Dr Susannah Helman: Good evening. Look at any list of the most influential books in human history and William Shakespeare's "First Folio", published 400 years ago this year, will be among them. But what inspired Shakespeare? What did he read? This is the topic of tonight's event.
Good evening everyone. Welcome to the National Library of Australia and to this event. Shakespeare the Reader, an illustrated lecture with ANU and Bell Shakespeare. My name is Susannah Hellman and I'm the curator of Rare Books & Music here at the Library.
As we begin, I'd like to acknowledge Australia's First Nations peoples, the First Australians as the traditional owners and custodians of this land and give my respect to their elders past and present and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
We are thrilled to have you here tonight for this very special event presented in partnership with the Australian National University Centre for Early Modern Studies and Bell Shakespeare. This year marks 400 years since the publication of the "First Folio," the first collected edition of William Shakespeare's plays. Tonight we will enjoy exploring some of the books that inspired Shakespeare and influenced his work. With us is Dr. Kate Flaherty. Kate is senior lecturer in English and drama at ANU. Her current book project investigates how female performers have shaped political modernity. Her first book, "Ours As We Play It: Australia plays Shakespeare” 2011 looks at Shakespeare in performance in Australia.
Joining Kate to interpret these works dramatically are two wonderful performers. James Evans is associate Director at Bell Shakespeare. He's a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art in acting and holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Sydney. James has directed national touring productions for Bell, has acted in numerous productions for the company and is the host of Bell Shakespeare's podcast "Speak the Speech." Emily Edwards is also an IDA graduate in acting and is the resident artist in education at Bell Shakespeare. Emily has performed Shakespeare on the stage and among many other credits has also appeared on "Home and Away." Please join me in welcoming Kate, James and Emily. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here this evening.
It's been my privilege to work with the Library's rare books collections over the last two years in an externally funded role. I've been talking to and working with Kate for about a year on this project. It's been a real highlight of this position. Before handing over to Kate and Bell Shakespeare, I will do two things. Introduce the Library's rare books, collections, and the books Kate and the actors will explore further.
My focus will be the printing, binding and provenance of these books. I'm very grateful to library conservative Dr. Orley Martin who looked at the bindings for me. It's always a fascinating process to consider and research a rare book, how it was made and how it has journeyed through time. This selection is no different. All of them have interesting things to tell us. Silent, though they are. They all have marks of ownership. Delving into the provenance of our collections is something that I've actually spent a lot of time doing over the last two years, either proactively or in response to inquiries. I've been immersing myself in our accession registers, card catalogues, long retired but retained and our corporate archives absorbing the memos and letters of staff and correspondence at the Library. The books I'm going to speak about tonight have some riveting stories attached.
First, some background to the Library. Its history and rare books collections. The Library is the oldest national collecting institution in Australia, a statutory authority and a legal deposit library. It grew out of the collections of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library of 1901, first in Melbourne, then in Canberra from 1927. From August, 1968, the Library has been in its current purpose-built building. As of 2021, 22, we hold about 10.3 million physical items, taking up 273 shelf kilometres and 2.67 petabytes of digital material.
The National Library's Rare Books collection and run to about 80,000 overseas rare books and 60,000 Australian rare books. We also have rare books in our pictures, manuscripts and maps collections. Some of the books we are talking about tonight are from formed collections. Some were acquired as single items, some as part of a smaller collection. Though just a sample, this selection gives a good feel for some of our earliest rare books.
And so to begin, I'm going to introduce the books in the same order as Kate and Bell Shakespeare will return to them in a few minutes.
First, the Bishop's Bibles. What was it? Well, they first appeared in 1568, an edition produced by Anglican Bishops, led by Matthew Parker in response to the Geneva Bible. It's a revision of what's called the Great Bible. We have two editions in our collections, one published in 1572 that you see on the screen and the other in 1577. Both were actually printed by Richard Jugge, who was one of the original members of the Stationers' Company when it was incorporated in 1557. Jugge was one of two printers to Queen Elizabeth I from 1560. His shop was at the sign of the Bible at the north door of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. That would be the old one, which burnt down in the fire of London in 1666. The area around St. Paul's was the centre of the book trade in early modern London. Jugge is often credited as the inventor of the footnote. Jugge was actually very slow at printing as from 1572 when the first of our Bibles was printed, he was actually the only queen's printer and had official publications to get through and in 1575, his patent was reduced to only producing quota Bibles and Testaments in Sextodecimo. That means that he could only print small books. That's why the later one that we also have is small. Big Bibles took a long time. And here is his imprint and it shows that he was a printer to the Queen's Majesty. Jugge was considered a highly skilled printer. Both of our bishop's Bibles are a little battered however they're loved. The larger one came to the Library via the Library's liaison office in London. The smaller one was acquired in 1967 from an English collector who had an interest in Shakespeare. Some books in his collection were once owned by Captain Jarggard a relative of the Jarggards who printed the "First Folio." This copy has some very tantalising annotations. Which of the late 1980s were investigated and decided to be forgeries.
Now to Ovid. At around 530 years old, this is one of the oldest printed books in the Library's collection. It is called Incunabula in Library land, Latin for swaddling clothes or cradle. It's a term used for books printed before 1501. Venice was a centre of printing in Europe in the late 15th century. Most of this book is by Ovid, the ancient Roman poet from the time of the Emperor Augustus. His epic poem, the Metamorphosis about change in all its forms is one of his great works. It collected many of the myths and legends from ancient Greek and Roman traditions. It tells the stories of Daphne and Apollo, Narcissus and Echo, and Pyramus and Thisbe among many others. The metamorphosis was very influential in the early modern period. The text of the book is in Latin and it not only includes the metamorphosis but also overts the art of Love and work by Tobulus, Cotulus and Perpesius. The three publications were by three different Venetian printers. Bernardino Benalio printed "The Metamorphoses." Of its words are at the centre of the book and surrounding that is a gloss in which the text is discussed by a learned scholar using many more words than Ovid did. Quite similar to mediaeval manuscripts. There is also a wind map with the earth at the centre of the map and compass points at the rim.
In addition to offering literally food for thought, see the holes created by insects in the long distant past. There is much that can be unpacked from its binding and marks of ownership. The binding is quite contemporary with the original boards parchment quarter spine that has been tooled with gold particularly noticeable at the back. It really glints and glistens. The original end leaves are still there though covered and you can see mediaeval manuscripts used as binders waste. I hadn't noticed that before looking at it last week. Doodles span centuries. This is a quotation from the Bible and it's done twice with slightly different spelling. And this, is it a coat of arms? The book has an interesting provenance. At some point, it may have been owned by the Franciscans at Freiburg in Breisgau, which is in Baden. In 1873, it was owned by Sir Redmond Barry, the man of many hats. First chancellor of the University of Melbourne, fundamental to the foundation of the Melbourne Public Library, now the state Library Victoria, but perhaps best known to us today for sentencing bush ranger Ned Kelly to death in 1880. It came to us as part of the Fitzhardinge collection. Lawrence or LF was a former National Library staff member from 1934 to 44, among other things. His collections were begun by his father Eric, a solicitor. The collection consists of around 300 volumes of early and fine printing, and the transfer was finalised in the 1990s. We also have another copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses, this one much smaller and it dates from the year 1616 the year Shakespeare died. It's tiny in Latin and printed in Frankfurt.
Now Plutarch. Plutarch's lives are well known to anyone who studied ancient history, particularly for his biographies. Plutarch was a Greek writer and philosopher who lived in the first and early second century of the common era. Though not in its original binding, we think it was rebound by the Library in about the mid 20th century, this book is interesting for its printer in providence. This copy was printed in 1612 and it's the second reprint of the third edition of Richard Fields's edition of Thomas North's translation of Plutarch. So it's in English. The printer Richard Field is extremely interesting. It was he who printed Shakespeare's early publication such as the the poem "Venus and Adonis". Field was from Stratford himself and likely went to school with Shakespeare. It has beautiful ornaments and the printers imprint and insignia.
The book was accessioned in 1932 as part of a collection recorded in our accession register as the JD Lang Library. Now many Australian history buffs will know the name of John Dunmore Lang. He was that fiery presbyterian minister who raged and brooded and was so influential in 19th century Australia. Files show that in the late 1920s his last surviving child, Mary was in touch with the Library and the Commonwealth National Library was presented with a fairly large collection of books and china. I think that what happened is that the Library was given first dibs on this collection as newspapers make it clear that there was a sale in 1934 after Mary died. Mary was one of his well, it was his last surviving of 10 children.
This Plutarch has an inscription of George Dunmore Lang of dated 1860 in Brisbane. George was one of JD Lang's many children. He was an accountant. He was sentenced to five years hard labour in the 1850s, but released after a parliamentary committee inquiry. He died young. Here's the inscription someone's helpfully written by Plutarch.
