzzle them out anew!

    Some of the ideas some of YOU have had have changed my mind about a lot of things. Let's look at Act V, the events, and then when thru, say what we really think about all of them??

    how was this play ever considered black and white?

    I don't know how I ever saw it thus, but hasn't this been a revelation? And more to come in Act V!

    The two men say their possible last farewells, it's Cassius's idea to do so, he's seen omens, he now believes in them, he has a bad feeling about this, it's his birthday, he wants to say farewell. Cassius seems much more passionate in this scene to me, a friend wanting to say farewell, Brutus is posturing, saying he's too noble to go to Rome, stick figure, here, something about this scene nags me, but I can't, for the life of me, say WHAT! Their farewells were well done....AGGG

    Cassius, after his motion to wait till he sees the whites of their eyes defeated, has a bad feeling about this, and Brutus, as Anneo says, maybe also having bad vibes, say their last farewell. They are friends, tho Cassius later reveals he's not Brutus's best friend, which of them has been the best friend to the other?

    Now that we ARE at the end we'll be asking you for your overall thoughts, and one of them will be how DO you see these characters now: let's look at the particulars of Act V first, there is a LOT of subtle stuff in it, I think, good powerful act. I had remembered it weak and disappointing, it's not as strong as I would like but it ties up some ends and comes full circle I think and heck what more can you want?

    Now Babi really brings up the point du jour for today, something very important happens in Act V, VERY and she touches on the beginning of it, you'll see it again in the Act V Topics about to go up:

    At Phillipi, Antony takes charge and tell Octavius where to position himself for battle, and Octavius promptly replies he's going to the spot Antony planned to take. Doesn't even explain or argue, simply tells Antony he's going to do it, period.

    Right, and let's see what that means, and notice Antony's response in the next dialogues and see what just happened here, something actually which changed the course of history? Good point, Babi!

    Thank you , Barb,and Maryal, and thank you, Marvelle for the super links on Philippi, here we are, and we shalt see THEE all at Philippi, huh? Hahahaa Thank you for the toga information, I am not sure about Caesar and not having time to cover his face, aren't you clever, tho? Shakespeare doesn't say, does he? (I know this has plagued you.)

    Cassius covers his face, and tried in every way, it would seem, to emulate a noble death. Whether or not he achieved it we might want to look at. Hats, yes the toga was a heavy, difficult and tiresome thing to wear, there are super sites on it, since Marvelle has begun I know she has the sites for wonderful illustration. I'll tell you, the internet is a marvel, I wish I had had it when I was teaching, it just BLOWS open the doors...IF your site is reputable.

    Act V questions coming right up, meanwhile how do the characters here in the last Act seem to you now? Still honorable? No longer black and white, but what predominates here? Got some super stuff for your consideration coming up!!!


    March 27, 2003 - 05:11 am
    Ginny, she is pretty.

    March 27, 2003 - 06:34 am
    Wasn't she? Shame, I think, is THAT on Brutus's conscience, too?

    Well I sure hate to see us here at Philippi, it means our journey is almost over.

    DID Brutus succeed in killing Caesar, does Caesar lie "no worthier than the dust," as Brutus claimed over his body?

    Was Caesar right when he said he was as constant as the Northern Star, after all?

    What will happen to all these men? What part will "misunderstandings" play in this play?

    Where is Meg? hahahaah

    We're finally! to the point where we can let it ALL hang out, let's do it! What are your own overviews of the play, the characters, your own opinions!!

    Alea jacta est, the die is cast.

    I can't understand that meeting before hand, it just boggles the mind, why would they DO that? DID that happen (haven't read yet but will)

    And what of Cassius's earlier words in Act I: "And this man
    Is now become a god..." (I, ii, 22), we can't seem to escape Great Caesar, let's look at Act V, did anything in it puzzle you? Do you understand who's winning and who's not?

    For Your Consideration

    Week Four:

    March 22-31:
    Act V:

    Thou Shall See Me at Philippi:

    Scene i:

    "Octavius, lead your battle softly on
    Upon the left hand of the even field.

