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Why Didn't Shakespeare Write About Alexander The Great? - Op-Ed Piece


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Hey readers,

We added a short poem to this post by none other than Robert Frost. For the posts from now on, we will have the actual articles plus some other smaller parts, that of course have to do with literature. We hope that you enjoy this new outline.

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Writer's Birthday

These are the birthdays for writers who were born on June 8th.

  • Carolyn Meyer - June 8, 1935

  • Judy Sierra - June 8, 1945

If you know of any others, please let us know.


Short Poem

Here is a short poem by Robert Frost.

“Fire And Ice” by Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.


Why Didn't Shakespeare Write About Alexander The Great? - Op-Ed Piece

If there is one thing that Shakespeare understood about life, it is that a figure can carry a lot of weight when telling a story to a stranger. Sure the guy said, “What’s in a name?” But going by his use of famous figures in history, even he knew that names mean something.

Yes, it is ironic that the guy who asked of a name’s own importance now has a name that carries as much weight as any other. Shakespeare, no matter how you spell his name, which it turns out was not spelled in the way you just read it, or whether he was real or not (he totally was real, let’s all stop that theory already) you know Shakespeare, and you even have said a few lines from him, either by mistake or not. So what’s in a name? Evidently, a lot.

Names are easy brand recognition and quick ways to tell a story without explaining it. The backstory is not needed. The setup not as important since you already know what the hell is going on.

I say that Shakespeare understood that cult of personalities matter because many of his histories deal with people who we all know, and that is not because of him. Sure, you can argue that he contributed to their legacy, but Shakespeare wrote about popular people before his fancy meter came into play. (See what I did there?)

He wrote of all the kings of the Medieval era, and many of those events are popular. War of The Roses, Joan of Arc, the Hundred Years’ War. And then he wrote of popular people like Caesar, Antony, and Cleopatra.

Instead of going with an era in English history that the audience didn’t know, he went with a well-known time that the audience would not only understand but wouldn’t need much of an explanation for. That’s pretty freaking clever if you ask me. He could focus his attention on other areas rather than walking his audience through the events.

So this gets me to my question; Why didn’t Shakespeare write of the most popular person of all time? Alexander The Great; the Macedonian king who led his troops to conquer the Persian Empire, take over the known world, and establish a new era of Hellenistic culture? What didn’t he see in that man’s life that we all are intrigued by even till this day? You have to admit that the man is quite a character if we all know who he is, some thousand years later, and yet, our most popular playwright kept away from him. It is also interesting to notice that the other most popular person ever, Jesus Christ, was not written of by Shakespeare. So he didn’t write of the two most popular people ever. Yet, he wrote of other popular events, so you can’t say it is because he didn’t know his history; he did.

I don’t know why he didn’t write of them, exactly. But it is most likely that he knew that a life of a man who took over the known world was not necessarily one that he wanted to display to the audiences, especially the kings. The last thing he wanted was to give his kings any ideas that conquest was the answer to their unstable society. Also, presenting the life of Christ could have him run into problems too. He might have gotten into trouble with the king if he displayed the life of Christ for all to see. He was a playwright, not a pastor. The Church may have had a problem with his depiction of Christ, too, if he said anything out of line.

Imagine what Alexander The Great’s life would look like in a Shakespeare play? It would be quite fascinating.

And of course, I’ll end with this thought; who would Shakespeare write of if he was around today? Going by his selection during his life, he’d prefer to have people or elements that the audience knew.

So would he write of the American Revolution and George Washington? Or maybe he would talk of Napoleon like he did of King Richard III? I would like to see how Shakespeare would have handled the World Wars. Would he have touched them at all? They are the most impactful wars of all time and don’t need an introduction.

I am confident in saying that he wouldn’t have been too recent in his stories. He wasn’t when he was alive. He deliberately wrote plays that happened in the past so he could talk about the present with immunity. He’d be more modern, but I don’t think he would necessarily be in the 21st century, at least not with his histories.

For the record, I don’t know why Shakespeare didn’t write of Alexander The Great or Jesus. It is all speculation. I don’t even remember if anyone besides me asking this silly question. The real answer could very well be that he just didn’t have the time to do it. The guy was pretty busy writing his 38 plays in his life. Unfortunately for us, there is no interview that he gave in his life that explains the omission of those two notable figures, so we are all left to wonder, Why exactly didn’t Shakespeare write of the most popular person ever?



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About The Blogger

Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes that the reader shares that same passion.


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