What does Shakespeare's play "Julius Ceasar" teach about modern populist politics that appeals directly to the people?Considering the role of the Roman mob

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shaketeach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One only has to look into recent history to see the results of populist politics.  Nazi Germany comes to mind.

Perhaps the most telling scene in the play is the killing of Cinna the Poet.  It doesn't matter to the mob that he is Cinna the Poet NOT Cinna the Conspirator.  His name is Cinna and the mob is out for blood.

Our own western heritage teaches this lesson.  How many times in movies have we seen mobs who storm the jail to lynch someone because they think he is guilty.

Mindless is another term that comes to mind when thinking about a mob.  A mob doesn't think, it just reacts emotionally.  This is exactly what Mark Anthony intended when he spoke at Caesar's funeral.  He appealed to their emotions but showed them no actual proof.  He waves Caesar's will around and tells us what it says but we never actually see and read it ourselves.

If you compare the speeches and motives of the two men, Brutus and Mark Anthony, you would find that Brutus develops a logical argument based upon reason.  Mark Anthony offers no proof but appeals directly to the mob's emotions.  Brutus does what he does out of his love of the Roman Republic.  Mark Anthony does what he does out of revenge.

Emotions should have no place in how a government rules.  Governments are based in law and it should be the law, not a popular opinion which can be changed on a whim, that rules.  This is Shakespeare's lesson.

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Julius Caesar

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