‘Mayor: Drebin, I don’t want any more trouble like you had last year on the South Side. Understand? That’s my policy.
‘Drebin: Yes. Well, when I see five weirdos dressed in togas stabbing a guy in the middle of the park in full view of 100 people, I shoot the bastards. That’s my policy.
‘Mayor: That was a Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar, you moron! You killed five actors! Good ones.’
– The Naked Gun
Last week, a Donald Trump supporter rushed the stage in Central Park.
She was protesting a production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in which the central character, who looked for all the world like America’s president, is stabbed to death.
The people responsible for the production had ‘blood on their hands’, yelled the malcontent; she claimed they were desensitising people to violence.
Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich, another Trump supporter, took up the parallel, explaining that his man was being stabbed in the back by Deep State insiders.
‘…the established is “bent on destroying” Donald Trump’, read the headline in The Times. The paper interviewed Gingrich, who said, ‘an entire establishment [is] in rebellion against the elected president of the United States’.
‘It’s very serious,’ he continued. ‘This guy’s a direct mortal threat to the system that grew up over the last 50 or 60 years and they’re going to do everything they can to try to stop him.’
Putting on the purple
Like Julius Caesar, President Trump has put on the purple. He dares to rule. And now, others — jealous, fearful rivals — sharpen their knives.
Here at the Diary, we too have compared the president to Caesar. We did so fancifully. Today, we take up the subject more seriously.
Is Trump a modern Caesar? Are his adversaries traitors? Or patriots?
Julius Caesar was a remarkable fellow. His father died when he was 16, leaving his son with little money. Worse, he left the family on the wrong side of a civil war.
Julius had to lay low. He enrolled in the army just to put some distance between him and the ruling clique.
Julius Caesar proved to be a good soldier.
One incident from his early life is worth recalling. He was captured by pirates, who demanded a ransom of 20 talents for his release. Julius was annoyed that they asked so little. He suggested that they increase it to 50 talents.
He also warned them that he would come after them and crucify them when he caught them. This is what happened. As soon as he was freed, he hired a private fleet and captured the pirates. Then, in an act of mercy, he slit their throats before crucifying them.
Conquering the Gauls
Caesar’s fame and fortune came later, when he conquered Gaul.
It was not like today’s bombing and droning ‘insurgents’ in Afghanistan or Petraeus’ ‘surge’ in Iraq.
Caesar spent years crisscrossing what is today France, battling dozens of fierce tribes. His enemies were organised…often well-led… and sometimes outnumbered him by as much as four to one.
At the Battle of Alesia, for example, Caesar took on Vercingetorix, who had unified many of the Gallic tribes against the Romans. Caesar’s troops managed to drive the Gauls back to their base. The idea was to encircle them there and starve them into submission.
Caesar built a wall around the camp — which held about 80,000 people. Vercingetorix tried to send his women and children away; he was running out of food quickly. But Caesar refused to let them pass. They were caught in the middle, starving.
Then, other tribes, allied with Vercingetorix, came to break the siege. So Caesar built an exterior wall to protect the Romans from the relief forces in his rear.
But this left them trapped between the two Gallic armies. Vercingetorix attacked from the inside. His allies attacked him from the outside. If the Roman defences had failed, Caesar and all his soldiers would have been wiped out, killed, or turned into slaves. There was no way to escape.
But thanks to his fortifications and military discipline, the Roman position held. Later, Caesar wrote his famous account of the campaign. He came, he saw, he conquered.
Now he could lead his loyal soldiers to Rome and take over the government.
Et tu, POTUS?
Caesar crossed the Rubicon and set himself up as a dictator, changing the Old Republic into an empire.
Then Brutus, one of his officers in the Gallic wars, joined a conspiracy to preserve the Republic; they murdered him in the Curia of Pompey. Brutus, his old comrade-in-arms, delivered the ‘unkindest cut of all’.
And Trump? Et tu, POTUS?
At least you can’t blame ‘The Donald’ for overthrowing the Old Republic. It’s been gone for half a century.
And you can’t credit his enemies with trying to protect it. This is more like the conspiracies after later Roman emperors Claudius and Marcus Aurelius.
By then, there was no question of reviving the Old Empire. The only question then…as now…was: Which Deep State faction will control the spoils of empire?
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