Now to Edward Hall. His book, "The Union of the two Noble Families of Lancaster and York" promoted the Tudor dynasty and its right to rule. This book first appeared in 1548 after the author's death. This is the 1550 edition. Hall had covered history to 1532, but the printer Richard Grafton actually finished the work drawing on Hall's Notes. Though our copy is missing the original title page, someone has had a go themselves. It's too embarrassing to show you. It is in the original calfskin binding with a blind tooled cover and spine tooled with gold. The printer and those working for him have created a very distinctive book with beautiful wood cut initials at the beginning of each chapter. Here you see "The Tragical Doings of King Richard III", which begins, "Lord, I am to remember, "but more I abhor to write "the miserable tragedy of this unfortunate Prince, "which by fraud entered by tyranny proceeded "and by sudden death ended his unfortunate life." And Henry VIII for which the contrast could not be greater. It's entitled the "Triumphant Reign of King Henry VIII".
This book came from the Clifford Collection, an English country house library that came to the Library in the 1960s. The Cliffords were an Anglo-Catholic family whose main seat Ugbrooke, Devonshire is still owned by the family. In general, Clifford Collection items often have interesting markings, marks of ownership, doodles and annotations. This is no exception. This is one of their coats of arms. It has a shelf mark which has been crossed out.
Now to the last book, "Montaigne". Michel de Montaigne's essays are one of the great works of 16th century thought. He's often credited as the inventor of the essay form. We have a 1632 edition of the English translation of John Florio. The original calf skin has been sprinkled with black, creating this effect. It has quite simple blind tooling. The bookseller, Richard Royston was a well-known 17th century printer and bookseller. The engraver of the title page is actually Martin Droeshout who was the engraver of the portrait of Shakespeare for "The First Folio."
Ownership wise, it has had several owners that we can trace. Here you can see a closeup. John Percival and Lady Percival lived in the first half of the 18th century and I think that at least one of the ownership marks dates before he became the earl of Egmont in 1733. They also must have owned it before it was trimmed. You can see by the image on the top right that one of the names has been obscured. Lady Firth, you see on the right hand image was the wife of Sir Charles Firth, the famous English historian, and there are letters at the National Library of Scotland with David Nichols Smith about their family books. This was most likely hers. However, she died in 1936. So we acquired it from David Nichols Smith who had acquired it from Lady Firth. He was a Scottish born scholar. I'm sure he's familiar to many of you. His collection was purchased by the Library in 1962. The collection strength is English literature and it consists of over 10,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals from the late 16th century to the mid 20th century.
Our rare books collections are free to read on site at the Library and in our special collections reading room. All you need is a library card. For an information on how to sign up, please do visit our website. Thank you.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Thank you Susanna. How wonderful. I've learned so much in this process. So straight back at you Susanna. It's been a highlight of my year working with you and with Bell Shakespeare and thank you everybody for coming. I want you to begin by imagining a time when print technology is in its infancy. This is a 19th century depiction of William Caxton's printing press brought to England in 1475. And what I love about it is the mess. I love how disorderly and energetic it is. There are people of all generations in the space, there's even I think a dog under the table. There's a sense of excitement that spans every part of society and if we think about this moment, it is a moment when reading is both a private obsession, but it's also driving a great big public commercial industry which is centred in St. Paul's Churchyard in London. It's a little bit like this print revolution the internet has been in my lifetime. An incredible democratising force in terms of access to information, but it's also a little bit like social media because it's permitting people to form networks across boundaries that could not have been breached prior to this moment. Most importantly, literacy is a way to get ahead. It's a way to improve your social and your professional prospects, which simply didn't exist on a wide scale previously.
This is of course all very pertinent for a boy born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, less than a hundred years after William Caxton brought the printing press to England. This boy is the son of a glove maker. He comes from the skilled trade classes, but he's sent to grammar school, a free school just up the road from where he lives and there he learns to read, but oh, how he learns to read. This is a grammar school because you learn grammar at this school. You learn all sorts of things at this school and fortunately we know a great deal about the curriculum for early modern schooling. There's been a lot of research done. Now we don't know that Shakespeare went to this school because they kept good roles at the school. We know that Shakespeare went to grammar school because the modes of thinking and learning and even play at grammar school leach out of his plays all of the time. So we have a strong sense that this was his formative education.
And there are three elements of that education that I wanna pick up on tonight. The first one comes from Aristotle's "Imitatio" It's the idea of imitation and copying. Now, copying has a bit of a bad rap today and certainly rote learning is not that popular. But I want you to think about copying here as a kind of embodied creative activity. Children allowed to use something to write with so that they're copying but they're also creating at the same time. They're actually translating. The second element is translation, which of course happens when you take in information and then put it out in a new way. So copying, that is imitation, translation and finally, play or embodied forms of learning. Now, I have read a suggestion that the boys at the grammar school had to play in Latin in the playground. And you might think, "oh, that's a bit harsh," but what better way to enliven their use of the language than have to use it in this combative, playful, physical context? I think it's a great idea. We should all do it. So imitation, translation and play are core elements of this training.
And so what we have in Shakespeare and his contemporaries is the new gen read. This is a generation that is more literate than its parents before the age of about 10. Now I feel a bit inadequate with technology, but imagine how you would feel in that situation. Your sons and perhaps your daughters if they're very energetic, might be able to read better than you by the time they're 10 years old. So they're about to go out and change the world.
But beyond Stratford, this revolution in print and literacy is also having a very big effect in the courts of England and Europe. The vocabulary is in a state of absolute explosion. I think it more or less doubled in this era. Queen Elizabeth is a highly literate stateswoman. She's also a poet and a linguist. So there her court is full of social climbers who rather than using jousting and hunting to prove their worth the way they might have in her father's reign, are using their skill with words to prove what they're worth and to advance their own social prospects and political and professional prospects in this context.
So this capacity with words actually has a name in this era. It's called sprezzatura. It has this wonderful Italian name from the Italian author Castiglione who writes a book in 1528 called "The Book of the Courtier". But we might translate that seven habits of highly effective courtiers. That's the kind of book that it is. So the thing about sprezzatura is to speak with ease but hide all the hard work that goes into doing that. Okay? So like any other sport and sprezzatura is a sport. It's no less combative than jousting, but it involves a lot of training and practise, but you have to make it look very easy.
So Shakespeare's plays often make fun of characters who can be seen trying to do this, but don't do it very well. And I'm sure you can probably think of some examples. How about for instance, Polonius in "Hamlet" who announces that brevity is the soul of wit and then uses about 50 words when he could use 10. There's also of course Dogberry, that clumsy police sergeant in "Much Ado About Nothing" who comprehends rather than apprehends felons. But more exciting than that are the masters of sprezzatura. My favourite are Beatrice and Benedick from Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing." They provide the perfect example of combative sprezzatura. Notice, the practised indifference here with which they deflect one another's insults. Beatrice claims about no particular man.
Emily Edwards: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.
Dr Kate Flaherty: To which Benedict replies not smarting at all.
James Evans: God, keep your ladyship still in that mind so some gentlemen or rather shall escape a predestinate scratched face.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Ouch. To which Beatrice responds only slightly stung.
Emily Edwards: Scratching could not make it worse an 'twere such a face as yours were.
James Evans: Oh.
Dr Kate Flaherty: So this William Shakespeare who receives his training in Stratford-upon-Avon eventually gets to London somewhere in the late 1580s and as a very precocious reader, he thinks he might try his hand at being a writer, but he has to start from the bottom. He does a few jobs, apparently holds horses for rich people or something like that. But he's really drawn to that world, as I said, St. Paul's Churchyard, where there's all this word busyness going on and presumably he begins to write. But there's another centre of action in London that it turns out is even more suited to his talents and that ends up being just across the river in Suffolk in the liberties where theatres, purpose built playhouses are starting to spring up for the first time and they're public playhouses.
So if the print revolution democratised knowledge, the theatre is an even more radical democratising of knowledge because you don't even have to have as much money as Shakespeare did to go to it, and you don't have to be literate. You can go to the theatre. So what we have happening in this transition, this move across the river, is what I wanna see as the journey that Shakespeare makes from reading to dramatic alchemy where he transforms the books that have so captivated his imagination, shaped his whole understanding of the world and he turns them into embodied drama.
Now you might not be surprised to hear that I'm not the first person to think about Shakespeare's reading. And I haven't been thinking about it anywhere near as long as some. So before I begin working with the actors to explore the details of Shakespeare's reading, I want to point out for you and for your further reading, some of the books that have influenced my thinking. This book, "Shakespeare's Books" is a really wonderful dictionary of sources and I have relied upon it a great deal. "Shakespeare's Sources" is a much older book, but it's beautifully written. It's almost a holiday read, so I strongly recommend that one. And I spoke before about Shakespeare's grammar school training and a lot of the work that has been done on early modern grammar school educational practises is from TS Baldwin's work. So a little bit of homework for you there.
