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Roman Republic and Empire reflection

By susandouglas Feb 08, 2015 1000 Words

Roman Empire and Republic In the Works of Shakespeare
By: Danuta Chlebek Period 4 World Studies
In his tragedies by the title of “Julius Cesar” and “Coriolanus” the author William Shakespeare wants to show the audience the life people led back in the Ancient Roman Empire. The characters of his two plays mentioned take on the role of reflecting the ways of the patrician community who were the rich and influential people of Rome and politics during their times. Coriolanus shows the audience how life looked like during the Roman Republic which was the ancestor of the democracy we know today while living in the United States. On the other hand Julius Cesar shows the empire’s unstable situation from merging into a Roman Empire government and the vigor of the patrician trying to turn Rome back to a Republic. Both pieces of Shakespearean literature show the neglect of the common people and how fast and abruptly people changed their minds making politicians one of the most dangerous occupations, where death was common. The summary of “Coriolanus” and the excerpt of Scene 2 Act II proves the theory that the “ hero” reflects the Roman Republic . First of all Coriolanus and his thoughts show how the patrician community neglected the plebeians or the common population. Coriolanus only “ feels nothing but contempt for the lower class” He believes that only the soldiers and the wealthy should control the government . The ruling class was forced to give the plebeians a right to the government . This was the situation when “ in the aftermath of a famine the common people or plebeians demanded the right to set their own price for the city’s grain supply. “ The contempt that Coriolanus reflects the Roman Republic because even though the people had rights like having representatives or tribunes there was still a enormous gap between these social groups. The fact that “ Upon his return to Rome, Coriolanus is given a hero’s welcome and the Senate offers to make him consul”, also reflect the Roman Republic. During this era the consul was the highest elected official of the Roman Republic. Only people that had a good military career where chosen as candidates for this one year office. Later in the Roman Empire this position was often neglected and lost its importance in the eyes of the ruler. This way Coriolanus was going to gain power. However he was only asked for this position because he was a military hero which was greatly valued in the republic. The people thought that only a person with this type of experience would know how to govern . Coriolanus had to gout out and plead for the votes of the plebeians through showing off all his battle scares which he earned. Only through this way the people could see if he is worthy of the office. The picture of Coriolanus showing off his battle scars to only two men in a secluded place reflected the atmosphere of the Roman Republic. It proves that although Coriolanus was supposed to show off his scars to the plebeians he reveled them to only the people who he considers as his equal : military personnel and soldiers. This proves how during the republic one group never really understood and accepted each other Another example of the Roman Republic is when Coriolanus doesn’t receive the office of the consul when Brutus and Sicinius made the people reveres their decision. This shows how during the era of the Republic the common people had a considerable amount of power in choosing their government. Later in the Roman Empire this power would slowly fade away The story of Coriolanus also shows how politics were “dirty and treacherous “ The power would shift very fast. When Coriolanus refuses to talk to the people other Senators start viewing him as an enemy of the people and the Republic. One moment Coriolanus was loved by the people the next he was named a traitor and exiled out of the land. Julius Cesar on the other hand showed Rome in another time. This tragedy written by William Shakespeare shows Rome in a different form. Its main “hero” Julius Cesar reflects the change of power from a republic to an empire with only one ruler. At the beginning when Julius Cesar first came into power the nations was still a republic. Cesar was elected consul. He gained the trust of the people since he was a great military leader. Also Cesar really connected with the plebeians . After finishing his term he took an active life in politics. Later Cesar was offered the crown three times however he refused. This showed the nation slowly turning into an empire since before no one person held the power. In a republic there were two consuls who could veto each other. Now he was offered to rule an huge empire by himself. Next Julius Cesar reflects the change from a republic to empire when he was named dictator for life. Now one man had a great deal of power. This occurred the first time since Rome was ruled by the last king. Cesar also reflects the empire because he was going to be named king. This would finally mark an end to the republic since Cesar would start a dynasty and the ruler would not be chosen anymore by the people. This would limit the power of the people which everyone fought for a long time. However Julius Cesar also reflects the effort to get the nation back into a republic. To kill his power the senators decided to kill him The play of Julius Cesar also reflects the unstable situation. In one moment Cesar was on the height of his power however when the power of the republic was endangered his power was killed with him. In conclusion both characters reflect the life of their own time period. Who would know how the life of the empire would be if every hero could have acted how they feel and what they believed in

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