    Upon the right hand, I; keep thou the left." (V, i, 17 ff)

  • 1. What just happened in this quote?

  • 2. What parallel occurred in the beginning of the play?

    Mark Antony, shall we give sign of battle?

    No, Caesar, we will answer on their charge.

  • 3. What is the signifigance of Antony's calling Octavian "Caesar?"

  • 4.

    "Good words are better than bad strokes, Octavius

    In your bad strokes, Brutus, you give good words." (V, i, 30).

    The power of words to wound is apparently an old one, how many contrasts can you see in the meeting of the commanders?

  • Why do you suppose they wanted to meet at all?
  • What does their meeting prove?

  • 5. "You know that I held Epicurus strong
    And his opinion. Now I change my mind
    And partly credit things that do presage.
  • Coming from Sardis on our former ensign

    Two mighty eagles fell...." (V i, 85)

  • 6. Cassius, a disbeliver in omens and signs, begins to change his mind when eagles perch on their standards and crows replaced them. He says his army lies in their shadows, ready to give up the ghost.
          Legions and their standards assemble before Caesar (right)

  • What is ironic, and tragic, then, about Cassius's subsequent death?
  • Was his death due to superstition or human error?
  • What other ways might he have found out about his friend?

  • 7. Brutus and Cassius say their final farewells. Which man has been a better friend to the other?

    Scenes ii and iii:

  • 8. Scene ii is barely 5 lines long. Why is it in the play? What is its importance?

  • 9. What about Titinius's situation made Cassius want to kill himself?
  • Did Cassius seek nobility in his own death? Did he gain it?

  • 10. "Mistrust of my success hath done this deed."
    "Mistrust of good success hath down this deed."
    O hateful error, melancholy's child,
    Why dost though show to the apt thought of men
    The things that are not? (V, iii, 73ff)
  • How do those two statements on "mistrust" differ? Which one do you think is the more accurate?

  • Why has Brutus sent Cassius a laurel wreath?
  • Why does Titinius put it on Cassius's head? What does that signify?

    "Caesar, thou art revenged."

    " O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet;
    Thy sporit walks aboard and turns our swords."

  • Both Cassius and Brutus credit Caesar with vanquishing them. In what way?

  • 11. What does Brutus mean by "Caesar, now be still
    I killed not thee with half so good a will.' (V, v, 57-58).

  • 12. What is an Elizabethan Revenge Play?
  • Does The Tragedy of Julius Caesar fit in this category?

  • 13. Earlier in the play Julius Caesar compared his permanence to the Northern Star, then he was killed. How do the events in Act V support his earlier statements? In how many ways has Caesar become immortal?

    Soldiers and standards from the column of Antoninus Pius, click to enlarge

  • 14. Who is the protagonist of this play, Brutus or Caesar?

  • 15. Are there any heroes in this play? (Barbara)

    The remaining three columns of the Temple of Mars Ultor ("the Avenger") the Temple and Forum a pledge made by Augustus (Octavian) before the battle of Philippi: click to cnlarge: super photo.

    Questions ~ Act I Scene i

    Questions ~ Act I Scene ii

    Questions ~ Act II Scene i

    Questions ~ Act II Scenes ii, iii, iv

    Questions ~ Act III Scene i

  • Deems
    March 27, 2003 - 08:06 am
    Good morning (or afternoon, or evening, depending upon where you are) folks.

    I am still catching up at school, but will fit in the reading of Act 5 today. So far, I've only read the first scene.

    But whoa! young Octavius certainly takes charge quickly. He knows that he is Caesar's heir even if Antony seems to be the one barking orders. When Antony says you go left and I'll go right, Octavius says, nope, he is going to go right. He is asserting his right to make ultimate decisions. Go Octavius, go. I never have liked Antony.

