A great caesar’s ghost!


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A presentation for Shakespeare and the Roman Plays and Poems. It details the role of the supernatural (ghosts) for Shakespeare, with accounts of history and a comparison of Shakespeare's treatment of ghosts in other plays.

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A great caesar’s ghost!

  1. 1. GREAT CAESAR‟S GHOST! Brandy Stark, PhD April 9, 2013
  2. 2. BACKDROP Written in early 1599 Aging Elizabeth, childless, questions of succession • Similar to Caesar • Both ascended during political chaos and created stabilization, growth • What might happen afterward? Tensions existing and fear of another civil war in England. “Shakespeare‟s horror of civil wars becomes increasingly apparent” asthe plays develop his intense belief in the divine quality of kingship asthe “only possible safeguard against civil dissension” (Rosen xiii) Image: http://www.tudorplace.com.ar/Documents/queen_elizabeth_gallery.htm
  3. 3. BACKGROUND Shakespeare borrowed stories from history, mythology, legend, and drama, but“reworked them until they became distinctively his own” (Brockett 109). Plays written about Julius Caesar existed before Shakespeare, but no realconnection found (229) Reports of hauntings are found in many different types of literature Surviving from the classical world (Homer, Vergil, Seneca, etc.) Historic materials drawn from Sir Thomas North‟s translation ofPlutarch known as “Shakespeare‟s storehouse of learned history”(Hudson 233).
  4. 4. PLUTARCH’S ACCOUNT: PLUTARCH‟S ACCOUNTBrutus being to pass his army from Abydos to the continent on the other side, laid himself downone night, as he used to do, in his tent, and was not asleep, but thinking of his affairs, and whatevents he might expect. For he is related to have been the least inclined to sleep of all men whohave commanded armies, and to have had the greatest natural capacity for continuingawake, and employing himself without need of rest. He thought he heard a noise at the door ofhis tent, and looking that way, by the light of his lamp, which was almost out, saw aterrible figure, like that of a man, but of unusual stature and severe countenance. He wassomewhat frightened at first, but seeing it neither did nor spoke anything to him, onlystood silently by his bed-side, he asked who it was. The specter answered him, "Thy evilgenius, Brutus, thou shalt see me at Philippi." Brutus answered courageously, "Well, Ishall see you," and immediately the appearance vanished. When the time was come, he drewup his army near Philippi against Antony and Caesar, and in the first battle won the day, routedthe enemy, and plundered Caesars camp. The night before the second battle, the samephantom appeared to him again, but spoke not a word. He presently understood hisdestiny was at hand, and exposed himself to all the danger of the battle. Yet he did not diein the fight, but seeing his men defeated, got up to the top of a rock, and there presentinghis sword to his naked breast, and assisted, as they say, by a friend, who helped him togive the thrust, met his death.http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_plutarch_caesar.htm
  5. 5. BACKGROUND  Middle Ages: communication between the dead and the living was possible and likely  Visions and dreams studied (Biblical): visio non somnium ( Felton 59)  Purgatory produced ghosts – many stories used by Church to enforce doctrine  A male bias is present: More than 3/4ths of the ghosts and over 3/4ths of recorded ghost stories in the Middle Ages were men (84)
  6. 6. BACKGROUND Protestant Reformation • Catholic Church: Council of Trent (1545 – 1563): Purgatory unchanged (96) • Post Martin Luther‟s attack on Indulgences, Purgatory open to attack. Protestants denied it • Only heaven or hell were allowed Debate relates to Bible (Samuel and Saul) (104)
  7. 7. BACKGROUNDThe Church of England formally dropped the doctrine ofPurgatory in 1563Under Elizabeth the bishops and clergy “hunted Purgatoryinto extinction” (Marshall 145)British Protestants still encountered ghosts and had toaccount for them, or sermonize against them
  8. 8. BACKGROUND Shakespeare is known to have read: • The Discovery of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot (1584) • Focused on witchcraft craze, unfounded beliefs and injustice of punishment • Included a chapter on ghosts; he ridiculed those who denied devils or spirits at all, but also mocked the over-promotion of ghosts by Catholic scholars • Claimed apparitions arose from melancholy, timidity, imperfection of sight, drunkenness, false reports, etc. • A Declaration of Egregious Popishe Impostures by Samuel Harsnett • Skeptical arguments on the Catholic Church, witchcraft and ghosts (Muir 232; Marshall 145)
  9. 9. BACKGROUND Other contemporary publications: • Thomas Nashe: “The Terrors of the Night, or, a Discourse of Apparitions” (1594) • Showed many stories arose from imaginations, dreams and ghost stories • Tongue-in-cheek, but overall remains skeptical. (95) • King James: Daemonologie, in forme of a dialogue (1597) • James writes to contradict those who are skeptical (like Scot). • The king sees the devil as “the source of all ghostly apparitions….[to] delude the living” (Felton 95)
  10. 10. GHOSTS IN DRAMAPre-Shakespeare playwrights used the revenge-ghost sooften that satirists mocked ghost characters comparing themto squealing pigs (Felton 111)The world of spirits and fairies was “rapidly losing itsimaginative hold on a sophisticated urban audienceincreasingly captivated by witch trials and lurid tales ofdemonic possession” (Roberts ix).
