A very cynical passage from my all-time fav by Shakespeare- ‘Julius Caesar’.
Background:- Anthony has given his speech rousing the Romans against Caesar’s assassins. He now sits with Octavius Caesar and Marcus Lepidus (forming The Second Triumvirate) deciding who might oppose them and thus needs to be eliminated. When Lepidus is sent on an errand, Anthony makes clear what he thinks of Lepidus.
ANTONY. This is a slight unmeritable man,
Meet to be sent on errands. Is it fit,
The three-fold world divided, he should stand
One of the three to share it?
OCTAVIUS. So you thought him,
And took his voice who should be prick’d to die
In our black sentence and proscription.
ANTONY. Octavius, I have seen more days than you,
And though we lay these honors on this man
To ease ourselves of divers slanderous loads,
He shall but bear them as the ass bears gold,
To groan and sweat under the business,
Either led or driven, as we point the way;
And having brought our treasure where we will,
Then take we down his load and turn him off,
Like to the empty ass, to shake his ears
And graze in commons.
OCTAVIUS. You may do your will,
But he’s a tried and valiant soldier.
ANTONY. So is my horse, Octavius, and for that
I do appoint him store of provender.
It is a creature that I teach to fight,
To wind, to stop, to run directly on,
His corporal motion govern’d by my spirit.
And, in some taste, is Lepidus but so:
He must be taught, and train’d, and bid go forth;
A barren-spirited fellow, one that feeds
On objects, arts, and imitations,
Which, out of use and staled by other men,
Begin his fashion. Do not talk of him
But as a property.