    The meeting of the generals before the battle: I love these verbal attacks. I especially like it when Brutus accuses Antony of using words that drip honey. Heh. Brutus responds to Antony's reminder that he stabbed Caesar with, "Hey, we don't know what you are going to do." The implication here is that Antony, too, is after power. Young Octavius is too clever for him though.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 27, 2003 - 10:20 am
    Ok before we leave act IV - this Pindarus character - slave to Brutus - the name really confused me since there is a famous Greek Poet who wrote Lyric Poetry several centuries before this time in history - Lyric meaning it is sung with a Lyre and most often called Odes (songs of praise mostly for winning in games) - well something nagged and sure enough (I do not think any author chooses a name or site etc. without a reason) Pindarus in our play says,
    I do not doubt
    But that my nobel master will appear
    Such as he is, full of regard and honour.
    Where as Pindar says,
    First in life's contest is to win good fortune,
    Next is to hold an honourable name;
    He who can find
    And grasp both these, has gained the highest crown
    And in another Ode Pindar says,
    Of a dread act, a deed maybe
    Unrightly dared, my heart forebodes to tell,
    Wherefore these warriors left this famous isle,
    What fate of heaven drove them from Oenone.
    Be still my tongue: here profits not
    To tell the whole truth with clear face unveiled.
    Often i man's best wisdom to be silent.

    But if of fortune's wealth my praise is due...

    and who could be more silent then a slave...

    March 27, 2003 - 10:37 am
    OOO BARB! Lookit you go, you GO girl, well done!!!

    Yes please talk about ANY and ALL things now, we're at the end, Act V, act IV, anything at all, the floor is open!

    Well DONE, Barbara! What do you MAKE of the parallels here? I have BEEN confused on the lesser characters from the start, but didn't know what to make of their somewhat extended roles, what do you think?

    Maryal, aha, so you never liked Antony, huh? now we know, what did you make of his calling Octavius "Caesar?" Do you know anything about those Elizabethan Revenge plays?

    Eagerly awaiting everybody's takes here, I am


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 27, 2003 - 10:53 am
    Then of course I had to find out more about Octavius - in so doing I find this interesting bit of information - this put a different perspective for me on wars - I have not learned if all Generals made vows before a war but a war now to me takes on an almost ritualistic honor or glory to the gods and later to God - if you think about it - sacrifice is most often the center of adoration to God (at least in the Jewish and Catholic religions and I think the Presbyterians/Anglicans have communion) and so the soldier is willing to sacrifice his life - today I doubt many soldiers make vows but I bet many pray and vow various actions if they would be spared and come home safely.

    This is written in 13A.D. by Octavius helps to explain why he felt superior to Antony - he was about the business of avenging his (adopted) father’s death -
    At the Age of nineteen, on my own initiative, and at my own expense, I raised an army, by means of which I liberated the Republic which was oppressed by the tyranny of a faction [He means Brutus and Cassius, and then Antony and his friends]... (2) Those who assassinated my father [Julius Caesar] I drove into exile, avenging their crime by due process of law. And afterwards, when they waged war against the state, I conquered them twice on the battlefield [Philippi, April 42 B.C.]... I deposited on the Capitol laurel wreaths adorning my fasces, after fulfilling the vows which I had made in each war.


    An (HTML availible PDF) site with the entire document The Accomplishment of Augustus deposited with the Vestal Virgins shortly before his death.

    An HTML link (available PDF) that explains the rituals for Imperial Salvation.
    But this is the one I thought most interesting -
    Wind cults - in Crete, Greece and Rome - the Athenians...raised an altar to Boreas instead, to give thanks for his help in the wars. Commemorative altars and thank-offerings are the most common reasons for the establishment of a cult to the Winds, even during the Roman period, such as the cult to the mistral founded by Augustus in Gaul. Some may be established in response to a prophecy, or as a bribe to a wind before a journey. The sacrifices made to the Winds also vary with location and wealth:

    Looks like so far we have our white hat hero in Octavius - but his character is not developed enough to be the protagonist is it. But in the ashes so to speak of Caesar we have Octavius saying that Octavius is Caesar incarnate regardless Caesar's ghost. Octavius vindicates Caesar by disposing of his enemies. This hits on Maryal's pointing out that Octavius is called Caesar at one point in the play.

    March 27, 2003 - 10:58 am
    Well I just finished reading Julius Ceasar!

