The Rape of Lucrece

Tarquinius Sextus was the Etruscan Prince who with the help of his father, Tarquinius Superbus inadvertently helped to abolish the monarchy in Italy by his excessive pride and sexual appetite. His sexual violation of Lucretia, which later in the 16th century appears to be the inspiration for one of Shakespeare’s rhyme royale (“Rape of Lucrece”), provoked a local rebellion when she stabbed herself rather than continually live with the shame of being a victim of his rape. In actual fact the Tarquins were the remnants of a notorious Etruscan royal family, their last king, Tarquin Superbus (The Proud) came to the throne by murdering his predecessor Servius Tullius. He refused the man burial and surrounded himself with cronies from the Latins and a personal bodyguard. In a series of megalomaniac acts he killed Herdonius for criticising his lateness at a meeting of the Latin League at the Grove of Ferentina. He then went on to initiate hostilities against the Volscians, a mountain people which lasted some 200 years. He then challenged the people of Gabii, and sent his son as a spy to secretly ingratiate himself with the principal chiefs. Well-established as a friend to the people of Gabii Sextus sent a messenger to his father in Rome asking his advice. His father somewhat reluctant to say anything, lest the matter be a conspiracy against him, simply chopped off the heads of the flowers in the garden and sent the messenger away. The messenger related the events he had witnessed from which Tarquinus Sextus construed that he should execute the leaders of Gabii. While Tarquin the Proud was building a temple in Rome he saw a snake slide out from a crack in a pillar which he took to be a sinister omen, so he sent his nephews Titus and Arruns to inquire of the Oracle of Delphi. They were accompanied by the King’s nephew Lucius, Junius Brutus who had feigned idiocy in order to escape the murderous inclinations of the King. When they asked who would be the next King of Rome, the oracle replied that it would be the first man to kiss his mother on their return. Hearing this the two brothers then secretly contrived on their return to Rome to be the first to kiss their mother. However, their companion Brutus realising the import of the oracle’s declaration pretended to trip and falling flat on his face kissed the earth – viz; the “Mother of All Things”. The rape of Lucretia occurred around this time when the Romans were besieging the Rutilians and in between assaults indulging themselves in bets, forfeits and other lavish entertainments. While discussing the fidelity of their wives in Sextus’s quarters, Lucretia’s husband, Collatinus boasted that his wife Lucretia was by far the most loyal. They then decided to call upon her and the other wives unexpectedly in order to confirm each man’s boast or expectation. They found the majority of the wives enjoying themselves at a neighbour’s party, but when they arrived at Lucretia‘s residence they found that she was busily spinning at her loom surrounded by her chaste maids. Somewhat delighted with the result of the wager Collatinus invited Sextus and his friends to dinner and that evening they secretly decided to seduce Lucretia. However, she refused his immediate and drunken advances and she only allowed him into her chamber under threat of death. Realising her folly and cowardice in the affair Lucretia then told her husband and her father in the presence of some loyal friends among whom quite coincidentally was the nephew Brutus. When they were assembled Lucretia demanded retribution and forthwith killed herself. Then Brutus, somewhat moved by the whole event then swore to the dying Lucretia that he would seek out and kill Tarquinus Sextus and the remainder of his family. To this effect he was joined by many others in Collatia especially after the public funeral was held which stirred the spirits of the fighting men. When the crimes of Sextus and Superbus were reported in the senate they closed the gates to them and they were forced to flee. As karmic fate would have it Sextus was murdered as a spy in Gabii, while Superbus with Arruns and Titus returned to Caere in Etruria. Pleading a civic betrayal he found refuge with the Lars Porsena family and together with the King of Clusium attempted to overthrow the newly elected Republican Roman government led by Brutus and Collatinus. The Roman peasants were called upon to abandon their fields and defend the city walls against the organised military attacks of the Tarquins. This event gave credence to Horatio at the Bridge – who despite being alone, single-handedly held an important position against the Etruscan army. He sent his fighting companions back safely to ensure the destruction of the bridge while he personally went down with it as it was destroyed. However, he managed to survive this catastrophe, falling into the waters below and then swimming to safety.

Felice Ficherelli, the Rape of Lucretia; The Wallace Collection.

Just before she decides to commit suicide Lucrece pleads to the gods for mercy:

‘O! teach me how to make mine own excuse,
Or, at the least, this refuge let me find;
Though my gross blood be stain’d with this abuse,
Immaculate and spotless is my mind;
That was not forc’d; that never was inclin’d
To accessary yieldings, but still pure
Doth in her poison’d closet yet endure.

