Shakespeare and Ovid

As the soul of Euphorbus was thought to live in Pythagoras, so the sweet witty soul of Ovid lives in mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare; witness his 'Venus and Adonis', his 'Lucrece', his sugared sonnets among his private friends (Francis Meres, 1598).

We may feel rather that it is not so much in these poems as in certain of the plays that the the spirit of Ovid lives on, notably in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream and 'The Tempest'... (L P Wilkinson, Ovid Recalled, 1955).

... Here are only numbers ratified; but for the elegancy, facility, and golden cadence of poesy, caret. Ovidius Naso was the man: and why, indeed, Naso, but for smelling out the odoriferous flowers of fancy, the jerks of invention? (Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost)

Shakespeare's Ovid, Being Arthur Golding's Translation Of The Metamorphoses, Edited By W. H. D. Rouse, Litt.D.:
PDF; Kindle/MOBI

Golding's Ovid - Medea's incantation:

Ye Ayres and windes: ye Elves of Hilles, of Brookes, of Woods alone,
Of standing Lakes, and of the Night approche ye everychone.
Through helpe of whom (the crooked bankes much wondring at the thing)
I have compelled streames to run clean e backward to their spring.
By charmes I make the calme Seas rough, and make y rough Seas plaine
And cover all the Skie with Cloudes, and chase them thence againe. 270
By charmes I rayse and lay the windes, and burst the Vipers jaw,
And from the bowels of the Earth both stones and trees doe drawe.
Whole woods and Forestes I remove : I make the Mountaines shake,
And even the Earth it selfe to grone and fearfully to quake.
I call up dead men from their graves : and thee O lightsome Moone
I darken oft, though beaten brasse abate thy perill soone.
Our Sorcerie dimmes the Morning faire, and darkes y Sun at Noone.

The Tempest - Prospero's incantation

Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves,
And ye that on the sands with printless foot
Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him
When he comes back; you demi-puppets that
By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make,
Whereof the ewe not bites, and you whose pastime
Is to make midnight mushrooms, that rejoice
To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,
Weak masters though ye be, I have bedimm’d
The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,
And ‘twixt the green sea and the azured vault
Set roaring war: to the dread rattling thunder
Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak
With his own bolt; the strong-based promontory
Have I made shake and by the spurs pluck’d up
The pine and cedar: graves at my command
Have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ‘em forth
By my so potent art. But this rough magic
I here abjure, and, when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book

Site by Geoff Wilkins