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.
About Garry Wills
Garry Wills is professor of history emeritus at Northwestern University. His many acclaimed and best-selling works include Lincoln at Gettysburg, What Jesus Meant, and Bomb Power: The Modern Presidency and the National Security State. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award, Wills is a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and other publications.
“This tour de force . . . shows why our view of ancient Rome is very much Shakespeare’s.”—Publishers Weekly
“Informed by Rome’s great rhetoricians, Wills scrutinizes the kinds of rhetoric employed by Caesar, Brutus, Antony, and Cassius in turn, showing how these disclose their characters. . . . [A] penetrating, provocative analysis.”—Booklist
“Rome and Rhetoric is a fascinating look at the way Shakespeare has shaped our view of ancient Rome through the characters of his Julius Caesar.”—Philip Freeman, Author of Julius Caesar
Will in the Middle
The New York Times Book Review – November 25, 2011 (Excerpt)
Shakespeare scholarship is one of the world’s thriving industries, with no factories but worldwide workshops. While you are reading this, there must be hundreds (thousands?) of worthies turning out articles and books from pole to pole. But Garry Wills has upped the ante with a simultaneous pair of books. Though modest in size (hardly a drawback), they gain added interest from being the works of an eminent historian who has frequently ventured elsewhere — e.g., to the Roman poet Martial and St. Augustine — but here strikes out into, for him, not entirely new but for many of us surprising territory.
The longer of the books, “Verdi’s Shakespeare: Men of the Theater,” is as much about the playwright as about the composer turning three of the plays into operas. “Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ ” is about Roman history interpreted and reinterpreted by Shakespeare, largely through the four principal characters in “Julius Caesar.” Even more than their actions, Wills examines their diverse individual rhetoric.
The shorter book is a reworking of the Anthony Hecht Lectures delivered at Bard College in 2009, and is in the main what the French call explication de texte and we, textual analysis or close reading. The oratorical and conversational styles of Caesar, Antony, Brutus and Cassius are scrutinized for the use of such devices as ironia,praeteritio (making a point by saying one would avoid it),interrogatio, partitio (breaking down a theme into its parts), anaphora (beginning consecutive phrases with the same word), aposiopesis (stopping in midsentence and scoring through implication) and chiasmus (phrases or clauses in mirror image, e.g., Quintilian’s “I live not in order to eat but eat in order to live,” a sort of crossed order), which, for some reason, Wills calls chiasm. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
FrogenYozurt.com may generate ad income and accept advertising/ads and links. Paid entries are marked as “Paid Articles.” Entries describing a product (book reviews, etc.) may contain descriptions provided by the manufacturer or other sources (Amazon.Com, etc.).
All entries marked as "Satire" may refer to actual persons or events, however, the content is of a satirical nature based on the writers' personal views and should not be taken seriously. All other entries reflect personal opinions on various topics.
All content on this website has been posted under the impression that they do not infringe any copyrights. However, if this site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner, we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Should you suspect a copyright infringement or any other legal issues with posts on this website, please contact the editor through the contact form as indicated on the top navigation bar, and we will remove the post immediately. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.