IDES OF MARCH, 15th the date
The initial hushed, death-like silence gave way to utter chaos with the commoners running hither-thither, falling, rising, screaming as though it is doomsday. The plebians look distraught. The fear in their eyes is so disturbing, ….do I read mistrust in their horror-stricken eyes? Or is it disbelief at the happenings at the Curia of Pompey?
Their doubts need to be quelled, dismay resolved and trust reinstated.
Capitol has witnessed the goriest killings and that too of ………
But oh, why, why am I referring to it as ‘goriest’ as though I have committed a sin, a crime! It is only for the good of my beloved country that I have done it?
Justifying my deed? Am I?
Why am I so troubled? Cassius, Casca and the lot are so calm and have no qualms. Is it reg….? no it can’t be!
Cinna is strongly moved, he has been crying out loud- ‘Freedom, Liberty….no more tyranny, no more dictatorship’.
Cassius has asked one of us to run to the common pulpits and convince the plebians that this is an act to liberate Rome from the clutches of tyrannical rule.
Oh! I have to pacify them; this assassination was only to restore peace and bring back the glory of Rome.
Before the mob goes berserk, I must address them, alleviate their apprehensions of a rebellion. They have the right to know that their beloved leader harboured motives not beneficial to Rome.
My inner voice strong and firm propels me….
Rise, Brutus, rise, you have not sinned against Caesar, speak for the ideals you live for. Speak for the wrongs HE has done to the country.
Can I deny the magnificent presence of my friend in the battles that he won, the laurels that he got home, the fame he bequeathed to Rome?
Caesar, the military general who rose to power slaying Pompey, (a powerful member of the first triumvirate), the popular figure in the Rome’s political and military administration, belied the hopes of the commoner with his disregard for republican ideals.
Being ambitious is a trait that I would validate but he crossed the thin line that demarcates ambition and over ambition. He wandered away into the unknown land of greed for power.
‘Oh, what noise I hear? Is there a public display of wrath and consternation? Has none gone to placate the irate mob?’
‘Brutus himself shall go to the market place to assure my countrymen that we mean no harm to anyone and state the reasons for this drastic step we Senators have taken.’
‘Here I come….’
49 -48 BCE
Caesar’s growing popularity has gained him autocratic powers. His military conquests have earned him Rome’s trust. His yearning for more power has made the Senate wary of his conquests. The bone of contention that has led to this civil war is Caesar’s military conquests in Gaul. Though Caesar, Pompey and Crassus were in the first Triumvirate and ruled Rome in coalition, discontentment has been on the rise.
Caesar has promised to avenge my father’s death in the hands of Pompey, thus asking for my support. But the public scandal involving my mother and Caesar has gained ground for me to side Pompey. The battle was one of show of power and military strategy. The unexpected (or expected?) downfall of Pompey in the Battle of Pharsalus and the consequences of the defeat have triggered my apprehensions about Caesar’s treatment.
It has come as a surprise to me that he has pardoned my outrageous support to his enemy and has granted me amnesty. His pardon has absolved me of my political offences. Is this a mark of his large -heartedness or political sagacity?
46 – 45 BCE
The political upheavals, Caesar’s supremacy, his inflated ego are posing a threat to the republican principles. His rising pride and on the verge of appointing himself the absolute ruler are a concern and my ideals don’t seem to coincide with his autocratic instincts.
In the wake of such apprehensions, I am appointed governor of Cisalpine Gaul to negotiate and reconcile between the Pompeiians and Caesar.
My deep-rooted political integrity, love for my country are above individuals and my allegiance to the system remains unshakable.
My rocky marriage with Claudia and divorce, marriage with Porcia, Cato’s daughter, all has been turbulent but I know not even a scandal about my personal relationships will ever come in the way of discharging my duties as a governor.
I feel I am blessed to be a soul representing the land of values and integrity. Rome, epitome of classical culture, exemplary traditions, established rules and system, is my dream land. I owe my ideologies to this great cultural ethos, manifesting itself in multitudinous forms. I shall protect and safeguard the common interests of the republicans and fight for its supremacy.
‘I appoint thee, Brutus, the praetor, empowering you authority of a Magistrate,’
Caesar’s announcement is both a welcome and a surprise to me. My executive powers now a combination of certain legislative and judicial powers.
‘My gratitude and allegiance shall remain untouched by any personal motives, this position I shall carry as an honour. I shall forever be indebted to thee, O Caesar.’
