Unfortunately, this day and age, we are dealing with a generation of individuals who were brought up on STEM studies and a world where the Humanities are increasingly ignored. Due to the idiot reaction from both the right and the left when it came to the current version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in Central Park, it makes me wonder if those protesting or celebrating the insanity of the production even realize the man existed. I truly don’t think they grasp his role in history.
Gaius Julius Caesar (13 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a real person. He wasn’t from a wealthy or politically important family. They were patrician, and could trace their ancestry back to Venus. But, time and inflation had basically condemned the family to lower middle class life (for a patrician family). Then his aunt married Gaius Marius. That changed everything for the young man, who, like many others of his ilk, ran afoul of Sulla. As with every other young man of his position, he was in the military. He basically chose to skip town by doing a foreign stint, to avoid Sulla. Once the dictator was dead, GJC returned to Rome and did the usual rise through Roman politics.
Suetonius said “…He is said to have been tall of stature with a fair complexion, shapely limbs, a somewhat full face, and keen black eyes; He was somewhat overnice in the care of his person, being not only carefully trimmed and shaved, but even having superfluous hair plucked out, as some have charged; while his baldness was a disfigurement would troubled him greatly, since he found that it was often the subject of the gibes of his detractors. Because of it he used to comb forward his scanty locks from the crown of his head, and of all the honours voted him by the senate and people there was none which he received or made use of more gladly than the privilege of wearing a laurel wreath at all times. They say, too, that he was remarkable in his dress; that he wore a senator’s tunic with fringed sleeves reaching to the wrist, and always had a girdle over it, though rather a loose one; and this, they say, was the occasion of Sulla’s mot, when he often warned the nobles to keep an eye on the ill-girt boy….“
Just a little FYI: When a person was described as ‘fair’, they were blond.
He suffered from a serious physical ailment, often diagnosed as epilepsy, or even migrains. A more fascinating, and recent suggestion is that he suffered from a hereditary cardiac problem that probably killed both his father and grandfather.
The problem with GJC was the fact that his soldiers worshiped him.
“…17 1 Such spirit and ambition Caesar himself created and cultivated in his men, in the first place, because he showed, by his unsparing bestowal of rewards and honours, that he was not amassing wealth from his wars for his own luxury or for any life of ease, but that he treasured it up carefully as a common prize for deeds of valour, and had no greater share in the wealth than he offered to the deserving among his soldiers; and in the second place, by willingly undergoing every danger and refusing no toil. 2 Now, at his love of danger his men were not astonished, knowing his ambition; but that he should undergo toils beyond his body’s apparent powers of endurance amazed them, because he was of a spare habit, had a soft and white skin, suffered from distemper in the head, and was subject to epileptic fits, a trouble which first attacked him, we are told, in Corduba. 3 Nevertheless, he did not make his feeble health an excuse for soft living, but rather his military service a cure for his feeble health, since by wearisome journeys, simple diet, continuously sleeping in the open air, and enduring hardships, he fought off his trouble and kept his body strong against its attacks. 4 Most of his sleep, at least, he got in cars or litters, making his rest conduce to action, and in the day-time he would have himself conveyed to garrisons, cities, or camps, one slave who was accustomed to write from dictation as he travelled sitting by his side, and one soldier standing behind him with a sword. 5 And he drove so rapidly that, on his first journey from Rome to Gaul, he reached the Rhone in seven days…”
There were those on the opposing political side of Julius Caesar, who wanted him kicked out of office. They wanted him impeached, removed, killed, disgrace, exiled – they just wanted him gone. On the Ides of March, 44BC, inside the Senate, he was stabbed 23 times. The physician who examined his body said that the second blow,directly to the heart, had been the fatal blow. He was exsanguinated, bleeding to death on the floor of the Senate. It was a horrific and violent scene, one of the most pivotal in history.
It was real.
His death led to the eventual slaughter – for want of a better word – of the men who murdered him. Their families were lost, their fortunes confiscated. His death lead to the formation of the Second Triumvirate, which consisted of “..Gaius Octavius (Octavian, Caesar Augustus), Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, formed on 27 November 43 BC with the enactment of the Lex Titia, the adoption of which is viewed as marking the end of the Roman Republic…”
Thanks to the hatred of a group of men, the most important republic in the history of humanity fell.
Perhaps the most important footnote in all of this history is the fact that, while Mark Anthony was avenging his friend and mentor’s death, he was treated very well by the citizenry of a little backwater town called Tarsus. (Yes, that Tarsus). In a reward for his treatment, everyone from the city was granted automatic Roman citizenship. Because of this, an annoying Jewish lawyer demanded he be tried as a Roman citizen, in Rome. He was taken to Rome and held under house arrest for months. During that time he became a cause celeb, allowed constant visitors. He literally changed the course of history by turning a small, regional faith into a world religion.
This is real. It happened. It is not just a play. It was an incident which cost the lives of thousands of men and women, destroyed a nation, and literally threw the known world into a state of civil war. The right is furious because of Caesar being depicted as Donald Trump, without bothering to watch the play, or are so abjectly ignorant of history they do not realize what happened to the conspirators. The left is so ignorant, they don’t realize what happens at the end.
Good theater is designed to entertain, to cause contravention, and to make people think. There is an unfortunate tendency, currently, to stage operas during the 1930s. Theater and opera has been staged in wacky ways, since the dawn of the first arena and the first actors. The primary reason most directors do controversial stagings is to prop up the box office. Nothing sells tickets more than just that.
Nothing is worse than someone who says they are conservative showing how abjectly ignorant they truly are. As conservatives, we, allegedly, are better behaved in liberals. By interrupting the production of JC on Friday night, the people doing it lowered us and truly harmed the cause.
Bloody bad show.