Shakespeare's Roman Trilogy: The Twilight Of The Ancient World

Paperback | July 3, 2017

byPaul A. Cantor

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Paul A. Cantor first probed Shakespeare’s Roman plays—Coriolanus, Julius Caeser, and Antony and Cleopatra—in his landmark Shakespeare’s Rome (1976). With Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy, he now argues that these plays form an integrated trilogy that portrays the tragedy not simply of their protagonists but of an entire political community.

Cantor analyzes the way Shakespeare chronicles the rise and fall of the Roman Republic and the emergence of the Roman Empire. The transformation of the ancient city into a cosmopolitan empire marks the end of the era of civic virtue in antiquity, but it also opens up new spiritual possibilities that Shakespeare correlates with the rise of Christianity and thus the first stirrings of the medieval and the modern worlds.
More broadly, Cantor places Shakespeare’s plays in a long tradition of philosophical speculation about Rome, with special emphasis on Machiavelli and Nietzsche, two thinkers who provide important clues on how to read Shakespeare’s works. In a pathbreaking chapter, he undertakes the first systematic comparison of Shakespeare and Nietzsche on Rome, exploring their central point of contention: Did Christianity corrupt the Roman Empire or was the corruption of the Empire the precondition of the rise of Christianity? Bringing Shakespeare into dialogue with other major thinkers about Rome, Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy reveals the true profundity of the Roman Plays.
 

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Paul A. Cantor first probed Shakespeare’s Roman plays—Coriolanus, Julius Caeser, and Antony and Cleopatra—in his landmark Shakespeare’s Rome (1976). With Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy, he now argues that these plays form an integrated trilogy that portrays the tragedy not simply of their protagonists but of an entire political community....

Paul A. Cantor is the Clifton Waller Barrett Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Shakespeare’s Rome: Republic and Empire, also published with a new preface by the University of Chicago Press, and the Hamlet volume in Cambridge’s Landmarks of World Literature series.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:July 3, 2017Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022646251X

ISBN - 13:9780226462516

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“Cantor has written another wonderful book. His profound interpretations of Shakespeare speak to the decline of the ancient world and the rise of our modern one. His penetrating chapter on Nietzsche, a substantial contribution in its own right, places Shakespeare and Nietzsche in dialogue about the history of the West. And Cantor’s comparisons between Shakespeare and Plutarch are a delight! This book will be widely read and discussed.”