Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Where did Shakespeare learn about scorpions?

I'm researching scorpions for a client and I suddenly rememembered a quote from Macbeth:  

“O, full of scorpions is my mind!” 

And  I thought--how did Shakespeare know about scorptions? They don't HAVE scorpions in England. Do they? (Yes, I know, he would have known about scorpions from the constellation Scorpio, but work with me here.) Turns out they did have scorpions in England. This from Wikipedia:

Scorpions are found on all major land masses except Antarctica. Scorpions did not occur naturally in Great Britain, New Zealand and some of the islands in Oceania, but have now been accidentally introduced in some of these places by human trade and commerce.

Who knew?




  1. Macbeth was written in the 1600’s but the scorpions didn’t move over here (England) until the 1800’s and even now they are quite rare. So I have no idea how he knew about them.

  2. Scorpions are name dropped in the Bible, it seems, particularly the version it appears is most commonly thought to be used by Shakespeare, the Geneva bible. You get “serpents and scorpions” at least twice (Luke and Deuteronomy), it’s possible he was quite pleased with both of those images (“be the serpent under’t”) even if he’d never seen one before. You know what they say - if it’s good enough for the ole testament, should be good enough for Will.