How the Classics Made Shakespeare is a solid synthesis of the best work done in classical reception and Renaissance studies in the past two generations. The strength of this book—and its contribution to literary history—is a thick description of the pervasive influence of Greek and Roman culture in the Elizabethan and Jacobean ages and of how this cultural system was formative to the works of Shakespeare. There is a wealth of primary sources, both ancient and vernacular, all responsibly documented. The secondary bibliography, too, is fecund. Jonathan Bate acknowledges his colleagues’ works generously, harvesting the rich contributions to early modern scholarship.1

Bate radiates enthusiasm. Across seventeen chapters—as well crafted and succinct as Mozart sonata movements—he roams elegantly in discussing the influences of Horace, Virgil, Ovid, Terence, and Plautus on Shakespeare and his contemporaries, offering plenty of Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch and...

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