Thursday, March 15, 2012

Beware the Ides of March!

Today, on the Ides of March, we remember the tragic assassination of that great Roman (and Italian), Julius Caesar. It was an event of historic betrayal by which one of the giant figures in the history of the world was lost. Yet, his death was not in vain for it paved the way to the establishment of the Roman Empire and the highest peak of Italian civilization in history. The image and memory of Caesar hung heavily over the Italian patriots during the culmination of the Risorgimento. He too had been forced to take the unenviable task of going to war to reunite his people, marching on Rome and putting an end to the fratricidal conflicts of the past to create a greater future. The idea that King Vittorio Emanuele II was restoring what Julius Caesar had first built, a great and united Italian peninsula governed from Rome, was remarked upon by many at the time. When the first King of Italy died there was a much reproduced drawing from Harper’s Weekly showing a weeping figure representing “Italia” at a veiled bust of the late King with a quote from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” when Marc Antony said, “My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, and I must pause till it come back to me”. Yet, even today, the figure of the original Caesar remains controversial, some still viewing him as a tyrant and others as one of the quintessential ‘great men’ of history. The truth, of course, was that Caesar was no tyrant. He was a wise man, one who knew when to be prudent and when to be daring, he was a matchless general, an astute statesman and a merciful man who was not cruel, vicious or nasty. This is evident enough from the fact that he was betrayed and murdered by the very men he had pardoned. He truly is one of the giants of world history, a great Roman, a great Italian and one of the fathers of western civilization as we know it. May he never be forgotten…

No comments:

Post a Comment