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Julius Caesar

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Historical Context of Julius Caesar

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  • Full Title: The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
  • When Written: 1599
  • Where Written: England
  • When Published: 1623
  • Literary Period: Renaissance
  • Genre: Tragic drama; history play
  • Setting: Rome and environs, 44 B.C.E.
  • Climax: Brutus’s suicide
  • Antagonist: Cassius
  • Point of View: Dramatic

Extra Credit for Julius Caesar

Time Warp. As in many of his plays, Shakespeare manipulates time in Julius Caesar , both for dramatic convenience and to make the setting less foreign to his audience. For example, the time between Caesar's triumphal march with Pompey's sons and the defeat of Cassius and Brutus was around two years in real life, but Shakespeare compresses it into two months. And at one point a mechanical clock strikes the time, yet such clocks wouldn’t be invented for over 1,000 years after the play takes place!

Et tu, Bruté? Despite the title of Julius Caesar , one could argue that this play could just as easily be titled the Tragedy of Brutus . Caesar dies less than halfway through the play and has fewer lines than several other major characters. The story of the noble Brutus being undone by his dispassionate logic and his trust in Cassius conforms much more closely to the literary model of tragedy.

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Julius Caesar

By william shakespeare.

  • Julius Caesar Summary

Julius Caesar opens with a scene of class conflict, the plebeians versus the tribunes. The plebeians are celebrating Caesar's victory over the sons of Pompey, one of the former leaders of Rome. The tribunes verbally attack the masses for their fickleness in celebrating the defeat of a man who was once their leader.

Caesar enters Rome accompanied by his supporters and a throng of citizens. It is the feast of Lupercalia, February 15, a day when two men run through the street and strike those they meet with goatskin thongs. Caesar orders Mark Antony to strike his wife Calpurnia in order to cure her barrenness.

A soothsayer calls out to Caesar as he passes and warns him against the ides of March, March 15. Caesar ignores the man and dismisses him as a dreamer. Upon seeing Cassius, Caesar informs Antony that he would rather be surrounded by men who are fat and happy than thin men like Cassius. He is worried that Cassius is dangerous because he "thinks too much" (1.2). Antony tells him not to worry about Cassius.

Meanwhile, Brutus and Cassius meet and talk about how much power Caesar has gained. During their conversation they are interrupted three times by cheers from the crowd. Cassius informs Brutus that he is forming a plot against Caesar and wants Brutus to join it. Brutus tells him he cannot commit to anything immediately. Casca soon joins them, and informs them that the cheers they heard were Caesar turning down the crown. According to Casca, Antony offered Caesar a crown three times, and three times he refused it.

Casca meets with Cicero and tells the orator that there are many strange things happening in Rome that night, such as a lion in the streets and an owl screeching during the day. Cicero tells him that men construe omens the way they see fit. Cassius eventually arrives and learns from Casca that the senators are planning on making Caesar a king the next morning. He starts to tell Casca about the plot to kill Caesar, but Cinna shows up and interrupts him. He hands Cinna some letters to plant anonymously in Brutus's home and invites Casca to dinner that night in order to convince him to join the conspiracy.

Brutus discovers the letters from Cinna, not knowing who wrote them. He reads one of the letters and interprets it as a request to prevent Caesar from seizing power. Brutus attributes the letter to Rome as a whole, saying, "O Rome, I make thee promise" (2.1), implying that he will carry out what he perceives as the will of the Roman people.

Brutus meets with Cassius and the other conspirators and shakes all their hands, agreeing to join their plot. He convinces them to only kill Caesar, and not his most loyal friend Antony, because he does not want them to "seem too bloody" (2.1). After the other men leave, Brutus is unable to sleep. His wife Portia finds him awake and begs him to tell her what is troubling him. At first he refuses, but after she stabs herself in the thigh to prove her strength and ability to keep a secret he agrees to inform her.

Meanwhile, Caesar's wife Calpurnia dreamt of a statue of Caesar bleeding from a hundred wounds. Caesar, naturally superstitious, orders the priests to kill an animal and read the entrails to see if he should go to the Senate that day. The priests tell him that the animal did not have a heart, a very bad sign. However, Decius, one of the conspirators, arrives and reinterprets Calpurnia's dream to mean that all of Rome sucked the reviving blood of Caesar for its benefit. Caesar finally agrees with him that it is laughable to stay home on account of a dream. The other conspirators, including Brutus and Cassius, arrive at his house to escort him to the Senate House.

On the way to the Senate House Caesar is approached by the same soothsayer that previously warned him about the ides of March. He again refuses to listen to the man and continues. A man named Artemidorus then comes up to him and tries to give him a letter revealing the entire conspiracy, but Decius cleverly tells Caesar that Trebonius has a suit he would like Caesar to read instead. Caesar refuses to look at what Artemidorus offers him on account of its being personal. He explains, "What touches us ourself shall be last served" (3.1).

The conspirators arrive at the Senate House and Caesar assumes his seat. A man named Metellus kneels before him and petitions to have his banished brother returned to Rome. Caesar refuses, but is surprised when Brutus and then Cassius come forward and plead for the brother as well. However, he continues to refuse to change the sentence even as all of the conspirators gather around him. On Casca's comment, "Speak hands for me" (3.1) the group attacks Caesar, stabbing him to death.

The conspirators, now led by Brutus and Cassius, dip their hands in Caesar's blood and prepare to run to the streets crying out "peace, freedom, and liberty" (3.1). Antony arrives and begs them to let him take the body and give Caesar a public eulogy. Brutus agrees, overriding Cassius's misgivings about allowing Antony to speak. They move out into the streets of Rome and Cassius and Brutus split up in order to speak to the plebeians.

Brutus defends his murder of Caesar on the grounds that he was removing a tyrant who was destroying the freedom of all Romans. He ends his speech by asking the crowd if they want him to commit suicide for what he has done, to which they reply, "Live, Brutus, live, live!" (3.2). Next, Brutus allows Antony to speak and returns home.

Antony takes full advantage of his speech and informs the crowd that Caesar was a selfless man who cared for Rome above everything. The highlight of his speech is when he pulls out Caesar's will and reads from it, telling the citizens that Caesar has given every Roman a part of his inheritance, in both land and dachmas. The plebeians now believe Caesar to have been great and good, seize his body and vow revenge upon Brutus and the rest of the conspirators. Their rioting develops into pure anarchy. Antony comments that he has done his part in creating social upheaval, and now must wait to see what happens.

Brutus and Cassius are forced to flee the city, and in the meantime the young general Octavius Caesar , loyal to Julius Caesar , arrives and allies with Antony. He, Antony, and Lepidus form a second triumvirate and prepare to purge the city of anyone who is against them. They map out their plans to scour the city and make a list of names of those whom they wish to kill, including relatives and friends.

Cassius and Brutus set up camp in Sardis, located in what is now western Turkey. Cassius arrives with his army at the campsite where Brutus is waiting for him, but is furious with Brutus for having ignored letters he sent asking Brutus to release a prisoner. Brutus has instead punished the man for accepting bribes, an act which provided one of the reason's for Caesar's murder. Cassius and Brutus argue until Cassius, in exasperation, pulls out his dagger and asks Brutus to kill him if he hates so. Of course, Brutus refuses. The two men embrace and forget their differences.

Next, Brutus sadly informs Cassius that his wife Portia is dead. She swallowed live embers after Antony and Octavius assumed power. When two underlings enter the tent, Brutus stops talking about Portia and focuses on the military matters at hand. In fact, when one of the men asks him about his wife, he denies having heard any news about her. Brutus convinces Cassius during the strategy meeting that it would be best for them to march to where Antony and Octavius are located in Philippi (near modern Greece) in order to defeat them before they get too strong, gaining additional soldiers on their march. Cassius reluctantly agrees to Brutus's plan and departs for the night.

Brutus calls some men into his tent in case he needs to send them away as messengers during the night. He makes them go to sleep. He himself stays up reading, but he is disturbed by the ghost of Julius Caesar who appears. The ghost tells Brutus that he is his "evil spirit" (4.2) and that he will be on the battlefield at Philippi. Brutus is so shaken by this image that he wakes up all the men in his tent and sends them to Cassius with orders that Cassius should depart before him the next morning.

On the battlefield at Philippi, Antony and Octavius agree to their battle plans. They meet with Brutus and Cassius before entering battle, but only exchange insults. Battle is imminent. All four men return to their armies to prepare for war.

In the middle of the battle Brutus sees a chance to destroy Octavius's army and rushes away to attack it. He leaves Cassius behind. Cassius, less militarily adept, quickly begins losing to Antony's forces. Even worse, Pindarus misleads him, telling him Titinius has been taken by the enemy near Cassius's tents. Upon hearing this news, Cassius orders Pindarus to kill him. After completing the task, Pindarus flees. Brutus arrives, finds his friend dead and remarks, "O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet" (5.3).

Cato is quickly killed, and Lucillius , a man pretending to be Brutus, is soon captured and handed over to Antony. Antony recognizes him and tells his soldiers to keep attacking until they capture Brutus. Brutus, now almost completely defeated, begs several of his soldiers to kill him. They all refuse and leave him rather than carrying his blood on their hands. Finally, Strato accepts Brutus's request. Brutus runs into his sword as Strato holds it for him, killing himself.

Antony and Octavius arrive and find Brutus dead upon the ground. Antony remarks, "This was the noblest Roman of them all" (5.5). Octavius, unemotional through all of the carnage, merely ends the play with the lines, "So call the field to rest, and let's away / To part the glories of this happy day" (5.5).

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Julius Caesar Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Julius Caesar is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Thematic analysis of Julius Caesar

This really depends on what specific theme you are referring to. Please check out the themes page below to explore different themes.

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17. Who had his birthday in the play? a. Cassius c. Caesar b. Antony d. Brutus

What kind of city was a rome

The city of Rome was the capital city of the civilization of Ancient Rome. It was located near the west coast of central Italy. It was a grand city full of opulent buildings, plazas, colosseums. Most average people were very poor.

Study Guide for Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar study guide contains a biography of William Shakespeare, literature essays, a complete e-text, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Julius Caesar
  • Julius Caesar Video
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Essays for Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Julius Caesar.

  • The Gender Transformation of Caesar
  • Classification of the Main Characters of William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
  • Shakespeare's Presentation of the Character of Mark Antony in 'Julius Caesar'
  • Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene 1: A lesson is dramatic effectiveness
  • Self-Deluded Characters in Julius Caesar

Lesson Plan for Julius Caesar

  • About the Author
  • Study Objectives
  • Common Core Standards
  • Introduction to Julius Caesar
  • Relationship to Other Books
  • Bringing in Technology
  • Notes to the Teacher
  • Related Links
  • Julius Caesar Bibliography

E-Text of Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar E-Text contains the full text of Julius Caesar

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julius caesar book review essay

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Julius Caesar was a colossus who outgrew Rome.

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Julius Caesar and the Roman People

Julius Caesar and the Roman People

Why do we still care about Julius Caesar, more than 2,050 years after his death? History may be the least of it. For modern readers, Caesar was immortalized by William Shakespeare. His 1599 drama The Tragedy of Julius Caesar offers a Renaissance-era Christian spin on a pagan story: we behold Caesar’s moment of supreme power, his assassination by Rome’s self-proclaimed liberators, and their disastrous end. No small part of the story, at least in Shakespeare, is the personal betrayal of Caesar by his friend, Marcus Junius Brutus. Upon seeing the dagger in Brutus’ hand, Caesar cries out at the sign of treachery: “Et tu, Brute?”

For Americans, Shakespeare’s Caesar, a would-be tyrant killed in the name of liberty, is a foundational symbol. From George III on, every powerful American leader, including many if not most American presidents, has been accused of being a new Caesar. In the wider world, a variety of emperors have called themselves “Caesar,” from the Romans to the Russians—whose word “tsar” comes from Caesar—and the Germans, whose “kaiser” also comes from Caesar. Then there is Caesarism, or rule by strongman, a phenomenon associated with politicians beginning with Napoleon Bonaparte and ranging from Benito Mussolini to Vladimir Putin.

But there’s more: we are told that Caesar was also a rake, though he denied the accusation of having had an affair with an elderly Greek king as a young man on the make. In any case, he is better known for his operatic connections with a variety of women. In addition to his three (or possibly four) wives, Caesar had a torrid love affair with Servilia, the half-sister of his arch-rival, the conservative senator Marcus Cato “the Younger,” and the mother of his future assassin, Brutus. He slept with one Eunoë, wife of the king of Mauretania (Morocco), a political ally. But Caesar’s best-known liaison was with Egypt’s Cleopatra VII Philopator. The queen claimed that their affair produced a son, Ptolemy XV Caesar, better known by the nickname “Caesarion.” Caesar never affirmed his paternity, but he allowed Cleopatra to name the boy after him. The affair is the subject of an opera by George Frideric Handel and a play by George Bernard Shaw. So whether in politics, war, literature, or romance, Caesar casts a wide cultural shadow.

But Gaius Julius Caesar was also a real historical figure—a Roman statesman, general, and writer born on July 13, 100 B.C. and assassinated on March 15, 44 B.C. At the time of his death at the age of 55, he was the most powerful man in the Roman Empire and possibly the world. Scion of an old but now second-tier patrician family, he rose to the highest office in the state due to his extraordinary political skills. He was a brilliant writer; his war commentaries, The Gallic War and The Civil War , are classics. And he was equally talented as a general. He conquered Gaul (roughly France and Belgium), invaded Germany and England, and defeated the forces of the Roman state in a civil war whose battles were fought from one end of the Mediterranean to the other. His power secured by force of arms, Caesar became the first man in Roman history to be named dictator for life. In the spring of 44 he was about to depart Rome to avenge past defeat and shore up the eastern border against a resurgent rival empire, the Parthians. He never left the city, however. His enemies suspected him of wanting to become king. And so 60 senators conspired to assassinate him at a meeting of the Senate, Rome’s highest and most prestigious political body, on a minor spring holiday known as the Ides of March. Rather than hiring a hit man, the conspirators actually wielded the daggers that killed Caesar: it was personal. The best-known conspirator, Brutus, was no friend of Caesar’s. It seems he was untroubled by any sense of personal betrayal. Nor did Caesar ever say “Et tu, Brute?” There was a rumor that he said, in Greek, “You too, child?” but the best sources wisely dismiss the tale.

Caesar’s assassination did not restore the liberty of the republic. Instead, it brought Rome approximately another 15 years of civil war. When peace was finally restored, Rome was still a republic in name but in fact it had become a monarchy. The de facto king—officially, just the “first citizen”—was Caesar’s great-nephew, the former Gaius Octavius, whom Caesar had taken under his wing and then named in his will as primary heir and posthumous adoptee. The young man fought his way to supreme power after Caesar’s death and was rewarded with the title of “Revered One,” that is, Augustus. From his reign onward, every Roman emperor took the title of Caesar.

Julius Caesar is utterly fascinating, but he leaves the historian with more questions than answers. The evidence for his life is relatively rich by the slim standards of ancient history, but it is deeply partisan and highly colored by later events. So it is not surprising that there are as many interpretations of Caesar as there are historians. For some, he was indeed a tyrant, the man who would be king. For others, he was a true friend of the Roman people, even a democrat. For some, Caesar rescued Rome from a purblind oligarchy; for others, he selfishly destroyed the republic and its freedom. For some, the end of the republic was inevitable and even welcome. For others, it was an accident that could and should have been avoided.

Into this debate comes an important contribution by Robert Morstein-Marx, a professor of classics at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Morstein-Marx has published many distinguished books, offering particular insight into the study of oratory and politics in the late Roman Republic. In Julius Caesar and the Roman People, he takes up one of the historical profession’s great themes: what brought down the Roman Republic? Or, rather, who ? Who bears more responsibility, Caesar or his political enemies? The book is lengthy (over 600 pages) and detailed. Its impressive erudition is displayed in over 2,000 footnotes and more than 25 pages of bibliography.

Morstein-Marx largely absolves Caesar of blame. Caesar, he argues, was an ambitious and immensely successful Roman statesman and general in the mold of the great men of the republic’s past. He had no interest in becoming a tyrant, much less a king. The real problem was his opponents, who overreacted to his success and brought on violence. Cato was a hero to 18th-century lovers of liberty on both sides of the Atlantic, from the playwright and essayist Joseph Addison to George Washington. But in Morstein-Marx’s view, he was the villain of the age. Compromise was possible, but Cato was intractable, and the result was civil war.

