Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

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Yale University Press, 2011 - DRAMA - 197 pages
3 Reviews

Renaissance plays and poetry in England were saturated with the formal rhetorical twists that Latin education made familiar to audiences and readers. Yet a formally educated man like Ben Jonson was unable to make these ornaments come to life in his two classical Roman plays. Garry Wills, focusing his attention on "Julius Caesar," here demonstrates how Shakespeare so wonderfully made these ancient devices vivid, giving his characters their own personal styles of Roman speech.

In four chapters, devoted to four of the play's main characters, Wills shows how Caesar, Brutus, Antony, and Cassius each has his own take on the rhetorical ornaments that Elizabethans learned in school. Shakespeare also makes Rome present and animate by casting his troupe of experienced players to make their strengths shine through the historical facts that Plutarch supplied him with. The result is that the Rome English-speaking people carry about in their minds is the Rome that Shakespeare created for them. And that is even true, Wills affirms, for today's classical scholars with access to the original Roman sources.


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Review: Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

User Review  - Goodreads

Brilliant, short little awesome book. A must read for Shakespeare fans. Read full review

Review: Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

User Review  - Goodreads

I wish I had commentary like this for every Shakespeare play I've ever read. Smart but not haughty. Eminently readable. Read full review


ONECaesarMighty Yet
TWOBrutusRhetoric Verbal and Visual
THREEAntonyThe Fox Knows Many Things
FOURCassiusParallel Lives

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About the author (2011)

Garry Wills is an adjunct professor and cultural historian in the Department of History at Northwestern Universityand the author of "Lincoln at Gettysburg", for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.

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