This illuminating and imaginative poem was actually written by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford under the pseudonym “William Shakespeare” some 13 months after he had written “Venus & Adonis” which had successfully been printed and sold although originally listed at the Stationer’s Office as “The Ravyshment of Lucrece” the first quarto displays only the word “Lucrece” on its title page. Around this time the plague was raging about the streets of London and so the story goes “Shakespeare” was able to avoid this miasma because he was safely ensconced in the comfortable cordon sanitaire of the Earl of Southampton‘s House in Holborn. Other evidence suggests he might also have produced some elements of Lucrece in Lord Titchfield‘s country seat in Hampshire although this was largely idle speculation since a nobleman such as the Earl of Southampton would not have consorted with a commoner such as William Shakspere, let alone invited him to his mansion. However, the poem was entered into the stationer’s register on 9th May 1594, printed by Richard Field and published by John Harrison and sold at the sign of the White Greyhound in St. Paul’s Churchyard. In contrast to earlier poetic attempts, it seems that the Earl had taken the time on this occasion to examine and correct the proofs, a task that he rarely undertook for many of his plays, however, it seems his motive may have been that this was intended as a labour of love to his patron, the Earl of Southampton. In actual fact the patron was really the Earl’s illegitimate son from a secret love affair years earlier with Queen Elizabeth 1st . The theory continues that there may have been some rivalry at the time with another renowned poet, and academics have suggested Samuel Daniel, or possibly Sir Walter Raleigh who unlike “Shakespeare” had undergone a university education. The misconceptions continued with suggestions that “Shakespeare” may have feared or suspected the imminent loss of his patronage to his good friend and rival. But apparently these poems were an advance on previous efforts of Shakespeare’s to establish himself in the contemporary literary genre as a poet par excellence. It exceeded “Venus and Adonis” in length containing some 1,855 lines as opposed to the former which had just 1,194 lines. It was executed in the so-called 7-line rhyme-royal or troilus stanza employed by Samuel Daniel in his own poem “The Complaint of Rosamund” (15920) but was drawn largely from Ovid‘s Fasti and Pliny‘s “History of Rome”.

Interestingly enough the last 28 stanzas of Shakespeare’s Sonnets published in 1609 are addressed to an iconic “Dark Lady”, apparently a dark-skinned woman whose identity has intrigued many a Shakespearean scholar for centuries. It seems the “Dark Lady”, whoever she was, was skilled in the arts of seduction, love and although she won Shakespeare’s affections was prone to adulterous activities elsewhere. She is described by “Shakespeare” as having dark, wiry hair, black eyes, and black brows and some scholars have speculated that she may have been a woman of lowly station, namely Lucy Negro, a Clerkenwell ‘madam’. However, other candidates have been proposed, for example A.L. Rowse suggests a woman of superior social standing, namely Penelope Rich (nee Deveraux), the sister of the Earl of Essex, the original muse of Sir Phillip Sydney‘s “Astrophel & Stella”. Another possible candidate for this temptress was Mary (Mall) Fitton, a maid of honour to Queen Elizabeth who was impregnated by the Earl of Pembroke and lusted after by her father’s lecherous cohort, Sir William Knollys. The latter was probably an inspiration for Shakespeare’s Malvolio. Anthony Burgess suggests that the Dark Lady is purely iconic, a composite of several of Shakespeare’s tragic loves and the contemporary poet Ted Hughes thinks she is possibly a manifestation of the Queen of Hell, ie; every man’s nightmare. There is no doubt that “Shakespeare” was agonised and given over to intense bouts of jealousy by numerous shrewish women he encountered while on his promiscuous revelries in London’s bohemian scene. The result of which he contracted a bout or two of the clap (gonorrhoea) while his arch enemy Richard Greene himself died of the pox (syphilis). Jonathan Bate suggests the true inspiration for the Dark Lady was Mrs John Florio (aka Jeanette Davenant), supposedly the illegitimate daughter and sister of the poet Samuel Daniel or John Florio. Other possible suggestions are Emilia Lanier, an Italian lady born Bassano who was the Lord Chamberlain’s mistress and related to one of the Queen’s musicians. She was described by the astrologer Simon Forman as an incuba – ie; a vampire witch or virago, but she herself was given over to literary endeavours, especially aimed at condemning men for their defilement of women (“Salve Deux Rex Judaeorum”) published in 1610, just 12 months after that of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. George Bernard Shaw naively suggests the true inspiration for the Dark Lady was Jeanette Davenant, a model for Desdemona in the play “Othello”, and mother of his presumed illegitimate son William Davenant, who later turned out to be a playwright and poet, although the much respected Shakespeare failed to acknowledge his true lineage in his last will and testament. Jeanette Davenant was the wife of an Oxford inn-keeper, The Bull, where Will Shakspere was a frequent visitor while touring the country as an actor. It has been said that the Earl of Southampton also got a dose of the clap pursuing the Queen’s maid of honour, Elizabeth Vernon, while continuing to reject the advances of Lady Elizabeth de Vere. In effect therefore this is the subject of the previous sonnets, “Venus & Adonis”, while the “Rape of Lucrece” certainly suggests that having reached an hiatus, Shakespeare‘s patron saw fit to disengage himself from associating with lesser mortals in whose company he had developed an irritating contagion.

