Shakespeare’s Сlumsiest Phrase or a Disregarded Case of His Quoting Plato Verbatim

A number of researchers have shown that Shakespeare’s works bear the marks of the dramatist’s knowledge of Plato. Elizabethans could have an access to Plato’s heritage due to various editions of his dialogues, both in the original and also in Latin, Italian and French translations, but there is no way to establish whether the Bard borrowed directly from Plato or whether he learned about Plato’s teachings from some other sources. J. Vivian, H. R. Rickman, D. Quincy demonstrated convincingly Shakespeare’s indebtedness to Plato. They found that debt in such dramatic works as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Henry V”. Meanwhile Shakespearean scholars have ignored a possibility of interpreting Shakespeare’s last will and testament as a text that could be properly understood due to allusions to Plato’s works incorporated in it. The embarrassingly unpolished style of the document and its having nothing in common with Shakespeare’s poetic diction, have both been explained by the testator’s poor physical condition. The purpose of this paper is to suggest a new reading of the most notorious phrase in the will, the one about the second best bed bequeathed to Shakespeare’s prospective widow. The phrase can be regarded as an allusion to two dialogues by Plato, the “Republic” and the “Laws”, and this reading might change some of the existing beliefs in Shakespearean studies.

Burova I.I._Shakespeare’s Сlumsiest Phrase or a Disregarded Case of His Quoting Plato Verbatim