SHAKESPEARE'S ARTISTIC USE OF ASTROLOGY
ALTHOUGH SHAKESPEARE'S collected plays include more than a hundred separate astrological allusions, the ideas found in the majority of such references are little more than mere commonplaces. In his use of astrology we have another illustration of how a master artist works, of how the true creative genius may be master of no field of knowledge and yet possess a sixth sense and a sponge-like capacity for absorbing essentials of knowledge in any field. Although his plays as a whole teem with allusions to the influence of the stars, it is not apparent that Shakespeare knew the technicalities of astrology any more than did his fellow dramatists--indeed, if as much.
But that human beings are but helpless puppets of the stars is stated definitely and continuously from Titus Andronicus to The Winter's Tale. The dukes of Bedford and Exeter affirm that the stars "consented unto Henry's death" and "plotted" his "overthrow.1 The dauphin Charles comments that Mars' shining upon the French caused them to be victorious in battle against the English.2 The "star-cross'd" Romeo believes the apothecary's poison is the only thing that will "shake the yoke of inauspicious stars" from his "world-wearied flesh."3 Antony attributes his first defeat to the fact that the stars have forsaken him; the moon's eclipse, he says, portends his ultimate fall; and Octavius Caesar laments that his stars and those of Antony made the two generals "unreconcilable."4 Pericles attributes the loss of all his fortunes to the "ire" of "angry stars."5 Prospero's powers and fortunes, he says, depend upon "a most auspicious star."6 Hermione attributes her unjust____________________