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Shakespeare and the Classics: Plutarch, Ovid and Inspiration

Shakespeare and the Classics: Plutarch, Ovid and Inspiration

 

by Andrew Phillips and Patrick Hunt

Chandos Portrait of William Shakespeare, circa 1610-16 (public domain image)

The authors of this article are amusingly inspired by the coincidence that in 1572 one of the Masters of Shakespeare’s Stratford Grammar School (King’s New School) was Simon Hunt and that the will of a fellow actor named Augustine Phillips bequeathed the Bard thirty gold shillings in 1605.

*                    *                    *                   *

One of the popular colloquial sayings about William Shakespeare is that all his Classical education was second-hand. Many imply that his education lacked a fundamental element of at least some Latin, the mark of an educated man in Elizabethan England.  Even then, rudimentary knowledge of Classics through Latin and Greek language study had long been a mark of privilege and education. Even if acknowledged an independent genius, Shakespeare’s supposed absence of even rudimentary Latin would be curious given his near encyclopedic command of English – some estimates suggest the Bard had a possible vocabulary of around 30,000 words – and the impact he had on the world of literature especially on the subtlest and most highly trained minds.

The niggardly comment from poet and playwright Ben Jonson is from his Eulogy of Shakespeare, conveying that the Bard “had small Latine and lesse Greek”. [1]   While Jonson’s remarks may have been fairly accurate for the Elizabethan standards of the time, there is growing internal evidence that Shakespeare in fact possessed a considerable command of both Latin and Greek and a surprisingly deep comprehension of Classics.  Shakespeare not only probably translated some of the ancient texts for his own purposes and projects, but he was also sufficiently well versed in the classics to have borrowed inspiration from a range of classical sources from history to poetry and drama.

Like many, Shakespeare may have been a bit rusty with or forgotten some of his noun declensions, verb conjugations and obscure Latin vocabulary, but he was far from being the illiterate actor that some continue to paint him. On the one hand, the controversial, non-mainstream camp of Anti-Shakespeare “conspiracy theorists” – often called “Anti-Stratfordians” - who doubt that William Shakespeare was the author of his attributed work are right in pointing out the paucity of biographical data about Shakespeare’s somewhat mysterious life, but on the other hand much of their take is based on circumstantial evidence or an argument from silence. They posit instead a variety of well-educated candidates like Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon or Edward de Vere – 17th Earl of Oxford, whose gentry or university education are better attested than Shakespeare’s.[2]  Like Samuel Johnson, the mainstream camp holds that Shakespeare may not have been an erudite Classics savant but was still a genius with stunning powers of original observation and wit, a universal poet for all time. Although it is now accepted that Shakespeare co-authored a few plays, new studies using stylometrics such as the Claremont Shakespeare Clinic employ complex computer analyses of many elements of style in order to demonstrate to most scholars that single authorship suffices to explain who wrote the bulk of the work attributed to Shakespeare alone. David Bevington counters the question: “How is it possible hat a Stratford citizen could have done all this?” with “The first attempt at an answer is to ask another question: how is it possible for any human being to have written so well?”  [3]

That Shakespeare borrowed much from the classics and classical texts, including Ovid and Plutarch as major sources, but also from Livy, Plautus, Sappho, and other ancient writers is not challenged. The authors of this article believe that not only was Shakespeare’s knowledge of Latin probably sufficient to translate some of his sources or at least peruse them keenly in the original Latin, but he also regularly borrowed copiously from ancient texts and re-told the great histories and stories of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Shakespeare used the classics across a wide spectrum, and indeed it is impossible to imagine what he would have produced had he not relied so heavily on the classics. In doing so, he contributed an enormously important new wealth to the history of literature: he helped to popularize and retain many of the classical stories and traditions that without his help may have shriveled from public recognition altogether in English.  Instead, Classics as a whole influenced the work of William Shakespeare more than any one other literary collection, including the Bible, and vice versa. More than any other, Shakespeare kept the Classics alive.

