Caesar’s Ambition Lead to His Downfall Essay Example
Caesar’s Ambition Lead to His Downfall Essay Example

Caesar’s Ambition Lead to His Downfall Essay Example

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  • Pages: 11 (3017 words)
  • Published: November 11, 2017
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“I came, I saw, I conquered. ” These were the famous words spoken by the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar. Caesar’s coming to power signalled the Roman Empire escalation in terms of economy, citizen rights, military strength, etc.

Caesar’s leadership brought Rome many fortunes; some historians credit his success to the fact that he was ambitious. However, becoming overly ambitious has often been the cause of downfall for the leaders of the past, and Ceasar’s case was no different.While ambition gives an individual a goal and proper motivation towards it, sometimes the culprit can become obsessed with his own legacy, and forego rationality to in an attempt to carve his name in stone. For a ruler, this is a particularly undesirable attribute; ambitious power can lead to corruption and inevitably, the deterioration of a nation. Indeed, this was the case for the vene


rable yet foolish Roman ruler. Julius Caesar, the feared general of the Roman army, and the leader of the Roman state, suffered a tragic downfall due to his ambitious desires.

William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and E.B Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra portray Caesar’s ambitious persona. Caesar’s ambition interfered in three main areas in which inevitably lead him to his demise. The first was Caesar’s defiance of religious morality and his insolence towards the gods.

The second was his ignorance and disrespect towards society, and third was Caesar’s general ambitious desire towards complete supremacy and rule. To achieve a level of greatness unattained in history is arguable, but to extend that level of ambition to the spiritual realm, in other words, the angels and the gods, shows utmost arrogance and disrespect.Caesar’s egotistic idea of becoming greater

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than the all-mighty gods was one factor that led to his tragic demise: …he was also totally ruthless in the pursuit of his personal goals and ambitions, which included not only absolute power over the Roman Empire, but also divine honours and recognition as a human god. Caesar’s high level of personal goals made him determined in attaining them. Caesar’s ambition rose to such a margin that he wanted to be recognized as a “human god.

This desire is as impossible as the sun rising from the west yet his determination to attain godly status shows his over excessive ambition that disregards any religious morality. Caesar’s defiance was primarily due to his views on religion. Historians suggest that even though Caesar was taught about religion during his childhood most of it would be left for him to judge on practical basis, as it was said that he “would come to view most aspects of religion as an empty superstition. In E.

B Shaw’s drama Caesar and Cleopatra, Caesar rudely questions Cleopatra’s religious practice with “What table rapping! Are such superstitions / still believed in this year 707 of the republic? ” He refers to Cleopatra’s religious practices as mere beliefs that have been adopted by a society based on the teaching of their ancestors and having no practical use at all. This proves his inability to understand and respect religious rituals proves his ignorance towards religious morals.In addition, we see Caesar’s disrespect for religious practices in William Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar when Caesar says, “If I could pray to move, prayers would move me; / But I am constant as the Northern Star,” This quotation portrays

Caesar’s defiance and arrogance in the system that has been a part of Rome for centuries as he states that he’s the only Roman who remains “constant as the Northern star” (ie. his beliefs). He is trying to portray himself as a model of perfection, a man who doesn’t need any divine help nor is he afraid of the all mighty power.Like a rebel who goes against preset rules, Caesar has his own ideas about deciding his own fate through his rules rebelling in the belief of predetermined fate that the gods have set for mankind, thus showing how indifferent he was when it came to the beliefs of his ancestors.

To furthermore prove his defiance, Caesar says, …Danger know full well that Caesar is more dangerous than he. we are two lions littered in one day, and I the elder and more terrible, and Caesar shall go forth.Caesar claims he is more dangerous than “danger” himself. Danger, a supernatural force is insulted by Caesar when Caesar claims he is more “dangerous” and more “terrible”.

Caesar openly mocks the gods in Caesar and Cleopatra when he says, …Your gods are afraid of the Romans; you see Sphinx dare not bite me, nor prevent me carrying you off… Caesar’s overconfidence and immense level of pride allows him to say this bold statement where he challenges the mighty power with, “your gods are afraid of the Romans. The cocky ruler then challenges the gods’ power when he states, “you see Sphinx does not bite me”. Like a stuck-up, ignorant teen who challenges his/her parents, Caesar does the same to his superior guardian once again proving his defiance

towards the gods. In addition, Caesar also says, …Sphinx, my place is as high as yours in this great dessert; only I wander, and you sit still; I conquer and you endure…for I am he of whose genius you are the symbol, part brute…and part GodThe conceited Roman general starts with “my place is as high as yours”, which puts him side by side with the status of the gods, and differentiates in an overconfident manner between himself and the almighty God, Sphinx. Secondly, Caesar claims that he too is “part God”.

