Article Title

Shakespeare's Caesar: The Language of Sacrifice


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

The eidos of Shakespeare's radical critique of the "Roman thing'' in Julius Caesar is the sacrifice of a "Caesar-principle" by a "sonprinciple" to an absent, but no less veridical divinity, Pompey.1 The sacrificial form which the action of the play takes is itself clear, mixing as it does savagery and ceremony.2 But the fuller mythic significance (associated with both the primitive and the Dionysian) emerges only when we perform as radical a critique on Julius Caesar as Shakespeare has performed within on the grand concept of the Roman State. For while it is the figure of Caesar himself in whom are condensed Empire, God-King, and Father-his possibly monarchical rule is indeed the problem for his honorable, loving, ambitious, and rebellious "sons"-it is more the spirit of Pompey, sprung out of the unsuccessful Civil Wars with Caesar, which haunts Shakespeare's temporal frame of heritage and lineage than the presence and Ghost of Caesar.

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