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Dismembered Sejanus: Ben Jonson’s Representational Ethics of a Mutilated Body

Gašper Jakovac

Durham University

gasper.jakovac@durham.ac.uk

 

Dismembered Sejanus: Ben Jonson’s Representational Ethics of a Mutilated Body[1]

 

‘I learned that an audience can be a very fierce creature, it can turn suddenly dangerous. That fierceness is generally in defence of the fragile miracle which is expected every evening in the theatre. The audience defends that miracle, the artist presides over it, nobody performs that miracle everybody contributes to it, and above all it must not be treated lightly. Respect in the presence of that miracle is a part of the normal respect of the professional for his job.’ 

Orson Welles’ Sketch Book, The Early Days

 

Introduction

The representations of mutilated bodies on the early modern stage could hardly escape a particularly formative semiotic dichotomy of signifiers adhering to the sacred martyred body of Christ on the one hand, and the profane spectacular body of the godless criminal on the other. Needles to say, both interpretations share structural qualities and are, so to speak, the two sides of the same coin. Fundamentally, they are conditioned by the act of gazing, i.e. the act of recognition and, therefore, production of either the body of a saint or that of the damned criminal. Both interpretations are, in spite of being the opposing extremes, capriciously contingent, negotiable, and interchangeable, since the emotions of pity, fear, and sorrow experienced by the individuals witnessing to the act of mutilation, can quite easily transform into sadistic pleasure (or the other way round).

The following article will show that this intricate dialectics of judgment commonly present at the early modern scaffold is minutely scrutinized by Ben Jonson in one of his less admired and commercially unsuccessful plays, a Roman tragedy, Sejanus: His Fall (1604). Discursive heterogeneity of mutilated body is used by Jonson, whose popularity in the early seventeenth century was far from established, to address crucial ethical and aesthetical dilemmas of the early Jacobean stage. Subversive representational ethics of Sejanus’ brutal end can be identified as the fundamental reason for a negative reception of the play among theatregoers, since the Roman mob’s moral judgement and its change of heart (metánoia) are employed by Jonson to examine moral inconstancy and poor aesthetic judgement of London audience.

 

Jonson’s Audience

The rather stylized quarto edition of Sejanus was, in spite of the play’s notorious commercial failure, published just over a year after the first public performance of the play, which took place in the Globe sometime after the reopening of the playhouses in April of 1604.[2] Sejanus is a scholarly play, strongly informed by classical ideals, which are not solely evident in its dramaturgy, and more precisely, in its desire for historical veracity, display of rhetorical skill, favouring of speech over action, and Aristotelian rejection of spectacle, but are also reflected in its formal presentation, in quarto’s Latinized spellings, epigraphical typography, and other paratextual elements. Since the publication of the play could not have been prompted by popular demand, it has clearly been designed to cater for highly educated literary and antiquarian market – for readers who would appreciate both minute marginal references to the ancient sources, in particular Tacitus, and authentic revival of classical aesthetics.

Jonson’s outspoken and often ambivalent attitudes towards theatrical art and the role of the audience have been thoroughly discussed before and are well known.[3] Throughout his career, Jonson above all desired to write for educated ‘judging spectators’, an audience with considerable intellectual and aesthetic capacity to be able to ‘heare, not see a play’.[4] By doing so, he endeavoured to radically intellectualize the playgoing experience.[5] However, Jonson was aware that his views were elitist and often arrogantly dismissive of the expectations and dispositions of the majority frequenting public playhouses. He repeatedly defined his poetical creed in contrast to popular tastes. The elaborate frontispiece of his Works (1616) includes a Latin epigraph adapted from Horace’s Satires, which can also be found on the front page of the quarto edition of The Alchimist (first per. 1610, pub. 1612): ‘Neque, me ut miretur turba, laboro: / Contentus paucis lectoribus’.[6] Similarly, a quote from Martial’s Epigrams exploring the relationship between elite and popular tastes is found on the front page of 1605 publication of Sejanus: ‘Non hic Centauros, non Gorgonas, Harpyasque invenies: hominem pagina nostra sapit’.[7] Jonson believes that only few readers are really interested in knowing themselves, while multitude cares only to be distracted by fantasies. He claims there is something intrinsically human in inspecting the acts and history of men, whereas observing and indulging in mythical fancies can only convey inherently bestial and vulgar notions on life. Although later in his career Jonson reconciled himself with popular tastes by embracing the genre of satirical city comedy, issues of elite aesthetics and author-audience relationship remained central to his metatheatrical deliberations. Particularly intriguing in this respect is the signing of an agreement between the playwright and the Hope theatre audience at the beginning of Bartholomew Fair (first per. 1614, pub. 1640).[8]