As daring as a hare going into a lion’s den, similarly, Caesar defies the gods in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, with “The gods do this in shame of cowardice. / Caesar should be a beast without a heart. ” This quote depicts the height of defiance towards the gods.After requesting that the Priests dissect a beast (most likely bird) and look at the innards and reveal the holy prediction of what’s to come, Caesar opposes this interpretation and challenges the gods by saying that the “Gods do this in shame of cowardice” As a result, Caesar’s mockery and ridicule towards the gods leads him to his merciless, cruel murder. Caesars bloody murder was primarily due to hatred towards from the general public. His disrespect, disregard and defiance towards the people was the other big factor to his downfall.

His disrespect not only was towards people of lower status but politicians and senators, “When addressed by some senators, he chose not to rise from his seat-an apparent admission that he did not consider them his equals, but his inferiors. ” This quotation explains how Caesar defied

the Roman republic. According to historians, Caesar would show disrespect to other people because he considered them his “inferiors” putting him in a position of higher status. His impertinence towards the general public proves his defiance towards the system that was respected and believed in for centuries.At the same time Caesar defied individuals of lower status. In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Caesar says, “He is a dreamer; let us leave him.

Pass” In the beginning of the play Caesar is confronted by a soothsayer who warns about events to come in the future. Soothsayers, people who were respected for their advice at that time era was nothing more to Caesar than a “dreamer”. By calling a soothsayer a dreamer, Caesar mocks and shows his arrogance to prove that he is higher than society where deciding destiny is not up to anyone but Caesar himself showing his ego towards society.Furthermore, Caesars disrespect towards society is Bernard Shaw’s play Caesar and Cleopatra when Caesar converses with the King’s tutor: THEO: What is burning there is the memory of mankind. CAE: A shameful memory.

Let it burn. Prior to the conversation between Theodutus and Caesar, the beloved library of Alexandria is in flames. Theodutus, who is very much concerned about the deplorable scene, asks Caesar’s help to put out the flames in order to save the cherished memory of mankind; that is in books. Caesar disregards the matter and says it’s a “shameful memory.

Let it burn. This shows the height for Caesars arrogance towards society, in fact mankind all together. He openly ridicules all of mankind’s contribution from the past. His ignorance towards society furthermore proves his

disrespect towards the history of his nation.

It was his own actions that made him disliked by his own people. “Caesar was very much aware of the fact that he was disliked by most Romans but it is very doubtful that he was ever fully aware of just how unpopular he was becoming. ” As Caesar started to come in power, his ambitious desires were getting the best of him.As his power increased he gave more disrespect to the general public. Caesar saw them as inferiors. His arrogance made him “disliked by most Romans.

” However, Caesar knew about this and disregarded as he felt that they were not much of importance. Disrespect was bad enough, but openly insulting and mocking the society’s ability made Caesar more unpopular. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Julius brags about his ability and mocks his “inferiors” with “Cowards die many times before their deaths, / The valiant never taste death but once” . Similarly, Caesar also says: The things that threatened meNe’er looked but on my back.

When they shall see The face of Caesar, they are vanished. Again Caesar asserts that he is aware that people and other obstacles have “threatened” him but every time he has come face to face with them, they all “vanish. ” He brags and proclaims that he cannot be hurt. He doesn’t seem to be worried because he sees the people of the streets as “cowards”.

He compares a “coward” to himself and claims that people who are fearful taste death “many times before their death” and that the “valiant” ones (describing himself) “taste death but once. Caesars insults and boastfulness portrays his

egotistic opinions towards the Roman republic. Also in Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra Caesar again compares himself with the people when he says: He has never hoped can never despair. Caesar, in good or bad fortune, looks his fate in the face This ambitious statement shows that Caesar thinks highly of himself. With a direct comparison in the following quote, Caesar claims that he “looks his fate in the face” and that no one else has the ability to do the same.

His egotistical behaviour and overconfidence in his abilities shows Caesar’s defiance towards society. Last but not least Caesar proclaims: ...

and say that ‘Caesar is in the wrong’… I am tempted to open my hand and let you all sink into the flood. Caesar shows a display of ignorance towards the general republic as he says “I am tempted to open my hand and let you all sink into the flood. ” This contemptuous line displays the lack of respect Caesar has for the public. This also proves that the general public are his inferiors and they mean nothing to the ruler.His lust for power made him unaware for the little amount of respect he had for the general society, thus a conspiracy was formed and unsurprisingly caused Caesar’s downfall. Not only did the public conspire against Caesar for his insolence towards other individuals, but the fact that Caesar’s power was becoming limitless.

