inscription on Shakespeare's tombstone

SHAKESPEARE AND OVID

Gematric concordance of two tombstone inscriptions

A. Values of Text and Names

B. The SATOR Square as Reference Model

I. Introduction II. Reference in Shakespeare's Epitaph

III. Reference to IESUS CHRISTUS

IV. Reference to PENSATOR

a) Introduction b) Reference in OVID's Epitaph

c) Reference in Shakespeare's Epitaph

Further Studies

A. Values of Text and Names

Hic ego qui iaceo tenerorum lusor amorum

GOOD FREND FOR IESVS SAKE FORBEARE

ingenio perii Naso poeta meo;

TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE.

at tibi qui transis ne sit grave quisquis amasti

BLESTE BE YE MAN YT SPARES THES STONES

dicere "Nasonis molliter ossa cubent".

AND CVRST BE HE YT MOVES MY BONES.

Here I lie, playful composer of tender love stories,

 

Naso the poet, ruined by my own genius;

 

But for you, who pass by and have ever loved, may it

 

not be hard to say " Naso's bones may softly rest.

 

Some useful literary background knowledge and stylistic details about Shakespeare's epitaph have been elaborated by Alfred Corn.

NOTE on YE and YT: There was a medieval letter "thorn" (þ) for today's "th" which in handwriting became indistinguishable from y. When books were printed, the article THE was often written Y with a superscript E and THAT with a superscript T:

 

 

E

 

T

BLESTE

BE

Y

MAN

Y

Blessed

be

the

man

that

1.      Shakespeare highly appreciated the Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso. After discovering Shakespeare's fantastic knowledge of Latin gematria and its principles in Sonnet 136, I guessed Shakespeare might have taken Ovid's tombstone inscription of equally four lines as a model to define the numeric values of his own. He undoubtedly did so. Numbers are undeniable facts. The numbers established must be proved to exclude coincidence.

I first give Ovid's, then Shakespeare's epitaph on the basis of 23 or 24 letters respectively. I add two tables of the Latin and Elizabethan alphabets together with an online calculator.

In Shakespeare's time the letters I/J and U/V were used alternatively regardless of their phonetic quality; the letter W – which does not occur in Shakespeare's epitaph – takes the 21st position. Beside the numeric values (NV), the factoral values (FV) – either identical with prime numbers or additions of single prime factors (e.g. 9 = 3*3 = FV 3+3 = 6) – are important:

 

1. hic (20) ego (26) qui (45) iaceo (32) tenerorum (122) lusor (80) amorum (76)

7 (7) 34 (34) 401 (401)

2. ingenio (70) perii (55) Naso (46) poeta (54) meo; (31)

5 (12) 24 (58) 256 (657)

3. at (20) tibi (39) qui (45) transis (95) ne (18) sit (46) grave (50) quisquis (126) amasti (60)

9 (21) 40 (98) 499 (1156)

4. dicere (43) "Nasonis (86) molliter (98) ossa (51) cubent". (62)

5 (26) 31 (129) 340 (1496)

1496 = 2* 2* 2* 11* 17 = 44*34 = FV 34

1. GOOD (39) FREND (45) FOR (37) IESVS (70) SAKE (34) FORBEARE (67)

6 (6) 29 (29) 292 (292)

2. TO (33) DIGG (27) THE (32) DUST (61) ENCLOASED (74) HEARE (36)

6 (12) 27 (56) 263 (555)

3. BLESTE (60) BE (7) YE (28) MAN (26) YT (42) SPARES (74) THES (50) STONES (87)

8 (20) 31 (87) 374 (929)

4. AND (18) CURST (77) BE (7) HE (13) YT (42) MOVES (69) MY (35) BONES (52)

8 (28) 26 (113) 313 (1242)

1242= 2* 3* 3* 3* 23 = 18*69 = FV 34

More about the number 34.

The FV are listed in the order of words and lines:

OVID

 

SHAKESPEARE

 

total

15+21+23+24+101+54+50

288

29+44+31+36+21+61

222

510

59+42+31+42+21

195

28+24+30+40+59+34

215

410

20+33+23+72+18+33+39+62+42

342

50+7+28+21+42+47+38+62

295

637

40+58+85+26+51

260

18+56+7+11+42+38+30+37

239

499

 

1085

 

971

2056

2.     The factoral value (FV) of the two numerical results 1496 and 1242 is 34 each.

The gematric values and numbers of letters of both epitaphs consist of the following prime factors:

gemat.values

1496+1242 = 2738

2*37*37

letters

129+113 = 242

2*11*11

Shakespeare in both cases chose a square number below Ovid's results and counted the difference back to his own values: The interval from 1369 (=37*37) to 1496 is 127 (1369-127 = 1242) and from 121 to 129 it is 8. In this way Shakespeare can share a square number with Ovid. The factoral value of 37*37 is 74, which is the numerical sum (NS) of WILLIAM.

