JULIUS CAESAR. #
A SHAKESPEAREAN PLAY
Shakespeare’s plays are classified as Comedies, Tragedies, and. Histories and differ greatly as to subject matter. So far as form is concerned, they are much alike. Notice the following common points;
(1) Each consists of five acts. (2) each has climax or turning point. (3) Usually there is a short introductory area which tells you the time and place of the play and something of the state of affairs in that place. (4) In most of the plays there is one particular important character.
TIME AND PLACE OF THE PLAY
The Romans (excerpted from Luke Slattery)
The Romans made significant contributions to our Western Civilisation.
They gave us the institutions of government – the senate, republicanism, empires – virtues such as dignity, humanity, honesty. Their imperialism demonstrates our most enduring urges of dominance – power, greed ambition, desire and love. We are linked to them through a great chain of human experience. They give us a continuity of cultural constants in the experiences of life.
Much of what we know of ancient civilisations is very recent. Most records were wantonly vandalised and destroyed by misguided religious vandals. Byzantine and the Moorish cultures managed to preserve and transmit some to future generations. More and more we rely on archaeological excavations for reliable artefacts to base our assumptions.
Half of Washington’s monumental architecture is inspired by Rome. The British Museum itself is Greek in style and Roman in scale.
The Roman Empire lasted some 500+ years giving us some salutary lessons on enduring cohesion and good governance. It gave us the model of integrating diverse people through tolerance and co-opting talent from across the empire. Even people at the periphery of the empire felt they were at the heart of the empire. Most young men from conquered territories were conscripted into the army to serve 25 years after which they became full Roman citizens with lifelong pensions.
The Emperor Caracella in 212 made all free men citizens, simply so he could broaden the tax base.
The Emperor Claudius maintained the senate should “transfer to this city all conspicuous merit, wherever found”.
The Roman Empire eventually became composed of an enormously diverse base of people from different racial and ethnic groups. They developed a system of naturalisation that allowed citizens to maintain
Dual allegiance to their original tribe or ancestral place – Spain or Britain.
The Roman Empire succeeded because it was ethnically heterogenous – not homogeneous. Greece had a different approach.
The time covered by the action extends over more than two and. a half years, from the festival of Luprical on February 15th, 44 to the battle of Philippi in October, 42 B.C. The place is Rome, for Act 1, Act 11, Act 111, Act 1V, Scene 1. Then comes the famous quarrel scene at the Brutus camp at Sardis in Asia Minor. All the rest of the play takes place on the plains of Philippi in Macedonia.
THE HISTORY OF THE PLAY.
For many years there had been two great political parties in Rome; —the senatorial party, which was made up of the nobles, (patricians) and. the democratic people (plebeians). The senatorial party was hated by the people. Julius Caesar became head of the democratic party. He was resolved to take the government of Rome out of the hands of the nobles and rule as King, representing the people..
In 60 B.C. Caesar united with Pompey and Crassus, the two greatest leaders in Rome to form the First Triumvirate. They divided the Roman empire between them. Caesar was governor of Gaul and was given a large army. Pompey stayed in Rome. In 58 B.C. Crassus was killed and then Caesar and Pompey became rivals for the control of the whole empire. Pompey joined the senatorial or aristocratic party. Defying orders not to return, Caesar (crossed the Rubicon), marched to Rome and drove Pompey out, and later defeated him in battle. Shortly afterwards Pompey was assassinated. Pompey’s sons kept up the fight for a while in Spain but Caesar crushed them also.
Caesar now wished to establish a monarchy instead of a republic. He was to be king but regarded himself as the people’s representative. The other leaders of the democratic party were strongly opposed to having a king. A plot was formed by Cassius and Brutus; Caesar was assassinated in 44 B.C.
After Caesar’s death the strife became worse than ever. Mark Anthony turned the people against Cassius and Brutus, —so that they had to flee from the city. Caesar’s nephew and heir, Octavius Caesar, united with Antony and a general called Lepidus to form a new triumvirate. These three leaders then led an army against Cassius and Brutus and defeated them at Philippi in 42 B.C. Cassius was killed in the battle and Brutus committed suicide just after. After a few years Octavius got rid of Anthony and Lepidus and became sole emperor of Rome, So Caesar’s plan was carried out after all.