Rape and Civilization in Shakespeare's Rome
12 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2014
Date Written: July 28, 2012
We explore Shakespeare's understanding of civil life through his accounts of rape and the beginning and the end of civil life in his fictional Rome. In Shakespeare's poem The Rape of Lucrece, the rape of Lucretia or "Lucrece" leads to the abolition of kingship and the founding of the Roman Republic. We will concentrate, however on Titus Andronicus, in which the rape of Lavinia produces the triumph of barbarism at Rome, barbarism under the guise of romanitas or "Romanness." The question is what can we salvage for civil life, for civility or civilization, by the encounter with Rome and Romanness as presented in Titus Andronicus.
Keywords: Shakespeare, Ovid, rape, gender, Lucretia, reception history
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