The dedication goes:

To the Right Honourable Henry Wriothesly,

THE love I dedicate to your lordship is without end; whereof this pamphlet, without beginning, is but a superfluous moiety. The warrant I have of your honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored lines, makes it assured of acceptance. What I have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being part in all I have, devoted yours. Were my worth greater, my duty would show greater; meantime, as it is, it is bound to your lordship, to whom I wish long life, still lengthened with happiness.

Your lordship’s in all duty,

William Shakespeare.

With an introductory description of the political circumstances at the time:


LUCIUS TARQUINIUS, for his excessive pride surnamed Superbus, after he had caused his own father-in-law, Servius Tullius, to be cruelly murdered, and contrary to the Roman laws and customs, not requiring or staying for the people’s suffrages, had possessed himself of the kingdom, went, accompanied with his sons and other noblemen of Rome, to besiege Ardea. During which siege the principal men of the army meeting one evening at the tent of Sextus Tarquinius, the king’s son, in their discourses after supper, every one commended the virtues of his own wife: among whom Collatinus extolled the incomparable chastity of his wife Lucretia. In that pleasant humour they all posted to Rome; and intending, by their secret and sudden arrival, to make trial of that which everyone had before avouched, only Collatinus finds his wife though it were late in the night spinning amongst her maids: the other ladies were all found dancing and revelling, or in several disports. Whereupon the noblemen yielded Collatinus the victory, and his wife the fame. At that time Sextus Tarquinius, being inflamed with Lucrece’s beauty, yet smothering his passions for the present, departed with the rest back to the camp; from whence he shortly after privily withdrew himself, and was, according to his estate, royally entertained and lodged by Lucrece at Collatium. The same night he treacherously stealeth into her chamber, violently ravished her, and early in the morning speedeth away. Lucrece, in this lamentable plight, hastily dispatcheth messengers, one to Rome for her father, and another to the camp for Collatine. They came, the one accompanied with Junius Brutus, the other with Publius Valerius; and finding Lucrece attired in mourning habit, demanded the cause of her sorrow. She, first taking an oath of them for her revenge, revealed the actor, and the whole manner of his dealing, and withal suddenly stabbed herself. Which done, with one consent they all vowed to root out the whole hated family of the Tarquins; and, bearing the dead body to Rome, Brutus acquainted the people with the doer and manner of the vile deed, with a bitter invective against the tyranny of the king: wherewith the people were so moved, that with one consent and a general acclamation the Tarquins were all exiled, and the state government changed from kings to consuls.

