Whilst other wrote good words (2)


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.

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No offense i’ th’ world


Well, a bit of a storm blew up this weekend when it emerged that Shakespeare in the Park, a venerable New York institution which has been putting on productions in Central Park since the 1950s, is this year staging Julius Caesar in modern dress with a titular character who is blonde, has an eastern European wife, and (no spoiler to anyone who knows the play) get assassinated.

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