Honestly one of the very best plays. Like Coriolanus, you are constantly asking yourself “Who is the villain?” Is it Brutus, who betrays his closest friend? Is it Caius Cassius, who may harbour petty motivations behind his supposed noble and patriotic assassination? Is it Caesar, who even his best friend is convinced is working his way towards taking sole control of the Rome? Is it Marc Antony, who chooses to drive Rome into civil war rather than be reconciled to the death of Caesar? It’s so interesting to read. No one’s motives are fully clear, everything can be interpreted as ambiguous.
The play revolves around the nature of honour, how to act nobly, loyally, and patriotically, and what happens when those things come into conflict. Brutus is painted as the greatest betrayer, and his betrayal of Caesar stands alongside that of the betrayal by Judas of Christ. Yet, when reading it, he struggles with his decision, and decides finally that it is for the best of his fellow men. Even Marc Antony believes that Brutus acted out of a sincere belief that he was protecting the republic. And because Brutus is really the main character, not Caesar, the play is really about his demise, his attempt to do the right thing and it just being the worst decision he ever made. He loses his dearest friend, he fails to protect Rome which tears itself apart as a result of the assassination, he loses the battle at Phillipi, and he commits suicide.
If all could be said to be villains, then all could be said to be punished for it. All those seen as guilty die, and Marc Anthony inherits a Rome in strife. Just a brutal play.