So according to Morstein-Marx, what really brought down the republic was a combination of repeated and savage blows: the civil war of 49-45, followed by the Ides of March, and in turn by the renewed civil wars that only ended after the battle of Actium in 31. Arguing in the vein of his mentor, the great U.C. Berkeley classicist Erich Gruen, Morstein-Marx maintains that the republic was not doomed to fail. On the contrary, it was healthy and vibrant. What brought it down was not some vast historical force. Rather, it was the actions of individuals—mistaken, ignorant, foolish, or egotistical—that destroyed the system over time.

Historians famously come in two forms: lumpers, who look for truth in the big picture, and splitters, who seek truth in the details. Morstein-Marx is a splitter, and an excellent one. His command of the details is marvelous. The book offers many powerful reinterpretations of oft-told tales, such as Caesar’s march across the river that served as a boundary between Rome and its northern territories, the Rubicon. Morstein-Marx writes:

[I]t was not Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon but the Senate’s Final Decree of January 7, 49, that precipitated the military phase of the crisis. Even so, despite this virtual declaration of war, and despite Caesar’s swift reaction of crossing the Rubicon into Italy with one legion,…until Pompey’s departure from Brundisium in mid-March it remained uncertain to contemporaries whether there truly was a war on or whether the military movements that ensued in Italy were the prelude to the conclusion of a settlement between the two former allies and adfines , now adversaries.

As Morstein-Marx argues, hindsight is one of the historian’s greatest enemies. Many things that look inevitable in retrospect surely weren’t. A violent separation between the Thirteen Colonies and Great Britain, the fall of France in 1940, the triumph of Communism in China: none of these events was written in the stars. All could have been avoided.

History is full of accidents and contingencies. And yet, history is also marked by tendencies. Democracies tend to breed demagogues, who can pose a serious and even fatal threat in times of crisis: see Athens during the Peloponnesian War. Militaristic regimes face the “occupational hazard” of substituting tactics and operations for strategy, and the result can be losing a war: for example, Germany in both world wars. From Cleopatra to Catherine the Great to today’s politicians, powerful women tend to generate bigoted criticism from men (and even from some women) who feel threatened by strong females.

Morstein-Marx has done a great service to the historical profession by making the case for skepticism about Caesar’s alleged monarchical ambitions. He does so with all the incisiveness and rigor of a historian at the height of his powers. His work will make all scholars rethink and sharpen their arguments. As Morstein-Marx demonstrates, the evidence that Caesar long hungered after dictatorial power, let alone that he brought down the republic, is hardly clear-cut.

Nor was Rome fated to pass from republic to monarchy. So Morstein-Marx shows, but one might take the argument in a different direction. For the republic to survive, Rome needed to undergo massive political changes. The cliché remains true: the institutions that governed a city-state were not suited to govern an empire. The Roman Empire could have continued to be run by a Senate encompassing the super-rich and enormously powerful, with an almost equally rich and potent class of equestrians beneath them. Instead of an emperor, it could have been run by an executive committee. Rome could not, however, have remained in the hands of a narrow oligarchy hailing largely from in and around the city of Rome. Both the Senate and the equestrian order would need to expand to include more Italians and more provincials. What brought down the republic was the inability of its elite to adjust to the overwhelming set of problems brought about by its very success. The world had changed because Roman soldiers and statesmen had changed it. Like Pompey the Great before him, Caesar understood. Others, like Cato and Marcus Cicero, insisted on the old ways—to the point of dying with them.

But what of Caesar’s ambitions? Maybe he didn’t have autocratic goals, but was he simply a ruthless go-getter determined to win every battle at any cost? As Morstein-Marx argues, Rome wasn’t an oligarchy but a republic. The people counted for something, and the people favored Caesar. When Caesar told his troops in 49 B.C. that he was going to war not just to defend his own rank and status, but to defend the office of the people’s tribunes and the popular liberty they represented, he meant to be taken seriously.

War, as Morstein-Marx argues, is an accelerant. It makes change seem inevitable when it had previously appeared inconceivable. No civil war, no Caesar? If peace had prevailed in 49, perhaps the conqueror of Gaul would have been content to come home and dominate Roman politics, as Pompey had done before him after conquering the East. To be sure, by 49 B.C. Caesar had already seen war and enjoyed kinglike power while in Gaul. From 58 to 50 he had raised his own army, amassed a fortune, and attracted a long list of clients—precisely the things that worried his opponents in Rome. And most people aren’t saints. They aren’t even lawyers, like Cicero or Abraham Lincoln. They would rather light fires than find middle ground. Cato and his followers might have chosen compromise in 49 B.C., just as the South might have chosen compromise in 1861 and accepted the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. American slavery then might have continued for a long time, God forbid. But proud people don’t compromise, and Cato and Caesar were both very proud. So were many others in Rome.

Besides, what starts as incremental change sometimes leads to radical developments. If, to take the American case, a Republican-led government in 1861 had abolished slavery in the territories, pressure would have mounted to abolish slavery in the Southern states as well, and it might have proved irresistible. If Caesar had returned to Rome in peace in 49 B.C. and won a second term as consul, would he have been content to stay there afterward? Surely he would have wanted another extraordinary command, this time in the East, to conquer Dacia and make war on Parthia as he would indeed set out to do in 44 B.C. There he would have faced the temptation of more wealth, more power, more adulation—even, perhaps, the chance to father a pharaoh by Cleopatra. More war, more accelerant. And would an even more powerful Caesar have found that you can’t go home again, if home meant being just a member of the crew? In this alternate universe, would he have decided to do much of what he did after the civil war?

The historical Caesar suspended normal elections, accepted honors up to and including divinization, had a new forum built and dedicated to himself and his family, had the original Rostra (Speaker’s Platform) rebuilt with two statues of himself, and, above all, became “Dictator in Perpetuo”—a title that Morstein-Marx translates as “Continuous Dictator” but which, he agrees, was reasonably translated into Greek as “Dictator for Life.” These were not the actions of a Roman politician with respect for the republic and its norms.

Then there was Cleopatra. At the time of Caesar’s assassination, she had spent the better part of the past two years not in Egypt but in Rome, living across the Tiber not in some hotel but in Caesar’s villa. She arguably was accompanied by her son and her younger brother, Ptolemy XIV, in theory her co-ruler but in practice her subordinate. There is reason to think she was pregnant again by Caesar, only to suffer a miscarriage. Ordinary Roman politicians didn’t stash their mistresses, who happened to rule the richest kingdom in the Mediterranean, in Rome’s suburbs. Morstein-Marx compares Caesar to another titan among Rome’s generals, Scipio Africanus, defeater of the Carthaginian invader Hannibal and one of antiquity’s greatest commanders. A faction in the Senate turned on Scipio, as it later would turn on Caesar, and drove him from power. But Scipio did not respond by starting a civil war, nor did he rule a province like a king or take a wealthy foreign queen as mistress.

Caesar’s assassins, as Morstein-Marx rightly argues, were not necessarily idealists. Some were moved by no higher motive than self-interest, as they could see no future for their careers under Caesar. But they were right to think that Caesar intended to dominate the polity in a way that precluded the ordinary give-and-take of republican politics. Assassination was the wrong move, though, especially because the assassins were incompetent when it came to carrying through on the coup.

By March of 44 B.C. Caesar was, as Shakespeare wrote, a colossus. He hadn’t outgrown the Senate; he had outgrown Rome. That’s what makes him a world-historical figure. His opponents played on a narrower stage. Had they acted differently, they could have stopped Caesar, as Morstein-Marx explains so well. But they couldn’t have stopped the changes that were already sweeping over the republic.

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Julius caesar - Book Report/Review Example

Julius caesar

  • Subject: English
  • Type: Book Report/Review
  • Level: College
  • Pages: 2 (500 words)
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  • Author: dickensalexandr

Extract of sample "Julius caesar"

Julius Caesar Question Honor is the glory and respect given to somebody because of their achievement according to this play. Pride on the other hand is a deep feeling of satisfaction derived from ones previous achievements. Honor and pride are related in that both are brought about by high achievements than the rest of the people. Caesar is honored by the people of the Rome for his victory in war and also for the high respect he offers to the people who loose. Caesar and Cassius are proud of their achievements.

Cassius believes Caesar is not better than him because he once saved him from drowning during a swimming race. He also found Caesar crying a sick girl a day he had fever. He thinks that if he cannot handle such insignificant task of swimming and the trouble of fever he is cannot be able to handle the major tasks and problems of Rome. This is not actually true because Cassius is only proud and thinks he is better than Caesar. Caesar has won a number of great wars and respects his subjects which give him an upper hand when it comes to governing his people (Shakespeare 10).

Question 2People are moved by Brutus speech about why they killed Caesar and even wants to erect statues in Brutus to make him king which he declines by telling them to listen to Anthony. The peoples esteem about Brutus does not count because they are easily swayed by the Anthony speech. Anthony refers to the conspirators as honorable men but that actually portrays them as traitors and assassins. He shows people the Caesar body to stir the crowd against the conspirators. He even reveals that Caesar was not ambitious and craving for power as Brutus was referring to him and reads Caesar will about his generous legacy he left for Rome citizens.

This agitates the crowds who lose control and want to revenge against the conspirators. They are lucky to have fled from Rome. This shows that their esteem on Brutus does not count because they seek to kill him eventually after the Anthony speech. These citizens of Rome are greatly swayed especially because of their high adoration of Caesar and need of new form of power (Croot 14).Question 3Brutus refuses to join the conspiracy before because of his friendship and admiration of Caesar. Brutus is carried away by the abilities of Caesar and sees him as an ambitious, responsible man who is able to be worshipped by the people of Rome.

Brutus joins the conspiracy after Caesar declares himself as the greatest dictator of the Rome. He joins the conspiracy due to his public responsibility to protect the Rome Empire from the corrupted power of the Caesar. For him he has no personal feelings against Caesar but he has to consider the entire Rome. He joins the conspiracy for a noble cause for the entire Rome (Shakespeare 22).Question 4Brutus was an honorable man of the conspiracy because he had no envy towards Caesar according to Anthony.

This is very true Brutus was proud of Caesar work and in fact he had high admiration of his achievement. Brutus was a great friend and confidant of Caesar and he internally admired the ambitious Caesar work. In fact he only joined the conspiracy for the good of the Rome citizens when he realized that Caesar was planning to change the Roman Empire. Those conspirators such Cassius were driven by personal greed and pride towards Caesar. Cassuis, for example, believed he was better than Caesar when it came to ruling Rome (Sturgeon 15).

Works CitedCroot, Cynthia. “Julius Caesar.” Colorado Shakespeare festival, 1st June 2007. Web. 4 May 2015.http://www.coloradoshakes.org/plays/2007/julius-ceasarShakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. London: Courier Corporation, 1991. Print.Sturgeon, Jonathon. Who really killed Caesar? A new theory and list of suspects. Web. 4 May. 2015http://flavorwire.com/508861/who-really-killed-caesar-a-new-theory-and-list-of-suspects

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Page contents, a survey of critical responses, 1. horace and julius caesar, 2. romantic julius caesar, 3. history and providence, 4. self-deception, works cited, about this text.

  • Title : Julius Caesar: Critical Survey
  • Author : John D. Cox

ISBN: 978-1-55058-366-3

  • Edition: Julius Caesar
  • Critical Survey
  • Introduction
  • Stage History
  • Textual Introduction
  • Bibliography
  • Julius Caesar, Modern
  • Julius Caesar, Folio 1, 1623 (Old-spelling transcription)
  • Plutarch: Introduction
  • Life of Caesar
  • Life of Brutus
  • Life of Antony
  • The Comparison of Dion with Brutus
  • De Rerum Natura
  • That to Study Philosopy Is to Learn to Die
  • Brandeis University
  • New South Wales
  • Second Folio
  • Third Folio
  • Fourth Folio
  • Works Rowe, Vol.5
  • Works Theobald, Vol.6

1 Reflecting on the decisive transition from neo-classical to Romantic criticism of Shakespeare, Jonathan Bate cites T. S. Eliot's comment that while we can never be right about Shakespeare, "we should from time to time change our way of being wrong." Bate's point is that "the Romantics were especially good at driving out assorted errors of Voltaire and Dr Johnson with new errors of their own" ( Romantics , 3). A corollary of Eliot's insight is that one benefit of recognizing how Shakespeare has been understood in the past is to recognize better how we understand him ourselves. Though more comfortable and seemingly more natural than anything else, our view is not the right view; it departs from what preceded it but only at the cost of introducing new distortions that will in turn need to be corrected. In the process old ideas will be rediscovered and sometimes even repeated, while genuinely new insights will be introduced. The following discussion of how Julius Caesar in particular has been interpreted bears out Eliot's observation and aims to assist understanding of the play by a critical summary of historical views.

2 Criticism of Shakespeare began with a strong bias in favor of Renaissance Italian neo-classicism whose assumptions continued to dominate commentary for almost 200 years. Julius Caesar was assessed in light of criteria supposedly derived from the ancient critics, Aristotle and Horace, and by those criteria the play was generally found wanting. A reaction against neo-classical poetry in the late eighteenth century, especially by Wordsworth and Coleridge, quickly led to a reaction against neo-classical criticism as well, and Shakespeare emerged as the model of an innovative style. Viewed in this way, Julius Caesar elicited much greater admiration, especially for its leading characters, and a debate ensued as to which was in fact the greatest character—Caesar or Brutus—and why. Character criticism extended into the early twentieth century with M. W. MacCallum's Shakespeare's Roman Plays and Their Background , which marked the end of a critical movement, even as it anticipated some of the twentieth century's most important insights about Julius Caesar . These included providential imperialism, developed influentially as the "Tudor myth" by E. M. W. Tillyard, and self-deception, an informing assumption of postmodern criticism. G. Wilson Knight's The Imperial Theme moved criticism of Julius Caesar in another influential direction: the analysis of symbol and theme, which also continues into postmodern criticism of the play, especially in understanding imagery of blood and the body.

3 By a curious and unforeseeable coincidence, the critic who most strongly influenced the first two centuries of response to Shakespeare's writing in general, and to Julius Caesar in particular, was a Roman, Quintus Horatius Flaccus, who turned twenty-one in the year Julius Caesar was assassinated. Though Shakespeare could hardly have known it, Horace (the Roman critic's more familiar English name) joined Brutus and Cassius as a young officer after Julius Caesar's assassination and commanded a legion at the battle of Philippi in 42 B.C—the concluding event in Shakespeare's play. Eventually pardoned by Octavian for his opposition, Horace nonetheless withdrew from political life and became an influential literary figure after the senate declared Octavian "Augustus" in 27. Thus sidelined from military and political action, Horace unwittingly set the standard for later interpretation through a verse epistle, Ars Poetica , which he wrote early in the long political calm—eventually known as the pax Romana —following Augustus' defeat of Antony. Centuries later, Italian Renaissance critics came to regard Ars Poetica as a direct Latin equivalent to Aristotle's Poetics (Weinberg, 1.111-55), and the prestige of Italian criticism brought Horace to prominence in early seventeenth-century England. Shakespeare's contemporary, Ben Jonson rendered Horace's poem in English (published in 1640), probably from a copy of the Ars Poetica he owned in Latin, bound together with the Italian commentary of Bernardino Parthenio (1560), with "much of the second part . . . underlined" (Jonson, ed. Herford and Simpson, 1.266). (On Parthenio, see Weinberg, 1.145-47.) Moreover, Jonson largely followed Ars Poetica in the brief comments he penned on his fellow actor and playwright—the first critical response to Shakespeare and the first of many to interpret Shakespeare through a Renaissance Horatian lens.

4 One of Jonson's most Horatian passages appears in his commendatory verses for the Folio of 1623, "To the Memory of My Beloved, the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare," where Jonson acknowledges both nature and art in Shakespeare's writing. After praising nature, Jonson turns to art with emphasis:

5 Yet must I not give nature all; thy art, My gentle Shakespeare, must enjoy a part. For though the poet's matter nature be, His art doth give the fashion; and that he Who casts to write a living line must sweat (Such as thine are) and strike the second heat Upon the muse's anvil; turn the same, And himself with it, and that he thinks to frame, Or for the laurel he may gain a scorn; For a good poet's made as well as born. (55-64)

6 Horace's way of treating the topos of art vs. nature was especially influential in the Renaissance, and Jonson is indebted to Ars Poetica . The awkward parenthesis, "(Such as thine are)," in "To the Memory" (60) is deliberate. Referring back to "living line" (59), it inevitably refers to "sweat" as well, which it immediately follows—as if Jonson is saying that Shakespeare had to sweat out his lines. Indeed, that is precisely Jonson's claim, once the tangled syntax is straightened out: poetry did not come to Shakespeare merely by nature; he had to work for it, "For a good poet's made as well as born." Jonson's image of "the muse's anvil" is from Horace: "to the anvil bring / Those ill-turned verses to new hammering," in Jonson's translation (Herford and Simpson, 8.304-37, lines 627-8; 440-1 in the original Latin). That Shakespeare did not sweat or hammer out his verse on the anvil enough is a backhanded compliment in the commendatory poem, like the often-quoted qualifying clause, "though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek" (31). Horace's advice to Roman poets lies behind this clause: "Take you the Greek examples for your light / In hand, and turn them over, day and night" (396-7; 268-9). If Shakespeare had followed Horace's advice, Jonson implies, Shakespeare's poetry would have achieved a better balance between nature and art.

