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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: March ::
Julius Caesar and Religious Art
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0140  Thursday, 9 March 2006

From: 		Jack Heller <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 8 Mar 2006 15:21:04 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 	Julius Caesar and Religious Art

Listmembers:

Please forgive cross-posting; this has also appeared in the FICINO list. 
In act 2, scene 2, lines 76-89 of Julius Caesar is this passage:

CAESAR: She dreamt tonight she saw my statue,
Which like a fountain with an hundred spouts
Did run pure blood; and many lusty Romans
Came smiling and did bathe their hands in it.
And these does she apply for warnings and portents
Of evils imminent, and on her knee
Hath begged that I will stay at home today.

DECIUS: This dream is all amiss interpreted.
It was a vision fair and fortunate.
Your statue spouting blood in many pipes,
In which so many smiling Romans bathed,
Signifies that from you great Rome shall suck
Reviving blood, and that great ment shall press
For tinctures, stains, relics, and cognizance.

My question: This passage seems to parody the sacraments of both baptism 
and the Eucharist, and it alludes as well to the controversies over 
relics. I once saw a painting of the crucified body of Christ near which 
were positioned large vats to collect the blood and bathers in the vats. 
  The style of the painting made me think it would be fourteenth or 
fifteenth century. Would such an image have been common enough for it to 
have influenced the passage from Caesar?

I don't know how to look for this painting nor do I remember where I had 
seen it. The museum where I would have seen would be in either South 
Carolina at the Bob Jones University collection or at a major midwest 
collection in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, or Michigan. I would like to find 
an image of the painting or of a similar painting online. Any help would 
be appreciated.

Jack Heller

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