The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1683 Tuesday, 4 October 2005
Date: Saturday, 01 Oct 2005 17:23:13 -0500
Subject: Shakespeare and Greek Tragedy
Shakespeare and Greek Tragedy
Some of Euripides was translated into Latin early in the sixteenth
century and it has been argued that Shakespeare had access to Euripides
through these Latin translations. Start with Emrys Jones, <The Origins
of Shakespeare>, Oxford: Clarendon, 1977, chapters 1, 3 and 4. The
first chapter, "A Tudor Genius", is about the high standards of Tudor
literacy and how they influenced Shakespeare. Chapters 3 and 4 are
about Euripides' influence on Shakespeare. The whole book is excellent
and anyone interested in the intellectual life of the sixteenth century
can profit from reading it entire. It is not Shakespeare's ability to
deal with Greek that should concern us, but his fluency in Latin. After
7 years at The King's New School at Stratford, Shakespeare would have
been very comfortable in Latin. He had worked his way through the whole
of the <Metamorphoses>, for instance, and he shows knowledge of the
original and of Golding's translation in many places in the canon.
Golding was almost certainly used as a trot for the boys at Stratford.
From day 1 at the School, instruction and student response were
entirely in Latin.
John W. Velz
P.S. For those of my friends who have heard rumors of my illness, it is
true that I have cancer and am undergoing radiation treatment for it and
expecting surgery five weeks after the radiation is finished in another
three weeks. Chances of survival are well above 90% in this regimen in
a case like mine. As Mark Twain once said, reports of my demise are
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