Julius Caesar's Self-Created Image and Its Dramatic Afterlife

Julius Caesar's Self-Created Image and Its Dramatic Afterlife

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The book explores the extent to which aspects of Julius Caesar's self-representation in his commentaries, constituent themes and characterization have been appropriated or contested across the English dramatic canon from the late 1500s until the end of the 19th century.

Caesar, in his own words, constructs his image as a supreme commander characterised by exceptional celerity and mercifulness; he is also defined by the heightened sense of self-dramatization achieved by the self-referential use of the third person and emerges as a quasi-divine hero inhabiting a literary-historical reality. Channelled through Lucan's epic Bellum Civile and ancient historiography, these Caesarean qualities reach drama and take the shape of ambivalent hubris, political role-playing, self-institutionalization, and an exceptional relationship with temporality.

Focusing on major dramatic texts with rich performance history, such as Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Handel's opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto and Bernard Shaw's Caesar and Cleopatra but also a number of lesser known early modern plays, the book encompasses different levels of drama's active engagement with the process of reception of Caesar's iconic and controversial personality.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 17.78mm | 502g
  • Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
  • Bloomsbury Academic
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1474245757
  • 9781474245753

Review quote

A pioneering study transcending boundaries between Classics, Theatre and Literary Studies. In elegant dissections of Julius Caesar's representations from the Renaissance to Shaw, Dimitrova creates an original argument about a staple figure of the global stage. * Edith Hall, Professor of Classics, King's College London, UK * This study of the cultural reception of the personality of Julius Caesar in theatre and opera begins with an analysis of Caesar's promotion of his own achievements in his Commentaries which are a fusion of propaganda and self-promotion. Dimitrova offers rich and insightful readings of the reception of Caesar's own self-representation in Shakespeare, Handel, Shaw and others. Her excellent study offers new ways of perceiving Caesar's own text as well as enriching our understanding of theatrical, operatic, and cinematic depictions of the famous Roman general. This is reception studies at its best. * Margaret Malamud, Professor of History, New Mexico State University, USA * Miryana Dimitrova's well-researched, well-organised and highly accessible study of the relationship between Julius Caesar's self-representation in his Commentaries, less flattering representation by Roman historians, such as Lucan, and subsequent appropriation by English dramatists, offers the reader and researcher a fascinating insight into the dramatic mediation of iconicity. Her treatment of the themes of Caesarian self-justification and self-memorialization - as reflected in the ambivalent characteristics of his pragmatic clemency, his legendary celerity, as well as his hubris and political manipulation and his central role in the decline of Roman Republicanism - is both compelling and original. A spectrum of dramatic authors and composers, from Shakespeare, Chapman, Fletcher and Massinger, to G.F. Handel and, in the 20th century, George Bernard Shaw all of whose plays have contributed significantly to the Caesarian myth and demigod status is adduced to explain the relationship between synchronic autobiographical record and diachronic image-fashioning across languages and cultures. * Michael Ingham, Professor of English, Lingnan University, Hong Kong *
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About Miryana Dimitrova

Miryana Dimitrova is an independent researcher with a PhD in the reception of classical literature from King's College, London, UK.
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Table of contents


Introduction: Caesar is Dead. Long Live Caesar!
1. 'I am he': Aspects of Caesar's Self-Representation in the Commentaries
2. Efficient Benevolence, the Shadow of Hubris and an Eastern Infatuation
3. 'For Always I am Caesar': Performative Actualization of Caesar's Self-Styled Image and Illeism as a Marker of Self-Institutionalization
4. Transhistorical and Quasi-Divine: Caesar Connecting the Threads of Time

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