Critical attention to constancy in the Roman plays is part of a general interest over the last three decades in Shakespeare and the classical world. One sign of this interest is the tendency to read the Roman plays as plays about Rome. A related trend, not limited to the Roman plays, is the exploration of classical influences on Shakespeare, especially the influence of classical concepts of virtue and heroism. A key figure in such explorations has been Seneca. Previous discussions of constancy may have underestimated the ambiguity and complexity of the concept. In particular, by focusing on Senecan Stoicism, they have overlooked an equally significant but rather different concept of constancy in Cicero. This chapter argues that it is to a large extent out of the tensions between these two kinds of constancy, and within each of them, that Shakespeare constructs the moral and political conflicts of the Roman plays.
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