Some scholars have spent their entire careers researching and debating to what extent Shakespeare used the classics. In seeking to answer this question of how the classical world influenced William Shakespeare, it is important look at three main points. First, we should explore Shakespeare’s likely education and how it is unfair to pin Shakespeare in a corner regarding his knowledge of Latin and Greek. How reliable was Shakespeare’s knowledge of the ancient languages, and would he have been in the position to learn them properly? Second, we should look at how Shakespeare used the classics for direct inspiration or re-told ancient stories. Lastly, we can look at Shakespeare’s efforts in preserving Classical tradition in a variety of ways, and in turn add his own legacy to the tradition begun by the ancients long ago.

Jonson: “Small Latine and Lesse Greek” unfair

Shakespeare’s education deserves better press than Ben Jonson’s summary. A little background is helpful, indeed that is all we have. From British county and church records of his baptism in the parish register of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, it is easy to attest that Shakespeare’s parents were John and Mary Shakespeare, who lived on Henley Street in Stratford-upon–Avon.[4]  William’s mother Mary Arden was from a prominent gentrified landowning family in Warwickshire known since before the Norman Conquest. While not true gentry, prior to 1577 John Shakespeare was respectively a member of the Stratford Town Council in 1557, a Constable in 1558, a Chamberlain in 1561, Alderman in 1565, the year after William’s birth, High Bailiff in the year 1568, and Chief Alderman in 1571, which would have made John Shakespeare equivalent to town mayor. [5] By 1577 John Shakespeare was in financial straits.[6] If the only indications of John Shakespeare’s hand are that he signed his name with a mark instead of as signature, it does not necessarily carry over to his son. John Shakespeare only received a heraldic coat-of-arms in 1596, after which date he could be called a gentleman.

Coat-of arms for John Shakespeare granted in 1596 (public domain image)

Because the King’s New School records were lost, possibly in a fire, the “Anti-Stratfordians” are correct in stating no documentation exists for Shakespeare’s education. But it is also fairly easy to affirm that the local grammar school Shakespeare would have attended into his mid-teens was the 1553-chartered King’s New School, also known as King Edward VI Grammar School (or the Stratford Grammar School), where the children of prominent Stratford citizens – like John Shakespeare and his wife Mary Arden – were its students and where Latin grammar was a compulsory component. William Lily’s Shorte Introduction of Grammar, printed in London, was the Latin text authorized by Henry VIII in 1552 to be used in this and other schools. An extant 1552 copy of William Lily’s A Shorte Introduction of Grammar can be found in the Bavarian State Library (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek) in Munich. Photographs of its pages show noun and adjective declensions and verb conjugation tables as well as inflections for the “Eight Partes of Speache” and one line translation exercises from the Latin Vulgate Bible. [7]  Like all children of a similar background and upbringing, Shakespeare would have been drilled extensively with the purpose of teaching him not only how to read Latin “but to write and speak it as well”. [8]  The Headmasters of this Stratford grammar school were in general Oxford-educated. Thomas Jenkins was the Master of the King’s New School for some years during Shakespeare’s youth; the Master in 1572 when Shakespeare would have been also in attendance was Simon Hunt, and a junior master or usher would have also been Shakespeare’s Latin tutor. Some Greek was also taught at the Stratford school.

Such knowledge of learning rudimentary grammar school Latin – sufficiently well enough to read, write, and speak it – would place a man in the upper echelons of Latin knowledge in Elizabethan times, but apparently this was not enough for Ben Jonson.  Regardless of Jonson’s opinion of Shakespeare, the notion that the Bard somehow knew little about Latin and Greek is not consistent with this fundamental element of the Elizabethan grammar school education for families of his social standing, which training amply prepared Shakespeare to not only translate the classics directly from their original sources, but to be able to do so in a way which kept their essence as works of art, something that any translator can attest is the absolute toughest element involved in the translation of poetry or any other art form. This undocumented Shakespearian Classical education may not suffice for the Anti-Shakespeare, “Anti-Stratfordian” camp, but it is sufficient for the mainstream “Stratfordians.” The authors of this brief summary in Electrum hold that the controversy unflaggingly pushing non-Shakespearian authorship sometimes boils down to an insult to his high intelligence and unique creative genius. That there are difficulties even with any good biography of Shakespeare is a given, particularly if the many lacunae are treated as fairly as the fewer known, documentable facts. [9]  Yet, even if William Shakespeare were not the author of his attributed work, the author would have had sufficient Classical education as maintained here. The Anti-Shakespeare argument from snobbery, however, as magisterial Shakespeare authority James Shapiro demonstrates in his superb Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare (2010), demeans intelligent people everywhere who have brilliance without upper class privilege yet have made great literary contributions nonetheless. Shapiro seems able to make more headway against the Shakespeare conspiracy theories – usually gently poking holes in the pseudo-academic treatises – than anyone else, partly because his scholarship is hard to challenge and partly because he is so sensible against the “fantasies”, using Ockham’s razor logic against some of the bizarre speculation and specious “sleuthing” that is often anything but. [10]  It is sad but true that few of Shakespeare’s contemporaries beyond Jonson shared their personal recollections of him when recently deceased.

