Indisputable? ‘The Shakespeare Guide to Italy’ Book Review

To say the Shakespeare authorship question is controversial would be an understatement. It certainly divides opinion, the arguments often being quite heated from either side.

And it isn’t new; the controversy has been going on longer than most people realise. By the early nineteenth century the doubts about the ‘man from Stratford’ were beginning to become more vocal.

One such doubter was a remarkable woman from Ohio called Delia Bacon, who proposed her namesake Francis Bacon, was the actual author of Shakespeare’s works.

Another example is Mark Twain, the author of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, who put his doubts into print with his book ‘Is Shakespeare Dead?’. Since then the theories have continued to grow apace.

Groundbreaking

Perhaps the most groundbreaking book of the last century was written by a certain J Thomas Looney (Shakespeare Identified), who claimed that the 17th Earl of Oxford, one Edward de Vere, was the true genius of English literature. Needless to say there are now numerous books about the issue and many alternative candidates, including Christopher Marlowe and Roger Manners, the 5th Earl of Rutland.

However, what has been lacking is documentary proof of someone other than ‘the man from Stratford’ being the actual author of the works of Shakespeare. The great problem stems from the fact that there is a gaping whole, a paucity of information, in the known biography of the man called William Shakespeare. We know when he was born, when he got married and when he died; added to that are pieces of records of litigious information in regard to someone who seems far more like a businessman than England’s greatest ever playwright and poet. And in his will there is no mention of a library, let alone any books, surely prerequisites for such a literary giant as this.

Materialist rather than poet

The character emerging from the available information, including six rather poor signatures, is of someone who is quite materialistically minded, not at all prone to writing the best blank verse you’ve ever seen.

That said, it is still possible that there is a huge chunk of his biography waiting to be found and that he did indeed write the works attributed to him – genius is still after all, genius, as they say. But genius still needs an education, something which, other than a possible grammar school education up until around the age of fourteen, is also glaringly absent.

I have been interested by this subject, though not entirely persuaded by any candidate, for many years now. For me, just about the best book I have come across in regard to this controversy is The Shakespeare Guide to Italy (HarpPeren; Illustrated edition) by Richard Paul Roe, now sadly deceased. He is well qualified for this undertaking, having a degree in English literature and European history from Berkeley.

Ten plays set in Italy

It has long been speculated as to why at least ten out of the thirty six of the Bard’s plays are set in Italy. Surely the most obvious answer to this fact is that author of the plays visited Italy extensively at some stage in his life, or at the very least knew people who had, or he had access to much information about that country.

What Roe does is set about researching patiently and wholly systematically over some period of time, visiting all the places mentioned in the works; Venice, Padua, Verona, Mantua, Milan, Florence, Messina, Palermo, the latter two locations being in Sicily. Many of the pictures within the book are the authors and you get some idea as to his intelligence, sheer persistence and depth of character.

He produces a logically argued and beautifully illustrated book, which while highly detailed, is also easy to read. What I particularly like is that he does not force upon the reader a favourite candidate for authorship; he presents facts, information, from which the discerning reader can make up their own mind.

Intimate knowledge

Hitherto it has been assumed by most that much of the information that the author of Shakespeare put into his plays about certain locals was either imagined, or learned anecdotally. However, if you know a place more intimately, there are certain facts you can drop in which draws a more convincing picture.

An example of this is from Romeo and Juliet, where Benvolio is describing the scene of a grove of sycamore trees through the western wall of the city of Verona. Roe visited this area and found that to this day sycamores still grow there.

Now, it might be said that such scenes exist from many an Italian city and have done for centuries, and that Shakespeare just ‘got lucky’ in putting in this detail, but it does seem these trees have been a feature here way back into past. And it does create a picture of intimacy, as if the author is seeing things from his own mind’s eye, or recollection, and not merely making it up.

Sailing to Milan?

There are many other examples of course, including the volcanic island of Vulcano off the north coast of Sicily which bears a remarkable similarity to Prospero’s island described in what is regarded as Shakespeare’s last play, The Tempest.

In The Two Gentlemen of Verona there is the unequivocable statement of being able to sail from Verona to distant Milan, an oft quoted ‘error’ on behalf of the Bard, of whom it has been said was clearly ignorant of northern Italy and its geography. However, thanks to the work and insight of Roe, it turns out that it was indeed possible to sail, by boat or barge perhaps, between those two beautiful cities in the late sixteenth centuries by means of canals and the navigable rivers of the Adige, Po and Adda.

In fact, until the late 1950s, Milan was still considered one of Italy’s prime maritime ports. After all, it must be realised that northern Italy is, at least below the Alps and before the Appenines rise to form the backbone of the peninsula, a vast plain, perfectly suited for navigation as well as growing the rice for risotto.

So what I came away with from reading this book is of having visited Italy myself, albeit in my mind, yet deeply – and yes – intimately. Whoever the author of Shakespeare was, he (or she?) must surely having experienced it at first hand, just like the author of this book.


Copyright Francis 2020

Medieval History ╽Caterina Sforza: One of History’s Fiercest Females – Countess Of Forli — THE CHRONICLES OF HISTORY (Reblog)

The only possible way to describe Caterina Sforza is by making use of the words agitator, rebel, fighter, renegade, and unyielding. She was a woman of substantial strength, intelligence, and tenaciousness. Caterina would take charge and show unbelievable character despite her hard as nails attitude.