This tension between elite humanism and vulgar bestiality should be central to our reading of Sejanus. After the play’s public fiasco Jonson truly had to be content with only few enthusiastic readers.[9] Substantial details on its commercial failure are unfortunately unavailable to us, however, the paratexts of both quarto and folio editions bring about few important clues. Quarto introduces an anonymous commendatory poem, in which the description of the Globe performance is dominated by the ‘people’s beastly rage’ bent towards apparently badly penned play. The poem is missing in the folio, yet Jonson’s letter to his patron, 3rd Duke of Lennox, is published instead and in it Jonson writes that ‘[...] a poem [...] suffered no less violence from our people here than the subject of it did from the rage of the people of Rome’.[10] By putting the ‘people’s beastly rage’ and the mutilation of Sejanus in our interpretative focus, we can better understand the reasons for unenviable public reception of the play.

 

Constructing a Tyrant

The story of Sejanus is set in Rome under the Emperor Tiberius. Following the narratives of ancient historiographers, Jonson dramatises the gory rise of an ambitious praetorian Sejanus, Tiberius’s favourite, who effectively becomes the most powerful man in Rome. Realizing his mistake in trusting Sejanus, the Emperor plots against him, beguiling him into believing that he will receive tribunical power. Instead, Tiberius in absentia, through his letter being read in the Senate, accuses Sejanus of treason. Seeing that the Emperor’s confidant is doomed, senators quickly turn against him and sentence him to death. Yet the matter is not settled so easily and violence unexpectedly escalates. Sejanus’s children are murdered, while his decapitated body is taken by the raving multitude and ripped to pieces in the likeness of the Dionysian sparagmós, which is not represented on the stage but reported in several long speeches.

Sejanus reaches the height of his power at the beginning of Act V. Standing on the stage alone he presents himself as a swelling man-god, unrestricted by any law or human weakness: ‘The world knows only two, that’s Rome, and I. [...] / And, at each step, I feel my’advancèd head / Knock out a star in heav’n! [...] / ’Tis place, / Not blood, discerns the noble and the base’.[11] Sejanus bravely deconstructs the rules of early modern hierarchy and social mobility. He is not an aristocrat, but a self-made man, disengaged from the rules of the game. Intriguingly, he does not express the unity between the Roman body politic and his own inflated image, but rather speaks of two separate bodies (‘Rome and I’); a schism that pushes his ambition into a space of unrestricted will to power. Early modern anthropomorphic vision of the commonwealth as a symbiotic structure of diverse parts incorporated into a single body is foreign to him.[12] He rather envisions Rome to be a playground for his own desires. Similarly, Shakespeare’s Richard Gloucester, later Richard III, dissociates himself from dynastic policies of his family to substitute household-state analogy with Machiavellian individuality.[13] 

Nevertheless, when surrounded with his anxious followers, Sejanus adopts a soft paternalistic facade. He tells them: ‘How much I am a captive to your kindness! [...] I wish I could divide myself unto you.’[14] This refined use of Eucharistic discourse – evoking the symbolism of an emblematic pelican which was commonly used by Queen Elizabeth I in pair with the phoenix[15] – sits entirely opposite to the language he uses in private.[16] Although proclaiming the fatherly self-sacrificing love, Sejanus is in fact, as a paradigmatic tyrant, continuously using everyone around him to secure his own advantage.[17]

Ironically, his proficient mimicry of conventional paternalistic rhetoric is also proleptic of his gruesome end. It occupies, although in much less vivid form, the same dramaturgical position as Calpurnia’s dreams in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.[18] Calpurnia’s punctured statue of Caesar is initially interpreted as a bad omen. Even so, the conspirator Decius, who is obviously keen in providing contradictory interpretation, claims that the image foretells a fortunate prospect in which Caesar is perceived precisely as the self-sacrificing pelican figure, which, by wounding himself, is able to revive the young with his own blood.[19] The two interpretations contradict each other, but they are in fact both true, since although the murder of Caesar initially functions as an act of disorder, it is eventually transformed into a sacrificial act enabling the establishment of the new imperial order.[20] This, however, is not the case with Sejanus; he seems to be an ineffective sacrificial victim that does not guarantee the renewal of body politic, but rather embodies its utter dismemberment.[21]

Audience has been made aware of Sejanus’s demonic nature since the very beginning. The public suspicion in Rome itself, however, is triggered by a series of supernatural incidents.[22] Signs in the sky, the appearances of strange beasts, and unusual natural phenomena are all very common topoi denoting irruption of chaos into the seemingly ordered world.[23] Sin has grown exuberantly in Rome and gods are sending encoded messages that time for purification is near. Jonson carefully constructs a scapegoat plot, in which an unbearable amount of disorder can only be annulled by a collective destruction of Sejanus. Yet, since the act of dismemberment is represented as a horrific transgression, a disproportionate punishment for Sejanus’s crimes, the plot fails to deliver expected results.