Shapiro sagely says:

Shakespeare did not live as we do in an age of memoir. Few at the time kept diaries or wrote personal essays (only thirty or so English diaries survive from Shakespeare’s lifetime)…Literary biography was still in its infancy; even the word ‘biography’ hadn’t yet entered the language and wouldn’t until the 1660′s. By the time popular interest began to shift from the works themselves to the life of the author, it was difficult to learn much about what Shakespeare was like.” [11]

Shakespeare and Ovid

The authorship controversy notwithstanding, Jonathan Bate has argued patiently and clearly for years in such books as Shakespeare and Ovid (1994) that Shakespeare used Ovid as a major source and that one of the more compelling evidences for Shakespeare’s use of his own translations directly from Latin lies in his work with Ovid’s Lucretia in his own “Rape of Lucrece.” While there are many stylistic and contextual similarities, one oft-held argument for Shakespeare’s knowledge of Latin is that he most likely translated some of Ovid’s original text himself when not dependent on Arthur Golding’s famous 1567 Ovid translation.[12]  The reason for this is that a widespread publication of a worthy translation was not circulated until well after Shakespeare’s death.[13]  While this doesn’t prove inconclusively that Shakespeare himself did in fact translate the piece, the fact that Shakespeare is able to keep the stylistic essence and retain the translation parallel to what Ovid says in the original Latin is just as powerful an indicator of his prowess. [14]

While nothing of Shakespeare’s boyhood or even adulthood knowledge of Latin can be explicitly proven, given the product of his own “Rape of Lucrece” and the stylistic similarities he shares with Ovid, it seems fairly easy to reach the conclusion that Shakespeare at lease knew enough Latin to allow him to translate poetry and other materials directly on his own.  How did Shakespeare use selected classical sources to re-tell some of the greatest components of the classics as well as derive much of his own inspiration directly from these same anthologies?

Some evidence for Shakespeare’s knowledge of Latin and the classics in general lies in his quotations from and fondness for texts of the poet Ovid. Ovid, by many accounts, was “Shakespeare’s favorite author”, [15]  and the one source which many critics liken the most to Shakespeare: “By studying Shakespeare’s reading of Ovid we may come to a remarkably full – though not, of course, complete – picture of the sort of artist that Shakespeare was”. [16]  Shakespeare’s affection for Ovid is apparent to those who read Shakespeare’s works with an eye for classical influences, and it is this gleaning of Ovid that well-educated members of Shakespeare’s audiences would have noticed with relative ease. [17] Excluding Shakespeare’s fascination with Ovid, however, and the stylistic choices that so resemble Ovid in his various works, there is an even simpler way to notice Shakespeare’s commitment to the classics and the telling of their immortal stories: Plutarch may be even more mined that Ovid.

