I've recently shown that the Author of *Henry V* carefully lifted from Plato's *the death of Socrates,* or the dialogue the
Phaedo, for the death of Falstaff. He is always very cunning in his liftings and it
is not often he's been caught flat footed or red handed, though I suspect he expected to be,
since the purpose of both Platonic dialogues and Shakespearian plays is to
stretch the reader into a state of philosophic wonderment..
So I thought to document a similar lifting in The Tempest, concerning Prospero (which is Italian for "Faustus"). In this case it's the famous speech were Prospero boasts of his magical prowess by saying,
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him.
.....I have bedimmed
The noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war. To the dread rattling thunder
I have given fire, and rifted Jove's stout oak
With his own bolt. The strong-based promontory
Have I made shake, and by the spurs plucked up
The pine and cedar. Graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth
By myu so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure....I'll break my staff,
Burry it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I'll drown my book. V, i, 32-58
This sounds very much like the sort of boast Prospero would make and is, in all respects, in his parlance and vocabulary. However, it is well known to scholars that the passage is lifted, more or less bodily, from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Here it is between lines 190 and 208 in Book Seven:
O winds, O little breezes, O streams, O mountains,
O lakes, O graves, O gods of the groves, O gods
Of night, come, help me...
...you have seen me still the angry oceans,
Rouse the clam waters...exile winds...
...root up the oak-trees,
Move forest, shake the mountains, make the earth rumble
Call ghosts from graveyards. I can made the moon
Darken, the car of the Sun turn pale at my singing...
(This is quoted from a modern translation, by Rolfe Humphries, which I have close to hand, but do not like as well as the parallel text which one can find in the Leob Classical Library.) Here's a scan of some of the Latin:
So its patently the source or what's called, the locus classicus, of this great
passage in The Tempest.
Now its well known that the Author lifted it from Ovid, but notice that Harrison says nothing about it in his commentary or notes. Nothing.
I suspect he would, if the case were certain the Author was simply lifting from Golding's translation of Ovid's Book Seven, however, this isn't the case at all.
Golding does NOT translate vocoque or "called forth," as the Author so ably puts it, nor does he translate "rifted Jove's stout oak With his own bolt." Golding also fails to deal with the Latin phrase for "op'd and let them forth." Which as Greenwood notes nicely "unfolds the meaning of ‘exire'."
Indeed quoting Collins, Greenwood includes, "How admirably, it may be added, has Shakespeare caught the colour, ring, and rhythm of the original and how utterly are they missed in the lumbering homliness of Golding."
Here, here Strats. Fancy that. Not bad for a hempen homespun.
Actually all of this is further proof the Author of these matchless works was a classical scholar who had mastered both Greek and Latin. Not to mention, as documented by other works, Spanish, French and Italian. One only has to read Two Noble Kinsmen to understand he'd mastered the Greek dramatists.
A master who had traveled the known world, lived with the high and mighty and read their writings in the original and who, in the kindness of his heart and for the shear joy of it, consented to return to the cave to converse with us, mere mortals, in these marvelous plays, second to none in the history of mankind.
Until Stratfordians realize this they will never understand the works they so passionately defend as the actor's or why such a claim is so blatantly false.
Stratfordians, of course, believe Willy learned Latin, at the university level, from an imaginary phrase book in the grammar school in Stratford, which they believe he attended for a couple of years.
Myself I took Latin for four years in high school and would not be able, then or now, to read Ovid in the original without aid and difficulty.
So I find it unlikely, in the extreme, that any early exposure to Latin in Stratford can fully explain his later fluency in it. Obviously if the man were a scholar, with ample time for these studies, Latin would have easily lay within his grasp. But he was employed in several professions and wrote a full sized body of works that, surely, must have taken considerable time in and of themselves.
So pardon me if I doubt the actor ever mastered Latin to this extent. Let alone Greek, Italian, Spanish and French.
Even the French in *Henry V* is formidable. And we know he read Du Bartus' French for his description of the perfect horse in *Venus and Adonis,* it having been lifted and expanded by Du Bartus from Virgil.
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