7 Horace's comments on nature and art underlie Jonson's other extended critical comment on Shakespeare, in which he mentions Julius Caesar in particular. According to William Drummond of Hawthornden, Jonson complained that "Shakespeare wanted [i.e., lacked] art" (Herford and Simpson, 1.133), and the complaint explains Jonson's reminiscence in Discoveries (1640):

8 His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so too. Many times he fell into those things could not escape laughter, as when he said in the person of Caesar (one speaking to him, "Caesar, thou dost me wrong"), he replied, "Caesar did never wrong but with just cause" and such like, which were ridiculous. (Herford and Simpson, 8.584)

9 Jonson uses "wit" in this passage with full awareness of its Latin counterpart, ingenium , meaning something like "imaginative intelligence," which places it in the domain of nature, rather than art, and his usage therefore anticipates the high neo-classical contrast between "wit" and "judgment" (Lewis, 90-96). His point about undisciplined wit in Julius Caesar refers to the moments before Caesar's assassination, when Caesar refuses Metellus Cimber's appeal on behalf of his brother, Publius Cimber. As printed in the Folio, Caesar concludes his refusal with a self-righteous assertion: "Know, Caesar doth not wrong, nor without cause / Will he be satisfied" (TLN 1254-5). Jonson remembered that Metellus had objected, "Caesar, thou dost me wrong," to which Caesar had replied, "Caesar did never wrong but with just cause." In the late eighteenth century, Thomas Tyrwhitt conjecturally reconstructed Caesar's lines as Jonson might have heard them: "Know Caesar doth not wrong, but with just cause, / Nor without cause will he be satisfied" (Steevens 2, 8.59n. 1). Tyrwhitt surmised that Jonson's criticism of the lines had reached Shakespeare, who undertook to rewrite them in response before publication of Julius Caesar in the Folio.

10 For present purposes, the point of Jonson's critique is its Horatian spirit, not the accuracy of Jonson's memory. (For further comments on that point, see the Textual Introduction). Jonson alludes to Horace again in his reminiscence to Drummond: "I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out line. My answer hath been, 'Would he had blotted a thousand,'" citing the line from Julius Caesar as an instance. Jonson borrowed the metaphor of blotting from Horace, whose lines he had translated: "If you denied you had no better strain, / And twice or thrice had 'ssayed it, still in vain, / He'd bid, blot all" (625-27; 439-40). Jonson's whole critique of Shakespeare in Discoveries makes sense in light of the way Jonson had translated Horace's advice:

11 A wise and honest man will cry out shame On artless verse; the hard ones he will blame, Blot out the careless with his turnèd pen, Cut off superflouous ornaments, and when They're dark, bid "Clear this," all that's doubtful wrote Reprove, and what is to be changèd note, Become an Aristarchus, and not say, "Why should I grieve my friend this trifling way?" These trifles into mischiefs lead, The man once mocked and suffered wrong to tread. (633-42; 445-52)

12 Aristarchus, a second-century B.C.E. Alexandrian and scholar of Homer, was famous for his incisive criticism, and Jonson images himself as such a critic to Shakespeare, assuming the Horatian persona of the supportive but alert reader—one whose art was required to curb the other's prolific nature (Martindale). If the players had not actually commended Shakespeare in the way Jonson claims they did, he would have had to invent them to create for himself the Horatian role he loved to play.

13 Jonson was the first swallow in the spring of neo-classical criticism of Shakespeare on Horatian principles. For two centuries after Jonson, critics of Shakespeare positioned themselves on a Horatian continuum according to their preference for nature or art. Flatly contradicting Jonson's commendatory verses for the Folio that "a good poet's made as well as born," Leonard Digges asserts that "Poets are born, not made" in the opening line of his commendatory verses for Shakespeare's Poems (1640; Vickers 1.27-29), citing Shakespeare as proof that nature is more important than art. Digges thus originated in English an idea that was much later Latinized for the first time by Coleridge (Ringler 197n. 1). To make the point about Shakespeare, Digges compares him with Jonson, allusively contrasting Jonson's published Works (1616) with Shakespeare's book of poems, "where thou hast (I will not say, / Reader, his works—for to contrive a play / To him was none) the pattern of all wit, / Art without art unparalleled as yet" (7-10). Nature enabled Shakespeare to "play," not "work," Digges claims, and thereby to achieve the highest art—a commendation that has some similarities with Polixenes' evaluation of art and nature in The Winter's Tale (4.4.89-97), which is closer to Puttenham's Art of English Poesie (1589), as Harold Wilson argues, than to Horace. Digges subsequently contrasts Shakespeare and Jonson again with specific reference to Julius Caesar :

14 So have I seen, when Caesar would appear, And on the stage at half-sword parley were Brutus and Cassius, oh, how the audience Were ravished, with what wonder they went thence. (41-44)

15 This, in contrast to Jonson's classical tragedies:

16 When some new day they would not brook a line Of tedious (though well-labored) Catiline . Sejanus too was irksome; they prized more Honest Iago or the jealous Moor. (45-48)

17 "Well-labored" is a backhanded tribute to Jonson's art in his two classically correct and learnedly glossed tragedies. They are indeed "works," Digges implies, suggesting that Jonson had sweated at the anvil of the muses for too long.

18 Digges had been thinking about these issues for several years. His commendatory verses for Shakespeare's Poems in 1640 twice echo his earlier commendatory verses for the Folio of 1623: "half-sword parley" and "wit-fraught book." His praise of Shakespeare as "the pattern of all wit" uses "wit" in the same way Jonson uses it but draws the opposite conclusion—not that Shakespeare's wit needed curbing but that it was a model to every poet. Digges thus anticipates Milton's contrast in "L'Allegro" (1631) between "Jonson's learned sock" and "sweetest Shakespeare, fancy's child / Warbl[ing] his native woodnotes wild" (132-4). Milton uses "fancy" to mean much the same thing Jonson and Digges mean by "wit" and thereby attributes Shakespeare's skill, again, to nature rather than art.

19 Less combative than Digges, Margaret Cavendish drew on Horace to defend Shakespeare's characters in particular. "So well he hath expressed in his plays all sorts of persons," Cavendish writes, "as one would think he had been transformed into every one of those persons he hath described" (Vickers, 1.43). Taken alone, this praise might be misconstrued as an assertion of imaginative identification on a Romantic model, but Cavendish wrote in 1662, and what she has in mind is Horace's admonition concerning the decorum of character, in Jonson's somewhat opaque translation: "Or follow fame, thou that dost write, or feign / Things in themselves agreeing" (169-70; 119-20). Jonson aimed to capture Horace's point about self-consistency, as the translator's subsequent lines make clear:

20 If something strange that never yet was had Unto the scene thou bring'st, and dar'st create A mere new person, look he keep his state Unto the last, as when he first went forth, Still to be like himself, and hold his worth. (178-82; 125-7)

21 "Keep his state" and "hold his worth" accurately reflect Horace's concern with identity conceived in broadly stoic and social-class terms (Miles 31)—a point Cavendish makes in defending Shakespeare's "ingenious" and "witty" ability to create compelling clowns as well as kings (Vickers 1.42). The poet's aim should be to keep each character "like himself," in Jonson's translation—consistent, that is, with expectation as established by the classical three levels of style (high, middle, and low) in their presumed decorous correspondence to levels of society. Jonson himself construed this expectation differently, as his plays make clear, avoiding the mingling of social classes that is one of Shakespeare's hallmarks. Jonson, in short, would not have agreed with Cavendish, and later neo-classical critics agreed with Jonson.

22 Whereas Horace cites examples of self-consistent characters from classical epic and tragedy, Cavendish cites examples from Shakespeare, singling out those in Julius Caesar for particular admiration: "Certainly Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, and Antonius did never really act their parts better, if so well, as he hath described them, and I believe that Antonius and Brutus did not speak better to the people than he hath feigned them" (Vickers 1.43). Cavendish's praise of Shakespeare's characterization as "witty" and "ingenious" identifies it as the product of nature, rather than art, yet Cavendish argues that Shakespeare's characters meet Horace's requirements of artful self-consistency ("act their parts"). Her praise, in short, is very close to Digges's, without challenging Jonson as forthrightly as Digges had.

23 By the later seventeenth century, the Italian Renaissance conflation of Horace with Aristotle had become a widespread critical assumption in England: "Of that book which Aristotle hath left us," wrote John Dryden in 1668, "Horace his Art of Poetry is an excellent comment, and, I believe, restores to us that second book of his concerning comedy, which is wanting in him" ( An Essay of Dramatic Poesie , Works 17.17). Horace was so familiar to Dryden that he seems to have quoted Ars Poetica from memory, judging from the slight alterations he sometimes introduces (Hammond). As a practicing dramatist himself, Dryden could not help admiring Shakespeare and others in "the giant race before the flood" (i.e., the dramatists before the civil war), as he writes in "To My Dear Friend, Mr. Congreve" (line 5; Works 4.432), but he was aware that the "giants" did not conform to neo-classical theory, and he was therefore inclined to defend them as inspired more by nature than by art. Indeed, Dryden's allusion to the "giant race" may actually be as arch as it is appreciative, judging from an allusion to the same giants thirty years earlier, in Astraea Redux , written to celebrate the coronation of Charles II. There Dryden had impugned anti-Royalists as antediluvian giants, who "own'd a lawless savage liberty / Like that our painted ancestors so priz'd / Ere empire's arts their breasts had civiliz'd" (lines 46-8, Works 1.23). The contrast between "savage liberty" and imperial "arts" is a political judgment informed by the esthetic contrast between nature and art, and given Dryden's consistent political conservatism, the same judgment still seems to cling to Dryden's much later allusion to giants, including Shakespeare.

24 As the best of seventeenth-century critics, it is unfortunate that Dryden had little to say about Julius Caesar . (Some editors ascribe the prologue to a Restoration revival of Julius Caesar to Dryden [Vickers 1.141], and the ascription has in its favor the poem's praise of "artless beauty" that "lies in Shakespeare's wit.") Writing about himself in the third person, as Jonson habitually does in his dramatic prologues, Dryden glances allusively at the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius (4.3) in the Prologue to Aureng-Zebe , acknowledging his awe at Shakespeare's "nature," which nonetheless lacks art:

25 But spite of all his pride, a secret shame Invades his breast at Shakespear's sacred name: Aw'd, when he hears his Godlike Romans rage, He, in a just despair, would quit the Stage; And to an Age less polish'd, more unskill'd, Does, with disdain, the foremost Honours yield. ( Works 12.159)

26 If Dryden had written about Julius Caesar at greater length, he would likely have praised the plot, despite its failure to achieve the three "unities" of time, place, and action that were prized by Italian theorists and French dramatists, but Dryden would almost certainly have decried the mingling of plebeians with patricians, because it was perceived to violate Horatian decorum of character: "each subject should retain / The place allotted it, with decent thews" (124-25; 89). (Jonson uses "thews" to mean "traits" or "attributes," and he knew that "decent" and "decorous" have the same Latin root.) If Dryden had written a version of the play, it would almost certainly have had no commoners, i.e., no witty Cobbler, no rowdy plebeians, and no Lucius.

27 While trying to refine the rude manners of pre-Restoration drama in his own plays, i.e., to create more artful drama, Dryden was also trying to protect himself from the judgment of a strict neo-classical critic, Thomas Rymer, whose censure of Julius Caesar is included in his Short View of Tragedy (1693). Dryden clearly stated his disagreement with Rymer in his draft "Heads of an Answer to Rymer," including notes for replying to Rymer's earlier book, The Tragedies of the Last Age Considered and Examined (1678), but the notes remained unpublished ( Works 17:185-93). Rymer was formidable not only for the narrow certitude of his theory but even more for his vituperative style. With Horace's decorum of character in mind, Rymer heaped scorn on the indignity with which Shakespeare "treats the noblest Romans. But there is no other cloth in his wardrobe. Everyone must be content to wear a fool's coat who comes to be dressed by him" (156). This reverses Margaret Cavendish's assessment and outflanks the objection that Shakespeare mingles patricians and plebeians by denying noble status even to his patricians. "For indeed that language which Shakespeare puts in the mouth of Brutus would not suit or be convenient unless from some son of the shambles or some natural off-spring of the butchery" (151). So indignant is Rymer with Shakespeare on the question of character decorum that he does not even address Shakespeare's violation of the three unities. He reserves that censure for Jonson's Catiline , which he also savages: as a classically trained playwright, Jonson should have known better (161). Rymer's view of art was so extreme and so narrow that it denied any art to Shakespeare, asserting that he drew ignorantly on nothing but nature and his own commoner's imagination, which "was still running after his masters, the cobblers, and parish clerks, and Old Testament strollers" (156).

28 Rymer's critical indignation had a large moral component, which he derived (or at any rate justified) from Horace's admonition that the best fictions mix "doctrine" ( utile ) with "delight" ( dulci ) ( Ars Poetica 516; 360). Rymer was the first to infer that "doctrine" specifically required "poetic justice," that is, a presumed vindication of divine providence in a tragic plot by allotting a benign fortune to moral characters and a malign outcome to immoral ones. Using Rymer's criterion, all of Shakespeare's tragedies are failures, as John Dennis argued vigorously, if narrowly, concerning the "irreligious" Julius Caesar in particular. The killing of Caesar must be either "a murder or a lawful action." If it is lawful, then the deaths of Brutus and Cassius "are downright murder." But if Caesar's death is murder, then Brutus and Cassius "are justly punished for it," and Shakespeare is wrong not to show the other conspirators being punished as well, "which proceeding gives an occasion to the people to draw a dangerous inference from it, which may be destructive to government and to human society" (Vickers 2.147). Charles Gildon combined a critique of poetic justice in Julius Caesar with a complaint about its plot. "Brutus is plainly the shining and darling character of the poet," so the play is faulty either in its title or in not ending with Caesar's death, which would have made it "much more regular, natural, and beautiful. But then the moral must naturally have been the punishment or ill success of tyranny" (Vickers 2.256).

29 No less Horatian (in the neo-classical view of Horace) are Dennis's comments about Shakespeare's classical learning, which also address the question of the play's length and focus. Jonson's slighting remark about Shakespeare's "small Latin and less Greek" was inspired by Horace's admonition to Latin poets to steep themselves in Greek models, and in turn it seems to have inspired Dennis to claim that the failures of Julius Caesar are attributable to deficiencies in Shakespeare's classical learning: "Had Shakespeare read either Sallust or Cicero how could he have made so very little of the first and greatest of men, as that Caesar should be but a fourth-rate actor in his own tragedy?" (Vickers 2.288). Dennis certainly knew that Shakespeare drew his inspiration from Plutarch, so Dennis's complaint has less to do with Shakespeare's lack of reading than with his not reading the sources Dennis thought he should have read in order to write the play that Dennis thought he should have written. Applying similar strictures, Gildon complained that Julius Caesar failed to conform to the "unity of action, which can never be broke without destroying the poem." The play should have ended with Caesar's death; otherwise, the ending is arbitrary, and having thus failed to observe one unity, the play fails to observe others: "Natural reason indeed showed to Shakespeare the absurdity of making the representation longer than the time and the place more extensive than the place of acting" (Vickers 2.222). Awed by Rymer's extreme neo-classicism, Dennis and Gildon show how critical reason became increasingly naturalized to the particular strictures that critics had learned to associate with Horace and Aristotle.

30 The topics of the Horatian debate concerning Julius Caesar were thus well established in England by the early eighteenth century, and high neo-classical criticism repeated those topics with variations. Critics who believed art should follow putatively Horatian and Aristotelian rules found Shakespeare's departure from the rules a problem in Julius Caesar , as Dennis and Gildon had. In this category are failures in the decorum of character (imagining plebeians in the same play with patricians; not making patricians speak and act like patricians) and violations of the three unities, especially the failure to unify action and time. If the play ended with the death of Caesar, it would be very nearly continuous in time over the course of not much more than twenty-four hours, and it would not entail "extraneous" action involving Brutus's defeat, as well as Caesar's. Shakespeare's failure to meet the requirements of art was due, moreover, to his ignorance of classical models—his failure to study Greek and Latin as assiduously as his critics had.

