In the first full length study to relate Shakespeare's Roman works to a longer history of the city of Rome, author Graham Holderness reads Shakespeare's Roman works"Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus"via a double perspective, the ancient and the moder... n. He argues that for Shakespeare, Rome was not simply the republic and empire of antiquity, but a contemporary place that possessed its own meanings, retained its own legacies from the past, and was in the process of generating new meanings. Holderness presents a new take on the conflicts fought out in the plays, proposing that they were not just ancient Roman conflicts with relevance for sixteenth-century England, but were also shaped in early modern encounters with Rome as a place of fallen greatness and cultural revival, of growing ecclesiastical power, and of consolidating religious authority. He explains the ambivalence towards Rome that speaks throughout the Roman works, less in terms of the conflicts between ancient writers over the grounds of republican and imperial visions, and more in terms of St Augustine's polarization of Rome into earthly and heavenly cities, of sixteenth-century Rome's cultural and aesthetic character, and of the tense relationship for English Catholics between Protestant and papal authority. Finally the book extends the perspective to include the range of modern meanings attributed to Rome, and shows how these enter into critical readings, theatrical performances and screen adaptations of Shakespeare's Roman works.
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