Theme in Shakepeare’s Julius Caesar
Can Ambition be dangerous enough to warrant murder? Can one's Pride be the cause of one's demise?
Can ambition be dangerous? This much is true; one's ambition can be no more dangerous than one's hopes and desires. They said he was ambitious and so they killed him. They said that it was for the good of Rome. That Rome would've fallen had his existence continued. But these are empty words. Was Julius Caesar really a threat to Rome or was he merely a rival to the senate?
"I saw Mark Antony offer him a crown (yet ’twas not a crown neither, ’twas one of these coronets) and, as I told you, he put it by once—but, for all that, to my thinking, he would fain have had it. Then he offered it to him again, then he put it by again—but, to my thinking, he was very loath to lay his fingers off it. And then he offered it the third time. He put it the third time by. And still, as he refused it." -Casca
Three times Caesar had rejected the crown. If he had any thoughts about assuming a throne, there were fleeting because, he realized the kind of image that he needed to be for his people. Shakespeare utilizes this in the play by developing a type of conflict within Caesar, and whether or not this is expanded upon by Shakespeare is left for the reader to interpret.
Be patient till the last. Romans, countrymen, and lovers! Hear me for my cause, and be silent that you may hear. Believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor that you may believe. Censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more; Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him. As he was fortunate, I rejoice at it. As he was valiant, I honor him. But, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love, joy for his fortune, honor for his valor, and death for his ambition. Who is here so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak—for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak—for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak—for him have I offended. I pause for a reply. -Brutus
The senate was afraid. The senate "executed" Caesar in order to make an example of him. To discourage anything along that line of thought because, thoughts and ideas are something the senate can't control. They can't contain them or exterminate them however, they can influence them. So they influence the people's ideas to adhere to their agendas because allowing anything but would breach their security. And the senate felt that Julius Caesar was a threat to said security. This is significant because it show who the real ambitious ones are. The senate believe they are the one's who know what's best for the country and as soon a something shows the slightest chance of compromising that, it needs to be terminated before anything can be made of it. Caesar may have been ambitious, but no more ambitious than deceptive Cassius and noble Brutus and the senate in their efforts to keep their power from diminishing, or the cunning Marc Antony in his efforts to turn a substantial amount of citizens against the senate and gain supporters within the empire to further his own goals. It was through Julius Caesar's demise that these men began to show their true colors, which would result in one of the greatest power struggles in history.