The Death of Caesar (1867)by Jean-Léon Gérôme
I wish hallmark had online greeting cards for the ides of March..
I was teaching Antony and Cleopatra this week and, as background, I brought up Julius Caesar. When I quoted “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears,” only two students in the class claimed they had ever heard that phrase before.
I was stunned. I thought it was as culturally ubiquitous as “To be or not to be”!
Clearly, they didn’t grow up watching The Little Rascals (which is where I learned the phrase)!
I’ve discovered now that I’m older that a lot of the classic quotes and music that I know were learned from the tv shows I watched as a kid, especially cartoons like Looney Toons, because those used popular music and referenced popular things going on at the time. When I took piano lessons, I would turn to my teacher and say, “Hey, I know this song – this is the one where Elmer Fudd is crying over Bugs Bunny when he thinks he killed him!” (Schumann’s Traumerei).
I’d have to watch more modern-day children’s television, but my guess is that some of these classic things aren’t included as much as they were in the things I grew up watching. And that leaves my generation with a heap of stuff to teach our own children! And that’s also why I’m progressively collecting a lot of DVDs of shows I watched as a kid.
Wow – your smart kids didn’t know the quote? My dumb freshmen know it. Of course, they stare blankly when I mention the name Napoleon, so don’t go despairing.
I can’t tell you how happy it made me that the last day of the grading quarter fell on the Ides of March. :)
I think it’s because children’s programing is absolutely crap here compared to American TV for kids. I’m sure I heard “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” quoted on Animaniacs, and before I could read I learned “Let It Be” first as “Letter B” on Sesame Street.
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