A delightful popular tune of the 1960s goes
Except now and then in Rome I get that old yen in Rome And when in Rome I do as the Romans do
Just what it is that the Romans do, if they are characters in Early Modern plays, is the subject of the two books under review here.
In Shakespeare and the Constant Romans, Geoffrey Miles concentrates entirely on the theme of Stoic constancy as it is manifest in Shakespeare's three Plutarchan tragedies. Although this is very much a work of Shakespeare criticism, the first two thirds of the book are devoted to a brief yet comprehensive and lucid survey of Stoicism's origins in Plato and Zeno of Citium, and its reinvention, initially by Cicero and Seneca, then by Montaigne and the Neostoics. From its inception, the idea of Stoic constancy has been sometimes seen as meaning 'steadfastness' (a form of courage or endurance), or 'consistency' (as opposed to mutability), or encompassing both these qualities.
Cicero's Stoicism is described as complex and ambiguous: 'his treatment of false opinion as a morally corrupting force which blinds us …