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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nobles Do Do Ignoble Deeds

It is Rome of 44 BC. It is getting ready to welcome one of its great generals and statesmen, Julius Caesar, returning to Rome after a great victory. The plebeians take a day’s holiday from their work to join the celebrations. The tribunes are, however, afraid of Caesar’s growing power and ambition. Amidst the pomp of celebrations, a soothsayer warns Caesar of the impending danger to him on the Ides of (15th) March. True to his imperial disposition, Caesar dismisses him as a mere dreamer and moves on. As the procession moves forward, two Noble Romans—Brutus and Cassius—remain behind discussing their discomfiture over the growing concentration of power in the hands of one man, Caesar. At the celebrations on the Capitol, Antony the great admirer of Caesar offers the crown thrice to Caesar but he refuses it, though unwillingly. Hearing the description of the celebrations, Brutus decides that Caesar must die. He then joins the conspiracy hatched by Cassius and others to kill Ceasar on 15th March. Brutus, however, decides that Antony must be spared, though Cassius objects.

On 15th of March, Caesar’s wife Calpurnia, frightened by bad omens—terrible storm of the previous night and the hideous dream she has had—pleads with Caesar to stay at home. But Decius Brutus, another of the conspirators, however, flatters and shames Caesar into going to the Capitol. And Caesar in his regal style dismisses his wife’s fears and starts for the senate along with Antony, Brutus and others. As Caesar enters the hall, Metellus Cimber kneels before Caesar and requests him to allow his banished brother to return to Rome. This is followed by a similar request from Cassius and Brutus. Yet Caesar refuses to change judgment, for he is constant like the Pole Star. Upon which, Casca and others stab him. Brutus too joins them. In the confusion, everyone flees the Senate hall, including Antony.

Later Antony visits the place where Caesar’s corpse is laid, and with the permission of the conspirators brings Caesar’s body to market. Following Brutus’ address, Antony delivers the funeral address, which makes the crowd revolt against the conspirators. This makes Cassius and Brutus flee for their lives. Then Antony, Octavius (nephew of Julius Caesar) and Lepidus take the reins of Rome into their hands. They even prepare a list of enemies who are to die. They hunt for their enemies, while Brutus and Cassius join forces near Sardis. In the meanwhile, fearing the worst for her husband, Portia, wife of Brutus, kills herself. The news of her death in a way settles the differences that had crept in between Cassius and Brutus. And Cassius at last concedes to Brutus’ idea of meeting Caesar and Antony for war at Philippi, though reluctantly. In the battle, Antony and Caesar become victorious. Fearing capture and the resulting shame, Cassius gets himself killed at the hands of his slave. Similarly, Brutus kills himself by running on his own sword. Thus Caesar’s spirit is avenged.


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