  11. 11. OTHER GHOSTS IN SHAKESPEARE Hamlet: • Ghost seen by guards; skeptical Horatio also sees and attempts to speak to the ghost (fails) • Clearly identified as the murdered king through appearance (others identify him) and through self-admission • When asked by Hamlet to speak, ghost describes himself as having to spend a period of time as a ghost (Purgatory) • Hamlet converses with ghost who describes his own murder and calls for revenge upon his murderer • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZQ5ryS-YvM
  12. 12. OTHER GHOSTS IN SHAKESPEARE Macbeth: • Banquet scene: Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo who was murdered as Macbeth‟s orders on the way to the feast • No one else but Macbeth sees the spirit which sits in his chair • Excuses are made that the king is tired • Rebuked by Lady Macbeth • Has to admit to a “strange infirmity” • Ghost does not speak • Macbeth has additional hallucinations of the dagger/bloody dagger • (Side note: As with Julius Caesar there are prophecies and portents that are misinterpreted) • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nre482NEosQ
  13. 13. OTHER GHOSTS I N SHAKESPEARE Richard III • Sees the ghost of Prince Edward, who Richard assassinated • Ghost appears when Richard is alone and asleep in bed • Manifests by the bedside • Classical (Patroclus to Achilles) • No one else experiences the ghost; his restless state is Contrasted to others who sleep well • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX8zbNEw448
  14. 14. SHAKESPEARE‟S HI NTS I N JULIUS CAESAR Julius Caesar plays with the ghostly idea throughout • Celebration of Lupercalia (Feast of Lupercal, 1.2.66) • Fertility festival (new spirits reside in wombs; old spirits rebirthed) • Dogs were only offered to Robigus (a guardian associated with crops), the Lares Praestites (the guardians of the state), and Mana Genata [manes, di manes; parental spirits and ancestral guardians]. • CASSIUS: Conjure with „em: „Brutus‟ will start a spirit as soon as „Caesar‟. (1.2.147-148) • BRUTUS: We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar/And in the spirit of men there is no blood./O, that we then could come by Caesar‟s spirit, And not dismember Caesar! (2.1.167-170) • CALPURNIA: Horses do neigh, and dying men did groan,/And ghosts did shriek and squeal about the streets. (2.2.24-25)
  15. 15. THE SCENE Act 4, Scene 3, Lines 275 – 285 Enter the Ghost of CAESAR. BRUTUS: How ill this taper burns! Ha! who comes here? I think it is the weakness of mine eyes That shapes this monstrous apparition. It comes upon me. Art thou any thing? Art thou some god, some angel, or some devil, That makest my blood cold and my hair to stare? Speak to me what thou art. GHOST: Thy evil spirit, Brutus. BRUTUS: Why comest thou? GHOST: To tell thee thou shalt see me at Philippi. BRUTUS: Well; then I shall see thee again? GHOST: Ay, at Philippi. BRUTUS: Why, I will see thee at Philippi, then. Exit Ghost. (Full scene: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/julius_4_3.html)William Humphrys after Richard Westall. Brutus and the ghost ofCaesar (Julius Caesar IV.iii). Print, 1832
  16. 16. THE SCENE 1950s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owxP0h0Lw1s Africa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xNhBAU6sZQ(4 minutes)
  17. 17. GHOSTS IN DRAMA Elizabethan Drama: drew from the pop-religion and local folklore;ghosts with a purpose (Rogers 88; Stoll 205) • Revenge remained a major topic along with protection of loved one, prophesy, requesting burial, or as an omen of death • Lost some of the melodrama: less crude, heightened the imaginative horror of them; rejection of the shrieking, bustling ghost of the older style Shakespeare uses ghosts primarily for personal revenge (203) • These can be seen with the ghost of Hamlet‟s father, Caesar, Richard III, Henry VI cycle • Julius Caesar the most uninteresting use of ghosts? (Rogers 89)
  18. 18. WHERE DOES HE GET HIS IDEAS?Folklore and folk practices change over time/withhistorical eventsHave an entertainment basis to themMay serve to explain fears and desires of a cultureCan contradict held beliefs (theology)Harder to trace (fragmental)Longevity (Purkiss143-144)
  19. 19. JULIUS CAESAR‟S GHOSTShakespeare’s ghosts do have characteristics notexplained from historic sources including theological,classical, or Elizabethan drama (Purkiss 140) Characteristics that match ghostly folklore: • The ghost generally does not speak until bidden to speak (Stoll 218) • Speaks single phrases (pamphlet literature) (Purkiss 143) • There is a vendetta that brings Caesar (confrontation of act of murder) • Oracle – and the ghost breaks off at the tantalizing moment (Stoll 217) • The ghost speaks, not in a dream, and Brutus does not doubt that the ghost is there (228); murdered speaking to murderer • Concrete representations of the blood-feud carried beyond the confines of the grave (Stoll 229)
