Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare
Main Ideas

Allusions

Main Ideas Allusions

Act 1, scene 1

But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
Should in the farthest east begin to draw
The shady curtain from Aurora’s bed[.] (1.1.124–126)

This is an allusion to Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn.

Well, in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit
With Cupid’s arrow. She hath Dian’s wit. (1.1.199–200)

This quote contains two allusions: Cupid is the Roman god of desire and erotic love, and Dian (also called Diana) is the Roman goddess of virginity and hunting.

Act 1, scene 4

We’ll have no Cupid hoodwinked with a scarf[.] (1.4.4)

You are a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wings[.] (1.4.17)

These are allusions to Cupid, the Roman god of desire and erotic love.

Oh, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you. (1.4.53)

This is an allusion to Queen Mab, the queen of the fairies in English folklore.

Act 2, scene 1

Speak to my gossip Venus one fair word[.] (2.1.11)

This is an allusion to Venus, the Roman goddess of love.

Young Abraham Cupid, he that shot so true[.] (2.1.13)

This quote contains two allusions: Abraham, in the Judeo-Christian bible, lived to be a very old man, and Cupid, the Roman god of desire and erotic love, was portrayed as a boy despite being one of the oldest gods.

When King Cophetua loved the beggar maid. (2.1.14)

This is an allusion to a legend about an African king, King Cophetua, who falls in love with a beggar woman.

Act 2, scene 2

At lovers’ perjuries,
They say, Jove laughs. (2.2.92–93)

This is an allusion to Jove, also called Jupiter, the king of the Roman gods.

Else would I tear the cave where Echo lies[.] (2.2.164)

This is an allusion to Echo, a mountain nymph in Greek mythology, who was cursed to only be able to repeat others’ words.

Act 2, scene 3

From forth a day’s path and Titan’s fiery wheels. (2.3.4)

This is an allusion to one of the Titans, a superhuman race in Greek mythology who ruled the world before the Olympian gods.

Act 2, scene 4

Alas, poor Romeo! He is already dead, stabbed
with a white wench’s black eye, shot through the
ears with a love song, the very pin of his heart
cleft with the blind bow-boy’s butt shaft. (2.4.13–16)

The phrase “blind bow-boy” is an allusion to Cupid, the Roman god of desire and erotic love.

More than Prince of Cats. (2.4.18)

The term “Prince of Cats” is an allusion to a character in a medieval fable who was also named Tybalt.

Now he is for the numbers that Petrarch flowed in. Laura to his lady was but a kitchen-wench—marry, she had a better love to berhyme her—Dido a dowdy, Cleopatra a gypsy, Helen and Hero hildings and harlots, Thisbe a grey or so, but not to the purpose. (2.4.35–39)

This quote contains several allusions. Petrarch was an Italian Renaissance poet. The six women named—Laura, Dido, Cleopatra, Helen, Hero, and Thisbe—were historical or mythological women who were the subjects of Shakespeare’s or others’ love poetry.

Act 2, scene 5

And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings. (2.5.8)

This is an allusion to Cupid, the Roman god of desire and erotic love.

Act 3, scene 1

Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives[.] (3.1.48)

The term “King of Cats” is an allusion to a character in a medieval fable who was also named Tybalt.

Act 3, scene 2

Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Toward Phoebus’ lodging. (3.2.1–2)

This is an allusion to Phoebus, also called Apollo, the Greek god of the sun.

Such a wagoner
As Phaeton would whip you to the west
And bring in cloudy night immediately. (3.2.2–4)

This is an allusion to Phaeton, the son of the Greek Titan sun god.

Act 3, scene 5

’Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia’s brow. (3.5.20)

This is an allusion to Cynthia, the name given to the moon goddess in Shakespeare’s time.

Some say the lark and loathèd toad change eyes. (3.5.31)

This is an allusion to a folktale that claims the lark got its ugly eyes from the toad, who took the lark’s pretty eyes.

Act 4, scene 5

For Venus smiles not in a house of tears. (4.5.8)

This is an allusion to Venus, the Roman goddess of love.