Uninspired is what I am. Fortunately, my young writers are not. Here’s how they wrote by paraphrasing two speeches (ceremonial and judicial) this week. The original models are in the side boxes while their imitation work follows. My 10th and 9th graders completed these to meet Classical Writing (Diogenes) assignments.
1st Model: Mark Antony’s Funeral Speech, Act III, Scene ii of Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
The upright Brutus has proclaimed Caesar a man hungry for power. This is a grave flaw indeed, and if it were so for Caesar, gravely has he paid for it! It is under the permission of Brutus and the rest—each one an upright man—that I am here to deliver a speech before Caesar is buried. A worthy and loyal companion he has been to me; but Brutus declares him power-hungry; and Brutus is an honourable man.
Our treasuries are filled because of the captives Caesar has delivered to us. Does he seem hungry for power in his actions here? When the people cry out in misery, Caesar sheds tears of grief. Men who are power-hungry should be much more unyielding —yet according to Brutus is Caesar a glutton for supremacy, and Brutus is an honourable man.
You are all witnesses in seeing me offer the position of high sovereign to Caesar more than once! And each of those times Caesar denied the title; is this the act of a power-hungry man? But Brutus denounces him as power-hungry, and Brutus is an honourable man. It is not to refute Brutus’s sayings that I am present, but to tell you what I do comprehend. Once upon a time he was beloved to you for a reason. Why then do you now refuse to lament his death? Reason has now escaped to the wild creatures and judgment is lost to men. Forgive me; a deep and wordless grief for my Caesar has pervaded my mind and soul, and you must be patient until my words come back to me.
Honorable Brutus names Caesar a man who hungered for power. Is not such desire treacherous? And if Brutus has spoken true, has not Caesar answered fully for his sin? Thus, with permission of Brutus and all other honorable men, come I to speak in my friend’s funeral. For Caesar was my friend, a faithful and just one! But he is also a man named ambitious by Brutus. And Brutus is a noble man.
Caesar won many captives for Rome, captives whose ransoms filled the pockets of the people. And yet, he was ambitious! Caesar wept when the poor of Rome cried. And yet he was ambitious! Can cold, cruel ambition be of the same great compassion Caesar held? Yet Brutus calls him such. And Brutus is a noble man.
On the Lupercal, it was I who presented him a crown three times, a crown which he did three times refuse. Was this ambitious? Yet Brutus names him ambitious. And let it not be said that Brutus is not a noble man! I speak not to prove false Brutus’s words, but I speak what I perceive. I see before me men who rightly loved the Caesar once yet refuse to mourn for him now. Reason has left you, my friends! But forgive me. Such grief has taken captive my voice and my eyes! I tremble with such sorrow. Allow me to pause and compose myself.