Lucretia or Lucrece? The woman in the myth and her impact on Shakespeare
García Medina, Patricia
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The myth in charge of issuing the story of the rape of Lucretia has played an important role in history. The fall of the ideal Roman matron has been reproduced in multiple ways from classical times onwards, including a historical account of the story by the Roman historicist Livy, a poetic version by Ovid in his Fasti and another by the hand of the English writer William Shakespeare. His revival of the myth, however, recreates a more modern victim as well as a focus put specifically in other aspects that the classical versions did not to a great extent take into account. I am going to concentrate on these last two versions, due to the fact that Ovid and Shakespeare’s poems share certain details that make them very similar, at the same time presenting crucial differences that will be looked at in this paper. Other classical versions of this poem like Livy’s will be named, but not thoroughly explained. The aim of this piece of work is to is to describe by means of a comparison the way in which the texts by Ovid and Shakespeare on the rape of Lucretia present significant divergence from one another and how the two main characters–Tarquin and Lucretia– are affected by it. Although the two versions portray similar atmospheres, the core intention of the narratives seems to be different or at least somewhat contrasting. I will first look at the general traits of both poems and how they interact in their similarities based on the portrayal of their main protagonists. I will continue by taking a closer look at the two main characters in both pieces and how they are described by their respective narrators. Finally, attending to the presented reasons I will take a look at how the political intentions of the poetic versions of this myth are shown, if any, depending on the era in which they were composed.