We’ve pulled together a great selection of Shakespeare science quotes below. Modern science thinking, procedure and practice developed long after the Elizabethan age. Elizabethan ‘science’ was based on philosophy, religion, astrology, astronomy, alchemism  and superstition. Shakespeare was up to date with the latest science of his time. In the latter part of his career poets like John Donne were using the language of science, including medical imagery, to make beautiful poetry, and Shakespeare was no exception to that trend. As the exploration of the planet accelerated during that time those poets increasingly used geographical images as well. Bearing this in mind, below is a range of quotesinvovling science found in Shakespeare’s works:

1. ‘It is as easy to count atomies as to resolve the propositions of a lover’

As You Like It

2. ‘By medicine life may be prolonged, yet death sill seize the doctor too’

As You Like It

3. ‘And teach me how

To name the bigger light, and how the less,

That burn by day and night…’

The Tempest

4. ‘But the strong base and building of my love is as the very centre of the earth, drawing all things to it’

Troilus and Cressida

5. ‘O God, I could be bound in a nutshell, and count myself the king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dream’

Hamlet

6. ‘When beggars die there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes’

Julius Caesar

7. ‘Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck,
And yet methinks I have astronomy.
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or season’s quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell … Or say with princes if it shall go well’

Sonnet 14

8. ‘There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’

Hamlet

9. ‘But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.’

Romeo and Juliet

10. ‘As true as steel, as plantage to the moon,
As sun to day, at turtle to her mate,
As iron to adamant, as earth to centre.
Plutus himself,
That knows the tinct and multiplying med’cine,
Hath not in nature’s mystery more science
Than I have in this ring.’

All’s Well That Ends Well

11. ‘Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound;
And through this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose.’

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

12. ‘MACBETH: How does your patient, doctor?
DOCTOR: Not so sick, my lord,
As she is troubled with thick-coming fancies,
That keep her from her rest.
MACBETH: Cure her of that.
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?
DOCTOR: Therein the patient
Must minister to himself.
MACBETH: Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll none of it.”’

Macbeth

13. ‘I do present you with a man of mine
Cunning in music and the mathematics
To instruct her fully in those sciences’

The Taming of the Shrew

14. ‘Oh God! that one might read the book of fate,
And see the revolution of the times
Make mountains level, and the continent,
Weary of solid firmness, melt itself
Into the sea.’

Sonnet 64

15. ‘The wind-shak’d surge, with high and monstrous main,
Seems to cast water on the burning Bear,
And quench the guards of the ever-fixed pole.’

Othello

16. ‘These earthly godfathers of Heaven’s lights,
That give a name to every fixed star,
Have no more profit of their shining nights
Than those that walk and know not what they are.’

Love’s Labours Lost

17. ‘There’s nothing situate under heaven’s eye
But hath his bond in earth, in sea, in sky.
The beasts, the fishes, and the winged fowls
Are their males’ subjects and at their controls.
Man, more divine, the master of all these,
Lord of the wide world and wild wat’ry seas,
Indu’d with intellectual sense and souls,
Of more pre-eminence than fish and fowls,
Are masters to their females, and their lords;
Then let your will attend on their accords’

The Comedy of Errors

18. ‘For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently’

Much Ado About Nothing

19. ‘By medicine life may be prolong’d, yet death
Will seize the Doctor too.’

Cymbeline

20. ‘Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow,
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drowned the cocks!
You sulph’rous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head; and thou all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o’th’ world,
Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once
That makes ingrateful man.’

King Lear

21. ‘LEPIDUS: What manner o’ thing is your crocodile?
ANTONY: It is shaped, sir, like itself, and it is as broad as it hath breadth. It is just so high as it is, and moves with it own organs. It lives by that which nourisheth it, and the elements once out of it, it transmigrates.
LEPIDUS: What colour is it of?
ANTONY:Of its own colour, too.
LEPIDUS:’Tis a strange serpent.
ANTONY:’Tis so, and the tears of it are wet.’

Antony and Cleopatra

22. ‘Thou know’st ’tis common—all that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity’

Hamlet

23. ‘These earthly godfathers of heaven’s lights
That give a name to every fixed star,
Have no more profit of their shining nights
Than those that walk and wot not what they are.’

