In four chapters, devoted to four of the play's main characters, Wills shows how Caesar, Brutus, Antony, and Cassius each has his own take on the rhetorical ornaments that Elizabethans learned in school. Shakespeare also makes Rome present and animate by casting his troupe of experienced players to make their strengths shine through the historical facts that Plutarch supplied him with. The result is that the Rome English-speaking people carry about in their minds is the Rome that Shakespeare created for them. And that is even true, Wills affirms, for today's classical scholars with access to the original Roman sources.
Piccolomini discusses several Renaissance political conspiracies modeled after Brutus’ act and explores how those conspiracies, in turn, formed the basis for the theme’s recurrence in Italian, French, and English theatre of the period.
Leslie J. Walker’s definitive translation has been revised by Brian Richardson and is accompanied by an introduction by Bernard Crick, which illuminates Machiavelli’s historical context and his new theories of politics. This edition also includes suggestions for further reading and notes.