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More Clues That Something is Rotten...
The Upstart Crow attack by Robert Greene in 1592.
‘... for there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.’
Eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays weren’t published during his lifetime including, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, King Lear, All’s Well, Othello, Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, and The Tempest. This is highly unusual for a working playwright.
Sonnet 81 the author states that his name will be lost to history (1609) - ‘Though I,
once gone, to all the world must die;
The earth can yield me but a common grave,
When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,’
John Davies connects William Shakespeare to the Roman playwright, Terence in his poem ‘To Our English Terence Will. Shake-speare’ (1610).
In The Scholemaster (1570) Roger Ascham said this about the African Roman playwright Terence (died 159 BC),
‘Because it is well known, by good record of learning, and that by Cicero's own witness that some Comedies bearing Terence's name, were written by worthy Scipio and wise Laelius and namely Heauton: and Adelphi.’
Terence had been brought to Rome as a slave by the senator Terentius Lucanu. Contemporary Roman historians identified the nobleman who gave plays to Terence as the consul and poet Quintus Fabius Labeo.
Satyrist Joseph Hall’s image of Labeo as a cuttle-fish suggests that the author remains obscured in a cloud while complaining of his lost faith and fame, but avoiding recognition (and punishment) by publishing under another’s name:
‘Long as the crafty cuttle lieth sure
In the black cloud of his thick vomiture;
Who list complain of wronged faith or fame,
When he may shift it to another’s name?’
Hall reserves his longest barrage against Labeo at the end of the Satyres and the gist of his thirty-six lines clearly alludes to Labeo’s authorship of Venus and Adonis.
In 1678 the playwright and actor, Edward Ravenscroft adapted Titus Andronicus, or, the Rape of Lavinia at the Drury Lane Theatre. Ravenscroft was prompted to make this curious remark, ‘I have been told by some anciently conversant with the stage, that it was not originally his (William Shakespeare’s), but brought by a private author to be acted, and he only gave some master-touches to one or two of the principal parts or characters.’
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