Saturday, June 25, 2016

Caesar, Antony, & Brutus (Additions to "The Apology Box")



     Julius Caesar Joins His Cousins

Hail cousins in Olympus!*  Like you, I
Have intervened throughout the world.  I warred
Not just in Rome but in far regions, too,
As god in man no doubt is prone to do.

Why not go far in war since I must war
Regardless?  God and man are opposites
And thus could not keep truces long in me.
They often warred and shook me violently.

I wondered how the two in me were mixed:
Were they both loose?  Were they together chained?
Was one a cage that kept the other pent?
Did they conjoin in some third element?

However joined, despite all paradox,
I came. I saw. I conquered.  I now thank
Rome's daggers that the incarnation's past,
That I'm a pure and quakeless god at last.

*He was an epileptic whose family claimed descent from Venus.





            Brutus’s Defense

Did we do murder?  Not on Caesar’s watch.
Crime is defined within some rule of law.
His tyranny suspended rule of law.

Did we do evil?  Not in killing him
When reason would instead condemn the hands
Refusing reason and its pure demands.

We rescued reason when our blades brought down
The despot flaunting it.  And if we should
Now balance pain, we find the common good

We did outweighs the suffering Caesar felt.
We should be stoic, too, and recognize 
That fate spins narratives and thus denies

The choice required for blame.  And yet so what?
The finest reason never dulls the pain
As past replays itself time and again:

The awful cries, the sounds of blades against
The spine, the red spurts, then the vacant stare
As rigor mortis seizes Caesar there.

I am no hypocrite.  I've suffered, too,
In righting Rome vile Caesar had abused.
I need no flogging.  I'm already bruised.




            Marc Antony’s Defense

Will future generations laud my name?
No. History is pillage victors own.
The vanquished are deprived of it--and yet
I stand before the gods with no regret
Or fear.  The judgment of the gods, I know,
Is never swayed by pillaging below.

Before I fell, in Athens they hailed me
As a new Dionysus.  They were right.
I saw beyond convention.  Nature was
My measure--not some antique prejudice
That drew a line between the West and East.
Uncritical acceptance in me ceased:

I freed my mind and heart to analyze
All things in truth, not prejudice.  I spurned
The ancient, awful bigotry of Rome
Permitting one the lowest Roman wife
Yet banning Cleopatra as a bride.
Pure truth advised me, too, when Caesar died.

I would not profit from his murder.  I
Embraced the bloody vessel that once held
Great Caesar and I promised my revenge.
Whatever evil men might say of me,
I was a loyal friend who also dared
To free both mind and heart Rome once impaired.


© Harold Anthony Lloyd 2016

The current contents of "The Apology Box" can be found here

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