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On William Shakespeare and the time travel prophecies




Here's a citation of something I once read in Wikipedia:

"Frances Yates relates the story of a lively dinner party at Whitehall Palace at which Florio translated to the assembled company, which included Sir Philip Sidney and Oxford professors, Bruno's theories about the possibility of life on other planets."

Frances Yates was a noted historian of the Renaissance. Wikipedia has more to say about her:

"She stated that the vexed question of the relationship between John Florio and Shakespeare required a fresh new consideration and declaring to start working on a new book about Florio-Shakespeare relationship. Inexplicably, she decided to abandon this project and she didn't publish the planned book."

Anyway, what was it that caused the philosopher Giordano Bruno to think that there could be life on other planets? It's not unusual to have such thoughts today, but here we are in 16th century. In my research I have traced the source of that belief to thirty-nine prophecies that lie heavily masked and scattered among the 942 prophecies of Nostradamus.

In this essay we will take a look at all thirty-nine of those prophecies through the eyes of two of the greatest of the English playwrights: Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. The first section covers major historical events from the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on through the terrorist attacks of September 11. Later sections relate those prophecies to diverse themes.

Readers with an interest in time travel (a feat currently only within the technological reach of extraterrestrials) may wish to read this essay with a history book at hand.



The great Nostradamus observing nine celestial bodies



In the 16th century, people sometimes used the letter "y" for an "i" and the letter "z" for an "s" while the letter "i" could stand for a "j" and the letter "u" for a "v" or vice versa. By keeping those exchanges in mind it should be possible to find most of the French words in a modern dictionary. The translation equivalences between Nostradamus' French and Shakespeare's English are highlighted in bold.


L'oiseau royal sur la cité solaire,
Sept moys deuant fera nocturne augure:
Mur d'Orient, cherra tonnerre esclaire,
Sept iours aux portes les ennemis à l'heure [1, V-81].

The royal bird over the city of the Sun, Seven months beforehand shall make nocturnal augury, The wall of the Orient shall fall, thunder illuminated, Seven days to the ports the enemies to the hour [168 hours?]. Note that Nostradamus decided to use and frenchify the Latin word "portis" (dative case), which can mean either gates or seaports. Elsewhere we will find "port," seaport, in unambiguous context.

Ham. Not a whit, we defy augury; there's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow [2, Ham.].

And with my hand at midnight held your head;
And, like the watchful minutes to the hour [2, Jn.].

Theophilus de Garencières, who made the first English translation of the Nostradamus prophecies in 1672, tells us "By the Royal Bird is meant an Eagle" [3], but Shakespeare considers other possibilities, here the sparrow. However, it is the word fall that seals the correlations with Nostradamus, adding one more component to take us beyond the realm of coincidence.

Note that Nostradamus uses fall in the sense of the fall of an empire and Shakespeare uses it to refer to the descent of a bird, but nevertheless the terms equate for the purpose at hand.

Des sept rameaux à trois seront reduicts,
Les plus aisnez seront surprins par mort [1, VI-11].

Of the seven branches to three (they) shall be reduced, The oldest [plural, the two oldest of the three] shall be surprised by death.

Or seven fair branches springing from one root.
Some of those seven are dried by nature's course,
Some of those branches by the Destinies cut [2, R2].

Shakespeare's words seem to indicate that the death applies to only some of the seven (the three?) and not to the seven as a whole. Dried by nature's course alludes to aging branches (the two oldest?) and cut branches are branches that are quickly killed (surprised by death?). We will now repeat the second line and join it with the last two lines.

Les plus aisnez seront surprins par mort,
Fratricider les deux seront seduicts,
Les coniurez en dormans seront morts [1, VI-11].

The eldest [more than one] shall be surprised by death, To kill the two brothers (they) shall be seduced, The conspirators [conjures] in sleeping shall die. So now we learn that the three of the first line were brothers and, presumably, the remaining four (to bring the total up to seven) were their sisters.

And may ye both be suddenly surpris'd
By bloody hands, in sleeping on your beds! [2, 1H6].

In Nostradamus, the conspirators die of natural causes, i.e. are never caught for their crime, but Shakespeare would prefer another outcome; he also wishes he could help: "To rescue my two brothers from their death" [2, Tit.].

The saga continues:

Du toict cherra sur le grand mal ruyne [1, VI-37].

From the roof evil ruin shall befall the great one.

Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate [2, Son.].

Shakespeare draws two correlations from the lines that follow this ruination:

Innocent faict mort on accusera:
Nocent caiché taillis à la bruyne [1, VI-37].

Innocent in fact [or of the deed] when dead he shall be accused, The guilty one hidden: "taillis" to the "bruyne" where we note that "bruyne" [1, VI-37] [4, VI-37] stands in sharp contrast to "bruine" [1, V-35] [4, V-35] as seen below. A crossword game with a "y" in the name of the guilty one?

KING. Wherefore hast thou accus'd him all this while?
DIANA. Because he's guilty, and he is not guilty [2, AWW].

To slay the innocent? What is my offence?
Where is the evidence that doth accuse me? [2, R3].

The location changes:

Lon passera à Memphis somentree [1, X-79].

One shall pass to [or pass away in?] Memphis somentree. The meaning of somentree is unknown; perhaps it was intended to allude to a place where we find Memphis? Garencières writes "This word Somentrees, being altogether barbarous, is the reason that neither sense nor construction can be made of all these words" [3]. Let's look at what Marlowe has to say about this:

Memphis, and Pharos that sweet date-trees yields [5, Ovi.].

Evidently, Marlowe too is unable to figure out what somentree (or somentrees per Garencières) means, but at least he notices that it ends in a recognizable English word: trees! Indeed, the hyphenated spelling date-trees, as opposed to date trees, could be taken as a signal that trees is the ending of a word. These trees are preceded by so, which by itself or as an abbreviation for south or southern is also an English word, and so too with men after that, another English word. Did Marlowe think they spoke English in Memphis?

Shakespeare gives us "Than Rhodope's of Memphis ever was" [2, 1H6]. Rhodope is the name of a tree-infested mountain in Bulgaria, so perhaps Somentrees really is a place with lots of trees!

This is the next verse of that prophecy:

Le grand Mercure d'Hercules fleur de lys [1, X-79].

The great Mercury of Hercules fleur-de-lys. Mercury was the god of commerce, and Hercules represents force, giving the verse the following sense: the great armaments trade shall flourish.

His foot Mercurial, his Martial thigh,
The brawns of Hercules; but his Jovial face- [2, Cym.].

Marlowe's assessment of that verse is far more profound:

Besides, there goes a Prophesy abroad,
Published by one that was a Friar once,
Whose Oracles have many times proved true;
And now he says, the time will shortly come,
When as a Lyon, roused in the west,
Shall carry hence the fluerdeluce of France [6].

We find an allusion to the Pillars of Hercules in the penultimate line (as a lion roused in the west). It combines with the fluer in the last line to give us a correlation. This citation is from Edward the Third, a play that was published anonymously and whose authorship was hotly debated among scholars for centuries. Today, Shakespeare is believed to have written parts of it, and Marlowe the passage that we cite [6].

In Edward the Third, the cited passage was spoken in France, so abroad in the first line implies that the "Prophesy" (phonetic spelling of Prophecy as a book of oracles) is of British origin. Thus, in the third line, the phrase "Whose Oracles" likely refers to the Prophecy and not to the 12th-century Friar (Geoffrey of Monmouth) who published it. Perhaps such confusions explain why neither Shakespeare nor Marlowe wanted to stick their name on the front cover of that play!

Nostradamus now takes us to a faraway place:

Dedans le coing de Luna viendra rendre,
Ou sera prins & mis en terre estrange,
Les fruicts immeurs seront à grand esclandre [1, IX-65].

