Monday, February 17, 2014

Oh, you brute, Brutus!

Richard remembers his first collision with Shakespeare!

As a youth of fourteen, I was in a school class which had been set the task of reading and enacting “Julius Caesar” in English Literature.  I had entertained high hopes of being cast as the dashing Marc Antony, but alas, was allotted the more sombre role of Caesar.

This is what the teacher was hoping for ...
When it came to the assassination scene, the plotters were dispiritedly poking me with their wooden rulers. While I let out a few yelps, our teacher interrupted and called for 'more realism', and my classmates responded accordingly. To every enthusiastic  thrust of those wooden 'daggers' I yelled 'aarrgh' or 'aawrrgh', suppressing my natural inclination to shout 'ouch' as I finally moaned 'Et tu, Brute?' before 'expiring.' I sported the appropriate bruises for weeks thereafter.

Nevertheless, to this day, I still think Antony’s address 'O, thou piece of bleeding earth....' and his oration 'Friends, Romans, countrymen....' are two of the finest examples of prose ever written by Shakespeare or anyone else.

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