The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1788  Friday, 21 October 2005

From: 		Joseph Egert <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
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 
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.

Joe Egert

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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