Julius Caesar across borders: The ethos of the American republic

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In order to endow the newborn American state with legitimacy, the founders of the country sought a connection to the ancient Roman republican past. William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar has an honoured place in the creation of that American democratic ethos. While performances during the colonial and post-revolutionary periods may have been rare, this play was frequently taught at that time, usually in excerpted format. While Shakespeare's text is ambiguous ideologically, balanced between libertarian and conservative monarchical elements, these excerpts constructed an unabashedly republican drama whose purpose was to advocate for democracy, infusing the patriotic ethos of the republic into American youth and immigrants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-176
Number of pages20
JournalLiterature and History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.


  • American history
  • Julius Caesar
  • Shakespeare
  • education
  • elocution


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