Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is an epic play with a lot of historical facts. Despite the play being called Julius Caesar , Brutus is essentially the main character as he has the most lines. Shakespeare may have been interested by an ancient anecdote. When the people of Eira consulted the oracle as to their fate, they were told that their city would fall when a he-goat drank of the waters of the Neda. When that happened, the Spartans attacked and the inhabitants were massacred because of their beliefs as there is always a time to fight back.The fall of Julius had a significant impact on rome. More importantly one of the various factors in the eventual fall of rome.
The tragedy of Julius Caesar is impactful because of the plot, the culture of 17th century England, The religious and spiritual beliefs of rome and the use of supernatural in Shakespeare’s works.The story of Julius Caesar begins with two tribunes , Flavius and Murellus, find the masses in rome rejoicing at the sight of caesar’s parade. The tribunes scold the citizens for abandoning their duties and remove decorations from Caesar’s statues. Caesar enters with his whole entourage while a Soothsayer calls out to Caesar to “beware the Ides of March,” but Caesar ignores him . This mirrors the opening scene in Macbeth with the weird sisters’ s prophecy.Decius did more than say that Caesar would look weak if he didn’t go to Capitol. He twisted the true meaning behind Calpurnia’s dream.
The way he twisted it was looking at roman being revived by Caesar’s benevolent blood. Caesar’s wife’s dream was of Caesar’s statue pouring blood and the romans bathing in it. This omen occurred as Caesar was stabbed by multiple members of the senate. That was a result of Caesar believing what Calpurnia had said.? 17th century culture was emergent in culture and science. It was the renaissance period for England . Science and logic were slowly gaining power while superstitions and myths still reined supreme. In 1584 Reginald Scot published his Discoverie of Witchcraft.
This book was one of the first philosophy books that debunked superstitions . He looked to myths being from the realm of rural celts. The use of superstitions or monsters is a way to frighten people to obedience. His work was influential in the works of various playwrights.
This is mostly due to scot challenging century old superstition and using early modern logic to explain various phenomena. Many people in the Elizabethan era believed in magic As such many medical practices were considered superstitious. At the time there was conflict between 2 branches of Christianity Protestantism vs Catholicism.
Catholics were prominent in Italy and growing in parts of Europe. In protestant england , going to church wasn’t a choice anyone who didn’t show was fined. Christianity is the world’s largest religion with over 2 billion worshipers. Its roots relate to both Abrahamic religions and Egyptian rebirth myth. In New York City the largest private landowner is the Catholic church.
The principal figure around Christianity is Yashusha which is the name of the messiah in the Hebrew old testament. Both believers and non believers call that figure Jesus Christ. In Shakespearan England , Christianity was the main religion however local myths and supernatural beliefs from greco roman text still had relevance.In 2000 years christianity went from being a small cult persecuted by the roman empire to the largest religion in the world. The dark ages where scientific thought was quelled to empower the church was a factor. The end of the roman empire was a geopolitical conflict not unlike the end of the USSR.
Christianity near the end of the roman empire was more accepted and was spread into eastern africa and the slavic world through the coptic and eastern orthodox churches The idea of jesus being born from a god and overcoming death comes from Greek myths of demigods and The egyptian myth of osiris. This may have arose when the bible was translated to greek to pull in former believers of pagan religions. Religion have been used by mankind since antiquity. It is often said one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
However trash can tell a lot about one’s culture. Most archaeological finds can be seen as trash or leftovers from earlier civilizations. Trash is significant from its physical features and its socioeconomic implications.This can be seen in the rise of the monotheistic religions over pantheistic religions. There is a pan indo-european myth that refers to many things that the abrahamic religions touch upon like the great deluge(great flood) and a deity that overcomes death. Historical accounts of jesus differs between religious texts. In particular the Jewish Torah and the Christian New Testament have contrasting views on the messiah/angel of the lord. Christianity regards him as god incarnate while Judaism regards him as a good person but not a messiah .
In the context of The tragedy of julius caesar Christianity was still an outcast / unknown religion. Jews were subjects of the roman empire and had their city of Jerusalem ransacked by roman conquest. The religion of Julius Caesar was most likely pagan / believed in his own pseudo-godhood. Williams Shakespeare was definitely christian especially with his contributions to the King James Version of the Bible.
