Humanities 3 IV. Skepticism and Self-Knowledge

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1 Humanities 3 IV. Skepticism and Self-Knowledge

2 Lecture 15 The Price of Liberty

3 Outline Shakespeare s England Shakespeare and the Theatre Historical Background to Julius Caesar What s at Issue in the Play Shakespeare s Language

4 Elizabeth I (reigned )

5 Elizabeth s Reign Elizabeth comes to the throne unexpectedly at a young age (25) As an unmarried woman, her authority is vulnerable from the start. Throughout her reign, she brilliantly (and ruthlessly) controls the powerful men around her Religion and a powerful Spain are constant threats England defeats the Spanish Armada in 1588; this brings Elizabeth enormous popularity The cult of the queen (virgin, warrior, goddess) grows (think Botticelli s Pallas Athena)

6 Elizabeth to her People I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a King of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any Prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm.

7 Final Years Elizabeth faced one of her last threats from Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex (b. 1565), who earlier had been one of her favorites He wins glory fighting the Spanish, but fails when given the task of suppressing rebellion in Ireland Against the queen s orders he returns to England; a series of legal proceedings ensue to reduce him; he resists and ultimately leads a troop of his followers to force an audience with the queen He is arrested for treason, convicted and beheaded on February 15, 1601

8 England under James I Son of Mary, Queen of Scots (daughter of Mary of Guise, widow of Francis I of France) and her second husband Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Descendent of Mary Tudor, the sister of Henry VIII. Ruled Scotland as James VI from , when he ascended to the throne of Great Britain, succeeding Elizabeth I. James parent were Roman Catholics; he was raised a Protestant. With his wife, Anne of Denmark, he fathered three surviving children, including Charles who succeeded him in 1625 and was executed in 1649.

9 The Divine Right of Kings Prior to ascending to the English throne, James wrote two works in which he laid out his view of the absolute authority of monarchs. He presents the view in his speech to Parliament of March The issue is whether the king s policies and requests for funds are subject to the approval of parliament or whether parliament assembles only to hear and assent to the king s intentions.

10 Kings as Gods Kings are not only God s Lieutenants on earth, but are in effect gods themselves: Kings are justly called Gods, for they exercise a manner or resemblance of divine power on earth. Kings have, under the law of nature, paternal authority (Patriam potestem), which is the power of life and death over their children. As the head of the natural body (the nation), the king has the power of directing all the members of the body to that use which the judgment of the head thinks best. (p. 106)

11 Shakespeare and the Theatre Around 1585 Shakespeare leaves Stratford and joins a company of players as a minor actor and playwright Between 1590 and 1611 he composes as many as 40 plays, as well as 154 sonnets and several other major poems 1599: Globe Theatre, in which Shakespeare is an investor, opens; Julius Caesar written and performed 1603: James I issues a patent to Shakespeare s troupe, who rename themselves the King s Men ; plague kills at least 33,000 in London

12 The Plays: 1623 Folio Edition

13 Place of the Theatre in London Plays offer an occasion for the people to congregate and express their views; they also shape public opinion. For these reasons they are dangerous in the eyes of the authorities Playwrights are subject to censorship, suppression, imprisonment and worse, if deemed to be covertly political Shakespeare is careful not to step over the line and is able to stay on good terms with the monarchy. He problematizes the understanding of politics and morality without challenging the status quo.

14 Shakespeare s Aims Entertainment: plays are pitched simultaneously to the people (lots of low humor) and noble, educated audiences (including the sovereign) Address the issues of the day: the idea of the English nation (historical plays); the conflict among values (e.g. honor and loyalty) Most originally, the enactment of psychological conflict; in S s greatest works, the play mirrors the mind of a character struggling to act as the situation requires (most famously, Hamlet)

15 Cassius to Brutus (1.2) And since you know you cannot see yourself So well as by reflection, I your glass Will modestly discover to yourself That of yourself which you yet know not of.

16 Julius Caesar The production of Julius Caesar occurs at a moment in English history when people are growing anxious about Elizabeth s reign. The play dramatizes topical questions: What allegiance is owed to a ruler? How far must a ruler go before that allegiance can be broken? How are honor and loyalty to be balanced? S. is able to address these questions through Julius Caesar because he is not a lawful king; he has usurped power. The question of what is permissible in defense of the republic does not arise in England.

17 Julius Caesar: Main Characters Julius Caesar Calpurnia: wife of Caesar Plebeians Tribunes: Flavius, Marullus Conspirators: Cassius, Brutus, Casca, etc. Allies of Caesar, who form triumvirate after his death: Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony), Octavius Caesar, Marcus Lepidus

18 History of the Roman Republic Founded in 509 BC, after defeat of last king Republic governed by two consuls, elected annually, and the senate Power divided between the patricians (ancient noble families) and the plebeians (including property owners who lack noble status) Throughout the history of the republic conflict between the classes is a constant Crucial is the power of the army and the generals who command it; for this reason, the army is not allowed within the borders of the republic

19 First Triumvirate 59 BC Three generals, Caesar, Pompey and Crassus make private agreement to share the consulship 53 BC Crassus killed in battle 51 BC Caesar conquers Gaul and publishes The Gallic Wars 49 BC Pompey granted dictatorial powers (supported by Optimates = Patricians); Caesar crosses the Rubicon and marches on Rome; Pompey flees with Optimates to Egypt 48 BC Caesar arrives in Egypt: Pompey killed; affair with Cleopatra

20 Roman provinces in 44 BC

21 Background to Julius Caesar 44 BC (actually October 45): Julius Caesar returns to Rome after quelling a revolt led by the sons of his former rival Pompey He is hailed by some, but other resent the celebration because triumphs are reserved for victories over foreign enemies February 44: C. named perpetual dictator ; offered crown by M. Antony, but C. refuses March 15 (the Ides of March): Caesar assassinated by conspirators

22 Issues in Julius Caesar Caesar has amassed too much personal power and has taken on the trappings of a king; some want to make him king Other Romans cling to the ideal of the republic, and see only one way to preserve it: kill Caesar The drama of the play centers on the psychology of Brutus, a noble of unimpeachable character Brutus choice can be seen as a judgment on the legitimacy of the act, yet it is an act that will destroy him. That is the essence of the play as a tragedy

23 Caesar above himself Flavius: These growing feathers pluck d from Caesar s wing / Will make him fly an ordinary pitch, / Who else would soar above the view of men / And keep us all in servile fearfulness. (1.1) Cassius: Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world / Like a Colossus, and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs and peep about / To find ourselves dishonourable graves (1.2)

24 Shakespeare s Language Caesar: Let me have men about me that are fat, / Sleek-headed men, and such as sleep o nights: / Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; / He thinks too much: such men are dangerous (1.2) Casca: but for my own part, it was Greek to me. (1.2) Mark Antony: Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears (3.2)

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