The foundations of Shakespeare's literacy were the Christian Bible and the pagan tales of the Roman poet Ovid, especially the "Metamorphosis". They affected not just what Shakespeare thought, but how he thought. As opposite as they seem, these books both trace and arc that encompasses the relationship between the human and the divine. And they pick up on the concept of mystical transformation and redemption. As Susannah pointed out, the NLA holds the "Metamorphosis" and the "Bishop's Bible" in both large and small formats from Shakespeare's era. I like to think this shows the versatility required by their readers. There is the sacred tome version, which we were just looking at only an hour ago that we might imagine in churches or with the Ovid in a university library. And then there's the pocket Ovid for the grammar school boy or the family Bible. Shakespeare read both in multiple versions, including an English translation of Ovid by Arthur Golding throughout his lifetime.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" draws many of its characters from the "Metamorphosis", but it plays them in a different key. In 1595 to 96, Shakespeare used the thwarted love plot of "Pyramus and Thisbe" for both tragedy in "Romeo and Juliet" and comedy in "A Midsummer's Night Dream" In Dream, a group of skilled tradesmen that is people from Shakespeare's own class are selected to play "Pyramus and Thisbe" for the ruling elites. One of the tradesmen, a weaver called Bottom, has a very high opinion of his acting talent. He can give advice on all of the parts. But when the company meet to rehearse in the forest at night, the fairy, Puck plays a magical trick and gives Bottom the head of an ass. His company flee from him saying, "Bottom thou are translated." It's an interesting choice of word, translated but funnily enough this translation works as a promotion. Titania, the fairy queen has also had a spell cast on her while she sleeps nearby. She falls in love with the first thing she sees when she wakes up. And that thing is of course Bottom. Bottom's head is transformed, but so is his social status.
It's not hard to see a joking reference here to Shakespeare's own career. By the mid 1590s, Shakespeare was the leading playwright for Queen Elizabeth's favourite playing company. The Lord Chamberlain's Men were called frequently to play at the court of the Queen, who around the same time had been allegorized as the fairy queen. Shakespeare's Stratford buddies might well explain, "Shakespeare weaver of stories, thou art translated" In a Midsummer Night's dream then we see the well-read Shakespeare performing skillful dramatic alchemy. He transforms tragedy to comedy and blends Ovidian transformation with a joke about his own transformation. But there's more. Bottom, unlike Shakespeare, awakes from his magical dream of royal favour. And in this scene he tries to make sense of his encounter with the fairy queen. But see if you can notice any other echoes from his earlier reading.
Emily Edwards: I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream. Me thoughts I was, ah, there is no man can tell what, me thought I was and me thought I had, but man is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what me thought I had. The eye of man hath not heard. The ear of man hath not seen. Man's hand is not able to taste. His tongue to conceive nor his heart to report what my dream was.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Thank you Emily. So did you pick it up? Did you pick up the reference? At this point, Shakespeare shows his imaginative agility by combining a Ovidian transformation with a mangled version of a passage from 1 Corinthians 2 in the Bible. It's irreverent in the way that it turns the whole thing bottom up, but it's also sincere. We see an amateur wordsmith reaching into his reading for the right words to wrap around his experience.
For Gen read and for the first time in history, the Bible was easy to get your hands on. It was a millennia spanning compendium of genres from love poetry to law, from cosmic cataclysm to local incident. So if you only have one book, it's not a bad book to have. The Bible had a dramatic story of its own in the making. Only one generation earlier people had died to make it accessible to people of Shakespeare's class in their own language.
The Library holds an exquisite edition of John Foxe's record of this turbulent past. And of course it has a strong Protestant flavour. Colloquially this is called "The Book of Martyrs" and it was first published in the year before Shakespeare was born. So Shakespeare's body of work reveals an imagination inflected by the Bible's characters, by its poetic cadences, by its moral wisdom and by its dramatic narrative of creation, rebellion and redemption.
This Library holds two copies of "The bishop's Bible" as Susannah mentioned, a version that Shakespeare relied upon for at least the first half of his career. When I looked at the folio version of the Bishop's Bible, Adam told me this was the panic button. There we go. Thank you. When I looked at this, I was struck by how carefully the interface is designed both to be pleasurable but also to be instructive. So we have this beautiful historiated initial, that's that big letter there, letter J. We also have very helpful chapter headings and we have lots of margin notes that direct the reader to other parts of the Bible. And this connectivity I think works a little bit like hyperlinks work today. There are lots of portals on the page to other places in the text so that reading the Bible is a kind of personal adventure.
Now the "Merchant of Venice" shows that Shakespeare has a very sophisticated understanding of the Bible. He travelled those portals frequently between the different books in the Bible. Some of you might be familiar with Portia's speech. Yes, you get to hear it, in which he tries to persuade the Jewish character, Shylock to show mercy and to forfeit the pound of flesh owed to him in the deal he struck with Antonio. Notice both the authority and the Psalm like cadence of this speech. Imagine the sense of sanctuary that it offers amidst the heated combat of the court scene.
Emily Edwards: must the Jew be merciful.
James Evans: On what compulsion must I tell me that?
Emily Edwards: The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blest. It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown. His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, the attribute to awe and majesty wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings. But mercy is above this sceptred sway. It is enthroned in the hearts of kings. It is an attribute to God Himself and earthly power doth then show likest God's when mercy seasons justice.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Now I would find Emily pretty convincing, but Shylock adheres to his demand. Portia then manages to save Antonio by rigid adherence to the wording of the bond. Just as Shylock is about to plunge the knife she interjects.
Emily Edwards: Carry a little. There is something else. This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood. The words expressly are a pound of flesh. Take then thy bond. Take thou thy pound of flesh, but in the cutting it, if thou dost shed one drop of Christian blood, thy lands, thy goods are by the laws of Venice confiscate unto the state of Venice.
Dr Kate Flaherty: So poor Shylock is doomed by the very principle of strict law for which he advocated. To modern audiences what follows is horrific. It's a kind of Christian stacks on which makes Shylock choose between death and conversion and dispossession. Superficially the play represents mercy as a New Testament or Christian ideal and legalism as belonging to Shylock. But Shakespeare's conversance with the whole Bible is shown vividly in this of all his plays. He knew that mercy was not a Christian innovation. God's mercy and the command to show mercy resonate all through the Hebrew scriptures. Psalm 136 in the "Bishop's Bible" is an excellent example. Every one of the 26 verses ends with the refrain that God's nature is always to show mercy. God's mercy endures forever. Interestingly, in later translations, this becomes God's love endures forever. But in the Bible Shakespeare was reading at first it is God's mercy that endures forever.
So in this light we see that neither the Christian nor the Jewish characters actually practise mercy. Everyone craves the law when it's going their way. Mercy seems a little more than a rhetorical trick used by Christians to gain the upper hand. By contrast, Shylock is at least consistent in his principles and it is he who condemns Antonio's Christian double standard. Notice how the balanced syntax of this speech by Shylock gives a sense of scales. The scales of justice being balanced.
James Evans: He hath disgraced me and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends heated my enemies. And what's his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong, a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? My revenge. The villainy you teach me, I will execute and it shall go hard, but I will better the instruction.
Dr Kate Flaherty: So the play points out both the dead end of rigid legalism and the hypocrisy of using mercy language as a cover for control. The target is not Judaism or Christianity but faults against which the Bible levels consistent criticism, misplaced sense of moral superiority and misuse of power. Nowhere is this criticism more direct than in Jesus' teaching as recorded in the gospel of Matthew. Here we see, "Judge ye not, that ye be not judged. "for with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged "and with what measure ye mete, "it shall be measured to you again."
James Evans: Hmm.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Shakespeare's creative embrace of this particular passage is evident in the title of his dark comedy "Measure for Measure." In it we see another eloquent female character, Isabella pleading for her brother Claudio, who is condemned to death for fornication. She appeals to Angelo, who known for his angelic moral strictness has been deputised to clean up the town. Notice how Isabella picks up on Angelo's word forfeit to point to a deeper order and a higher authority.
James Evans: Your brother is a forfeit of the law and you but waste your words.
Emily Edwards: Alas, alas. Why all the souls that were were forfeit once and he that might the vantage best have took, found out the remedy. How would you be if He, which is the top of judgement , should but judge you as you are? Aah. Think on that and mercy then will breathe within your lips like man made new.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Isabella challenges Angelo to like Christ forfeit his legitimate authority. But Isabella's appeal falls on deaf ears In the face of Angelo's implacable rigidity, her appeal turns to rage. Notice her sarcasm and her authority.
James Evans: Your brother dies tomorrow. Be content.
Emily Edwards: So you must be the first that gives this sentence and he that suffers. Oh, oh. It is excellent to have a giant'S strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant. Could great men thunder as Jove him himself does, Jove would never be quiet for every pelting petty officer would use his heaven for thunder. Nothing but thunder, merciful heaven, thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt splits the unwedgable and gnarled oak than the soft myrtle. But man, proud man, drest in a little brief authority, most ignorant of what he's most assured, his glassy essence like an angry ape, plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven as makes angels weep.
James Evans: Nice.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Ah, preach it sister. Isabella diminishes the importance of Angelo's temporary office by invoking the supreme deity, Jove or Jupiter from Ovid's "Metamorphosis". In the language of Isabella, the Christian novice, we see a blending of Shakespeare's early imaginative resources. Ovid's all powerful Jove and the topsy-turvy kingdom of Christ fuel her explosive moment of resistance in which she speaks the truth to power.
