Yan Brailowsky deposited Du détournement au délire interprétatif : les figures de l’excès dans Julius Caesar de Shakespeare on Humanities Commons 4 months ago
Shakespeare’s Rome is nothing but excess—excess as écart, death or even rapture. Caesar exceeds, or crosses, multiple boundaries: after having entered Rome with his army and taken hold of the city, he becomes a living god; after his death, he returns to predict the death of Brutus as a ghost, flouting the laws of Nature. To this, we must add the playwright’s excess: Shakespeare includes more omens than attested in his sources. By thus breaking with his forebears (notably Plutarch), the dramatist may have wished to point out the inherent difficulties in circumscribing the dangers of interpreting prophetic or divinatory phenomena. The divinatory practices of ancient Rome make it possible to indefinitely (re)interepret signs and wonders sent by the gods, at the risk of interpreting too much. Thus, the Ides of March also refer to the “sides”, “tides” and even the “dogs” of an irate crowd or deity… such as when, in a moment of madness, or “slip”, Antony prophesies, invoking Caesar’s ghost and the “dogs of war” of the god of war, Mars, on the ides of the month named after him, March. The ensuing chaos is the excess this paper wishes to examine.