31 On the other side, neo-classical defenders of Julius Caesar also used Horace as their authority, arguing that nature was Shakespeare's inspiration, rather than art, and thereby following (whether they knew it or not) the example of Leonard Digges. "Nature" came increasingly to mean not only superior imaginative intelligence, described as "wit" or "genius," but also an ability to understand and convey the feelings of characters and even the advantage derived from Shakespeare's being a relatively unlearned countryman. Richard Steele conceded in 1709 that Shakespeare introduces Julius Caesar in his nightgown, but this shows that "genius was above . . . mechanic methods of showing greatness" (Vickers 2.205). Shakespeare depicts the "great soul" debating subjects of ultimate importance, "without endeavoring to prepossess his audience with empty show and pomp." What would have been a scandal to Rymer is a stroke of genius to Steele. One of Shakespeare's best early editors, Lewis Theobald, maintained that "particular irregularities" in Shakespeare do not matter, because "it is not to be expected that a genius like Shakespeare should be judged by the laws of Aristotle and the other prescribers to the stage" (Vickers 2.308). Theobald defends the quarrel of Brutus and Cassius by comparing it to aristocratic quarrels in Iphigenia by Euripides and in The Maid's Tragedy (1610) by John Fletcher, who had been generally regarded as more artful than Shakespeare since Dryden first said he was. Of the three, Theobald concludes, Shakespeare's treatment is "incomparably the best." Alexander Pope defended Shakespeare against the charge of being unlearned, observing that in Julius Caesar "not only the spirit but manners of the Romans are exactly drawn" (Vickers 2.407). Still, in his own edition of Julius Caesar Pope printed a dash for the word "hats" in the line, "their hats are plucked about their ears" (TLN 697), because Pope believed Roman patricians wore no hats. Theobald rejected the "hiatus" as "hypercritical": "Surely we make mad work with this or any other of our author's plays did we attempt to try them so strictly by the touchstone of antiquity" (Vickers 2.460).

32 The most thoughtful and incisive neo-classical defense of Shakespeare as "the poet of nature" was by Samuel Johnson, in the preface to his edition of Shakespeare (1765). Johnson used the phrase to mean that Shakespeare "holds up to his readers a faithful mirror of manners and of life" (7.62). Developing an argument he had first tried almost fifteen years earlier (Vickers 3.434), Johnson wittily and cogently demolished arguments for the unities of time and place (7.76-80) and asserted that Shakespeare "has well enough preserved the unity of action," in that his plays have discernible beginnings and middles, "and the end of the play is the end of expectation" (7.75). To be sure, Johnson finds fault with Shakespeare, and in this he follows neo-classical precedent, starting with Dryden, though Johnson's most influential example was Henry Home, Lord Kames (Vickers 4.471-97). Indeed, Johnson enumerates faults in Shakespeare that are "sufficient to obscure and overwhelm any other merit" (7.71-74). Among them is the violation of poetic justice: "he makes no just distribution of good or evil, nor is always careful to show in the virtuous a disapprobation of the wicked; he carried his persons indifferently through right and wrong, and at the close dismisses them without further care, and leaves their examples to operate by chance" (7.71).

33 This echo of Rymer repeats the familiar neo-classical complaint that Shakespeare lacked art, so it is hardly surprising that "nature" and "natural" recur throughout Johnson's preface as terms of guarded praise. Shakespeare's "adherence to general nature has exposed him to the censure of critics who form their judgments upon narrower principles" (7.65); Shakespeare "indulged his natural inclination"; comedy was "a mode of thinking congenial to his nature"; his characters "are natural, and therefore durable"; "his characters are praised as natural" (7.69-70); "his power was the power of nature" (7.73). Johnson is not far removed, in his assessment of Shakespeare and "nature," from Margaret Cavendish: both critics draw ultimately on Horace and on the decorum of character in particular. Closer in time to Johnson, a similar position had been staked out by Gildon in 1703: "But if [poets] would study nature as much as Shakespeare did, their errors would be less visible and more supportable. But there is nothing more familiar with the ignorant decriers of the rules than to instance Shakespeare's pleasing without them, as in his characters, passions, etc.—the rules being only nature methodized—for sure nobody (I mean of sense) ever admired his conduct, the rules of which not being known in his time is his best plea for his offenses against them" (Vickers 2.8-9).

34 Still, Johnson's Horatian thinking about Shakespeare and "nature" goes beyond character to include what might be called "untrained originality." "The English nation, in the time of Shakespeare, was yet struggling to emerge from barbarity" (7.81), Johnson believed, so for Shakespeare "the greater part of his excellence was the product of his own genius" (7.87), since he lacked the example of art. Johnson was easily persuaded by the conventional neo-classical argument that Shakespeare was "natural" in the same way as Homer: "Perhaps it would not be easy to find any author except Homer who invented as much as Shakespeare, who so much advanced the studies which he cultivated, or effused so much novelty upon his age or country" (7.90). With "genius" as the explanation of Shakespeare's accomplishment, Johnson's summary judgment about Julius Caesar in particular is easier to understand. Johnson was not moved by the play, and he therefore thought it exhibited less of Shakespeare's natural gifts than other tragedies did: "his adherence to the real story and to Roman manners seems to have impeded the natural vigor of his genius" (8.836). As the great poet of nature, in Johnson's estimation, Shakespeare did less well when it came to classical material, with its greater suitability to treatment as art, in which Shakespeare was deficient.

35 The straitjacket that neo-classical critics had tied around themselves by means of Horace and Aristotle was at last thrown off by critics writing under the influence of Romanticism in the early nineteenth century. To be sure, neo-classical criticism is subtler and more various than Romantic critics made it out to be for their own polemical purposes, and their innovations sometimes seem continuous with it. Leonard Digges's deliberately anti-Horatian (and anti-Jonsonian) assertion that "Poets are born, not made" was given Latin form for the first time by S. T. Coleridge in the early nineteenth century: " Poeta nascitur, non fit " (Bate, Romantics 148; Ringler, " Poeta " 497). Moreover, the "organic form" championed by both A. W. von Schlegel and Coleridge was arguably a carry-over from neo-classical criticism—an attempt to assert unity in Shakespeare's plays where the three neo-classical unities were manifestly inapplicable. Again, the character criticism that became a hallmark of Romantic commentary had been anticipated by Margaret Cavendish, as noted above. Still, unlike Digges, Coleridge was not reacting against Jonson in his declaration about the poet being born, not made (though he undoubtedly knew the Horatian allusion, he had something else entirely in mind); the assertion of organic unity was not merely a repeated commonplace but was so new and so persuasive that it persisted as a critical assumption until the second half of the twentieth century; and the new character criticism was much more than Cavendish's variation on the Horatian decorum of character. In short, Romantic critics set off in a genuinely new direction, which made an impact on the understanding of Julius Caesar , as well as other plays.

36 The new direction was marked by character criticism in particular, which became the favored means of understanding Shakespeare's plays until well into the twentieth century. "The unity of character pervades the whole of his dramas," Coleridge asserted, closely linking character with "the unity of feeling," in deliberate contrast to the neo-classical three unities (Bate, Romantics 129), which represent merely mechanical coherence, imposed from without, rather than "organic form" (128). Schlegel had earlier offered a version of this distinction (4-5), as Coleridge duly acknowledges. The Romantics were probably not indebted to Steele's contrast, noted above, between Shakespeare's "genius" and "mechanic methods," but Steele's comment suggests greater continuity between neo-classical and Romantic assumptions than the Romantics themselves wished to acknowledge. Coleridge applied his idea most influentially to Hamlet , where he saw the character of the Prince driving events, so that character actually determined the form of the play (136-7). "In all his [Shakespeare's] various characters," Coleridge observes, in his clearest linking between character and organic form, "we still feel ourselves communing with the same human nature, which is every where present as the vegetable sap in the branches, sprays, buds, blossoms, and fruits, their shapes, tastes, and odours" (159-60).

37 The consequence of Shakespeare's "communing . . . with human nature," in Coleridge's estimation, is that Shakespeare was "myriad-minded" (147, 156), a point that especially impressed Hazlitt in his own assessment of Shakespeare's characters. In this point, too, Coleridge and Hazlitt were preceded by Schlegel, who observes of Shakespeare that "It is the capability of transporting himself so completely into every situation, even the most unusual, that he is enabled, as the plenipotentiary of the whole human race, without particular instructions for each separate case, to act and speak in the name of every individual" (97). Shakespeare "seemed scarcely to have an individual existence of his own," Hazzlitt maintains, "but to borrow that of others at will, and to pass successively through 'every variety of untried being'" (166). "Each of his characters is as much itself, and as absolutely independent of the rest, as well as of the author, as if they were living persons, not fictions of the mind" (184). Margaret Cavendish had exclaimed of Shakespeare that "one would think he had been transformed into every one of those persons he hath described," and Hazlitt makes a similar claim: "The poet may be said, for the time, to identify himself with the character he wishes to represent, and to pass from one to another, like the same soul successively animating different bodies" (184). The difference is that Cavendish was thinking in terms of Horatian character decorum, while Hazlitt was thinking of Romantic feeling and the animating force of character in a plot that is character-driven. Even when Shakespeare imagines a wholly new character, like Caliban, Hazlitt argues, he creates a unified world around the character, and that world is the play's unity. "The whole 'coheres semblably together' in time, place, and circumstance" (182). In this point, too, Schlegel anticipated Hazlitt—even in using Caliban as an example: "These beings, though existing only in the imagination, nevertheless possess such truth and consistency, that even with such misshapen abortions as Caliban, he extorts the assenting conviction, that were such beings they would so conduct themselves" (98).

38 Though the Romantics' emphasis on character was continuous with neo-classical admiration for Shakespeare's characters, the Romantic argument linking characterization to a new conception of unity in the plays was genuinely innovative and influential. Indeed, it is still evident in the New Variorum Edition of Julius Caesar , published in 1913, which devotes the first two-thirds of its critical summary to "The Character of Caesar" and "The Character of Brutus" (386-420). Schlegel pointed the way in this direction with his declaration that "Caesar is not the hero of the piece, but Brutus" (Bate, Romantics 374), a point on which critics differed repeatedly, setting off a debate about the "hero" of the play. Neo-classical critics had noticed the imbalance of attention to Brutus in Julius Caesar (see Gildon's comment above, for example, that "Brutus is plainly the shining and darling character of the poet"), but the debate reflected in the New Variorum is rooted in nineteenth-century character criticism. Coleridge was frankly puzzled by Brutus: "I do not at present see into Shakespeare's motive, his rationale, or in what point of view he meant Brutus' character to appear" (Bate, Romantics 375). Hazlitt, however, thought "the whole design of the conspirators to liberate their country fails from the generous temper and overweening confidence of Brutus in the goodness of their cause and the assistance of others" (377)—in other words, Brutus's character drives the plot. William Watkiss Lloyd agreed that "it is Brutus on whom the interest and sympathy of the play converge and become continuous throughout its course, making him thus, in a certain sense, its hero" (Variorium 387), and Gustav Freytag agreed: "Brutus, the warm-hearted youth, the noble, the patriotic, is hero" (Variorium 427). "It is indeed true," echoed H. N. Hudson, "that Brutus is the hero" (234).

39 Georg Gottfried Gervinus, argued, on the contrary, that the play "does not bear [Caesar's] name without a reason," because the civil war that commences with his death is carried on in his name (721), and variations on Gervinus' argument were offered by Albert Lindner and Edward Dowden. "As Caesar lives, he is a weakling," wrote Lindner, "a phantom with many infirmities; after his death, a spiritual power, more fearful than even in life" (Variorum 387). Dowden cited the acknowledgment of Antony, Cassius, and Brutus in Julius Caesar concerning the posthumus power of Caesar and concluded that "With strict propriety, therefore, the play bears the name of Julius Caesar" (288). These comments by no means settled the long-running debate; they merely illustrate how the debate originated in the Romantic assumption that the characters of Shakespeare's plays are the most important thing about them.

40 The Romantics linked an innovative notion of dramatic unity not only to their emphasis on character but also to an idea about purpose in history that affected their criticism of Julius Caesar in particular, because Shakespeare's best known Roman play was thought to anticipate the historical teleology that Romantics themselves believed. Their own self-designation, "Romantic," derives from an understanding of European history that distinguished the "classic" heritage of Greece and Rome from the Germanic heritage that replaced it. Aiming to distinguish the supposedly timeless rules of neo-classical "art" from the art he admired, Coleridge constructed a polemical history of Europe based on the commonplace that Latinate Germanic languages were called "romance" languages, "to which term, as distinguishing their Songs and Fabliaux, we owe the word and the species of romance —the romantic may be considered as opposed to the antique, and from this change of manners, those of Shakespear take their colouring. He is not to be tried by ancient and classic rules, but by the standard of his age. That law of unity which has its foundation, not in factitious necessity of custom, but in nature herself, is instinctively observed by Shakespear" (Bate, Romantics 129).

41 In short, the reason Coleridge thought that the mechanical rules of neo-classical criticism were inapplicable to an artist like Shakespeare is that Shakespeare fulfilled the purpose of history by drawing on his "romantic" heritage. Schlegel similarly understood Jonson's Horatian response to Shakespeare not only as Leonard Digges had understood it but also as essentially foreign to Shakespeare: "Ben Jonson, a younger contemporary and rival of Shakespeare, who laboured in the sweat of his brow, but with no great success, to expel the romantic drama from the English stage, and to form it on the model of the ancients, gave it as his opinion that Shakespeare did not blot enough, and that as he did not possess much school-learning, he owed more to nature than to art" (Bate, Romantics 89). Hazlitt agreed that neo-classical critics "made criticism a kind of Procrustes' bed of genius"—Shakespeare's genius, in particular (Bate, Romantics 177). Behind this view is an unstated idea of history itself unfolding organically, with the "romantic," personified by Shakespeare, inevitably supplanting the "classic," despite the attempts of critics from Ben Jonson to Samuel Johnson to resist the supplanting by defining art narrowly in Horatian terms. Only with the Romantics had Shakespeare come into his own as the perfect flowering of English culture. "O what great men hast thou not produced," exclaimed Coleridge, "England! my country! truly indeed—" (Bate, Romantics 152).

42 The Romantics' triumphalist idea of history has some continuity with the Enlightenment idea of progress, but it took on a life of its own, not only informing literary criticism but also anticipating nineteenth-century nationalism (as Coleridge's exclamation suggests), opposition to French cultural hegemony with attendant memories and fears of political rivalry (Bate, Romantics 10-13, 16-20, 24-25), the music of Richard Wagner, much of Tennyson's poetry, and even the teleology of biological and social evolution. The idea affected criticism of Julius Caesar in that Shakespeare was thought by some Romantics to have divined the nineteenth-century idea of history in his Roman history play. "One and the same thought is reflected by the fall of Caesar," wrote Hermann Ulrici, "in the deaths of Brutus and Cassius, and in the victory of Antony and Octavius," and this "thought" is "the course of history" (Variorum 429-30). Caesar was really overthrown not by the conspiracy but by a disembodied "oligarchical principle," represented by the triumvirate that replaced the conspirators. "It conquered because it had the right of the immediate present on its side" (430). Such an understanding of history sees whatever happens as happening by necessity, as the inevitable unfolding of an irresistible process, which produces "the right of the immediate present." Hegel's influence on this conception may be operating in D. J. Snider's claim that "Caesar is the real hero" in Julius Caesar because he represents the "World Spirit" that finally triumphs: though opposed by Cassius, it is ultimately vindicated by "the restoration and absolute validity of the Caesarian movement" (Variorum, 432). "Spirit" is Hegel's term for historical movements, and Snider may have been thinking in quasi-Hegelian terms, seeing Caesar's thesis as opposed by Cassius' antithesis, ultimately to be replaced by a synthesis of both. Hegel's interpretation of tragedy explicitly informs A. C. Bradley's emphasis on "conflict or collision" in tragedy, in Oxford Lectures on Poetry (69-95), which is the likely source of A. R. Humphreys' assertion that Julius Caesar belongs to the category of "Hegelian tragedy" (Oxford 7, 34).