Into a corner of the Moon he shall come to render, Where he shall be taken and placed on strange terrain, The immature fruits shall be, by great scandal,

Garencières exclaims: "But what he meaneth by the Corner of Luna, I must leave the judgement of it to the Reader, for I ingeniously confess that I neither know City nor Countrey of that name" [3]. Shakespeare, for his part, knows that Luna is the Moon and he leaves no doubt about it: "A title to Phoebe, to Luna, to the moon" [2, LLL]. In Greek mythology, Phoebe became a synonym for Artemis, the Greek moon goddess. Marlowe makes a complex correlation out of it:

And search all corners of the new-found world
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates;
I'll have them read me strange philosophy [5, Fau.].

On the immature fruits, Shakespeare writes "Then it will be the earliest fruit i' th' country; for you'll be rotten ere you be half ripe" [2, AYL]. Shakespeare also takes a look at the third line combined with the last line:

Les fruicts immeurs seront à grand esclandre,
Grand vitupere à l'vn grande louange [1, IX-65].

The immature fruits shall be, by great scandal, Great vituperation, to the one, great praise.

Oft have I heard his praises in pursuit,
But ne'er till now his scandal of retire [2, 3H6].

In Nostradamus, the praise (louange) is in pursuit in the sense that it follows the scandal (esclandre) of the preceding line, but as events the great scandal comes after the new-found Moon!

Around the same time, the surviving brother (as we saw, his two older brothers were killed) runs into some trouble of his own:

Par detracteur calumnié à puis nay [1, VI-95].

The youngest brother slandered by a detractor. The "puis nay" is the after born of male siblings.

To do in slander. And to behold his sway,
I will, as 'twere a brother of your order [2, MM].

Shakespeare links the French verb "calumnié" with the English noun "slander," and next he reuses this correlation, changing "slander" from a noun back into a verb:

your brother incensed me to slander the Lady Hero [2, Ado].

Marlowe employs a word not found in Shakespeare: "An eare, to heare what my detractors say" [5, MP].

In the next prophecy, Nostradamus reveals himself to be a devout Catholic:

Apres le siege tenu dix- sept ans,
Cinq changeront en tel reuolu terme:
Puis sera l'vn esleu de mesme temps,
Qui des Romains ne sera trop conforme [4, V-92].

After the (Holy) See held for seventeen years, Five shall change in such revolved term [perhaps a spinning of the numbers ten, seven, five, one: papal designations?], Then the one shall be elected of same time, Who of the Romans shall not be very conformable. Variant: dixsept [1]. By of same time, it is implied that the non-Italian Pope of the last line is the last of the five Popes who follow the Pope that reigned for seventeen years.

That doth assume the Papal government
Without election and a true consent [5, Fau.].

POPE. Welcome, Lord Cardinals; come, sit down.--
Lord Raymond, take your seat [5, Fau.].

Popes are elected to the Chair (seat, "siege" in French) of Saint Peter by Cardinals.

At all times to your will conformable [2, H8].

After the election of the new Pope, the action moves from Italy to the Middle East:

Le Roy de Perse par ceux d'Egypte prins [1, III-77].

The King of Persia by those of Egypt taken. Persia is the old name of Iran.

Of Persian silks, of gold, and orient pearl.
BARABAS. How chance you came not with those other ships
That sail'd by Egypt? [5, JM].

Marlowe fails to perceive that taken was used in the sense of being accepted or taken in (given refuge) rather than in the sense of being carried or captured, which doubtless explains why he ends with a question mark. Nostradamus now takes us from Iran to neighboring Afghanistan:

Aries doute son pole Bastarnan [1, III-57].

Aries doubts its Bastarnan pole.

MEPHIST. All jointly move from east to west in twenty-four hours upon the poles of the world; but differ in their motion upon the poles of the zodiac [5, Fau.].

The French Arie was the old name of Afghanistan but Marlowe sees the Aryans as something in the zodiac! The Bastarnae were a people who occupied Poland and the Ukraine during Roman times. Note that, contrary to legend, Marlowe originates the great Tamburlaine in Scythia (an ancient land covering the Ukraine and parts of Russia).

Later, perhaps just a few years later, the newly-elected Pope has transformed himself into a great Pontiff:

De la partie de Mammer grand Pontife,
Subiuguera les confins du Danube:
Chasser la Croix par fer raffé ne riffe,
Captifs, or bague plus de cent mille rubes [4, VI-49].

From the part (or party) of Mammer, great Pontiff, (It) will subjugate the frontiers of the Danube, To chase the Cross by iron, by hook or by crook, Captivated: gold, bag more than one hundred thousand red things. Variants: les croix, bagues [1].

The partie can refer to a region or to a political party while the fer can represent any type of weapon made of iron. The raffé ne riffe is an Italian expression, suggesting that Italy is the scene of action. Nonetheless, Marlowe associates this attack on the great Pontiff (represented by the Cross in the third line) with the country of Bulgaria since he ends a line with Bulgaria immediately below a line ending with the Danube:

Betwixt the city Zula and Danubius;
How through the midst of Varna and Bulgaria [5, 2Tam].

Zula, a bay at the southern end of the Red Sea, makes no sense in the given context. More likely than not, Marlowe wishes to allude to the famed city of Zara (see below) on the Adriatic Sea, on the opposite side of the Balkans and which fits the context perfectly.

Since the Danube is a river, the mysterious Mammer of the first line may also be a river. Indeed, there's even another prophecy that refers to two different rivers. Allowing for manipulation to minimize chances of offending someone (a great Pontiff might not be expected to come from such a place), it could be the Memel (elsewhere Nostradamus writes it as "Mammel" [1]), a major river of Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, Shakespeare gives us the unique name "Mamillius" [2, WT] which would not be the only instance where vowels are changed for camouflage.

At the end of the Nostradamus citation, the rubes is an adjective employed as a noun (red things), but Garencières sees them as rubles: "A Ruble is a piece of Gold of the great Mogul, worth two or three pound sterling" [3].

A hundred thousand crowns [5, JM].

The payment of a hundred thousand crowns; [2, LLL].

Shakespeare views the hundred thousand as a payment [to the Bulgarians?] for services rendered [to hunt down the great Pontiff?]. Marlowe and Shakespeare each employ the hundred thousand in relation to a currency (the crowns), so perhaps Garencières was not far off in concluding that the rubes refer to rubles.

The attack on the Pope is again mentioned:

Prelat royal son baissant trop tiré,

Le regne Anglicque par regne respiré [1, X-56].

Royal prelate his baissant all shot up [with bullets?], … The Anglican reign by reign breathes anew.

This prophecy indicates that the attack on the Pope will occur around the time of an English royal wedding. The meaning of baissant is unknown. Shakespeare likewise is unable to figure out what baissant means:

I cannot tell vat is baiser en Anglish [2, H5].

It is, however, somewhat mysterious where the Project Gutenberg found these words because the First Folio reads a bit different: "I cannot tell wat is buisse en Anglish," which is preceded by the words "baisee" and "baisant." Directly above buisse in the printed layout of the First Folio we find the word "Interpreter" which quickly leads us to the true meaning of baissant: "Interpretez seront les extipices" [1], from where we conclude Royal prelate his extispicy (intestines) all shot up. Was Shakespeare afraid of offending the Papacy?

This brings us to the last line of that prophecy:

Long temps mort vif en Tunis comme souche [1, X-56].

Long time dead alive in Tunis like a stump. The expression dead alive like a stump could refer to someone who became a human vegetable. Shakespeare asserts: "Not he which says the dead is not alive" [2, 2H4]. And elsewhere: "And so in spite of death thou dost survive, In that thy likeness still is left alive" [2, Ven.]. Marlowe and Shakespeare were both impacted by the stump:

Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight [5, Fau.].

