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Shakespeare Connected - Ageless Cleopatra

Theatre of the World (1603)

The first modern European atlas was created in the late sixteenth century and its maps cover many parts of the world. Much like Shakespeare’s note in As You Like It, that “all the world’s a stage”, Flemish scholar Abraham Ortelius called the atlas the Theatre of the World.

Africa features clearly on the world map, with the River Nile particularly prominent. An important image in the play, the Nile is both a source of life and full of dangerous creatures – a reflection of Cleopatra’s character: life-enhancing and fatal.

Pocket versions of this atlas were popular, so there’s every chance that Shakespeare owned one!


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Binding of Ortelius' Theatre of the Worlde (1603)


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