Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series)


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Shipping Methods business days Minimum 10 business days. Our Locations. Customer Service. The next scene to which the common people are central is one that is not directly shown, but rather recounted by Casca as eyewitness. And then he offered it the third time; he put it the third time by. And still as he refused it, the rabblement hooted, and clapped their chapped hands, and threw up their sweaty nightcaps, and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because Caesar refused the crown that it had almost choked Caesar; for he swooned and fell down at it.

And for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for fear of opening my lips and receiving the bad air. Whereuppon there rose a certain crie of rejoycing, not very great, done onely by a few, appointed for the purpose. But when Caesar refused the Diadeame, then all the people together made an outcrie of joy.

Then Antonius offering it him againe, there was a second shoute of joy, but yet of a few. But when Caesar refused it againe the second time, then all the whole people showted. Caesar having made his proofe, found that the people did not like of it, and thereupon rose out of his chayer, and commanded the crowne to be carried unto Jupiter in the Capitoll.

Their ability to move around freely, interject and participate in the action, as well as show approval and disapproval, reveals the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre to have been a relatively democratic public space, certainly when compared to a modern theatre. Performances were interactive and constituted a form of unruly, dynamic listening that embraced the audience as part of the show. Of course, the relatively low price of admission contributed to the equalizing effect of the theater.

Books from "The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series"

However, it was not only audience participation that rendered the Elizabethan theater inherently democratic, but also the very act of mimetically enacting a play. That is, if I as a low-born actor can dress as an aristocrat, act like an aristocrat, fight like an aristocrat, then what precisely is the difference between me and a genuine aristocrat? As such, acting smudges hierarchical boundaries. Casca thus highlights the democratic nature of the Elizabethan stage and its similarity to the political arena.

Continuing the comparison, Shakespeare conflates this Lupercal scene with an earlier one in Plutarch, in which Caesar makes the mistake of refraining from standing upon the entrance of the Senate. When he realizes that not only the Senate, but also the common people have been angered, he makes the dramatic gesture of laying his throat bare to offer his death to the populace in expiation.

When he came to himself again, he said, if he had done or said anything amiss, he desired their worships to think it was his infirmity. Especially when a character is as problematic as Casca, with his vulgar buffoonery and flat prose, it is obviously a mistake to suggest that the character is the mouthpiece of the author.

On the other hand, the fact that Shakespeare manufactured this seems to point clearly either to anti- republican tendencies or to a desire to portray Caesar as a manipulative demagogue.


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Thus, when Antony later brings the populace to a killing rage, in Plutarch he is merely nudging them along a path that they have already begun, whereas Shakespeare causes them to enact a complete reversal of course. Whither am I going? Where do I dwell? Am I a married man or a bachelor? Just as in Plutarch, Cinna the Poet is mistaken for Cinna the conspirator and suffers for it.

As far as the image of the common people is concerned, this scene epitomizes the nadir of their behavior, the people committing blind, undeserved mayhem on the innocent. In their desire to utilize the play as an exponent of republicanism, Americans saw the need to exclude this scene as it illuminates the dangerous aspects of democracy.

The very fact that the drama had to be reshaped in this way militates against a view of Julius Caesar as unabashedly libertarian. For example, in the scene where Cassius and Brutus quarrel, Brutus asserts his moral superiority on the basis of financial scrupulousness:. I can raise no money by vile means. By heaven, I had rather coin my heart And drop my blood for drachmas than to wring From the hard hands of peasants their vile trash By any indirection.

However, the historical Brutus was not averse to usury, lending money to the people of Salamis at the extortionate interest rate of 48 percent. However, this susceptibility is also found in the other social classes— almost everyone in this play is swayed by rhetorical power. This is true, above all, of Brutus.


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  5. Caesar is first persuaded by Calpurnia to stay home on the day of the assassination, but is then counter-persuaded by Decius Brutus, who leads him to his death. Just as fatally, Antony convinces Brutus to allow him to deliver a funeral oration.

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    Cassius persuades Titinius to help him commit suicide, as Brutus attempts with his own followers with more difficulty, eventually succeeding with Strato. No real crowd could truly swing from one extreme to the next so quickly. From the perspective of the conspirators, the state is constituted by patricians seeking to maximize their honor. As such I have come to recognize that my commitment to listening finally prevented me from drawing any definitive conclusions.

    New York, , p. Horst Zander New York, , p. Mossman and B. Ewen Wales, , p. In this case, it seems to me that Brutus was quite right as all the conspirators did in fact remain loyal to their project almost to the end.

    Books from "The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series" | Yale University Press

    Horst Zander New York: Routledge, , p. Shakespeare and D. Neil Freeman New York, , Applause, p. Cape, p.

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    New York, , Macmillan. Related Papers. Julius Caesar program notes Oregon Shakespeare Festival, By Garrett Eisler. Schupak Julius Caesar Across Borders. By Esther Schupak. By Adrian Phoon. Shakespeare and Roman History. By Tom Bishop.


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    Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series) Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series)
    Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series) Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series)
    Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series) Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series)
    Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series) Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series)
    Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series) Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeares Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series)

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