Shakespeare Uncovered (2012–…): Season 3, Episode 4 - Julius Caesar - full transcript

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- Just over 150 years ago,

president Abraham
Lincoln was assassinated

here in Washington.

His assassin was an actor,

an actor obsessed
with a part in play.

The part was Brutus,

and the play was
"Julius Caesar."

To the actor,

Lincoln had become Caesar

and just like in the play,

he as Brutus would murder him.

"Julius Caesar" has come

to represent the
American experience...

Brutus and the Republic
against Caesar and tyranny.

But what exactly is a
tyrant and who decides.

Caesar's assassination
cast the whole country

into a bloody
state of civil war.

The scale is epic but
the play is intimate,

and it hinges on
the relationship

between a small group of men

and a decision that
one of them must make,

And that decision is Brutus'.

Should he kill Caesar?

Should he kill his friend?

- Funding for
"Shakespeare Uncovered"

was provided by...

The Joseph & Robert
Cornell Memorial Foundation...

The National Endowment
for the Humanities...

Exploring the human endeavor...

The Polonsky Foundation,

Dana and Virginia Randt,

Elaine & W. Weldon Wilson,

the Lillian Goldman
Programming Endowment,

the LuEsther T.
Mertz Charitable Trust,

Jody and John Arnhold,

and by contributions
to your PBS station

from viewers like you.

Thank you.

- When Shakespeare
wrote "Julius Caesar"

for his London audience,

he presented them

with one of his most
extraordinary characters...

Not Caesar but Brutus.

Moving on a grand
political stage,

Brutus is the axis of the play.

He's charismatic, yet enigmatic.

My relationship
with the character

goes back a long way,

and he still intrigues me.

When I was first
asked to play Brutus,

which was 40 years ago,

I was 31.

And the thing that appealed
to me about the part

was the fact that he was
the still center of the play

and that everything seemed
to revolve around him.

The other characters,
they all spin off Brutus.

Everything hinges on Brutus.

The other characters look to him

for his integrity,
for his honesty.

They'll look to him

to lead the conspiracy
against Caesar.

But that doesn't make him
a straightforward character.

Far from it.

It's a monstrously
difficult part to play,

but ultimately,

it's an incredibly
worthwhile role.

I wish I was a
little bit younger

'cause I wouldn't
mind playing it again.

I performed Brutus in 1977,

at the National
Theatre in London.

And now I want to take
a fresh look at this play

in the light of all that I've
learned and lived since then.

The play starts out in the
midst of terrible uncertainty.

Can the people of
Rome trust their leader?

Could Caesar become a dictator?

We are living at a time
of great political insecurity

and so I think were
Shakespeare's first audiences.

I think they would have felt
the play was about them too.

I'm going to talk to a
Shakespeare scholar.

Julius Caesar
could easily reflect

on the Elizabethan situation,

'cause we have a queen
coming to the end of her life...

- Absolutely.

- so what's going
to happen next.

- I mean, the idea of Elizabeth

getting towards
the end of her life

and not having produced an heir

was something that really
haunted the Elizabethans.

- That's interesting.

So the play really
is about the time

and really is...

I mean, or about
a particular time

when we're looking
towards a future

and we don't know what
the future is going to be?

- And of course,
there are parallels

which were inevitably talked
about and thought about

between Queen Elizabeth
and Julius Caesar...

A leader who is very powerful,
who can't be questioned...

This whole idea of
the divine right of kings.

- Yeah.

- And it was something people
were beginning to question,

people were beginning to say,

"well, actually, is that right?"

- But there is another
layer to this play

which would have
resonated with Elizabethans,

and that's a sense
that rare natural events

may be warnings.

Julius Caesar takes place in
a world of signs and portents

of "gliding ghosts"...

Cosmic and
political instability.

It shows us the
ultimate desperate act

of a world pushed to extremes.

For these reasons,

the play reverberates
through the entire world.

Julius Caesar's Rome
is more than a place.

It's an ideal.

And that's why whether we
are in London or Washington,

we see the signs of Rome.

I'm struck how the city is
full of neo-classical buildings...

