William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a play that provides ample opportunity for allusions and analogy. “Evidence for this popularity is mainly deduced from allusions to the drama in contemporary works, most notably in the writing of Ben Jonson” (Zander 12). The use of these literary devices begin with what has been assumed to be quite purposeful analogies put into the story by Shakespeare himself such as allusions which a “reader might also assume, within the earlier analogy, that if Cassius has presented Caesar as the Anti-Christ, Antony is here presenting him as Christ” (McMurtry 76). What is especially interesting about this historically-based tragedy from the Bard, however, is how far into the future and how much capability of making allusions to and drawing analogies with Julius Caesar has stretched.
Analogies have been made to contemporary politics that trace at least as far back as the “representation of Caesar as a totally unsympathetic dictator reinforced by overt allusions to Fascism” (Derrick 139). The most recent analogies to the court of Julius Caesar being the center of a corrupt and decaying empire arose during the administration of George W. Bush with allusions being made to Caesar’s desire to turn a republic into an empire with himself situated at the top. The idea that audiences were intended draw analogies between Caesar, Brutus and Antony with later political figures seems clear: “That Julius Caesar made a great impression upon contemporary audiences is clear from allusions in the literature of the period. Apparently it had frequent revivals and it was acted at Court before James I and later before Charles” (Shakespeare xiii).
As for how far Julius Caesar has come in the world of being alluded, one can title an article, a writer can apparently title a newspaper article providing a food recipe using not one, but two different allusions to the play without even having to mention the name Shakespeare (Stovall).
- Derrick, Thomas. Understanding Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998.
- McMurtry, Jo. Julius Caesar: A Guide to the Play. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1998.
- Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. New York: Washington Square, 1959.
- Stovall, Waltrina. “Great Caesar’s Ghost: The Ides Are upon Us.” St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO) 14 Mar. 1994.
- Zander, Horst. “Julius Caesar and the Critical Legacy.” Julius Caesar: New Critical Essays. Ed. Horst Zander. New York: Routledge, 2005. 3-56. LastName, First, Middle. “Article Title.” Journal Title (Year): Pages From – To. Print.