More details about the NS and FS of both inscriptions are dealt with in ADDENDUM 1.

3.     The NS and FS + their corresponding FV – which together I call 4values – of both poets' names are:

 

NS

FS

sm

FV1

FV2

sm

tot.

PUBLIUS

95

53

148

24

53

77

225

OVIDIUS

94

51

145

49

20

69

214

NASO

46

31

77

25

31

56

133

sm

235

135

370

98

104

202

572

145 = 5*29; 572 = 4*11*13

WILLIAM

74

52

126

39

17

56

182

SHAKESPEARE

103

71

174

103

71

174

348

sm

177

123

300

142

88

230

530

tot.

412

258

670

240

192

432

1102

145:174 = 29*(5:6); 572+530 = 1102 = 2*19*29

412 = 4*103; 240:192 = 48*(5:4)

The NS+FS of OVIDIUS and SHAKESPEARE have the factor 29 in common, forming the ratio 29*(5:6). The factor 29 is also contained in the total sum 1102.

The NS of the five names contains the NS 103 of SHAKESPEARE four times.

The NS+FS 300 is also the sum of the letters 1-24 of the Elizabethan alphabet. The only new letter is W, which is the initial of WILLIAM.

The geometric reference model for 103 is the hexagram with 1+6+3 = 10 points of one tetractys and remaining 3 points for the second:

As one tetractys consists of 37 points, the NS 74 of WILLIAM stands for two tetractyses and again for the whole hexagram. Furthermore, the NS+FS 126 of WILLIAM associates him with 2*3 double rhombi each consisting of 21 elements. Shakespeare obviously had a precise knowledge of the relationship between basic geometrical figures and the decimal system.

4.     The following table shows the importance of the two numbers 47 and 37:

 

 

NS

FS

 

PUBL|IUS

48+47

95

53

148

OVID|IUS

47+47

94

51

145

NASO

 

46

31

77

 

 

235

135

370

The NS 94 of OVIDIUS is twice 47 and increases by another 3*47, if the values of the other two names are added up. Thus the ratio of 1:2 names is 2:3 with regard to their numeric values.

Another relation of 1:2 names occurs, if NS+FS are added up: PUBLIUS amounts to 148 = 4*37, OVIDIUS NASO to 222 = 6*37 = 74*(2:3).

The number 37 is contained twice in the NS 74 of WILLIAM. The two words ENCLOASED and SPARES have the same NS 74, BONES the same FS 52 as WILLIAM and are therefore of special interest.

Another concordance exists in 18 letters both of Ovid's and Shakespeare's names.

5.     Ovid mentions his name twice in his epitaph, NASO and NASONIS, so we can suppose a gematric plan:

 

NS

FS

sm

FV1

FV2

sm

tot.

NASO

46

31

77

25

31

56

133

NASONIS

86

58

144

45

31

76

220

 

132

89

221

70

62

132

353

The NS of NASO and NASONIS are 46+86 = 132 = 12*11 so that the average value a letter is 12. The NS+FS of the two names are 77+144 = 221 = 13*17: The factors 11 and 17 are part of the total NS of the epitaph: 8*11*17.

By contrast, Shakespeare does not mention his name. For example, there is no letter W in the text.

B. The SATOR Square as Reference Model

I. Introduction

1.     Analyzing Sonnet 136, I discovered that Shakespeare not only employed gematria, but also knew about the significance of the SATOR square, the outstanding pre-Christian document of Roman numerology. I wonder how he obtained all the complex knowledge of the Roman system, but he was obviously able to apply it perfectly.

2.     The SATOR square if read properly forward and backward allows to form two sentences:

SATOR OPERA TENET – The Creator holds his works.

TENET OPERA ROTAS – He holds the wheels with care.

The following graphic represents the original view of the square with ROTAS in the first line:

The word ROTAS is also a verbal form, meaning You turn (the wheels).

II. Gematric Reference in Shakespeare's Epitaph

1.     Shakespeare's epitaph contains three words with the same numeric values as the SATOR square:

S. Sq.

Epitaph

NS

SATOR

MOVES

69

OPERA

BONES

52

TENET

DUST

61

69+113

182

The words BONES and DUST have synonymic meaning, so they form a semantic unit against MOVES. The NS 113 of the two synonyms is also the number of letters of the inscription. The NS 69 = 3*23 is contained 18 times in the epitaph's total NS 1242.