Medieval History ╽Caterina Sforza: One of History’s Fiercest Females – Countess Of Forli — THE CHRONICLES OF HISTORY

Wonderful post.

*** To view details of our work, click here.

Michelangelo, Creative Genius of All Ages – Astrology Musings

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni – known simply to us as Michelangelo – is often considered the greatest creative genius of all time.

It is hard to argue against this considering his achievements. He was a notable artist, poet, sculptor and architect who created, among other things, the painting of the Last Judgement on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Pieta and the statue of David in Florence.

If his birth data is correct, then he certainly seems to have a birth chart that implies a significant creative force.

Multifaceted

Let’s start with the basics. Firstly, there is only Pluto in earth signs, which is very surprising considering many of achievements are practical creations, like sculpture – more of this later. His elements are primarily air and water, showing that he was inspired and put much rational thought into the creative process too.

He has Sagittarius rising, meaning he had a very free and multifaceted approach to life, an indication of his ability to span many types of creativity. His ruler, Jupiter, is in Aquarius in house 3, meaning there is more than a touch of originality, objectivity and freshness in his ideas and mentality.

Highly sensitive and creative

He has the Sun and Moon in Pisces in house 4, with the Sun in good aspect to Neptune in house 12, showing how he was essentially sensitive, impressionable and also deeply inspired from the subconscious. Mars is also quite close to the Sun, giving him great bursts of creative flair, especially so as Mars in ruler of house 5.

Venus in Aries is also an indicator of primal artistic flair, especially his Venus in house 5 of creativity. Venus is also ruler of house 6 of work and the MC, which also has associations with life direction and career.

However, I want to concentrate mainly on what I consider to be the primary pattern of his chart, namely the fairly loose, yet important ‘kite’ formation involving Mars, Saturn, Pluto and Neptune, and also the Sun and Uranus to some degree. This is a fairly unusual configuration and I am sure one that is significant when one comes down to discussing creative genius. I think the fact that all three ‘outer planets’ are involved is highly significant, an indication that he could tap creatively the transpersonal energies of transformation (Pluto), inspiration (Neptune) and originality (Uranus).

Through studying many birth charts of creative types, like artists and composers, I have found that Neptune in particular almost invariably forms strong aspects to personal planets, or is strongly placed, or both.

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The ‘Kite’ – the sign of a great, dynamic genius?

Apart from Pluto, at the top apex of the shape, it all takes place in water signs and houses using the ‘whole signs’ house system, showing its emotive and inspirational wellspring.

In this regard, Pluto’s presence in an earth sign (Virgo) and house (10), becomes all the more significant, I feel, symbolising the long term, transformative physical effect Michelangelo produced and experienced in his career, and the incredible, powerful legacy he left with us.

Let’s take a closer look at it. Mars in Pisces in house 4, reveals his emotive, disparate energy in opposition to Pluto in Virgo in house 10, a tense, compulsive battle between personal and transpersonal power, which creates great waves of energy to transform the life direction but which needs to be harnessed to make useful.

Applications in the world

Enter Saturn in Cancer in house 8 and Neptune in Scorpio in house 12, both in good positive aspect (sextile and trine) to the Mars Pluto opposition, both of which can feed off this energy. Saturn will tend, despite being in a water sign and house, to earth this energy, look for practical, structural applications of it.

Neptune, and to some degree Uranus, will add sheer inspiration and some originality to the mix from a subconscious and transpersonal ‘muse’, perhaps encapsulating the very nature of genius. And with the Sun also fairly closely linked to this inspirational dynamo too, we can perhaps appreciate the great depths of creative potential that this man had, his ability to produce it for all the world to enjoy – even to this day and hopefully for centuries still to come. He was that rare individual, a genius for all time.

*If you are interested in getting your own astrological report, or would like one created for a loved one or a friend, please contact me at leoftanner@gmail.com.

copyright Leofwine Tanner 2019

 

Mayflower Blossom Time – in February Temperatures!

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It’s hard to believe that around this time last year we were basking in temperatures around 30 degrees centigrade in ‘dear old Blighty’.

Today it’s about 10 at best and with the lack of sun and the cool wind it feels more like 4!

That said it got me wondering, laterally as usual, about why the famous ship the Mayflower was called as such.

According to the sources I came across it’s because the original owner of the ship was Florentine (from Florence, Italy) called Guicciardini; the Mayflower, or ‘Giglio’ in Italian, is the symbol of Florence. And the ship was due to set sail, in May.

Mayflower_in_Plymouth_Harbor,_by_William_Halsall
By William Halsall – Pilgrim Hall Museum, Public Domain. Wikimedia.org

Oh to set sail for pastures new!

So the Mayflower became the symbol of new beginnings in the so-called New World and is still one America’s greatest cultural icons.

I don’t know for sure but there may be other explanations. At least according to the above its naming had little to do with the Pilgrims who sailed on it, nor indeed Plymouth in western England from where they sailed.

Nevertheless it’s fascinating to hear of people in America who can trace their lineage back to the Mayflower. I will have to look out for examples of this, I would love to speak to some of them.

http://www.answers.com

http://www.wikipedia.com