Read Shakespeare’s ‘This Is The Excellent Foppery Of The World’ soliloquy from King Lear below with modern English translation and analysis, plus a video performance.
‘This Is The Excellent Foppery Of The World’ ,Spoken by Edmund, Act 1, Scene 2
This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc’d obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star! My father compounded with my mother under the Dragon’s Tail, and my nativity was under Ursa Major, so that it follows I am rough and lecherous. Fut! I should have been that I am, had the maidenliest star in the firmament twinkled on my bastardising.
‘This Is The Excellent Foppery Of The World’ Soliloquy Translation
What his father had been saying was typical of the stupidity of the people around him: that when something bad happened, often as a
result of our own extravagant behaviour, we blame it on the sun, the moon, the stars, as though we can’t help being villains – fools because heaven has commanded us to be fools; knaves, thieves and traitors because of the position of the spheres at our birth; forced to be drunkards, liars and adulterers by the stars, and all the evil in us thrust on us by divine intervention. What a wonderful evasion by a lecher to blame his goat-like disposition on a star! His father mated with his mother under the Dragon’s tail and he was born under the influence of Ursa Major, so it followed that he was rough and lecherous! Rubbish! He would have been exactly the same if the most chaste star in the firmament had twinkled over his bastardy!