Tuesday, 26 December 2017

It was 411 years ago today

Widely regarded as Shakespeare's finest tragedy King Lear was performed on stage for the first time today in 1606. In 1605 there was a very unusual double eclipse that is mentioned in this play. On 17th September 1605 there was an eclipse of the Moon and then on October 2nd there was an eclipse of the Sun. Of course Shakespeare may well have nearly completed writing King Lear by October 1605 and than added a mention of this unusual double eclipse to make the play more relevant. In Gloucester's speech to his bastard son (Act I, Scene 2) he refers to recent eclipses.
"These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Though the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourg'd by the sequent effects. Love cools, friendship falls off, brothers divide. In cities, mutinies; in countries, discord; in palaces, treason; and the bond crack'd 'twixt son and father. This villain of mine comes under the prediction; there's son against father: the King falls from bias of nature; there's father against child. We have seen the best of our time. Machinations, hollowness, treachery, and all ruinous disorders follow us disquietly to our graves.
There is also a lunar eclipse mentioned in Hamlet that is taken as an evil omen (Act I, Scene 1) when Horatio refers to the Moon "sick almost to doomsday with eclipse".
There will be a Lunar eclipse next on Jan 31st and I will try to capture this.

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