Idealism exacts a high price. Brutus has respect, a comfortable home, a loving wife, friends. Yet he willingly risks everything—and ultimately loses everything, including his life—to live up to his ideals. This motif is a major one in history and literature. Socrates took poison rather than recant his beliefs; Christ was crucified after spreading His message of love and peace. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, and Thomas More beheaded. In Shakespeare's King Lear, the noblest character, Cordelia, is ordered hanged by the villainous Edgar. In Charles Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, Sidney Carton goes to the guillotine to save the life of the husband of the woman Carton loves. Pride is the harbinger of destruction. Julius Caesar well knows that Cassius poses a threat to him. In Act I, Caesar, upon noticing Cassius in a crowd, tells Antony: “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. / He thinks too much: such men are dangerous” (1. 2. 204-205) In other words, Cassius is hungry for revolution, reprisal, against the man he envies; he would bring him to ruin. Nevertheless, Caesar says he does not fear Cassius, “for always I am Caesar” (1. 2. 222), meaning he is the greatest of men and therefore invincible. And so, in the plumage of his pride, Caesar makes himself an easy target for Cassius and his other enemies. A Bible verse encapsulates Caesar’s haughtiness: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Prov. 16. 18.) Great political ambition breeds great political enmity. The conspiracy against the politically ambitious Caesar begins to form after other government leaders—in particular, Cassius—perceive him as power-hungry. Deceit wears the garb of innocence. While conniving behind Caesar’s back, his enemies pretend to be his friends. Recognize and heed warnings. “Beware the ides of March,” a soothsayer tells Caesar (1. 2. 23). But Caesar ignores the warning. He also brushes off the threat he perceives from Cassius Later, he ignores the warnings of his wife, who tells him of many omens that bode ill for him if he leaves home on March 15 (the Ides of March) to go to the senate. Apparently, in his arrogance, Caesar believes he is invulnerable to the machinations of the conspirators; he is an Achilles without a weak spot. Words are powerful weapons. Daggers kill Caesar, but it is the suasion of Cassius and others that seal his fate. And it is the rhetoric of Mark Antony—in particular, in his funeral oration—that turns the people against the conspirators. One man’s hero is another man’s villain. Caesar and Brutus are each a villain and each a hero, depending upon the philosophical and moral vantage points of the observers. As Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine observe: "Many people in the Renaissance were passionately interested in the story of Caesar's death at the hands of his friends and fellow politicians. There was much debate about who were the villains and who were the heroes. According to the fourteenth-century Italian poet Dante, Brutus and Cassius, the foremost of the conspirators who killed Caesar, were traitors who deserved an eternity in hell. But, in the view of Shakespeare's contemporary Sir Philip Sydney, Caesar was a rebel threatening Rome, and Brutus was the wisest of senators. Shakespeare's dramatization of Caesar's assassination and its aftermath has kept this debate alive among generations of readers and playgoers."—Mowat, Barbara, and Paul Werstine, Eds. The New Folger Shakespeare Library: Julius Caesar. New York: Washington Square Press, Published by Pocket Books, 1972 (Page ix). Climax
.......The climax of a play or another literary work, such as a short story or a novel, can be defined as (1) the turning point at which the conflict begins to resolve itself for better or worse, or as (2) the final and most exciting event in a series of events. There are three key events in Julius Caesar that each appear to qualify as the climax: first, the meeting of the...
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