And though we leave it with a root, thus hack'd [2, H8].

The meaning of Tunis is unknown because Nostradamus clearly uses the spelling Tunes for the city of Tunis in another prophecy and in unmistakable context. Tunis, therefore, is likely to be an acronym, contraction, or abbreviation of the name of some country. Regardless, the event of the human vegetable apparently occurs around the time of the attack on the Pope which, as we just saw, occurs around the time of an English royal wedding

It was noted that Nostradamus writes Tunis as "Tunes" and we will now look at that:

Ceulx de Tunes, de Fez, & de Bugie:
Par les Arabes captif le Roy Maroq [1, VI-54].

Those of Tunis, of Fez, & of Bougie, By the Arabs the King of Morocco enticed.

Marlowe and Shakespeare both refer to Tunis [5, 2Tam] [2, Tmp.] and to Bougie (Argier [5, 1Tam] [2, Tmp.]). For the king, Marlowe goes directly with the King of Morocco [5, 1Tam] while Shakespeare gives us the Prince of Morocco [2, MV], but only Marlowe mentions Fez:

I here present thee with the crown of Fez [5, 2Tam].

The crown more or less equates with king to give us a correlation. Fez is a city in Morocco, so perhaps that is where the King of Morocco is captivated by the Arab cause. Besides North Africa, Arabs also live in the Middle East, and therein this passage may connect with another prophecy:

Cassich sainct George à demy perfondrez:
Paix assoupie, la guerre esueillera,
Dans temple à Pasques abysmes enfondrez [1, IX-31].

Encircled, Saint George to one half, demolished, Peace soporific, the war shall be awoken, Within the temple on Easter-day, abysses opened up. The war appears to be in full swing in the first line, but in the next line it is just beginning, so the Easter abyss likely precedes, and perhaps inspires, the war.

Saint George, that swing'd the dragon [2, Jn.].

By legend, Saint George killed the dragon near the city of Beirut, where today we find Saint George Bay. Twice more Shakespeare correlates on these lines:

Throng our large temples with the shows of peace, And not our streets with war! [2, Cor.].

And in the temple of great Jupiter Our peace we'll ratify; seal it with feasts [2, Cym.].

Here, both correlations make use of temple and peace. To make it a three-word correlation, Shakespeare, in the first instance, goes with war, and in the second instance he views Easter as a feast. Note that he says seal it with feasts, that is, seal the correlations with the third equivalent term.

Attention now turns to a war out at sea:

… sur le pont l'entreprise,
Luy, satalites la mort degousteront [1, IV-89].

… upon the sea the enterprise, For it, satellites shall disgust the death. The first meaning given by Latdict for the Latin verb "degusto" is to glance at. Note the apocope of the Latin "pontus" for sea: "pont Euxine" [1], "Euxine Sea" [5, Luc.], "Pontic Sea" [2, Oth.].

And smite with death thy hated enterprise [5, Fau.].

Though Marlowe and Shakespeare consistently make heavy use of the words of Nostradamus, for reasons unknown they both ignore the satellites. Garencières, without comment, simply repeats and italicizes the French word in his English translation.

The enterprise upon the sea suggests action taken by a fleet:

Par cité franche de la grand mer Seline,
Qui porte encores à l'estomach la pierre:
Angloise classe viendra soubs la bruine,
Vn rameau prendre, du grand ouuerte guerre [1, V-35].

By free city of the great sea Seline, That carries once again the stone to the stomach, English fleet shall come under the drizzle, To take a branch [of the British Empire?], from the great one [Great Britain?]: open war. In the first line we find "mer," sea, thereby making a fleet out of classe (a frenchifying of the Latin word classis which can mean either fleet or army).

The bruine comes from the Latin bruma or pruina both of which referred to wintry weather. Note that the du grand is of masculine gender and hence cannot apply to the guerre which is a feminine noun.

I shall be, if I claim by open war [2, 3H6].

This is the only instance of the expression open war in Shakespeare. Presumably, with an enterprise upon the sea being the plausible objective of an English fleet, the aforementioned satellites played a role in the unleashing of that open war.

Well said, young Phillip! Call for bread and Wine,
That we may cheer our stomachs with repast,

Now is begun the heavy day at Sea:

That, with the sulphur battles of your rage,
The English Fleet may be dispersed and sunk. [6].

The "English fleet" itself is nowhere to be found in the official works of Shakespeare and Marlowe but we do find it in the anonymous Edward the Third, in a scene attributed to Marlowe. Adding to this the "Wine" (see below) and "stomachs," there can be little doubt that authorship (hotly debated in the past) includes at least one of our playwrights.

We now return to the Middle East:

De rouges & blancs conduira grand trouppe,
Et iront contre le Roy de Babylon [1, X-86].

Of reds and whites (it) shall conduct great troop, And (they) shall go against the King of Babylon. Babylon is the old name of Iraq, and the reds and whites may refer to the flags of a great military force.

Shall mount the milk-white way, and meet him there.
To Babylon, my lords, to Babylon! [5, 2Tam].

Am I not of her blood? Tilly-vally,
lady. [Sings]
There dwelt a man in Babylon [2, TN].

While Marlowe correlates with the color white, Shakespeare alludes to red, the color of blood.

Let's do one more:

Du ciel viendra vn grand Roy d'effrayeur,
Resusciter le grand Roy d'Angolmois [1, X-72].

From the sky shall come a great king of terror, To resuscitate the great king of Angolmois.

But, lady, this fair face and heavenly hue
Must grace his bed that conquers Asia,
And means to be a terror to the world [5, 1Tam].

With conquers Asia, Marlowe apparently views Angolmois as an anagram of the French Mongolois, the Mongols, who were led by Genghis Khan to conquer Afghanistan and much of Asia.


It seems that our playwrights, particularly Marlowe, were utterly fascinated by the city of London (the place where they lived and worked), so we will here dedicate a few words to that city, starting with what appears to be a surprising event.

Senat de Londres mettront à mort leur roy [1, IX-49].

Senate of London shall put their king to death.

Marlowe and Shakespeare take the same approach and stretch the correlations across four lines:

By yelping hounds pull'd down, shall semm to die:
Such things as these best please his majesty.--
Here comes my lord the king, and the nobles,
From the parliament. I'll stand aside [5, E2].

Have wrought the easy-melting King like wax.
He swore consent to your succession,
His oath enrolled in the parliament;
And now to London all the crew are gone [2, 3H6].

To your succession implies the death of a king and seals the correlations. But London's troubles are far from over.

Le sang du iuste à Londres fera faulte,
Bruslez par fouldres de vingt trois les six:
La dame antique cherra de place haute [1, II-51].

The blood of the just in London shall make fault, Burnt by lightnings of twenty, three the six, The antique dame [an old bitch?] shall fall from high place.

This cursed town will I consume with fire,
Because this place bereft me of my love;
The houses, burnt, will look as if they mourn'd;
And here will I set up her stature [5, 2Tam].

For Marlowe, London is a cursed town because it is destined to burn to the ground for fault (or lack) of just people, and this bereaves him. In Nostradamus, the old dame falls from her high place and Marlowe may be thinking that the prophecy refers to his beloved queen, so in the ashes of the fire he wishes to renew her stature (position of power) or perhaps erect a statue in her honor.

The fires i' th' lowest hell fold in the people!
Call me their traitor! Thou injurious tribune!
Within thine eyes sat twenty thousand deaths, [2, Cor.].

The fires fall from the high place to the lowest hell while the tribune gives us a three, preceded by the twenty which we pick up in the next line.

Recovery from the fire does not lead to lasting peace and quiet as troubles once again beset London.

