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The problem in assassinating a political leader when there is no well-established plan for succession is that the power vacuum that is created proves difficult, and sometimes bloody, to fill. The machinations and infighting that emerge within the palace once the emporer is dead can lead to the disintegration of the organization or, in this case, the republic, unless or until a firm, steady hand is able to emerge on top. Such is the case in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
The final Act of Julius Caesar depicts the ramifications of Caesar's assassination for those who plotted against him, and now manuever for advantage. Once a group has conspired to kill one of their own, they can never trust one another again. Treachery becomes the defining characteristic of those who remain. As the following exchange between Antony, Brutus and Cassius demonstrates, trust is now a thing of the past:
Antony: In your bad strokes, Brutus, you give good words: Witness the hole you made in Caesar's heart, Crying 'Long live! hail, Caesar!
Cassius: Antony, The posture of your blows are yet unknown; But for your words, they rob the Hybla bees, And leave them honeyless.
Antony: Not stingless too.
Brutus: O, yes, and soundless too; For you have stol'n their buzzing, Antony, And very wisely threat before you sting.
Antony: Villains, you did not so, when your vile daggers hack'd one another in the sides of Caesar: You show'd your teeth like apes, and fawn'd like hounds, And bow'd like bondmen, kissing Caesar's feet; Whilst damned Casca, like a cur, behind Struck Caesar on the neck. O you flatterers!
And then, as Pindarus, who has entered the fray, stabs Cassius, at the latter's request, he says, "Caesar, thou art revenged, Even with the sword that kill'd thee."
And, finally, as the conspirators continue to struggle with the consequences of their actions, Brutus utters, "O Julius Caesar, thou art might yet! They spirit walks abroad and turns our swords In our proper entrails."
Julius Caesar, in death, became a potent symbol of treachery and deceit. His murder, at the hands of his colleagues and friends, was an act of betrayal that he avenged from the grave. The conspirators were unable to live with their actions, and could not trust in colleagues who had already conspired against one of their own. In that, Caesar became stronger in death than in life.
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