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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: May ::
Re: IRT's Drive Through Julius Caesar
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1374  Tuesday, 21 May 2002

From:           Clifford Stetner <
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Date:           Monday, 20 May 2002 13:27:01 -0400
Subject: 13.1152 Re: IRT's Drive Through Julius Caesar
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1152 Re: IRT's Drive Through Julius Caesar

If the original poster (sorry, I've lost the post) or anyone else is
still interested in this thread from a month ago:

> Brutus et. al. as terrorists? A group of people trying to create a
> better world through murder, believing that killing was the most morally
> and ethically correct thing to do?
>
> Sounds like terrorism to me--though I do not know if box cutters are
> right.

The murder of Caesar would have been called an assassination and coup
d'etat today, not terrorism, as it was carried out by a faction of the
Senate. The distinctions between revolution, terrorism, war, freedom
fighting, and murder are completely semantic and legal. Was the Trojan
War a terrorist attack? What about the minute men's sneak attacks on
their sovereign's troops? What about the missile we put in Milosovic's
bedroom window? The assassination of Allende? Plans to assassinate
Castro?  A group of people trying to create a better world through
murder? Sounds like history to me.

Caesar's assassination by Marcus Iunius Brutus should be read in the
context of Tarquin's death at the hands of Lucius Iunius Brutus. The
similarities are a striking example of historical parallelism (a la
Plutarch) as their common name seems to be wholly coincidental. Both
were attempts to liberate Rome from tyrannical monarchy by establishing
a republic. Both involved a group of people trying to create a better
world through killing. The success of the first initiated the golden age
of the Roman rebulic; the failure of the second, the golden age of the
Augustan pax Romana. In the light of the Rape of Lucrece discussion, the
first Brutus was generally written down as a hero; the second often as
treacherous or the pawn of treacherous conspirators. That Shakespeare
treats them both is evidence of his fascination with the ambiguities of
textual representations of history (dramatized in the two competing
funeral speeches over Caesar's body) that can make the same character
hero or villain.

Clifford

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