Jessica Wolfe

in The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566105
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature


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This article notes that the nature and extent of Shakespeare's indebtedness to ancient models has proven a persistent source of critical disagreement since the playwright's own time. Many of Shakespeare's most celebrated adaptations of classical texts derive from contemporary English translations of Greek and Latin works such as Arthur Golding's translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses (1567) and Thomas North's translation of Plutarch's Lives (1579). Several of his works also suggest direct engagement with Latin (but never Greek) originals. Shakespeare's tendency to rely upon multiple sources for a single play makes it difficult to distinguish a true source from an analogue or to discern where the playwright's chief debts reside.

Keywords: Arthur Golding; Shakespeare; Ovid's Metamorphoses; Plutarch's Lives

Article.  9754 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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