Trente de Londres secret coniureront,
Contre leur Roy … [1, IV-89].

Thirty of London in secret shall conspire, Against their King … The "coniureront" comes from the Latin "conjuro": to conspire, to form a conspiracy.

May enter in, and once againe conspire
Against the life of me poore Carthage Queene [5, Did.].

This is a three-word correlation: conspire at the end of the first line, against at the beginning of the second line, and queen replaces king.

And now to London all the crew are gone
To frustrate both his oath and what beside
May make against the house of Lancaster.
Their power, I think, is thirty thousand strong [2, 3H6].

With his, a possessive adjective, substituting for their, it becomes a four-word correlation. Here's the last line of that prophecy:

Vn Roy esleu blonde, natif de Frize [1, IV-89].

A King elected blonde, native of Frisia. Frisia is the old name of Holland.

Marlowe envisions a conspiracy that results in the removal of the first king:

_Y. Mor._ Curse him, if he refuse; and then may we
Depose him, and elect another king.

But the French verse is grammatically confusing: A King (masculine) elected blonde (female), native (male) of Holland. Since Nostradamus routinely employs Latin syntax, we must assume that the blonde is in the ablative case where one can express causal agency without the use of a preposition. Thus, we must understand: A Dutchman elected King [of England] by reason of a woman [his wife?]. Marlowe, however, fails to recognize the Latin syntax and becomes appalled by the thought that a future king of England will be a transvestite!

But seek to make a new-elected king;
Which fills my mind with strange despairing thoughts,
Which thoughts are martyred with endless torments;
And in this torment comfort find I none [5, E2].

Nonetheless, Marlowe's whole line of thinking is curious because, in his day, English kings were normally chosen by hereditary factors or by the wishes of a reigning monarch, and not in open elections.

Shakespeare, likewise, fails to recognize the Latin syntax but is not appalled. Instead, he succumbs to reality and creates instances of cross-dressing in his plays!


We will begin this section with a look at something different: natural disasters instead of the usual human-made disasters.

Corinthe, Ephese aux deux mers nagera [1, II-52].

Corinth, Ephesus, to the two seas (it) shall swim. Note the use of the singular "nagera" instead of the plural "nageront": the Latin language would use a singular verb for two or more grammatical subjects only when those subjects were synonyms. The first line of this prophecy says "Dans plusieurs nuits la terre tremblera," During many nights the ground shall tremble," which makes us think the two seas are the waves of two earthquakes. Corinth, once called Ephyra, might be in trouble.

Two ships from far making amain to us-
Of Corinth that, of Epidaurus this.

And, coasting homeward, came to Ephesus [2, Err.].

War follows:

Guerre s'esmeut par deux vaillans de luite [1, II-52].

War moved by two valiant in combat.

And bloody wars so many valiant knights [5, E2].

Why, let the war receive't in valiant gore [2, Tim.].

But elsewhere we find a clarification: "Deux grands rochers long temps feront la guerre [1]," Two great rocks [geological faults?] for long time shall make the war, to which Shakespeare would add "The raging rocks / And shivering shocks [2, MND]." Poor Corinth!

Let's now move away from shivering Greece and look for better places.

Ceulx d'Orient par la vertu lunaire [1, I-49].

Those of the Orient [East] by the lunar virtue.

It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon [2, Rom.].

The phrase by the lunar virtue can also allude to lunacy and lunatic. King Lear and Lady Macbeth are two among several Shakespearean characters endowed with madness.

D'vn gris & noir de la Compagne yssu,
Qui onc ne feut si maling [1, X-91].

Of one gray and black out of the Campaign issued [born], That never was there one so evil. Things again turn ugly. This could be a military campaign whose name begins with the letter "C" given that it is capitalized in the French text.

This act, so evilly borne, shall cool the hearts [2, Jn.].

Shakespeare combines the last two words of the bottom line with the last word of the preceding line to get the correlation.

And now a few words for England:

Plus Macelin que Roy en Angleterre,

Lasche sans foy, sans loy saignera terre [4, VIII-76].

More Macelin than king in England, … Loose, without faith, without law, the ground shall bleed. Variant: macelin [1].

Much work for tears in many an English mother,
Whose sons lie scattered on the bleeding ground [2, Jn.].

But Marlowe transfers the "without faith" from England to Asia:

What cruel slaughter of our Christian bloods
These heathenish Turks and pagans lately made [5, 2Tam].

One can only wonder if Marlowe's pagan characters, forced upon him by the prophecies, could be what gave rise to personal accusations of atheism against him?

Here's an example where one of the parallel terms is purely conceptual.

Le Pánta chiona philòn mis fort arriere [1, IV-32].

The Panta Chiona Philon left far behind. Shakespeare appears to have no idea what the Greek words refer to, so he classifies them as signs and tokens.

BIONDELLO. Faith, nothing; but has left me here behind to expound the meaning or moral of his signs and tokens [2, Shr.].

Greek words make another appearance:

Kappa, Thita, Lambda mors bannis esgarés [1, I-81].

Kappa, Thita, Lambda bite banished astray.

Likewise, the signs and tokens make another appearance:

DEMETRIUS. See how with signs and tokens she can scrowl [2, Tit.].

Shakespeare's scrowl is a deliberate misspelling of the verb scrawl, which means to write in a hurried and careless manner. How do we know that Shakespeare misspelled it on purpose? That's easy. Just look at the French verse: Nostradamus misspells Theta!

Note the bannis in that last verse. It's a word that Nostradamus reemploys elsewhere:

Chassez, bannis & liures censurez [1, VIII-71].

Chased, banished, and books censured.

Without sealing a correlation, Shakespeare responds:

To mangle me with that word 'banished'? [2, Rom.].

Mangled? Seriously? Nostradamus only used it twice! "Why, this fellow hath banish'd two on's daughters" [2, Lr.], and, lo and behold, banishment mangles diverse sections of the Shakespearean canon. Marlowe too seems to have been mangled with banish as he employs it frequently.

La terre & l'air geleront si grand eau,
Lors qu'on viendra pour Ieudy venerer [4, X-71].

The land and the air shall freeze so much water, When one shall come to venerate on Thursday. Variant: ieudy [1], today spelled jeudi, Thursday.

It was as blue as the most freezing skies;
Near the sea's hue, for thence her goddess came [5, HL].

Here we find five parallel terms in just two lines: air equates with skies; geleront (will freeze) equates with freezing; eau (water) equates with sea; viendra (will come) equates with came; and Ieudy (the god of Thursday veneration) equates with goddess.

she makes a show'r of rain as well as Jove [2, Ant.].

A shower of rain equates with water and the French jeudi derives its name from the Latin "Jovis dies," the day of Jupiter.

Feu grand deluge plus par ignares sceptres,
Que de long siecle no se verra refaict [1, I-62].

Fire, great deluge more by ignorant scepters, That, of long age, shall not be seen remade. The phrase of long age could refer to the end of time.

The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this and come to dust [2, Cym.].

Shakespeare juxtaposes the scepter with learning, more or less an antonym of ignorant, while "come to dust" alludes to the long age.

Time ends, and to old Chaos all things turn,
Confused stars shall meet, celestial fire
Fleet on the floods, the earth shoulder the sea [5, Luc.].

Here, Marlowe is making a translation of the Roman poet Lucan, so surely it cannot contain a correlation with Nostradamus, right? Wrong. Antiquum repetens iterum chaos, omnia mixtis, Sidera sideribus concurrent ignea pontum, Astra petent, tellus extendere littora nolet. Much of it is there including the fire, but where do you see the fleet? It seems Marlowe wishes to link the English fleet of V-35 to the sea activity of IV-89 granted that Lucan uses the word "pontum" for the sea.

Shakespeare has more to say about this:

When went there by an age since the great flood [2, JC].