So "The Winter's Tale" will be the last example of how Shakespeare interweaves the Bible and of its metamorphosis. But let's look first at where he found his plot. The most obvious source inspiration for "The Winter's Tale' is a story called "Pandosto", published by Robert Greene in 1588, Greene was part of an established university educated reading and writing coterie in London before Shakespeare arrived on the scene. When this glove maker's son from Stratford appeared, Greene called him an upstart crow. That's the TV show that everyone keeps telling me I must watch. Okay, okay, I will. "An upstart Crow beautified with our feathers." And Greene actually had a point. Shakespeare stole, I mean borrowed a lot of his material. Almost all of his plots, kind of all of his plots, from other writers. So his distinctive talent was in dramatic alchemy in blending and transforming what he imitated. If you don't believe me, have a go at reading "Pandosto".
In "The Winter's Tale", Shakespeare notches up the gears on "Pandosto" making it psychologically real but also more fantastical. He does this in the scene we're about to look at by knitting together of its tale of Pygmalion with the Christian hope of resurrection. This is the final scene of the play. The noble woman, Paulina brings King Leontes into her art gallery. Amidst her collection of statues is one of his wife who died 15 years earlier. Leontes was responsible for her death. He accused her in the late stages of pregnancy of adultery, and thereby treachery because she's the queen. She was made to appear in court only hours after giving birth to their daughter. It's an incredible scene. She speaks with calm eloquence in defence of herself and her children. Then she collapses. Then she's pronounced dead by her best friend, Paulina. King Leontes repents and has been grieving the loss of Hermione for 15 years. Imagine the mixture of feelings he experiences as he stands before her eerily lifelike statue. In Ovid's story the sculptor Pygmalion prays that his statue of Galatea be made alive and the goddess of love, Aphrodite grants him his request. This scene from Shakespeare shows Leontes walking the knife edge boundary between deep remorse and illogical hope. Notice the role that Paulina named for the Apostle Paul plays in this scene.
Emily Edwards: It is required you do awake your faith then all stand still or those that think it is unlawful business I am about, let them depart.
James Evan: Proceed. No foot shall stir.
Emily Edwards: Music, awake her, strike. It is time, descend, be stone no more. Approach, strike all that look upon with marvel. Come, I'll fill your grave up. Stir, nay come away. Bequeath to death your numbness, for from him dear life redeems you. You perceive she stirs. Start not, her actions shall be holy as you hear my spell is lawful. Do not shun her until you hear her die again. For then you kill her double. Nay, present your hand. When she was young, you woo'd her. Now in age is she become the suitor?
James Evans: Oh, she's warm. If this be magic, let it be an art. As lawful as eating.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Always wanted to do that.
James Evans: Nice.
Dr Kate Flaherty: By keeping the audience ignorant of Hermione's life right up until this moment, the drama allows us as the audience to experience it as a kind of resurrection. Like her namesake the apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, Paulina announces a new order in this moment. The joining of Hermione and Leonte's hands is a sacramental drama that allows them to feel the truth of what they are to one another that are, she's warm. And for those who find the Christian hope of resurrection absurd, she opens a brave corridor on what it might feel like.
So Shakespeare clearly had a high view of the purpose and power of stories. He would approve of Thomas North's claim that stories are fit for every place reached to all persons, serve all times, teach the living and indeed revive the dead. Here we have North's address to the reader from his English translation of Jacques Amyot's, French translation of the Greek historian's, Plutarch's "Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes". That's the most complicated sentence I'll speak tonight. So there's quite a chain of translation going on here and we don't have time to pursue all the various political intentions between each turn of that wheel.
But suffice to say that actual translation, linguistic translation was big business in the first century of print. The printer of this edition in 1612, as Susannah mentioned, is Richard Field who hailed from Stratford and was later responsible for Shakespeare's first venture into print in 1593, "Venus and Adonis", the nondramatic poem.
Reading, writing, translation, publishing and printing were a scene. They were all part of Gen Read's networked world. Shakespeare evidently loved Plutarch, North Plutarch particularly. Loved it so much that in our next example he could not part with a word of it. Let's begin by taking a look though, first at North's Plutarch's "Life of Antony", a "Life of Antonius" as he has it. In it, Antony summons Cleopatra to come to him, but she stages such an exquisite arrival that everyone runs to meet her instead.
James Evans: Therefore, when she was sent unto by diverse letters both from Antonius himself and also from his friends, she made so light of it and mocked Antonius so much that she disdained to set forward otherwise. but to take her barge on the river of Cydnus, the poop whereof was gold. The sails of purple and the oars of silver, which kept stroke in rowing after the sound of the music of flutes, howboys, cithernes, viols and such other instruments as they played upon in the barge. And now for the person of herself, she was layered under a pavilion of cloth of gold tissue, appareled and attired like the goddess of Venus, commonly drawn in picture and hard by her on either hand of her pretty fair boys appareled as painters to set forth the god Cupid with little fans in their hands with the which they fanned wind upon her. Her ladies and gentlewomen also, the fairest of them were apparel like the Nymphs Nereides, which are the mermaids of the water and like the graces, some steering the helm, others tending the tackle and ropes of the barge out of the which there came a wonderful passing sweet saver of perfumes that perfumed the wharf's side, pestered with innumerable multitudes of people. Some of them followed the barge along the riverside. Others also ran out of the city to see her coming in so that in the end there ran such multitudes of people one after another to see her that Antonius was left post alone in the marketplace. Yeah.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Thank you, thank you Plutarch and James.
James Evans: Yep.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Reading this up in the rare books room a few weeks ago, my jaw dropped. Upstart Crow doesn't even begin to express what act of borrowing this constitutes. Did Shakespeare actually bring a single original idea to this scene? Well, yes he does. He raises the stakes through dramatic alchemy and it finds through him a whole new audience. North, after Amyot and Plutarch, present this event within a straight historical narrative. It is the beginning of Antony and Cleopatra's association, but Shakespeare turns it poignantly nostalgic. By this point in the play, the scene we're about to see, Antony has decided to leave Cleopatra. The speech is given to Antony's loyal friend, Enobarbus, mostly invented by Shakespeare, who anticipating the anguish of the parting remembers their first meeting. Notice how he picks up on almost every single detail of Plutarch's description.
Emily Edwards: She is a most triumphant lady if report be square to her.
James Evans: Oh, when she first met Mark Anthony, she pursed up his heart upon the river of Cydnus.
Emily Edwards: There she appeared indeed, or my reporter devised well for her.
James Evans: I will tell you, the barge, she sat in like a burnished throne burned on the water. The poop was beaten gold, Purple the sails, and so perfumed that the winds were lovesick with them. The oars were silver, which to the tune of flutes kept stroke and made the water which they beat to follow faster as amorous of their strokes. For her own person, it beggared all description. She did lie in her pavilion, cloth-of-gold of tissue, O'erpicturing that Venus where we see the fancy outwork nature. On each side her stood pretty dimpled boys like smiling Cupids with diverse coloured fans whose wind did seem to glow the delicate cheeks, which they did cool and what they undid did.
Emily Edwards: Oh rare for Antony.
James Evans: Her gentlewomen like the Nereides, so many mermaids, tended her in the eyes and made their bends adornings. At the helm, a seeming mermaid steers. The silken tackle swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands that yarely frame the office. From the barge a strange invisible perfume hits the sense of the adjacent wharfs. The city cast her people out upon her and Anthony enthroned in the marketplace did sit alone whistling to the air, which but for vacancy had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too and made a gap in nature.
Dr Kate Flaherty: So through dramatic alchemy Shakespeare democratises history. He translates North's, Amyot's, Plutarch into a vivid dimensional drama. And to avid readers, he offers the double pleasure of seeing what they had already read brought to life in what we might today call a very faithful adaptation. Shakespeare's fond familiarity with North's Plutarch is also attested in his play "Julius Caesar". In the next scene, Portia made anxious by her husband's silence, urges Brutus to be honest with her about what weighs upon him. That is the plan to assassinate Julius Caesar. To create Portia, Shakespeare imports much actual language from Plutarch's "Life of Brutus", but he gives Portia much more agency transforming comments that Plutarch makes about Portia into Portia's own representation of herself. Notice how insistently she uses rhetorical questions to challenge and draw Brutus out.
Emily Edwards: Fear my Lord, make me acquainted with your cause of grief.
James Evans: I am not well in health and that is all.
Emily Edwards: Brutus is wise and were he not in health, he would embrace the means to come by it.
James Evans: Why, so I do. Good Porsche go to bed.
Emily Edwards: Is Brutus sick and is it physical to walk unbraced and suck up the humours of the dank morning. What, is Brutus sick and will he steal out of his wholesome bed to dare the vile contagion of the night and tempt the rheumy and unpurged air to add onto his sickness? No, my Brutus, you have some sick offence within your mind, which, by the right and virtue of my place, I ought to know. Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus, is it excepted I should know no secrets that appertain to you? Am I yourself but as it were in sort or limitation to keep with you at meals, comfort your bed and talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs of your good pleasure? If it be no more, Portia is Brutus' harlot not his wife.
James Evans: You are my true and honourable wife as dear to me as other ruddy drops that visit my sad heart.
