“Jonson’s Cicero: In His Own Times, In His Own Words”

Location: Helen C. White Hall, Room 7191.

Renaissance Colloquium Presentation by Dr. John Curran, Professor of English (Marquette University).

This paper examines Jonson’s Cicero as a case study from the 2014 book, Character and the Individual Personality in English Renaissance Drama. This rendition of Cicero illustrates important points about the processes of historical ethopoeia, the recreating of a particular historical person’s speech: the sense in which the particularity of a person follows from that of his or her historical context; the sense in which character can be static and yet still have complexity and individuality; and the sense in which who someone is can show through in public oratory. Jonson’s play Catiline, especially insofar as Cicero’s lines are often direct translations of the overly famous anti-Catiline speeches, has often been panned. But hence we have often overlooked how Jonson drew his Cicero in order to reconstruct, with the utmost accuracy, the character of a particular historical person.

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