Shakespeare and Plutarch

Like his reuse of Ovid, Shakespeare also studied Plutarch deeply. Looking at the entire collection of the works of William Shakespeare, one glance across his titles gives a true sense to just how deep classical influences like Plutarch reach with Shakespeare’s creations. Much has long been published on Shakespeare’s ample use of Thomas North’s 1579 edition of Plutarch’s Lives. [18]  The obvious first clue was the story of Coriolanus, which could conceivably only draw mostly from the Coriolanus narrative of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, but the scholarly consensus grew from there in extending Shakespeare’s sources, since Plutarch also wrote the lives of Julius Caesar, Pericles and Antony, and his Pericles is a source for Shakespeare’s play [19] although Shakespeare’s Pericles may have more of Apollonius of Tyre as ultimate source. [20] Among his plays, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, Pericles, Timon of Athens and Titus Andronicus all have classical references within their names as well as ancient sources for narratives. Timon of Athens also derives much from Plutarch’s Antony; moreover Titus Andronicus may owe something to Plutarch’s Scipio and Seneca’s Thyestes and Hippolytus. [21] Additionally, a number of plays, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, have classical characters and sub-plots that penetrate the main focus of the play. It is also most likely that Shakespeare knew William Adlington’s 1566 translation of Apuleius’ The Golden Ass as a source text for A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and ‘Titania’ is also used as a name three times in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (III.173, XIV 382 and 438). [22]  Many of the plays are based from historical evidence, such as Julius Caesar, while others are based on myth and other stories. Modern readings have not negated that debt to North, but also give Shakespeare more credit than previously:

Shakespeare was heavily indebted to Thomas North’s translation of Plutarch and Arthur Golding’s Ovid, but he clearly consulted some Latin texts in the original” [23]

Among his two longer poems – there are only six total – “The Rape of Lucrece” and “Venus and Adonis,” have classical foci. Looking at language, plot and details, Shakespeare’s primary source for the Lucretia story is clearly Livy’s account of Roman emancipation from the Etruscans who had squelched their younger Roman “cousins” under the arrogant Tarquins [24] but he also uses Ovid as a source for his “Lucrece”.[25] Even the epithet of Tarquinius (535-496 BC) as Superbus or “Proud” is relevant as Lucretia’s suicide provided a pivotal fulcrum for Rome to overthrow their haughty Etruscan overlords and start the Republic in 509 BC. Shakespeare rendered this tragic Lucretian moment in poetry that is as much historical as lyrical. A brief analysis of one couplet of “Lucrece” is apt. Shakespeare used his Ovid and Livy sources well to construct his Lucretia, hinting that her chastity was an added enducement to Tarquinius:

“Haply that name of ‘chaste’ unhappily set/This bateless edge on his keen appetite” (lines 59-60)

But it is his use of Classical poetry figures here that sets him apart as one who must have known Classical literature fairly intimately. Here Shakespeare as a master poet used “Haply” (“by chance”) in counterpoint against its euphonic double antithesis of “unhappily”. Shakespeare, on whom word subtlety was rarely if ever lost, also here implies a clever Classical poetic figure called chiasmus where two end words face each other at both ends of a line (“Haply”/”unhappily”).  Then he interposes in the middle between “Haply” and “unhappily” the idea that Lucretia’s epithet description was “chaste”, another Classical figure.  In yet another Classical poetic figure, Shakespeare separated the adjective “bateless” and its expected noun “appetite”, a kind of metonymy or transferred epithet since “bateless” belongs more to “appetite” and “keen” belongs more to “sword”. Then he allowed the reconnecting of “bateless” and “appetite” by inserting in the middle another internal transferred epithet for the “keen-edged” sword of Tarquinius, all of which is driven by the virtue of “chaste” Lucretia. Lust and its euphemized “appetite” are thus linked to the sword he brings to her bed, which sword is a metaphor for his violent lust that is all the stronger given her expected resistance. [26]  It is doubtful this sophisticated wordcraft could be accomplished by one ignorant of or completely inexperienced in translating Classical poetry. The sheer breadth of Shakespeare’s use of classical texts is incredible, given just how intimate and immortal his works have become since 1600.

What Shakespeare did for the classics and their influence during Elizabethan England was unique. Through his numerous plays and mentions of classical themes, stories, and myths, he not only preserved an invaluable tradition, but he also gave the classics a different face. Why is this direction from the academy to the public so important, and exactly what did Shakespeare see in the classics that was worth preserving?

