Rome and Rhetoric by Garry Wills
Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (The Anthony Hecht Lectures in the Humanities Series)

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Renaissance plays and poetry in England were saturated with the formal rhetorical twists that Latin education made familiar to audiences and readers. Yet a formally educated man like Ben Jonson was unable to make these ornaments come to life in his two classical Roman plays. Garry Wills, focusing his attention on Julius Caesar, here demonstrates how Shakespeare so wonderfully made these ancient devices vivid, giving his characters their own personal styles of Roman speech.

In four chapters, devoted to four of the play’s main characters, Wills shows how Caesar, Brutus, Antony, and Cassius each has his own take on the rhetorical ornaments that Elizabethans learned in school. Shakespeare also makes Rome present and animate by casting his troupe of experienced players to make their strengths shine through the historical facts that Plutarch supplied him with. The result is that the Rome English-speaking people carry about in their minds is the Rome that Shakespeare created for them. And that is even true, Wills affirms, for today’s classical scholars with access to the original Roman sources.


About Garry Wills

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GARRY WILLS has written many acclaimed works and is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books. He is professor emeritus of history at Northwestern University and lives in Evanston, Illinois.
Published November 22, 2011 by Yale University Press. 197 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Rome and Rhetoric

Publishers Weekly

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Pulitzer Prize–winner Wills, who penetrated Abraham Lincoln’s rhetoric in Lincoln at Gettysburg, now shows how the four major characters in Julius Caesar reveal Shakespeare’s uncanny, effortless, and

Sep 05 2011 | Read Full Review of Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespear...

The Washington Times

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First, let's acknowledge that Garry Wills' book-length discussion of Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" is full of useful information and likely to be an indispensable companion to students of the play in years to come. It collects in one place much of what you need to know about Shakespeare's knowled...

Feb 08 2012 | Read Full Review of Rome and Rhetoric: Shakespear...

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