Looking at the legal implications of rape in the 16th century might shed some light on why a poet might write so eloquently on a rather violent and horrifying subject. The common law offence of rape in the late 16th century delineated not one but two types of crime. The first was defined as intercourse with any woman over the age of ten years old against her will and without consent which was considered a felony against the woman and punishable by death without benefit of clergy (statute 18, Eliz. Cap 7). The second form was the abduction of a woman along with her husband’s property by someone or an attempt to acquire inheritable possessions or estates by an enforced marriage which was seen as a violation of her husband’s rights or the woman’s father. However, if the woman had given consent to marriage before or after the rape took place then it might mitigate the punishment of the offender and prevent the victim from actually pleading a felony in court. Legal documents from the time also declare that if the victim became pregnant as a result then the charge of rape would imply the victim’s consent whether the woman actually consented or not; “Rape is the carnal abusing of a woman against her will. But if the woman conceive upon any carnal abusing of her, that is no rape, for she cannot conceive unless she consent”. That is the reason why the poet employs the language of Lucrece’s body and maidenhood being analogous to jewels or precious treasure and Tarquin portrayed as a thief, a gambler or merchant pirate. But Tarquin does not actually abduct Lucrece, the rape having taken place in a private chamber of her house, and the dishonour she fears is that if she subsequently becomes pregnant and conceives a child then that child would assume to claim the royal lineage of King Tarquin Superbus. Might Lucrece be seen as complicit if she was tempted to benefit in some way from the rape itself? Thus her dilemma is clearly expressed: “Oh hear me then, injurious shifting Time, be guilty of my death, since of my crime” and although her body has been defiled, she claims her mind remains pure and unadulterated, “Her body’s stain her mind untainted clears”. In some sense the poem is relevant even for today in the light of the recent abduction, violent rape and murder of Sarah Everard by a serving policeman, Wayne Cousins or when we examine the coercive “Bluebeard behaviour” of Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein towards their employees and casual associates. In essence though this is a standard “Shakespearean Punch & Judy” puppet show expertly and eloquently transformed by the poet into tragic verse with immense moral, political and philosophical undertones. In many Punch & Judy narratives Punch murders his only child, then violently murders his nagging or complaining wife and when a policeman appears to arrest him he murders him too! Finally, the Devil turns up and his appearance is met with alarm and fright by Punch who flees or faints down dead. From dawn to dusk, from sinister beginnings to the irreconcilable and tragic end with grinding, in-depth, detailed description of action and emotion throughout. It was certainly relevant from Shakespeare’s time if we recognise allusions to the sexual coercion of Mary Queen of Scots two decades earlier by Lord Bothwell soon after he had brutally organised the murder of her jealous husband Lord Darnley. Her trial for sedition and treason was attended by Edward de Vere who no doubt based his play “Merchant of Venice” and “Othello” on the real life circumstances of Mary’s tragedy.

Rape of the Sabine Women

As a poem though ‘Lucrece’ stands somewhere between the dim half-light of Roman history and the “enlightened darkness” of Roman and Greek mythology. Ovid’s “Metamorphoses”, a major source for Shakespeare’s plays and poetry recounts the numerous rapes, abductions and transformations on innocent human beings by the Olympian Gods, especially Zeus, Hades, Hermes and Apollo. However, it is the King’s son, Sextus who commits the rape after threatening Lucrece and her servant with a shameful death if she will not consent to his sexual cravings, and it is Lucrece who chooses consent to avoid any potential embarrassment and shame. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, she was obliged to choose the lesser of two evils which is ostensibly no choice at all. But was her subsequent suicide in any case an admission of her guilt? Did she feel so violated by Sextus’s demands and subsequent actions that she had no other course to pursue? Furthermore, why would a poet choose such a subject for his second attempt at poetry, and what possible analogy or allegory could be extracted or what topical allusion made to a secret coterie of fans and followers of “Shakespeare”? It was published at around the same time as the second edition of “Venus & Adonis” and William Fulbeck’s “City of Gold” (St. Augustine’s moral and religious essay). The King’s son it is said, by his excessive pride and lustful passions brings the monarchy in Rome to an end. But Rome from its inception had already been built on state-endorsed rape (of the Sabine women) and its founder, Romulus had slain his own brother, Remus and they had both been suckled on the milk of a she-wolf before being taken into the care of a shepherd. That is why Rome was not built in a day because in reality it was built on several generations of consensual, state-sponsored rapes as well as lots of ‘toga-clad bunga bunga parties’ of course! The numerous scholarly analyses made by academics of the subject matter is that Lucrece conceals or alludes to a political dilemma or conflict between a tyrannical monarchy or an elected republican consul, since the King’s banishment leads to the establishment of a Republican élite, which does not necessarily give license for common justice or liberty in Rome historically. In fact quite the opposite when one studies what is implied rather than applauding its surreal ambivalence and romantic portrayal in verse of sexual violence. That is I cannot imagine the poet laureate, Simon Armitage attempting anything similar in verse today because he would be challenged or cancelled. Something bad of course could very easily bring about something good, since blessings can so readily become curses and curses turn out to be blessings on hindsight. What is not fully described however is the actual rape itself (if it had it would never have been printed), and while “Venus & Adonis” takes place over two days in a fast-pace, action-packed narrative the “Rape of Lucrece” is actually one night of human horror in punishing, slow-motion rhyme royale. This is quite extraordinary as it clearly was meant to confound and delay the reader and “Shakespeare” had promised a ‘graver labour’ to his patron the Earl of Southampton when he wrote his dedication in “Venus & Adonis”. But a modicum of cool ambivalence is subtly transformed into fiery ambiguity when read from a different perspective, for example did Lucrece in any sense enjoy the act of sexual violence herself, and therefore love her life less as a result. Moreover did Sextus feel secretly ashamed of what he had done?

