Essay On Government In Shakespeare's On Duties And Julius Caesar

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Cicero’s On Duties defends republican government because it serves the whole community. He stresses that honorable rulers must benefit the people. Ruling “for the sake of pre-eminence” leads one astray (On Duties, 11). In contrast, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar chronicles the dissolution of a republican government, as the play ends with the rise of imperial Rome. This ending helps depict the power of the elites. Marc Antony’s funeral oration manipulated the people to believe that Caesar cared for them, while in reality he pursued his self-interest. An analysis of both Cicero’s On Duties and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar depicts the relationship between the elites and the people and allows one to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a republican government. Cicero asks rulers to “pursue aims that are not secret, but honorable” and strive to weave their self-interest with the community’s best interest (On Duties,…show more content…
Caesar was “thrice presented a kingly crown/which he did thrice refuse,” which twists the people to believe that Caesar certainly could not be ambitious (Julius Caesar, 3.2.96-97). The people misunderstand Caesar’s ambition, though, because he thrice refuses the crown to please the people and win their goodwill. The more Caesar refuses the crown, the more goodwill he will obtain, and the more people will want him to become an absolute ruler. Caesar’s desire to demolish the republic and create an imperial society ends with his death. Since “Antony is but a limb of Caesar,” his spirit continues to live and so does imperial Rome (Julius Caesar, 2.1.165). Antony is cunning and pragmatic. His speech expresses these traits and ends with an unnerving confirmation: “Mischief, thou art afoot/Take thou what course thou wilt” (Julius Caesar, 3.2.252-253). He successfully manipulates the audience to enact revenge and launches his subtle campaign towards achieving
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