43 Romantic assumptions about both character and history achieved their most magisterial expression early in the twentieth century in A. C. Bradley's Shakespearean Tragedy , which effectively culminated the Romantic tradition. Bradley attended to just four plays, Hamlet , Othello , Lear , and Macbeth , so he had little to say about Julius Caesar , but it was enough to register his view in the long-running debate about the hero: Shakespearean tragedy "is pre-eminently the story of one person, the 'hero,'" and in Julius Caesar "Brutus is the 'hero'" (7). Writing shortly after Bradley, M. W. MacCallum treated the three plays Shakespeare derived from Plutarch in the vein of Bradley's character criticism, though MacCallum struck a balance in the Romantic debate about the "hero" of Julius Caesar by proposing a solution akin to Snider's. On one hand, MacCallum agreed with those who thought the "spirit of Caesar" (TLN 800) is present from first to last (214), even when Julius Caesar himself is not, and this "spirit," which eventually prevails in Octavius, the future first emperor, is the Hegelian "spirit of Empire, the spirit of practical greatness in the domains of war, policy, organisation" (241). Brutus, on the other hand, is both "the model republican, the paragon of private and civic virtue" (233) and "the spirit of loyalty to duty" (241). Like Caesar, Brutus imperfectly represents the ideal he stands for, and the gap between spirit and human embodiment accounts both for personal inconsistencies on Caesar's and Brutus's parts and for Brutus's ultimate failure.

44 Coming at the end of a critical tradition, MacCallum was easy to dismiss as old-fashioned and out of touch, as J. C. Maxwell made clear in his mid-century summary of writing about the Roman plays (6). MacCallum anticipated two major movements in twentieth-century criticism of Julius Caesar , however, and for that alone he deserves acknowledgment. For one thing, his perception of Caesar's place in history is consistent with a critical tradition concerning Shakespeare, history, and politics that gathered strength and endured well past the time of Maxwell's summary. MacCallum pointed to two passages in North's translation of Plutarch that supported a providentialist reading of Caesar's rise (215-16): Caesar represented "the absolute state of a monarchy and sovereign lord to govern" Rome (Plutarch 493), and Caesar seemed to be a "merciful physician, whom God had ordained of special grace to be governor of the empire of Rome and to set all things again at quiet stay" (Plutarch 864). MacCallum was impressed with these passages, because he thought they explained Shakespeare's view of Julius Caesar as "the spirit of Empire." In retrospect, MacCallum's own historical situation in the British Empire in the first decade of the twentieth century (especially as an expatriate Scot in Australia) illuminates his reading of both Plutarch and Julius Caesar better than North's providentialist translation illuminates Shakespeare's play. Even the weaknesses that Shakespeare invented for Caesar, MacCallum maintains, are "spots in the sun." Shakespeare is not concerned with them but rather with "the plenary inspiration of Caesar's life, the inspiration that made him an instrument of Heaven and that was to bring peace and order to the world" (230). The plenary inspiration that MacCallum identifies would seem to have as much to do with the early twentieth-century British Empire and the Romantic idea of destined national self-fulfillment as with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar .

45 MacCallum's notion that Caesar was a divine instrument in history acquired increasing solidity in the first half of the twentieth century. Writing at about the same time as MacCallum (though he published his essay much later), F. C. Kolbe thought Julius Caesar embodied "some high moral teaching" concerning "the conception which the Greeks called Nemesis " (154). This conception involved "the embodiment of divine wrath and jealousy" in history, manifesting itself first in Brutus's reaction against Caesar's ambition and second in retribution by Caesar's spirit (156). Kolbe was less enamored of Caesarian imperialism than MacCallum, but Kolbe's providentialist reading of Julius Caesar complements MacCallum's, and Kolbe finds a classical precedent for it. Both imperialism and nemesis appear in Mark Hunter's essay, first read as a paper shortly after the general strike of 1926 and possibly in reaction against it. Shakespeare's attitude to politics, Hunter maintained, "was that of a Tory, the term being understood in a sense highly honourable," and in Shakespeare's plays "the principle which renders ordered society possible is said to be, not liberty, but obedience" (110-11). "The principle of the rule of the single person" was, for Shakespeare, "the norm of all manner of earthly power" (119). Hunter takes a dim view both of "the lower social orders" (117) in Julius Caesar and of those who conspire against Caesar. Providence enters Hunter's argument in his analysis of Antony "as the instrument of retributory nemesis" against the assassins (139). J. E. Phillips acknowledged both MacCallum and Hunter in outlining a theory of political order that Phillips thought Shakespeare shared with his contemporaries. This theory involves "a stratified, integrated political society in which all the parts function for the welfare of the whole under the administration of a single, sovereign governor" (4). Violation of this order inevitably results in political chaos, which Phillips argued is what happens in Julius Caesar : "we see, in the successful government of the title figure, the advantage of monarchy, and in the disastrous consequences of his assassination the evils of multiple sovereignty" (172). The assassins "function out of their degree and do violence to the state by taking justice into their own hands" (176). For Phillips, the "spirit of Caesar" is "the concept of unitary sovereignty," and it becomes "the nemesis against which Brutus' efforts, however highly motivated, are of no avail" (188).

46 Perceptions of historical providentialism in Julius Caesar that go back to MacCallum received their greatest impetus from E. M. W. Tillyard's Shakespeare's History Plays in 1944. Tillyard was part of an influential reaction against Romantic character criticism, turning instead to the history of ideas and the presumed assumptions of Shakespeare's audience. Still, Tillyard's continuity with MacCallum on some points is evident. Henry VII and his dynasty fostered a "Tudor myth," Tillyard argued, concerning their progenitor's accession and marriage to Elizabeth of York as "the providential and happy ending of an organic piece of history" (29). Tillyard thought the driving force behind this myth was a sense of historical cause and effect that first appeared in the Tudor chronicler, Polydore Vergil (35). Henry IV's violation of divinely appointed royal rulership in his overthrow of Richard II more than a century before Henry VII's accession was an originating cause that "shows the justice of God punishing and working out the effects of a crime, till prosperity is re-established in the Tudor monarchy" (36). A dynamic historical principle thus complemented a static image of hierarchy, which Tillyard described with copious contemporary references in The Elizabethan World Picture , also published in 1944. The point of intersection for history and image was the idea of order , the title of Chapter Two in The Elizabethan World Picture , where Tillyard cites Ulysses' speech on "degree" in Troilus and Cressida , as Phillips had done earlier (5-6). Order manifests itself both in the smoothly running monarchy (including legitimate succession) and in the obedience, deference, and degree of cosmic and political hierarchy. As Graham Bradshaw notes (1-8), critics almost immediately pointed out that Tillyard represented only the outlook of privileged power; in effect, as Hunter claimed of Shakespeare himself, the attitude Tillyard described "was that of a Tory." It is hard to imagine Tillyard assuming any other attitude at a time when the British Empire was under severe strain from its conflict with Nazi Germany and Japan.

47 Though Tillyard had little to say about Julius Caesar , his ideas soon became dominant in Shakespearean criticism, and their impact on subsequent interpretation of Julius Caesar is evident. Citing Phillips (765n. 1), Brents Stirling outlined a case against Brutus based on "a flouting of unitary sovereignty, that prime point of Tudor policy" (765). J. Leeds Barroll brought enormous erudition to the task of showing that Shakespeare's contemporaries inherited a tradition of seeing providence in Roman history in much the same way they saw it in English history. Augustus' "beneficial unification" of Rome after the civil wars was thus directly analogous to "the Tudor myth itself" (328). Derek Traversi agreed that Shakespeare saw "the necessity of order in public affairs" in both the English history plays and the Roman plays, and Traversi thought that "this order rests in some sense upon Caesar's exercise of power" (12). In Julius Caesar in particular, "a tragic sacrifice" produces chaos and mere calculation until "a new Roman order rises to replace that which has been so wilfully destroyed" (21). Ernest Schanzer took a different view of the play, but his view required him explicitly to reject the providentialist reading, thereby confirming its importance in contemporary criticism by default. Schanzer thought Julius Caesar was a "problem" play because it focuses on a moral problem—namely, the sacrifice of "personal loyalties" "to political ideals" ( Problem 68). He therefore disagreed that "the spirit of Caesar in the sense of 'Caesarism', the absolute rule of a single man, informs the second part of the play" (35), and he took issue with J. E. Phillips on this point in particular (36n. 1). Believing that Julius Caesar is "one of Shakespeare's few genuine problem plays" because it avoids "giving a plain and clear-cut answer" to the problems it raises (70), Schanzer necessarily opposed the moralism and providentialism of MacCallum, Tillyard, and others.

48 The providentialist reading of Julius Caesar reached its high-water mark in J. L. Simmons's book, Shakespeare's Pagan World . Simmons argued that the plays derived from Plutarch "are more genuinely Roman than is usually recognized" because they antedate Christian revelation and therefore offer a genuinely "pagan world," devoid of the moral clarity that one finds in the English history plays (7). Acknowledging Barroll's essay for this view (8n. 21), Simmons traced it to the Augustinian idea of history, which he thought was evident in Thomas North's translation of Plutarch, specifically in the Epistle Dedicatory to Queen Elizabeth. Simmons also acknowledged, however, that Augustine's view is not one of providential triumphalism, and Simmons's reading of Julius Caesar followed suit. Citing the same passages on providential Caesarism from North's Plutarch that MacCallum had cited, Simmons argued that "practical politics and providence" alike "urge the necessity of one-man rule" (72). In other words, a strong man is necessary to prevent political chaos, but Simmons offered minimal assent to the strong man himself, emphasizing both Shakespeare's invented character weaknesses in Caesar and the play's sympathy to Brutus. "The play develops a conflict between the good of Caesar (political order, stability, and glory), flawed by his potential evil, and Brutus's ideal of a world in which no Caesar is necessary, flawed by the nature of man" (86). Simmons's complex and ironic analysis may respond to his own historical context toward the end of the Vietnam war, and his emphasis on Caesar's weaknesses tests the providential reading about as strongly as it could be tested and still hold together. With the rise of new historicism and cultural materialism in the next decade after Simmons's book appeared, reaction against Tillyard in particular became so strong that providentialist interpretations virtually disappeared from the critical record. John Drakakis's introduction to the collection of essays called Alternative Shakespeares , for example, explicitly challenged Tillyard (14-15), and Alessandro Serpieri's analysis of Julius Caesar in that collection is entirely semiotic (126-34).

49 The second point in which MacCallum anticipated twentieth-century critical developments concerning Julius Caesar was his recognizing strong inconsistency in the characters of both Caesar and Brutus—inconsistency so strong that MacCallum referred to it as self-deception. Noting Caesar's fear of supernatural signs, MacCallum acknowledges "a touch of self-deception as well as of superstition in Caesar, and this self-deception reappears in other more important matters," such as Caesar's repeated insistence that he is not afraid (220-21). (Gervinus had anticipated MacCallum on this point: Caesar "speaks so much of having no fear, that by this very thing he betrays his fear" [720].) As for Brutus, MacCallum thought he was "doubly duped, by his own subtlety and his own simplicity in league with his conscientiousness . . . and such self-deception avenges itself as surely as any intentional crime" (255). Despite these canny insights, MacCallum was so impressed by Caesar's superiority as an imperial ideal that he played down his own observation and understated the extent to which Shakespeare had made Caesar and Brutus resemble one another.

50 Though MacCallum was a neo-Romantic critic, his recognition of self-deception resonates strongly with postmodern criticism, because self-deception is a key expression of what Paul Ricoeur calls "suspicion" in postmodern thinking. The formative thinkers for postmodernism, Ricoeur points out, are Marx, Freud, and Nietzsche, who all recognized a disjunction between conscious intention and unconscious motivation, thereby challenging the emphasis on rational consciousness that had prevailed in western thinking since Descartes ("I think, therefore I am"). Marx called this disjunction "false consciousness," but all three of Ricoeur's "masters of suspicion" acknowledged it in various forms. Using Ricoeur's key word, "suspicion," in describing Caesar's self-deception, MacCallum anticipates postmodern analysis when he writes of Caesar that "if anything could make us suspicious, it would be his constant harping on his flawless valour" (221). Paradoxically, however, the most thoughtful expounders of self-deception in Shakespeare, Stanley Cavell and Harry Berger, have not addressed Julius Caesar , and the topic has been discussed since MacCallum principally in historical terms, as a product of Shakespeare's reflection on neo-stoicism and skepticism.

51 Passing references to self-deception are made by Brents Stirling, who sees it as a characteristic of Brutus alone (765), and by R. A. Foakes, who mentions it as one of many examples of things coming full circle in such a way as to create unity among the play's diverse elements. Brutus's "self-deception, an obsession with names and an ignorance of reality," defeats his idealistic effort to find liberty from Caesar's supposed bondage (270). But MacCallum's understatement of his own insight concerning self-deception was most importantly corrected in an article by Norman Rabkin, who was at the forefront of many postmodern developments in Shakespearean criticism. Rabkin pointed out close parallels between two consecutive scenes in Julius Caesar (2.1 and 2.2), with the argument that Shakespeare invented the parallels in order to emphasize similarities between Caesar and Brutus. Brutus's soliloquy in 2.1 shows "a capacity to be deceived by analogies of his own making" (244), and Caesar's insistence on his fearlessness in 2.2 "degenerates immediately from magnificence to bluster, culminating in inflated self-adulation ironic in the context" (245). A peculiar "balance of perception and self-righteous blindness" is apparent in both men (246), and the point of their "wishful self-deception" (249) is that "the spirit of Caesar" is avenged in the destruction of its mirror image, so that the play becomes, in effect, a revenge tragedy, in which Brutus's "crime against established order" (251) is punished. (Foakes had also seen the play "as a kind of revenge tragedy" in its cyclical character [263].) Rabkin thus preserved a vestige of the providential reading, even referring to "Nemesis" (251n. 11), while emphasizing an ironic reading of character in Julius Caesar that would have been impossible for MacCallum. In his revision of the essay for Shakespeare and the Common Understanding , Rabkin identified Julius Caesar with the history plays that precede it: "The tragedy of the historical plays is based increasingly on Shakespeare's psychology, which sees human ideals and the virtue of reason set hopelessly against the fact of the human drive for power" (120).

52 Acknowledging Rabkin (12) but moving in another direction entirely, John Anson cited neo-stoicism in the 1590s to explain Shakespeare's characterization of Caesar and Brutus in an anti-stoic manner, and Anson emphasized the self-deception of Brutus in particular: "the love of country that leads him to murder his dearest friend clearly serves to conceal an envy of Caesar so great that he cannot afford to admit it. To do so would be to admit that his whole sense of self was shadowed by an intolerable comparison with Caesar" (25). Rene Fortin's emphasis on skepticism in Julius Caesar is as strong as Rabkin's, and Fortin also focused on the play's most noble characters, Caesar and Brutus, who are nonetheless "enveloped by the mists of error, victims of deception and self-deception" (342). So pervasive is the lack of self-knowledge that Shakespeare seems "to involve the audience in the fallible judgments of the characters," so that the play becomes "an exploration of man's epistemological situation" in the manner of Montaigne (346). Marvin Vawter acknowledged Anson (173) but focused exclusively on Brutus, because of Brutus's reputation as a stoic, which Shakespeare acknowledges in Julius Caesar (TLN 2132-33, 2442). (For a rebuttal to Vawter's argument about Brutus's stoicism, see Monsarrat, 139-44, especially 141-42n. 2). For Vawter, the human situation in Julius Caesar is not defined by skepticism, as it is for Fortin, but by the implicit affirmation of "an inseparable composition of mind and body," and Brutus errs in trying to espouse "the self-sufficiency of virtue-reason" at the expense of his body (177). So severe is the disjunction that Brutus is "unable to see himself" (180), and he misjudges everyone, including himself: "his sick mind is brutalizing his body with the result that there is nothing 'wholesome' about him" (181), even though, ironically, "he believes himself incapable of misjudgment or moral error" (188). Far from being a flawed nobleman, in Vawter's view, Brutus is so deeply self-deceived that critical attempts to reserve a shred of dignity for him are misguided (173).

53 The most perceptive discussion of self-deception in Julius Caesar is by Geoffrey Miles, who is the play's most careful historical critic. In an argument that bears some comparison to Foakes's (267-68), Miles acknowledges that "my greatest debt is to Simmons" (2n. 2), though he sets Simmons's providentialism aside and illuminates Simmons's point that Shakespeare's Rome is a "world apart" by emphasizing the distinctive interdependence of individual identity and social identity—both emphatically "Roman." Miles proceeds by tracing two traditions of stoic constancy, one Ciceronian and the other Senecan, that he thinks are especially important in Shakespeare's Plutarchan plays. A "flaw" in both traditions, Miles maintains, "is the failure of self-knowledge" (138), which marks all the characters in Julius Caesar , but especially Brutus. Though Brutus appeals to republican idealism, he "seems unaware how far his decision to kill Caesar is motivated by personal and family pride" (131-32). In other words, he is self-deceived about his motives, and Miles draws an appropriate postmodern conclusion: "The play has an almost Freudian sense of how emotion can work all the more powerfully because it is repressed" (132).