His thirst for power and absolute control worried many of the Roman people. In Shaw’s dramatic piece Caesar and Cleopatra, Caesar complains when he says: What has Rome to show me that I have not seen already? One year of Rome is

like another, except that I grow older…This quote depicts Caesars unhappiness with the state of Rome. He believes that he has conquered every part of Rome and that now he wants more for a change, “What has Rome to show me that I have not seen already? ” The sense of dissatisfaction clearly demonstrates Caesar’s wish for more power. Also, “Caesar was not content with being a mere consul. The ruler of Rome, he realized, had to be a military conqueror.

” Caesar’s discontent with his power over Rome made him aspire to new goals. As Caesar continued to conquer other countries his greed started to build. He still wasn’t satisfied with the power he had obtained.People were afraid, that Caesar would become absolute king and therefore conspired against him.

Caesar’s ambitious desires regarding political and military power just adds to the fact that he thirsted for greater and greater glory, showing his lust for power. In Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra, Caesar ends up in Egypt where an Egyptian guard utters: He says that the Roman Julius Caesar, who Has landed on our shores with a handful of followers, Will make himself master of Egypt… This quotation shows that Caesar is on his way with the full intention of making himself “master of Egypt. Caesar’s military strength allows him to fulfill his goals for conquering other lands only to add more power in the palm of his hands. Caesar’s coming to Egypt proves the fact that he wants to become more powerful other than just a military general and the chief conqueror of Rome.

In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar the play starts off with Caesar returning

from a triumphant victory over Pompey. A Roman officer complains with: Wherefore rejoice? What conquest brings he home? What tributaries follow him to Rome, To grace in captive bonds his chariot wheels? You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome The quote demonstrates the concern that some people have towards Caesars’ quest for power. The Roman officers complaints and objections towards Caesar’s increase in power clearly indicates that he dislikes the ideas of Caesar gaining control over other countries only to give Caesar more power with “What conquest brings he home? ” Another Roman officer claims: These growing feathers plucked from Caesar’s wings Will make him fly an ordinary pitch Who else would soar above the view of men And keep us all in servile fearfulness.Again the tribune (Roman officer) feels that Caesar’s continuous gain of power will make Rome fall and “keep us all in servile fearfulness. ” The fear of Caesar gaining absolute power starts to worry him as well as many others in Rome.

For instance, Cassius, a general and acquaintance of Caesar’s, expresses his opinions with: That Rome holds of his name; wherein obscurely Caesar’s ambition shall be glanced at. And after this, let Caesar seat him sure; For we will shake him, or worse days endure. This quote illustrates Cassius’s beliefs towards Caesar’s rise to power and he fact that it will affect the Roman republic greatly. Cassius already plans to overthrow Caesar out of power as he says “For we will shake him, or worse days endure. ” It is because of this fear of Caesar coming into complete power

that Cassius persuades Brutus to form a conspiracy to over throw Caesar.

As well, in Caesar and Cleopatra, Caesar boasts with: “My friend: taxes are the chief business of a conqueror of the world” In a meeting with the young King Ptolemy, Caesar asks for sixteen thousand talents, in which Ptolemy refuses because he is not able to meet up to such a high demand.Ptolemy claims that Egypt has many taxes to pay off and that Caesar shouldn’t have time for taxes. In to which Caesar replies “taxes are the chief business of a conqueror of the world. ” Caesar refers to himself as a conqueror of the world which shows that his mind is set on invading and expanding his reign as ruler to gain more power. The idea of demanding such a high amount of money also shows his gluttony for high status, thus proving his crave for power. “Caesar began plans for the conquest of Parthia in 44 B.

C. Many fearing that he would become an absolute king, so to prevent this, they schemed to murder him.Led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus…” This quote shows that one of the reasons why people turned against Caesar was due to his ambitious plans to take over other countries such as Parthia, worrying many of the fact that he very well could have become a man of absolute power. To prevent this from happening, a group of people planned to murder him, eventually leading Caesar to his downfall. Although a man of great ambition, Caesar was very much like a ball thrown in the air, where the ball reaches a maximum

height and due to gravity, comes crashing down.

However, in Caesar’s case, gravity was not his downfall but it was his ambition. His ambitious desires was involved in three main areas: Religious morals and the defiance of the gods, disrespect to the Roman society, and greed for more power. It was his ambition in becoming the single, most dominant man that made people fear and conspire against him. Caesar’s great amount of ambition teaches us that having dreams is a normal process in a human’s life but forgetting that dreams are the unrealistic facts of life unless one believes in the almighty can lead to only a path towards destruction.

Too little can result in not being successful and conversely, excess of it can lead to downfall. The play Caesar and Cleopatra showed us a man’s rise to power due to his ambition, while Julius Caesar showed a man’s downfall from an elevated position due to his ambition. Whether to be more or less ambitious may differ in all of us yet nonetheless, one must find the right balance of ambition as well as other qualities to go through life happily and successfully as being ambitious itself is a relative interpretation of being a dreamer.

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