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Shakespeare’s work: pure genius or imitatio?

William Shakespeare was undoubtedly a literary mastermind, yet several allusions and quotations in his works suggest that he gathered ideas from other texts. Ovid’s Metamorphoses, for example, was alluded to more than any other classical text, and the Bishop’s and Geneva Bibles were quoted numerous times in his works. Shakespeare’s reliance on source material from external literature was a common practice of the time period. He would have learned this habit of absorbing and imitating other texts (imitatio) in grammar school and from classics that were translated into English. The following is a collection of sources that appear to have influenced several of Shakespeare’s works, such as Coriolanus, As You Like It, and Antony and Cleopatra.

Featured Image: “Globe Theater Innenraum” by Tohma. CC BY-SA via Wikimedia Commons

Recent Comments

  1. Geoffrey Green

    Weird, Shakespeare seems to have known Arthur Golding’s translation of the Metamorphoses so well it’s almost as if he helped his uncle translate it.

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  3. Ebenezer Brian majozi

    He best his work to the corners of his all brain, the Lord of all words. I find it best to personally out say, he is the Lord of all wisdom.

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