Love’s Labours Lost

24. ‘Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But bad mortality o’ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?’

Sonnet 65

25. ‘The poet’s eye, in a fine frenzy rolling, doth glance from heaven to Earth, from Earth to heaven;  and as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen turns them to shape, and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name; such tricks hath strong imagination.’

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

26. ‘Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.’

The Tempest

27. ‘Third Fisherman: Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.
First Fisherman: Why, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little ones: I can compare our rich misers to nothing so fitly as to a whale; a’ plays and tumbles, driving the poor fry before him, and at last devours them all at a mouthful: such whales have I heard on o’ the land, who never leave gaping till they’ve swallowed the whole parish, church, steeple, bells, and all.’

Pericles

28. ‘SIR TOBY: Does not our lives consist of the four elements?
SIR ANDREW: Faith, so they say; but I think it rather consists of eating and drinking.
SIR TOBY: Thou’rt a scholar; let us therefore eat and drink.’

Twelfth Night

29. ‘GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?’

Henry IV Part1

30. ‘For to define true madness,
What is’t but to be nothing else but mad?’

Hamlet

31. ‘In nature’s infinite book of secrecy
A little I can read.’

Antony and Cleopatra

32. ‘But the strong base and building of my love
Is as the very centre of the earth,
Drawing all things to ‘t.’

Troilus and Cressida

33. ‘Fat paunches have lean pates; and dainty bits
Make rich the ribs, but bankrupt quite the wits.’

Love’s Labours Lost

34. ‘And nature must obey necessity.’

Julius Caesar

35. ‘Give me an ounce of civit, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination.’

King Lear

36. ‘It goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory. This most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging, this majestic roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man. How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty, in form and moving, how express and admirable, in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god—the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?’

Hamlet

37. ‘It is as easy to count atomies as to resolve the propositions of a lover.’

As You Like It

38. ‘“True is it, my incorporate friends,” quoth he,
“That I receive the general food at first,
Which you do live upon; and fit it is,
Because I am the storehouse and the shop
Of the whole body. But, if you do remember,
I send it through the rivers of your blood,
Even to the court, the heart, to th’ seat o’ th’ brain;
And, through the cranks and offices of man,
The strongest nerves and small inferior veins
From me receive that natural competency
Whereby they live. And though that all at once”—
You, good friends, this says the belly, mark me.’

Coriolanus

39. ‘As true as steel, as plantage to the moon,
As sun to day, at turtle to her mate,
As iron to adamant, as earth to centre.’

Troilus and Cressida

40. ‘We do not learn for want of time,
The sciences that should become our country.’

Henry V

41. ‘When daisies pied and violets blue
And lady-smocks all silver-white
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue
Do paint the meadows with delight,
The cuckoo then, on every tree,
Mocks married men; for thus sings he,
“Cuckoo! Cuckoo, cuckoo!” O word of fear,
Unpleasing to a married ear!’

Love’s Labours Lost

42. ‘It is the very error of the moon;
She comes more nearer earth than she was wont,
And makes men mad.’

Othello

43. ‘Wedges of gold, great anchors, heaps of pearl,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
All scattered in the bottom of the sea.’

Richard III

44. ‘Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud.
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this.’

Sonnet 35

45. ‘Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.’

Julius Caesar

46. ‘O for the Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention…’

Henry V

47. ‘Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck,
And yet methinks I have astronomy.
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or season’s quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain, and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well…’

Sonnet 14

48. There’s nothing situate under heaven’s eye
But hath his bond in earth, in sea, in sky.
The beasts, the fishes, and the winged fowls
Are their males’ subjects and at their controls.
Man, more divine, the master of all these,
Lord of the wide world and wild wat’ry seas,
Indu’d with intellectual sense and souls,
Of more pre-eminence than fish and fowls,
Are masters to their females, and their lords;
Then let your will attend on their accords’.

The Comedy of Errors

That’s the end of our list of Shakespeare quotes about science. Know of any more? If so, please add them to the comments section below!

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