Emily Edwards: If this were true, then I should know your secret. I grant, I am a woman withal but withal a woman that Lord Brutus took to wife. I grant I am a woman, but withal a woman well-reputed, Cato's daughter. Think you I am no stronger than my sex being so fathered and so husbanded? Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose 'em. I have made strong proof of my constancy, giving myself a voluntary wound here in the thigh. Can I bear that with patience and not my husband's secrets?
James Evans: Oh you gods. Render me worthy of this noble wife. Hark, hark. One knocks, Portia go in a while and by and by thy bosom shall partake the secrets of my heart. All my engagements I will construe to thee. All the charactery of my sad brows. Leave me with haste.
Dr Kate Flaherty: So North's Plutarch, This North's Plutarch's Portia asks Brutus one question in a brief exchange, but Shakespeare's Portia's bombards her husband with questions that build dramatically to this revelation of herself inflicted wound.
Another history book that Shakespeare must have had at his elbow was at this time a relatively modern one rather than ancient history. "Edward Hall's 1550 Chronicle", that's the short title. Susannah helpfully gave the whole long title, pursues the history of the houses of York and Lancaster through the period you may know as the Wars of the Roses from the reign of Henry IV right through to the reign of Henry VIII. "Hollinshed's Chronicles" also used by Shakespeare draw heavily on Hall's. It seems there was a culture of borrowing.
Shakespeare used these Tudor-tinted histories to create dramas for his Tudor Queen, Queen Elizabeth. When we compare Hall's character of Henry V with Shakespeare's, we see remarkable modernization. First, let's hear a little sample of Hall's Henry's speech before the tiny English army faced the French army at Agincourt. "Well, beloved friends and countrymen, I exhort you heartily to think and conceive in yourselves that this day shall be to us a day of joy, a day of good luck and a day of victory. Therefore, putting your only trust in God, let not their multitude fear your hearts, nor their great numbers abate your courages. For surely Old war-like fathers have both said and written that the more people that an army is, the less knowledge the multitude half of material feats or politic practises.”
Are you ready to go and fight French? Let's see what Shakespeare does with this brave and pious mediaeval hero. On the brink of disaster, Henry rallies his troops through a dazzling display of rhetoric using many devices that he would've learnt back in grammar school. Notice how he sharpens history into drama through the power of rhetorical questions of antithesis and of repeated sounds and words.
Emily Edwards: O that we now had here, but one ten thousand of those men in England that do not work today.
James Evans: What's he that wishes so? My cousin, Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin. If we are marked to die, we are enough to do our country loss. And if to live the fewer men, the greater share of honour. God's will, I pray thee wish not one man more rather proclaim it Westmoreland through my host that he which hath no stomach to this fight, let him depart. His passport shall be made and crowns for convoy put into his purse. We would not die in that man's company that fears his fellowship to die with us. This day is called the Feast of Crispian. He that outlives this day and comes safe home, will stand a tip-toe when this day is named and rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall see this day and live old age will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours and say, "Tomorrow is St. Crispian." Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars and say, "These wounds I had on Crispin's day." Old men forget yet all shall be forgot. But he'll remember with advantages what feats he did that day. Then shall our names, familiar in his mouth as household words, Harry, the king, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot. Salisbury and Gloucester, be in their flowing cups freshly remembered. This story. Shall the good man teach his son and Crispin and Crispian shall ne'er go by from this day till the ending of the world, but we in it shall be remembered. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me, shall be my brother, be he ne'er so vile, this day shall gentle his condition. And gentlemen in England now in bed shall think themselves accurs'd. They were not here. And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon St. Crispin's day. Now you can follow me into battle.
Dr Kate Flaherty: So the victory is won before the battle begins. Shakespeare's Henry V comes crashing through from the past into the present. It's all about this day, this day, this day.
Another wonderful example of Shakespeare's transformation of a historical character from Edward Hall is found in Margaret of Anjou or Queen Margaret. Hall describes her as a woman who excelled all others as well in beauty and favour as in wit and policy. In Shakespeare's Richard III, she is so crucial to his dramatic design that he refuses to relinquish her even when Hall has sent her back to France. He brings her back to confer a unity on his own history cycle and to wield a kind of prophetic power over the future.
In this scene, Edward the King is sick and anxiety over succession has reignited old enmities within the York faction. His younger brother Richard is a bit of a concern. But the supplanted Lancastrian Queen Margaret has seen it all before in Shakespeare's history plays, she is labelled the she Wolf of France and is blamed for the cruel execution of Richard of Gloucester's father and young brother. Her own grievance is that Richard killed her husband, Henry the VI and her son Edward. They could have tried a few other names, couldn't they? They are arch enemies and she's the only match for his crafty intellect. The curses she hurls in the following speech are all fulfilled in the play. But notice the mischievous way in which Richard, nothing daunted by her vehemence deflects this at the end.
Emily Edwards: What were you snarling all before I came ready to catch each other by the throat and turn you all your hatred now on me? Did Yorks dread curse prevail so much with heaven that Henry's death, my lovely Edward's death, their kingdom's loss, my woeful banishment should all but answer for that peevish brat?
James Evans: Have done thy charm, thou hateful, withered hag.
Emily Edwards: And leave the out? Stay dog. For thou shalt hear me. If heaven have any grievous plague in store exceeding those that I can wish upon thee, O, let them keep it till thy sins be ripe and hurl down their indignation on thee the troubler of the poor world's peace. The worm of conscience still begnaw thy soul. Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou liv'st and take deep traitors for thy dearest friends. No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine unless it be while some tormenting dream, affright sea with a hell of ugly devils. Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog, thou that was sealed in thy nativity, the slave of nature and the son of hell, thou slander on thy mother's heavy womb. Thou loathed issue of thy father's loins, thou rag of honour thou detested-
James Evans: Margaret.
Emily Edwards: Richard.
James Evans: Ha?
Emily Edwards: I called thee not.
James Evans: I cry thee mercy, then for I did think that thou hadst called me all these bitter names.
Emily Edwards: Why so I did, but look for no reply. O, let me make the period to my curse.
James Evans: It's done by me and it ends in Margaret.
Emily Edwards: Fantastic.
James Evans: So good.
Dr Kate Flaherty: So is this Benedick and Beatrice in a darker key? We see sprezzatura at much as work in Shakespeare's inventive translation of history as in his comedies. Finally, we turn now to a book of yet another genre. Shakespeare read widely across various genres. Michele de Montaigne the French political philosopher, published his essays in 1580. And Susannah reminded me this afternoon that essays in French just means try or to attempt. And they have this quality of trying to understand a rapidly expanding world. They were translated into English by John Florio in 1603, and this very popular publication had multiple later editions. The NLA holds one from 1632.
This book captured my imagination for the way in which it stages a world in transformation. See how this title page uses renaissance techniques of depth perspective to establish entry to the book as a kind of physical journey? Montaigne is curious about accounts of a man he knows who has lived in Brazil or it's thought to be Brazil.
In his essay called the Cannibals, he wishes he could enlist Plato and Aristotle to help him understand the world newly expanding in his consciousness. Here in Florio's translation, he reflects that this world is like a nation that has no kind of traffic, no knowledge of letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrate nor of politics superiority, no use of service or riches or of poverty, no occupation. And he goes on and on to create this utopian vision. This brave new world evoked specifically by Montaigne captivated Shakespeare's curiosity. However, by recasting Montaigne's vision in a dramatic scene against mockery, he sets up a tension between idealism and real politic.
In this scene, Alonzo, the King of Naples is shipwrecked on an island. With him are his brother Sebastian and the bitter Antonio, the usurping Duke of Milan. We folded these two joking characters together into one mocking voice. Alonzo's old counsellor, Gonzalo tries to comfort the king by pointing out the miracle of their survival and the beauty of the island. We as the audience know that the storm was in fact, caused... The storm that caused the shipwreck was caused by the magician Prospero, who is actually the true Duke of Milan and who inhabits this island. As these castaways come to terms with their fate, Shakespeare injects Montaigne's political ideal as words spoken by the old optimist Gonzalo. But notice the effect that Shakespeare's dramatic recontextualization has on Montaigne's vision.
Emily Edwards: Had I plantation of this isle, my Lord?
James Evans: He'd sow it with nettle seed or docks or mallows.
Emily Edwards: And were the king on't, What would I do?
James Evans: You'd escape being drunk for lack of wine.
Emily Edwards: I'th commonwealth I would buy contraries. Execute all things for no kind of traffic, would I admit. No name of magistrate. Letters should not be known. Riches, poverty and use of service. None. Contract, succession, Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard-none. No use of metal, corn or wine or oil. No occupation. All men idol, but women too. But innocent and pure, no sovereignty-
James Evans: And yet he would be the king of it. The latter end of his commonwealth forgets the beginning.
Emily Evans: All things in common nature should produce without sweat or endeavour. Treason or felony. Sword, pike, knife or gun or need of any engine would I not have? But nature should bring forth of its own kind, all foison, all abundance to feed my innocent people.
James Evans: No marrying among his subjects? All idle whores and knaves.
