The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1679 Saturday, 1 October 2005
Date: Friday, 30 Sep 2005 14:39:52 -0400
Subject: 16.1658 Friends, Romans, Countrymen
Comment: Re: SHK 16.1658 Friends, Romans, Countrymen
In the late C16 context "honorable" might have a demographic overtone.
Recall the importance of the word for that feudal holdover, Hotspur. It
ties in with the chivalric revival under Elizabeth that fostered imprese
and tilting and the kind of Petrarchism we see in Romeo. These are the
ideals and activities of an economic and cultural elite that thinks it
can afford to hold itself above the muck and mire of a society where men
with dirty hands and stinking breath hang garlands on the statues of
Pompey. Antony's speech climaxes in nakedly economic inducements (which
that consummate businessman Octavius is seen scheming to withdraw in the
next scene)--appeals to the self-interests of the plebs, in which that
honorable idealist, Brutus, has shown no interest, and which his blunt
associate Casca has explicitly scorned.
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