Shakespeare Preserved Classical Tradition

The efforts of William Shakespeare, always intentional or not, to retain the classics may have been the single most influential causal force for their preservation, especially in English, since ancient times. [27] But it was not merely that Shakespeare recorded these stories and did nothing else. Shakespeare transformed classical stories without diluting or “dumbing down”.  He made them much more personable to the common people: “Shakespeare did not want the classics to be what they have now become: the preserve of a tiny intellectual elite.  He took Ovid out of the academy and put him on the popular stage”.[28]  In his early (1594) play The Comedy of Errors, Shakespeare also imitated and adapted material from the Roman playwright Plautus, especially from the comedies Menaechmi and Amphitryon. [29] By unpacking the Classics from their layered status and prestige and refreshing them with contemporary detail, Shakespeare was helping to preserve their tradition and their beauty by spreading their influence to peoples not previously able to experience them: “Shakespeare brought the classics to life, whereas the techniques of the schoolroom and society killed them stone dead”. [30] Shakespeare took what was supposed to be a mark of status and allowed all of his audience members to learn from the lessons of the classics, for he “believed passionately that the present could learn from the past; the belief was a starting point of his education and a formative influence upon his writing”.[31]  By injecting the classics into mainstream society, Shakespeare had a direct effect on the preservation of the classical tradition, while at the same time removing its stigma and making it more readily available to the common people.

The all-too-common association of Classics with a stuffy, privileged elite has accompanied the discipline from the beginning. Classics is a discipline dedicating its entire focus and energies on the events of the past, whether it be the study of dead languages or the happenings of societies extinct for thousands of years. A logical question accompanying the study of classics is a simple one, but it reflects the attitude many have held against the classical tradition: why?  Why bother studying about people long gone in a society different from our own?

The answer to this question exposes the very reason Shakespeare was so enamored with the classics and why he worked so earnestly to see their stories and traditions preserved. He not only saw the value in learning from the mistakes and lessons of the past, but he also recognized that some questions regarding humanity are truly immortal: “Both Shakespeare and Ovid were able to retain their faith that there is an essence in both human and non-human nature, and [both] acknowledge the infinite variety of human passions and actions”.[32] Shakespeare’s preservation of the classics, therefore, was not only important because it kept alive some immortal myths and legends, but it sustained the great questions of what truly make us human.

Shakespeare the Universal Humanist

The ancient world means a number of different things to those who study classics.  The most endearing quality, however, is the way that the same problems and issues comprising the human condition are still there, often unchanged from the way they were thousands of years ago.  The Spanish humanist scholar Juan Luis Vives said it best when discussing the enduring nature of classics and the ancient world in general:

No one can deny that everything has changed, and continues to change everyday, because these changes spring from our coalition and industry.  But similar changes do not ever take place in the essential nature of human beings, that is in the foundations of the affections of the human mind, and the results [that] they produce on actions and volitions.  This face has far more significance than the raising of such questions as how the ancients built their houses or how they clothed themselves.  For what greater practical wisdom is there than to know how and what the human passions are: how they are roused, how quelled? (Vives, 232) [33]

At the very root of the classical tradition lies the essence of what makes us human.  This goal of capturing and displaying this same essence is what Shakespeare initially pursued in his youth, which once he had begun his career caused him to “read omnivorously and blend what he had absorbed into his work with awesome power and subtlety”. [34] The same reasons that we read Shakespeare and enjoy it so much to this day are the same why Shakespeare sought the classics when compiling his various works.  We as readers so readily see ourselves in the works of Shakespeare, whether in the passions and emotions of a Macbeth or a Prince Hamlet, or the sheer joy and humor captured in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, because these stories also distill the very essence of our lives and what it means to exist in our world. As Muir and others have noted, even the transformation of Bottom into a donkey is a well-known borrowing from The Golden Ass of Apuleius (circa AD 150) where the protagonist Lucius is likewise bestialized for his errant explorations in magic. Among others, Giordano Bruno also utilized the theme of transformation  from ass to man. [35]  Not only do we respect Shakespeare for his work in of itself, but also more importantly we enjoy Shakespeare because in spite of the years that separate us from the age of Elizabethan England we feel that Shakespeare personally addresses us in his various works, a kinship that is as much psychological as literary.  This kinship from one age to another is one  of the marks of genius. Just as translating a work from a different language can be difficult to retain its essence, creating something truly immortal people can read and enjoy – no matter where or when they lived – is an impressive feat. Ovid spoke to Shakespeare the same way Shakespeare speaks to us: with a clear understanding of the many nuances and paradoxes that complete our humanity.  It is no surprise then that both Ovid and Shakespeare are still counted among the masters of the written word, and will continue to be counted among them for all time.

