Donald “Caesar” Trump?

| August 17, 2017
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“O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason. Bear with me; my heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, and I must pause till it come back to me.”

~Mark Antony, Eulogy for Julius Caesar

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, It seems to me most strange that men should fear; seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.” 

~Julius Caesar

This article seeks to examine how often history repeats itself—the many powerful similarities in the recent death threats made against President Donald J. Trump and the final days of Gaius Julius Caesar over the Roman Republic as chronicled in William Shakespeare’s famous work for the ages, Julius Caesar.

Act 1

The enduring classic Roman tragedy by William Shakespeare begins in 44 B.C Rome when Roman tribunes, Flavius and Marullus, confront a jubilant crowd of Romans who are hanging decorations on various statues around Rome in honor of Julius Caesar ascending to the head of the Roman Republic. This following Caesar’s bold march across the Rubicon river with the Roman army (a forbidden act of treason according to Roman history and traditions). Flavius and Marullus had been major supporters of Pompey, one of the three former Generals alongside Caesar, yet in allegiance to Caesar, King Ptolemy of Egypt overthrew and killed Pompey during the Battle of Pharsalus in 48 BC. They tell the citizens to gather their friends and family to mourn Pompey’s passing.

In the next scene enters a large crowd following behind Julius Caesar and wife Calpurnia, who are heading to the festival games of Lupercal (an ancient ritual race designed to ensure fertility). Caesar publicly notes that his wife is infertile and asks his close friend Mark Antony, who is running in the race, to touch his wife for good fortune. In the crowd, a soothsayer (fortune-teller) warns Caesar to ‘beware the Ides of March’ (the 15th day of the month), but Caesar arrogantly ignores the warning. Two Roman Senators, Cassius and Brutus, are disturbed by Caesar’s growing power.

Brutus hears the growing cheers of the crowds and is worried that Caesar will one day become King of Rome and end the era of the Republic where the people chose their leaders though democracy and the ballot. Brutus’s concern for the Republic is contrasted by Cassius who is envious of Caesar’s power and believes that he is too feeble to carry such mighty recognition. Brutus recognizes Cassius’s growing desire to form a conspiracy to overthrow Caesar, but tells him he is not committed and needs time to think on it. Caesar is aware of Cassius and warns Antony that he is a dangerous and jealous man. Casca, another Senator, tells Brutus and Cassius that the loud cheers in the streets earlier were in response to Caesar being offered the crown by Antony twice and refusing him both times. The crowds cheered because they rebuked the idea of a resurrected monarchal government in Rome, but were unaware that Caesar was testing the crowd’s reaction and offered a lighter refusal after the first. After the mobs cheering of the third refusal, Caesar angrily fell into an epileptic seizure. Later, Casca meets with Cicero, another Senator, in the streets of Rome to discuss the bizarre events and strange weather patterns lately. When Cassius enters, he denounces their superstitions, and enlists their help in the plot to overthrow Caesar, just as the large group of conspirators demand that Cassius also recruits the “noble Brutus”, who would make the plan credible.

Caesar denies the crown to become King of Rome

Act 2

Alone in his orchard late at night, Brutus contemplates that if Cesar becomes King, he may assume the powers of an antagonistic dictator. Putting aside his love for Caesar, Brutus ultimately decides that he must be killed. Brutus compares the proposed assassination to the sacrifice of an animal to the gods. Later in the night, Cassius and the other conspirators arrive with their faces covered. By morning, Brutus agrees to the assassination and joins the conspiracy, advising everyone to hide their intentions behind their cheerful smiles. Brutus also advises Cassius not the kill Mark Antony, a grave mistake that will haunt him later in the story. The group departs, pretending to go to the Capital in order to ferry Caesar to safety. Brutus’s wife Portia is suspicious however, and is rebuffed by Brutus who tells her that he will explain things later.

The conspirators arrive at Caesar’s house only to find that he plans to remain home due to the sign of several bad omens. Decius, one of the conspirators, tells Cesar that he will be ridiculed if he stays home and that the Senate intends to offer him the crown. But Calpurnia begs Cesar, not only due to the fact that she just dreamed of Cesar dying and his assassins washing their hands in his blood, but because of the many omens: the stormy weather, a lioness giving birth in the streets, and the augury (a method of fortune-telling by examining the insides of a sacrificial animal) that Caesar requested has turned up an animal with no heart. Hoping to be crowned King, Caesar agrees to go to the Senate House.

