The Ides of March

Illustration of Caesar saying, “Et tu, Brute?”

OK, since everybody else is taking a corona break, I’ve decided to take it easy and put out a quickie. As today is the Ides of March, please take the time to watch this excellent little (2 1/2 minute) clip of Damien Lewis delivering Marc Antony’s funeral oration for the just-assassinated Gaius Julius Caesar.

It’s one of Shakespeare’s greatest monologues, surpassed only (in my opinion) by Henry V’s soliloquy/exhortation-to-battle before Agincourt (which we have shown here on more than one occasion).

The underlying theme of course is betrayal. Junius Brutus was Caesar’s best friend. They fought together in battle and were boon companions in politics, as well. Brutus, however, had other ideas, ideas which led him to conspire with republican-minded elites to kill Caesar. The reason of course (in their minds) was that Caesar was a tyrant and he represented the end of republicanism.

They were fools, of course: the moral virtues that undergirded the Republic were long since eroded. At least three generations had passed since the Gracchan reforms, when a type of public welfare had been enacted, thus creating a huge prole underclass within the city of Rome itself. In addition, the vast wealth that had seeped into the city because of the plunder of the Punic Wars (264-146 BC) had also taken their toll on the martial spirit of Rome. Licentiousness, by then, had long been the order of the day.

In Shakespeare’s play, Antony has been given permission to publicly mourn his fallen leader by the assassins Brutus, Cassius, and Casca, and thus praises them as a condition for being allowed to do so. Lewis/Antony however is able to gets his digs in and thus possibly rile up the masses against them. Sure, he praises them but with each subsequent praise his voice rises a little –imperceptibly at first but nevertheless, unmistakably with this sardonic refrain: “…and Brutus is an honorable man.” By the third or fourth such refrain, it is clear that Antony’s praise for the assassins is said in a most sarcastic and menacing fashion.

Antony sees which way the wind is blowing. The assassins, who are sure in their prejudices–most assuredly do not. 

In truth, only a monarchy could restrain the immorality that was endemic. Likewise, we too are at such a juncture, culturally, politically, and religiously. Global and national elites are woefully out of touch with common people. They think that by championing “liberal” causes (such as gay marriage, illegitimacy and indolence) that they will be rewarded for their “tolerance”. They believe that the Trumpian revolution is an aberration and will play itself out once they return to power. As Talleyrand said of the Bourbons in France upon their own (brief) return to power after Napoleon: “They learned nothing, they forgot nothing”.

Anyway, enough editorializing.  Enjoy!


  1. When Talleyrand died,
    Prince Metternich allegedly said:
    “I wonder what he means by that.”
    Anyway, for Brutus, Brando does (did) it better