There is nothing I can ever say on any subject of import concerning mankind which Shakespeare has not said better. All the clashing claims of authority, from state or PC establishment are shamed before his observations, so I can hardly do better than to read to them a passage which has illustrated its own wisdom this last week.
O, it is excellent
To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous To use it like a giant.
. . .
Could great men thunder
As Jove himself does, Jove would ne’er be quiet,
For every pelting, petty officer
Would use his heaven for thunder;
Nothing but thunder! Merciful Heaven,
Thou rather with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt
Split’st the unwedgeable and gnarled oak
Than the soft myrtle: but man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.
Measure for Measure, Act II Scene II
- Measure For Measure
- As You Like it
- William Shakespeare: The Complete Works
- Shakespeare: The Riddle of Genius by Boris Johnson
- Preface to Shakespeare by Samuel Johnson
- Works Politickal, perchance:
- Shakespeare between Machiavelli and Hobbes by Andrew Moore
- Shakespeare and Renaissance Politics (Andrew Hadfield ed.: Arden Critical Companions)
- Shakespeare’s Politics: A Contextual Introduction by Robin Headlam Wells
- Shakespeare’s Anti-Politics: Sovereign Power and the Life of the Flesh by D Gill
- Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics by Stephen Greenblatt