Give me a staff of honour for mine age,
But not a sceptre to control the world [2, Tit.].

Like the prophecy, Shakespeare views the scepter as an instrument that yields great power but, so it seems, even after numerous references to scepters he was never able to figure out how they could be intelligent and write prophecies that come true (remade)!

Le penultiesme du surnom du prophete,
Prendra Diane pour son iour & repos [1, II-28].

The penultimate of the surname of the prophet, Shall take a Monday for his day and rest. Diana was the Roman Moon goddess.

We are the Muses' prophets, none of thine.
What, if thy mother take Diana's bow [5, Ovi.].

Once again Marlowe seems more interested in his Nostradamus correlations than in accurate translation. Pieridum vates, non tua turba sumus. quid, si praeripiat flavae Venus arma Minervae. The Muses were the inspiration of poets, not of prophets, and Minerva's weapon (a spear as in Shake-spear) is transformed into Diana's bow.

PORTIA. If I live to be as old as Sibylla,
I will die as chaste as Diana [2, MV].

Sibylla is the Latin name of the first Sibyl at Delphi, who by legend was of great antiquity. The Greek and Roman Sibyls were women famed for their prophetic powers, essentially making Sibylla a synonym of prophetess and thereby, with Diana, establishing a correlation.

Bien eslongnez el tago fara muestra [1, X-25].

A long way away, el tago shall make a display. Note that Nostradamus writes this line in Spanish, pointing to a faraway place where that language is spoken [the Andes?], and the derogatory El Tago suggests someone infamous born in or near Toledo, famed city on the banks of the Tagus River. Another Spanish river, the Ebro, is found in the preceding line, which leaves little doubt that this tago is also a river.

To verse let kings give place and kingly shows,
And banks o'er which gold-bearing Tagus flows [5, Ovi.].

Ovid's original reads: cedant carminibus reges regumque triumphi, cedat et auriferi ripa benigna Tagi! The Tagus is there but the rest is modified to give us the shows (in the sense of more than one display). It is most curious that Marlowe chose to translate sections of the works of Ovid and Lucan that contained some of the rarer words found in Nostradamus (here the river Tagus).

Before the tag return? whose rage doth rend
Like interrupted waters, and o'erbear [2, Cor.].

Shakespeare thinks raging waters allude to a river, whereupon his readers will instinctively know to take the isolated o and tag it on to the word tag in order to get tago. Seriously?

Here's one about an unwanted war:

Quand istront faicts enormes & martiaux:
La moindre part dubieuse à l'aisnay [1, VI-95].

When there shall emerge enormous and martial deeds: The least part doubtful to the eldest brother. The French "enormes" can also mean atrocious and the "aisnay" would be the first born of male siblings. He would have to be the eldest of the three brothers mentioned earlier, and perhaps it was his opposition to a war that led to his death?

Marlowe's correlation is simplistic:

To some direction in your martial deeds [5, 1Tam].

Shakespeare also correlates on this:

Speak, Salisbury; at least, if thou canst speak.
How far'st thou, mirror of all martial men? [2, 1H6].

Note that "least" is now employed as a noun and not as an adjective but it nonetheless gives us a correlation.

And Shakespeare again:

Reg. But have you never found my brother's way
To the forfended place?
Edm. That thought abuses you.
Reg. I am doubtful that you have been conjunct [2, Lr.].

This correlation seems doubtful but the conjunct at the end is suggestive of looking for words on opposite ends of intermediary lines.

And now we turn our attention to an unidentified country, well frozen, and described by an allusion to the name of the dynasty of its rulers:

Terroir Romain qu'interpretoit augure,
Par gent Gauloise sera par trop vexee:
Mais nation Celtique craindra l'heure,
Boreas, classe trop loin l'auoir poussee [1, II-99].

Territory Roman that interprets the augury, By Gallic people [the French] shall be very much vexed: More, the Celtic nation [Germany] shall fear the hour, Boreas [the North Wind], army too far the having pushed.

The word classe, which can mean either fleet or army, is here an army because of terroir in the first line. Shakespeare, however, gives consideration to the fleet:

How many shallow bauble boats dare sail

But let the ruffian Boreas once enrage
The gentle Thetis, and anon behold [2, Tro.].

Thetis was a sea goddess. Also note "Peace, I say, Gallia and Gaul, French and Welsh, … " [2, Wiv.]. The Celts, who originated in Germany, later settled in Wales where a Celtic language is still spoken today. Moreover, back in Shakespeare's day, Germany was not a nation (a word that suggests the unification of factions and certainly distinct from "regne," kingdom).

Beats Thracian Boreas, or when trees bow own
And rustling swing up as the wind fets breath.
When Cæsar saw his army prone to war [5, Luc.].

Marlowe, who in contrast to Shakespeare correctly views "classe" as army rather than fleet, moves Boreas from line 389 in Lucan to line 391 in his translation to bring it closer to Caesar's army and seal the correlation.

Shakespeare considers this prophecy to be beyond self-explication, that is, pretty much impossible to comprehend:

Would be interpreted a thing perplex'd
Beyond self-explication. Put thyself
Into a haviour of less fear, ere wildness [2, Cym.].

Ironically, if he had waited just a few more years to write that play, he might not have been so perplexed.


Beyond the textual correlations, there are signs that the prophecies exerted a wider influence. Here we will look at one example from Marlowe followed by three examples from Shakespeare.


Le plus grand voile hors du port de Zara,
Pres de Bisance fera son entreprinse:
D'ennemy perte & l'amy ne sera,
Le tiers à deux fera grand pille & prinse [1, VIII-83].

The greatest sail out of the port of Zara, Near Byzantium it shall make its enterprise, Of enemy, loss, and the friend shall not be, The third to two shall make great pillage and seizure.

This appears to be one of several prophecies that may have inspired Marlowe to write about Tamburlaine and his conquests. It was an ambitious project for Marlowe: he tries to incorporate all the places mentioned by Nostradamus from Scythia to Persia and then over to Morocco. However, it seems that the real Tamerlane (d. 1405) concentrated his conquests in Asia, so Nostradamus alone may have inspired the North African conquests found in Marlowe's play.

Byzantium, an earlier name of Constantinople, brings the Turks into the picture. Marlowe: "And think to rouse us from our dreadful siege, Of the famous Grecian Constantinople" [5, 1Tam]. Note that Marlowe specifies Grecian Constantinople: it was the Greeks who colonized Constantinople and named it Byzantium.

Unlike the historical Tamerlane, who had noble origins, Marlowe gives his Tamburlaine humble beginnings: a shepherd, who rises up to attain a great empire through military conquests:

Lieu obscur nay par force aura l'empire [1, VIII-76].

Born in obscure place, by force he shall have the empire.


Le grand Senat discernera la pompe,
A l'vn qu'apres sera vaincu chassé,
Ses adherans seront à son de trompe
Biens publiez, ennemis deschassez [1, X-76].

The great Senate shall discern the pomp, Of the one who afterwards shall be vanquished, chased out, His adherents shall be, by sound of trickery, Public goods, inimical things forced out. Note the apocope of tromperie to rhyme with pompe as affirmed elsewhere: La cité prinse par tromperie & fraude, … Luy & tous morts pour auoir bien trompé [1].

Twists of fate and reversals of destiny permeate the plays of Shakespeare, and here we see a plausible inspiration for the concept. The story of Coriolanus coincides well with the first two lines, but the prophecy does not specify that this is a Roman senate and not some other senate. Indeed, the "l'vn" being chased out here may be the same "l'vn" we saw earlier receiving lunar praise prior to the great scandal.

