A Song: Brutus the (In)grate

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Lyrics

Brutus the (In)grate

My fathers before me, their oath was the same
So hence I stand fast, ever true to my name.
Forgive my betrayal, I simply must do.
My Rome deserves not a dictator, but you
had risen to power
and soon you’ll devour
Rome in its entirety; I
speak with sobriety.
But I hadn’t known that your death be for naught
For when I had stabbed you, grim reaper had caught..

Chorus:
The knife I had wedged wounded not one but two.
It ripped through my soul, and your murder’s mine too.
My guilt is perpetuo, yet not for thy death
But for the big fiasco; thy senate’s regret.
I did what I had to save Roma from thee
For I know it would end in your tyranny.

Don't bite the hand that feeds you they say
You spared my life, here I am today
Your kindness and mercy will not be forgotten
Yet damn, JC, your motives were rotten
Veni vidi vici
Sorry, not sorry
Sorry, not sorry

(Repeat Chorus)

The knife I had wedged wounded not one but two
Well, Rome deserves not a dictator, but you.

(special thanks to Darishna for the back-up vocals, and to Rifah for playing the tambourine)

For centuries, the Ides of March has gripped the minds of generations of curious historians, writers, and artists, with many conspiring as to what had truly transpired on the blighted 15th of March, 44 BCE.  Shakespeare, in his famous play (and the Roman dictator perpetuo’s namesake) Julius Caesar, explores the complexity of Caesar and Brutus’ relationship, examining the intricacies of each persona, delving into their principles, motivations, and fears. While Shakespeare acknowledged the difficulty of Brutus’ predicament, attributing his action not merely to a flaw in his character but also to the influence that his fellow conspirators had upon him, Dante Alighieri was, on the other hand, not so forgiving. In his work,Inferno, Dante even went as far as deeming Brutus fit to be gnawed forevermore by Satan in his Hadean depiction of hell.

15th March 44 BC, The assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar (c.98 - 44 BC), Roman general and statesman. He was killed on the Ides of March (15th) by a group of senators including Gaius Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus as he entered the senate house in Rome. Original Artwor (Photo by Edward Gooch/Getty Images)
15th March 44 BC, The assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar (c.98 - 44 BC), Roman general and statesman. He was killed on the Ides of March (15th) by a group of senators including Gaius Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus as he entered the senate house in Rome. Original Artwor (Photo by Edward Gooch/Getty Images)

A close friend of the consul Julius Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus (ca. 85-42 B.C.) turned his back on the ruler in his firm aversion to dictatorship. It was also in an effort to continue the legacy of his name--the steadfast and unrelenting mission to destroy would-be tyrants. What is interesting, however, is that Brutus was in fact at odds with Caesar during Rome’s civil war. Yet in spite of his insurgence against the consul Brutus was nonetheless promoted to the esteemed position of praetor. The consul was said to have seen immense potential in Brutus, and was not about to pass up on the opportunity to polish a raw gem. Little did he know that he was but sharpening the very knife that is bound to take his life.

Following Caesar’s assassination was yet another episode of civil wars that involved the Republican forces of Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus fighting for ascendancy against Octavian and Mark Antony. Having defeated  by Octavian and Antony at a second fight at Philippi, Brutus took his own life. However, it is worth delving on the unsaid and suspected reason/s behind Brutus’ suicide. Did he kill himself because he had been defeated or could there be an overwhelming sense of remorse and shame by betraying Caesar. Additionally, there is also something amiss about Brutus reverting to his birth name.

Perhaps it is but more complex than a mere reason or two. It is likely however that Brutus had truly taken his duty to Rome to heart, choosing to kill his mentor than see his Republic under the rule of a tyrant. Moreover, this decision had most likely not been an easy one. The possibility of him having had ulterior motives of taking the throne for himself, guised under the pretense of tyrannicide and Rome’s “rescue” is of course not dismissed.

Yet, above all, it is important not to forget that Brutus was, too, a mere mortal with feelings, whose convictions and temporary intensities had perhaps taken the best of him.

Analysis/Interpretation of lyrics 

My fathers before me, their oath was the same

Ancestors were also involved in tyrannicides

So hence I stand fast, ever true to my name.

Changed his name back to Marcus Junius Brutus

Forgive my betrayal, I simply must do.

My Rome deserves not a dictator, but you

had risen to power

and soon you’ll devour

Rome in its entirety;

I speak with sobriety.

The enjambment reflects some sort of regret on Brutus' part because it can be read as "My Rome deserves not a dictator, but you had risen to power and soon you'll devour..." or "My Rome deserves not a dictator, but you." The latter echoes some regret..maybe Rome was better off with Caesar as ruler than without caesar.

But I hadn’t known that your death be for naught

For when I had stabbed you, grim reaper had caught..

The knife I had wedged wounded not one but two.

It ripped through my soul and your murder’s mine too.

Although Brutus was not sorry for killing Caesar (perhaps because he firmly believed that he had to; maybe because of jealousy, his actions fuelled by the spur of the moment) the decision still was not an easy one.

My guilt is perpetuo, yet not for thy deal.

But for the big fiasco; thy senate’s regret.

The fiasco is the failed "rescue" of Rome from Caesar. In the end, Cassius' people will battle with Brutus' and he will be defeated...Cassius in turn will be defeated by Octavian...and he will become the first emperor of Rome, called Augustus.

Reference

(2010) Brutus commits suicide. History.com. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/brutus-commits-suicide

Chilton, M. (2016, March 16). Julius Caesar's assassination: 10 facts about the Ides of March murder. The Telegraph. Retrieved fromhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/authors/julius-caesars-assassination-10-facts-about-the-ides-of-march-mu/

Dante's Inferno - Circle 9 - Cantos 31-34.The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved from http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle9.html#lucifer

Death of Caesar. UNRV History Roman Empire. Retrieved fromhttp://www.unrv.com/fall-republic/death-of-caesar.php

Gaius Julius Caesar. The Ohio State University. Retrieved from https://ehistory.osu.edu/biographies/gaius-julius-caesar

Julius Caesar Biography. Biography. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/julius-caesar-9192504

Lendering, J. (2015, July 31). Junius Brutus Caepio, Marcus. Articles on ancient history. Retrieved from http://www.livius.org/articles/person/junius-brutus-caepio-marcus/

(2004) Marcus Junius Brutus. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Retrieved fromhttp://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Marcus_Junius_Brutus.aspx

Nguyen, M.L. (2006, September 30). Portrait Brutus Massimo. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Portrait_Brutus_Massimo.jpg

(2004). The Assassination of Julius Caesar, 44 BC. EyeWitness to History. Retrieved from http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/caesar2.htm

(2009) The ides of March: Julius Caesar is murdered. History.com. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-ides-of-march-julius-caesar-is-murdered

The Life and Death of Julius Caesar. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Retrieved from http://shakespeare.mit.edu/julius_caesar/full.html

Vernon, J. (2004, March 12). Ides of March Marked Murder of Julius Caesar. National Geographic. Retrieved from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/03/0311_040311_idesmarch.html

William P. Thayer. (1913). The Life of Julius Caesar. Retrieved fromhttp://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Julius*.html