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This chapter asks where and how Rome (and, by extension, polemics self-consciously characterized as reactions against Rome) figures in efforts to determine what the living owe to the dead, and what the dead can do for the living. Latin occupies a controlling position within this inquiry; so, too, do texts that cast the world of the living as the home of the dead; so, finally, do Reformation-era debates about the soteriological stakes of praying for the dead. These topics span a period of time in which Rome is the gravitational centre of a sequence of massive upheavals in vernacular piety and attendant debates about the relationship between the living and the dead. The chapter argues that interpreting these debates as facets of the fact of Rome alerts us to the role that the human voice plays in probing the limits of mortality and the nature of the human as such.
This chapter examines how resistance to the ideology of Englishness is expressed through Shakespeare’s vision of human community, especially with respect to ‘strangers’, in early comedies, the second tetralogy and the contribution to Sir Thomas More. Of key importance is the idea put forward through Shakespeare’s More that ‘the strangers’ case’ is at once common and contingent. This idea is shown to find expression in Shakespeare’s use of the word ‘stranger’ and in the phrase ‘straing rootes’ in his contribution to Sir Thomas More. The ‘straying’ into the condition of ‘a stranger’ is dramatised in the early comedies, and brought ‘home’ in the second tetralogy, which depicts the nation as a mix of mutual strangers. This resonates not only with premodern lived experience, but also with biblical figures of the stranger. Of particular importance is a biblical passage that represents the inclusive reach of the gift of redemption in terms of strangers made citizens in the house of God. Referencing this passage The Comedy of Errors engages with ‘the strangers’ case’, like, if less explicitly than the Shakespearean contribution to Sir Thomas More.