On the correlation with "To whom he more adheres. If it will please you / To show us so much gentry and good will" [2, Ham.], note that adherents (a noun) equates with adheres (a verb) and that goods (a noun) equates with good (an adjective). In translations, the parts of speech certainly offer a clever mechanism of disguise, no?


Le croisé frere par amour effrenee
Fera par Praytus Bellerophon mourir,
Classe à mil ans la femme forcenee
Beu le breuuage, tous deux apres perir [1, VIII-13].

The crossed brother by unbridled love, Shall make, by Proetus, Bellerophon to die, Fleet (or army) to a thousand years, the woman enraged, Drink the beverage, all two [both] afterwards to perish.

Bellerophon was the name of a great hero in Greek mythology; in later times, it became the name of a renowned ship of the royal navy. The meaning of to a thousand years is unknown. Nostradamus numbered this prophecy VIII-13 (813).

The woman in the third line, with no better alternative in the prophecy, has to be the sister of the brother of the first line, evidently a high-ranking ecclesiastic (Cardinals wore a cross), and she becomes enraged by the presumed military defeat of an army. Thus, the ecclesiastic, out of love for his sister and like Proetus in the myth, arranges, as we may assume, for someone to kill the commander of the defeated army.

Citation from Wikipedia on Bellerophon:

"Proetus dared not satisfy his anger by killing a guest, so he sent Bellerophon to King Iobates his father-in-law … bearing a sealed message in a folded tablet: Pray remove the bearer from this world."

Citation from Wikipedia on Hamlet:

"Claudius, fearing for his life, sends Hamlet along with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to England with a note to the King ordering Hamlet to be executed immediately."

Let's continue with Wikipedia on Hamlet:

"Gertrude drinks poisoned wine intended for Hamlet and dies. … In his own last moments, an enraged Hamlet … manages to stab and wound Claudius … and finishes him off by forcing him to drink his own poisoned wine. Horatio attempts to commit suicide by drinking the poison … "

Oops! This cannot be. The prophecy says that two shall perish and two are already dead from drinking the poison.

Wikipedia: " … but Hamlet swipes the cup from his hands and orders him to live to tell the tale."

That's better.

Claudius was Hamlet's uncle, and assuming that Shakespeare interpreted the prophecy correctly, the killer of the defeated military commander would be his uncle, that is, the enraged woman has to be the victim's mother.

Shakespeare seems to be unsure if the last line of the prophecy refers to murder or suicide (but the second line of this prophecy indicates murder), either by poison or by other means. The prophecy only says that two people will die after having a drink but it does not say that those drinks contained poison (though that would be a logical assumption). In Romeo and Juliet, both protagonists commit suicide after drinking something but only one of the drinks was poison.

Shakespeare also assumes that both deaths are simultaneous or close to being simultaneous, but the prophecy says no such thing. In theory, the two deaths could be years apart; however, if not killed by the same poison, they surely had to have the same assassin or perhaps they died in the same place.

Antony and Cleopatra gives us yet another example of a double suicide by unbridled love. Here, however, Shakespeare had to follow history and could not be particularly creative. Antony dies from self-inflicted wounds and Cleopatra via the poison of a snake, but, most significantly, they both refer to wine only moments before dying, e.g., "Now no more the juice of Egypt's grape shall moist this lip."

Le sel, & vin luy seront à l'enuers, [4, IX-49].

The salt, and wine to it (they) shall be to the back [to the inverse?]. This looks like the key to solving a riddle on the other side of the world!

We sent our schoolmaster; is 'a come back?
Love, I am full of lead. Some wine, [2, Ant.].

For sure, Shakespeare correlates on it, and perhaps it was here where he came to realize that the prophecies had named a specific drink that could have served as a vehicle for poison. And yes, it had to be poison in the wine that killed the son of the enraged woman!

From a chronological point of view, Bajazeth and Zabina in a Marlowe play [5, 1Tam] would be the first of the double suicides by unbridled love, each by smashing their head, not by any poison. What about the drinks? Marlowe chose "liquor" for Bajazeth and "milk" for Zabina. Amazingly, just like Shakespeare prior to the writing of Antony and Cleopatra, Marlowe fails to see the inversion that links the drinks to wine.


La chef de Londres par regne l'Americh,
L'isle d'Escosse tempiera par gellee:
Roy Reb auront vn si faux antechrist,
Que les mettra trestous dans la meslee [1, X-66].

The chief of London by reign of America [America exerting undue influence?], The isle of Scotland tempered by frost, Roy Reb (they) shall have one so false Antichrist, Who shall put them all into the melee.

In this one we return to London, Marlowe's favorite town, but it was Shakespeare who got to write about it. The Americh at the end of the first verse has to be America with the final letter being changed to achieve rhyme with antechrist at the end of the third verse. The meaning of "Roy Reb" is unknown. The edition of 1590 [1] puts a dot after the Reb (Reb.) suggesting an abbreviation but dots were not commonly used for abbreviations in French and, unsurprisingly, the dot disappears in later editions.

Scotland in the second line gives us the setting of Macbeth. Note the frost at the end of that line in light of the following:

A woman's story at a winter's fire [2, Mac.].

Marlowe appears to be confused over the meaning of the antechrist:

To wrack, an antechristian kingdome falles [5, MP].

Wherewith thy antichristian churches blaze [5, E2].

In the first instance, antechrist means existing before Christ and in the second instance it means fighting against Christ. Shakespeare, however, is not confused: the Antichrist means blood and death, and combined with the melee, wild killing.

And wild killing is exactly what we get in Macbeth. At the end of the play, an English army (note the reference to England, via London, in the first line) arrives to finish the slaughter.

Curiously, Shakespeare seems to be unaware that the Virginia Colony was called America:

DROMIO OF SYRACUSE. Faith, I saw it not, but I felt it hot in her breath.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE. Where America, the Indies? [2, Err.].

Could he have been hoping that someone in his audience would tell him where America was located?

Shakespeare makes frequent use of the word chief as an adjective but he does clarify it is not a king: "I was the chief that rais'd him to the crown" [2, 3H6]. Indeed, the chief of London should be the Mayor of London or perhaps the Prime Minister of the entire country (but there was no such thing back in those days), to whom, apparently, the Scots have a frosty attitude. And, of course, it was silly of Marlowe to think that the Americans and the Mayor of London could get dragged into a war of the Antichrist (or Antechrist?).

In 1672, Garencières found a chief who was not the king, but he was still unable to identify America as a place: "I conceive this Prophecy can be appropriated to no body better than Oli. Cromwell, who is called here the Chief of London by Reign of America, that is, by Reign of confusion."




The Serpent Nebula



In these illustrations, we turn our attention toward the heavens.

cieux en tesmoings.
Que plusieurs regnes vn à cinq feront change [1, VI-2].

… heavens (or skies) in testimony, That many reigns one to five shall make change.

HERMIONE. There's some ill planet reigns.
I must be patient till the heavens look [2, WT].

Note that the English reigns was extracted from Nostradamus as a noun but in Shakespeare it got employed as a verb. Shakespeare is only looking at the English translation in isolation. The same applies for one to five (an end total of five) which equates with some in the sense of a few but is here used in the sense of one or another. Elsewhere, we find the sequential progression: "One to ten!" [2, 1H6].

In the next correlation, we travel to places rarely visited!

Par pluye longue le long du polle arctique:
Samarobryn cent lieux de l'hemisphere,
Viuront sans loy exempt de pollitique [1, VI-5].

By a long rain the length of the Arctic Pole, Samarobryn a hundred leagues from the hemisphere, Living without law, exempt from politics.

We mean to travel to th' antarctic pole,

When Phoebus, leaping from his hemisphere [5, 2Tam].