2.     Why did Shakespeare insert three words with the NS of the SATOR square words? One reason is that the 4values of WILLIAM amount to 182.

 

NS

FS

sm

FV1

FV2

sm

tot.

WILLIAM

74

52

126

39

17

56

182

The second reason is that the NS of IESUS CHRISTUS is also 182:

IESUS

70

36

106

CHRISTUS

112

76

188

 

182

112

294

The NS+FS ratio of WILLIAM and IESUS CHRISTUS is 126:294 = 42*(3:7).

The third reason is that in this way Shakespeare could unite two comparable models of Antiquity and Christianity.

Sc. More about the three groups: the 4values

3.     The three words consist of 14 letters. The NS 182 is divisible by 14, so each letter has the average NV 13.

4.     The three words of the epitaph draw their meaning from the correponding words of the SATOR square: No human being is entitled to disturb the poet's earthly rest, because it's God (SATOR) who has held and guided (MOVES) Shakespeare throughout his life (18*69) and also takes care of him (OPERA TENET) after his body has decayed (BONES, DUST). He turns (ROTAS, MOVES) his mortality into immortality.

DVST shares its NS 61 and FS 40 with CRVX – Cross: After his death on the Cross Jesus Christ rose from death again, and all who believe in him will follow. The word DVST stands for what is materially left of a person. But Christ's redemptive deed gives hope that there is life after death and body and soul will be transfigured on the Day of the Last Judgement.

5.     In Shakespeare's view there are personal SECRETS which he shares only with his Creator and which to investigate by opening his tomb is tantamount to sacrilege.

III. Reference to IESUS CHRISTUS

1.     Latin gematria may have been revived during Renaissance. Those who concerned themselves with it, must have been struck by the ideal NS of IESUS (70) CHRISTUS (112): The average NV of both names is 14. As the SATOR square was generally known during the Middle Ages and also represented in a number of churches, it was easy to discover that the NS of IESUS CHRISTUS and SATOR OPERA TENET is equal. It suggested the theological view that God's providence chose the Romans to develop the ideal language for the Christian faith, and, connected with it, an ideal gematric system.

2.     Shakespeare must have known that IESUS (70) CHRISTUS (112) – 13 letters – has the same NS 182 as SATOR OPERA TENET– 15 letters. He inverted the 13 letters and average NV 14 of IESUS CHRISTUS by choosing 14 letters and an average NV of 13. In this he assumed a kind of mediatory role as he brought about the average NV 13 for 15+14+13 = 42 letters.

3.     As the first line of the epitaph mentions the name of IESUS explicitly, the three words and their values have to be referred to it. Here the factoral values (FV) are also important:

 

MOVES

BONES

DUST

sm

IESUS

tot.

NS

69

52

61

182

70

252

FS

38

37

40

115

36

151

 

403

403 = 13*31

The two results 252 and 151 have the same first and last numbers and so imply a state of inversion. 252 can be represented by the inverted product numbers 12*21 and 115 is changed into 151, and the total sum 403 consists of the inverted prime factors 13*31, bearing obvious trinitarian meaning. So Shakespeare indicates that it's Jesus who transforms what is mortal in him into immortality.

IV. Reference to PENSATOR

a) Introduction

1.     The SATOR Square contains 8 different letters which can be arranged to form the word PENSATOR. It refers to the act of weighing. Theologically it means that God rewards human beings after their earthly lives according to their merits.

The two halves of letters have each the same NS 51, thus symbolizing a pair of scales:

P

E

N

S

A

T

O

R

20

31

20

31

51

51

2.     Because of its importance Roman poets often construct meaningful gematrical results out of these 8 letters of PENSATOR. The NS+FS is 102+80 = 182 and so identical with the NS 182 of SATOR OPERA TENET and IESUS CHRISTUS. The corresponding FV 22+13 are reflected in the NS+FS 2213 of Shakespeare's epitaph.

b) Reference in OVID's Epitaph

1.     The 8 letters lead to the following numeric results according to their frequency in Ovid's epitaph:

 

P

E

N

S

A

T

O

R

 

NV

15

5

13

18

1

19

14

17

102

frequ.

2

14

9

12

11

9

12

9

78

total

30

70

117

216

11

171

168

153

936

936 = 72*13 = 8*117

30+168+30 = 351 = 27*13; 70+216 = 286 = 22*13

117 = 9*13; 11+171 = 182 = 14*13

Four combinations of NS can be found which are divisible by 13. Two times two of them can be arranged as to make up 468 each, half the total sum of 936. The four groups consist of 2+2+3+1 letters.