It's deliberately echoing Rome,

because for the founding
fathers of America,

and for that matter
the Elizabethans,

Rome meant law and order,
civilization, good government.

Rome was very much
something to aspire to.

The play starts in the capital.

Rome is a Republic,
not an empire.

Caesar is the elected
consul, not a monarch.

He is being celebrated
for his conquests.

But the enthusiastic crowd

is treating him as
if he were royalty,

and certain politicians

fear Caesar could be
offered more power.

They see that Caesar is perhaps
being elevated to a position

by the crowd

and the crowd's,
kind of, disregard

for protocol, if you like,

in the elevation of Caesar.

And they are kind of
seriously worried about it.

Right in the middle of
this political uncertainty

comes a warning from the
realm of the supernatural.

- Beware the Ides of March.

- A soothsayer bids you
beware the Ides of March.

- Set him before me.
Let me see his face.

- Look upon Caesar.

- What sayst thou to me now?

Speak once again.

- Beware the Ides of March.

- He is a dreamer.

Let us leave him.

- Caesar ignores the warning,

but the ides of March,

the sacred midpoint
of the month,

is just two days away.

The sense of his future
is seriously questioned,

and that is what kind
of guides Julius Caesar

through the first
part of the play.

- Beware the Ides of March!

- The play could
be set anywhere.

This version is set at the
heart of African power politics.

In the midst of
these celebrations,

a plot is brewing
to remove Caesar.

What it lacks is a leader.

Brutus is the man
Cassius wants for the job.

- Brutus.

- The sound of
the crowd cheering

makes the conversation
more urgent.

Is Caesar being offered a crown?

- What means this shouting.

I do fear the people
choose Caesar for their king

- Ay, do you fear it?

Then you must, I think,
you would not have it so.

- I would not, Cassius.

Yet I love him well.

- But during this celebration,

roars from the crowd
continually grab their attention.

There is a sort of volatility

which is constantly
being interrupted

by the noises offstage,

and they are pre-supposing
what those noises are.

They haven't
necessarily got it right,

but they are
imagining a kind of...

There's a crisis looming.

Cassius has Brutus' attention,
but Brutus is wary of Cassius.

- But wherefore do you
hold me hear so long?

What is it that you
would impart to me?

If it be aught toward
the general good,

set honor in one eye
and death in the other,

and I will look on
both indifferently.

For let the gods so speed me,

as I love the name of
honor more than I fear death.

- I know that virtue
to be in you, Brutus,

as well as I do know
your outward favor.

- Cassius knows the way to
tempt Brutus into the conspiracy

is to exploit his
sense of honor.

- Well, honor is the
subject of my story.

- In this world of
Roman politics,

everyone has their own agenda

and everyone has
their own weakness.

Cassius will give Brutus his
own biased view of Caesar,

while playing to Brutus'
famous sense of honor.

As the scene continues,
yet more applause for Caesar

gives Cassius the chance
to press home his case...

Caesar must go.

The Globe actors
pick up the scene.

- It's Cassius who
is actively pushing.

They've grabbed
this opportunity,

'cause the coast is clear.

So there's a pressure,

there's a slight
pressure of time,

but you don't want to blow it.

So we just go from,
"another general shout,"

so there's a clamor and...

- Another general shout...

I do believe these applauses

are for some new
honors heaped on Caesar.

- Why man he does bestride
the world like a Colossus,

and we petty men must
walk under his huge legs

and peep about

to find ourselves
dishonorable graves.

Men, at some time,
are masters of their fate.

The fault, dear Brutus,
is not in our stars,

but in ourselves, that
we are underlings.

- Cassius is, for Shakespeare,
both insecure and jealous.

He's jealous of Caesar,

he's jealous of
Caesar's eminence,

he's jealous of Caesar's rise,

and he's jealous of
Brutus' closeness to Caesar.

- Brutus and Caesar... What
should be in that Caesar?

Why should that name be
sounded more than yours?

Write them together,
yours is as fair a name.

Age thou art shamed Rome.

Thou hast lost the
breed of noble blood.

- Brutus is obsessed
with his honor,

and in one sense,

that makes him the
moral center of the play.