I feel my voice choking as this great honour is bestowed. May I live up to the title and bring honour and fame to the great Republic of Rome.
Caesar’s growing ambition is a sore in the eye but I am here to thwart any such act of his that will defame the country.
This I pledge to myself….
‘What counsel brings Cassius? Hath he some advice or he talketh a common conversation? He hath an expression vague yet thoughtful. I perceive he hath some sober musings. It is writ all over his face. Some misgivings? My deliberations seem to reflect in his bearing.
“Brutus, my friend, what reflections keep you bemused? An inner turmoil I see, that keeps you melancholic or are you troubled by the happenings around you?”
“Oh, none, my friend, it is a war within that keeps me distraught and worried. I have nothing against you and never be doubtful about my affections for you.”
“Then speak, Brutus, for it shall mitigate that misery that makes you feel down. Have you been denied some powers or authority by our beloved leader, whose coronation ceremony was as sick and unhealthy as he himself…? I mean, Caesar, has declared himself the sole authority, a dictator, a supreme power since he slayed Pompey.”
Am I being led into some unknown territories of the republic of Rome and its undisputed ruler?
Is he insinuating that I am ignorant of significant issues? Am I so blunt that I major impacts have gone unnoticed?
Oh! Shall I overlook his biddings or take a dive into the depth of his inferences? Is it a reference to my friend, Caesar? Is my inner conflict akin to his reflections on the autocratic powers of …?
Should I ignore his thoughts, but if I do, it tantamount to sacrilege. I will be demeaning my noble, sacred thoughts for the republican ideals. I cannot betray my countrymen.
Let me hear his troubles.
“Cassius, I am no mean person to defend or violate the rules of my Rome. I abide by the principles of our system and owe much to the country for it has bestowed on me. But I fail to reckon your inferences. Let your thoughts flow out uninterrupted, so I consider your thoughts beneficial to the country that I serve.”
‘Do you hear that commotion? It is the plebians and the Senators rejoicing the triumph of Caesar and accepting this weakling as the king! He swoons and faints, froth and all, over his face, his weak body is no competition to his military authority. Isn’t it a paradox that he should be offered a supreme position!”
“Your observations, my dear Cassius, are of high concern, but his accomplishments are voluminous. Neither of us can deny his strategic planning and execution. His achievements speak for his position. And I for one will not interrupt or intervene in his affairs as the ruler of Rome.”
Cassius’ looks tell me he is displeased and doesn’t agree with my deliberations. I know he has read my thoughts and finds in me that spark, that spirit that can take the country places. Is he suggesting that the power be vested in me? Or am I reading too much into his words?
“Cassius, let my troubled soul search for a vent to let out that something causing me so much despair and distress. Thank you for your kind words to assuage my pain.”
‘Am I so transparent that Cassius could delve deep into my troubled mind and emerge with those reflections? What has he to say about Caesar? His demeanour says it all, no doubts. He has grasped my mind and my thoughts. Is he manoeuvring my noble thoughts? Are his intentions as noble as would be benefiting the welfare of the commoners?’
I, Brutus, thinking so lowly of my co- Senator? Am I misreading his good intentions? I shall celebrate the brave musings of my friend, and applaud his noble intentions in favour of no single individual but the common interest of all.’
My suspicions are groundless. May the Almighty give me sober thoughts. If I ponder over his thoughts, he too is thinking of the infinite, unquestionable authority and power being granted to a military general, however much he might have accomplished and brought fame for Rome.
If he is crowned king, he may eclipse the supremacy of the republican tenets. Isn’t that a violation of the sacred law of the land? …..
My conflict is now much deeper after Cassius’ dialogue with me in the Capitol. There is more to it than meets the eye. Let not my saintly being be manipulated into doing deeds that only cause rift.
Let my agitated mind calm down.
Where is Porcia?
Oh Porcia, let me feel the warmth of your affection, soothe my soul.
“My lord, what thoughts keep you engrossed that you lack sleep and smile? What deep grief keeps you awake through the wee hours? Pour your heart so I may soothe your soul.”
“Nay, my dear Porcia, no distress or grief only my thoughts about my Rome and its welfare. What priority otherwise I have? None. So be restful and worry not about me. I shall regain my belief in the system, yes, it is fading but shall restore that faith.”
Do I see Casca, Cinna with Cassius? What speak they to each other? I see they have some common concern that they discuss so deeply.
