Long before Julius Caesar became dictator and was subsequently murdered, the Roman Republic had entered a state of decline. The Roman 1% had become richer and more powerful as a result of Rome’s many military successes, while life for the Roman 99% was getting worse.
As a new mercenary system developed in which the army was paid with gold, land, and salt, soldiers no longer fought for the good of the Republic. It was within this changing atmosphere that a military leader like Julius Caesar was able to gain control.
Interestingly, during his rule, Caesar initiated several reforms including providing land for poor Romans who chose to migrate to conquered territories. He reduced the number of slaves and opened citizenship up to people living in the provinces. No wonder the plebeians “made holiday to see Caesar and rejoice in his triumph.”
The senators succeeded in ending Caesar’s life, but what they did not anticipate was that the Republic would lay in the coffin there with him.
In the final scenes, we tracked the dynamic changes experienced by Cassius, Brutus, Octavius, and Antony by the time they make it to Philippi . . .
While drafting our current essay, it is notable that the interplay between the plebeians and the men in power has many iterations . . .
And Friday, as a much needed break from essay writing, but still with an eye towards the lives of plebeians and how they influence and alter power structures, we delved into current events by observing the phenomena of America’s dying shopping malls via articles, photos, and news reports. Pictured here (pre-demolition) is The Rolling Acres Shopping Mall in Akron, Ohio . . .
Rolling Acres Mall was built in 1975 and expanded several times in its history. It once comprised more than 140 stores, a movie theater and a food court. The mall closed on October 31, 2008, leaving only two of its anchor stores in operation, Sears and JC Penney. The Sears store eventually closed in April of 2011, followed shortly thereafter by JC Penney. By 2013 the mall was vacant of retail stores.
We also viewed a clip from George Romero’s 1978 horror film, Dawn of the Dead, which is strangely prophetic as it depicts a post-apocalyptic world where the zombies who overrun a suburban shopping mall are described as being there because of “some kind of instinct, memory of what they used to do. [The mall] was an important place in their lives . . .”