    All the gore of the last acts must have made the groundlings happy. But I wonder how they took the idea of so many of the characters taking their own lives. This was a time when if you took your life you couldn't be buried in a Christian cemetery.

    Free from the bondage you are in, Messala:
    The conquerors can but make a fire of him;
    For Brutus only overcame himself,
    And no man else hath honour by his death.

    Could they see this as good?

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 27, 2003 - 11:04 am
    STill can't ginny - had a uncle who hung himself and the big issue was finding a place to bury him - my father, the hero of the moment, said he would take care of it and found the place. Now that they have all passed on I never learned where that secret place is - ah so...

    But there sure is much killing and suicide in this play - you have to wonder if that is a theme of sorts - is Shakespeare saying something that we have not looked at...

    March 27, 2003 - 11:07 am
    Like what, Barb? Love all the research, thank you so much, am printing it out to read at leisure.

    Also Andrea sent me a huge thing from Harpers Magazine in the mail, she's in Ireland and she wanted you all to see it, so will type some of it out, it mentions Jules and makes comparisons to 2003.

    I tell you all one thing, I, for one, have learned a heck of a lot and I have a feeling it's not over hahahaah


    March 27, 2003 - 11:32 am
    Yes, Shakespeare's audience would have understood all the falling on the sword business because they knew that was what a noble Roman did when cornered. It was considered more honorable than allowing oneself to be taken prisoner. And yes, the audience was predominantly Christian, but they understood that they were seeing a play about ancient times. And finally, Plutarch describes the deaths of Brutus and Cassius, and thus, once again, follows his source. The whole idea of "death before dishonor" governs the behavior of the Romans.

    Ginny~~Briefly, a revenge tragedy is centered around the avenging of a wrong. They are extraordinarily bloody and full of action. Hamlet is as close as Shakespeare comes to writing a revenge tragedy, but it has far more contemplation and intricacies than the ordinary run-of-the-mill revenge tragedy. Julius Caesar is not a revenge tragedy.

    Barb~Just a suggestion. Since Pindarus was a slave, he was no doubt renamed by Cassius, given a Roman name. Perhaps Cassius was thinking of the poet, but it's my guess that the name was not uncommon. Like us, the Romans used many of the same names. Pindarus is in Plutarch's account of the death of Cassius.


    March 27, 2003 - 12:10 pm
    Maryal, our fearless and good humored Captain, you said, "Briefly, a revenge tragedy is centered around the avenging of a wrong. They are extraordinarily bloody and full of action"

    You want Jules MORE bloody and filled with action?

    Jules is Elizabethan, too, right?

    Does the avenger have to be alive?

    Inquiring...well we can't say mind, Inquiring Question Box wants to know?


    March 27, 2003 - 12:14 pm
    GINNY ANN!!!!!!!! THERE you are, I thought Cap'n Maryal had gone nuts, I did not see your wonderful post!! (but I have been wondering where you were all morning as I did my Mobile Meals Route, and sent Great Caesar's Ghost to fetch you!) Could you tell? hahahahaah

    And that's a very important point you make there, too, comparing him to the death of Cassius (altho I have to argue, if Brutus had to have somebody hold his sword, then how can we say he did it alone?)

    Inquiring Mind II (or what's left of it loves to argue!) hahaahahah Important point there in the deaths of Cassius and Brutus, thank you. What honor is there in suicide of this type?


    March 27, 2003 - 12:43 pm
    After Cassius remark on no longer entirely agreeing with Epicurus, I did a bit of research. I found this: "According to Epicurus, physics proves that the movements of the heavens and meteorological phenomena are caused by the motions of atoms, and not deities..."

    Epicurus' teaching was that heavenly 'portents' were meaningless. Cassius was so struck by his dream, or vision, that he felt it must portend an bad outcome for him. Thus his comment. ...Babi

    March 27, 2003 - 12:44 pm
    Doesn't Shakespeare, almost always, at some point, have a lot of dead bodies on stage?

    March 27, 2003 - 12:46 pm
    The avenger has to be alive. The play begins with or just after the murder of someone important to the protagonist. The remainder of the play is filled with blood and revenge.

