Monday, March 15, 2010

Day of Patricide or Liberation (depending on your point of view)

For a moment, I am taking a break from my book reviews to notice the date. The Ides of March hath come, but are not yet over. Gaius Julius Caesar is arguably the most famous man in history. His story begins in a time of great crisis in Rome. With victory in the Punic Wars, Rome had elimated it’s ancient rival, Carthage, and gained an empire that spread over the Mediterranean Sea. However, this blessing came with a horrible price, a republic design to govern a small city was not very good at governing an empire. As a result, massive social problems and corruption were the norm. Reform efforts were met with hostility by those who profited from corruption and those who felt the Republic was pure and divine as it was. Reformers such as Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus and his brother were murdered, and men, like Sulla, gained power by use of force.

Julius Caesar emerges as reforming politician who engineers an alliance with Pompey and Crassus to bring about reforms that Rome needed. Caesar would then go to Gaul (Rome’s first enemy), defeat the tribes, and brings the territory into Rome’s dominion. This act would establish him as one of Rome’s great generals. After the death of Crassus and Caesar’s own daughter, Julia (Pompey’s wife), those who were once friends turned on each other and would battle for supremacy in a great civil war. Caesar emerges triumphant over all those who tried to stop him. Instead of killing those who opposed him, he grants amnesty. However, he takes the power of dictator and seems, to some, to be making himself the king. If you are Marcus Junius Brutus, the descendent of Lucius Junius Brutus, lifetime dictatorship is not tolerable. Therefore, Brutus, Cassius, and sixty other senators would proudly make this day immortal.

On the Ides of March, Julius Caesar was assassinated in Pompey’s theater, which was acting as the Senate house at that time, a scene that has been reenacted an uncountable amount of times since.

One of the things that makes what happened so interesting is you can make either side out to be the heroic side or the villainous, or you can like Shakespeare call the whole thing a tragedy.

From the classic Shakespeare with Marlon Brando from 1953:

From a TV version in 1979

From the 2002 TV movie with Jeremy Sisto

The recent HBO Rome series 2006 where Ciaran Hinds gives the best I got stabbed twenty-six times performance.

A cute little claymation about Caesar’s death

Or Lego people

***On a different note Happy Birthday, Maine! ***

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