Assurance Games in Antony and Cleopatra (Part 1)
The Assurance Game dominates Antony and Cleopatra. Edward de Vere’s familiarity with Thomas Smith’s revolutionary treatises on English governance informs his knowledge of this social dilemma. Smith’s notion of self-interest directed toward the common good anticipated Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s discourse on inequality. Oxford brought his critical appreciation of Ramism to bear on Smith’s vision. Alongside an acknowledgment of their benefits, Oxford recognized the two major problems that attend Assurance Games: failing to secure the biggest payoff undermines trust; coordinative expectations do not necessarily facilitate beneficence. The St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre exemplified how mutual recognition can facilitate mob violence. The parallels with Antony and Cleopatra are striking.