 

Semiosis of a Mutilated Body

In the early modern period the scapegoat mechanism[24] has been institutionalised in the theatre of the scaffold. Foucault’s thoughts on spectacle of public execution[25] have been too often used merely to explain the need of early modern sovereigns to display their power and dominion over the bodies of their subjects. Foucault himself, however, stresses the importance of the public in the unstable negotiations over the interpretation of a particular execution.[26] Spectators are not only important as witnesses, they also – through shared conceptions of justice and morality – participate in the display and reproduction of monarch’s power.[27] For this ideal scenario to take place, the execution of the criminal had to be recognized by the public as an act of justice. If the condemned was not deemed guilty by the spectators, events could end in public rioting and resistance to authority. The coincidence of the sovereign’s judgement with the judgement of the spectators enables the positive effects of the publicly mutilated body to take place: because the sick limb (the condemned) of the body has been cut off, the remaining parts can now be re-incorporated and revitalised. The social order, of which the sovereign’s power is the fundamental part, has thus been effectively reproduced.

Similarities and relationship between the scaffold and the public theatre have been extensively discussed in the past,[28] while the cultural influence of anatomy theatre on perceptions of mutilated bodies on stage has been carefully examined only recently.[29] Anatomy lectures became part of London’s public life in 1540, when Henry VIII granted four corpses of convicted criminals a year to the Barber Surgeons’ Company for public dissections. Twenty-five years later, the College of Physicians, Surgeons’ university based rivals, received their grant from Queen Elizabeth and in 1583 opened the first purpose built anatomy theatre in London, which enjoyed considerable popularity among the citizens.[30] Simultaneously, public playhouses became central to the life of the city and cultivated similar experiences and social practices as public dissections: paid spectacle, collective participation, and lewd festivity.

Public playhouse, scaffold, and anatomy theatre invite the audience to actively participate in their performances. Unlike Medieval anatomy the new sixteenth-century practice, promulgated by Andrea Vesalius, could only exist, ‘when spoken words and the objects they described were perceived simultaneously by an audience observing firsthand’.[31] In other words, anatomical knowledge now had to be performed and witnessed to be properly established and transmitted – anatomical texts now came to function just as playtexts.[32] The same active role is of course inherent to the experience of the early modern theatregoer. The anti-illusionism of the London playhouses urged the audience to invest considerable amount of imagination into stage representations. ‘Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts: / into a thousand parts divide on man, / and make imaginary puissance,’[33] demands the chorus at the beginning of Henry V, appealing to the spectators’ imaginative forces in order to enhance stage illusions. Piecing together and dividing of bodies on stage was an essential duty of the early modern theatregoers, as well as witnessing and thus legitimizing the scripted reality.

Before entering the public playhouse this economy of constructive spectatorship had already been an integral part of the scaffold, passion plays, and hagiographical discourses. Martyr’s télos always depends on the act of gazing. While the martyr bears witness to Christian faith through physical suffering, the spectators in turn bear witness to his suffering, or imagine it if necessary, to be able to identify him as a martyr.[34] Margaret Owens explains: ‘The display of the martyr’s mutilated body is a crucial element in the discursive economy of hagiography.’[35]

Playgoers’ sensibilities were thus not only crucial for sustainment of theatrical illusion, but also inevitably judgemental. The later aspect had additional institutional support in the early modern London. English non-inquisitorial, jury-based legal system, which treated witnesses’ testimonies as evidence rather than proof, helped to form and disseminated new conceptions about rhetorical probability of any given narrative.[36] Individuals in the London playhouses were therefore strongly inclined to identify themselves as a jury, a moral authority, actively judging the action on the stage. Although the greater part of Sejanus is set in the senate-house, which would indeed intensify this identification,[37] Jonson deliberately fails to supply material proof (i.e. the mutilated body) of the restored justice and thus leaves audience unsatisfied.[38]

