March 18, 2004

Dudes! Listen Up!

Due to many requests (There were at least three of 'em), I'm breaking out my copy of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and updating Mark Antony's funeral oration. Here goes.

Friends, Romans, countrymen,


lend me your ears;

Listen up!

I come to bury Caesar,

I'm here to plant Caesar,

not to praise him.

Not to say a lot of good shit about him.

The evil that men do lives after them;

We remember the bad shit about people.

The good is oft interred with their bones;

We forget all the good stuff.

So let it be with Caesar.

So let's do that with Caesar.

The noble Brutus

That dickhead Brutus

Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:

Told you Caesar wanted to be top dog.

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

If that's true that really sucks!

And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.

And that's why they offed the dude.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--

Brutus and the rest of his pals are letting me speak

For Brutus is an honourable man;

Brutus is a dickhead.

So are they all, all honourable men--

All his pals are dickheads too.

Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.

I'm speaking here at Caesar's funeral.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me:

Caesar and I were best buds.

But Brutus says he was ambitious;

But Brutus said Caesar wanted to be top dog.

And Brutus is an honourable man.

And Brutus is a dickhead.

He hath brought many captives home to Rome

He brought a lot of POW's back from his wars

Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:

That he sold off and then he gave all the money to the treasury.

Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?

Did this make Caesar look like he wanted to be top dog?

When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:

When the poor cried, Caesar did too.

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

More top dogs should act this way.

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;

Still Brutus said Caesar wanted to be top dog.

And Brutus is an honourable man.

Brutus is a dickhead.

You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown,

You all saw me three times try to give him a king's crown on the holiday commemorating Rome's founding.

Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?

All three times he refused it. Did he really want to be top dog?

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;

But Brutus says he wanted to be top dog.

And, sure, he is an honourable man.

And we all know Brutus is a dickhead.

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,

I don't want to call Brutus a liar (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

But here I am to speak what I do know.

But I know all the good shit about Caesar.

You all did love him once, not without cause:

You dudes loved him once and for a lot of good reasons.

What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?

Why aren't you sad that he's dead?

O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,

What the fuck is wrong with you dudes?

And men have lost their reason.

You guys are acting like assholes.

Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me.

I'm really choked up. I need to take a break. Talk amongst yourselves.

First Citizen Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.

That's some good shit he's spouting.

Second Citizen If thou consider rightly of the matter, Caesar has had great wrong.

Caesar got fucked!

Third Citizen Has he, masters? I fear there will a worse come in his place.

Is that right? I'm afraid we may get someone who's worse.

Fourth Citizen Mark'd ye his words? He would not take the crown; Therefore 'tis certain he was not ambitious.

Caesar didn't take the crown so we know he didn't want to be top dog.

First Citizen If it be found so, some will dear abide it.

If that's true some dudes are gonna pay for this.

Second Citizen Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping.

Check out Antony. He's bawling like a baby!

Third Citizen There's not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.

That Antony is one fine dude.

Fourth Citizen Now mark him, he begins again to speak.

Shut the fuck up! He's getting ready to talk again.

But yesterday the word of Caesar might Have stood against the world;

Yesterday no one would fuck with Caesar.

now lies he there.

Now he's dead as a door nail.

And none so poor to do him reverence.

And you buttheads ain't paying any respect to the dead.

O masters, if I were disposed to stir Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,

If I could get you bastards really pissed off.

I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong, Who, you all know, are honourable men:

I would sic you on Brutus and Cassius,

I will not do them wrong; I rather choose To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,

But I would rather have you pissed off at me, Caesar, or yourselves

Than I will wrong such honourable men.

Than I would have you be pissed off at those dickheads Brutus and Cassius.

But here's a parchment with the seal of Caesar;

But check out this paper I have in my hand.

I found it in his closet, 'tis his will:

I just happened to find his will in his closet.

Let but the commons hear this testament--

You oughta see what he's written.

Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read--

Wait a minute! I ain't gonna read it.

And they would go and kiss dead Caesar's wounds And dip their napkins in his sacred blood, Yea, beg a hair of him for memory, And, dying, mention it within their wills, Bequeathing it as a rich legacy Unto their issue.

But if you fuckers were to hear what he had written, you would go ape shit with gratitude and love this dude forever.

Fourth Citizen We'll hear the will: read it, Mark Antony.

The will, the will! we will hear Caesar's will.

Read the fucking will!

Antony taunts them and drags the oration on. He shows them Caesar's corpse and all the stab wounds. He tells them how much Caesar loved Brutus. (Caesar was boinking Brutus' mother, Servilia, and there were some that thought Brutus was Caesar's son - GOC)

Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him! This was the most unkindest cut of all;

What a prick (pun intended) that asshole Brutus was!

Now he reads the will and tells them that Caesar has donated a bunch of parks to the city and has given each citizen seventy-five drachmas.

After some more rabble rousing the citizens take off to burn the house of Brutus and to seek out the other conspirators.

ANTONY Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot, Take thou what course thou wilt!

Brutus and his gang are fucked. My mission here is complete. Off I go to see Lepidus and Octavius.

