‘Shakespeare’ as metaphor; squaring the circle

door Klaas van Egmond


On the front pages of the Shakespeare First Folio of collected works (1623), contemporary playwright Ben Jonson’s tells the reader that ‘Shakespeare’ rather represents a number than a person and that this number is π, the reconciling principle in the Rosicrucian ‘squaring the circle’ metaphor. Referring to Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, the number π reconciles the square as representation of the physical-material with the circle of the immaterial-spiritual domain. The many mutually confirming references to the number π, the square and the circle, are made at many levels, both in the enigmatic poem ‘To the Reader’ and in the as well as enigmatic Droeshout engraving on the opposite page of the frontispiece. These findings allow a single explanation of the many anomalies and curiosities which have been discussed with respect to the First Folio frontispiece over the past centuries.


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