54 An important twentieth-century development in criticism of Julius Caesar that MacCallum did not anticipate is study of the play's imagery, which has also, like the study of self-deception, been readily adapted to postmodern criticism. In this vein, the first important name for Julius Caesar is G. Wilson Knight, though the most influential critic of Shakespearean imagery was Caroline Spurgeon. Eschewing character criticism, because "the 'character' cannot be abstracted from those imaginative effects of poetry and poetic-drama of which he is composed" (19), Knight nonetheless reinvented another Romantic emphasis, which he called "imaginative interpretation" (1-31). He believed that imagery is "essentially transmitted imaginatively to the imaginative consciousness" (1), and he revived Schlegel's and Coleridge's sense of organic form in asserting that "imaginative criticism judges rather by results, by the tree's fruits, not its roots" (21). Distinguishing his approach to imagery from Caroline Spurgeon's in a 1951 Preface, Knight noted that Spurgeon had found Julius Caesar "poor in 'imagery,'" whereas he thought "no single work of Shakespeare so tingles with vivid, fiery and—to use Masefield's word—'startling' life" (viii). Taking a more expansive view of imagery than Spurgeon, Knight introduced the idea of the "theme" in close reading (1), an idea that would become influential in New Criticism, and he traced a number of themes through Julius Caesar , beginning with "animal-suggestion" (also noticed by Spurgeon but less broadly) and "metals" (33).

55 Word association was important for Knight, including associations between his own words to describe Julius Caesar . He summarizes a long list of animal images, for example, as having "a single quality: vivid and picturesque perception," and he links it with metallic imagery through "the flash of metals" (34). "Vivid" and "flash" both involve sight imagery, but the imagery is Knight's, not Shakespeare's, and Knight does not relate it to problems of seeing and perception that are pervasive in Julius Caesar , presumably because they are a prominent part of the play's literal texture and therefore do not appeal to the "imaginative consciousness." Over-generalization and solipsism mark Knight's writing about imagery in particular, though a characteristic inability to define "imagery" was pointed out by Lillian Hornstein in an early critique of Spurgeon's book as well. Nonetheless, Knight's observations are often acute, and his influence on subsequent criticism is hard to overestimate. He is perceptive about "body-references" (37-48), including eyes, ears, hair, lips, throat, nourishment, sleeplessness, illness, and especially blood (45-48). Not surprisingly, his summary of "all this imagery" is that it is "all visual, vivid" (48), thus coming back to his own opening generalization in a markedly impressionistic manner: "So we have a clear train of ideas: man's body, visually, almost erotically, observed; thoughts of physical weakness and sickness; emotion, blood, the heart's passion—the life forces encased in the body; finally, spirit, fire, the fine essence of vitality, the human spirit in all its resplendent power and beauty, housed as it may be in a frail tenement of flesh" (53).

56 Leo Kirschbaum developed Knight's remarks about the body in Julius Caesar in an essay on blood, though Kirschbaum addressed staging rather than language. (Knight was an actor, as well as a critic, and he insists that "stage representation" is "necessary, where, if the production be careful and correct, the purely imaginative effects of Shakespeare may be extremely powerful" [20], yet he attends entirely to poetry, not to dramatic representation.) Noting that Shakespeare's plays call for no less stage blood than those of his contemporaries, Kirschbaum points out that bloody deeds in Julius Caesar are "not metaphorical at all. They are naturalistic stage effects coram populo deliberately meant by Shakespeare for actual production and undoubtedly achieved at the Globe" (520). His primary example is Brutus's urging the conspirators to bathe their hands in Caesar's blood after the assassination—a bold and horrific scene that Shakespeare invented (523). Its effect, Kirschbaum, argued, is to present in the most concrete possible way the horror of Brutus's actual deed in contrast to the idealism with which he undertakes it. Moreover, the blood that he smears on himself "is the symbol and mark of the blood and destruction which is to flow through the rest of the play" (524). The conspirators may drain the blood from Caesar's body, but they are unable, as MacCallum and others had pointed out, to destroy his vengeful spirit. Also focusing on Brutus's attempt "to dignify assassination, the means, by lifting it to the level of rite and ceremony" (765-66), Brents Stirling pursued an interpretative strategy closer to Knight's than Kirschbaum's, finding "the theme of incantation and ritual" throughout Julius Caesar as a structural principle (767). R. A. Foakes's essay is also reminiscent of Knight's criticism, which Foakes acknowledges (259n. 3). Raising a question about the play's "unity" at the outset, Foakes answers it in a Romantic manner that is indebted to Knight, finding a consistent theme in things coming full circle (260), but incidentally tracing other "themes," such as blood, fire, and sickness.

57 Building on Knight's and Kirschbaum's insistence that poetic imagery and stage imagery complement each other in a play, Maurice Charney focused on three "image themes" in Julius Caesar : storm, blood, and fire (42). Each of these themes is ambiguous, he urged, because their interpretation depends on whether one favors Caesar or the conspirators, though the play favors neither one. Charney traced the "blood theme" from its introduction in Brutus's conversation with Cassius in TLN 799 ("Let's be sacrificers, but not butchers") to Titinius's lament for Cassius in TLN 2545-48. Following Kirschbaum, Charney emphasized stage action, pointing out that blood imagery keeps Caesar's assassination before the audience by having Caesar's body on stage for most of 3.1 and 3.2, including the "fearful blood ritual" in which Brutus leads the conspirators (52). Blood and hunting dominate Antony's oration in such a way as to stress "butchery rather than the sacrifice Brutus hoped for" before the assassination (55). Cassius's death by the same sword that he used to kill Caesar "is the reciprocity of blood for blood" (59).

58 Two critics publishing simultaneously in Shakespeare Studies took their discussion of Julius Caesar 's imagery in the direction of Elizabethan religion, prompted by Stirling's comments about ritual in the play. Naomi Conn Liebler emphasized the possible influence of Plutarch's Life of Romulus on Julius Caesar and on Shakespeare's way of imagining the feast of Lupercal in particular, since Plutarch describes the Lupercal in greater detail in Romulus than in any of his other biographies. Where blood imagery is concerned, Liebler points out that "the cutting up of the sacrificial pharmakos , whose blood is then smeared upon the flesh of the priestly celebrants, is one of the central events in the rites of the Lupercalia," and she compares the ritual to Brutus's "insistence on the semblance of a ritual as a pattern for Caesar's assassination" (183). Elizabethans would have responded to the ritual aspects of Shakespeare's play, learned from Plutarch, because their own lives were full of "Lupercalia-like rites" (189). David Kaula's interpretation of religion in Julius Caesar addresses the reformation context in particular. Adoration of Caesar in the play "is something akin to Roman Catholic worship" (199), just as Cassius's satirical description of Caesar's weaknesses is akin to Protestant attacks on the Pope (200). Blood imagery makes Caesar "a redeemer who voluntarily sheds his blood for the spiritual sustenance of his people," and Decius's crafty description of Calpurnia's dream imagines Romans competing for "relics" of Caesar as Catholics in England sought relics of their martyrs to Elizabeth's regime (204-5). Following this train of thought, "we might even see a moderate form of Protestantism reflected in Brutus's self-conscious Stoic virtue" (206).

59 The imagistic and thematic interpretation that Knight introduced to criticism of Julius Caesar marked the heyday of New Criticism in particular, from the 1930s to the 1970s. The movement was named for John Crowe Ransom's book, published in 1941, but the method was practiced in England as well, by Knight himself and especially by F. R. Leavis. New Critics theorized a way of reading that eschewed literary history and the history of ideas, practiced by critics like Tillyard, in favor of what W. K. Wimsatt called "verbal icons," emphasizing "a verbal image which fully realizes its verbal capacities," both pictorially and as "an interpretation of reality in its metaphoric and symbolic dimensions" (x). Cleanth Brooks declared that it is "heresy" "to refer the structure of the poem . . . to something outside the poem," including history (184). Despite its appeal for several decades, this way of reading eventually ran its course as competing interpretations of the same kind increasingly proliferated, suggesting that no standard could be applied for preferring one reading over another. "My Theme Can Lick Your Theme" is the facetious title of a serious article by Richard Levin on the circular reasoning of thematic interpretation, when the thematic critic begins by assuming what he or she is going to find in the text and then proceeds to find it. Levin's 1979 book effectively rang the death knell of thematic criticism for Julius Caesar as Knight originally conceived it.

60 With the advent of postmodern criticism in the 1980s, however, the study of imagery took on new life and new forms. Postmodern commentary on imagery of the body in Julius Caesar depends on a perceived disjunction between conscious intention and unconscious motivation—a disjunction that is frequently described in terms of a suspicious false consciousness, as in the case of self-deception (discussed above). The assumption of gender hierarchy (with male superior to female), for example, often appears both consciously and unconsciously in writing from the past and is often perpetuated in critical commentary about past writers, including Shakespeare. Gail Kern Paster addressed this particular assumption in her comments on blood imagery in Julius Caesar , pointing out that Mikhail Bakhtin distinguishes "the grotesque, essentially medieval conception of an unfinished, self-transgressing open body of hyperactive orifices" from a "classical body" that is relatively complete, closed, and therefore perceived as more nearly perfect (285). Paster argues that this distinction is not only historical (early modern as opposed to medieval) but also gendered, with the "open" body being female and the "closed" body male. With this distinction in mind, she reads the body images of Julius Caesar as a complex attempt on the conspirators' part to make Caesar female (a vulnerable, bleeding body), countered by Antony's attempt to "recuperate Caesar's body for his own political uses by redefining Caesar's blood and Caesar's bleeding" (286). Paster draws on and acknowledges Charney's and Kaula's essays in particular, but her emphasis and interpretation are quite different from theirs—not to trace the workings of Shakespeare's creative imagination but to find traces of unconscious patriarchal bias in the play's language, imagery, and action. Paster affirms Kaula's reading of Decius's reinterpretation of Calpurnia's dream, for example, as influenced by the medieval cult of the Holy Blood (294), and she points out that "Decius Brutus specifically allegorizes Caesar as a lactating figure" by using the verb "suck" to describe the action of Romans who gather for nourishment at Caesar's bloody fountain (295). This strikingly original interpretation of blood imagery in Julius Caesar opened up new possibilities of understanding the play, both textually and historically.

61 Writing at the same time as Paster, Mark Rose took blood imagery in the direction of still another form of postmodern analysis, New Historicism. Caesar's assassination is "conspicuously ritualized," Rose points out, in the conspirators' smearing of Caesar's blood on themselves—a ceremony Brutus imagines being performed in future theaters (298-99). Caesar's bloody death thus becomes the paradoxical basis of his historic monumentality, which Shakespeare's play celebrates as "a kind of political Mass"—a point Rose compares to Kaula's analysis of Caesar as a political redeemer modeled on Christ (301). What Caesar redeems is Roman political order, which he initiates as the de facto first emperor and the founder of an imperial tradition that the Tudor monarchs frequently invoked as the basis of their own authority (302). "Drained out of the official religion," Rose observes, "magic and ceremony reappeared not only on the stage, but in the equally theatrical world of the court" (302). Though Rose seems unaware of Stephen Greenblatt's essay on exorcism, first published five years earlier, Rose's interpretation of the bleeding Caesar is fully compatible with Greenblatt's ideas, which became the basis of New Historicism's positing of a historical false consciousness about religion, art, and political power. The Elizabethan theater was crucial, Greenblatt argues, in England's transition from a sacred to a secular culture. Shakespeare's plays evoke sacred signs but consistently secularize them in a form "drained" of "institutional and doctrinal significance," so that "the official position is emptied out , even as it is loyally confirmed" (125-26). What had once been spiritually literal became merely literary, as the culture took "a drastic swerve from the sacred to the secular—in the theater" (126). Both Rose and Greenblatt use the image of "draining" to describe late Elizabethan secularization; both see the theater as crucial to the process; both see the process as unavoidably political, given the theatricality of the court.

62 In a complex argument that effectively combines feminism and New Historicism, Coppèlia Kahn addresses the blood imagery of Julius Caesar in the context of republican competitiveness, which Shakespeare calls "emulation," both in Julius Caesar (TLN 1141) and in other plays. False consciousness appears in the idealism that hides republican emulation from those engaged in it, especially Brutus: "in their vision of the republic, these patricians represent to themselves an imaginary conception of their real relation to the Roman state" (86). But parallel false consciousness also appears in the conception of the republic as "a distinctively masculine sphere in which debate and action, the exercise of reason and freedom, make men truly virile" (83). Moreover, Kahn compares imagined Roman false consciousness to contemporary Elizabethan emulation at court (92-93). Roman virtus thus defines republican virility over against female submissiveness, and Kahn interprets the contrast in much the same way as Paster. Portia's self-wounding is the oppositional counterpart to the conspirators' wounding of Caesar: the first is a woman's attempt to imitate a man's constancy (101), and the second "resoundingly feminizes Caesar" (104), after Decius successfully construes Calpurnia's predictive dream of the assassination as a nurturing image, which "recalls the legend of Romulus and Remus who, suckled by the she-wolf, were thus enabled to found the Roman state" (103). By attending carefully to both ancient Roman and Elizabethan texts, Kahn freshly illuminates suspicion of power in Julius Caesar where competitive Roman patricians and Elizabethan aristocrats are both concerned.

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Julius Caesar in Western Culture

Pamela marin , dublin, ireland. [email protected].

Table of Contents

This book and its collection of essays developed out of a conference held at the British School at Rome in March 2003. The topics range from the earliest depiction of Caesar through to the twentieth-first century with essays dealing with his medieval reception, 18th/19th century American analogies, cinema prior to the Great War and how the French, the fascists and others have appropriated and interpreted Julius Caesar in their own political discourse. It is a fascinating read which should appeal to a wide variety of readers not just in classics, but throughout the humanities.

The introduction by Christopher Pelling, entitled ‘Judging Julius Caesar’ skilfully sets out the various interpretations of Julius Caesar, under the shadow of the war in Iraq, and with a focus on the implications of Caesar’s death. There are two main aspects of Pelling’s piece: first, how ancient authors viewed Caesar and, in particular, why Caesar was killed; and second, how Caesar was viewed by later politicians and military figures, such as Napoleon and Mussolini. This is an important distinction that allows the reader to separate the classical notion of Caesar from more modern appropriations and, furthermore, clarifies the difficulties that have surfaced in looking at Caesar: there is no real closure as Caesar continues to dominate political thought and indeed, western culture.

Mark Toher’s ‘The Earliest Depiction of Caesar and the Later Tradition’ begins Part II (Literary Characterization) and deals with Nicolaus of Damascus’ biography of Augustus. Toher emphasises the fact that Nicolaus was an exact contemporary of Augustus and further notes that the longest excerpt (23 pages of nearly continuous, verbatim text) ‘offers a full account of the conspiracy against Caesar and his assassination and so preserves the earliest extant depiction of Julius Caesar by an ancient writer’ (31). Interweaving the Shakespearian image of Caesar, the author clearly and carefully demonstrates that the so-called tragedy of Caesar’s death was based more on the resentment caused by Caesar’s policy of clementia than on ideological grounds (tyrant versus libertas ) as claimed by Suetonius, Dio and other later Imperial authors. In essence, Toher has been able to separate the sentiment surrounding the reality of Caesar’s assassination and the ideology that developed in retrospect over subsequent centuries. Furthermore, he has offered a new, exciting source that has been little used in the debate about Caesar, the impact of his life and the impact of his death. For that alone, this essay should be applauded.

Christine Walde in her essay ‘Caesar, Lucan’s Bellum Civile , and their Reception’ argues that Lucan’s fame ‘persists’ because he focused mainly on Caesar, but from a mythical stance. Walde further argues that Lucan ‘lack(ed) the appropriate standards to judge a great man’ (49) and that his portrayal was that of potential denied by death. The second half of her essay deals with the reception of Lucan’s Caesar and how any positive or ambivalent reading of Lucan’s Caesar ‘has nearly vanished in favour of denigration’ (56). There are a few problems with her argument—mainly in her supposition that Lucan was writing principally in celebration of Caesar, when his subject was in fact the fall of the Republic (and not just specific individuals)— and this very narrow interpretation mars this article and her arguments.