 

Dismembered Sejanus

Throughout the play, public’s anger and resentment had been skilfully fuelled by Arruntius’s and Lepidus’s moralistic comments on Rome’s decadence. However, when Tiberius’s power starts to shift corrupt senators away from the plentiful bosom of Sejanus, the judgement of play’s moralists suddenly refocuses on the rapidly unravelling scapegoat mechanism.[39] Jonson uses anatomical discourse to inscribe the dismemberment into familiar contexts. However, the act itself is not a systematic dissection through which one could meditate on positive social significance of specific body parts, but rather a violent destruction of an individual signifying the vulnerability of the whole body politic. Social groups – mothers, children, the elderly etc. – carve themselves on the body of Sejanus by tearing it to pieces. Thus they are no longer identified by their social position or function, but become those ‘mounting at his head’, those ‘at his face’, those ‘digging out his eyes’ etc.[40] By dismembering Sejanus’s body, these thousand heads, tongues and voices become one body, which is not, however, a natural and ordered body, but monstrously ‘deformèd Chaos’.[41] This newly-created social entity is being simultaneously and cyclically destroyed by the very act of its constitution. By mixing anatomical and political discourses Jonson creates a poetical image of self-dismembering body politic, representing scapegoating as unacceptable practice of generating social unity – its only use being to degrade men into beasts.

After the deed is done, Terentius, a close friend of Sejanus, appears on the stage addressing all those who have not ‘forced all mankind from [their] breasts’.[42] The judgement of the monstrous mob that follows is evidently paired with the critique of the empirical spectators, who, by this point, had already or were just about to express their discontent with the play. Jonson had premeditated and consciously strengthened the intuitive identification of the raging mob with the inconstant audience. He is provoking the spectators to tear apart his play in the way Sejanus was torn apart by the Roman people to show their inaptness to judge poetry. The crowd is thus described as ignorant, only pleased when expressing its rage, no matter the cause. To make no mistake, Jonson is careful to directly equate the people’s attitudes at the scaffold with those in the theatre. As soon as the murmur of Sejanus’s decline was heard in the city, the multitude filled the Capitol ‘with that speed and heat of appetite / with which they greedily devour the way / to some new great sport, or a new theatre.’[43]

It appears Jonson is cautiously anticipating and manipulating reactions and emotional changes of the audience. In this respect he resembles the scheming Tiberius.[44] After the appearance of Sejanus’s ex-wife (Apicata), who frantically laments the deaths of her innocent children, parts of the mob are struck with repentance and a change of heart. They start feeling regret and are, as Nuntius puts it, ‘so stupid, or so flexible, / as they believe him [Sejanus] innocent’, they begin grieving and collecting scattered pieces of his body to bring them together again and create him anew.[45] The mob-audience’s judgements can only be extreme judgements, simultaneously subjected to sudden changes. Jonson is intimately familiar with the emotional dynamics and faculties of his auditory and is thus able to effectively aggravate the identification of the spectators’ moral judgement with that of his own. Consequently the moral high ground is always occupied by the textual extensions of the author, while the poorly judging spectators are unable to experience delight in finding their judgements and believes concurrently confirmed by the stage representations.

 

Conclusion

Jonson does not allow collective violence to become sacred, but rather discloses it, opens it like the body of Sejanus for all to see its true image. His subtle didactic dramaturgy uses the economy of spectatorship to misrepresent the mutilated body and thus keep the audience at a distance. In other words, the audience is denied the conventional tragic satisfaction and the experience of social harmony.[46]

            In light of my discussion, the juxtaposition of the tripartite structure sovereign-scaffold-subjects with Jonson-theatre-audience might conveniently describe Jonson’s authorial politics in Sejanus. However, contrarily to the theatre of the scaffold, Jonson’s authoritative presiding over the meanings of stage representations is not primarily in service of sustaining social order through monopoly over inflicting violence, but rather in service of establishing new aesthetic and ethical hierarchies. Jonson sacrifices his play and the miracle of theatre, to give his audience a lesson in dramatic art and, more importantly, exhorting them to unanticipated ethical self-awareness.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Primary Sources

Jonson, Ben, The Workes of Beniamin Ionson (London, 1616) [British Library, G.11630]

————― Bartholomew Fair, ed. by E. A. Horsman (London: Methuen, 1965).

————― The Staple of News, in The Complete Plays of Ben Jonson, Vol. VI, ed. G. A. Wilkes (Oxford, Clarendon, 1982), 243–362.

