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What Shakespeare’s Roman Plays Teach Us About Modern Politics

Professor Paul Cantor places Shakespeare’s works as central to his analyses of pop culture, philosophy, and ancient history.


Dr. Paul Cantor is a professor at the University of Virginia and author of the new book, “Shakespeare’s Roman Trilogy: The Twilight of the Ancient World.” Cantor appears on this episode of Federalist Radio to discuss how Shakespeare’s Roman plays chronicle the political climates and communities, and the ways some of those observations have lived on into our modern politics.

“Shakespeare had a remarkable grasp of this Roman Republic. He knows the institutions and understands it in very political terms,” Cantor said. “It is a problem for democratic politics, and in Rome Shakespeare shows that the separation of powers and the balance of powers works to check someone like Coriolanus.”

Cantor also studies the likeness between Shakespeare’s works and American pop culture. “At all times and at all places, culture is a pyramid. At the very top are the great works produced by the great authors. At the bottom is the trash, and you only create the top of the pyramid on the basis of trash.”

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