Julius Caesar, written by William Shakespeare, is a play that tells the story about the assassination of a prominent figure in the Roman Empire at the time, Julius Caesar. Caesar is killed by a group of conspirators, one major member being his close friend, Brutus, who helps plot the assassination step by step, along with Cassius, Casca, and others step by step in order to ensure that Julius Caesar never becomes ruler of the Roman Empire. Brutus rationalized his role in Caesar’s assassination thinking that it would be a way to stop Rome from becoming a dictatorship. However, Brutus’ crime of stabbing Julius Caesar did not stop the fall of the Roman Empire. Instead it prevented Caesar from assuming the reign of Rome. Following Brutus’ stabbing of his friend Caesar, Caesar remarked “Et tu Brute” (3.1.77). Caesar was in disbelief that Brutus was about to stab him. Brutus is not a true Roman patriot, but an opportunistic, self-serving betrayer of Caesar, the Roman Republic, and its citizens. A true patriot is someone who supports his or her country and would zealously defend it against those who would harm the country. Brutus tells the citizenry that killing Caesar is for the good of Rome. He wants the Roman people to believe he is patriotic to Rome and that Caesar’s assassination is an act of selflessness when he says: “Romans, countrymen and lovers, hear me for my cause, and be silent, that you may hear. Believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that you may believe” (3.2.13-15). Brutus is persuading the citizens of Rome to believe in his patriotic cause for the love of Rome. He is trying to convince them that his actions are noble. However, he was not a true Roman patriot. By killing Caesar, and preventing him from becoming the next Roman Emperor, Brutus offended Roman democracy which is not an act of patriotism. Instead, it is a brutal act of murder and anarchy through which Brutus perceives an opportunity to seize control and assert a different agenda for Rome and its citizenry. If Brutus were really concerned about Caesar becoming too powerful in a dictatorship, he could have led an effort for the true goodness of Rome to unseat Caesar or he could have conspired to have Caesar exiled from Rome or even imprisoned. Brutus could also have simply settled for second in command to Caesar. In that capacity, he could have facilitated values loyal to Rome had he really been a true patriot. Instead, he gloated over his crime by soaking his hands in Caesar’s blood. He tried to fool the citizens, telling Cassius “our course will seem too bloody, Caius Cassius, to cut the head off and then hack the limbs, like wrath in death and envy afterwards;for Antony is but a limb of Caesar. Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers, Caius” (2.1.162-166). Brutus should have been rejected the scheme of Cassius and the supporters. Even if Caesar were to have been spared to become the Roman emperor, his powers could have been kept in check by the rest of the Roman government representatives. Brutus is articulating why Caesar must be killed to save Rome from what could have been Caesar’s dictatorship. However, Brutus also said they must not kill Marc Antony because they would look like murderers, not patriots or defenders of Rome. He is scheming to fool all the Romans. These are not the actions of a true Roman patriot. Rather they are the work of a coward. Brutus’ murder of Caesar is a betrayal. Brutus betrayed his friend but, more importantly, betrayed Rome despite his false pretence claiming to care about Rome and its citizens. Brutus also attempts to convince Marc Antony of the noble nature for killing Caesar, stating: “Or else were this a savage spectacle. Our reasons are so full of good regard that were you, Antony, the son of Caesar, you should be satisfied” (3.1.223-226). Brutus’ delusions continue to the end of his own life, which is his ultimate deception of himself. When impaling himself on the sword, Brutus suggests that his own killing represents action on motives twice as pure as those which caused him to kill Caesar saying: “Caesar, now be still. I killed not thee with half so good a will” (5.5.50-51). This does not mean Brutus was a true patriot. He was irrational about his motives in the first place. A true patriot would not have killed the future emperor of Rome. His actions did not achieve the outcome of preventing Rome from becoming a dictatorship. Finally, Brutus betrayed each citizen by depriving them of Caesar’s reign as Roman emperor and trying to deceive them to believe Caesar’s death was for the good of Rome. He said to them: “Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all freemen” (3.2.20-22). The Roman people, however, know better. One citizen said “I fear there will a worse come in this place” (3.2.108). Brutus is not a true patriot. In killing Caesar, Brutus’ action is not one in defense against another trying to harm Rome. Instead, Brutus’ cowardly murder of his friend Caesar is the consequence of one who seizes an opportunity for himself betraying his friend, his country, and the Romans.
September 22, 2019 0 Comments