But his obsession
with his honor,

does it, in some sense, tip over

into a kind of arrogance,
a kind of pride.

- How I have thought on
this and on these times,

I shall recount hereafter.

- Brutus seems moved,
though undecided.

But he is about to be
presented with an opportunity

to hear firsthand

what's been happening
at the celebrations.

Brutus spots Casca,
who has been watching,

but also has a reputation
for spinning things.

- Would you talk with me?

- Ay, Casca.

- Tell us what hath chanced
today that Caesar looked so sad.

- Why there was
a crown offer'd him

and being offered him,

he put it by with the
back his hand, thus.

And then people fell a shouting.

- What was the second noise for?

- Why, for that too.

- They shouted thrice.

What was the last cry for?

- Why, for that, too.

- Was the crown
offered him thrice?

- Ay marry was't.

- Who offered him the crown?

- Why, Antony.

- So, there's a rumor

that Caesar has
been offered the crown

by Antony, Caesar's close ally.

But should Brutus believe it?

We have only one
person's version of it,

and this is politics.

I'm meeting with an actor

who recently played
the role of Caesar.

- What did you
think about all that,

the whole thing about the...

Uh, the reported thing that
happens when he's off stage,

when he's at the, uh...
- Yeah.

- When he's... and he
says he's passed the crown,

he's passed the crown.

- Did Caesar stage it?

Did he say "come
up and do this"?

Is this a test?

Was it an actual thing that
happened just spontaneously

in terms of the crowd
and playing the crowd?

All those questions,
uh, uh, uh...

you know, present themselves,

and people have
different answers for them.

- It's Casca's view of
something, as well, isn't that?

That's the other element to it,

So you we have to decide,

is this man telling the truth?

What is his story?

- What the exact truth
of it is in terms of, uh...

you know, how it...
How it began, uh,

in terms of the action of
the crown and all of that?

We don't know.

No one sort of knew

whether Caesar
put Antony up to it.

- Right.

Whatever the truth about Caesar,

Cassius believes he's
almost persuaded Brutus

to join the conspiracy.

So much he thinks
for the noble Brutus.

- Well, Brutus, thou art noble.

Yet I see that honorable mettle

may be wrought from
that it is disposed.

Therefore it is meet

That noble minds keep
ever with their likes,

For who so firm that
shall not be seduced?

- It is the night before
the Ides of March.

Rome is struck by rare
storms and unnatural events.

- Aah.

- Some Romans fear
them as prophecy.

- Never till now,

did I go through a
tempest dropping fire.

I believe they are
portentous things,

unto the climate
that they point upon.

- As they are desperately
trying to interpret the uncanny,

Brutus is searching for
the truth about Caesar.

This is the night when
a momentous decision

has to be made.

And it's Brutus'.

Should he kill Caesar?

Should he kill his best friend?

Brutus has to piece together

what he thinks he
knows about Caesar

with what he has
been told about Caesar,

to balance the man
he believes he is

with the man he fears
he might become.

The future of Rome
depends on Brutus.

And his first line is a shock.

- It must be by his death,

and for my part...

I know no personal
cause to spurn him.

But for the general,
he would be crown'd.

How that might
change his nature,

there's the question.

It is the bright day
brings forth the adder,

and that craves careful walking.

Crown him? That?

And then I grant
we put a sting in him

that at his will he
may do danger with.

- He has to discard
this fellow patrician,

this person he's known forever,

whose ambitions he knows

he doesn't really
have a true bead on.

What happens

is that he then has to turn

not from the Caesar he knows

but from the Caesar he imagines,

the Caesar he
imagines as a snake.

- And therefore think
him as a serpent's egg,

which hatch'd
would, like his kind,

grow mischievous,

and kill him in the shell.

- Brutus has made an
extraordinary decision.

But can we be sure he
knows why he has made it?

- I don't think Brutus knows
his own motives very well at all.

What does he really think,
what really moves him,

why is he really
doing what he's doing?

Is it because Cassius
has persuaded him,

is it because he fears Caesar,

is it because he wants
to take over as leader?

I don't... I think we
have many answers,

but I don't think we have
a single persuasive one.

