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Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare's Julius…

Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht…

by Garry Wills

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It is unlikely that Rome and rhetoric. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar will ever find or was even intended for a wide, general readership. Essentially, it is a small monograph on Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. The book consists of four lectures, each dedicated to a figure in the play, respectively Caesar, Brutus, Anthony and Cassius. The author very convincingly shows how old Roman rhetoric shapes the play. Renaisance writers loved contrived word play, and Julius Caesar is full of it: various tropes, and rhetorical figures are explained and illustrated with examples from the play. Besides the role of rhetoric, the lectures highlight various details about the play, bringing together a wealth of insight in the connections between the classical world and the renaissance view of that antique world.

Rome and rhetoric. Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is a very interesting, but rather specialized book of literary criticism. ( )
  edwinbcn | Feb 15, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0300152183, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:28 -0400)

Offers a thorough examination of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, explaining how the Bard made Ancient Rome so appealing to the Elizabethan audience through the use of rhetorical twists.

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