Julius Caesar

If someone went through Lost and found every possible literary reference in the show, they could easily find several hundred references. I doubt I could even find all of these books, let alone review them all.

Most of the time it isn’t even worth it to read these books. For example, Shannon makes an early reference to Jurassic Park in season one when the survivors first hear the Smoke Monster. I don’t need to read the book to explain that one, and I’m guessing no Lost fan really needs that reference explained.

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar also fits that bill. In the season two episode Two for the Road, Sawyer hides the guns from the rest of the passengers. Jack demands the guns back so they can go hunt them some Others. Sawyer refuses and Locke joins in on Jack’s side. Sawyer responds with the famous line from Julius Caesar: “You too, Brutus?”

Like Jurassic Park, this one probably wasn’t necessary to read. “You too Brutus?” has entered our language as a colloquialism for any time a person stabs another in the back. I decided to review this play for two reasons: 1.) I had already read it; and 2.) there is a minor connection to be drawn between Brutus and John Locke.

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I’ll give a brief recap of the play to set a little context. Although Julius Caesar is the title character, he rarely appears in the play. Most of the play follows Cassius and Brutus, two conspirators against Caesar.

Cassius wants to overthrow Caesar mostly because of his own desire for power and sets about gaining support amongst various power-players in Rome. Cassius quickly convinces a few similarly minded politicians to join the conspiracy to kill Caesar. He tries to get Brutus to join, but is unsuccessful because Brutus is so loyal to Rome.

So Cassius does what any good conspirator would do – he tricks Brutus into thinking that killing Caesar is in Rome’s best interest. Brutus falls for it and the whole mess of conspirators each stab Caesar during the Ides of March. Brutus plunges his knife into Caesar last. Shocked that the loyal Brutus also betrayed him, Caesar responds “Et tu, Brute?” and dies.

Like most of Shakespeare’s tragedies, the villains get their comeuppance. Brutus, Cassius, and the rest of the conspirators are driven from Rome by Mark Antony. They try to fight their way back in through a battle, but their effort fails. In the end, a humiliated Brutus and Cassius both take their own lives.

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It could very well be that this was a throwaway line that Sawyer said to Locke when he felt betrayed. The Lost creators continuously cultivated Sawyer in the image of a well-read redneck. This was probably just another example of that.

Still, I can’t help but think that Brutus is a very similar character to Locke. It is fitting that this line was actually directed at Locke. Throughout the series, different characters acted with different motivations. Time and time again, Locke was the only character that acted with the Island in mind. In this particular case, Locke was reluctant to use the guns on the Others, but he slowly convinced himself that it might be in the best interest of the Island.

Brutus was the epitome of loyalty throughout the play. He always acted (or thought he acted) with Rome in mind. In the end, he committed suicide as a broken, humiliated man.

That should remind you of John Locke. Locke spent his entire time on the Island doing what he thought was for the good of the Island. He ended up a broken man and would have also committed suicide had Ben Linus not stepped in at the last minute to murder him.

Or it could just be an unintended coincidence.

For more of my book reviews, return to my Literature of Lost series.

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