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In another discussion, a question was asked about the relevancy of teaching Shakespeare in the contemporary classroom and a number of editors--amazingly--felt that the language is too antiquated for students, the plays are no longer relevant, etc.
But, truth is always relevant and William Shakespeare's plays ALL contain universal truths that will teach all peoples, all generations. In fact, some of the issues that the Bard points to are even more relevant today in this amoral world. Caesar's cupidity is evinced in many a leader of civilized and uncivilized countries. Tyranny rises above ethics very,very often.
The question that Julius Caesar poses that I find has great relevance to this day is where do you place your country in your hierarchy of priorities. This is a question Brutus had to ask himself. He had a good life in Rome and the leader who was questionably a danger to his country was a good friend of his who treated him well. Therefore, didn't have anything to gain by killing Caesar. When Brutus made the decision to join the conspirators, he proved that his country ranked at the top of his priorities.
Young people need to make the decision all the time. Not too long ago, several young men put their personal lives, careers, education, etc. aside to join the military to fight in a war they felt was necessary. These courageous young men put their comfortable lives on hold to go to the third world country Afghanastan to defend their country's honor. And, unfortunately, just like in the case of Brutus, not all of them came back alive.
I think a major theme in this play is the issue of how to rid a country of tyranny. If you think a ruler is (or will become) a tyrant, is it going to do any good to get rid of that ruler? In the case of Rome, it seems that it does not. Nowadays, we face this same problem around the world. If we overthrow Gadhaffi, what happens next? Will it really do any good? This is a question that is still relevant.
I believe the play will always be relevant. Some things never change. Power can corrupt. Hitler and his goal to wipe out a Jewish people give proof.
While power is needed to preserve freedom and justice, that same power can be used to take it away.
There will always be a Hitler, a Saddam Hussein, an Osama Bin Laden, etc.
The people should always have a watchful eye on anyone who may be becoming overly ambitious.
Ambition is a good thing when it is not taken overboard. When a leader begins to believe he alone is sole conqueror, that is when his power is becoming dangerous. In the words of the Julius Caesar who actually lived, "I came, I saw, I conquered."
In the play, Julius Caesar was so powerful until he defeated Brutus even in his death. His ghost was even a threat.
Antony becomes all powerful in Caesar's place. Even the honorable Brutus is no match for the dictatorship that had begun in Caesar's reign.
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