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The Historical Julius Caesar
Early Rome • Rome was established in 753 B.C. • A democratic republic was then established which lasted until the death of Julius Caesar.
• The Romans were proud of their democratic system and were repulsed by the thought of being ruled by an emperor.
Gaius Julius Caesar • Born: 12th or 13th July, 100 BC. Died: 15th March, 44 BC.
• A lawyer, politician, and military leader. Before the people wanted to crown him emperor, Julius Caesar conquered and talked his way to gain power. He was was part of a Triumvirate with general Pompey and wealthy colonel Crassus. • Captured by pirates… twice!
• Pompey once had more favor with the people than Caesar, but after a civil war, Pompey was dead and Julius was in charge and loved by all (or most..).
The Scene… Pretty historically accurate, Shakespeare’s play takes place in Ancient Rome, where Julius Caesar has just returned in triumph from war.
The crowd greatly respects Caesar for all the good he has done and hails him as their new leader, but there are some Roman officials who fear he will become too powerful of a ruler, more like an emperor, and they will lose the liberties they have enjoyed as citizens of a free state.
A small group of men conspire to assassinate Caesar, believing they are acting to preserve the freedoms of the Roman Republic.
Shakespeare: His Life and Times
Early Life • Born 1564 —Died 1616 • Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Stratford-on-Avon in Shakespeare’s Time
As reproduced in William Rolfe, Shakespeare the Boy (1896).
Family and Theatre • Married to Anne Hathaway Had twins - Hamnet & Judith, and daughter Susanna • Sometime between 1583-1592, he moved to London and began working in theatre. • Member and later part-owner of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later called the King’s Men
• Globe Theater built in 1599 • Burned down in 1613 during one of Shakespeare’s plays
Elizabethan Theatrical Conventions
The Rebuilt Globe Theater, London
The Globe Theater
The Stage In Shakespeare’s Time
• Shakespeare created at least 38 plays, made up of tragedies, histories, comedies, and tragicomedies. • A show lasted about 2 ½ hours, usually in open air theatres during the afternoon. • There was no scenery, but elaborate props and costumes to give reality. • Devices such as trap doors and scaffolds were used to make gods, witches, etc. disappear.
The Stage In Shakespeare’s Time (continued) • There were no actresses. All parts were played by men or boys. • In front of stage was a big open area where the "penny-public" stood to watch as they could not afford seats. The wealthy had seats on upper levels.
Tragedy and the Tragic Hero • Shakespeare’s tragedies are often called his “greatest plays.” • Every tragedy contains a “tragic hero” – Tragic hero: a main character who goes through a series of events that lead to his/her downfall
Qualities of a Tragic Hero • Possesses importance or a high rank • Exhibits extraordinary talents • Displays a tragic flaw—an error in judgment or defect in character—that leads to downfall • There are attempts to mislead him • Faces downfall with courage and dignity
Soliloquy and Aside • Shakespeare uses soliloquies and asides even though these are not things that are used in real life. • Soliloquy: a long speech given by a character while alone on stage to reveal his or her private thoughts or intentions. (monologue) • Aside: a character’s quiet remark to the audience or another character that no one else on stage is supposed to hear. A stage direction (often in brackets) indicates an aside