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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0212  Thursday, 6 February 2003

[1]     From:   David Lindley <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 15:22:13 GMT0BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

[2]     From:   Claude Caspar <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 10:42:48 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagoni

[3]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 05 Feb 2003 10:55:12 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

[4]     From:   Tony Burton <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 11:29:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 15:22:13 GMT0BST
Subject: 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

Why do we have to nominate a 'protagonist' at all?  Isn't this an
example of imposing classical/neo-classical labels inappropriately?

David Lindley

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Claude Caspar <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 10:42:48 -0500
Subject: 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

>One could make a better argument that Cassius is the protagonist of
>"Julius Caesar." His god disappoints him. Driven by envy, he inspires a
>conspiracy to dispatch him. He alone perceives how the deed will be
>remembered. His cat's paw turns on him. He's doomed by eyesight fatally
>flawed. He dies on his birthday. His minions celebrate him as the "sun
>of Rome," i.e. great Mars himself, the fire of his envy consumes Caesar,
>Brutus, Portia, and the rump Roman republic.

".fatally flawed"? Unlike the Greeks that this [may have] applied to,
from Aristotle's analysis so long after the fact that he never saw a
single original production of any of the tragedians, only recreations, I
am of the school of thought that is convinced that, though WS knew of
this grammar, and played with it, he never felt bound by it or followed
it, but- quite the contrary expressed his innate understanding of
himself tragically that a person is destroyed NOT by the implications of
his one flaw amongst his otherwise virtues, but the modern, and truer,
view, that we are destroyed by the implications of our virtues, not
vices.  Bloom is of this party, so I can leave him to flesh out the
details, though this understanding goes back several generations.

I assume you are not really being serious, but having fun exercising
your understanding, but I can never resist raising this point. For me,
knowing wither a critic leans, gives me a clue to their understanding
the things I am at sea about.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Wednesday, 05 Feb 2003 10:55:12 -0500
Subject: 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

Brutus is the one who is eulogized in the resolution (in the theatrical
sense of "resolution").

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tony Burton <
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Date:           Wednesday, 5 Feb 2003 11:29:56 -0500
Subject: 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0203 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

I'm puzzled by-perhaps completely out of touch with-any sense that the
protagonist of Julius Caesar is uncertain, or arguably anyone other than
Brutus.  Maybe it's because I read the text.  Is this a lost
investigatory technique known only to the ancients among us?"  If so,
I'd like to spread the word among the uninitiated.

Shakespeare is in some respects enormously consistent, and one such
respect is that his tragic closings regularly end with a pronouncement
on the protagonist by the senior (in rank, knowledge, or other basis for
authority) survivor.  In JC, Marc Antony's last act pronouncement on
Brutus, beginning "This was the noblest Roman of them all. . ." fits the
bill clearly and should resolve all doubt.  He goes on to distinguish
Brutus from the others because they were moved by envy, so that motive
is presumably a disqualification rather a ground for preferring any of
the other conspirators.

If there is any bona fide argument that Antony's envoi should be
disregarded as mistaken or ironic, or as an ideologically motivated
distortion, or given some understanding other than my own pedestrian
view-which I think of as purely conventional-I'd love to share an
exchange of reasons and ideas, on or off list.

Tony B

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