- Jun 2017
We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar; And in the spirit of men there is no blood: O, that we then could come by Caesar’s spirit, And not dismember Caesar! But, alas, Caesar must bleed for it! And, gentle friends, Let’s kill him boldly, but not wrathfully; Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods, Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds;
In this scene, Brutus is introduced to his fellow conspirators for the first time. Cassius suggests in this scene for the conspirators to all swear oath to kill Caesar, but Brutus rejects it, convinced that their murder of Caesar was honourable and just, and that an oath would lessen their standing and decorum. In truth, Brutus was the only conspirator who acted for the greater good of the Roman Republic, yet in his naivety, believed that all the conspirators did so to “stand up against the spirit of Caesar”.
Brutus maintained that since they were doing the right thing, that meant that “there was no blood” on the conspirators’ hands. This raises a question that Shakespeare clearly intended for the audience to consider; One that was relevant during the Roman times, one that was relevant during the Elizabethan era, and one that is still relevant today:
Is it ever okay to pre-emptively murder someone?
This question has had many forms and variations throughout the eras, with the most well known being: Would you go back in time to kill Hitler?
Would it ever be appropriate to murder someone? In this case, Caesar had the potential to be dictator, but was that enough for the conspirators to murder him? Under what circumstances would pre-emptive murder be okay, if ever?