He used pagan myths/ christian paranoia of witches and demons to entice his audiences. Shakespeare had two ways of using the supernatural. He either uses it to foreshadow events in the story or he uses as a key plot device.
The tragedy of julius caesar, Macbeth,and Hamlet use the first method . While The tempest and midsummer night dream uses the second method.Ghosts play a pivotal role in shakespeare’s plays. In hamlet,Macbeth and the tragedy of julius caesar ghost serve as physical embodiments of guilt onto those they visit. Ghosts are often depicted as victims of murder not souls who wished to stay on earth longer This may be a reference to Greco roman works by Seneca.His tragedy Agamemnon, for example, begins with the Ghost of Thyestes inciting his son, Aegisthus, to revenge the wrongs inflicted on him by his brother Atreus.
An elizabethan belief that came from the ancient greco-roman world was spirits. They believed souls could return from the afterlife. In hamlet , the character of horatio sees the ghost of the king despite being an apparition skeptic. As a result he refers to translated roman records said spirits appeared on the streets of rome before julius caesar was murdered. The most iconic scene of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar was the ghost of Julius Caesar appearing before Brutus. Brutus was scared and didn’t know what to classify the apparition as some god,some angel or some devil.
The guilt of the murder still plagued brutus. An interesting characteristic of the ghosts depicted in Macbeth was that only one person saw them. This may be a sign of mental illness oppose to supernatural as the events of macbeth show both macbeth and Lady macbeth suffering from some type of Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. The ghost of Banquo was only visible to macbeth who was in a room full of guests.In “Hamlet” and “Macbeth,” there is a controversy is to whether hearing a premonition causes human nature to take hold or there was a malevolent supernatural force that motivated the protagonists. Superstitous beliefs have a power in their own even if there is no magic. Various genocides and massacres have occurred simply because of dark beliefs.
The main idea is that all beliefs can lead to actions. In “Macbeth” the witches hail the returning warrior as Glamis and the thane of Cawdor and king that shall be. Banquo they hail as father to a line of kings. Both ban quo and Macbeth hear the prophecy. Banquo finds it to be rubbish while macbeth starts thinking it could be true. Like someone who reads a horoscope that they will find their love and starts actively pursuing suitors. Most of the events in macbeth can from macbeth’s actions not the witches magic.
Lady Macbeth had a hand in making macbeth go down the path of murder . If anything macbeth is a cautionary tale on how weak natured men can be manipulated and set to ruin by the words of a strong natured woman. It is the inverse of the eve being tempted by the serpent in the bible. Most of the supernatural in shakespeare’s plays hark to the danger of interpretation. The trigger for macbeth came from witches. In the 16th to 17th century witches were omnipresent in english culture. Witches were blamed for causing illness, death and disaster, and were thought to punish their enemies by giving them nightmares.
Anytime crops didn’t produce what was intended ,witches were behind it. Witches weren’t only women . According to folklore there were both women and men who were agents of the devil. Whoever was accused of being a witch were tortured. Most of them were the undesirables of 17th century England. In 1599 King James of England wrote a book on demonology and how the antichrist will topple protestant government in England.King James of England was obsessed with the threat posed by witches.
He believed that a group of witches had tried to kill him by drowning him while he was at sea. Throughout the play of Macbeth, the language used by the Witches helps to mark them out as esoteric beings . Many of the lines in this passage are in rhyming couplets, in contrast to the unrhymed verse used elsewhere in the play. The fact they rhymed was not just a poetic piece but brings attention to the belief magic in the celtic lands was done in rhythmic coupling. Many historians claim King James the 6th of Scotland ‘s association with witch hunt hysteria as the inspiration for Macbeth.
Some sociologists can analyze it as being a schism for less desirable women in english culture or groups seen as a threat to the church. Groups such as the jews were persecuted in europe and often given demonic appearance in early modern christian tapestries. Even in colonial times in america witch hunts were common. People believe in superstition over logic.
It is a sentiment that continues even in the 21st century . An episode from the original run of the twilight zone epitomizes this watch hunt mentality. The episode is called Monsters are due on Maple Street. A power outage hits a neighborhood.
The hysteria is caused when a boy tells the neighborhood that it may be an alien invasion and the aliens look no different from humans. Because of various weird events the neighborhood begins accuse various people of being aliens. It climaxes with the death of a neighbor and all out chaos.
The idea of witch hunts are universal because they feed on humanity’s innate panic and paranoia.