  20. 20. CAESARS GHOST Caesar‟s ghost appears as an abstraction of Brutus Refers to himself as “thy evil spirit” (4.3.280) Mesmerizing Possession as part of revenge? Suicidal influences/revenge • Brutus kills himself citing Caesar‟s ghost (Purkiss 145) • “Caesar now be still/I killed not thee with half so good a will” (5.5.50-1) • Image: Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre at Stephen Foster Memorial, Oakland. (April 2007) Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/theater-dance/stage-review-pict-praises-julius-caesar-on-grand-scale- 481362/#ixzz2PF3H8MxH
  21. 21. SHAKESPEARE‟S TWIST Other Shakespearean ghosts: • Made use of the “explanatory ambiguities” (Marshall 147, Hudson) • Macbeth: hallucinations from guilt, other apparitions are conjured by witches. • In Richard III and Cymbeline: dreams • Hamlet: Shade is from Purgatory (audience is Protestant; perhaps a tendency to disbelieve this statement Apparitions might be symbolic for manifestations of disorder in this world(148) • Fictional apparitions could be used politically (151) Ghosts in Shakespeare are rational and natural; there is always a reason fortheir appearance; the ghosts, themselves, show reason in their acts (Rogers 88) • The ghosts, themselves, are sane
  22. 22. SHAKESPEARE‟S TWIST Ambiguity: Only Brutus witnesses the shade after he learns both ofPortia‟s death and after a fight/make up with Cassius • ? Trick of the human mind while in distress (Rosen xxii) • ? “The Spirit of Justice…hovering the background of his afterlife, and haunting his solitary moments in the shape of Caesar‟s ghost” (Hudson 253; published year: 1891) • ? The spirit of Caesar is the embodiment of power/rule • Brutus fails to bring liberty; continues to lead with personal morals and thus not fit for power (Rosen XIX)
  23. 23. INTERPRETATION• Legitimate succession/shift of power must go to Augustus; all others suffer (Rosen xix) 5.1.30 – 35• Octavius identifies with the I draw a sword against conspirators; spirit of Caesar When think you that the sword goes up again? • Revenge Never, till Caesars three and thirty • Spiritual heir wounds• Deaths of conspirators brings Be well avenged; or till another Caesar political restoration have added slaughter to the sword of traitors.• Shakespeare/Elizabethans: Act 5: http://www.william-shakespeare.info/act5-script- text-julius-caesar.htm “Established order is preferable to chaotic and violent change” (Rosen xxi)
  24. 24. THOUGHTSWhat IS the purpose of great Caesar‟s ghost? Is he arepresentation of revenge? Power? The unnatural shiftof power?How do you think the Shakespearean audience reactedto it?Questions or Comments?
  25. 25. WORKS CITEDBrockett, Oscar G., and Franklin J. Hildy. History of the Theatre. New York: Pearson, 2007. Print.Felton, D. Haunted Greece and Rome: Ghost Stories from Classical Antiquity. Austin: University of Texas, 2000. Print.Finucane, R. C. Appearances of the Dead: A Cultural History of Ghosts. London: Junction, 1982. Print.Hudson, H.N. Shakespeare: His Life, Art and Characters: An Historical Sketch of the Origin and Growth of the Drama in England. Vol. 2, 4th ed. Boson: Ginn & Company, 1891. 228-258. Print.Marshall, Jonathan Paul, Dr. "Apparitions, Ghosts, Fairies, Demons and Wild Events: Virtuality in Early Modern Britain." Journal for the Academic Study of Magic 3 (2006): 141-74. Print.Muir, Kenneth. "Folklore and Shakespeare." Folklore 92.2 (1981): 231-40. Print.Plutarch. Julius Caesar. Trans. S. H. Butcher. Ancient/Classical History. About.com, d.u. Web. 1 Apr. 2013. http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/bl/bl_text_plutarch_caesar.htmPurkiss, Diane. “Shakespeare, Ghosts, and Popular Folklore”. Shakespeare and Elizabethan Popular Culture. Stuart Gillespie and Niel Rhodes, Ed. London: Thompson, 2006. PrintRoberts, Jon. Introduction: Lunatics and Lovers. Midsummer Night’s Dream. Betram et al, eds. New York: Quality Paperback Books Club, 1997. v – ix. Print.Rogers, L. W. The Ghosts in Shakespeare. 4th printing ed. Wheaten: Theosophical, 1966. Print.Rosen, William and Barbara. Introduction. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. New York: Signet Classics, 1998. Xiii- xxii. Print.Stoll, Elmer Edgar. "The Objectivity of the Ghosts in Shakespeare." Modern Language Association 22.2 (1907): 201-33. Print.