- In my experience, people
who plan acts of violence

need a self-justificatory
narrative to make it possible.

It may not make
sense to anyone else,

but it makes sense to them

and it enables them to
keep an idea in their mind

of themselves as good people.

And I think that it's crucial

that Brutus sees
himself as a good person.

- Whatever Brutus' motives,

he's about to be
visited by Cassius

and the other conspirators.

Cassius believes it's not
only Caesar who should die.

- Know I these men that
come along with you?

- Yes, every man of them,

and no man here but honors you.

- Cassius has secretly
lined up a fellow conspirator

to suggest they kill
Caesar's closest ally...

Mark Antony.

- Shall no man else be
touched but only Caesar?

- Decius, well urged.

I think it is not
meet Mark Antony,

so well beloved of Caesar,
should outlive Caesar.

- Our course will seem
too bloody, Caius Cassius,

To cut the head off
and then hack the limbs,

like wrath in death
and envy afterwards.

For Antony is but
a limb of Caesar.

Let us be sacrificers
but not butchers, Caius.

- Brutus has convinced himself

that by killing Caesar alone

turns a murder
into a ritual sacrifice.

- Gentle friends,
let's kill him boldly

but not wrathfully.

Let's carve him as
a dish for the gods.

- Sacrifice is a
time-honored Roman ritual.

Sacrifice is what priests do.

If you can persuade yourself,
as Brutus clearly does,

that this isn't a murder,

this is a sacrifice,

then he can give himself
permission to do it.

- Brutus' dilemma

is that he wants to
maintain a notion of honor

and notion, above all,
of loyalty to the state,

and to avoid the risk
of anarchy or civil war.

So he wants to
minimize the action.

But, of course, once you
cross a boundary into violence,

then violence will
breed violence.

- It's not's going to
be passionately done.

It's not gonna be
done in a frenzy

That's why we are
not going to kill Antony.

It's going to be done
calmly just as it needs to be,

with just as much violence
as needs to happen.

And then we will calmly
tell the people why.

It's such a neat
way of putting it,

but it's so unrealistic.

- The conspirators
will stop Caesar

as he makes his
way to the capitol.

The event took
place 2,000 years ago,

but the thought of a
political assassination

has a terrible
resonance for Americans.

Since the founding of America,

four American presidents
have been assassinated...

One of them here in Washington.

This is the Ford's Theatre

where in 1865, Abraham
Lincoln was murdered.

His assassin was
John Wilkes Booth,

an actor who was obsessed
with the character Brutus.

The night before he
arrived at the theater

intending to
assassinate Lincoln.

He wrote a letter to the papers.

He quoted Brutus.

"O that we could
come by Caesar's spirit

and not dismember Caesar!

But alas, Caesar
must bleed for it."

And he concluded, "I
answer with Brutus."

1,600 people were
in the audience.

It was absolutely packed.

Wilkes Booth entered
the presidential box

and shot Lincoln

on the left side
here, behind the ear.

He did say, in Latin,
"death to all tyrants."

The fact that a
400-year-old play

may be linked to a
19th-century assassination

is an astonishing thought.

But it seems that
in Lincoln's time,

Shakespeare was something
of a household name.

- Between 1861 and 1871,

there were thousands of
productions of "Julius Caesar"

in the United States,

and particularly in New York.

And it's because
this was so part

of American popular
culture, sort of, wrestling with

what it was to be a
young democracy,

how to achieve it.

What is a tyrant,

what is a hero, what is heroism,

how you can
determine those figures?

All of those things
were broiling

in the midst of this
political historical moment

in the United States.

- That's John Wilkes Booth.

But he takes on the
character of Brutus

because he did write
this thing, this letter

the night before, didn't he?

Which he clearly
quotes from the play.

- Yes.
- I mean, that's a fact.

- Yes.
- That's there.

- Yeah, absolutely.

I think now we think
of Shakespeare,

and we experience Shakespeare,
at least in the United States,

as being part of high culture.

In the early 19th century,
that was not the case here.

It was as popular
as television shows.

Everyone knew Shakespeare plays.