Emily Edwards: I would with such perfection govern sir, t'excel the golden age.
James Evans: Save his majesty. Long live Gonzalo.
Emily Edwards: And do you mark me, sir?
Dr Kate Flaherty: Prithee no more, thou speakest nothing to me.
Emily Edwards: I do well believe your highness and did it to minister occasion to these gentlemen who are such sensible and nimble lungs, that they are always used to laughing at nothing.
Dr Kate Flaherty: In Shakespeare's era, books and literacy were potent forces for transformation. They opened doors into the corridors of power and they breached oceans. Literacy provided opportunity and the promise of professional upward mobility. And yet, by the time we get to "The Tempest," a question hovers over the power that comes with the knowledge afforded by books. It's not a good in itself.
Montaigne's meandering bookish discourses are granted a place on Prospero's Island. But against them, Shakespeare casts a forward-leaning shadow. The tiny island hosts a cross section of society, and at its apex is the magician who loves his books and who has forced its native inhabitants into servitude. At the end of the play, Prospero drowns his books. Many guesses have been made as to what this act of relinquishing power might signal about Shakespeare's own career. But I'm not gonna talk about that. Let's just end on that image of a drowning book.
In our final scene, we find King Alonzo's son Ferdinand weeping. He has been washed ashore alone, and he supposes that his father is dead. Yet he reports hearing an enchanting song, which has stilled the waters and brings comfort to him. Through his reading, Shakespeare absorbed many things into the oceanic vastness of his imagination. Nothing was wasted under the waves, but nothing stayed the same. Everything was transformed into new currents of imaginative invention. This produced characters, situations and enduring patterns of words that continue to move on the tides of human consciousness. As you sit back and enjoy this, you may notice how Ariel's song in its advance and its retreat mimic waves, lapping ashore.
Emily Edwards [singing]: Come onto these yellow sands and then take hands. Curtsied when you haven't kiss'd. The wild waves whist. Foot it featly here. And there the sweet sprites bear the burthen. Hark hark. Burdhen dispersedly within. Bow-Wow. The watch-dogs bark. Burden dispersedly within. Bow-Wow. Hark hark. I hear the strain of a strutting chanticleer. Cry cock-a-diddle-dow.
James Evans: Where should this music be? In the air? Or the earth? It sounds no more. And sure it waits upon some god of the island sitting on a bank weeping again, the king, my father's rack. This music crept by me upon the waters allaying both their fury and my passion with its sweet air. Thence I have followed it, or it have drawn me rather, but is gone. No, it begins again.
Emily Edwards [singing]: Full fathom five thy father lies. Of his bones are coral made. Those are pearls that were his eyes. Nothing of him that doth fade. But doth suffer a sea-change. Into something rich and strange.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Thank you, Emily and James that seemed the perfect note to end.
Dr Susannah Helman: What a delight. Thank you, Kate, Emily and James for that wonderful presentation. We now have time for a few questions. If you would like to ask a question, please raise your hand and a microphone will be brought to you. For the benefit of people joining us online or using our hearing loop, please wait for the microphone before asking your question.
Audience Member 1: Oh. Thanks for a wonderful presentation. I'm just wondering how many books would an ordinary person have access to at that time? Because I imagine a very, very expensive.
Dr Susannah Helman: That's a very good question. Obviously, it really depends, I think. I think that this was coming into the, I mean, this was the age of print. I think increasingly, maybe in the 17th century it would've been a lot easier to access the book trade sort of expanded in the 17th century.
There's also a question of did you have to own a book to read it? I was reading something recently that Shakespeare may have used Richard Fields own bookshop. You could always browse in a bookshop. And you know, if you were friends, you could borrow things. I think it would really depend, but people were getting... There was increasing literacy, I suppose, perhaps later in the 17th century. Kate, would you have anything to say?
Dr Kate Flaherty: I guess as we move towards compulsory schooling, certainly there are lots of very literate women in this period, as my colleague Ross could attest. So literacy is expanding across all boundaries at this moment. And I think that is a very important point, that you don't have to own a book to read it. So access to books can be provided in a range of ways. And I think that the appeal of that St. Paul's churchyard book industry is that there's exchange happening between people a lot of the time. I guess if we could look up some early 17th century libraries, we get a sense of scale owning books would've been for rich people, but access to books through other means would've been more democratised. I had another thought. Yes, and of course the most accessible book that was everywhere by the time Shakespeare was born was the Bible. So if you came across any kind of book, it would be that book first of all. Yeah.
Dr Susannah Helman: But I mean, at this time, a lot of people couldn't read. Yeah. Literacy was much greater later on in succeeding centuries. Any other questions? Yeah?
Audience Member 2: I don't suppose there can be an answer to this, but I wonder if Shakespeare had a photographic memory.
Dr Kate Flaherty: He either had that or he definitely had access to books. And memorising things was, I don't know about photographic, I think there would be an oral dimension to memorising, because reciting things, which I'm describing as a kind of translation, rote learning is memorising, but it's also a taking in and then ascending out. So if those, I don't know what you think, James, whether memorising that Plutarch passage would be a little bit more challenging than memorising Shakespeare's version of it. Probably.
James Evans: Absolutely.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Yeah.
James Evans: Much, much harder.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Yeah.
James Evans: Yeah. Learning Shakespeare for us, I assume you're the same, Emily is actually much easier than learning a piece of prose. Because it's got the underlying rhythm that iambic pentameter that drives the rhythm of the verse. You know, when something's off, every word is in its place and where it should be, which makes it actually much easier to learn.
Audience Member 3: Hi, thank you. This has been wonderful. Really, really appreciate it. My question is a comparative one. How would you compare the borrowings and translation and transformation by Shakespeare with that of A, his contemporaries, other playwrights and B, succeeding generations? Thank you.
Dr Kate Flaherty: That's me again, isn't it?
James Evans: Yeah, that's it, definitely you.
Dr Kate Flaherty: I think we need to think about a paradigm shift of art being original as being a fairly new innovation. And of course copyright itself is a fairly new legal innovation. And so we can see it in the work of other playwrights of the period that it's very easy to trace. I was a bit unfair to Shakespeare because it's certainly the case that other playwrights are consistently drawing on. Not only ancient or historical sources, but like Shakespeare with "Pandosto," they're ripping off something that was on the stage only three years earlier.
So I think that's the paradigm shift we need is to realise that art is a process of imitative improvement in this moment. And I think there is a sense in which that goes right back to how literacy and grammar school worked. That imitation was how you gained your knowledge.
Today we have a lot more legal apparatus around copying. I'm teaching a course on adaptation at the moment, but I have been quite surprised to discover just how easy it is to adapt another person's work and they can't do very much about it. So that there's a bit less control, if there's an adaptation of a novel. There's a bit less legal control than we might imagine even in our own era. But there's probably a lot more sympathy for the creator when their work is ripped off. There's a kind of a public outcry when people copy other people's work.
James Evans: And then when it comes to acting, the interesting thing is the shift in the meaning of the word original. So now when we say, "I want this performance to be original," we mean new as in, it's never been done like that before. But in Shakespeare's time and in the couple of centuries afterwards, original meant doing it like the original version, like doing it the way that they originally did it. And that's what was valued. It was did you get the gesture exactly as verbiage had the gesture? Did you do all of the... Was your voice just like verbiages voice was. That was what was valued. Whereas now that would seem, oh, it's derivative, you know. And we want something original so that even the meaning of that word has changed.
Dr Kate Flaherty: It's interesting that there's actually a claim, I think on the title page of the "First Folio" that here we have the complete, but also there's this claim about their true originals as they were played upon the stage.
James Evans: Yes.
Dr Kate Flaherty: And which it is not true at all because there are all sorts of things added to make them reading texts. But, yes, I think there is slippage in the definition of original and originality.
James Evans: Yeah.
Audience Member 4: My question is, I'm just wondering what are your favourite plays from Shakespeare or characters and characters?
Dr Kate Flaherty: Now, I don't have to answer that one first.
James Evans: Go on, Emily, what's your favourite Shakespeare?
Emily Edwards: My favourite is a play called "King Lear." I think it's fantastic. Yep.
James Evans: Yeah. And by the way, Bell Shakespeare just announced their season last night, and we'll be doing "King Lear" next year in 2024, starring the wonderful Robert Menzies in the title Rods.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Oh. Wow. Oh, oh wow.
James Evans: Yeah.
Emily Edwards: But it's amazing, it's got everything, family, feuding, succession, it's, yes, very thrilling play.
James Evans: Yeah. Yeah. Look, I love Julius Caesar. It's just Shakespeare trying to write as a Roman, it's such spare language, political language, so consciously full of rhetoric. And I just think Brutus is just such a wonderful character and I would love to play Brutus one day that's on my bucket list.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Yeah. Susannah, what's your favourite?
Dr Susannah Helmna: It's hard to choose. I love, you know, "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Twelfth Night." "Hamlet."
James Evans: Yeah. I don't suppose you have a-
Dr Kate Flaherty: Yeah, I do.
James Evans: Oh. You do?
Dr Kate Flaherty: I really do. Oh yeah. So my favourite is "The Winter's Tale."