I do perceive disconcerted look on each face, it…it is quite unsettling, is my composure getting nettled? Is it a matter of immediate concern? Otherwise Casca, the chicken -hearted fellow, who has never had any say in any matters seems to engrossed in a dialogue with Cassius! Casca gaining equal status as Cassius and Cinna? Am I deducing wrongly? Let my thoughts be virtuous.
“Brutus, my friend, just as Cinna is asking for you, you appear, God willing, this is true. What thoughts you have of our dialogue a few days back? I am in no haste only our companions are curious. Well thought of considerations, we Senators have a concern in vesting powers in Caesar, as your noble thoughts have cautioned you, so has our conscience warned us of the impending danger of losing our rights and privileges to the whims and fancies of a weakling. Would you let your allegiance be questioned and pricked? Speak, Brutus, for we have come together to retain our sanity and not give in to any ruler who could prove to be dictator worth nothing.”
I see the group expanding from two to three and four….
Porcia has cautioned me, not get carried away, not to let the words of anyone impact my feelings, my intentions. I am no layperson, my blood speaks of allegiance, of patriotism, of the worth of my country. What truth they speak of? That Caesar will prove a bane to the republican ideals? Is our Rome doomed? Will HE be the reason for the downfall of our famed country?
“Brutus, what thinks you? Casca, the one who is feeble in looks and thought, Cinna who has strong political leanings, have given a thought to my readings of Caesar and his over ambitious intentions. Don’t you agree that all his good deeds have fallen to his ego and pride? Isn’t that a fall of the country? I pray thee, Brutus, what you do for your beloved Rome loses its dignity and fails to gain any reverence when you connive at the wrongs of Caesar. Must I persuade you further to evoke the spirit that pervades across the country but evades you?”
Oh, Cassius is so grieved, he has such passion for Rome’s welfare! He speaks truth. Support I shall, his views and thoughts.
What about Porcia’s words? Shall i reconsider my decision? Or shall I go by my feelings?
I do see the wrongs that could happen if Caesar is not contained. How to contain him, is the question.
I shudder at the very thought of Rome falling a prey to his over ambitious exploits. Nay, I cannot allow the country to become a puppet in the hands of an unworthy dictator, despite his service for the same. I ….. I must act now or never!
Do I see a glint in their eyes? As though they have succeeded in their venture!
Let me not be in two minds. Stay balanced and stable.
44 BCE (15th March)
The soothsayer seems to be warning Caesar
‘Beware Ides of March’
Caesar has just brushed it aside
‘It is here…’ as though questioning the validity of the soothsayer’s verdict, his warning.
As he walks towards the Curia of Pompey, for the Senate meeting, I see a strange glint in his eyes, as though he has won the world and he is the undisputed king of not just Rome. That vicarious pleasure of being given unsurmountable authority will jeopardise the wellbeing of my country, I have no qualms now to be a part of the conspiracy. Our act is well justified, I am certain that this act shall reinstate the ideals and values of my Rome.
I see Metellus Cimber hold Caesar’s hand and plead with him to bring back his banished brother, Caesar is unmoved, all the conspirators have surrounded him and here it goes….
Casca has stabbed him followed by Cinna, Cimber, Cassius…. And I see the mighty fall of one who rose to such fame, who brought laurels to Roman Republic, who staged a show to make it an Empire. As I approach him, I see hope … a momentary flash of trust in me…. And then I stab him, straight in his gut, without batting an eyelid, so confident and purposeful I am in this act of assassination of the great military general.
The truth hit me only when he uttered his last words,” Eu tu Brute…”
And then silence….
His words will for ever ring in my ears, I know.
44 BCE 16th March
I stand at the pulpit and render my speech to the mourners. Mark Anthony has been good enough, though he feared attack on him after the assassination of Caesar. I have assured him that we mean no harm to anyone else.
“My countrymen, I stand here to mourn the death of Caesar, my beloved friend, but his overambitious nature is what I have killed. My noble thoughts are pure and uncorrupted, lofty and sublime as the purest form of love for my country. Believe me my love for the country is bigger than my love for my friend, hence this act.”
Little do I know that Anthony’s funeral speech is much deeper than it appears to be. I leave the funeral as he addresses the gathering.
‘…and Brutus is an honourable man….”
The story is based on my little research on Brutus, Caesar on Google and Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. I have tried to keep the events in chronological order as per the info on Google. As per the play or Google info, Brutus did not suspect Cassius or other conspirators, but I have taken liberty to add different angle. Brutus ponders over the genuineness of their motive and especially approaching him to join hands either them. Hope it gels with the story.
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