Shakespeare’s grammar school youth apparently gave him the background in rudimentary Latin to be capable of performing some of his own translations as well as inspiring him with an early appreciation for the works of Ovid through Arthur Golding and Thomas North’s Plutarch along with other ancients. As he began his career he constantly flooded his works with classical influence. Whether in a character like Titus Andronicus eroding before our eyes, a story within a story like Pyramus and Thisbe, or in the plot of an entire tragedy, one does not need to look far to see Shakespeare’s use of the classics. He also did it in a way to make the classics accessible, removing the prestige associated with the academic nature of the classics as a discipline. By doing so he committed his works to the preservation of the same immortal questions first asked by the ancients, and did it in a way that the average person could see and appreciate. Shakespeare not only helped to popularize the classical tradition in his own time, but he may have done more than any person in the history of English literature to keep Classics alive through time and make these stories from antiquity as famous and dramatic to readers of English as they were in the original languages.

Confirming Shakespeare’s impact on the subtlest minds, brings up a conversation one of the authors recently had with George Hardin Brown, noted Bede scholar and peerless medievalist. Brown quoted Shakespeare’s line from Sonnet 73 about winter, decay and the end of life in nature with loss of leaves and hair in a nostalgic poem:

“Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang…”

and commented how much it conveyed about the beauty of music alluded in a likely ecclesiastic setting. We mused about the sort of choristers the boy Shakespeare would have heard at the King’s New School in Stratford as a student or in Holy Trinity Church; one wonders if he possibly sang himself in such a setting. This sensory power of observation and poetic invention is the sort that strikes a universal note even if we are removed from Elizabethan England. Surely his lines can strike every human with such recollected imagery or déjà-vu force as if by the contagious power of eidetic imagination.

As the Classicist Gilbert Highet concluded about Shakespeare:

“[Classical] images are used so strikingly as to show that classical culture was for him a spectacle not less vivid, though smaller, than the life around him…Learning meant little to him unless he could translate it into living human terms…” [36]

Shakespeare Monument Plaque, Stratford-upon-Avon, circa 1623 (public domain image)

Shakespeare’s monument in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, erected around 1623, has a Latin inscription that says of him, among other encomia, how very Classical he was considered in his day:

IVDICIO PYLIVM    GENIO SOCRATES    ARTE MARONEM

TERRA TEGIT,  POPVLVS MÆRET,  OLYMPVS HABET

“In judgment a Nestor, in genius a Socrates, in art a Virgil…

Earth covers him, the people mourn him, Olympus possesses him.”

Sources

Apuleius, The Golden Ass. Jack Lindsay, tr. Indiana University Press, 2005, 21st pr. ed.

Jonathan Bate. Shakespeare and Ovid. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.

Anthony Grafton, Glenn Most and Salvatore Settis, eds. The Classical Tradition. Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2010.

David Scott Kastan, ed. A Companion to Shakespeare. Blackwell, 1999.

Charles Martindale and A. B. Taylor. Shakespeare and the Classics. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Kenneth Muir. The Sources of Shakespeare’s Plays. Methuen, 1977.

James Shapiro. Will Contested: Who Wrote Shakespeare? Simon and Schuster, 2010.

Lewis Walker, ed. Shakespeare and the Classical Tradition: An Annotated Bibliography 1961-1991. Routledge, 2002.

Notes


[1]  Ben Jonson, “To The Memory of My Beloved Master William Shakespeare and What He Hath Left Us,” line 31. The Works of Ben Jonson. Vol. 3. London: Chatto and Windus, 1910, 287-9;  Charles Martindale and A. B. Taylor. Shakespeare and the Classics. Cambridge University Press, 2004, 1.

[2]  Christopher Marlowe, Edward de Vere – Earl of Oxford, Francis Bacon, are a few suggested names, along with William Stanley – 6th Earl of Derby and others less known.

[3]   David Bevington. “Shakespeare the Man” in David Scott Kastan, ed. A Companion to Shakespeare. Blackwell, 1999, 11

[4]   Robert Bearman. Shakespeare in the Stratford Records. Alan Sutton Publishing, 1994, 1-14.