 

A

T

E

S

P

R

O

N

NV

43

59

NS

182

286

351

117

/13

14

22

27

9

total

36

36

2.     The 8 letters can be read either as 2 words or 4 words. The words ATES PRON do not form a syntactic unity, their sense has to be guessed. The Greek word ATE means guilt caused by blindness of mind and soul and, in consequence, by irrational passions. ATE is also a mythological personification and a daughter of Zeus who, after being hurled down to earth by her father, wreaks havoc on mortals. ATES is the possessive case meaning in the possession of ATE. Ovid wants to say he fell prey to ATE, doing things that charge him with guilt.

The Latin word PRON- lacks its grammatical ending –US. It means in downward position, heading downward. It may refer to everything that disgraces man's true nature and dignity. So Fate may precipitate the sinner into the depths of TARTARUS.

3.     Consistent with this self-incrimination is the first distichon and the word PERII – I perished. Then, however, the first word of the second distichon is AT – But, indicating that there is a chance for pardon and salvation.

From the pre-arranged order of letters we can now argue backward: The 8 letters ATESPRON only seem to consist of two words, in reality there are four groups of letters divisible by 13, which number represents the unity of God in three divine persons. These four words AT ES PRO N reflect Ovid's confidence that, in return for his poetic efforts and his religious devotion, he may expect mercy and eternal happiness. So the Latin meaning is:

BUT YOU ARE FOR N.

PRO N can be complemented with PRO N-ASONE – in favour of NASO. The additional 5 letters have the NV 51 so that the NS of the whole phrase is 3*51 = 153.

4.     Of the four words the letters AT are the only adjacent ones in PENSATOR. Their NS 182 is identical with the NS of SATOR OPERA TENET. The two letters also mark the beginning of the second half of PENS|ATOR and the backward reading of ROTA – wheel. AT can so mean a stop of ROTA and the beginning of a movement in a different direction. Therefore ROTA may be a symbol for man's futile efforts to work his own salvation. Without God's help he is subject to moral aberrations and bound to tumble towards to his doom. God, however, supports human efforts to return to the paths of righteousness, and gives eternal rescue.

c) Reference in Shakespeare's Epitaph

1.     If we presuppose that Shakespeare knew about the practice of referring a poem or text unit to the name PENSATOR, he might not have done so himself only with regard to the SATOR Square, but also to the names IESUS CHRISTUS. The two texts have 4 letters in common: TRES (59) referring to the three divine persons. There are 4 more different letters IUCH totalling 40. The frequency of letters is now applied to both 2*8 letters:

 

P

E

N

S

A

T

O

R

 

NV

15

5

13

18

1

19

14

17

102

frequ.

1

21

6

14

7

9

9

7

74

total

15

105

78

252

7

171

126

119

873

 

 

I

E

S

U

C

H

R

T

 

NV

9

5

18

20

3

8

17

19

99

frequ.

2

21

14

4

2

4

7

9

63

total

18

105

252

80

6

32

119

171

783

252 = 12*21; 171 = 9*19; 252+171 = 423 = 9*47

The two results 873 and 783 are again inversions. Their ratio is 9*(97:87) = 9*184 = 9*8*23 = 1656. So it's again Jesus Christ who turns the mortal fate of man into eternal fulfilment. As a matter of fact, the two inverted results form a unique ratio with Ovid's PENSATOR result 936: 72*(23:13) = 72*36 = 2592 > FV 22.

There are similar results for the letters ST in Ovid's and Shakespeare's epitaphs:

Ovid

Shakespeare

S

T

 

S

T

 

216

171

387

252

171

423

387 = 9*43; 423 = 9*47

The NV of ST refer to the 18+19 = 37 elements of the tetractys: 18 lines, 10 points + 9 triangles and to the 4 points and 3 lines of one side of the tetractys. 9*43 can be read as 3*4 points + 9 lines:

FURTHER STUDIES:

The 4 Y-words (revised 2014)

Additions on the 4 Y-words

4value sums of names

Addendum1: 4values of text and lines

Addendum2: 4values of words

Addendum3: unity of 3*4values of Ovid's epitaph

How Shakespeare understands his first name WILLIAM

WILLIAM's values 74 and 52

Analysis of structure and contents of both epitaphs

First, central, last word of the epitaphs

The 7 different letters of SHAKESPEARE

4+1 alliterations in Shakespeare's epitaph

The factoral sum 791 of Shakespeare's epitaph

The 26 and 28 initials in Ovid's and Shakespeare's epitaphs

Ovid's and Shakespeare's names in Tetractys and Double Rhombus

Three Augustan poets + Shakespeare

 

Written: December 2008

Last entry: June 2014