Mar 152010
 

CAESAR
Set on; and leave no ceremony out.
SOOTHSAYER
Caesar!
CAESAR
Ha! who calls?
CASCA
Bid every noise be still: peace yet again!
CAESAR
Who is it in the press that calls on me? I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music, Cry ‘Caesar!’ Speak; Caesar is turn’d to hear.
SOOTHSAYER
Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR
What man is that?
BRUTUS
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
CAESAR
Set him before me; let me see his face.
CASSIUS
Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
CAESAR
What say’st thou to me now? speak once again.
SOOTHSAYER
Beware the ides of March.
CAESAR
He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.


We’ve all read it, we’ve all no doubt seen the many visual depictions & performances of the
Shakespearean play. Today is that day the Soothsayer spoke of. The Ides of March. The
middle of the month of March. Big Julie ignored the seer’s warning to his own detriment,
because Caesar believed himself invulnerable to the whims of mere mortal Romans while
surrounded by ‘sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’nights’. He underestimated the state of
satiation of those who surrounded him in the Senate.

CAESAR
Let me have men about me that are fat; sleek-headed men and such as sleep o’ nights:
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.
ANTONY
Fear him not, Caesar; he’s not dangerous; He is a noble Roman and well given.
CAESAR
Would he were fatter! But I fear him not: Yet if my name were liable to fear, I do not know the man I should avoid. So soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much; He is a great observer and he looks quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays, as thou dost, Antony; he hears no music; seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort as if he mock’d himself and scorn’d his spirit that could be moved to smile at any thing. Such men as he be never at heart’s ease whiles they behold a greater than themselves, and therefore are they very dangerous. I rather tell thee what is to be fear’d than what I fear; for always I am Caesar. Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf, and tell me truly what thou think’st of him.

And so I fear our Prime Minister has set himself up as a modern day Caesar, above the noise
of the common mob, and immune to the murmurs of the Senate. Clearly, he’s not listening to
the House of Review and not just to the sounds of ‘Nay’ which are continually coming from it. Abbott is a man with a lean and hungry look. Like Cassius, he is well read, but unlike Cassius, he is not a good reader of men and does not give the impression of being a capable leader of men. Abbott is more like the Soothsayer, yelling ‘Beware’ from the crowd. If there is a Cassius in the Australian poli-drama, it must surely be Julia Gillard without who’s support from the Labor Left faction, Rudd would not have the position of Prime Minister. Julia Gillard certainly does have a lean and hungry look. Her dagger may be sheathed at present but it could be drawn quickly if needs be. There are rumblings and ruminations among the caucus regardding the Rudd style of government, just as there were rumblings against Caesar. Rudd needs to pay more attention to the Senate, personally. The cross-benches have been lulled by Abbott and don’t know exactly what to do about him.
Natasha Stott-Despoya accurately identifies this in her Business Spectator column today. The message is clear. Beware the Ides of March, or April, or May. May particularly. Budget time. The perfect point for the Soothsayer to appear again and utter those told-ya-so words, “Aye Caesar, but not yet gone!”