09/10/2006 - 5:29 p.m.


If he's told me once, he's told me a thousand times: his teacher, Mr. Chaggi, was right when he told a room of teenage boys who believed in progress that times change but people don't. My mother says of him that she is not sure how someone can be so optimistic about his own family and so cynical about the rest of the world. But I think I get where Dad's coming from, at least a little, and I agree, which makes "Julius Caesar" the perfect play to see just before 9/11.

No, I am not suggesting that Al Queda is anything like Brutus. I'm not even focusing on Cassius—at least now right at the moment. I'm thinking of the scene in which the crowd tears apart Cinna the poet because, after all, he has the same name as one of the conspirators did. Arguably, they do not mistake him for the conspirator. Last night's production clearly suggested that they were full of hate and, whipped up by Mark Antony, they simply did not care. They needed blood and his would do.

I'm also thinking of Mark Antony. The Milwaukee Shakespeare production that Kat and I saw last year had an interesting interpretation of Mark Antony. Their Mark Antony was no real friend of Caesar. He was an opportuntist who was sad but far from heartbroken at the events of the Ides of March. Caesar was dead and that was unfortunate but look what opportunities his death created for maneuvering the populace. Look what opportunities his death created to seize power and rid ones' self of a pesky Senate. Revenge Caesar, sure, but don't forget to take the opportunity to rid ones' self of the annoying Publius or Cicero. And then, at the end, cry a few necessary crocodile tears over the death of Brutus and, only then, mouth the platitudes about what he stood for.

And what of Brutus? What of men who think that the crowd will follow if you but explain the good of what you do? Just how dangerous can such naiveté be? What of men who assume that all want to be free and see freedom exactly the same way? What of those who believe that men's thoughts are besides the point?

Yes, times change. 9/11 changed a lot---and very little. It did not change people at all. Mark Antony would have recognized a lot that has occurred since then as, perhaps, might Brutus (but only if he learned from his experiences.)

Hail, Caesar. Cry havoc. I wish it were all Greek to me.

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