Gil Bailie examines William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar through the lens of René Girard. Shakespeare’s play looks at the volatile transition from republican Rome to Imperial Rome. In Act 3 the conspirators assassinate Caesar and attempt to sacralize their deed – to turn the murder into a sacrifice. Brutus asks his co-conspirators to dip their arms in Caesar’s blood and shout ‘peace, freedom, liberty’, using gore to give a greater gravity to their sacred violence. But this trick fails as Antony gives voice to the wounds of fallen Caesar. When sacred violence is compromised by the voice of its victim it no longer can constrain mimetic passions and all hell breaks loose… “let slip the dogs of war”.
Listen to an excerpt: