Boozy Plays: Julius Caesar

Hey, guys! Sorry this is a bit late, but… well, I guess with our new schedule, it doesn’t really matter as long as I get it done. And I will!

Is there anyone–and I mean anyone–who doesn’t know the story of Julius Caesar? If Akira Kurosawa can direct a version of Macbeth, I’m pretty sure you couldn’t collect more than a handful of people who don’t know the story of the dictator who pulled an Icarus and was stabbed twenty-three times for his trouble.

In a brief synopsis: Julius Caesar has come home from defeating Pompey, and sets himself up as a dictator (which was a somewhat defunct office from earlier in Rome’s history in which a citizen is, for a brief period, given complete control over Rome, replacing the usual consul and tribune system), though he trice refuses a crown during a parade on the Lupercal (albeit reluctantly). He also ignores a warning to ‘beware the Ides of March’, which turns out to be a bad idea. Meanwhile, Cassius is trying to convince Brutus to help them assassinate Caesar before he becomes a tyrant. This is because Brutus is the direct descendant of the founder of the Republic (kinda like Rome’s Washington, in that he lead the rebellion), and is sort of… Mr. Rome, for lack of a better phrase. Eventually, Brutus relents and they assassinate Caesar on the Ides of March (should have heeded the warning) in the Senate (not historically accurate, but this is Shakespeare, of course).

The conspirators make it clear that they have done this for the good of Rome, but Mark Antony (*heart eyes*) turns the crowd against them and drives the assassins from the city. Brutus and Cassius, the chief conspirators, prepare for war against the Second Triumvirate (Antony, Octavian, Lepidus). Caesar’s ghost appears and tells Brutus he’s gonna die at Philippi (that rhymes!), but Brutus actually wins the first battle (historically against Octavian) after Cassius kills himself. Then Antony wins the second day and Brutus kills himself. Antony pays tribute to Brutus as the noblest Roman, and he and Octavian have a bit of a spat.

So… Caesar dies, Antony is glorious, war happens, Brutus dies. There’s a ghost, a soothsayer, and (ugh) Octavian. Also the play has some damn fine lines, especially a speech that made me love Shakespeare and history all at once! I can pretend that the Antony of the play is accurate and not… slightly complimentary (well, Antony was pretty skillful in the immediate aftermath of the assassination, but it wasn’t a long-lasting bout of political acumen). Octavian isn’t in it that much. It’s great. I love it.

Now to recommend a drink! Since I went with a Shiraz last time, I want to go with a historically Roman wine for this one. The Romans had a habit of mixing their wine with water (actually, it’s more accurate to say they added wine to their water and not the other way around), so it’s actually not that intoxicating. For this particular play, I’m recommending mulsum, which is a spiced honey wine. You mix three parts water to one part red wine (something heavy), add cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg (1 stick, 1 whole nutmeg, 1 tsp cloves for every 1 cup of wine), throw in some honey (4 tbsp for every cup of wine) and let sit for about a day in the fridge. Then remove the spices et voila! Mulsum! You can also warm it up if you’d like. Throw an orange slice into your cup for an added dose of delicious.

I’ll recommend versions of Julius Caesar this weekend! Obviously, Marlon Brando will feature.



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