The End of the Ancient Republic: Essays on Julius Caesar

Jan H. Blits, The End of the Ancient Republic: Essays on Julius Caesar (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1993)

From a review by Patrick Coby, The Journal of Politics, Vol. 46, Issue 1:

The End of the Ancient Republic  by Jan Blits is a slim volume of four essays on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Although written independently of one another, and in some instances previously published, these essays cohere nicely to present a comprehensive interpretation of the play. The first essay identifies the essential characteristics of republican Rome; the second explores the extent of Rome’s corruption; while the third and the fourth examine the play’s leading characters, Brutus and Caesar.

According to Blits, the virtue that defines the ancient Roman is manliness, or the desire for personal distinction won through noble exploits and the conquest of others. But manliness, says Blits, is inconsistent with republican fraternity. To prove his point, he examines the relationships between Brutus and Portia, Brutus and Cassius, Cassius and Titinius, as well as the suicides of all four. His conclusion is that manliness so isolated the individual that it makes friendship and love nearly impossible and that it drives out all other forms of human excellence.

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