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Thread: Julius Caesar

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    Julius Caesar

    How did Caesar's behavior outside the Capitol just before he died affect your reaction to his death?

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    Registered User Darcy88's Avatar
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    There are so many different depictions of Caesar on that day I don't know how to respond to this. You are probably referring to Shakespeare's great play, but I am just going to share my thoughts on Caesar and his death in general. My main sources of knowledge are Plutarch and Shakespeare and then Caesar's writings themselves. Shakespeare's Caesar was fictional, but it was the man as imagined by one of history's greatest creative minds, and so it deserves as much attention and warrants as much credence as Plutarch, as Caesar's own writings. Caesar's writings were themselves tainted by the traditional literary biases. He was telling his side. It would have been really neat if Pompey had been a writer and his side as told by him had survived.

    I don't know how to view Caesar, in his life or in his death. A part of me admires him - all of him, the populist, the conqueror, the womanizer, the dandy, the maniac. But then another part of me condemns him for being all these things. Sometimes I view the events from Caesar's side and love him and what he accomplished, and then at others I see them from the side of Brutus and Pompey and Cicero and all the other noble guardians of Republican virtue.

    Caesar terrorized with great skill and to great effect my very Germanic and Gaulish ancestors. He committed acts of genocide against them. The fine literature he wrote (very fine indeed) was like the distillation of that endless sea of blood he spilled through order or by himself.

    Caesar, as much as he was a lover (and he was a GREAT lover) he was also a man of war. War is complex, multi-sided. Its a rubix cube wrapped in a blanket and then tossed into a mound of hay. Try to figure it out. Set down every part of it as seen from all sides. Try to remain faithful to the fear and exhilaration experienced on both sides. You can't. War cannot be put into words. I find the best expressions of war are paintings and photographs. In them you can gain some small glimpse of what happened.

    Caesar was a populist. He enacted many items of legislation which improved the lives of many of Rome's more materially impoverished citizens. But he was also a tyrant. It all comes down to this: what price are we willing to pay in order to gain politically and economically? Are we willing to sacrifice democratic freedoms in order to ensure that we are kept safe and have food on our tables?

    But its foolish still to buy into the Roman Republican historical propaganda and view Caesar as the enemy of the Republic. We don't know what he would have done. Plenty of Roman dictators before him had seized and then given back their dictatorial powers. Caesar might have done this.

    Plus, its not like the Roman Republic was some democratic paradise that was ruined by Caesar. Life for the bottom segments was brutal. People literally fought in the streets in organized gangs as a part of politics. We all know the famous scene wherein Antony the tribune is accosted when on his way to cast a pivotal vote.

    Caesar, for the people of Italy, can be seen as a liberator and spreader of reason and virtue. He can be seen as a hero. Because he was. But for the people on the other Gaelic and Germanic ancestors....he was as nasty as Ghengis Khan, as ferocious as Attila the Hun. Indeed - he might have been nastier, he might have been more ferocious. The profligacy in which he lived and killed was truly staggering. A true nobleman. A true tyrant. As Nietzsche says - "the most beautiful type."
    Last edited by Darcy88; 07-11-2012 at 08:35 PM.

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