[5]   Bevington, 12.

[6]   Tarnya Cooper. Searching for Shakespeare. National Gallery, 2006, 76-78.

[7]   Levi Fox. The Early History of King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon, Dugdale Society Occasional Papers No 29, Oxford: Dugdale Society, 1984.

[8]  Jonathan Bate. Shakespeare and Ovid. Oxford University Press, 1994, 20.

[9]   William Leahy. “Shakinomics: or, the Shakespeare Authorship Question and the Undermining of Traditional Authority” in William Leahy, ed. Shakespeare and His Authors, Continuum, 2010, 116.

[10]   See Hilary Mantel’s (2009 Booker Prize winner for her Wolf Hall brilliant vision of Thomas Cromwell) astute review of Shapiro’s Contested Will – Who Wrote Shakespeare in The Guardian, March 20, 2010.

[11]   James Shapiro. Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? Simon and Schuster, 2010, 18

[12]   Jonathan Bate “Shakespeare’s Ovid” in John Frederick Nims, Ovid’s Metamorphoses: The Arthur Golding Translation of 1567. Paul Dry Books, 2000, xli & ff.

[13]   Bate, 1994, 13.

[14]   Martindale and Taylor, 3.

[15]   Bate, 1994, vii.

[16]   ibid.

[17]  Bate, 1994, 11.

[18]  Robert Adger Law. “The Text of Shakespeare’s Plutarch” Huntington Library Quarterly 6.2 (1943) 197-203. Noting especially Shaekespeare’s use of Plutarch’s Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, as well as to Timon of Athens; E. J. A. Honigmann. “Shakespeare’s Plutarch.”  Shakespeare Quarterly (Folger Shakespeare Library) 10.1 (1959) 25-33; Wallace Graves. “Plutarch’s Life of Cato Utican as a Major Source for Othello.” Shakespeare Quarterly (Folger Shakespeare Library) 24.2 (1973) 181-7.

[19]   Lewis Walker, ed. Shakespeare and the Classical Tradition: An Annotated Bibliography 1961-1991, Routledge, 2002, 19; Thelma Greenfield. “A Re-examination of the ‘Patient’ Pericles”. Shakespeare Studies 3 (1967) 51-61.

[20]   Kenneth Muir. The Sources of Shakespeare’s Plays. Methuen, 1977, 252.

[21]   Muir, 23

[22]   ibid., 67-9.

[23]   Steve Coates. “Review of Anthony Grafton, et al. The Classical Tradition. Belknap/Harvard. New York Times Sunday Book Review, December 5, 2010, 59.

[24]  Livy Ab Urbe Condita (History of Rome), 1.57-59; Patrick Hunt “Where Britten’s Opera Departs and Returns: Roman Use of the Rape of Lucretia and Mythic Reuse”, Royal Danish Opera, Copenhagen, 2008, 1 (Livy), 3-4 (Shakespeare).

[25]   Grafton et al. 2010, 669.

[26] see note 24, Hunt, 2008, 3-4

[27]  Bate, 1994, 2.

[28]  ibid., 14.

[29]  Grafton et al. 2010, 742, “direct imitation”.

[30]  Bate, 1994, 15.

[31]  ibid., 5.

[32]  ibid., 7

[33]  quoted in Bates, 1994, 5. Vives on Education: A Translation of the De Trandendis Disciplinis of Juan Luis Vives. Foster Watson, tr. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1913, 232.

[34]  Martindale and Taylor, 1.

[35]  Muir, 678; Apuleius, The Golden Ass. Jack Lindsay, tr. Indiana University Press, 2005, 21st pr. ed., 28.

[36]  Gilbert Highet. The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature. Oxford University Press, 1985, 199.

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2 Comments

 
  1. [...] seems to be measuring himself against the Latin poet Ovid, whom he would have studied at length in school and whose version of the Philomela story he would know. It is to this chapter of Ovid’s [...]

  2. [...] Not to mention that besides his school education he was obviously also interested in books and did read on his own. For example it is quite convincingly established that he was well-versed in the Thomas North translation of Plutarchs Lives and probably made his own translations of Ovid*. Self taught literati was not exactly unheard of in those times. * = Source [...]


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