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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: January ::
Re: Lepidus
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0047. Wednesday, 17 January 1996.

(1)     From:   Steve Sohmer <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Jan 1996 20:20:02 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0044  Lepidus

(2)     From:   C. David Frankel <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 Jan 1996 20:52:11 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0044 Comparative Lepidus;


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steve Sohmer <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Jan 1996 20:20:02 -0500
Subject: 7.0044  Lepidus
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0044  Lepidus

For Harry Hill: regarding Lepidus.

Lepidus, you must remember, was elected Pontifex Maximus on the death of
Caesar. His election to the post of "Chief Bishoppe of Rome" as North called
him in his Plutarch of 1579, was engineering by Antony in order that the title
and honor not go to Octavius. Prior to his death, Caesar had forced a bill
through the Senate which entitled Caesar's successor to both his civic and
religious honors. Caesar had been Pontifex Maximus for some twenty years at the
time of his death. Although Octavius eventually stripped Lepidus of his command
and his provinces and forced him into retirement, Octavius did not deprive
Lepidus of his title of Pontifex Maximus. On the death of Lepidus (12 BC)
Octavius took the title, and Roman emperors thereafter were both head-of-state
and head-of-church (as was one European monarch in Shakespeare's time,
Elizabeth I).

Shakespeare does not have a very high opinion of Lepidus' intellect. See
Antony's description of Lepidus in the "black proscriptions" scene in Julius
Caesar. I think Shakespeare wrote the Lepidus of A&C as an impotent clergyman
trying to bring adversaries together (a hopeless task).

Antony, too, was a priest, having been named chief priest of the new college of
Lupercii which was created to honor Caesar in 44BC. Which is why Antony runs
the course in Shakespeare's play as he did in Plutarch. Shakespeare would have
known all the above from his reading of Plutarch.

If you need more info, please write. Good luck!

Steve Sohmer

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           C. David Frankel <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 Jan 1996 20:52:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 7.0044 Comparative Lepidus;
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0044 Comparative Lepidus;

>                      I must not think there are
>                            [terrific line-break, giving
>                            me certain clues about
>                            interpretation]
>      Evils enow to darken all his goodness.

Stress "darken" slightly

>                            [so far so good]
>      His faults, in him, seem as the spots of heaven,

Realize Octavius doesn't get the comparison, so expand on it -- as much
as to say "understand now?"

>      More fiery by night's blackness, hereditary

He still doesn't quite get it, so after blackness switch metaphors , all
the while trying to make sure Octavius follows you.

>                            [another gifted, organic
>                            line-break]
>      Rather than purchased; what he cannot change,
>      Than what he chooses.

Of course, not knowing anything about the character you've created this
suggestion may not work at all.  Good luck.

C. David Frankel

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