I have debated, even in my soul,
What wrong, what shame, what sorrow I shall breed;
But nothing can affection’s course control,
Or stop the headlong fury of his speed.
I know repentant tears ensue the deed,
Reproach, disdain, and deadly enmity;
Yet strive I to embrace mine infamy.

Obviously not and is it purely coincidence or irony that his name is SEX-tus? Did the entire episode come about through the boasts made by Collatinus about his wife’s virtues and was the idle wager a catalyst to bring about a violent rape? Also Lucrece’s public suicide could be seen as a political statement such as that by the Tibetan monk who publically committed suicide by setting fire to himself in the 1970’s in protest to the annexation of Tibet by China. Or was it that a chaste and virtuous woman would have been a natural magnet to a villainous individual such as Sextus which sets up a psychotic bi-polar reaction in human experience. Like Pentheus, the ‘peeping Tom’ in the story of Dionysus the sight of Lucrece’s beauty transforms Sextus into a ravenous ‘wolf-man’ or ‘werewolf’. For Lucrece to awake from her reverie only to find that she is being observed voyeuristically by a stranger must have been a living nightmare.

Her lily hand her rosy cheek lies under,
Cozening the pillow of a lawful kiss;
Who, therefore angry, seems to part in sunder,
Swelling on either side to want his bliss;
Between whose hills her head entombed is:
Where, like a virtuous monument she lies,
To be admir’d of lewd unhallow’d eyes.

Without the bed her other fair hand was,
On the green coverlet; whose perfect white
Show’d like an April daisy on the grass,
With pearly sweat, resembling dew of night.
Her eyes, like marigolds, had sheath’d their light,
And canopied in darkness sweetly lay,
Till they might open to adorn the day.

Her hair, like golden threads, play’d with her breath;
O modest wantons! wanton modesty!
Showing life’s triumph in the map of death,
And death’s dim look in life’s mortality:
Each in her sleep themselves so beautify,
As if between them twain there were no strife,
But that life liv’d in death, and death in life.

Her breasts, like ivory globes circled with blue,
A pair of maiden worlds unconquered,
Save of their lord no bearing yoke they knew,
And him by oath they truly honoured.
These worlds in Tarquin new ambition bred;
Who, like a foul usurper, went about
From this fair throne to heave the owner out.

What could he see but mightily he noted?
What did he note but strongly he desir’d?
What he beheld, on that be firmly doted,
And in his will his wilful eye he tir’d.
With more than admiration he admir’d
Her azure veins, her alabaster skin,
Her coral lips, her snow-white dimpled chin.

As the grim lion fawneth o’er his prey,
Sharp hunger by the conquest satisfied,
So o’er this sleeping soul doth Tarquin stay,
His rage of lust by gazing qualified;
Slack’d, not suppress’d; for standing by her side,
His eye, which late this mutiny restrains,
Unto a greater uproar tempts his veins:

But one is tempted to ask who or what was the “bucolic Shakespeare” of Stratford-upon-Avon thinking about when writing the “Ravishement of Lucrece” and then dedicating it to a nobleman such as the Earl of Southampton? The answer is I think an event, or rather situation that occurred between the notorious Thomas Seymour and the young Elizabeth Tudor which the “Stratford Shakespeare” would not have been aware of or known anything about. Queen Elizabeth’s early sexual encounters at the age of sixteen with Sir Thomas Seymour had educated her to respond coolly to the advances of men and to understand their underlying motivations and expectations. She must have seen parallels in Shakespeare’s poem “The Rape of Lucrece” to her own treatment by Thomas Seymour who was climbing the aristocratic ladder first by seducing Catherine Parr and when that failed turning his attentions to the vulnerable young Elizabeth. In his book, “The Mystery of William Shakespeare” Charlton Ogburn suggests that a clandestine affair took place between her and the Earl of Oxford and that this encounter was the inspiration for the poem “Venus & Adonis”. This would have portrayed Elizabeth herself as lustful and predatory especially towards younger courtiers. However, Elizabeth understood and presumed that marriage would severely undermine her supreme authority and role as Queen of the realm, and that a sexual scandal might equally do the same. Fortunately, her ministers both Walsingham and William Cecil saw to it that sexual scandal did not arise or attach itself in any way to the Queen. Despite their efforts British diplomats abroad had difficulty convincing other nations that the Queen’s Court was anything but a hotbed of incest, controversy and vice. Thomas Seymour, Baron Sudeley and the Lord Admiral, who were all involved in the conspiracy were subsequently arrested, sent to the Tower and later executed on the 20th March 1549, the warrant being signed by Cranmer and Somerset (See “House of Treason” by Robert Hutchinson, Orion Publishing, 2009). It was a year later when it was secretly rumoured that Queen Elizabeth entertained a secret liaison with Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester. They had both been imprisoned at the same time in the Tower by Mary Tudor, but when released the Privy Council, under the influence of William Cecil and the guidance of Dr. John Dee, decided that Elizabeth was ready and competent enough to ascend the throne of England. I suspect the Earl of Oxford wrote “Lucrece” for Queen Elizabeth 1st at the time she was being wooed by numerous suitors, while her paramour Sir Robert Dudley was awarded the post of Captain of the Horse, and the Queen had turned her affections towards Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. No doubt Dudley would have been furious with envy and jealousy (the subject of a “Winter’s Tale”?), and perhaps Arthur Golding sought to alleviate his wrath by dedicating his translation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” to him. The Earl of Oxford was ultimately “betrayed” by Elizabeth (when wooed by Sir Walter Raleigh) and Raleigh betrayed when she was being “wooed” by Sir Christopher Hatton and Oxford in turn had an affair with one of Elizabeth’s Ladies-in-Waiting, Anne Vavasour and on discovering the maid was pregnant sent both of them to the Tower to cool off! Whenever a child was born from an illicit or adulterous union in aristocratic families to avert a scandal it was common practice to covertly transfer them to another family who would pass them off as being theirs. Usually an annual payment would be granted to compensate them for this expression of support but this was a widespread and regular occurrence in the 15th to 16th centuries. The child in question would often be referred to as a “changeling child” and it may be that “Shakespeare” had this practice in mind when casting the “Indian boy” for Titania in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

But was Queen Elizabeth 1st being hypocritical because the subject of Elizabeth’s fidelity as a “Virgin Queen” as a piece of state propaganda is rarely touched upon by conventional historians because in fact it was so scandalous and inappropriate, at least in some circles of Catholic and Puritan society, as to bar or remove her from the throne legitimately. At least one perfectly good reason why the Vatican had decided to excommunicate her although her clandestine errors were carefully “air-brushed” out of English history. I suspect as many other reputable commentators have suggested that the capricious Queen Elizabeth secretly had as many as five children from differing romantic liaisons including, Sir Francis Bacon and William Hastings (Dudley’s sons), the Earl of Southampton (Oxford’s son), and the Earl of Arundel (Raleigh’s son). So Ovid’s literary obsession with sexual violence, incest and unbridled sexual lust was a veritable and viable source if you were an aristocratic poet who, freely under a pseudonym of course, made allusions about the monarch’s sub-rosa love affairs and their inevitable repercussions on the body politic in Europe. Therefore one can easily read “Lucrece” and “Venus & Adonis” in a totally different light and meaning given this type of historical back story. The same of course is true about the majority of “Shakespeare” plays when we take into consideration the biography of Edward de Vere (the anonymous author), which makes compelling reading and then compare it to that of the “poetic wool-brogger of Stratford” they are definitely worlds apart, de Vere’s life is far more thrilling, adventurous and controversial than that of William Shakspere.

The links to my current publications, on the Shakespeare Authorship Controversy; “Shakespeare’s Qaballah” and an anthology of poetry “Parthenogenesis” are as follows:


Published by Leonidas Kazantheos

In the early part of my career I have worked extensively in media, the arts and theatre as an innovator and environmental conservationist and much later took on a role as an investigative journalist and commentator on the Shakespeare Authorship Controversy.

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