————― Sejanus: His Fall, ed. by Philip J. Ayres (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990).

King James I and VI, ‘Speech to the Parliament of 19 March 1604’, in Political Writings, ed. by Johann P. Sommerville (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994), 132-146.

Shakespeare, William, Julius Caesar, ed. by Arthur Humpreys (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984).

————― Henry VI, Part Three, ed. by Randall Martin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

————― Henry VI, Part One, ed. by Michael Taylor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008 [reissued]).

————― Henry IV, Part Two, ed. by René Weis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008 [reissued]).

————― Henry V, ed. by Gary Taylor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

————― Coriolanus, ed. by Peter Holland (London: Arden Shakespeare, 2013).

 

Secondary Sources

Barish, Jonas, The Antitheatrical Prejudice (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).

Barkan, Leonard, Nature’s Work of Art: The Human Body as Image of the World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975).

Butler, Martin, ‘Jonson’s London and its Theatres’, in The Cambridge Companion to Ben Jonson, ed. by Richard Harp and Stanley Stewart (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 15–29.

Carlson, Peter, ‘Judging Spectators’, English Literary History, Vol. 44, 3 (1977), 443-457.

Foucault, Michel, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of The Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1995).

Green, Henry, Shakespeare and the Emblem Writers (London: Trübner, 1870).

Girard, René, Violence and the Sacred (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1977).

————― ‘Collective Violence and Sacrifice in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar’, Salmagundi, 88/89 (1991), 399-419.

————― I See Satan Fall Like Lightning (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2001).

Gurr, Andrew, Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

Hutson, Lorna, ‘Rethinking the “Sectacle of the Scaffold”: Juridical Epistemologies and English Revenge Tragedy’, Representations, 89, 1 (2005), 30-58.

Kantorowicz, Ernst, Kings Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997).

Nunn, Hillary M., Staging Anatomies: Dissection and Spectacle in Early Stuart Tragedy (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005).

Owens, Margarete E., Stages of Dismemberment: The Fragmented Body in Late Medieval and Early Modern Drama (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2005).

Ricks, Christopher, ‘Sejanus and Dismemberment’, Modern Language Notes 76, 4 (1961), 301-308.

Shapiro, James, ‘“Tragedies naturally performedˮ: Kyd’s Representation of Violence’, in Staging the Renaissance: Reinterpretations of Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, ed. by David Scott Kastan and Peter Stallybrass (New York: Routledge, 1991), 99-113.

Smith, Molly Easo, ‘The Theatre and the Scaffold: Death as Spectacle in The Spanish Tragedy’, in Revenge Tragedy, ed. by Stevie Simkin (New york: Palgrave, 2001), 71-87.

Sweeney, John G., ‘Sejanus and the People’s Beastly Rage’, English Literary History, Vol. 48, 1 (1981), 61-82.

Yates, Frances A., ‘Queen Elizabeth as Astraea’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 10 (1947), 27-82.

 

 




[1] A shorter version of this paper was first presented on 9 July 2013 at annual MEMSA Conference: Mutilated Bodies, Durham (UK).

[2] Ben Jonson, Sejanus: His Fall, ed. by Philip J. Ayres (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1990), p. 1-10. The theatres were closed due to the plague that struck London after the death of Queen Elizabeth in March 1603.

[3] See Jonas Barish, The Antitheatrical Prejudice (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), pp. 132–154; Andrew Gurr, Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 86–98; Martin Butler, ‘Jonson’s London and its Theatres’, in The Cambridge Companion to Ben Jonson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), ed. by Richard Harp and Stanley Stewart, pp. 15–29.

[4] From the prologue of The Staple of News, 2.

[5] Cf. Peter Carlson, ‘Judging Spectators’, English Literary History, Vol. 44, 3 (1977), pp. 443-457, p. 454.

[6] ‘I do not expend my efforts so that the multitude may wonder at me; I am contented with a few readers’.

[7] ‘You will not find here Centaurs, or Gorgons, or Harpies; my pages taste of man’.

[8] Although the prompter agrees that the play has been indeed written ‘to the scale of grounded judgements’ (Bartholomew Fair, 57) that is with goundligs’ stretch of faculties in mind, Jonson patronizingly ridicules the audience by reading out the agreement clauses which should educate spectators on theatre decorum and aestheric judgement.

[9] The government also disliked the play. In all likelihood, Sejanus was seen to be alluding to the 1601 fall of Robert Deveroux, Earl of Essex, for which Jonson had to defend himself before the Privy Council on charges of sedition.