For those of you who do not have copies of Shakespeare and would like to read this scene in its entirety you can find it here.

Brutus was descended from the Brutus who had driven the last king out of Rome. As such, since he thought Caesar aspired to be king, he felt it his duty to keep Caesar from becoming king. All he accomplished by assassinating Caesar was another civil war and the eventual victory of Octavius who became the emperor Augustus. The Roman Republic was dead forever.

Although I have had fun with the oration, it is much better heard than read and when spoken by a good actor, the lines about how the conspirators were "honorable men" can be spoken dripping with sarcasm. Shakespeare was meant to be heard and not read and were I to teach it, I would have the students read it and instead of giving them an updated translation, let them do what I just did. Then when they knew what Shakespeare meant, have them read it aloud in class. Shakespeare is poetry.

Posted by denny at March 18, 2004 09:21 PM  

I had to memorize that speech in high school up until the part of the heart resting in the coffin... and I'm sitting here wanting to email a link to this to my English teacher! :D Awesome.

Posted by: Susan on March 19, 2004 10:40 AM

Dennis - Brilliant.Best, Terry

Posted by: Terry Reynolds on March 19, 2004 03:28 PM

I gotta try some of this, too.

Posted by: Ralph Gizzip on March 19, 2004 07:51 PM

Excellent, Dude!

Would you consider doing Prospero's lament next?

'Tis true there is no substitute for vocal inflection. I bless an old English teacher for impressing that upon me many years ago.

Let that not stand in the path of great satire such as this!

Posted by: Oldbones on March 19, 2004 08:25 PM

Oldbones. Don't recall that. Start it off for me.

Posted by: Denny Wilson on March 19, 2004 10:44 PM

Denny, I always called it his lament. Somebody revoke my poetic license. It's actually Prospero's closing speech (excerpt):

"And now my charms are all o'erthrown
And what strength I have's mine own
Which is most faint: now t'is true
I must here be released by you"

Almost a blues tune...

Posted by: Oldbones on March 20, 2004 06:35 AM

Dude, you should, like, write for, like, Cliff's Notes, or whatever, dude. :D

Posted by: Kaptain Krude on March 20, 2004 11:18 AM

Oldbones - I have never read the Tempest, though I've been meaning to since Forbidden Planet and a Star Trek episode was based on it.

Someone has set Peospero's Lament to music.

Posted by: Denny Wilson on March 20, 2004 11:59 AM

I am a high school English teacher, and oh, how I wish I could use your version of Mark Antony's funeral oration in my classroom. It sure would make Shakespeare more intelligible to a lot of students. The trouble is, I need my job....

Maybe I'll give it to em on a handout as a farewell gift, just before I retire....

Posted by: ellen on March 20, 2004 04:21 PM

Ellen - As an exercise, have them do what I just did: translate it into modern English. Or to make it fun for them, have them translate it into the language they use for instant messaging and e-mail. Maybe then they'll read it and try to understand it.

Oldbones wants me to do Prospero's lament, so I'll have to read the Tempest to understand what Prospero's bitching about. I'm 57 and I don't ever plan to stop reading and learning.

BTW one of my jobs with TCIDNN was technical education and on the instructor feedback forms many students said that I made learning fun. I did off the wall shit to facilitate learning. It should be fun.

Posted by: Denny Wilson on March 20, 2004 05:28 PM

Sounds like our teaching styles, and our students' reactions to them, are very similar. I have kids writing rap versions of Hamlet, creating CD soundtracks with rationales for their song choices for Othello, creating board games or yearbooks for Catcher in the Rye. Some of my colleagues think these activities are too "frivolous" to be scholarly, but I know how much my kids understand the literature through these exercises. What better way to understand satire, than to rewrite "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," in Hunter Thompson's style?

Posted by: ellen on March 21, 2004 11:43 AM

Mark Anthony's speech is one of my all-time most favorite Shakespearean passages. When I was in high school, my English Lit teacher--who also happened to be the Theater Arts director AND was one of the very few competent and interesting teachers in my entire experience with the Publik Skool Systim--had us all memorize Mark Anthony's speech and break it down into modern English equivalents. It actually lost a lot of its meaning and sarcasm when modernized!

We also had to recite it verbally--and we got marks off if we fell into rhythm.

Hmmmm...perhaps some Othello in Ebonics...? ;-)


Posted by: Denita TwoDragons on March 21, 2004 03:42 PM

And if I may add--Ellen, you are a treasure. We need more teachers like you! Too many of the teachers I had to deal with while growing up were more inclined to toss you your homework, tell you to read a chapter in the textbook, and not to bother him while he's watching the game on his portable T.V.


Posted by: Denita TwoDragons on March 21, 2004 03:46 PM

Ellen - Bravo!

Posted by: Denny Wilson on March 21, 2004 04:31 PM

As most as good as Lord Buckley

Posted by: John Andersen on May 3, 2004 01:23 AM

i am a high school student takin JC. a most excellent interpretation of the speech. if only all Shakespear's work was done the way!!!

Posted by: Dearest on May 20, 2004 01:20 AM
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