Must say, this is not one of my Shakespeare favorites. It’s heavily political, discussing relationships between the people and those in charge, coming to terms with personal vs. public ideologies. Unfortunately, Caius Martius has a difficult time learning how to compromise, which leads to his inevitable downfall.
The most entertaining sections were the scenes between Aufidius and Caius Martius—mortal enemies whose interactions almost read like sparing between two lovers. For instance, Aufidius proclaims, “Know thou first, I loved the maid I married; never man sighed truer breath. But that I see thee here, thou noble thing, more dances my rapt heart than when I first my wedded mistress saw bestride my threshold…I have nightly since dreamt of encounters ’twixt thyself and me. We have been down together in my sleep, unbuckling helms, fisting each other’s throat, and waked half dead with nothing.” Even though this is not really meant to have the sexual connotation a modern reader would apply to these few lines, the feelings implied here are more explicit than any of the male relationships in Shakespeare’s non-Ancient Roman works.
I also don’t like how the play ends. The murder also plays with the public vs. private theme, i.e. it’s both a public and personal act of revenge. Yet after all’s said and done and the anger and rage is dulled, that’s the time when it’s deemed OK to mourn Caius’ loss and remember all of the good that he did.