I am Brutus, and I am afraid…
“I do fear the people choose Caesar for their king.” Act 1, Scene 2
I am afraid. I am afraid for Rome, afraid for the Senate, afraid for praetors, and tribunes, and soldiers and slaves. Our way of life is in danger, a way of life once secured by a form of government based on truth and justice and equity. For centuries our leaders have emerged from within the numbers of our senators and served at our pleasure, by election. But all that is in danger, and I am afraid. I am afraid that we shall sacrifice justice to be ruled by fear, and favor, and suspicion, and bribery – and that justice will have become a commodity on a market where high bidders reign.
Ever since Caesar returned to Rome from his victories in Gaul and Britain, and crossed the Rubicon with his troops – defying Roman law – large numbers of the people have been enamored with him. However, not every Roman is as easily impressed. Many are wary. After Caesar defeated Pompey it became clear that the republic was in danger – for Caesar emerged as a dictator, and was even named “dictator for life.” But now there are some who would have him named our King, and that would mean the end of the republic and a way of life that has made men free and kept men free.
“Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe? What Rome?” Act 2, Scene 1
The last king of Rome reigned almost five hundred years ago. The Tarquin governed by fear, killed senators at whim, required tribute and bribes, and was eventually cast out by another Brutus – so that the republic could be restored. Should Caesar be named king now, how could history not repeat itself? But this time, Rome – the republic that guarantees our system of law and equity; the republic where no man is above the law – Rome is threatened with disintegration and annihilation.
“I know no personal cause to spurn at him
But for the general: He would be crowned.” Act 2, Scene 1
In the midst of all this danger, you must understand something else. Caesar is my friend. Caesar spared my life when Pompey was defeated. He could have ordered my death. Caesar went on to receive me warmly into his inner circle, appointing me governor of Gaul, and later nominating me as praetor. Caesar trusts me and believes in me. He has given me no reason to judge him or hate him, except…except that it is clear he is charmed with the thought of a crown, a crown that would destroy a nation and a way of life. The people in the streets don’t understand the dangers their cheers create. What leader of Caesar’s caliber could resist their flattery, and what leader, even one who is today a friend, will I be able to trust when his power becomes absolute and the republic is no more? Already my friend has slipped away from me – loving preeminence, sitting while his former fellow senators stand to plead for his favors, holding court daily in a senate that was once populated by equals, but now endures one man who is superior to all.
For a month now, a day has not passed when I have not received messages from fellow Romans begging me to awake and see the danger that we are facing. Clearly, not all of Rome is beguiled with the thought of a king. It is a desperate time, and Rome is begging me to defend her, to act on her behalf. I love my country. I love being a Roman. I am, and I will always be, a son of Rome. I have sworn my life to her defense, and I will honor those vows.
No man – not even a friend – can persuade me to relent or to trade my honor for anything less than the preservation that Rome deserves. What has begun, I will finish, or give my life in the effort.