Richard Wilson
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The echoes of Rome in Julius Caesar
in Free Will
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The echoes of Rome appear to strike the author of Julius Caesar as both literal and figurative. In the circular world of Julius Caesar, as Theodor Adorno wrote of Richard Wagner's opera house at Bayreuth, 'every step forwards is a step back into the remote past'. Like Marat, William Shakespeare's revolutionaries intend to be authors of a 'lofty scene' that abstracts 'peace, freedom, and liberty' from the carnal matter of the dead sovereignty. In Julius Caesar Shakespeare's Roman triumph is said to reprise Elizabeth's Armada parade. The 'conscious classical parallel' with the empire structured Elizabeth's festivals because the regime projected its power as a Roman renovatio, and English poets 'thought of these shows as "triumphs"'. Of all the 'untimely matters' in Julius Caesar it is the installation of 'the public chair' or official 'pulpit' that introduces the greatest derangement of Shakespeare's playhouse yet attracts least comment.

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Free Will

Art and power on Shakespeare’s stage


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