    And, yes, more bloody than JC which is rather reserved. I'd have to go count the number of bodies on stage at the end of Hamlet.

    Maybe I can do it aloud here. We have King Claudius, Gertrude, Hamlet, Laertes. And then there's Polonius and Ophelia, recently dead. O, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (who die offstage).

    March 27, 2003 - 12:49 pm
    You and I are here together. Lots of dead bodies on stage in the tragedies. The comedies, of course, lack the dead bodies.


    March 27, 2003 - 12:52 pm
    I really thought Willie overdid the slaughter in Hamlet. Much too much, don't you think? I sure he must have had something to say, in some play,about excesses. He might have applied it there, imho. ..Babi

    March 27, 2003 - 01:04 pm
    Hey Maryal, I love those dead bodies on the stage! I have ONE gruesome bone in my body. (laugh)

    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 27, 2003 - 01:10 pm
    OK if a revenge tragedy has all these dead bodies does that mean the dead are all because of revenge on someone's part? I am thinking of Portia - is her death a revenge for...what...and to whom? The others I can sorta work out...

    March 27, 2003 - 01:14 pm
    I think you misunderstood. Julius Caesar is not a revenge play. Hamlet resembles a revenge tragedy.

    March 27, 2003 - 03:03 pm
    Well now wait a mo. We've got ol Jules, hacked in 33 pieces according to Octavian, we've got Brutus, and Cassius, and Cinna torn apart by the seams offstage, we've got Titinius, who else?? Heckers, that's a pile of gruesome bodies and there are more, she said stubbornly, what makes you think CAESAR IS DEAD???


    hahhahaahahah THAT'S the point of the play, no?

    or no?


    March 27, 2003 - 03:05 pm

    March 27, 2003 - 03:07 pm

    March 27, 2003 - 03:12 pm
    hahahaha NOW we see our Maryal's true colors and what makes her such a great teacher, she doesn't say OH DOUBLE HOCKEYSTICKS NO outright, she says hmmmmmm first, giving the poor questor hope before she slams him to the floor ahahahahaha, you're GREAT our Maryal, no joke.

    he's not dead

    March 27, 2003 - 03:20 pm
    They killed the body but not the spirit, his Ghost walked abroad and caused Brutus's own death and was credited with it, Cassius credited his spirit as having revenged itself on him, "Caesar" became metamorphosed into a personal familyl legacy (Octavian) and an institution of government (the 12 Emperors forever called "Caesar,") CAESAR lived in other forms and both Brutus and Cassius credited him with vanquishing them.


    March 27, 2003 - 03:34 pm
    OK, Ginny, Caesar is alive. However, he breaks one rule of the revenge tragedy--he avenges his own death.

    Not proper form.



    March 27, 2003 - 03:45 pm
    WHAT are the rules??~~?? Tell me so I can bend them? hahahaah HE's not avenging, his Ghost is??


    heh his GHOST avenges them?


    heh? I mean I think at the very least this is an exception, what are the rules? hahaahahaha


    or Heh, forsooth

    March 27, 2003 - 04:21 pm
    Are there rules in avenging one's death?..

    Hah! Wait till they read my will.

    March 27, 2003 - 04:49 pm
    Though from Hamlet on our Shakespeare seems to have wallowed in tragedy almost, I fail to see the required elements here.Caesar himself is no tragic figure, I am left in awe of him and his achievment, and yes he lives on still, and lives without what ifs in my humble view.This living in spirit though is not to be confused with immortality.

    The only other possibility is brutus and by his own admission he is light on the personal resolve needed to confirm nobility.

    "OH Cassius, you are yolked with a lamb

    That carries anger, as the flint bears fire;

    Who, much enforced, shows a hasty spark

    And straight is cold again.

    Though one can see the beginnings of Hamlets indecision in Brutus, his fall his hardly tragic. Antony certainly sounded noble for a brief moment and without really studying one may go off seeing him with rose coloured glasses, alas he too is but a "hasty spark"

    Though I do believe the spirit of Caesar lives on, the final downfall of Brutus and Cassius, speaks to me of their inability to fill Caesars shoes, rather than some notion that Caesar himself extracted revenge.Had he that capability, to come back and avenge himself, he would be a God rather than a ghost, and ineed " the greatest Roman of them all"

    March 27, 2003 - 05:31 pm

    I am the Ghost of Portia, come to tell you what you want to know? Just ask me.

