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of historical fact Shakespeare builds the lofty fabric of Antony's eloquence. An interesting example of amplification in detail is afforded by Shakespeare's treatment of the bloody garments of the dead. He brings the scene more vividly before us by substituting the particular for the general. Antony gives the rent garment a special significance by declaring it to be the one that Caesar wore for the first time after winning his great victory over the Nervii. The scene is made still more definite by the picture given of the great conqueror sitting in his robe after the great struggle and enjoying the calm repose of a summer evening. The whole image presented to the imagination makes an effective contrast with the figure of the dead body lying marred with wounds, and it is utterly unimportant from a poetical point of view that Antony, not having been in the campaign, could not have remembered such an incident, and that the victory over the Nervii was not won in summer - time. One would think that the force of eloquence could no further go. But Shakespeare has a climax to crown the pathetic appeal conveyed in this reminiscence, and still further moves the feelings by making Antony suddenly tear the robe away and reveal the mangled body to the horrified spectators. In like manner, out of the few words in which Plutarch describes the dissatisfaction felt by the Romans at Caesar's triumph over the sons of Pompey, is evolved the speech of Marullus in the first scene of the first act. This scene forms an admirable opening to the play, as by its reference to Pompey it not only fixes the time of the action by bringing it into connection with preceding events in Roman history, but also reminds us of the instability of human greatness and popular favour. Another interesting instance of dramatic amplification is afforded by the conclusion of the quarrel scene. In Plutarch there is a long account of the differences between Brutus and Cassius, but hardly anything is said of the reconciliation, which is rather implied than expressly stated to have taken place. In Shakespeare the quarrel is a prelude to the reconciliation that follows. That the friendship of Brutus and Cassius should be strengthened by the violence of their temporary difference, is psychologically true, for “amantium irae amoris integratio est.” The transition from suspicion and anger to love is also arranged in accordance with the principle of contrast that underlies all art. “Is not,” asks Bacon, “the precept of a musician to fall from a discord or harsh accord upon a concord or sweet accord alike true in affection ?” The harsh discord in the scene we are considering, when
Each spake words of high disdain
gives a grander effect to the deep heartfelt concord that succeeds and will last to death. Shakespeare's treatment of the quarrel also illustrates the skill with which he rearranges his materials in more effective combinations. In the account of Plutarch the quarrel extends over two days. We are not told what were the subjects of complaint on the first day, and it is not until the second day that Brutus offends Cassius by condemning and noting Lucius Pella. Shakespeare compresses the quarrel into a single day, and makes Cassius begin the wrangling by blurting out his complaint about Lucius Pella the moment he and Brutus enter the tent. In Plutarch the death of Portia is mentioned at the very end of the life of Brutus. Shakespeare represents the tidings of her death as having reached Brutus just before the quarrel, so that it accounts for the unusual harshness he manifests, and also, when announced to Cassius after the reconciliation, adds powerfully to the revulsion of feeling by which he is affected. Another instance of rearrangement of materials will be found in the account of the Lupercal. According to Casca, Caesar, after recovering from his swoon, said that “if he had done or said anything amiss, he desired their worships to think it was his infirmity.” The apology and the suggestion of the swoon are taken from Plutarch's account of another incident—Caesar's arrogant omission to rise when the Senate came to do him honour in the market-place, for which act of folly he excused himself by saying that “their wits are not perfect which have this disease of the falling evil, when standing on their feet they speak to the common people, but are soon troubled with a trembling of their body and a sudden dimness and giddiness.” Again, it was, according to Plutarch, a garland of flowers turned backwards, the accidental fall of Cassius' image, the appearance of a marvellous number of fowls of prey and of beehives, that shook Cassius' Epicurean disbelief in omens. This effect is attributed by Shakespeare to the disappearance of the eagles mentioned by Plutarch in a different context, and to their being replaced by ravens, crows, and kites. The other less impressive signs are left unrecorded.
We have already considered and exemplified Shakespeare's compression of the events related by Plutarch into a narrower compass of time. The artistic object of this compression is not far to seek. Shakespeare is not a slave to the principle of unity of time, which he violates conspicuously in the Winter’s Tale by introducing an interval of sixteen years between the third and the fourth acts. Nevertheless, other things being equal, he prefers a short to a long duration for the action, so as to make the spectacle of his plays as close an imitation of real life as possible. A well-constructed drama makes us feel for the time as if the events represented were really taking place. The effect of a play upon the audience largely depends upon the success with which this illusion is kept up, and long intervals of time tend to destroy this illusion, because they remind the spectators that they are looking, not at real events, but at a scenic representation. Therefore Shakespeare, as a practical and skilful playwright, prefers to make the events represented in his dramas succeed each other in rapid succession. He has also in some cases other reasons for shortening the time of the action. For instance, in dramas like Julius Caesar, which deal with retribution, the retribution is rendered more impressive if it is not long delayed.
The following extracts from North's Plutarch are the principal passages on which Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is based :—
How Caesar triumphed over the sons of Pompey.
He wan this battle [Munda) on the very feast-day of the Bacchanalians, in the which men say that Pompey the Great went out of Rome, about four years before, to begin this civil war. For his [Pompey's] sons, the younger scaped from the battle; but, within few days after, Didius brought the head of the elder. This was the last war that Caesar made. But the triumph he made into Rome for the same did as much offend the Romans, and more, than anything that ever he had done before: because he had not overcome captains that were strangers, nor barbarous kings, but had destroyed the sons of the noblest man of Rome, whom fortune had overthrown. And because he had plucked up his race by the roots, men did not think it meet for him to triumph so for the calamities of his country, rejoicing at a thing for the which he had but one excuse to allege in his defence unto the gods and men, that he was compelled to do that he did. And the rather they thought it not meet, because he had never before sent letters nor messengers unto the commonwealth at Rome, for any victory that he had ever won in all the civil wars: but did always for shame refuse the glory of it.— [Life of Casar.]
How Antony offered Casar a diadem at the Lupercalia.
At that time the feast Zupercalia was celebrated, the which in old time men say was the feast of shepherds or herdmen, and is much like unto the feast of the Lycaeans in Arcadia. But howsoever it is, that day there are divers noblemen's sons, young men (and some of them magistrates themselves that govern then), which run naked through the city, striking in sport them they meet in their way with leather thongs, hair and all on, to make them give place. And many noblewomen and gentlewomen also go of purpose to stand in their way, and do put forth their hands to be stricken, as scholars hold them out to their schoolmaster to be stricken with the ferula: persuading themselves that, being with child, they shall have good delivery; and so, being barren, that it will make them to conceive with child. Caesar sat to behold that sport upon the pulpit for orations, in a chain of gold, apparelled in triumphant manner. Antonius, who was Consul at that time, was one of them that