Titus Andronicus

The Real Hero of Titus Andronicus

I found Rome a city of bricks and left it a city of marble -Augustus Caesar (63 BC - 14 AD)

In his essay, Titus Andronicus and the Mythos of Shakespeare's Rome, Robert Miola uncovers and explores the myths Shakespeare uses as bedrock for the background and plot of his first Roman tragedy, Titus Andronicus. Most notably, Miola discusses two Ovidian myths, The Rape of Philomela and The World's Four Ages. The Rape provides Shakespeare with his basic characters and the events involving Lavinia, his Philomela, while Ovid's fourth age of iron describes Shakespeare's physical Rome, "a quintessentially iron city," writes Miola, "a military establishment protected by walls and filled with sword-carrying soldiers" (Mythos 91). The ancient Roman myth of the God Saturn, who devoured his children to remain in power himself, must have been another story Shakespeare used to develop his Roman characters in Titus, Miola says. For obvious proof, he points to the name of the emperor, Saturninus, and the final gruesome banquet during which this emperor literally eats his stepsons. Miola also cites Virgil's Aeneid as one of Shakespeare's primary influences. "Shakespeare's Rome, like...

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