The Acropolis is stunning. But I also spent a good bit of time looking down from the Acropolis at this place:
This is the Theater of Dionysus. (Wikipedia gives you a better view of it.) It’s where Western drama began, where the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes were first performed in the fifth century BCE. And if that doesn’t make you shiver, what will?
(By the way, Mary Renault’s The Mask of Apollo gives a vivid depiction of what it was like to be an actor in the ancient Greek theater.)
As today’s Google Doodle will let you know, this is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. The Times today has a clever faux-obituary.
Here is a funeral song he wrote a few years before his death.
Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun
Nor the furious winter’s rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone and ta’en thy wages.
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Fear no more the frown o’ th’ great;
Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke.
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak.
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust.
Fear no more the lightning flash,
Nor th’ all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear no slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finished joy and moan.
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee and come to dust.
No exorciser harm thee,
Nor no witchcraft charm thee.
Ghost unlaid forbear thee;
Nothing ill come near thee.
Quiet consummation have,
And renowned be thy grave.
As is often the case in Shakespeare’s late romances, the beautiful young woman to whom this song is sung is not in fact dead. (In real life she wasn’t even a woman, but that’s neither here nor there.) Shakespeare, of course, isn’t really dead either. Let’s raise a tankard to him today!