William Sterling

Shakespeare and the Classical World

Shakespeare and the Classical World

This course was held at the City Lit on Saturday 11th November 2017.

A quarter of Shakespeare’s major works were based on stories from the Classical World and have influenced our view of the Classical World ever since. The Plays inspired by myths and history from Ancient Greece and Rome.  We looked at the plots of these briefly before examining the sources of Shakespeare’s inspiration and the background to the characters included in the works and others referred to.  Two of the students very kindly gave the outline of two of the plays.

Shakespeare and the Greeks

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Two Noble Kinsmen, Troilus and Cressida, Timon of Athens,

Pericles Prince of Tyre, Venus and Adonis, The Tempest, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Shakespeare and the Romans

Rape of Lucrece, Coriolanus, Comedy of Errors, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra,

Cymbeline, Titus Andronicus

Below is a set of the slides

Shakespeare and the Classical World printable slides

The following comparison of Prospero’s speech and Medea’s was one of the handouts

Prospero and Medea compared

One of the plays examined in detail was A Midsummer Night’s Dream and below is a detailed analysis of where the characters came from

Midsummer Night Dream Classical References

The following table list many of the Classical references in all Shakespeare’s plays and some poems including gods and goddesses, other mythological figures, real people form the Ancient World, Places and Latin phrases and words.  This is not exhaustive and any additions you spot would be gratefully received.  I have set these in a spreadsheet so you can reorder them by any category or search for particular characters of phrases.

Classical World and Shakespeare

Finally here are some possible sources for Shakespeare’s Classically inspired plays.

Possible Sources of Some of the Classical Plays

Please let me know if there is any other information you would like using the contact information below.

These episodes from Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time might be of interest

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Is Shakespeare History?

Shakespeare’s Work