Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school.
As You Like It, II.vii.145-7
In Elizabethan England, the grammar school day ran from 6:00 in the morning until 5:30 in the afternoon, six days a week. Lessons were spent learning Latin, translating to and from Latin, and memorizing and reciting Latin poetry and prose.
BY THE TIME BOYS REACHED THE UPPER CLASSES, IT WAS FORBIDDEN TO SPEAK ENGLISH IN SCHOOL.
Will spent probably eight years studying Latin, covering grammar, logic, rhetoric, the drama of Terence and Plautus, Virgil, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a favourite.
His friend the playwright Ben Jonson later jested that Shakespeare had only “smalle Latine and lesse Greeke”, but Latin poetry and rhetoric trained his ear and shaped his imagination. For his early tragedy, Titus Andronicus, Will was inspired by Ovid, Seneca and the Roman historians.
BUT I ALSO DEVELOPED THE PRACTICAL IDEAS OF CONTEMPORARY PLAYWRIGHTS LIKE THOMAS KYD (1558-94), CHRISTOPEHR MARLOWE (1564-93) AND GEORGE PEELE (1556-96).
He continued to use Ovid’s Metamorphoses (in Arthur Golding’s translation) for inspiration throughout his writing career, checking it against the original Latin.