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And while Jonson might call forth these grand and ancient names to pay tribute, he also implies that his beloved friend might nonetheless excel them all. The bloodthirsty tragedies of Seneca had an important influence on Elizabethan English drama. Usage terms Public Domain. In the upper forms, boys were required to talk exclusively in Latin; by the time he left, Shakespeare is likely to have known as much of the language as a Classics graduate today, and be considerably more experienced at speaking it.

What did Shakespeare and his schoolmates read?

Usage terms Public Domain in most countries other than the UK. Yet while Shakespeare may have drawn a great deal of inspiration from Roman authors, when it comes to depicting Rome itself he wishes us to be under no illusions about what life at the imperial centre might actually be like. Egypt is repeatedly portrayed as exotic, feminised, shifting and sexily sensual, while Rome is the hardened opposite: a world of chilly, chiselled masculine certainties.

As Octavius Caesar puts it, complaining that Egypt has made his rival go soft:. Antony, Leave thy lascivious wassails.

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The Myth of Rome in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries

Thou didst drink The stale of horses, and the gilded puddle Which beasts would cough at. We might be tempted to side with Antony. Coriolanus , written a few years after Antony and Cleopatra yet dealing with semi-legendary events in the 5th century BC, is even more unstinting in its depiction of life at the seat of empire. What we discover inside the walls of the polis is ghastly: citizens starving through famine, and a lordly ruling class who care so little for the suffering of the people that they are accused of stockpiling food.

Outside Roman territory, there is a near-Orwellian permanent war, most recently an ongoing conflict with the Volscians. Inside the gates, the city is close to revolt, with a dysfunctional political system in which an unstable and unreliable democracy struggles under the shifting demands of realpolitik , notably between the tribunes Brutus and Sicinius supposed to represent the people but unashamedly self-interested and the aristocratic Senate. Nowhere is this truer than in Julius Caesar , his most thoroughly Roman text and perhaps his most tightly plotted play. Written soon after the playwright completed his two paired cycles of English histories, the drama is relentless in its focus on how power is actually wielded and how democracy mal functions.

Brutus and the ghost of Caesar. Though the tragedy feels undeniably approximate in its depiction of Roman life — the wise-talking cobblers and carpenters that open the action seem to have strolled off the streets of Elizabethan London, let alone the presence of that clock — it is less a piece of historiography than a play that thinks about Rome much more deeply and quizzically, a working out of classical concepts Shakespeare first encountered behind a schooldesk.

There he would have been required to engage in disputatio in utramque partem , a Ciceronian exercise that involved arguing both sides of a political-cum-philosophical point, and which honed not only lawyerly techniques but emphasised the fact that every argument has at least two sides. The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry. A Companion to Shakespeare's Sonnets. The Complete Sonnets and Poems.

An Introduction to Shakespeare's Poems. The Life in the Sonnets. The Sense of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Shakespeare and Elizabethan Poetry. Shakespeare and Popular Music. Shakespeare: The Sonnets. Shakespeare's Poems. Shakespeare's Sonnets and Narrative Poems.


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Dover Wilson. Speech and Performance in Shakespeare's Sonnets and Plays. The Structure of Shakespeare's Sonnets. William Shakespeare: Sonnets and Poems. The World of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Aspects of dramatic form in the English and the Irish Renaissance. Making Shakespeare : From stage to page. Shakespeare and the popular tradition in the theater : studies in the social dimension of dramatic form and function. Shakespeare's dramatic genres. Shakespeare's Shakespeare : how the plays were made. An A-Z Guide to Shakespeare.

The Cambridge Shakespeare Guide. The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare. A Dictionary of Quotations from Shakespeare. The Greenwood Companion to Shakespeare. The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare. The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare.

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Playing Shakespeare: An Actor's Guide. The Routledge Guide to William Shakespeare. Shakespeare: A Study and Research Guide. Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide.

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Shakespeare Handbook. Studying Shakespeare: A Guide to the Plays. A Theatergoer's Guide to Shakespeare. The Cambridge introduction to Shakespeare's history plays. A kingdom for a stage; the achievement of Shakespeare's history plays. Shakespeare and politics. Shakespeare, the Queen's Men, and the Elizabethan performance of history. Shakespeare's early history plays : politics at play on the Elizabethan stage.

Shakespeare's English : language in the history plays. Shakespeare's history plays. Shakespeare's history plays : performance, translation, and adaptation in Britain and abroad. Shakespeare's Holinshed: an edition of Holinshed's Chronicles, ; source of Shakespeare's history.

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Shakespeare's kings : the great plays and the history of England in the Middle Ages, Shakespeare's political drama : the history plays and the Roman plays. Shakespeare's political realism : the English history plays. Shakespeare's Roman Plays. Shakespeare's serial history plays. Staging politics : the lasting impact of Shakespeare's histories. William Shakespeare.


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The Artist and society in Shakespeare's England. A companion to Shakespeare studies. The crown of life; essays in interpretation of Shakespeare's final plays. Muriel Bradbrook on Shakespeare. Northrop Frye on Shakespeare. Prefaces to Shakespeare. Reinventing Shakespeare : a cultural history, from the Restoration to the present. Shakespeare and literary theory.

Shakespeare and the medieval world. Shakespeare and the theatre of wonder.

Shakespeare : contrasts and controversies. The Shakespeare controversy : an analysis of the authorship theories. Shakespeare the craftsman. Shakespeare; the critical heritage. Shakespeare : the seven ages of human experience.


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Shakespearean criticism : excerpts from the criticism of William Shakespeare's plays and poetry, from the first published appraisals to current evaluations. Shakespeare's impact on his contemporaries. Shakespearian dimensions. Shakespeare's workmanship. Studies in Shakespeare. William Shakespeare : his world, his work, his influence.

The Cambridge companion to Shakespeare on stage.