The Ides of March


        As Caesar establishes himself in Rome as the sole leader of the government, a different Gaius Julius Caesar emerged.  The man who once was dynamic, charismatic, and prone to clemency now becomes slightly bitter, vengeful, impatient, and (worst of all) unrestrained.  Established as the first man in Rome, Caesar starts to act the part and has no shame in showing this to the people.  He celebrates 4 triumphs over various enemies (African, Egyptian, Spanish), but then parades through Rome in celebration of the defeat of other Romans.  This did not sit well with the people of Rome.
 
        Another issue related to this action is that of Caesarís contempt and attitude towards the offices of government.  Both the triumph and this revealed attitude spit in the face of the mos maiorum, which Romans still held near and dear.  Instead of revering the offices of consul, praetor, quaestor, etc., Caesar uses them to reward his allies and thus renders the powers of these positions ineffective before the eyes of everybody.  If there was any respect or support for Caesar in the Senate, it quickly dissipated when Caesar filled half of the Senate with foreign supporters (owing their citizenship to Caesar) who otherwise wouldnít have fit the property or monetary qualifications to enter the Curia.

        Quickly tiring of Caesarís proud and bold antics, the Senators quickly hatch a plot to eliminate him from Rome and from life as they know it.  They plan to kill Caesar.  Shakespeare (as well as other authors) documents Caesarís last days and the facts are fairly well known.  On the Ides of March, a dispatch of Senators waited until Caesar took his seat in the Senate and a few Senators approached him with documents so that he was surrounded.  At the given signal of a pull at Caesarís toga, the conspirators unconcealed their knives and each had his turn with Caesar, who at first fought back with the only weapon he had, his quill pen, but then soon accepted his inevitable fate.  It is said that Gaius Julius Caesar died just a few feet from a statue of Pompey, located in the Theater of Pompey, the location for this Senate meeting.

 
Scene I: The streets of Rome; October, 45 BC

One citizen is milling around center-stage.  Another citizen walks in from stage right.

Citizen: Ave Quintus!

Quintus: Ave!  Whatís going on?

Citizen: Havenít you heard?  Iím going to the Forum to get a peak at another one of Caesarís triumphs!

Quintus: Oh, Iíve heard about this triumph alright.  Yeah, it was great when he was celebrating his victories
over the Egyptians and the Spaniards, but nowÖ against other Romans????  Not a chance!!  Youíll never see me celebrating the defeat and murder of a Roman Ė I donít care who he is.  Donít be swayed by all of his free bread and wine Ė heís a king to us all, no mistake about it.

Citizen: I didnít think about it like that.  Yeah, Iím outta here.

Both exit stage left

Scene II: Sacra Via

Caesar is waving to the crowd along the route of his triumph and he passes the Tribuneís bench, upon which Lucius Pontius Aquila, the yearís chief tribune, is sitting

Caesar passes by and sees that Aquila will not stand at attention in his presence

Caesar (shaking his fist at Aquila): Lucius, as tribune of the plebs, you must stand before me in reverence!

Aquila stands up, folds his hands across his chest and turns his back to Caesar

Caesar: Youíll rue the day Aquila!  You donít like me Ė just try and take the state back from me!!

Caesarís walks across the stage

All the citizens: Boo!  Caesar is a king!  Caesar is a tyrant!

Caesar (looking very angry): You people know nothing!  You donít know what you want!  All you want is bread and circus.  Bread and circus!  I know what is good for you!

Caesar exits stage left.
 

Scene III:  The Senate

Caesar: And here are your two new consuls for 44 BC Ė Marcus Antony and Publius Cornelius Dolabella.

Senator: But Caesar, they arenít even old enough!

Caesar: A small inconvenience.  That is a mere formality.  After all, didnít we make this exception with
your beloved Pompey?  You remember him?  The wonderful (sarcastic) general that I defeated a few years back?   Youíll overlook this little issue.

Senator (talking to another Senator): Thatís it Ė heís made a mockery of the Senate and of all of us Ė
something must be done with this tyrant!

Second Senator: Youíre right!  But what should we do?

Senator: Well, if we canít make him leave office, we can make him leave our livesÖ all of our lives.

Second Senator: Are you saying what I think your saying?

Senator: Itís come to that.  I mean, look around you!  Heís built all of these new temples and buildings all
in his name Ė heís infested every part of Rome!  We must do whatever it takes, but we must do it as one.

Senator: Iíll test the waters with the others and see who I can find to join us.
 

Scene IV: Secret meeting of Senators

All the Senators (5 of them) are huddled around each other

Brutus: No one leaves unbloodied, got it?

Senator: Thatís right.

2nd Senator: It will be my pleasure.

3rd senator: Let me be the first one!  Just let me at him.

Brutus: Patience, my friend, patience.  Remember the signal and donít betray our plan before we unleash it.
 

Scene V: In a Senate meeting at the Theater of Pompey: March 15, 44 BC

All of the Senators are in the Senate awaiting Caesar to take his place in the middle of them on his curule chair

Caesar walks in accompanied by Brutus and 2nd Senator

Caesar sits down

Caesar: And what business what must I deal with today Senators?

Brutus: Well Caesar, this business will not take longÖ

Brutus walks over to Caesar and stretches Caesarís toga down to bear his neck

All of the Senators rush Caesar with concealed knives and one by one stab Caesar

Caesar:  What is the meaning of this?  Aghhhh!!!!

Caesar falls to the ground and accepts his fate

Brutus is the last to approach Caesar with a knife

Caesar: Et tu, Brute?

Brutus: Et ego, rex

Brutus plunges his knife into Caesarís chest and Caesar dies.

The Senators all scream in victory

Brutus: The tyrant is dead!  The Republic lives!  The Republic lives!

All the senators walk holding their bloody knives up in the air in triumph

Senator:  We are all saved!  Roma victor!  Roma victor!!

End Play