Wikipedia, in its article on Antarctica, notes that "Antarctica has no indigenous population and there is no evidence that it was seen by humans until the 19th century." Elsewhere, Marlowe clarifies that from his hemisphere means upward into the sky: "Leaps from th' antartic world unto the sky" [5, Fau.].

Shakespeare is cynical: "By the North Pole, I do challenge thee" which evokes the response "I will not fight with a pole, like a Northern man" [2, LLL].

The long rain along the length of the Arctic could allude to the essential element of an Ice Age or, alternatively, to radioactive fallout, which, from the days of nuclear testing in the atmosphere, is known to gravitate toward the poles.

A hundred leagues would place Samarobryn roughly one hundred and fifty miles above the ground; thus, Marlowe and Shakespeare are in agreement that Samarobryn lives high in the sky. Moreover, Shakespeare envisions life in orbit at even greater distances:

Hang in the air a thousand leagues from hence [2, 1H4].

Hang (suspended) in the air assures us that the distance is upward into the sky, and Shakespeare then replaces the hundred of Nostradamus with a thousand to make it a double correlation. He has more to say:

Corrupted, and exempt from ancient gentry?
His trespass yet lives guilty in thy blood [2, 1H6].

Here the verb "lives," a variation of "living," seals the correlations. The question mark at the end of the first line suggests that Shakespeare may have been confused over the meaning of politique and, indeed, the English words "politics" and "political" are nowhere to be found in the works of Shakespeare, nor in Marlowe for that matter. Curiously, the original "politique" [4] of Nostradamus inexplicably appears in the English-language dedicatory to a publication (1598) of Marlowe's Hero and Leander.

For our part, we have no problem in surmising that Samarobryn was quite fortunate to get away from the political nonsense of the ancient gentry living on the ground below!

Let's now go farther out into space.



Nostradamus IV-33



Venus cachée soubs la blancheur, Neptune,
De mars frappé par la grauée blanche [4, IV-33].

Venus hidden under the whiteness, Neptune, From Mars struck through the white gravel. Variants: no comma (,) before Neptune, Mars, frappée, granée, branche [1].

Shakespeare confesses that he is confused by the high (in the sky) gravel:

LAUNCELOT. [Aside] O heavens! This is my true-begotten father, who, being more than sand-blind, high-gravel blind, knows me not. I will try confusions with him [2, MV].

By twice using the word blind (beginning with "bl") both before and immediately following the gravel, Shakespeare seems to think that the textual variant "blanche" (and not the more frequently seen "branche") is the correct word for the French text of this prophecy. As for the meaning of the white gravel, one possibility would be the tail of a comet. Indeed, Nostradamus alludes to the forthcoming appearance of Halley's Comet in 1607 when he refers to an increase in "astronomes" for the year mil six cens & sept [1, VIII-71].

Elsewhere, Shakespeare again views the gravel as grains of sand:

And sat with me on Neptune's yellow sands [2, AMD].

Note that yellow is also marked in bold since it is merely a change of color (from the white of Nostradamus). And once again Shakespeare seems to think that "blanche" and not "branche" is the correct word. How was he so sure about that?

Quand le Soleil prendra ses iours lassez,
Lors accomplir & mine ma prophetie [1, I-48].

When the Sun shall take its (or his) tired days, Then to accomplish and terminate my prophecy. Variant: accomplit [4]. Here Nostradamus is referring to the termination of all his prophecies as a collection (in other words, this would be the last prophecy), similar to how Marlowe used "a Prophesy" [6] to refer to a book of individual oracles still in the process of fulfillment.

At the end of the first line, the first complete edition (1590) changed the "lassez" of the partial editions of 1588 and 1589 to "lassés," but this was changed back to "lassez" in both of our definitive editions. Thus, the "lassés," a word meaning tired, has to be incorrect. This makes us think of an effort to frenchify (mainly an alteration of the vowels) the Latin "lessus," which, in the genitive case, would give us days of wailing or simply days of tears. Shakespeare may have envisioned teardrops on the surface of the Sun: "Suns of the world may stain, when heaven's sun staineth" [2, Son.]. Sunspots? Yes, Shakespeare is probably referring to sunspots. These were discovered by astronomers, including Galileo, between 1610 and 1612, but Shakespeare published his sunspot observations in 1609!

Disasters in the sun; and the moist star
Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands
Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse [2, Ham.].

Are we to believe that Shakespeare, already centuries ahead of our scientists with regard to life in orbit, beats them again in predicting that the end of our solar system (doomsday) will result from the expansion and collapse of our Sun (Disasters in the sun)?

Venus is described as the moist star. Marlowe uses the words "night-wandering, pale, and wat'ry star" [5, HL]. Surely, Marlowe's Venus is pale because she is sick with eclipse but later she comes out of the shadows to become Shakespeare's "bright star of Venus" [2, 1H6]. Note also that, in both cases, the concept of wetness is based on association with Neptune, named after the Roman god of the sea.


Kappa-Theta-Lambda Arrowhead


Above, we saw that Venus is hidden (cachée) under the whiteness, implying an eclipse of celestial entities. Though Shakespeare, for reasons unknown, seems to have failed to recognize Kappa, Theta, Lambda as a triangle of sting stars, he likely concluded, or suspected, that Neptune (seen by Galileo but not officially named until 1846!) had to be something in the heavens. Marlowe, of course, concurs with this point of view:

FAUSTUS. How many heavens or spheres are there?
MEPHIST. Nine; … [5, Fau.].

Faustus refers to eclipses in a follow-up question. At hand, leaping from seven (the classical spheres of Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn) to nine requires the addition of both Earth (post Copernicus) and Neptune. Confirmation comes from elsewhere:

D'humain troupeau neuf seront mis à part,
De iugement & conseil separez [1, I-81].

Of human flock, nine shall be placed apart, Of judgment and counsel separated.

Shakespeare wrote about the "Nine Worthies" [2, LLL] and also about the "nine sibyls" [2, 1H6], but Marlowe intelligently noticed that the devoid of judgment and counsel could indicate that these were nine inanimate objects, inferring nine planets in the solar system of us humans. In all fairness to Shakespeare, however, we must admit that in the end he finally figured it out, giving us "nine moons" [2, Oth.] which comes close enough.

And did we forget to mention an early vignette [4] (depicted at the start of this essay) that displays Nostradamus observing nine celestial bodies? Could the "choses celestes visibles" [1] (from the prose introduction) have made it easy to imagine the existence of celestial things that were not visible? Curiously, on April 15, 1781, a little more than a month after the discovery of the planet Uranus, the Papal Court issued a Bull threatening excommunication and the galleys to anyone who dared to read the prophecies of Nostradamus! Perhaps Shakespeare knew what he was doing when, as we saw, he went out of his way to avoid offending the Papacy?


Let's start with another look at how the prophecies and our English playwrights make symbolic use of Greek mythology:

Comm'vn Gryphon viendra le Roy d'Europe
Accompagné de ceux d'aquilon [4, X-86].

Like a griffin shall come the king of Europe, Accompanied by those of the North [NATO?]. Variants: Comme vn gryphon, de l'Aquilon [1].

Aquilon, like Boreas seen earlier, was a classical name of the North Wind and as such could represent anything northern. Nostradamus also uses it as an adjective in relation to the conquest of the northern part of an Oriental country in the "Ceulx d'Orient" (Those of the Orient) prophecy: "Subiugant presque le coing Aquilonaire" [1, I-49], Subjugating pretty nearly the Northern corner.

The Queen with all the northern earls and lords
Intend here to besiege you in your castle.[2, 3H6.].

The griffin was a mythical animal with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion. Needless to say, the American eagle and the British lion could never combine to exert influence over Europe!

(Auster and Aquilon with winged steeds, [5, 1Tam].

The griffin is often depicted with wings. However, Shakespeare notices that this is particular griffin is kingly, so he removes the wings: "A clip-wing'd griffin" [2, 1H4].

