« PreviousContinue »
*JULIUS CESAR.] It appears from Peck's Collection of divers curious Hiftorical Pieces, &c. (appended to his Memoirs, &c. of Oliver Cromwell, ) p. 14. that a Latin play on this fubje& had been written. 66 Epilogus Cæfaris interfe&i, quomodo in fcenam prodiit ea res, acta, in Ecclefia Chrifti, Oxon. Qui Epilogus a Magiftro Ricardo Eedes, & fcriptus & in profcenio ibidem di&us fuit, A. D. 1582. Meres, whofe Wit's Commonwealth was published in 1598, enumerates Dr. Eedes among the beft tragic writers of that time. STEEVENS.
From fome words spoken by Polonius in Hamlet, I think it probable that there was an English play on this subject, before Shakfpeare commenced a writer for the flage.
Stephen Goffon in his School of Abuse, 1579, mentions a play entitled The Hiftory of Gafar and Pompey.
William Alexander, afterwards earl of Sterline, wrote a tragedy on the ftory and with the title of Julius Cæfar. It may be prefumed that Shakspeare's play was pofterior to his; for lord Sterline, when he compofed his Julius Cæfar was a very young author, and would hardly have ventured into that circle, within which the most eminent dramatick writer of England had already walked. The death of Cæfar, which is not exhibited but related to the audience, forms the catastrophe of his piece. Ja the two plays many parallel paffages are found, which might, perhaps, have proceeded only from the two authors drawing from the fame fource. However, there are some reasons for thinking the coincidence more than accidental. A paffage in The Tempest, (p. 127,) feems to have been copied from one in Darius, another play of Lord Sterline's, printed at Edinburgh in 1603. His Julius Cæfar appeared in 1607, at a time when he was little acquainted with English writers; for both thefe pieces abound with scotticifms, which, in the subsequent folio edition, 1637, he corrected. But neither The Tempest nor the Julius Cæfar of our author was printed till 1623.
It should alfo be remembered, that our author has feveral plays, founded on fubje&s which had been previously treated by others. Of this kind are King John, King Richard 11. the two parts of K. Henry IV. King Henry V. King Richard 111. King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, Measure for Measure, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, and I believe, Hamlet, Timon of Athens, and The Second and Third Part of King Henry VI.: whereas no proof has hitherto been produced, that any contemporary writer ever prefumed to new model a ftory that had already employed the pen of Shakspeare. On all thele grounds it appears more probable, that Shakspeare was indebted to lord Sterline, than that lord Sterline borrowed from Shakipeare. If this reafoning be juft, this play
could not have appeared before the year 1607. I believe it was produced in that year. See An Attempt to ascertain the order of Shakspeare's Plays, Vol. II.
The real length of time in Julius Cæfar is as follows: About the middle of February A. U. Č. 709, a frantick feftival, facred to Pan, and called Lupercalia, was held in honour of Cæfar, when the regal crown was offered to him by Antony. On the 15th of March in the fame year, he was flain. Nov. 27, A. U. C. 710, the triumvirs met at a fmall island, formed by the river Rhenus, dear Bononia, and there adjufted their cruel profcription. A. U. C: 11, Brutus and Caffius were defeated near Philippi. UPTON.
M. Æmil. Lepidus,
Triumvirs, after the Death of
Cicero, Publius, Popilius Lena, Senators.
Flavius, and Marullus, Tribunes.
Artemidorus, a Sophift of Cnidos.
Cinna, a Poet. Another Poet.
Lucilius, Titinius, Meffala, Young Cato, and Volumnius; Friends to Brutus and Caffius.
Varro, Clitus, Claudius, Strato, Lucius, Dardanius; Servants to Brutus.
Pindarus, Servant to Caffius.
Calphurnia, Wife to Cæfar.
Portia, Wife to Brutus.
Senators, Citizens, Guards, Attendants, &c.
SCENE, during a great part of the play, at Rome; afterwards at Sardis; and near Philippi.