Julius Caesar Essay
Such men as he be never at hearts ease
Whiles they behold a greater than themselves,
(Act 1, Scene 2, lines 208-209)
Caesar, while conversing with Marc Antony, explains that men like Cassius “be never at hearts ease”; they can never be content with themselves. Caesar further expresses that such men can never be happy with themselves because they “behold a greater than themselves”, implying that they have resentment or jealousy towards those with greater power than them. In this excerpt, Caesar is elaborating that Cassius resents him because he is a powerful ruler.
This concept that Caesar acknowledges resonates throughout the theme of the movie Gladiator. The movie tells of a story in which the antagonist, Commodus, envies the protagonist main character, Maximus Decimus Meridius because he is favored by the emperor of Rome, Marcus Aurelius, who ironically happens to be Commodus’ father. Commodus will never be at ease because he will never win the affection of his father’s heart as long as Maximus lives. In this way, Commodus “beholds a greater than himself” when Maximus pleases the emperor time after time through his military skills, his love of Rome, and his loyalty to the emperor. Commodus desperately seeks his father’s approval but when that doesn’t happen, he resentfully kills his father and Maximus’ family; however, even these violent acts are unsatisfying as he “be never at hearts ease”. Maximus was enslaved and became a gladiator to gain his freedom; he was “greater” than Commodus because of his acts of mercy, approval of the Roman crowd, and love of Marcus Aurelius.
Considering the above quote from Julius Caesar, a parallel occurs between Caesar’s view of Cassius and the similar conflict between Commodus and Maximus in the movie Gladiator.
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