Beware The Ides Of March!
On this March 15th, the ides of March, the columnist shares the Cliffs Notes version of William Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar. Or is it the Bob’s Notes version?
Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue shriller than all the music Cry "Caesar!" Speak; Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.
Caesar: What man is that?
Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
In this scene from one of Bill Shakespeare’s greatest works, Julius Caesar, a soothsayer warns Caesar to beware of March 15, the ides of March, which is the very day that he is to be assassinated by the conspirators who have plotted against him. In spite of numerous warnings, including that of the soothsayer and his wife's nightmares of his murder, Caesar goes out on the ides and meets his fate.
I’ll give you the Cliffs Notes version of what transpires.
Caesar, who has grown extremely arrogant and power hungry, views himself as being equal in stature to the gods and is moving to set himself up as a monarch in what is now a republic; a democracy much like Massachusetts prior to the state being taken over by greedy, self-interested political hacks.
The Senate, in a concerted effort to thwart Caesar’s plans, sits down over a couple of specialty pizzas from Mario’s Trattoria and several bottles of Mark West Pinot Noir. It seems that Cassius was a big fan of the Gorgonzola pizza, while Brutus, an artichoke aficionado, preferred the Quattro Stagioni.
Lucius Tillius Cimber, the senator who would ultimately signal the others to attack and kill Caesar had become a devotee of California wines during his years as a law student at Stanford University, and particularly relished those from the Sonoma region. Cimber had hooked up with a California girl who had turned him on to the luscious California nectars, as well as several other things that I’m unable to mention here.
Cimber had been one of Caesar’s closest friends and leading benefactors, but had soured on the relationship after growing weary of Caesar referring to him as ‘Lucy Goosey’ and ‘Silly Tillie’ in front of the other Senators. This relentless taunting would eventually lead to Senator Cimber, as he preferred to be called, seeking counsel with a renowned Freudian scholar who theorized that most of Cimber’s emotional challenges, as well his inability to commit to a lasting relationship, stemmed from his repressed anger toward his mother for naming him, Lucius Tillius. This diagnosis is particularly fascinating as it occurred some nineteen-hundred years prior to Freud’s birth.
Cimber was known to be a heavy drinker who hated folk music and was prone to violence. This resulted in the break-up of his relationship with his laid-back California honey, a proponent of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation.
Cimber, bent on revenge against the Maharishi for turning his girlfriend against him, beat the Yogi senseless in a fight outside a sleazy Sausalito biker bar where the two had been drinking following a George Harrison concert.
So getting back to the scene on the ides of March; Cimber, Cassius, Marcus, another guy named Marcus, Lucius, Brutus and a boatload of other guys with us at the end of their names, gathered together in the Senate building awaiting Caesars arrival.
Big Jules, as his closest friends referred to him, was running a little late because his wife, Calpurnia, had been nagging him all day about taking care of some household chores he had been promising to do for weeks. Oh, plus she’d had some dreams that Caesar would be killed, but we all know that was just a ploy to get him to stay and do the chores, don’t we guys.
Brutus shows up at the house and busts Caesar’s chops, saying, “What is this, Caesar? Are you a man to pay attention to a woman's dreams….,” and a bunch of other fancy Shakespearian stuff, which pretty much meant, Blow the old lady off and let’s get over to the Senate, you wimp.
So Brutus and Caesar headed over to the Senate building to take care of some official Roman Empire-type business. These two guys had been really tight since they were kids, kind of like Siegfried and Roy – well, maybe not like that, but they were good buddies.
On the way, they stopped off at Mamma Gina’s Bakery to pick up some cannoli for the meeting. It was Brutus’s turn to bring the snacks, plus he had a thing for Gina, whom he had once secretly bankrolled when she took a trip to the United States to attend a class in cupcake making at Andrews Bakery.
Gina had recently broken off her relationship with Brutus, claiming he was a lousy lover, which inspired Shakespeare to pen one his most revered comedies, Much Ado about Nothing, the precursor to the show, Seinfeld, which was also about nothing.
Caesar and Brutus arrived at the Senate, cannoli in hand, right in the middle of an argument between Servilius and Cassius about who would get the last chocolate chip cookie from the batch that Cassius’ wife had dropped off at the meeting earlier in the day. Cassius, who had eaten far more than his fair share, had just come back from the vomitorium and was more than ready for another carb-loading binge.
Caesar stepped between the two and was inadvertently hit with a cannoli that one of the Senators had heaved at Cassius. A food fight broke out and Brutus slid under the table to avoid the onslaught of cannoli, pheasant entrails and pepperoni pizza.
The Senate Chamber was in utter turmoil until Caesar, determined to bring order to the assembly, grabbed his gavel and pounded furiously on the table, calling the raucous politicos to order.
“I have never been so disgusted in my life,” Caesar began. “You men have been chosen as representatives of the mighty Roman Empire and look how you’re behaving! I can’t believe this. You guys slay me!”
Whoops! Sometimes it’s better to just shut your big yapper!
The senators, suddenly cognizant of the reason they had called Caesar to their meeting, rushed old Jules and pushed him to the ground, each of them stabbing him in turn.
Brutus, the last to thrust his blade between the ribs of the dying tyrant, hovered above his former friend; his knife dripping with royal blood.
Caesar looked up at Brutus and in his final breath, uttered the immortal words, "Et tu, Brute?"
Brutus dropped his knife to the floor, fell to his knees beside the fallen ruler, took him by his blood-soaked hand and whispered in his ear, “Yup, me too.”
So that’s it in a nutshell - William Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar. Can you believe my English Literature professor accused me of not paying attention in class?
Make it a great week!
Bob Havey is an Easton-based freelance writer. His column, "The View From Here", appears each Tuesday at http://easton-ma.patch.com and his other column "Take Me Back" runs every Friday at http://mansfield-ma.patch.com.