The next essay, Jacqueline Long’s ‘Julian Augustus’ Julius Caesar’, illustrates the resurgence of classical thought under the Emperor Julian and his identification with the traditions and images of Rome itself. Influenced by Plutarch’s Lives of Alexander and Caesar , the Symposion (or Kronia ) debates the excellence of Rome and the conflict between Caesar and Pompey, and ultimately confirms Caesar as an example of virtues essential to Roman monarchy. This essay illustrates clearly how the connection between past and present was fundamental to later Imperial emperors.

Part III (The City of Rome) begins with Riccardo Santangeli Valenzani’s archaeological essay ‘The Seat and Memory of Power: Caesar’s Curia and Forum’, which deals with recent excavations (1998-2000) in the forum and curia. The diverging fates of the two (the curia still used for meetings, the forum falling into ruin with early medieval settlements on the spot) are well documented and make fascinating reading. The author points out how ‘difficult it is to generalize about the history of the urban landscape, both in its real, monumental sense and in its psychological one’ (93) and this essay clearly illustrates how what is revered now may not have been in the past.

John Osborne’s ‘St. Peter’s Needle and the Ashes of Julius Caesar: Invoking Rome’s Imperial History at the Papal Court, ca. 1100-1300’ continues the thread first alluded to in Long’s essay — that of assuming the reins of power by connecting same to the past. The contentious ‘Donation of Constantine’, in which Constantine is reported to have given the pope political authority and power, provides the back-drop for Osborne’s fascinating view of papal power in the medieval period. He explores the idea that the Vatican obelisk in Piazza S. Pietro was not just perceived as the spot where Peter had suffered his martyrdom, but also as a final resting place for Julius Caesar (although subsequent excavation and testing in the twentieth century failed to find any ashes in the bronze orb). Finally, the author presents the journey of the medieval pilgrim through Rome with its mix of ancient and medieval buildings, illustrating how physical space, not just ideological identification, was fundamental to Rome in this period. It is a thought-provoking, well-researched and extremely readable essay, which should be of great interest not only to classicists, but also to medieval and Church scholars.

Continuing the papal theme, Nicolas Temple’s article ‘Julius II as Second Caesar’ focuses on the Pontificate of Julius II (1503-13) and in particular, the influence of the classical on Renaissance Rome. In the first instance, an epigram alluding to Julius II’s ‘liberation of Italy from tyranny’ (110) is interwoven with Livy’s account of a battle between Veii and Rome in 396 BCE, which, as the author interestingly argues, serves as an example of Julius II as the ‘reviver’ of ancient Roman imperialism. The main thrust of this essay deals with the route of the ancient via triumphalis and the way in which Renaissance attempts to identify this route illustrate the ‘christianizing of pagan imperial symbolism’ (119). The architect Donato Bramante’s plans for the urban redevelopment of Rome are convincingly linked with Caesar’s plans to rebuild Rome. The author skilfully demonstrates how the city of Rome itself became representational of papal power, much as the Emperors themselves sought to establish their prominence by their ambitious building programmes. This essay and the one presented previously by John Osborne work extremely well together and offer the reader insight into how the city of Rome and its buildings changed and were moulded by those in power, whether Imperial or Papal.

Section IV (Statecraft and Nationalism) begins with Louisa Mackenzie’s ‘Imitation Gone Wrong: The ‘Pestilentially Ambitious’ Figure of Julius Caesar in Michel de Montaigne’s Essais ‘, which deals with political fears in sixteenth-century France and in particular, during the French Wars of Religion (1562-94). Mackenzie notes the ‘split vision’ of Caesar as both ‘just conqueror’ and ‘tyrant’ (132), which coloured sentiment from Petrarch onwards, and also demonstrates the popularity of Caesar’s works from 1550 to 1600. Montaigne expressed admiration for the writings of Caesar (as mentioned in Christopher Pelling’s introduction), but was, for the most part, repelled by his person and Mackenzie notes that ‘it is Caesar the political agent rather than Caesar the writer who looms large in the Essais ‘ (135). It is the ambition of Caesar that seems to bother Montaigne the most and the author offers numerous examples of her subject’s frustration with Caesar, in contrast; however, Cato the Younger emerges as ‘a kind of anti-Caesar’ in Montaigne’s Essais based on Sallust’s Bellum Catilinae 54. The message that Montaigne espoused was one of damnation for Caesar’s tactics and his excessive ambition, which should not be followed by sixteenth-century French readers, because he was dangerous and would hasten the decline of France itself. This essay is of particular interest as it carefully illustrates the shift between the glorification of Caesar by later Imperial and early medieval authors and condemnation as expressed by Renaissance and early modern thinkers, which is part of any modern debate on Julius Caesar — do we admire him or fear him?

An interesting analogy between the early American Republic and the late Roman Republic is skilfully handled in the next essay, Margaret Malamud’s ‘Manifest Destiny and the Eclipse of Julius Caesar’, which raises a number of interesting issues about the founding fathers. Malamud has an engaging writing style and the use of newspaper articles, advertisements and speeches delivered by leading politicians gives this essay a unique, human approach. At the crux of Malamud’s excellent essay lies the contrast between the ideals of George Washington (who for instance offered a performance of Addison’s play Cato to bolster the spirits of soldiers wintering in Valley Forge in 1778), along with Thomas Jefferson amongst others, during the revolutionary period, and those of Andrew Jackson, proclaimed as the equivalent of Julius Caesar by some and also as a popularis in contrast to the reasoned classical tradition espoused by the founding fathers. There was only aspect of this essay that jarred this reader, which was that the concept of manifest destiny, which became part of the American psyche in the 1840s/50s, was only discussed in the last two paragraphs of an overall engrossing, well-researched work. Since the concept of manifest destiny strongly coloured American exploration in the 19th century and offered a Christian justification for the removal of native peoples, this essay should have been expanded to include further discussion of what is suggested in its title.

The editor of this volume, Maria Wyke deals with Italian and American national identity in the years prior to the Great War, in ‘Caesar, Cinema, and National Identity in the 1910s’. Wyke illustrates the differences between the Italian film Caius Iulius Caesar (no longer extant), which was intended to inspire a unified nationalism, particularly during the intervento (August 1914-May 1915), and its American version, which was cut to remove any suggestions of immorality, such as the affair between Servilia and Caesar, and ultimately served as an educational tool, applauded for its value in the debate about the importance of the classics in the classroom. Wyke’s article is interesting and informative in its approach, but most of all, fascinating for its snap-shot of society almost a century ago.

In ‘Caesar the Foe’ Giuseppe Pucci presents a lively and engrossing account of the changes from admiration for Napoleon and Napoleon III to damnation by writers and historians, first in the period between the two Emperors (the 1820-1850s) and then following the collapse of the Empire in 1870. Skilfully illustrating the rise of hero worship for Vercingetorix versus condemnation for Caesar in the nineteenth century, Pucci traces this theme in French popular culture up to the present day and in the end notes that it is Vercingetorix that the French admire in the twenty-first century, not Caesar. A recent film argues that the former ‘did not win the Gallic war, but for the first time he had united all the people, who still live on today in our memory’.

In Part V (Theatrical Performance), ‘ Julius Caesar and the Democracy to Come’, by Nicolas Royle, focuses principally on Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar and the promise of democracy in potentia . The author’s use of numerous sources, other writer’s comments, digressions into word formation and extensive asides in the text (in brackets) creates an overall lack of coherency. This meant that whatever point Royle was trying to make could not be easily understood or appreciated even after subsequent re-reading. This essay is far too clever and obscure, and is out of place in this collection. However, Shakespearian scholars will find a plethora of interesting facts and information to tempt them.

Niall W. Slater’s ‘Shaw’s Caesars’ specifically focuses on Shaw’s 1898 play Caesar and Cleopatra , which was not performed until 1906. Slater convincingly argues that Shaw’s interpretation of Caesar is the first example of ‘Superman’, a theme which Shaw returned to again in other, later works. The Caesar of Caesar and Cleopatra is an old, weary man, but one who has a ‘natural’ goodness and was a political genius, which view has had mixed success in the past century. Slater mentions numerous productions of the play throughout the twentieth century, but focuses mainly on a 2002 Canadian presentation which reset the play during the Great War. This makes interesting reading, but not particularly germane to the argument at hand. What Slater does argue well is the influence of Mommsen’s Roman History (1854-6) on Shaw’s version of Caesar, which makes clementia a central feature of the character. The author argues that this is why the play itself continues to fascinate.

In Jane Dunnett’s ‘The Rhetoric of Romanità : Representations of Caesar in Fascist Theatre’, the author demonstrates the various ways that the fascist regime re-interpreted and approached the Roman empire to illustrate the connection between past and present. Beginning with examples of the appropriation of Roman imperial symbols, such as the saluto romano (fascist salute) or the fascio littorio (axe and bundle), by the fascist regime, Romanit became more than just appearance and permeated into ordinary life, thought and debate. The bimillennium of Augustus’ birth (in 1938) allowed Mussolini another opportunity to link the past with the present, by proclaiming that the Roman empire had re-emerged, as he had already declared in his earlier 1936 speech to the people of Rome. Thus, Dunnett carefully sets the stage for further discussion about the usage of Caesar by Mussolini as yet another element of the propagandist appropriation by the fascists during the 20s and 30s. This is particular clear in her discussion of two dramatic works: Corradini’s reworking of his 1902 play about Caesar (in the mid-1920s) and Forzano’s Cesare (performed in the late 1930’s). The first play, Dunnett argues, was able to be critical of the emerging fascist regime, whilst the latter was greatly influenced by Forzano’s admiration for Mussolini.

In Part VI (Warfare and Revolution), Jorit Wintjes’ ‘From ‘Capitano’ to ‘Great Commander’: The Military Reception of Caesar from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth Centuries’ shows the almost universal appeal of Caesar and his campaigns during the modern period in Europe. One major reason was the resurgence of ancient texts during the 15th and 16th centuries, and in particular, Machiavelli’s important study of 1521, which would influence military strategy for the next few hundred years. Wintjes is skilful and comprehensive in showing how these ancient sources were successfully acted upon in practice until the 19th century, when Napoleon was able to demonstrate the unsuitability of the Roman approach for modern warfare, showing in particular, the superiority of the gun over swords and pikes, and contrasting the more mobile nature of contemporary battle with the Roman necessity for camp building on a daily basis. Caesar, however, would continue to be important in relation to military theory (although not necessarily, in practice) up until the years prior to WWI.

Oliver Benjamin Hemmerle takes the argument into French territory in his ‘Crossing the Rubicon into Paris: Caesarian Comparisons from Napoleon to de Gaulle’, which works well with both Pucci’s and Wintjes’ essays. This article illustrates how Napoleon used Caesar as an example for his own political career and the influence of Caesar throughout 19th century France. However, the infamous Boulanger crisis of the 1880s replaced Caesar with Napoleon in popular caricature and sentiment as the French tried to find role models from within France and avoid foreigners. Hemmerle ends his article with analysis of Tulard’s 1971 biography of Napoleon, which shows how the ‘myth of the saviour’ (‘saviour’ of the French people) turned firmly away from Caesar in the 19th and 20th century, thereby confirming that the French approach to their past has completely changed since the death of Napoleon.

In the afterword, the editor, Maria Wyke, offers ‘A Twenty-First Century Caesar’, in which American imperialism, rhetoric and influence, particularly in the 20th century, has been linked by journalists to Rome. The argument that George W. Bush, as represented in the American media, is a successor to Caesar is problematic, as Wyke notes, in that the events under debate are in progress and most importantly, Bush is still alive. It is difficult to analyse contemporaneous events, such as George W. Bush and his administration, from a historical perspective and this is one of the main problems in Wyke’s article. A better example of a twentieth-century American Caesar is, however, alluded to and with frankly more evidence — the presidencies of Franklin Roosevelt with its much more popularist approach (food, welfare, works projects), his intelligence and culture, and finally, his military diplomacy and strategy. Whilst important in viewing American media perspectives since 2001, this article really should have been written following Bush’s time in office.

The majority of the essays in this book are extremely readable and well-researched, which should appeal to scholars across the humanities. Overall, the arguments are interesting and a fascinating read. One or two, however, are not well placed in this collection, such as Walde’s narrow interpretation of Lucan’s Caesar and Royle’s Shakespearian treatise. Furthermore, the essays within this book could have been better organised. For example, Pucci’s article (Part IV) would have been better placed closer to Hemmerle’s (Part VI), and the Italian essays should have been grouped together.

Nevertheless, there is something here for everyone. For classicists, there is enough to re-energise the debate about the influence of Julius Caesar, such as Mark Toher’s excellent essay on Nicolaus of Damascus’ work; and for medieval and modern historians, the varied essays about American, Italian and French opinion should also engage the reader. Overall, this book is timely, engaging and offers the reader a unique and interesting approach to how ancient figures have been manipulated and used throughout history.

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             Julius Caesar- A book review/ preview.              "Currently I am reading a Shakespearean tragedy entitled Julius Caesar. This is an assignment for Miss. Mooney. In this report I will both review aspects of play that I have read and preview or anticipate aspects that I have got to read.".              A tragedy is a "serious play in which the hero becomes engaged in conflict, experienced great suffering and us finally defeated and dies. The hero is usually of noble stature but has a tragic flow or weakness". This play will be a tragedy because of the misunderstanding of the Brutus who is joining the wily Cassius in the plan to assassinate Caesar. .              The main character Brutus in this play is a supposed good friend of Julius Caesar. He is an idealistic man, motivated by nobility and principles. The minor character Cinna is the conspirator who advises Cassius to win Brutus' support for the conspiracy. The dynamic character Mark Antony is Julius Caesar's trusted companion. The static character Portia is Brutus' wife and she is devoted to her husband and is concerned for his safety.              Julius Caesar is largely set in Rome, in February of the year 44 B.C. The setting of Julius Caesar is vital to the understanding of the play. .              Rome is divided by political fight as Caesar makes his victorious entry into the city in 44 BC on the Feast of Lupercal following defeat of Pompey's sons. Fearing Caesar's ambitions, the tribunes Marullus and Flavius criticize before the gathered crowd and strip the statues of his trophies. Caesar is warned by a soothsayer to "Beware the Ides of March." Caesar proudly ignores the warning given by Soothsayer and leaves from there leaving his friend Brutus with the cunning Cassius, who carefully plays tricks upon Brutus of Caesar's ambitions in an enlist Brutus in the conspiracy against Caesar. A month later Cicero and Casca meet during a storm. Casca relates a series of disturbing of unnatural events.

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Essays Related to Julius Caesar

1. julius caesar.

julius caesar book review essay

Julius Caesar, was in fact the most powerful man in the early world and his long reign is well known. From his crafty, strategic battle tactics, to his many mistresses, Julius Caesar has made his mark in history. ... Within it contains factual events of Julius Caesar's death, and it is just the information needed for me to form my theory. Although Julius Caesar was in fact a genius, he was also a mad man. ... Within Julius Caesar's eyes, his hatred rule was over and the curse over the world was lifted. ...

  • Word Count: 372
  • Approx Pages: 1
  • Grade Level: High School

2. Julius Caesar

julius caesar book review essay

Julius Caesar Julius Caesar the king of Rome was a bad king"he is a dreamer: let us leave him. ... Julius Caesar was a bad king because he look upon his people and thought little of what they said "he is a dreamer: let us leave him. ... Julius goes on to say about his people "speak Caesar is turned to hear". ... Here are some more interesting facts that Julius has presented to us. ... All of which have been given to you are facts in which now you decide whether Julius Caesar was a good king or a bad king of Rome. ...

  • Word Count: 482

3. Julius Caesar

julius caesar book review essay

Julius Caesar - Power In William Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar, a group of men conspire to assassinate Caesar; a man they feel will destroy the Roman Empire if he is given such power. ... This is clear in Julius Caesar. ... Julius Caesar shows his desire for ultimate power and loss of judgement when he decides to go to the capital and meet with the senate after Decius convinces him that the senate is thinking about awarding him the crown. ... In Julius Caesar, it is most evident that mostly everyone in power became corrupted and then corrupted the position they held and abused the ...

  • Word Count: 1005
  • Approx Pages: 4

4. Noble Characters in Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar is an honorable leader of the people. Throughout the story Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, the characters Portia, Calpurnia, Julius Caesar, and Brutus all demonstrate noble and honorable characteristics. ... Julius Caesar is a noble leader who does not fear death. ... Portia, Calpurnia, Julius Caesar, and Brutus are all noble and honorable people throughout the story Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. ... Julius Caesar is an honorable leader of the Roman citizens. ...