Quoting Shakespeare
was everywhere,

from political speeches to
commercials to advertising

to governors and people.

Every kind of debate
you can imagine,

Shakespeare was employed.

- The connection
to "Julius Caesar"

and the United States

goes back even further.

- America was
becoming a republic,

so the scrutiny
of "Julius Caesar"

must reflect on what's happening

in the political
life of America,

the time with Franklin,
with John Adams,

with the whole creation
of the Constitution.

- Absolutely.

It is about a republic.

And, so, "Julius
Caesar" was part of

the American curriculum...

Educational curriculum forever.

- It is the Ides of March...

The morning after the night

of the unnatural
events and sightings.

And Caesar is due
to go the Capitol.

Despite a night of vivid
dreams, Caesar sets off defiantly.

- The ides of March are come.

- Ay, Caesar, but not gone.

- Caesar and his entourage
continue towards the Capitol.

As planned, Metellus
waylays Caesar with a petition.

- Trebonius knows his time.

Look you, Brutus.

He draws Mark
Antony out of the way.

- Most high, most mighty,
and most puissant Caesar,

Metellus Cimber
throws before thy seat

An humble heart.

- I must prevent thee, Cimber.

If I could pray to move,
then prayers would move me.

But I am constant
as the northern star.

- The murder is
brutal and protracted

with a final sting, as
Caesar faces Brutus.

- Et tu Brute?

Then fall Caesar!

- Brutus has set
himself on a course,

and there is no going back.

He knows that he has
to deliver the final blow.

That's what expected.

He's the one who has
to make the closure,

as it were, the
closure of Caesar's life.

And it is two old friends,

because they were
very close, you know,

and that's why "et tu Brute?"

is one of the great
lines of all time.

So it's a very, very
key line in the sense of

that relationship
coming to an end

and then what's
going to happen next.

- What we see,

which is this
gang murder, right,

this gang murder
of Julius Caesar,

I think for Brutus,

he is performing
a ritual behavior.

He is, in some ways,
absolutely clueless

as to the nature of the
event that he has just led.

- Stoop, Romans, stoop.

And let us bathe our
hands in Caesar's blood.

Up to the elbows, and
besmear our swords.

Then walk we forth,
even to the marketplace,

and waving our red
weapons o'er our heads,

let's all cry, "Peace.


- Within moments
of the assassination,

Brutus is forced
to confront reality.

Arriving at the scene
of the crime is Antony,

Caesar's close friend and ally.

Antony knows he is in
a precarious situation.

He's walking on a knife's
edge, he's walking on a tightrope.

He is walking into a
dangerous situation,

so he has to be absolutely
clear about what he's doing.

And he is clear
about what he's doing.

- Oh, mighty Caesar.

- Brutus then makes
a surprising decision.

He'll offer Antony
an olive branch

by agreeing to let
Antony speak last

at Caesar's funeral.

- You shall Mark Antony.

- Brutus, a word with you.

- Cassius immediately
sees a problem.

- You know not what you do.

Do not consent that
Antony speak in his funeral.

Know you how much
the people may be moved

by that which he will utter?
- By your pardon.

I will myself into
the pulpit first,

And show the reason
of our Caesar's death.

- Cassius' intervention
is the right intervention.

He's right.

He shouldn't let
Antony get away with it.

He shouldn't.

Antony should speak first
and then Brutus should speak.

And that's the mistake
that Brutus makes.

But Brutus is confident,

some would argue
for the wrong reasons.

- We have nothing
to fear from Antony,

He's not an orator.

He doesn't know...
He's not a rhetorician.

He can't do these things.

He doesn't know how to speak.

He's a playboy.

He's not my intellectual equal.

He's not.

And he's an upstart.

So there's no reason
for me to fear him.

So he can talk to the people.

We've got right on our side.

And by the way,
I'll be speaking.

It won't be Cassius,
who'll fly off the handle.

It'll be me, and I'll give
them a reasoned argument.

And I respect the people,
so I'll give them the choice.

But I know what they'll choose.

It'll be me.

- At first, Brutus
faces a hostile crowd.

- If there that friend demand
why Brutus rose against Caesar,

This is my answer.

