The New Variorum Shakespeare:
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar *

ed. Horace Howard Furness, Jr. (Philadelphia 1913)

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar
Character Analyses
Act 1
Act 2
Act 3
Act 4
Act 5


Brutus falling on his sword
From Geffrey Whitney, A Choice of Emblems (1586)

The Variorum Editions of Shakespeare provide wide ranging selections of comments that various critics have made about Shakespeare's plays over a period of centuries. The Variorum editors read through hundreds of books, culling from them particularly striking comments on passages in the play. In modern jargon, the Variorum editors created moderated and "threaded discussions" that persist over centuries -- Furness quotes people from the sixteenth century up through the twentieth.

For researchers, the value of a Variorum edition is obvious, but the Variorum has not traditionally reached beyond Shakespearean scholars. To a large extent, this reflects the physical constraints of the print edition. A single Variorum edition is closer in size and cost to complete editions with all of Shakespeare's works than to the inexpensive and light paperback editions of individual plays. The electronic Variorum of Julius Caesar, however, is accessible everywhere on the World Wide Web -- the reader can read one note a time rather than carrying the entire commentary in his or her hands.

We believe, however, that the potential audience for the variorum goes far beyond the scholarly community. Many audiences of Shakespeare find the play opaque -- it is often hard to imagine multiple ways of viewing characters or scenes. The Variorum editions allow a wide range of readers to quickly see the variety of reactions that a given scene, character or even line could provoke. See, for instance, the analyses provided on many of the play's characters. We hope that the electronic Variorum will allow private individuals or formal students to see the play in a variety of new ways.

* This site is currently under construction at Tufts University as part of the Perseus Project, a digital library for the study of ancient Greece, Rome, and now the English Renaissance.

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