Dear Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar,
I am to play your part in the Elements Theatre Company production of Shakespeare’s well known play about your life. Our director, Sr. Danielle suggested that to better understand you, I write you a letter. Please pardon my impudence which follows here:
Who were you then, what were you like? I believe you were a man of great passions and feelings but endeavored not to let them control you. I believe you had a sense of destiny, even from childhood, that you were tasked with greatness…but that you did not know exactly how that greatness might come. You were great during your life, but your lasting fame came after your death! Perhaps you know this, but of all the Roman emperors, you remain the most well known.
You were only 57 years old when you died. That is how old I am now! You had tremendous accomplishments, all those battles, all those roads built across what we now call Europe!
Were you ill? Did you sense your mortality? Today, historians speculate that you had epilepsy or malaria that caused epilepsy-like symptoms. Shakespeare’s version of your life suggests that the conspirators killed you because you were personally ambitious and that threatened the stability of Rome. I believe you were ambitious, but for the good of Rome. You saw the ineptness, and childish, wasteful infighting in the Senate and the Patricians and wanted to make progress for the people. You were “constant as the Northern Star” for the people, the regular Romans.
Some historians claim you were a great lover of many women. Pardon again my impudence, but is this true? Were you Brutus’s father by Sevilia? Did you know? Whatever the rumors may be I believe you loved Calphurnia, your wife, and that she loved you.
That brings up another question: Why didn’t you heed Calphurnia’s warnings? Did you know or wonder whether you were going to die that day on the15th of March, or sometime soon? Did you set up the conspirators to kill you? Did you “egg-them-on”? Their savage killing of you seemed to lead to your enduring legacy.
Again pardon my impudence, I don’t imagine you will have the occasion to respond to my inquiries, but just to let you know, based on what I know about your history, and about myself, I have assumed the answers to the questions above, As you look down at us from the Northern Star, you will be the judge if I have answered wisely.
I will do my best to play you this August.
Peter Haig, Elements Theatre Company