James Evans: Wow.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Can I tell you why?
James Evans: Go on.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Do you have about three minutes? Three minutes more I should say. I read "The Winter's Tale" aloud to a person, a poet, a retired poet who I was working for as an assistant when I was very young in my twenties. His name was Philip Martin. He had suffered a stroke. He was a Shakespeare scholar, and his favourite play was "The Winter's Tale." And when I spent time with him, I used to read the plays aloud, which didn't bother me at all. That was a great way to spend the day. But I didn't know what happened in "The Winter's Tale." So I got to the scene that we just did this evening, and the first hint I had that Hermione was still alive was as I read on the page, "Oh, she's warm." And it struck me like a physical force. And I looked up at Philip and he had tears running down his face. So it was a little mini resurrection moment in a sense. I had just lost a very dear friend. And this moment of just seeing into the possibility of that hope and then seeing it reflected back in his face. I think "The Winter's Tale" will always be my favourite Shakespeare play.
James Evans: Exit pursued by a bear.
Audience Member 5: Hello. I'll just add to the thanks of what a wonderful presentation this was. I was interested in the idea that there's so much deep into textuality of all of Shakespeare's plays. It can, sometimes... You have a gloss that is, you know, sometimes the footnotes take up longer than the text on the page. So I was wondering, as actors, how does reading inform your performances of Shakespeare reading work that is not necessarily Shakespeare? Thank you.
Emily Edwards: That's a great question.
James Evans: Yeah. Do you do research?
Emily Edwards: That's a great question. Yeah. Yeah, I do. I get really nerdy into the research of it, but it's a balancing act because you don't want the research to then dictate what you're doing once you get up and you get to start playing. So I think, I try and learn as much as I can and do as much of the homework as I can so that when I then am up on the floor, I'm free to just muck around. And that's what it's all about really for me.
James Evans: Yeah. That sense of play has to still be there. Because if you get too much in your head while you are performing, then it becomes dull and dead for the audience. So all of that research is great and then you've kind of gotta throw it away, believe that it's all there, and then just connect with the other actor in the space and just be there. Yeah.
Audience Member 6: Thanks again for a wonderful evening. Shakespeare was not a university man. His colleagues or opposite numbers looked down on him in that way. He never blotted a line, I wish he had blotted a thousand. We've seen tonight how he used English translations of texts. Is there evidence in his texts or any other evidence, really, how comfortable was he with Latin and how much Greek did he have? According to Johnson.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Well, I'm relying entirely on Kenneth Muir, whose book I put up there a bit earlier, which is we do have evidence that his Latin was a lot more than we might call small Latin, because in "The Tempest" inner speech, which is borrowed from Ovid's Medea, he improves on Arthur Golding's translation. So he's obviously translating from Ovid in Latin, starting to run out of words. So yeah, so what Ben Johnson called his small Latin and less Greek was more Latin than most of us have today. A lot more.
James Evans: And a bit of French too. There's a whole scene in French and Henry V.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Yes.
James Evans And what other foreign languages are in Shakespeare?
Dr Kate Flaherty: There's also evidence of him borrowing from Orlando Furioso.
James Evans: Right.
Dr Kate Flaherty: In the French in "Much Ado About Nothing." So yeah. To be literate was to be a linguist, I think, in this moment.
James Evans: Yeah.
Audience Member 6: No specific evidence on Greek.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Not that I am aware of at this moment, but I shall go and find out.
James Evans: Well, Welsh that's interesting. In Henry the V he writes some mocking versions of the Welsh accent for some of those characters, doesn't he?
Dr Kate Flaherty: Yeah. And his Scots is pretty good in Henry the V too.
James Evans: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Gets stuck in.
Audience Member 7: Hi. Thank you very much for the very interesting lecture. So some people find it hard to believe that all the work that has been published under the name of Shakespeare was actually written by one person. So there's a theory that it was actually collective a group of writers. What do you think about this?
James Evans: Go on. Do you have a standard answer to this one?
Dr Kate Flaherty: My standard answer is, I'm glad you asked. The various thesis about other people writing Shakespeare's work. Their motivations can be fairly clearly seen. I can't run through them all. My suggestion is to read Bill Bryson's book on Shakespeare, because there is a laugh out loud chapter about the various theories that have been advanced about other people other than William Shakespeare from Stratford upon Avon writing his work. And the interesting thing to note is that nobody suggested anyone else wrote his plays until about 150 years after he died. He definitely co-wrote, so there's no question that particularly towards the end of his career, which we might find kind of strange. Instead of moving to being this sole genius, he's actually starting to write with younger writers like John Fletcher and Beaumont, so other members of his company, there's definitely co-writing going on.
But the Earl of Oxford thesis, which you might be familiar with, I think is just snobbery. The idea that someone from a rural upbringing couldn't possibly have that imagination. So that there's a bit of class snobbery there. And it was actually the Australian author David Malouf, that made the beautiful comment that Shakespeare's figurative language bears so many traces of a rural existence and particularly his understanding of working with leather, with gloves and glove making. So I think it's an Occam's razor really. There's the obvious suggestion that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, and then there are a whole lot of exciting fanciful other possibilities. So I've nailed my colours to the mask there.
Dr Susannah Helman: We have one more question from the room, I think, and we have one online. I think.
Audience Member 8: Alright. Yeah, thank you so much. Really enjoyable and insightful. As you were talking about, you know, alchemy, I was really thinking of how we have generative AI now that can write in the form of Shakespeare, you know, using all the works that we've had basically printed. And I was thinking, if Shakespeare were around today, could he do a better job than AI. And what would inspire him the most, I suppose that's been written or accessed since that time and what would change in his work, do you think?
Dr Kate Flaherty: That question is so much fun. I feel I should share it first. So does anyone wanna?
James Evans: I know you've been thinking about AI and Shakespeare.
Dr Kate Flaherty: I teach at a university, of course. First thoughts?
Emily Edwards: Well, I think we know that AI doesn't compete with Shakespeare yet. They've done experiments where they input, you know, provocations into, you know, AI scripts generators or poem generators. And it doesn't really come close yet. But, you know, it's a developing technology, who knows what the future holds. Yeah, that's what I'm gonna throw into it. Do you have anything that you'd like to add you two?
Dr Kate Flaherty: I think Shakespeare would say of the use of AI to create things. Where's the fun in that? Get thee gone. Because and that has a kind of ground to it, which is the magic of this moment are these technologies that enable humans to go further. They don't disable humans because they do the things that humans should be doing. They actually allow humans, print technology allows humans to go further with language. And the joy of sprezzatura is of course doing that computational work on the spot, in the moment, in your head and in your body. So I think that it's fanciful. I think he may, because of his disposition, have a dimm view of using AI to create literature. But there was another nice part to your question about what would-
Audience Member 9: Oh, yeah, I was asking as well, sorry, that it's not on the microphone-
Dr Kate Flaherty: What would inspire?
Audience Member 9: If he was writing now, what would probably be his most reliable sources for inspiration?
Dr Kate Flaherty: Look, I'm just gonna pull my favourite authors out of the air. Tony Morrison. There's one. I think he'd be writing about love, death, reconciliation, injustice, abuse of power, same thing.
James Evans: Same stuff.
Emily Edwards: I mean, Shakespeare was a man with his finger on the pulse of what was popular. He was a populist in his own lifetime and managed to make so much money that he could actually improve his own circumstances while still alive, you know, buying a coat of arms for his family, among, you know, other upgrades in social setting.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Social upgrades.
Emily Edwards: So I think he would've been writing stuff that was gonna sell. I think he would've been writing Marvel movies.
Dr Kate Flaherty: They'd be better though, wouldn't they?
James Evans: Much better.
Dr Susannah Helman: We are almost out of time. There is an online question and we'll see how we go. So what is the best way to introduce Shakespeare to young people and children?
James Evans: Oh, there you go. Well, we have the resident artist in education of Bell Shakespeare here. How do you do it?
Emily Edwards: Repeat the question for me.
Dr Susannah Helman: What is the best way to introduce Shakespeare to young people and children?
Emily Edwards: Well, I think the best way is to just do it as soon as possible and as often as possible. I think we can sometimes be a little bit squeamish because Shakespeare deals with really big thematics that we think maybe children, you know, won't be ready for that or it'll be too confronting. But I teach in schools the majority of the time, and it's the primary schoolers that have no problem when it comes to understanding, you know, kings being killed and, you know, getting revenge. They are all for that. As we get older that it starts to become more nuanced and complicated. So yeah, that's my knee jerk reaction, just do it. Just get in amongst it and don't be nervous about it.
James Evans: And also do it out loud and up on your feet. Yeah. So this is what we always say to teachers, and we do a lot of training with teachers from all around Australia. And the first thing we teach them is push the chairs and tables to the side of the classroom, get the students up on their feet, get them speaking the words out loud, and that's the way that they get it in their body and understand it better. Yeah.
Dr Susannah Helman: Thank you so much.
