ANTONY PROMISES MOB A SHARE OF CAESAR’S FORTUNE
By Calvin Williams
March 15, Rome
Seventy five drachmas is more than the average Roman earns in months, but now every single citizen of Rome will receive seventy-five drachmas, according to the words of Great Caesar's will.
Yesterday at the funeral of Great Caesar, Mark Antony addressed the citizens from the steps of the capitol. Not only did he present the corpse of Caesar, but he also claimed that he had possession of Caesar’s will.
After chants and pleas from the crowd to hear the will, Antony finally succumbed to the wishes of the citizens. He stood on the steps pondering whether to share it with the people or not. Then, Antony loudly proclaimed that Caesar’s will promises “To every Roman citizen he gives, to every single man, seventy-five drachmas... Moreover, he hath left you all his walks, His private arbors, and new planted orchards, on this side Tiber.” (Julius Caesar, Act 3 Scene 2, line 261-266)
Upon Antony unveiling Caesar’s last wishes and explaining the gift from Caesar, the crowd quickly turned to Antony's side. Citizens were shouting approval and yelling support such as “O royal Caesar!” (Act 3 Scene 2, line 260)
An anonymous source close to Caesar stated “This may be one of the greatest gifts back to the peasants and citizens in Roman history. The poor and hungry will be able to feed themselves and have a chance at a new beginning. Caesar’s will have a chance to become the savior to countless number of peasants and poverty stricken people throughout Rome.”
However, to the government this will has the potential to be crushing. If Antony plans to follow through with Caesars will then the government will be forced to give up thousands of drachmas to hardworking peasants. Antony must fight the troops of Brutus and Cassius, and to do so he must have money and weapons.
There is a rumor that Antony does not have enough money to pay the people, and that he was never planning to honor the wishes of the will. According to an anonymous source, Antony was overheard speaking with Octavius, “Fetch the will hither, and we shall determine how to cut off some charge in legacy.” (Act 4 Scene 1, lines 10-11) If the source is correct, it would mean Antony only used the will as a way to sway the crowd to his side. Crowds and mobs are already tearing the streets apart, so if they do not get what was promised it could fuel an already burning fire.
Antony is caught in a tough position. In order for him and Octavius to gain power in Rome they must defeat the army’s of Brutus and Cassius, but to win the war they need money for troops and weapons. If they don't pay the citizens what was promised Antony risks the crowds turning against him and Rome turning into chaos. In the next few days Antony will be forced to make a decision.