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Chapter 9 discusses the use of Plutarch in drama understood as a mode of political reflection. I provide a brief analysis of the political implications of Shakespeare’s (1564–1616) famous use of Plutarch in a series of plays devoted to key figures of the classical era. I explore how Shakespeare’s depiction of public life shifted between his first Roman play Titus Andronicus, deemed to have been written before his close study of North’s translations of Plutarch, and his latter plays focused on key Greek and Roman historical figures (Timon of Athens, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra) for which his use of North is heavily documented and discussed. I then explore political themes and argument stemming from Plutarch and as relayed through Pierre Corneille’s (1606–1684) Pompée and Jean Racine’s (1639–1699) Mithridate.
Closely examining the relationship between the political and the utopian in five major plays from different phases of Shakespeare's career, Hugh Grady shows the dialectical link between the earlier political dramas and the late plays or tragicomedies. Reading Julius Caesar and Macbeth from the tragic period alongside The Winter's Tale and Tempest from the utopian end of Shakespeare's career, with Antony and Cleopatra acting as a transition, Grady reveals how, in the late plays, Shakespeare introduces a transformative element of hope while never losing a sharp awareness of suffering and death. The plays presciently confront dilemmas of an emerging modernity, diagnosing and indicting instrumental politics and capitalism as largely disastrous developments leading to an empty world devoid of meaning and community. Grady persuasively argues that the utopian vision is a specific dialectical response to these fears and a necessity in worlds of injustice, madness and death.
In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, after Mark Antony’s wildly successful speech to the multitudes at Caesar’s funeral, he watches the resulting uprising with satisfaction and remarks, “Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot. / Take thou what course thou wilt!”1
Literary texts commonly manifest ethical attitudes. These may be represented in terms of distinct parameter settings within more widely held principles. The author is often not fully aware of the ethical views that guide his or her storytelling in this way. In addition, the implicit ethics of a work are often connected more specifically with its story genre – thus, its ethical prototype – such as the heroic usurpation story of Julius Caesar. More narrowly still, the ethical views represented in a work may have a generally trusting attitude toward the hero’s ethical self-presentation or may take a more skeptical view. I refer to the latter as a “critical ethics.” Critical ethics stresses the dissociation of a character’s rhetoric from his or her actual motivation. The second chapter develops some theoretical concepts along these lines. It goes on to concretize the first chapter’s relatively abstract treatment of ethical principles and parameters through an examination of the ethical concerns underlying characters’ judgments and behaviors in Julius Caesar.
Chapter 1 engages in a close reading of the most important Roman work on eloquence, Cicero’s De oratore. In the face of the late-stage crisis of the Roman Republic, Cicero reconceives oratorical virtus as a capacity to endure risk in confrontation with an unruly public. From this reconception flows a rejection of systematized rhetoric, in which Cicero valorizes the uncertainties of language: the absence of predictable, manipulable links between speech and audience response. This model of eloquence stresses the unreliability of the orator’s persuasive tools and claims that it is the very possibility of failure that makes oratory worthwhile, virtuous, and even interesting. The pursuit of eloquence pushes Cicero toward a surprising stress on the autonomy of the audience. It is just because Cicero stresses the difficulty of eloquence that he finds himself invested in constructing an unpredictable and unconstrained public. Though he was no democrat, his treatment of eloquence is relevant to democratic theory because of the unexpected pressures it places on his elitism. Cicero’s critique of technical rhetoric also anticipates dissatisfaction with the contemporary routinization of rhetoric. The chapter contrasts this view with the more rationalized model of speech developed in De analogia, Julius Caesar’s work on style.
Tacitus’ Germania is notable for its absences: lacking a preface and programmatic statements, and being the only ethnographic monograph to have survived from Greco-Roman antiquity, readers have often leapt to fill in its perceived blanks. This chapter aims at redressing the effects of overdetermined readings by interpreting the text’s absences as significant in their own right.
Surveying Shakespeare adaptations in Classical Hollywood from the failure of Sam Taylors Taming of the Shrew in 1929 to the final triumph of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Julius Caesar in 1953, this chapter looks at how Hollywood film endeavoured to become the ‘new Shakespeare’ while Shakespeare film adaptation gained the reputation for being, as Louis B. Mayer famously declared, ‘box office poison’. Focusing on the marketing of Hollywood Shakespeare adaptations, the chapter reveals how in their eagerness to please everyone, promoters of these films reveal some of the underpinning strategies for adapting Shakespeare in Classical Hollywood. ‘Exploitation’ and ‘showmanship’ (terms used in film marketing in Classical Hollywood) offer an approach to film adaptation that focuses on the consumer rather than the author, the adaptation not as interpretation but as product, not as something to be revered, but as something to be sold.
The first three acts of Julius Caesar exemplify Shakespeare’s interest in depicting the material outcomes of affect and cognition within a densely realised world where social intimacy forms the basis for political decision-making. This essay concerns moments of inter-subjective inference when characters reveal the conditions of affective community. It argues that Shakespeare is interested in how patrician Romans think they know one another deeply because they share the self-conscious, public history central to romanitas. He shows us how the affective community thus formed is destroyed by factionalism and metaphorical language when metaphor replaces the practical language of social knowing and participates in the breakdown of community. This power of metaphor becomes clearest in 2.1 when Brutus decides to kill Caesar by comparing him to an adder. The metaphor shows social cognition betraying its own best uses when Brutus metaphorically casts out a known, loved fellow being from the human community in order to make him politically a thing you feel obliged to kill.
Cicero's speeches provide a fascinating window into the political battles and crises of his time. In this book, Joanna Kenty examines Cicero's persuasive strategies and the subtleties of his Latin prose, and shows how he used eight political personae – the attacker, the grateful friend, the martyr, the senator, the partisan ideologue, and others – to maximize his political leverage in the latter half of his career. These personae were what made his arguments convincing, and drew audiences into Cicero's perspective. Non-specialist and expert readers alike will gain new insight into Cicero's corpus and career as a whole, as well as a better appreciation of the context, details, and nuances of individual passages.
A discussion of the coinage struck by Julius Caesar after he crossed the Rubicon and before his assassination. The Gallic Wars, Venus and the accumulation of Caesar's titles form the focus of this discussion. The issues of Caesar's opponents (Scipio Metellus in Africa, and the sons of Pompey in Spain) are also explored in detail. An exploration of the reception of Caesar's ideology in the provinces is also provided, demonstrating the visual and ideological dialogue that took place on coins in this period.
This unique book provides the student of Roman history with an accessible and detailed introduction to Roman and provincial coinage in the late Republic and early Empire in the context of current historical themes and debates. Almost two hundred different coins are illustrated at double life size, with each described in detail, and technical Latin and numismatic terms are explained. Chapters are arranged chronologically, allowing students to quickly identify material relevant to Julius Caesar, the second triumvirate, the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra, and the Principate of Augustus. Iconography, archaeological contexts, and the economy are clearly presented. A diverse array of material is brought together in a single volume to challenge and enhance our understanding of the transition from Republic to Empire.