Thomas Digges map


Image: Heliocentric Universe, Thomas Digges, 1576 Poster Print by Science Source (24 x 36)

Roberto Soria


Tuesday April 23, 2024, H 11.00 AM – Villa Magliola seminars room INAF-OATo



Shakespeare Day (April 23) is a good time to discuss what the Bard knew about contemporary astronomy.
His life spans a time of conflict and transition between the geocentric and the heliocentric cosmology, as well as the appearance of two Galactic supernovae (1572 and 1604) and the invention of the telescope.

Do we find mentions of any of these events in his plays? Perhaps.

For example, it was suggested that Hamlet is a secret allegory of the Copernican revolution, with Hamlet and Fortinbras representing the heliocentric model, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern the Tychonic model, and Claudius the Ptolemaic system.

On the other hand, conjecturing secret codes and bizarre allegorical readings has been a popular sport among Shakespearian scholars for 400 years.

The issue of astronomical knowledge in Shakespeare is inevitably linked to two other long-debated questions (or conspiracy theories): who really invented the telescope? and who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays?

Local contact: Roberto Soria