  • Word Count: 870
  • Approx Pages: 3

5. Julius caesar

Julius Caesar It shows quite clearly the structural and psychological features of tragedy. ... Themis and Nemesis can be seen in Julius Caesar. ... But the beginning of the fourth act of Julius Caesar brings in reversal of the situation what Aristotle called "peripeteia": it is now Brutus and his fellow conspirators who are haunted, and Caesar friends are the haunters. ... The idea here: is Brutus Personal friendship for Caesar, conflicts with belief that Caesar's power is a danger to Roman democracy. ... What makes Julius Caesar a tragedy, and a great tragedy, is that it deals wi...

  • Word Count: 788

6. powerplay (Julius Caesar)

julius caesar book review essay

This is an essay on powerplay written only about Julius Caesar. ... Powerplay is portrayed in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar is a play written by Sir William Shakespeare, which successfully depicts the powerplay within nature and individual. The play is all about Julius Caesar who is betrayed by the conspirators who withhold power over hium in many ways, and try to overtake the power Caesar had over Rome, by killing Caesar. ... He constantly praises the conspirators in his speech yet indirectly suggests their cruelty through the repetition of "But Brutus says he was ambit...

  • Word Count: 406

7. Building Suspense in Julius Caesar

julius caesar book review essay

The death of Julius Caesar is a central event of the play, Julius Caesar, and as such much anticipation is created before this event actually occurs. ... They feared for their social standing as Julius Caesar had promised the people of Rome more equality and less poverty. ... They saw Julius Caesar as a threat to the luxurious life they were accustomed to living and so they wanted him gone. ... " Julius was thought of by many to be god-like while Cassius was just another man. ... In Julius Caesar, the suspense builds up until it eventually collapses in the central event of the play; Cae...

  • Word Count: 864

8. Julius Caesar

Roman Civil War And Caesar If anyone had hoped that the assassination of Julius Caesar would bring about the return of Republican rule, they must surely have been disappointed, for the political turbulence simply continued. ... In the and, Julius Caesar's great nephew and adopted son Octavian known to history as Augustus Caesar outmaneuvered and outfought everyone. ... In the battle of Philippi, in northern Greece in 42b.c., Octavian and his allies defeated the conspirators who had assassinated Julius Caesar. ... Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus held both military c...

  • Word Count: 515

9. Julius Caesar - Hero or Villain

Julius Caesar had such a powerful effect on the world it's quite amazing. ... Caesar came to want all the power and rule of Rome, Julius wanted to make all decisions for every one. ... Julius Caesar was becoming Tyrannical. ... Julius had gotten his opportunity in Roman politics and ran with it, Julius Caesar had success after success with everything he approached. ... Julius Caesar was a dictator for ten years when the usual dictators...

  • Word Count: 3043
  • Approx Pages: 12
  • Has Bibliography

10. Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar: Brutus or Caesar As the Protagonist The play Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, tells the story of a man trying his best to make reasonable, rational decisions. ... Undoubtedly, Brutus is the main character, and driving force of the play, despite the misleading title of Julius Caesar. Three critical aspects show the reader the non-essentialness of Julius Caesar. ... Caesar had nothing to do with their deaths. ... Marcus Brutus is the protagonist of the play, Julius Caesar. ...

  • Word Count: 708
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New York and Hollywood Lore by Amor Towles (Martini Optional)

“Table for Two” is a collection of six stories and a novella set in two very different cultural capitals.

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The book cover for “Table for Two,” by Amor Towles, shows a black-and-white photograph of a formally dressed couple sitting at a table with drinks.

By Hamilton Cain

Hamilton Cain is a book critic and the author of “This Boy’s Faith: Notes From a Southern Baptist Upbringing.”

TABLE FOR TWO: Fictions , by Amor Towles

Few literary stylists not named Ann Patchett attain best-sellerdom, but Amor Towles makes the cut. His three lauded novels — “Rules of Civility,” “A Gentleman in Moscow” and “The Lincoln Highway” — hung around on lists for months, if not years. But Towles’s commercial brio belies the care and craft he lavishes on each piece, evidenced now in “Table for Two,” a knockout collection of six stories and a longish novella.

The book spans the 20th century, bringing characters from a range of backgrounds into tableaus of deceit and desire. Beneath his coifed prose Towles is a master of the shiv, the bait and switch; we see the flash of light before the shock wave strikes, often in the final sentence.

“Table for Two” is a tale of two cities, New York and Los Angeles, cultural capitals on opposite ends of the continent but forever tracking the other’s trends and deals, a mutual voyeurism. Towles devotes the first section to New York, its wealthy and famous shuffling against strivers and innocents in La Guardia terminals, musty bookstores or immigrant communities.

“The Bootlegger” depicts a woman’s epiphany after a Carnegie Hall concert. In “The Line,” a naïve Communist builds a lucrative business that steers him to Manhattan, where con games lurk on every corner. In “The Ballad of Timothy Touchett,” an allegory of 1990s excess, a rare-books dealer with the Dickensian name of Pennybrook manipulates the sympathies of his young assistant, who forges autographs of eminent authors until he’s busted by one. “Hasta Luego” tells the unnerving story of an alcoholic snowbound in a Midtown bar on the cusp of the millennium; Towles can’t resist mentions of Motorola and Nokia flip phones, reminding us how far away the near past really is.

But the Oscar goes to “Eve in Hollywood,” a novella that unfolds during the filming of “Gone With the Wind.” Towles tricks out the Tinseltown lore in a homage to the heyday of studio moguls and the hard-boiled fiction of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, even alluding to actual legends like Errol Flynn’s use of two-way mirrors and peepholes.

Towles plucks a character from “Rules of Civility,” Evelyn Ross, who’d vanished on a Chicago-bound train, picking up her narrative as she’s traveling to California. In the dining car she meets Charlie, a retired L.A.P.D. officer who will later prove an asset. She checks into the Beverly Hills Hotel, where she befriends an eclectic crew: a portly, has-been actor; a chauffeur with stuntman aspirations; and the rising star Olivia de Havilland. Lithe and blond, sporting an upper-class air and a distinctive facial scar, Eve is fearless, equally at home among poolside cabanas and seedy clubs where the music’s loud and the booze flows.

“From across the room you could see that no one had a leash on her,” one petty crook observes. “With the narrowed eyes of a killer, she was sussing out the place, and she liked what she saw. She liked the band, the tempo, the tequila — the whole shebang. If Dehavvy was bandying about with the likes of this one, you wouldn’t have long to wait for the wrong place and the wrong time to have their tearful reunion.”

When nude photos of de Havilland go missing, part of a larger tabloid plot, Eve vows to save her friend’s reputation. She’s a femme fatale turned inside out, matching wits amid an array of villains, including a former cop with a double cross up his sleeve. Towles is clearly enjoying himself, nodding to noir classics such as “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Chinatown” and “L.A. Confidential.” The period details are nearly airtight, although I did notice tiny anachronisms about Elizabeth Taylor and the slang term “easy peasy.”

“Table for Two” delivers the kick of a martini served in the Polo Lounge — the cover art is a cropped image of a couple at a bar, dressed in black tie — but there’s more here than high gloss. Both coasts are ideal settings for morality plays about power, as Towles cunningly weaves in themes of exploitation, an allusion to Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” a bust of Julius Caesar glimpsed by Eve on the Ides of March. Whether we’re living in the era of late-stage capitalism is beside the point; money, Towles suggests, will simply mutate into another form, preying on the vulnerable. “When it moves, it moves quickly, without a sound, a second thought, or the slightest hint of consequence,” he writes. “Like the wind that spins a windmill, money comes out of nowhere, sets the machinery in motion, then disappears without a trace.” It’s on us to summon our better angels.

Sharp-edged satire deceptively wrapped like a box of Neuhaus chocolates, “Table for Two” is a winner.

TABLE FOR TWO : Fictions | By Amor Towles | Viking | 451 pp. | $32

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Julius Caesar

Publisher description.

The Oxford School Shakespeare has become the preferred introduction to the literary legacy of the greatest playwright in the English language. This exclusive collection of the Bard's best works has been designed specifically for readers new to Shakespeare's rich literary legacy. Each play is presented complete and unabridged, in large print. Every book is well illustrated, and starts with a commentary and character summary. Scene synopses and character summaries clarify confusing plots, while incisive essays explore the historical context and Shakespeare's sources. Each book ends with a complete list of Shakespeare's plays and a brief chronology of the Bard's life. The detailed explanatory notes are written clearly and positioned right next to the text--no more squinting at microscopic footnotes or flipping pages back and forth in search of endnotes! The new edition of the series features new covers and new illustrations, including both new drawings and photos from recent productions of Shakespeare's plays around the globe. In addition, the notes and the introductory material have been completely revised in line with new research and in order to make them clearer and more accessible. Finally, the entire text has been redesigned and reset to enhance readability. The new edition achieves the feat of unprecedented clarity of presentation without any cuts to the original text or the detailed explanations.

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  1. Julius Caesar Sample Essay Outlines

    A. Caesar's death causes a power struggle in Rome as the conspirators become the new leaders. B. Brutus' funeral speech and his rise to power as the crowds want to make him king. C. Antony's ...

  2. Julius Caesar (Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

    Essays and criticism on William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar - Julius Caesar - (Magill Book Reviews) Select an area of the website to search Julius Caesar All Study Guides Homework Help Lesson Plans

  3. Julius Caesar Study Guide

    The story of the noble Brutus being undone by his dispassionate logic and his trust in Cassius conforms much more closely to the literary model of tragedy. The best study guide to Julius Caesar on the planet, from the creators of SparkNotes. Get the summaries, analysis, and quotes you need.

  4. A+ Student Essay: The Portrayal of Women in Julius Caesar

    Julius Caesar is a play about men: their relationships, their culture, and their actions. In the male-dominated world of ancient Rome, characters have a distinct understanding of what it means to be or act like a man. Women in Julius Caesar represent everything that Roman men are not supposed to be—however, the utter disdain men show for feminine traits eventually proves shortsighted, as the ...

  5. Julius Caesar Critical Essays

    Critical Evaluation. The first of William Shakespeare's so-called Roman plays—which include Coriolanus (pr. c. 1607-1608, pb. 1623) and Antony and Cleopatra (pr. c. 1606-1607, pb. 1623 ...

  6. Julius Caesar Summary

    Julius Caesar Summary. Julius Caesar opens with a scene of class conflict, the plebeians versus the tribunes. The plebeians are celebrating Caesar's victory over the sons of Pompey, one of the former leaders of Rome. The tribunes verbally attack the masses for their fickleness in celebrating the defeat of a man who was once their leader.

  7. Julius Caesar: Study Guide

    Overview. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, written in 1599, is a gripping historical tragedy that unfolds against the backdrop of ancient Rome. The play dramatizes the events leading to the assassination of Julius Caesar and the aftermath of the conspiracy. It investigates themes of political power, honor, and fate versus ...

  8. Julius Caesar: Mini Essays

    Early in the play, Caesar gives an order to Antony, who declares that Caesar is so powerful that words equal action by the mere fact of his having pronounced them. After Caesar's death, words cease to have this kind of absolute power until Octavius arrives on the battlefield. When Antony tells him to attack from one side of the field ...

  9. Julius Caesar

    From his reign onward, every Roman emperor took the title of Caesar. Julius Caesar is utterly fascinating, but he leaves the historian with more questions than answers. The evidence for his life is relatively rich by the slim standards of ancient history, but it is deeply partisan and highly colored by later events.

  10. Essays on "Julius Caesar"

    Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare is a play about Julius Caesar, a real Roman Emperor who is assassinated by political enemies that he thinks are his friends. These stories are very different, but in both dreams and omens are very…. Dream. Paper Type:850 Word Essay Examples. 39 Supernatural in Julius Caesar.

  11. Julius caesar

    Julius Caesar Question Honor is the glory and respect given to somebody because of their achievement according to this play. Pride on the other hand is a deep feeling of satisfaction derived from ones previous achievements. Honor and pride are related in that both are brought about by high achievements than the rest of the people.

  12. Julius Caesar: Full Play Analysis

    Full Play Analysis. Julius Caesar tells the story of how the Roman Republic came to its end. The Republic was viewed as a high point in history, both by its participants and by those who came after, because its institutions divided power among a number of people (senators and tribunes) rather than concentrating it in one person.

  13. Julius Caesar Summary

    Julius Caesar Summary. J ulius Caesa r by William Shakespeare is a play about the assassination of Caesar, the leader of the Roman Republic.. Caesar's growing popularity inspires jealousy among ...

  14. Julius Caesar: Critical Survey :: Internet Shakespeare Editions

    Levin's 1979 book effectively rang the death knell of thematic criticism for Julius Caesar as Knight originally ... Modern Language Review 53 (1958), 327-43. Bartlett, ... Hunter, Mark. "Politics and Character in Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar.'" Essays by Divers Hands, n.s. 10 (1931), 109-40. Johnson, Samuel. Johnson on Shakespeare. Ed. Arthur ...

  15. The Cambridge Companion to the Writings of Julius Caesar

    Preview [Authors and titles are listed at the end of the review.] As he crossed the Alps, returning to his army in Gaul in 55 or 54 BCE, Caesar took the time to pen his De Analogia, a grammatical treatise dedicated to his stylistic rival Cicero.It tells us something significant about Caesar's character and preoccupations that, even in the midst of military maneuvers, a corner of his fine ...

  16. Julius Caesar in Western Culture

    Maria Wyke , Julius Caesar in western culture . Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub, 2006. xvii, 365 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm. ISBN 9781405125987 . $34.95 (pb). This book and its collection of essays developed out of a conference held at the British School at Rome in March 2003. The topics range from the earliest depiction of Caesar through to the ...

  17. FREE Julius Caesar Essay

    Julius Caesar- A book review/ preview. "Currently I am reading a Shakespearean tragedy entitled Julius Caesar. This is an assignment for Miss. Mooney. In this report I will both review aspects of play that I have read and preview or anticipate aspects that I have got to read.". ... This is an essay on powerplay written only about Julius Caesar ...

  18. thelandmarkcaesar.com

    the entire corpus, we have numbered the books in sequence, with the Gallic war of. 58-50 B.C.E. covered by Books 1-8 of The Landmark Julius Caesar, the civil war of 49. and 48 by Books 9-11, wars in Egypt, Anatolia and other parts of the Roman empire in. 47 by Book 12 (Alexandrian War), the second round of the civil wars in 46 by Book 13.

  19. Return of the Caesars: the making of emperors and dictators

    Review FT Books Essay. ... Big Caesars and Little Caesars: How They Rise and How They Fall — From Julius Caesar to Boris Johnson by Ferdinand Mount, Bloomsbury £20, 304 pages.

  20. Julius Caesar Criticism

    The main purpose of Shakespeare's persistent dissociation of Caesar's body and spirit is, no doubt, to show up the foolishness and futility of the assassination. The whole second part of the play ...

  21. Book Review: 'Table for Two,' by Amor Towles

    March 30, 2024, 5:02 a.m. ET. TABLE FOR TWO: Fictions, by Amor Towles. Few literary stylists not named Ann Patchett attain best-sellerdom, but Amor Towles makes the cut. His three lauded novels ...

  22. Julius Caesar: Full Play Summary

    Julius Caesar Full Play Summary. Two tribunes, Flavius and Murellus, find scores of Roman citizens wandering the streets, neglecting their work in order to watch Julius Caesar 's triumphal parade: Caesar has defeated the sons of the deceased Roman general Pompey, his archrival, in battle. The tribunes scold the citizens for abandoning their ...

  23. Julius Caesar: Suggested Essay Topics

    Suggestions for essay topics to use when you're writing about Julius Caesar. ... Suggestions. Use up and down arrows to review and enter to select. A Streetcar Named Desire Don Quixote Fahrenheit 451 Much Ado About Nothing The Book Thief Menu. Literature; Shakespeare; Other Subjects ... Julius Caesar, a play about statehood and leadership, is ...

  24. Julius Caesar (Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

    Julius Caesar 100 b.c.-44 b.c. (Full name Gaius Julius Caesar) Roman prose writer, general, and dictator. Widely acknowledged as a military genius, Caesar extended Rome's boundary to the Atlantic ...

  25. ‎Julius Caesar on Apple Books

    The Oxford School Shakespeare has become the preferred introduction to the literary legacy of the greatest playwright in the English language. This exclusive collection of the Bard's best works has been designed specifically for readers new to Shakespeare's rich literary legacy. Each play is present…