The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1788 Friday, 21 October 2005
From: Joseph Egert <
Date: Thursday, 20 Oct 2005 23:18:57 +0000
Subject: 161631 Friends, Romans, Countrymen
Comment: Re: SHK 161631 Friends, Romans, Countrymen
Antony in his Forum philippic lashes out at in-grateful
Brutus--"Caesar's angel"--thus linking the assassin to bastard coinage
and to religious ministry. Yet any rebel Angel would immediately recall
the Prince of Darkness himself (alias the old Serpent, the devil Satan,
Lucifer, the Red Dragon)--the same Lucifer who, chafing under his
Creator's rule and favor toward humanity and their redeemer Lamb,
stormed the Heavens with his legions, only to be cast down to Earth, the
enemy of mankind ever after.
Reading John's REVELATION for the first time has left me convinced
JULIUS CAESAR is in many respects patterned after this apocalyptic work,
with Philippi an early pagan Armageddon prefiguring the Last Judgments.
David Kaula, Mark Rose, Barbara Parker, and Steve Sohmer, among others,
have already detected some of these parallels. Yet Naseeb Sheehan, in
his BIBLICAL REFERENCES TO SHAKESPEARE'S PLAYS cites not one passage
relating the two works.
Let's plumb their apocalyptic spirit.
REVELATION'S "civil strife" in Heaven clearly reflects JC's fratricidal
battles below. The portents or jugments in both include falling stars,
raining blood, and birds preying on carrion men groaning for burial.
Fire-eyed Antony, the avenging limb of Caesar's spirit, recalls both the
Archangel Michael and the fire-eyed Lamb (at the right hand of God)
leading the triumphant armies of light against the Red Dragon Satan and
his minions. Did Brutus (Caesar's natural son?) envy both Antony, at the
right hand of Divus Julius, and Octavius (later displacing Antony on the
right), legal heir to Caesar? As the Red Dragon waited to devour at
birth the Messianic babe, so Brutus sought to crush the Serpent in its
shell, both without success.
Do these unsaved, unredeemed, unGraced pagans bear the mark of the beast
on their foreheads and right sword arms? Is that the angry spot glowing
on Caesar's brow? Are the hats of the faction "plucked about their ears"
to cover those marks? After Caesar is butchered, the Black Mass
conducted by Brutus does not wash them white in the Blood of the Lamb.
Rather they bathe (an anti-baptism) and mark themselves further in the
Blood of the Beast. The pure white robes of the saved in REVELATION
contrast with the purple array of Babylon's Whore (Rome) astride the
scarlet Beast (the Empire) and in JC with the assassins' "purple hands
[that] reek and smoke." There was to be "no rest" for these Beast
worshippers like Brutus or Caesar.
The "idol" people of Rome worship these human idols and their stone
images interchangeably, "which neither can see [dim-eyed Brutus and
Cassius], neither can hear [hard-eared Caesar], nor move [that fixed
star Caesar]." The avenging Lamb and his Angels spread the plague by
s-word of mouth for their in-Gratitude. The "speech" of these pagans
invariably heralds "strike"--always "words before blows."
Judgment Day has come. The Babylon that is Rome nearly falls with
Caesar's fall. The sea Beast's wounded head among its seven heads may
represent the assassination itself. Yet Caesar's Empire survives until
Judgment Day when the "bowls" of wine of the wrath of God and His Lamb
are poured out upon the beast-marked but sparing the God-marked. The
bowls of wine in JC suggest not only Eucharistic communion but this very
Divine Wrath. The unsaved creatures of the vine are "pressed" into the
winepress of the wrath of God and "trodden" until the "blood came out."
The white clothed rider Jesus (his robe "dipped in blood") on his white
horse of conquest treads the winepress of the "fury of the wrath of God
the Allmighty." The risen dead are judged and the spotless inscribed in
the Book of Life; in JC the proscribed are damned by spot into the
master spirits' Book of Death.
At play's end Brutus, preventing the time of life for himself as he
has done for others, leaps into the "pit" where the no-blest Roman of
them all will be chewed in the jaws of Satan forever--a consummation
devoutly to be enjoyed by the Faithful.
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