Not that I loved Caesar less...

but that I loved Rome more.

- And Brutus says,
look, if you don't think

it was right that
I did what I did,

I'll kill myself right
here in front of you.

- With this I depart,

that as I salute my best
lover for the good of Rome,

I have that same
dagger for myself

when it shall please my
country to meet my death.

- "No, Brutus! Live!"

"No, no, make him the Caesar!"

"He's gonna be our next..."

And of course, he doesn't
want that, necessarily,

but he is glad
that they're onside.

- I do entreat you.

Not a man depart, save I alone,

till Antony hath spoken.

- Brutus seems to have
brought the crowd with him.

- They are on side.

So letting Antony speak

feels like "I am such a..."

He must feel, "I am
such big man doing this.

It's the right thing to do.

I said I'd do it, I
keep my word,"

and off he goes,

expecting that Antony
will speak for a few minutes

and it'll all be fine.

- So on walks Antony,

who loved Caesar and has
vowed to wreak revenge.

- Friends, Romans,
countrymen, lend me your ears.

I come to bury Caesar,
not to praise him.

The evil that men
do lives after them.

The good is oft
interred with their bones.

So let it be with Caesar.

He was my friend,

faithful and just to me.

- Antony's style of speaking,

his rhetoric has stirred
something in the crowd.

- Rhetoric sounds
something very forensic.

- It will enflame you.

It will make you mad.

- Sort of cold,
rationally organized.

But the whole
purpose of rhetoric

was to create emotion,

to use words in order to
affect people emotionally.

And that, of course, is
what Mark Antony does

with such supreme effect.

- He will employ the most
evocative image of all,

Caesar's body.

- You all do know this mantle.

See what a rent the
envious Casca made.

Through this, the
well-beloved Brutus stabbed.

And as he plucked
his cursed steel away,

mark how the blood
of Caesar followed it,

This was the most
unkindest cut of all.

Here was a Caesar!

When comes such another?

- Antony's words have
whipped the crowd into a fury.

It is a fantastic
display of rhetoric,

but also terrifying.

I wanted to ask an
expert on speechwriting,

whether he recognized
these techniques.

- There has to be something
true at the center of it.

- Right.

- It's about persuasion.

You're telling a story,

but the story has to
have enough truth in it

that the audience
can connect to you.

People want to
believe in great men.

Brutus was asking people to say,

"even though you love Caesar,

he's not as important
as the republic."

But Mark Antony was
saying to that audience,

"you are connected
to Caesar's legacy.

He was you, you are him."

And that is more
powerful as a message

than Brutus saying, "I
did this dastardly thing,

but it was necessary

because of these ephemeral
principles we believe in."

Brutus failed to
frame that speech

in a way that was emotionally
accessible to that audience.

- Now that we live
in a digital age...

You know, Twitter, and
Facebook, and what have you...

Do you think rhetoric
still has its value

in the way it has its
value in these plays?

- I think that it is important,

but it's different,

precisely because people

are consuming such
fractured information.

When a speech
does break through,

it's almost that
much more important.

The desire for an
audience to want someone

to give meaning to an event
that they don't understand

is still with us.

- Right.

- When big events happen,

when there's a
large political event,

there is still that desire
for somebody to explain it.

- I think we remember Caesar

because as much
for his assassination

as anything else,
because it was...

So do we have that
in American history?

For example, Kennedy.

- If you look at both
Lincoln and Kennedy,

after they were killed,

people felt like

we didn't appreciate them
enough while they were here.

That's one emotion.

Another emotion is,
"somehow, we did this."

- Yeah.

- If the great man was killed,
something must be wrong with us

and we must therefore
strive to be like

the greatness inside
the person we lost.

And, you know, that's exactly
what Mark Antony's message was.

- That's his success.

- And that's his success.

He defines the meaning
of Caesar's assassination,

he defines the direction
for the future of Rome,

all in that one speech.

- The theme of political
assassination is so powerful

that even staging this play
can be a highly contentious act.

In New York in the
summer of 2017,

a production of "Julius Caesar"

with a Caesar dressed
like President Trump

caused an outrage.

