Julius Caesar and the Revenge Plot from Oxford to Shakespeare’s Globe

Review of English Studies 74.315 (2023): 456–469

Several attempts have been made to demonstrate that Shakespeare knew and drew from the anonymous university drama Caesars Reuenge in writing Julius Caesar. This article revisits the question of influence, making the case that Reuenge not only influenced certain particulars of Shakespeare’s play but also helped to shape its general structure and suggested some of its major themes. Following the introduction, the first part situates Reuenge, performed by the students of Trinity College, Oxford, within its academic context, and examines the crucial matter of dating, arguing that it precedes Shakespeare’s Caesar tragedy. The second part treats the minor and major parallels between the two plays and demonstrates the ways in which Shakespeare’s academic predecessor seems to haunt the familiar plot of Julius Caesar. A brief conclusion considers what this might indicate about Shakespeare’s relationship with the universities, a subject of increasing scholarly attention.