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.
- Part 1: One of the chief protagonists of the drama is the ‘crowd’ or better the ‘mob’. This play was one of the primary sources from which Girard drew his mimetic theory.
- Part 2: Act 2 begins with Brutus’ self-seduction into the conspiracy to kill Caesar. “Therefore it is meet that noble minds keep ever with their likes, for who so firm that cannot be seduced?”
- Part 3: In Act 3 the conspirators assassinate Caesar and attempt to sacralize their deed – to turn the murder into a sacrifice. 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”.
- Part 4: The conflict swirling around Brutus and Cassius with the conspirators on the one hand and Antony and Octavius on the other depicts aspects of the mimetic crisis violence provokes. Shakespeare created a masterful display of mimetic doubling and conflictual undifferentiation in Acts 4 & 5 showing Brutus and Cassius side by side with Antony and Octavius.
Listen to an excerpt: