I started Julius Caesar with the intention of paralleling the political drama of the play with that of our presidential election. I planned to write this blog comparing and contrasting a tragedy with a comedy, if you will. Well, that was last July, and I got distracted (as I do, as you can see from the wide date range between posts). Today, as dawn broke on the Ides of March, I reviewed my reading notes but found not a hint of the politics behind the assassination. What I noted, and therefore wanted to remember from this play, were the puns, the vividly violent vocabulary, and alliteration.
The cobbler’s “all with the awl withal” bit (I, 1, 20-22, 28) is great, and I regret that I probably didn’t get it when I first read it in tenth grade. Now I find it so amusing I refer to it as a “bit,” as if a sitcom writer put it together.
One of the cobbler’s lines did remind me of a certain business man presidential candidate:Flavius: AVIUSFLAVIUS
But wherefore art not in thy shop today?
Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?
Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself into more work.I, 1, 23-25
Calpurnia’s choice of phrases in Act 2 Scene 2 demonstrates her high emotional states, or as I think of it in 2013 terms, her freaking out:“graves have yawn’d”
“dying men did groan”
“ghosts did shriek and squeal”
Full disclosure: onomatopoeia is my favorite word in the English language (in Spanish, my favorite word is motocicleta).
More gory language erupts in Act 3 Scene 1 (254-275)“bleeding piece of earth” (ew)
“butchers” (nice image)
“ruby lips” (ooh)“Blood and destruction” (good summary)
“infants quartered” (unthinkable)
“pity chok’d” (ack)
“hot from hell” (phew!)“carrion men, groaning for burial” (zombies, Mr. Shakespeare?)
What can I say, but “Beware”?
I’ve clearly been listening to too many Reduced Shakespeare Company podcasts this winter (mostly Episode 86, Meet Matt Rippy, on which I got the random fan shout-out). Evidence? I could imagine only the lads from that RSC rattling off the alliterative warnings of Artemidorus: “beware of Brutus; take heed of Cassius; come not near Casca; have an eye to Cinna; trust not Trebonius; mark well Metellus Cimber; Decius Brutus loves thee not; thou hast wrong’d Caius Ligarius.” (II, iii, 1-3)
Why was I imagining Austin Tichenor bouncing around sing-song-saying it to the tune of “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover”?
More importantly, why did it take me six months to write these 400 words?