Audience Member 10: Thank you. Thanks so much for a fascinating lecture. Wonderful to listen to. I just have a question for James. Shakespeare obviously has an exhaustive folio. There is only so much theatre that you can make as Bell Shakespeare as the company with the plays that Shakespeare has written. How do you innovate? How do you find ways to stay fresh and to keep things new when you only have a limited folio of works to work with?
James Evans: Yeah. That is the eternal question for Shakespeare companies around the world. And not just the 37, 38 plays, but like 10 plays really, because no one's buying tickets to King John, they're just not, I can't sell tickets to Henry VIII or-
Dr Kate Flaherty: I would.
James Evans: I know you would, and maybe three other people. Maybe the people in this room. But I need 10,000 in a season in Sydney, otherwise we'll fold. So yeah, that's really, really tricky. So what our company has done fortunately, is we've moved into a new venue, so we have a small studio space, so we can do smaller, lesser known Shakespeare works in that space while we still do our big shows here at the Canberra Theatre Centre and the Sydney Opera House and so on. Then we also do works that are inspired by Shakespeare.
We do a lot of creative development with new writing, and also we do a lot of work in the space of First Nations Theatre. And we work with first peoples theatre companies, particularly Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company in Perth, who have done a Nunga translation version of the Scottish Play, which was stunning. And we worked on them with that over a long process. And that was not just doing Shakespeare in another language, but was an entire cultural and language reclamation project. And so actually brought Shakespeare and ancient Nunga culture together to create an entirely new piece of work. And it was an absolute thrill and we're gonna keep partnering and working on stuff like that as well. So Shakespeare keeps throwing new things at us every year something new arises. And that's why 400 years later, we're still all here, still talking about it, I think. And we don't have the Johnson Theatre Company or the, the Marlowe Theatre Company.
Dr Kate Flaherty: It's a shame, that would be good.
James Evans: Yeah. Again for you. But there's a special alchemy. I like your use of that word with Shakespeare. It keeps reinventing itself.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Johnson wrote the alchemist.
James Evans: Sure. That's true.
Audience Member 11 Okay. I wanted you to say, apart from absolutely fascinating and enjoyable to see the way that Shakespeare recycled and upcycled things that he read.
James Evans: Upcycled. Nice.
Audience Member 11: I just wondered for James and Emily, what difference, if any, does it make to your performance to know that the words that you're saying actually came from somewhere else originally? Does it actually make any difference to the performance because that's what the plays are actually all about?
Dr Kate Flaherty: Hmm. Great question.
Emily Edwards: I don't think that it changes anything about the end result. I think of Shakespeare in really musical terms, an analogy I like to make is with jazz standards. You know, it was really common to just have one song that every single jazz musician would have a crack at and reinterpret in their own way. And I think knowing that that one song, you know, might've come from something that somebody else wrote at some point, it informs your ability to then go, "Oh, okay, so there's more scope there perhaps." Or you can go back and you can see the seeds of ideas and where Shakespeare has grown them from. But yeah, it's just, I suppose the more information you have, the more informed your choices can be, but it doesn't necessarily always impact the performance.
James Evans: Yeah, I would agree with that. And ultimately the thing we have is the text. And as actors, we are text detectives and Shakespeare leaves all sorts of beautiful little crumbs and clues throughout, including stage directions. 'Cause the only stage directions he really writes, so, you know, fights and die and enter and exit, that's about it. Exit pursued by a bear. The rest of his stage directions are all embedded in the dialogue. So as an actor, really that's where your work is. It's as a detective into the language and not just the stage directions as well, but also the rhythm and why are there 11, to be or not to be, that is the question. Why is there an 11th syllable at the end of that line? What does that tell you about Hamlet's state of mind? So everything is a clue for us. And that's against the joy of doing it. And why an actor, John Bell is 82 years old next year. And even he will still, he was saying to me recently, he's still discovering new things in Shakespeare as he goes.
Emily Edwards: That's such a lovely point. And I think when it comes to, it's the play is the thing for actors, that's what we care about. And when you look at the stuff that Shakespeare changed, for instance, in the history place, they're not true to the actual history that you can go and research. That's really interesting to know. But what I'm interested in is what Shakespeare's given me and the words on the page.
James Evans: Yeah, I think that's right. Yeah.
Dr Susannah Helman: It's a good note to end on. Thank you so much. Thank you for sharing those questions with us. Unfortunately, we've run out of time, but before we finish, I'd like to invite James and Emily to let us know about the upcoming Bell Shakespeare season.
James Evans: Oh.
Dr Susannah Helman: Five minutes. If you'd like to.
James Evans: Thank you for the segue. "12th Night" is actually coming to Canberra soon. When is that?
Dr Kate Flaherty: The posters are up.
James Evans: Are they? Okay. So yeah, make sure you get your tickets for that. "12th Night" is coming soon. And then yeah, we just launched our season last night and we are bringing "Midsummer Night's Dream" to Canberra very soon as well early in the year. So that's gonna be a fantastic, beautiful, fun production for the whole family to enjoy. So please do come along to those two shows coming up. Yeah.
Dr Susannah Helman: And Kate, you were gonna let us know about a couple of things coming up in your world.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Was I? Oh sorry All as always now. I wanted to say thank you as the main thing. So sincere thanks to the NLA team have been extraordinary. Ben Pratten and Susannah and Stu taking a night off to come to work to see this event. And Fran and Roxanne, thank you so much. We've just felt so welcomed and looked after and doing the thinking collaboratively is just so much richer than one person thinking on their own.
And of course, doing the thinking with Emily and James as well, bringing that wonderful live dimension has been exquisite. And thanks to my family, especially my husband for putting up with the whole adventure. And sorry, my colleagues at ANU as well, who've been a tremendous support colleagues and students. Yeah, it's been a terrific collaborative adventure.
James Evans: Hopefully many more. Yeah.
Dr Kate Flaherty: Yeah. I like that.
Dr Susannah Helman: It's been a delight. Please join me once again in thanking Dr. Kate Flaherty, James Evans and Emily Edwards.
See a mix of lecture and performance as Dr Kate Flaherty, senior Lecturer in English and Drama at ANU, and actors from Bell Shakespeare explore the link between the books that inspired Shakespeare and Shakespeare's own work.
Dr Susannah Helman, National Library Curator of Rare Books and Music, also speaks about the items in the Library's collection.
About Dr Kate Flaherty
Kate Flaherty is a Senior Lecturer in English and Drama at ANU. Her current book project investigates how female performers have shaped political modernity. Her first book, Ours as We Play it: Australia Plays Shakespeare (2011), looks at Shakespeare in performance in Australia. Other articles and chapters explore the public interplay of Shakespeare’s drama with education, gender, imperialism and riot in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Among her many publications are articles for The Conversation and The Guardian. Kate was 2019 winner of the ANU Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Education and is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
About the Bell Shakespeare actors
James Evans is Associate Director at Bell Shakespeare. He is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Acting) and holds a Master of Arts (English) from the University of Sydney. For Bell Shakespeare James directed the national touring productions of Much Ado About Nothing and Julius Caesar, as well as Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Bell Shakespeare's education program at Sydney Opera House and Arts Centre Melbourne. As an actor he has appeared in Hamlet, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Henry IV and Actors At Work. He is the host of Bell Shakespeare’s podcast Speak The Speech.
James co-wrote and presented the acclaimed iPad App Starting Shakespeare (named Best New App by Apple in 17 countries) and co-directed the ABC Splash online series Shakespeare Unbound. He has been a visiting artist at the University of San Diego, as well as presenting a series of Shakespeare seminars in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Mumbai and Singapore. James’ work with Bell Shakespeare in juvenile detention centres is the subject of the feature film Kings of Baxter, winner of Best Australian Documentary at the 2017 Antenna Documentary Film Festival and the Supreme Jury Prize at the 2018 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival.
Emily Edwards (she/her) is a graduate of the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (Acting) and is the Resident Artist in Education at Bell Shakespeare. Some of her stage credits include a National Tour with The Players (Bell Shakespeare), Feste in Twelfth Night (Dir Tom Wright), The Young Wife in Hello Again (Dir Tyran Parke), Abigail in The Crucible (Dir Terri Brabon, Theatre iNQ), Fiona Carter in The Removalists (Dir Elsie Edgerton-Till, Sydney Theatre Company), and Kapowi in Kapowi Go-Go (Dir Rachel Kerry, Kings Cross Theatre). Her screen credits include Alive with Curiosity with Tourism Queensland, and Home and Away. In addition to performing, Emily has been a teaching artist for over 10 years, having worked with Bell Shakespeare, The Australian Shakespeare Company, Theatre iNQ, Poetry in Action, and running an independent singing studio.
About Dr Susannah Helman
Dr Susannah Helman is the Rare Books and Music Curator at the National Library of Australia. She has worked at the National Library of Australia since 2009, until 2021 in the Exhibitions Section. She curated or co-curated exhibitions including Handwritten (2011), Mapping our World (2013–2014), The Sell (2016–2017), Cook and the Pacific (2018–2019) and On Stage (2022). She has a PhD in History from the University of Queensland.
Image credit: Plutarch, The lives of the noble Grecians and Romaines, 1612, (detail), nla.cat-vn2403507