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REVIEW
Miles, Gary B. "How Roman Are Shakespeare's 'Romans'?"
Shakespeare Quarterly. 40 (1989) 257-83.


Thesis: Miles states his essential idea towards the end of his essay:
For Shakespeare character is the product of an essentially private struggle—even though that struggle may be provoked by public circumstances or may have public consequences. For Plutarch and the Romans, character not only is expressed but is defined by public action.   (282)
Most of Miles' essay (which includes pictures of Roman statuary) is devoted to explaining the Roman concept of character. For example, Miles pays a great deal of attention to two key words in Julius Caesar, "honor" and "noble." Miles points out that the Romans of Caesar's time didn't have words that exactly corresponded with those two words as Shakespeare used them. For the Romans, an honorable action was not primarily one that flowed from righteous intentions, but one which brought public recognition—honors. And when the Romans referred to someone as "noble," they were thinking first of all of his family history.

About Julius Caesar, Miles doesn't have any new light to shed.

Bottom Line: Mildly interesting.


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   Author: Philip Weller
   Last Modified: 16 September 2005
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