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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: March ::
Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0537  Wednesday, 19 March 2003

[1]     From:   Larry Weiss <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Mar 2003 12:05:16 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0519 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

[2]     From:   Colin Cox <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 18 Mar 2003 09:45:26 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0519 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Larry Weiss <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Mar 2003 12:05:16 -0500
Subject: 14.0519 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0519 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

>(Is there a parallel to the Woody Allen case of a few years ago?)

Wonderful idea - an update of Plutarch's parallel lives.  Julius Caesar
and Woody Allen.  How about Pericles and Michael Bloomberg.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
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Date:           Tuesday, 18 Mar 2003 09:45:26 -0800
Subject: 14.0519 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0519 Re: Julius Caesar's Protagonist

I think we can presume that Shakespeare knew the following. He knew that
Brutus' mother, Servilia, was Caesar's mistress; Plutarch told him that
(via Sir Thomas North's magnificent translation of 1595). Of course, to
add even more nasty gossip to the whole affair, Plutarch also makes the
suggestion that Brutus is the product of Servilia's love to Caesar!
Plutarch also tells us how very fond Caesar was of Servilia and that
they were lovers in his younger days.

As to the Junia story, it is Suetonius that would have provided William
with the details. Suetonius tells us in his "De Vita Caesarum, Divus
Iulius', "that Caesar was unbridled and extravagant in his intrigues . .
. But beyond all others Caesar loved Servilia, the mother of Marcus
Brutus, for whom in his first consulship he bought a pearl costing six
million sesterces. . . .  and in fact it was thought that Servilia was
prostituting her own daughter to Caesar."

These two sources lead me to conjecture that, indeed, Caesar asked
Servilia's permission to seduce her daughter, Junia, and Shakespeare
knew about it. Could she have stopped him? I doubt it very much, though
he may have thought twice about it.

There are, in fact, many examples of the 'permission request.' It was a
very Roman thing to do. Brutus' wife, Portia, was a constant source of
such requests when she was married to her first husband, Bibulus. Portia
was a renowned beauty, and her father, Cato, received many petitions
from fellow senators to allow them to mate with his daughter! The most
famous example is Quintus Hortensius, who told Cato Bibulus could have
her back once Hortensius had a son by Portia! {This is all found in
Plutarch's "Life of Cato the Younger".}

It gets 'juicier'. Servilia was Cato's sister. Brutus and Portia were
first cousin's. William knew this; he has Portia, on her knees, tell us.
Did Portia know of the rumour that Brutus was Caesar's son? According to
Plutarch, the whole of Rome knew about it "So public and notorious was
Servilia's love to Caesar."

Cheers,
Colin

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