    So, Babi, do you feel that Cassius changed his philosophy, and do you feel that Brutus did also?

    Welcome, Gus, you gotta watch those wills, sometimes the heirs get nevous!

    Barbara, who do you think caused Portia's death?

    Anneo, you don't see Caesar's death as a tragedy?

    Loved that post, Anneo,

    Anneo is getting close to the $25,000 question, WHO is the hero of this thing? Do you all agree that Brutus was the noblest Roman of them all? Why or why not?

    Thanks to Marvelle for me, I've come from the deep of the internet to greet thee and now awa'.

    I'm going off to find out what happened to Casca, he's the one who deserved his head kicked like a football.


    March 27, 2003 - 05:45 pm
    Here are some links on togas:




    On the last link, scroll down to the diagram of toga-folding.


    Barbara St. Aubrey
    March 27, 2003 - 06:14 pm
    I do not think anyone causes a suicide - to become that depressed hmmm but we also know that suicide is a control issue - and so I wonder if this information shared today about revenge is the issue she was trying to control - with her suicide she was assuring someone felt the guilt and shame of her revenge??? I just do not know - this new information about revenge has be confused - earlier I thought she was trying to make Brutus feel guilt so profoundly in order to save his soul - she was sacrificing herself as she made the sacrifice earlier of self inflicted wounds to show her loyalty and deep caring for Brutus - now I just do not know as I said the revenge thing is in my way. Who would she be avenging - her earlier part showed her connection to Brutus not for Caesar - I just do not know...

    March 27, 2003 - 07:20 pm
    would that I a may be so tragic, stamped on the minds and hearts of humanity for ever, once I meet my fate.We dont remember the day of death of people unless their lives cast a great shadow over us, and Julius did. I could almost renounce my plebian ways for the chance to be a Caesar, but like Brutus I lack the inner strength.

    As for Portias suicide, like all suicides it is an act of futility, embarked upon when one sees living as futile.There are some people in this war torn world today who may feel that there is little to hope for.In the end here all these protagonists walked freely to a certain end, in a time when to have lost their nobility would have been enough to make life unliveable.Essentially they are all a product of the time in which they lived, seems to me julius didnt cause or even start the fall,of the roman empire, he was merely born a little too late, and was there on the deck as the crumble began.


    March 27, 2003 - 09:28 pm
    The farewell between Cassius and Brutus is haunting yet somehow not quite right. Cassius talks about omens and final partings and Brutus replies:

    "And whether we shall meet again I know not.

    Therefore our everlasting farewell take.

    Forever and forever farewell, Cassius.

    If we do meet again, why we shall smile;

    If not, why then this parting was well made."

    Is Brutus saying goodbye to their friendship, whether they win or lose the battle? And does Cassius willingly echo the goodbye to friendship with Brutus?


    Titinius is Cassius' best friend. Cassius wrongly thinks T has been captured. Cassius commits suicide over his friend's 'capture', his troops defeat, and the crows and vultures and the compass thing; and T also kills himself when he finds C dead. I don't think Cassius' death would be considered noble by Roman standards because it was done for a personal cause rather than a public one.


    Titinius and Messala knew enough about Cassius to know he was mercurial and melancholy by nature. Cassius was ready to believe in bad news rather than good news and for this he killed himself. As Messala said:

    "O hateful error, melancholy's child,

    Why dost thou show to the apt thoughts of men

    The things that are not? O error, soon conceived,

    Thou never com'st unto a happy birth

    But kill'st the mother that engendered thee!"

    The mother, of course, is Cassius whose nature gave birth to despair.


    March 27, 2003 - 11:06 pm
    Thirty-six posts here, that just scrambles my brain! I have to finishing reading the last Act properly, my son is having an operation, so I've been distracted.