Caesar and fellow Senators deny soothsayers warning to “beware the Ides of March”

Act 3

En route to the Senate House, Caesar once again encounters the soothsayer from before and mocks his prophesies on bewaring the Ides of March. Artemidorus, a faithful supporter of his, attempts to warn Caesar of the conspirators, but is turned down by Caesar. Suddenly in a dramatic fashion, the 8 conspirators each individually stab Caesar with concealed knives at the base of Pompey’s statue. As Brutus stabs him last, a horror-struck Caesar utters in his dying words: “Et tu Brute?” (You too Brutus?), then dies. Mark Antony, one of Julius Caesar’s greatest friends, arrives to the scene and is horrified by the sight the conspirators covering their arms in Caesar’s blood to act as the result of a holy sacrifice (like Calpurnia’s dream). Although Antony is petrified at the devastating loss of his dear friend, he promises the conspirators that he would support the conspiracy. Against Cassius’s wish, Brutus makes his second political blunder by allowing Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral in the Forum (an outdoor gathering place). Left alone to mourn over Caesar’s blood, Antony vows revenge. Antony’s chances at vengeance are refueled by the rumored arrival of Julius Caesar’s nephew Gaius Octavius Thurinus (aka Octavian Caesar).

Julius Caesar’s dramatic assassination, by Vincenzo Camuccini (1798).

Later at the funeral, Brutus delivers a logic-driven speech on why Caesar had to be killed in order to preserve Rome, warning of his foreseeable ambition for the crown. The easily manipulated witless masses cry out that Brutus should be crowned King. Enter Antony, who delivers a famous Eulogy for Caesar that is arguably one of the greatest speeches in all History. The Eulogy is as follows:

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–

Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.”

This speech proves so powerful, that it immediately stirs revolt on the side of Antony against Brutus, Cassius and the conspirators. The mob runs through the streets and burn down the homes of the conspirators, even killing the poet Cinna, whose only link to the murder is him sharing the same name with one of the assassins.

Act 4

Antony, Octavius, and the soldier Lepidus are now the Trumvirs (formerly Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great, and Marcus Licinius) who jointly rule Rome. They do not hesitate in making plans for those who should be killed for Caesar’s death, and the men prepare for battle. Later, Cassius arrives at Brutus’s camp near Sardis in the Middle East, and the two argue over military bribes Cassius has taken. But when Brutus speaks on how Portia has committed suicide, Cassius apologizes, and the two reestablish their friendship. While devising plans, Brutus again overrules Cassius and states that they will attack Octavian and Antony in Philippi, a battlefield in northern Greece. Cassius reluctantly agrees, but believes it wise if they would wait for Antony and Octavius to instead pursue them. Later, Brutus asks a servant to play the lute for him, until the boy eventually falls asleep. When the boy is sleep, the ghost of Caesar suddenly appears to Brutus and warns him that he will see him at Philippi.

Act 5

On the day of the battle, Antony, Octavius and their army appear on one side of a large field in Philippi, while Brutus and Cassius’s forces appear on the other. Knowing they may both be killed, Brutus and Cassius bid each other farewell. During the heated battle, the participants find it hard to tell who is winning or losing. Cassius believes his side is doomed to lose and opts to killing himself. When Brutus realizes that he has been defeated, he also kills himself. The tragic play ends as Antony and Octavius pay tribute to Brutus as “the noblest Roman of them all”.

Message for Modern Day

William Shakespeare’s celebrated classic, Julius Caesar, holds a number of pivotal parallels to modern day America and timeless warnings to beware for generations. For this essay, I will focus on the key similarities between the predicament of Julius Caesar in his final days as General, statesman, and leader of the Roman Republic before it descends into an Empire, and the modern predicament of President Donald J. Trump, in his first 200 days as President of the United States. In today’s America, many notable Democrats and Left-leaning news network (appropriately termed as ‘Fake News’) have all directly or indirectly vowed to either assassinate President Trump, referred to a developing plot to assassinate the President, or openly encouraged citizens and Gov. officials alike to impeach/overthrow Trump. Just as with Caesar at the beginning of his unmatched triumph as General of the Roman army crossing the Rubicon River into Rome (the first time any military General has done so) after conquering Gaul (ancient France) and other lands, so has President Trump crossed the threshold of success like no other U.S President before him, conquering the 2016 Republican Primary Election with the most GOP votes of all time, and winning in a landslide victory against Hillary Clinton in the General Election.

Just as with the conspiracy of 8 Roman Senators to overthrow and ultimately assassinate Caesar on the steps of the statue of Pompey, who Caesar bested, so has there recently been revealed by Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne an open conspiracy among Capitol Hill Congressmen to remove from office and assassinate President Trump, in response to him besting Hillary Clinton along with his transformative platform to drain the Washington Swamp. Multiple sources, including Info Wars, have predicted for months in advance a premeditated coup to overthrow the President in his first term alone.

