Appeal of Brutus and Political Themes (05:13)
Brian Cox played Brutus in William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” in 1977 at the National Theatre in London. He describes the role as the axis of the play and one of Shakespeare’s most extraordinary characters. Cox and the Shakespeare Institute’s Abigail Rokison-Woodall discuss the play’s relevance during the Elizabethan era and today.
"Beware the Ides of March" (03:05)
Caesar is greeted as a monarch upon returning to Rome after his defeat of Pompey, raising concerns among political rivals that he may consolidate more power. A soothsayer delivers an ominous warning: “beware the ides of March.”
Conspiracy Takes Shape (07:58)
A plot to remove Caesar starts to take shape, and Cassius seeks to recruit Brutus as its leader. Brutus is wary, but Cassius exploits his sense of honor. Brutus is further convinced by a rumor that Mark Antony has offered Caesar the crown. Cox and actor Gregg Henry contemplate what may have really happened offstage.
Brutus Decides (06:59)
Rome is plagued by unnatural events on the night before the ides of March which some Romans take as prophesy. Brutus convinces himself that, by murdering Caesar alone, he would turn a murder into ritual sacrifice.
Presidential Assassinations (03:37)
Cox visits Ford’s Theatre where Lincoln was gunned down in 1865. Booth wrote a letter quoting Brutus the night before the assassination. Professor Ayanna Thompson discusses the influence of Shakespeare and “Julius Caesar” on 19th century America.
"Et tu, Brute?" (05:39)
Metellus presents Caesar with a petition, the signal for the conspirators to carry out their bloody plan. Brutus deals the final blow, with Caesar responding with one of the most iconic lines in theater history. Mark Antony arrives to the scene of the crime and is promised he can speak last at Caesar’s funeral.
"Friends, Romans, Countrymen …" (06:27)
Brutus wins over a hostile crowd with his explanation of the assassination. Mark Antony then whips spectators into a frenzy with the play’s most memorable speech. Cox meets with former Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes to talk about political rhetoric and presidential assassinations.
Donald Trump Controversy (02:07)
A New York production of “Julius Caesar,” featuring the eponymous character dressed as Donald Trump, stirred up controversy in the summer of 2017. Henry recalls the dramatic protests.
Mob Violence Unleashed (02:09)
The killing of Caesar has plunged Rome into bloody civil war. Cinna the poet—an innocent man who is mistaken for conspirator Lucius Cinna—is murdered. Antony and his allies make a political hit list.
Fracturing Alliance, Caesar's Ghost (04:38)
A revelation drives a wedge between Cassius and Brutus. Brutus, already suffering from insomnia, is confronted by Caesar’s ghost who warns of an impending military defeat: “Thou shalt see me at Phillippi.”
Conspirators Lose (05:04)
The conspirators lose in battle, and Brutus and Cassius commit suicide. How should we judge Brutus’s actions? What is the lesson to be gleaned from this classic tragedy?
Credits: Julius Caesar with Brian Cox (01:02)
Credits: Julius Caesar with Brian Cox
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