    I can't believe that suicides aren't allowed to be buried in Christian graveyards? I thought Love and Forgiveness applied to everyone?

    Someone mentioned that it was strange to meet and talk before a battle. I've read a lot of King Arthur stories and they always seemed to ride out to talk before the fighting began. Wasn't there one famous battle, with his son, where they almost drew back from war in a meeting on the battle field beforehand? The battle where Arhur fell? Anyway, off topic!

    I feel that it's Brutus's character, and the flaws in it, that brought about this whole sorry, sad, mess. He hasn't got the depth of insight into his fellow man to think this whole thing through. He allowed himself to be persuaded by Cassius and Co., who used flattery to secure his backing.

    Then he showed a lack of judgement with Antony and the Mob. Surely he shouldn't have been that gullible that he believed everything he heard, and didn't even hang around to find out if everthing went according to plan?

    " He bears too great a Mind." Here he is excusing himself as being too great, when in reality he's too puffed up with his own pride and self-righteousness to see what a contradiction he's just made.

    Cassius's tone has changed completely, sad, resigned, and reflective. He has a gut feeling things aren't going to turn out well. Shakespeare makes a point( I don't know whether he means to) that violence doesn't solve anything but it seems to me the world still isn't listening.


    March 28, 2003 - 12:45 am
    Marvelle, those Toga sites are very interesting. I never knew that each Toga was different. If I am interpreting the information correctly, clothing displayed your station in life.

    Finding out about the undergarments is interesting too. The women could use a band of leather for a bra. Talking about uncomfortable!!! A band and not two cups??? Hmmmm.

    Human urine could be used as a chemical to clean the clothing. I never heard of such a thing. Did their clothing have a slight odor?

    March 28, 2003 - 04:39 am
    My best wishes for your son, JAN.

    A leather band doesn't sound comfortable at all, HATS, and washing togas sounds drastic too. Altogether I prefer today's more practical and comfortable styles.

    I think Cassius and Brutus both used each other. Cassius kept his vows of friendship but Brutus wasn't loyal to personal friendships, which Cassius knew beforehand. Brutus loved Caesar but slew him; he loved Rome more but didn't provide for Rome's future and let it slide into bloody chaos. Ultimately, I think Brutus' best friend was his ideal self -- Super Brutus II the Avenger.

    If I understood MARYAL correctly, the Elizabethans knew about the Roman concept of honorable suicide which was done in order to avoid conquest by one's enemy; death at the enemy's hands.

    Using that definition as a yardstick, I say Cassius' death wasn't noble. His greatest enemy was his extreme melancholy which he'd been fighting the entire play. He threatened suicide at every tiny glitch in his life. 'Oh, I can't get the folds in my toga right, I'm gonna kill myself!' and 'If I can't kill Caesar today -- here and now -- the stress is unbearable so I'm gonna kill myself!' In effect, Cassius let his greatest enemy -- his melancholia -- conquer him when he committed suicide.

    Brutus' inclination, on the other hand, was towards life. He said he didn't approve of suicide. (How Portia's suicide must have irritated him. I don't see grief in Brutus over her death.) Yet Brutus killed himself rather than be conquered by his enemies, the successors to an imperial Rome. According to Roman standards, Brutus' death would be noble. 'The noblest Roman of them all.'

    That said, while Cassius' bouncing-off-the-wall temperment would be tiresome to be around; Brutus' cold nature would make me feel zero to the bone. Brutus lived disassociated from humanity and replaced natural feelings with logic and reason. Cassius and Brutus were both half-men with Cassius the heart and Brutus the head. A complete man would be both heart-and-head.


    March 28, 2003 - 05:18 am
    Jan, my thoughts are with you too.

    March 28, 2003 - 09:15 am
    Anneo, this is a startling point!
    In the end here all these protagonists walked freely to a certain end, in a time when to have lost their nobility would have been enough to make life unliveable That's an interesting point, you were the first to see that in Caesar, thank you!

