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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: February ::
Who Was the Historical Decius Brutus?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0212  Tuesday, 2 February 2005

[1]     From:   Roger Schmeeckle <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2005 12:05:16 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0171 Who Was the Historical Decius Brutus?

[2]     From:   Philip Weller <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2005 19:56:05 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0171 Who Was the Historical Decius Brutus?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Schmeeckle <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2005 12:05:16 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 16.0171 Who Was the Historical Decius Brutus?
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0171 Who Was the Historical Decius Brutus?

Cheryl Newton wrote:

 >Hi.  You took me back a few decades.  In my sophomore year of high
 >school, I was intrigued that Shakespeare presented Marcus Brutus as a
 >tragic hero, & Dante put him in the lowest cicrle of hell.  For years I
 >pieced together bits about him. Shakespeare appears to be closer to the
 >mark.

Appearances can deceive.

It seems to be assumed that the praise of Brutus as "noblest of them
all" is to be taken at face value.  However, if it is interpreted as
ironical, the implication is that Shakespeare did not regard the Romans
as very noble.

Brutus slays his benefactor, who may have been his father.

The play is entitled "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar," despite Brutus
lasting until the end, when he, too, is slain, by himself.  Is there
evidence elsewhere that Shakespeare views suicide as worthy of
admiration?  This suicide occurs after Caesar is said to be mighty yet,
his spirit walking the ground.  Why was the play not called "The Tragedy
of Brutus?"

Preceding works on Roman subjects include "The Lamentable Tragedy of
Titus Andronicus" and "The Rape of Lucrece," neither of which presents
Romans as worthy of admiration.  (That "lamentable" seems to be an
example of over-the-top sarcasm.)  I even doubt that one can find much
to admire in "Anthony and Cleopatra" and "Coriolanus," unless
Coriolanus' mother is advanced as a candidate for nobility.

Also, Anthony's "honorable men" speech  foreshadows an ironical
interpretation of the ending.

Roger Schmeeckle

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Weller <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2005 19:56:05 -0800
Subject: 16.0171 Who Was the Historical Decius Brutus?
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0171 Who Was the Historical Decius Brutus?

Thanks to all for the useful information.

-- Sincerely, Philip Weller Shakespeare Navigators
http://www.clicknotes.com

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