all, summon him in Latin Elegiacs audible only to him. If then the popular scenes in Shakespeare's Roman plays do not make a very Roman impression, it should be remembered that he is punctilious in comparison with the University gentleman who preceded him. Nor did the fashion of popularising antique themes with vulgar frippery from the present die out when Shakespeare showed a more excellent way. There is something of very much the same kind in Heywood's Rape of Lucrece
which was published in 1608.
But these superficial laches are not the most objectionable things in the play. There is nothing organic in it. Of course its neglect of the unities of time and place is natural and right, but it is careless of unity in structure or even in portraiture. The canvas is crowded with subordinate figures who perplex the action without producing a vivid impression of their own characters. A few are made distinct by insistence on particular traits, like Octavius with his unbending civic virt
aggard, he may not have thought it necessary, because of a change of firm as it were, to describe himself as another man. Even, however, if the authorship of the 1608 play be considered doubtful, its publication is significant. For, as has often been pointed out, it was customary when a piece was successful at one theatre to produce one on a similar subject at another. The mere existence, then, of an Antony and Cleopatra in the early months of 1608, is in so far an argument that about that time the great Antony and Cleopatra was attracting attention.
2. There is evidence that in the preceding years Shakespeare was occupied with and icatastrophe. Thus Shakespeare would imagine Antony at the outset as between forty-two and forty-six, practically on the same niveau of life as himself, for in 1607-1608 he was in his forty-fourth year. They had reached the same stadium in their career, had the same general outlook on the future, had their great triumphs behin
If, however, we turn to the supposed allusions that make for the intermediate date of 1608 or 1609, we do not find them much more satisfactory.
Thus it has been argued that the severe rth, and supposes they were suggested by the scarcity which prevailed in England during the years 1608 and 1609. But the lack of corn among the people is one of the presuppositions of the story, to n of Biron in 1602 inspired Chapman to write The Conspiracie and The Tragedie
which were acted in 1608.
Again, in connection with what seems to be the actual date, an attempt has been made to expolitical situation, adopts the general principle as quite compatible with the state of affairs in 1608. He puts the case as follows:
Was it Shakespeare's intention to allude to the strained relati Shakespeare's having utilised this play. And, on the other hand, it was certainly written before 1608, probably in the last years of the sixteenth century, but in any case by 1607, so there is even l