“And Brutus is a honorable man” Julius Caesar III.ii.86
What does it mean to play Brutus?
This question has been teasing my subconscious and giving me an all too familiar feeling, the way a dream about mushrooms growing from your knees might leave you: unsettled, perhaps a little insecure. What does it mean to play Brutus? I have literally written three different versions of this essay, or Blog, as the kids call it, and I am clearly not getting any closer with this version here. Ask me that in a year! All right, Rebecca, focus, you can do this. You went to college, you wrote blogs- I mean essays- and you did fine, until you dropped out to find yourself in South America.
What does it mean? What does it mean? What does “meaning,” mean? What does it “mean” to find meaning? We create meaning, don’t we? Our words create meaning to serve our purpose. Purpose can be another way of describing destiny, so what is Brutus’s destiny? It is to die, having lost the battle, on his very own sword. Ouch.
Okay, I feel like we’re getting closer, are you still with me? Have you fallen asleep or are we watching videos of cats jumping into vases? If you stick with me I will have a link to my favorite cat video of all time, but you have to earn it people. Nothing comes easy, especially this. Soldiering on.
What does it mean to play Brutus? Can I phone a friend? I can?! Can I have God’s phone number?
God: Hello Rebecca.
Me: Oh, God! How did you know it was me?
Me: Right. So anyway, I was wondering about meaning, you know, like, what does it all mean? Do we need meaning to live? Is our meaning our destiny? You know, that sort of thing. And can you answer me quickly because I have to turn this in an hour.
God: It is a good question. The great thinkers through the ages have been pondering the same thing, though they gave themselves considerably more time than you have given yourself. Why do you think you do this, Rebecca?
Me: To give… my life meaning…?
God: You think running around saying you have to do something and waiting until the last moment to do it gives your life meaning?
Me: No, but it makes it interesting.
God: Listen, Rebecca, only you can answer this question. No one person, not Caesar, not even I can proscribe what gives something meaning. It is up to you to create meaning for yourself.
Me: Wow, God, that was slightly existential.
God: Absolutely, I invented all of it. Anything else?
Me: Uh, say hi to Grandpa!
God: Sure, right now he is kicking it with Nietzsche. Goodbye, Rebecca, I’ll know you for Brutus on August 1st, and don’t worry you’ll be fine.
All right, I guess it’s just you and me, Brian…I have named my brain, Brian.
Marcus Brutus at his core is a man in search for meaning. His actions connote a man who is, at his heart, a participator in the making of our political society. He aligns his mind, spirit and body with the protection of democratic Rome. He is a champion for Freedom and he pays the ultimate price for his ideals. Brutus loves Caesar but he does not want a king. Brutus loves Cassius but he does not like his faults. Brutus is an idealist, and there is no place for idealism in flawed and mutinous pluralism. The conspirators bring down “the foremost man of all the world” and leave it to the teeth of hounds to be torn and thrown about in a passionate confusion. Brutus believes in himself as a moral compass, and this is some dangerous faith. He asks the question, “Should I act” only to himself and though his ego is well hid from our eyes, something that smells of ambition creeps into to Brutus from the onset. When Brutus kills Caesar, some part of this ambition dies and begins to rot as chaos takes the wheel, and in the end, the losing battle drives Brutus to a “worthy” self-destruction. After this play you must ask yourselves, was Brutus an honorable man? I believe he was. And like honorable men after him, he did many violent things in the name of democracy.