Beware the Ides of March! Unfortunately, Julius Caesar did not heed these words in 44 B.C. and his death became the subject of a play by the greatest writer of them all, William Shakespeare.
It is amazing how well the work of Shakespeare stands up to the passage of time. After all, it has been about 400 years since his 37 plays were put on paper with a quill pen.
The Elizabethan audiences loved the afternoon performances at the round, roofless theaters of the day. There were the Rose, the Swan, and the most famous of them all, the Globe. Here, for a penny, they could escape the mundane world and find adventure in Verona or Rome or the merry old England of Falstaff.
There was romance, laughter, heartache, and death, all "in the traffic of our stage" as Mr. Shakespeare would say.
There is a timeless quality to great works of art. Perhaps that's why the plays of Shakespeare continue to entertain and intrigue new audiences.
Not a day goes by that one of his plays is not being staged somewhere.
In Hollywood, movie directors never seem to tire of filming new versions of the classics. "Romeo and Juliet," "Hamlet," and "Midsummer Night's Dream" have recently come to the screen in colorful new interpretations.
Although the stories are old, the themes remain fresh because they concern human nature.
They run deep to the heart of emotions which, even over centuries, have not changed within the soul. Like 16th century Englishmen, we are fascinated by the stream of human drama and, as the great playwright discovered, "thereby hangs a tale."
Shakespeare was an innovative writer who, if he couldn't think of a word to suit his needs, was not afraid to make one up. In fact, he added many words to our vocabulary. And from his plays we have gained countless phrases.
Have you ever been "in a pickle"? That's from the Bard. If "neither rhyme nor reason" can explain why "love is blind," you've quoted Shakespeare. If you've ever laughed yourself into "stitches," you've copied Shakespeare. You know that the course of true love never did run smooth, it's a wise father that knows his own child, and there's small choice in rotten apples. Those are all from Will.
Weary voters harken back to "Romeo and Juliet" when they curse politicians with "a plague on both your houses." And when they have trouble understanding what comes from Congress, they might say, "It's Greek to me." That phrase is from "Julius Caesar."
We could go on, but "brevity is the soul of wit." To continue would be the "unkindest cut of all." Let's avoid all the "double, double toil and trouble." After all, "the play's the thing that will catch the conscience of the king" or "something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
Confused? "Though this be madness, there is method in it."
We can now read Shakespeare on the Internet and scores of Web pages. "Lord, what fools these mortals be." The old Bard is alive and well in cyberspace.
If "to be or not to be" is the question, the answer for Shakespeare is "to be." And now students, lend me your ears, as we discover that "all the world's a stage."
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.....
creeps in this petty pace from day to day....
Yep, that's Shakespeare!