    I agree with you and so do most of the historians I have read (I'm SURE no historian) that the Roman Republic at this point was definitely a pack of cards falling away, as you said, "deck as the crumble began." I think the thinking is that it was the "ideal" of the Republic that Brutus longed for, but I agree with Jan he sure messed up getting it, and really I think Marvelle's point is well taken, he simply did not have all the parts: head and heart: that happens with idealists.

    Marvelle, I loved your question and will put it in the Questions page:
    Is Brutus saying goodbye to their friendship, whether they win or lose the battle? And does Cassius willingly echo the goodbye to friendship with Brutus?

    I don't know! What do the rest of you think??

    Jan!~!!! We're sorry your son is having to undergo an OPERATION!! So sorry, let us know how he comes out??

    Like Hats, we're thinking of you!!

    You mentioned "Someone mentioned that it was strange to meet and talk before a battle."

    Somebody correct me here, I have tried to read the Plutarch ON the battle, it's pages and pages and pages of the most intricate detail, I do NOT see a meeting before hand, did any of you? I don't want to go overboard, but IF not then Shakespeare put that in here for a reason, like that short Second Act, but what are they?

    Jan said, I feel that it's Brutus's character, and the flaws in it, that brought about this whole sorry, sad, mess.

    I agree with you. Would you say, then, that Brutus is the protagonist and it's HIS tragedy, if it is one?

    I liked this very much?

    Shakespeare makes a point( I don't know whether he means to) that violence doesn't solve anything but it seems to me the world still isn't listening.

    Maybe we need to ask ourselves what point, if any Shakespeare WAS making, this is Jan's what do you all think??

    Marvelle, this is an interesting point:

    but Brutus wasn't loyal to personal friendships, which Cassius knew beforehand. Brutus loved Caesar but slew him; he loved Rome more but didn't provide for Rome's future and let it slide into bloody chaos.

    OK tell us, Everybody, didn't you find it strange what Brutus said, tho?

    Act V, v, lines 38ff. "My heart doth joy that yet in all my life
    I found no man but he was true to me."

    Boy o boy, is he comparing himself to poor Caesar? He's the main reason...I dunno here? What's this about?

    OK more more...stay tuned here, more!!

    March 28, 2003 - 09:40 am

    All right, here we go, we've got the skinny now, here from a text book on the Gallic War is a

    The Ballista was a Roman War Machine which threw stones weighing up to a "talent or more" up to a distance of half a kilometer. The machine worked on a principle of the crossbow, twisted cords being mdade from animal hair (or even women's hair) and sinews, and the tension built up by some kind of winch or lever. The details are not clear." (OCCL)

    Now the onager, which means "ass" as in donkey, had a kick. Here this cute little thing, presented by permission of Lord Vulgamore's Medieval Manuscripts, is closer to an onager than it is anything else:

    I got half way to McDonald's before I realized what that was, it's amazing what going for french fries will do to the brain, they are similar but not the same. And just to completely bollux up the mix, here's the Catapult from the same text and you can see that they are almost the exact opposite of what you'd think? You'd think the catapult was the one like the kick of an ass while the ballista would be the one like artillery, apparently not so or the text books are wrong, strange!!!!! I have personally learned a great deal in this thing. (I learned not to turn around going to Mickey D's and to keep my hair to myself! (see description) haahahah

    Barb gave a link early on to Trajan's column, which has shown the world how the Romans waged war, this is one of their siege machines, one of the best ones I really like is the testudo or turtle. Say you're storming a fort? You can't get close enough because of the missiles hurled at you? So you overlap your shields like this? and you could approach like a tank, Neat, huh?

    OK first off, some startling news from the plains of Philippi! Guess what? Remember Casca, (vile Casca, what does this mean?) who stabbed Caesar first?

    OK there were two of them, brothers, and it was Publius Longus Casca who struck the first blow. They both killed themselves after the defeat at Philippi.

    But here's some news, Campers?

    Plutarch reports, of Cassius's death:

    but now, [Cassius] pulling up his mantle over his head, made his neck bare, and held it forth to Pindarus, commanding him to strike. The head was certainly found lying severed from the body. But no man ever saw Pindarius after, from which some suspected that he had killed his master without his command. Soon after they perceived who the horsemen were,