The Medical in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

Shakespeare died in 1616, so I claim him on behalf of the 17th-century 😛 One of my favourite modern day writers is Theodore Dalrymple, a jovial man I met at an evening event a few years ago. My husband and I had a wonderful chat with the erudite man, about Shakespeare, philosophy, and other interesting topics, that I will always hold him in high esteem. He is both a prolific reader and writer, usually commenting about the state of modern Britain. Whether or not you agree with his views about Britain, I thought you would be interested in this short article he wrote, The Medical in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

“We do not know what Shakespeare really believed, save that he liked money and feared the mob: for he was a stern creditor, and whenever a mob appeared in his plays it was sure to be foolish, fickle and stinking, at the mercy of the last orator it heard. So it is in Julius Caesar: the mob first believes Brutus, then Mark Antony, and tears the old poet Cinna limb from limb simply because he bears the same name as one of the conspirators against Caesar, a different Cinna. Thus Shakespeare recognised that people in crowds may do what they would not do as individuals.

But did Shakespeare really believe that joining a political plot could cure the ague, presumably (considering the proximity of the action to the Pontine Marshes) malaria? In Act 2, scene I, Brutus successfully persuades Caius Ligarius, who is sick of the ague, to join the conspiracy against Caesar. Ligarius says:

By all the gods that Romans bow before,
I here discard my sickness.”

Read the full article here.

Please contribute thy thoughts!

Your e-mail address will not be published.