The second in a (very) occasional series on the sources for Shakespeare’s work. Part one – on the “histories” he consulted – is here
We didn’t study Horace much at school, but my Latin teachers made sure we were at least aware of one his most famous lines – the beginning of Ode XXX.
Exegi monumentum aere perenniu
I have made a monument more lasting than bronze
Why am I mentioning it? Because every time I read the first lines of Sonnet 55, I am sure that Shakespeare had read Horace too…
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme
It’s not the only clue we have that Shakespeare knew his classical (and especially his Roman) authors. They crop up a great deal as the basis for characters, for plots and for literary allusions.