- Delta Airlines and
Bank of America

have exited stage left,

dropping their support for a
New York theater company's

production of "Julius Caesar."

In this version, Caesar
looks a lot like Donald Trump,

with a business suit
and a tie too long,

and of course, gets
stabbed to death on stage.

- A rather dramatic protest
caught the actors by surprise.

- We had done the
assassination scene

which was everybody
stabbing, a huge fight.

Quite a violent scene.

There I am dead on the ground,

and I start hearing
somebody saying

"this is violence
against the right."

- Stop the normalization

of political violence
against the right.

This is unacceptable.

- Like, what the heck?

I'm dead, you know.

- I'm dead, and I'm
hearing this, right?

And I'm like, "what
the heck is going on?"

And I'm going, "well, they're
just somebody in the audience,

and you know...
"this is violent!"

And I'm going,
"they're getting closer,

they're getting closer."

And I'm going, "wow, they
sound like they're on the stage."

They grab her, and
they start to haul her out.

At which point, someone
else starts yelling.

"You are all Goebbels.
You're Goebbels."

- You are all Goebbels.

You are all Nazis
like Joseph Goebbels.

- How did it feel then?

Because there you are,
you've had this one disruption.

It must be quite
nerve-wracking, no?

- Well, it is
nerve-wracking, you know,

because you don't know what...

How far are they gonna go?

What are they
going to do, actually?

- It really is pure
theater, isn't it?

- Well, yeah, you're really in
touch with the audience now.

- I can't help thinking,

if the protesters had stayed
for the next part of the play,

they would have
felt differently.

Like the tragic regime
changes of our own century,

the killing of Caesar

has cast the
country into civil war.

Antony and his allies

against Brutus, Cassius,
and their conspirators.

- The mood completely changes
in the second half of the play.

There is a sense that a
line has been crossed,

and then there is no going back.

Once you unleash
the act of violence

and then once the
crowd comes along with it,

you get a terrifying
sense of losing control

and of irrational violence.

For your dwelling-briefly.

- Truly, my name is Cinna.

- Tear him to pieces.

He's a conspirator.

- I am Cinna the poet.

I am Cinna the poet.
- Tear him for his bad verses!

Tear him for his bad verses!

- I am not Cinna
the conspirator.

- It's no matter.

- The crowd murders a
man knowing he is innocent

just because they want to kill.

- Burn him, burn him!

- While Rome burns,

Antony and his allies
are coolly condemning,

with a stroke of a pen,

all those who are no
longer politically useful.

- This many then shall die.

Their names are pricked.

- Your brother, too, must
die, consent you, Lepidus?

- I do consent.

- Prick him down, Antony.

- The murder of Caesar has
called everything into question.

Now Brutus and Cassius

are no longer secure
in their friendship,

nor even about the meaning
of what they have done.

When they most
need to stand together,

they argue with a passion
we have not seen before.

What triggers it is
Cassius' connection

with a man who
has accepted bribes.

- Remember March. The
Ides of March remember?

Shall one of us

that struck the foremost
man of all this world

but for supporting robbers,

shall we now contaminate
our fingers with base bribes.

- Brutus sees the
world falling apart,

and he's saying "this
is not going to work."

- You do forget
yourself to hedge me in.

I am a soldier.

I older in practice,

abler than yourself
to make conditions.

- So to you are not, Cassius.
- I am.

- I say you are not.

- Something has
gone seriously wrong.

Cassius feels misjudged.

Brutus feels betrayed.

- Urge me no more.

I shall forget myself.

Have mind upon your
health, tempt me no further.

- Away, slight man.

- You wrong me every
way. You wrong me, Brutus.

- The world has
become disestablished

by what's happened,

and they are in
the middle of that.

- When Caesar lived, he
durst not thus have moved me.

- Oh, Peace, peace.

Thou durst not so
have tempted him.

- Do not presume too
much upon my love.

I may do that I
shall be sorry for.

- You have done that
you should be sorry for.

- When you kill somebody,

it has a huge
emotional impact on you.

And if you've done that in
collusion with somebody else,

that can have a huge
impact on your relationship.

