Classics for today: Julius Caesar

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I hear somebody has already done this on one of the comments sections (if you can think where, I’d be grateful for the link), and a big shout out to whoever had the idea. But it’s a great idea, and one worth doing twice. Apologies if you’ve seen this before – enjoy if you haven’t. 

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury George, 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 George. The noble Rees
Hath told you George was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath George answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Rees and the rest—
For Rees is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men—
Come I to speak in George’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Rees says he was ambitious;
And Rees is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in George seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, George hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Rees says he was ambitious;
And Rees is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Rees says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Rees spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with George,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

10 Comments

  1. Madam Miaow said,

    November 19, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Ooh, titter ye not, missus.

  2. Andy Newman said,

    November 20, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Some years ago I found the most enterating rap ual between the sparts and some anarcho-syndicalists in New York. Tragically I cannot find it again now, it was posted on UKLN.

    Worth searcing for if you have the time and nothing better to do

  3. babeuf said,

    November 20, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Shakespeare’s original had five iambs
    per line with subtle variants now and then,
    But “Caesar” has two syllables, while “George”
    Has only one, and “Brutus” changed to “Rees”
    Will cause the same problem for scansion, thus
    Resulting in a metrical fuck-up.

  4. Madam Miaow said,

    November 21, 2007 at 1:07 am

    Babeuf had an ickle iamb …

    OK smartypants. Try substituting “GG” and johnrees. Or reecy? (Urgh!)

  5. Andy Newman said,

    November 21, 2007 at 1:25 am

    I note that in this retelling galloway is the representative of the plebian party and Rees is the representtaitive of patrician reaction.

  6. babeuf said,

    November 21, 2007 at 3:52 am

    Madam Miaow said: OK smartypants. Try substituting “GG” and johnrees.

    Ah, right number of syllables, Madam Miaow, but “GG” and “John Rees” (like “balloon” and “assault”) carry the stress on the second syllable, while “Brutus” and “Caesar”, (like “bastard” and “coward”), carry the stress on the first syllable, so still no fit.

    Keep trying.

    Andy said: I note that in this retelling galloway is the representative of the plebian party and Rees is the representtaitive of patrician reaction.

    Even better, that sarcastic German article http://entdinglichung.wordpress.com/2007/11/20/2x-respect-alles-ist-gut/
    about the Respect split that turned up on another thread compared I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Respect to the Official IRA and Witch-Hunter-Respect to the Provos (you have to click on the hyperlinks).

  7. Madam Miaow said,

    November 21, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Hmmm. OK, still trying. “Georgy” and “Reecy”? Not perfect but is it serviceable? If not, your examples of “bastard” and “coward” might have to do. (I know that wasn’t your intention but it works for me.)

  8. entdinglichung said,

    November 21, 2007 at 11:43 am

    the funny thing about “our witch hunt victims” is, that they have put their membership list – http://www.swp.org.uk/respect_appeal.php – on the internet … a bit unusual in times of a vicious witch hunt?

  9. babeuf said,

    November 21, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    Madam Miaow, you’ll get me in trouble soon. When I said “balloon”, “assault”, “bastard” and “coward”, I wasn’t applying any of them to GG – it was the Sheriff of Nottingham I had in mind.

    How about “Gorgeous” and “Sheriff”? (but reverting to “George” for “George’s funeral)

    Hi, entdinglichung. You’re quite right – it’s such a bizarre move that there must be plenty of conspiracy theorists now who see this as decisive evidence that the CC has been infiltrated by MI5. Not that I’d agree – they’d already shown they would take desperate and careless measures to follow the logic of their position. In any case, it backfired to some extent: apart from exposing their membership to public view, it also exposed the fact that less than half of their members were prepared to sign the petition (or less than a fifth if you believed the official membership figure).

  10. Madam Miaow said,

    November 21, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    Har, har! I like the cut of your jib. “Gorgeous” and “Fuckface” should do it, then. (You can take the girl out of Hackney …)

    Still oohing and ahing that you wrote you entire comment in iambic pentameter and made sense.


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