Have you seen the Benedict Cumberbatch advert yet for the BBC promoting their autumn drama?
I have added it to the bottom of this article but it first appeared on television at the end of October and I happened upon it last week.
At first, I didn’t realise Benedict was quoting in entirety one of Shakespeare’s most famous monologues, All The World’s A Stage spoken by the melancholy Jaques in As You Like It.
As the advert continued, in my mind’s eye all I could see were the seven traditional planets with the Sun at the centre. Each stage of the monologue, the seven ages of man, represented a planet in their correct order as used by astrologers. Here are the references which emerged as he spoke:
Moon – the infant
Mercury – the child or ‘whining school-boy’
Venus – the lover
Mars – the soldier
Jupiter – the justice
Saturn – the elderly, the ‘lean and slippered pantaloon‘
The last age is ‘sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything’ and I imagined the light of the Sun going out as death and ‘oblivion‘ took over.
The Sun is our creative source, our essence, our unique individuality around which all the other stages of man (and woman) shift and change from birth to death.
Seven is a magic number, the seven ages of man, the seven traditional planets, the seven days of the week, the seven deadly sins, etc. For a full exploration of the number seven, have a read of this lovely article by The Oxford Astrologer: Seven
The advert was a grand way to reconnect with one of Shakespeare’s most famous quotations and of course to hear the melodious tones of Benedict Cumberbatch. Give yourself a treat and enjoy them both.
All The World’s A Stage (William Shakespeare)
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then, the whining school-boy with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then, a soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden, and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then, the justice,
In fair round belly, with a good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws, and modern instances,
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything
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