Perhaps the most stunningly apparent comparison to Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and the many conspiracies to assassinate President Trump lies within the New York Shakespeare in the Park Play depicting a modern interpretation of the assassination of President Trump, just as Caesar was assassinated by Brutus and the conspirators. Even many notable left-leaning reporters and media entities such as CNN television host, Fareed Zakaria, complimented the grotesque play and encouraged people to view it. Speaking of grotesque, perhaps the most despicable and public portrayal of President Trump’s assassination by an individual can be seen through former CNN news anchor Kathy Griffin, who in June held a bloodied severed head resembling President Trump while on camera, similar to how ISIS holds severed heads of their countless victims of war. This of course disturbed all who viewed the photo, including most notably the Trump Family, who said that the image even frightened 11 year-old Barron Trump, not knowing the severed head was fake at first.

                                                                     First picture depicts Kathy Griffin holding a bloodied head resembling President Trump. Second picture is of Shakespeare in the Park depicting the morbid assassination of President Trump mirroring Caesar’s stabbing.

In terms of character representation, President Trump resembles Julius Caesar’s ambitious and successful career as a conquering Roman General and head of the Roman Republic in its last years. Caesar’s humbling act to deny the crown from the public three times to become King, represents President Trump maintaining his humble promise to the American people to never concede as ruler to the armies of special interests, lobbyists, and corrupt political influences that he won against in the 2016 Election.

Brutus foremost, along with Cassius and the conspirators, are the embodiment of the noble, yet duplicitous Roman Senate in its last days and compares to the GOP Senators in America who have repeatedly stabbed President Trump in the back (in a figurative sense) toward failing to pass a repeal or replace bill of Obamacare, failing to pass key legislation to aid the President’s agenda, and very rarely defending the President’s actions when consistently attacked by the Media and Democrats. Caesar’s close ally Mark Antony represents President Trump’s close advisors in the White House such as: Stephen Miller and Steve Bannon, who truly understand the President and hold his best interests for the people. Just as Antony so brilliantly portrayed Caesar’s legacy in a dramatic poetic fashion during his historic Eulogy, so has Nationalist conservatives like Miller and Bannon beautifully crafted major segments of Trump’s many famous speeches, including his Inaugural address and joint address to Congress. Octavius, who would later ascend to becoming the first Emperor of Rome: Augustus Caesar, embodies the nightmarish scenario envisioned by the Democrats, Fake News pundits, and Globalists that have encouraged Trump’s immediate removal from Office, whether by direct assassination, a proposed military coup, or impeachment. In removing President Trump from Office, this will undoubtedly usher in some sort of sinister regime in place of the Trump Administration that does not keep the American people’s interests in mind, yet answers to a higher power that devised the coup from behind the shadows; often termed the Deep State.

In conclusion, the contrast regarding how the ancient Roman public was so blindly swayed by the deceitful words of Brutus’s speech on behalf of Caesar’s death, the American public must not allow itself to be blinded by the subtle deceit of obstructionist Democrats, and Fake News pundits hiding their true intentions to have Trump removed from office or seriously harmed. As seen with the many disturbing examples portrayed by the Left in politics, the media, and even celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Kathy Griffin, Madonna, and Chelsea Handler, there are many who either jokingly or seriously encourage open violence against the President, the likes of which has never been seen before. We bear witness to the words of righteous Truth as spoken on behalf of Caesar in Mark Antony’s Eulogy, a speech of which is celebrated for centuries to follow, while the heinous betrayal of the assassins Brutus and Cassius are shunned as History’s greatest traitors (see Virgil’s timeless work, Dante’s Inferno where Brutus and Cassius are trapped in the lowest 9th circle of Hell along with Judas Iscariot who betrayed Christ). Do not allow the many conspiracies of Trump’s demise to come to fruition, as it was with Caesar who ignored the many ominous warnings against him, and do not allow the prophetic words of Dante Alighieri to come to pass:

“For pride and avarice and envy are the three fierce sparks that set all hearts ablaze.” 

*N.B: This essay is based in part on a synopsis of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, contained in, Dr. W. John Campbell, Book of Great Books: A Guide to 100 World Classics (Fall River, 2000), pp. 435-443.

*Also based on Julius Caesar Spark Notes.

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Category: Socrates Corner

About the Author ()

Stone Washington is the son of Ellis Washington and the Website Administrator and Managing Editor for Ellis Washington Report. Stone is a Junior History Major at Clemson University, in Clemson, South Carolina, home of the 2016 College Football National Champions. All of Stone's articles can be found under the Socrates Corner section of the website, and often offer a critical analysis on prominent works of classical literature and its correlations to American history and politics. Some of Stone's most popular articles include: 1915-2015-100th Anniversary of Booker T. Washington, Atlas Shrugged, America Slouched - The Galt/Trump Revolution, and Justice Clarence Thomas, Generation Z, and Me. Friend him on his Facebook page, also Twitter @StoneWashington and Instagram. Contact Stone at his email: Stonebone20@att.net.

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