Out-swell the colic of puff Aquilon'd [2, Tro.].

This is actually a two-word correlation as Shakespeare reverses the d' of Nostradamus and puts it at the end.

While Aquilon and the griffin were easy enough to spot in the works of Marlowe and Shakespeare, some of the parallelism is far more difficult to recognize and that is the point we are trying to make here: computer searches cannot find all of the correlations.

Such Ariadne was, when she bewails,
Her perjured Theseus' flying vows and sails. [5, Ovi.].

Madam, 'twas Ariadne passioning
For Theseus' perjury and unjust flight. [2, TGV].

Nostradamus, however, does not mention Ariadne or Theseus anywhere in his text, but look at the following:

Chassez bannis & liures censurez,
L'an mil six cens & sept par sacre glomes. [1, VIII-71].

Chased out, banished, and books censured, The year thousand six hundred & seven by sacred ball of thread.

Key to solving this is the word "glomes," a frenchifying of the Latin glomus which refers to a ball of thread. In Greek mythology, Ariadne gave a ball of thread to Theseus so that he could find his way out of the Labyrinth of Crete. Meanwhile, the citations refer to fleeing and flight which connect with Chased out, banished and seal the correlations. As another example, our initial search for "wine" failed pick up "the juice of Egypt's grape" which led us astray on which sequence the plays were written.

And one final word of advice for researchers wishing to expand on this investigation (there are surely more correlations waiting to be found): Rely as much as possible on the original text of the First Folio or the Second Folio. Recall the I cannot tell wat is buisse in Anglish where the Project Gutenberg changed buisse to baiser because it made more sense, inadvertently damaging chances to find a correlation. Even worse, in the Third Folio, Anglish was changed to English (as if Shakespeare did not know how to spell that word!), severely upsetting the correlation with Anglicque.


Beyond the prophecies on which Marlowe and Shakespeare correlate, the Nostradamus text contains one unnumbered incantation written entirely in Latin. Unlike the prophecies, it has a title: Legis cantio contra ineptos criticos, Incantation of the Law Against Inept Critics.

Quos legent hosce versus maturè censunto,
Profanum vulgus, & inscium ne attrectato,
Omnesq; Astrologi Blenni, Barbari procul sunto,
Qui aliter facit, is ritè, sacer esto [1].

Let those who read these verses, consider them maturely, May the profane, the vulgar, and the ignorant be not attracted, That all Astrologers, Retards, Barbarians stay far away, He who does otherwise, be he sacred by rite.

EVANS. It is qui, quae, quod; if you forget your qui's, your quae's, and your quod's, you must be preeches. Go your ways and play; go [2, Wiv.].

Scholars believe "preeches" is a misprint for breeched, from where we would surmise you must be spanked. By misspelling "b" as "p," Shakespeare draws attention to a word beginning with the letter "b": Blenni refers to stupid people and fits perfectly well with forgetting your quod's.

But stay, I'll read it over once again.
QUEEN. Ah, barbarous villains! … [2, 2H6].

To read it over once again equates with to read it maturely, and elsewhere Shakespeare gives us yet another "Read it again" [2, AWW]. Indeed, to understand the mind of Shakespeare, and how he arrives at some of the strange things that he says, it could be helpful to go back and read our illustrations once again.

As for the barbarous, note that Barbari alludes to people who would be unfamiliar with the Latin language, of which French is a derivative. And it certainly looks like Shakespeare took extreme measures to evade barbarian status: beyond a sprinkling of Latinates everywhere, his Henry the Fifth play includes French dialogue! Indeed, one can only wonder if "criticos" from the title line of the Incantation inspired his creation of the English word "critical," and similarly for many other of his additions to the English language.

Finally, please note that Shakespeare fears (perhaps literally) not adhering to the Incantation's condemnation of astrologers: he wrote a bunch of history plays for epochs when kings and queens often followed the advice of their personal astrologer, but nowhere in his massive canon (otherwise laden with witches, soothsayers and the like) do we find either the word "astrology" or the word "astrologer"!


1. LES PROPHETIES DE M. MICHEL NOSTRADAMVS. Dont il y en a trois cens qui n'ont encores iamais esté imprimées. Adiouftées de nouueau par ledict Autheur. A LYON, PAR BENOIST RIGAVD, 1568.

Several printings of this edition (a revision of the Rousseau edition of 1590) are still extant. A facsimile of it (labeled Chomarat 96) is available for free download in PDF format at the website propheties.it.

2. The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, by William Shakespeare:

Ado, Much Ado About Nothing; Ant., The Tragedy of Antony and Cleopatra; AWW, Alls Well that Ends Well; AYL, As You Like It; Cor., The Tragedy of Coriolanus; Cym., Cymbeline; Err., The Comedy of Errors; Ham., The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; 1H4, The First Part of King Henry the Fourth; 2H4, Second Part of King Henry IV; H5, The Life of King Henry the Fifth; 1H6, The First Part of King Henry the Sixth; 2H6, The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth; 3H6, The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth; H8, King Henry the Eighth; JC, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar; Jn., King John; LLL, Love's Labour's Lost; Lr., The Tragedy of King Lear; Mac., The Tragedy of Macbeth; MM, Measure for Measure; MND, A Midsummer Night's Dream; MV, The Merchant of Venice; Oth., The Tragedy of Othello, Moor of Venice; R2, King Richard the Second; R3, King Richard the Third; Rom., The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet; Shr., The Taming of the Shrew; Son., The Sonnets; TGV, The Two Gentlemen from Verona; Tim., The Life of Timon of Athens; Tit., The Tragedy of Titus Andronicus; Tmp., The Tempest; TN, Twelfth Night, Or, What You Will; Tro., The History of Troilus and Cressida; Ven., Venus and Adonis; Wiv., The Merry Wives of Windsor; WT, The Winter's Tale.

Correlations with Nostradamus permeate all thirty-six plays of the First Folio, his first poem, and his Sonnets.

3. THE TRUE PROPHECIES OR PROGNOSTICATIONS OF Michael Nostradamus, PHYSICIAN TO Henry II. Francis II. and Charles IX. KINGS of FRANCE … Translated and Commented by THEOPHILUS de GARENCIERES, Doctor in Physick … LONDON, Printed by Thomas Ratcliffe, and Nathaniel Thompson, … 1672.

A facsimile cam be viewed online at Google Books. This book follows the Nostradamus numbering system.

4. LES PROPHETIES DE Me. MICHEL. NOSTRADAMVS. Dont il y en a trois cens qui n'ont encores iamais esté imprimees. Adioutees de nouueau par ledict Autheur. A LYON, PAR IEAN HVGVETAN M.DC.XXVII.

Technical analysis reveals that this edition (which may be a copy of an earlier edition that is now lost) was very likely the printing of a backup manuscript. A facsimile of it is available for free download in PDF format at the website propheties.it..

5. The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Works of Christopher Marlowe, Individual Plays by Christopher Marlowe:

1Tam, Tamburlaine the Great, Part I; 2Tam, Tamburlaine the Great, Part II; Did., The Tragedy of Dido Queene of Carthage; E2, Edward II; Fau., The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus; HL, Hero and Leander; JM, The Jew of Malta; Luc., First Book of Lucan; MP, Massacre at Paris; Ovi., Ovid's Elegies.

These works can be read online. Marlowe’s correlations with Nostradamus permeate all of his plays, his major poem, and his Latin to English translations.

6. Project Gutenberg Etext of The Reign of King Edward the Third, attributed in part to William Shakespeare.

Wikipedia, in its article on this play, notes that Act III, Scenes i and ii, from where our citations come, were attributed to Marlowe by Hartmut Ilsemann (2014).








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