[10]In Sejanus, ed. by Philip J. Ayres, p. 49.

[11] Sejanus, V.6-12.

[12] Essential theological foundation for medieval and early modern political theories on body politic is 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27. See also Lenoard Barkan, Nature’s Work of Art: the Human Body as Image of the World (New Heaven and London: Yale University Press, 1975), pp. 61-115, and Kantorowizc, King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Medieval Political Theology (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1997), pp. 193-272.

[13] 3 Henry VI, V.vi.80–88.

[14] Sejanus, V.278-282.

[15] See Frances A. Yates, ‘Queen Elizabeth as Astraea’, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 10 (1947), pp. 27-82, pp. 55-56.

[16] In one of his longest soliloquies Sejanus brags about how he has enslaved the whole of Rome (Sejanus, V.256).

[17] For tyrant, claims King James I, ‘Kingdome and people are only ordained for satisfaction of his desires and vnreasonable appetites’ (King James I and VI, ‘Speech to the Parliament of 19 March 1604’, in Political Writings, ed, by Johann P. Sommerville (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 132-146, p. 143.

[18] Julius Caesar, II.ii.76-90.

[19] See Henry Green, Shakespeare and the Emblem Writers (London: Trübner, 1870), p. 394.

[20] René Girard, ‘Collective Violence and Sacrifice in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar’, Salmagundi, 88/89 (1991), 399-419, p. 415.

[21] Cf. Christopher Ricks, ‘Sejanus and Dismemberment’, Modern Language Notes 76, 4 (1961), pp. 301-308, p.301.

[22] First, a monstrous serpent leaps out of the Sejanus’s statue in Pompey’s theatre, then a rope is discovered coiled around its neck, and lastly, a ‘fiery meteor’ is seen rolling ‘along / the troubled air’ (Sejanus, V.218-220).

[23] Cf. for example Julius Caesar, I.iii.1-32.; 1 Henry VI, I.i.1-7.; 2 Henry IV, IV.iii.121-128.

[24] On scapegoat mechanism see René Girard, Violence and the Sacred (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1977); cf. I See Satan Fall Like Lightning (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2001) for further development of his thought.

[25] See Discipline and Punish: The Birth of The Prison (New York: Vintage Books, 1995).

[26] See Ibid., 32-69.

[27] Ibid., 59.

[28] See James Shapiro, ‘“Tragedies naturally performed”: Kyd’s Representation of Violence’, in Staging the Renaissance: Reinterpretations of Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama, ed. by David Scott Kastan and Peter Stallybrass (New York: Routledge, 1991), pp. 99-113; Molly Easo Smith, ‘The Theatre and the Scaffold: Death as Spectacle in The Spanish Tragedy’, in Revenge Tragedy, ed. by Stevie Simkin (New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 71-87.

[29] Hillary M. Nunn, Staging Anatomies: Dissection and Spectacle in Early Stuart Tragedy (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005).

[30] Nunn, 4–5.

[31] Ibid., 12.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Prologue, 11-25.

[34] Stages of Dismemberment: The Fragmented Body in Late Medieval and Early Modern Drama (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2005), p. 137.

[35] Ibid; cf. the display of wounds and bodies in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Coriolanus.

[36] Lorna Hutson, ‘Rethinking the “Spectacle of the Scaffold”: Juridical Epistemologies and English Revenge Tragedy’, Representations, 89, 1 (2005), pp. 30-58, p. 38.

[37] Cf. Richard Dutton, ‘The Sources, Text, and Readers of Sejanus: Jonson’s “Integrity in the Story”’, Studies in Philology, Vol. 75, 2 (1978), pp. 181-198, p. 191.

[38] Cf. Owens’s discussion on the representations of judicial beheadings on the early modern stage (Stages of Dismemberment, pp. 115-143).

[39] Sejanus, V.712-714.

[40] Ibid., V.828-829.

[41] Ibid., V.879; cf. Nunn, 50-51; cf. the phisical (and mental) deformity of Shakespeare’s Richard Gloucester which is similarly equated to chaos (3 Henry VI, III.ii.156–162).

[42] Sejanus, V.764-768.

[43] Ibid., V.769-775.

[44] Cf. John G. Sweeney, ‘Sejanus and the People’s Beastly Rage’, English Literary History, Vol. 48, 1 (1981), pp. 61-82, pp. 68-69.

[45] Sejanus, V.893-897.

[46] Sweeney, 62.