I think it's rare
to see a homicide

which has brought
about the consequences

that were anticipated
by the murderer.

And I think that that's
what Cassius and Brutus

find themselves in,

that actually Julius
Caesar's death

has not been a
solution of any sort.

- Brutus and Cassius fall out.

This is something one
sees throughout history,

if one thinks of the
French revolution,

the Russian revolution.

The act of violence

comes back in on
the conspirators.

- Brutus and Cassius make up,

but they are about to face

their great military
adversary, Mark Antony.

They will meet at Philippi,
and Brutus is deeply troubled.

It's the night
before the battle.

Brutus is still awake.

He's not slept since
he killed Caesar,

and Caesar is still with him.

- How ill this taper burns!

Speak to me what thou art.

- Thou evil spirit, Brutus.

- Why comest thou?

- To tell thee thou
shalt see me at Philippi.

Then I shall see
thee at Philippi, then.

- It's as if he has
kind of recognized

what's going to happen, Brutus.

And kind of realizes
that he's on a trajectory,

that there is no going back,

and that the ghost
has clearly indicated

something is going to happen.

There is a sort of acceptance
in the ghost's presence

that's quite chilling.

- Ghosts always tend
to represent conscience.

They represent the past
coming back to haunt you.

The ghost of Caesar
is Brutus' realization

that the act of assassination

has, perhaps, not
been an honorable act.

And once he has
that realization,

he feels that he is doomed.

- A sense of fatalism
hangs over the conspirators

as they prepare to
part, ready for battle.

Brutus and Cassius
struggle to find

the right words to
say to each other.

- Now, most noble Brutus,

if we do lose this battle,

then is this the very last
time we shall speak together.

- But this same day

must end the work the
Ides of March began.

And whether we shall
meet again, I know not.

Therefore, our
everlasting farewell take.

Forever and forever
farewell, Cassius.

- Forever and forever,
farewell, Brutus.

If we do meet again,
we'll smile indeed.

If not, 'tis true this
parting was well made.

- They will never speak again.

The men who killed Caesar

will lose to Caesar's
friend, Mark Antony.

Cassius will kill himself,

believing Brutus to be dead,

and Brutus will
choose to follow.

- Lucius.

Thou hast been
all this while asleep.

I prithee, Lucius,
stay thou by your lord

Thy life hath had some
smatch of honor in it.

Hold then my sword,

and turn away thy face
while I do run upon it.

Wilt thou Lucius.

- Caesar, now be still.

I killed not thee with
half so good a will.

- Brutus has to
hang on to honor,

because it is the one thing
that has given him his identity.

It gave him the rationale
for killing his friend.

And if he doesn't hang on to
it, he will be faced with the fact

that he has done
a dreadful thing

to absolutely no purpose.

- Brutus is the character

on whom the fate
of Rome depended,

and, yet, he remains a mystery.

We can't help wondering

how well he ever
understood himself

or what he was trying to do.

- What's compelling about Brutus
is how deeply complicated he is.

So, I think what
we are left with

is a very complicated
judgment of Brutus

as someone who was motivated

by motives that he
believed to be noble,

that he persuades
himself are noble,

and yet at the end of the day,

our judgment has to be
how mistaken he really was.

- Mark Antony will himself be
defeated by his current allies.

What we are left with is
a sense of waste, of loss,

and ultimately of futility.

The play is heartbreaking,

and it's heartbreaking
in the sense

that nothing is resolved,

that everything stays the way...

And actually, everything
goes from bad to worse.

That unstable quality

is what makes the
play heart-breaking,

because nobody wins in the play.

Nobody wins.

Everybody loses.

- Funding for
"Shakespeare Uncovered"

was provided by...

The Joseph & Robert
Cornell Memorial Foundation...

The National Endowment
for the Humanities...

Exploring the human endeavor...

The Polonsky Foundation,

Dana and Virginia Randt,

Elaine & W. Weldon Wilson,

the Lillian Goldman
Programming Endowment,

the LuEsther T.
Mertz Charitable Trust,

Jody and John Arnhold,

and by contributions
to your PBS station

from viewers like you.

Thank you.