The Shakespearean Poetic Rosary: The ‘Sacred Numbers’ in Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Keywords:Sonnets, Sacred numbers, Perfect numbers, England church, Latin Rosary, Papist
In human culture there are certain numbers of special importance. They are mostly used in old and modern writings as “sacred numbers” of religious and literary significance. They are present in the Greek myths, in Egyptian Pharaonic culture, in ancient Persian, in the Indian culture, and in Arab traditions; then (Islamic) culture as well as in the Biblical Western culture. These numbers are of two kinds: even and uneven or odd. The odd numbers 1, 3, 5, 7and 9 play a far more important part than the even numbers. One is Deity, three the Trinity, five the chief division, seven is the sacred number, and nine is three times three. These numbers have good function and been looked at as ‘Sacred’ or ‘Perfect’ numbers either of good omen or evil. There is another forth number, which is “10”, it comes mainly in Jewish and Islamic education in very few cases having similar religious suggestion. Shakespeare has used the number Ten in Sonnet 6 Then let not winter's ragged hand deface. “Sacred Numbers” have become a part of religion and even of modern belief, and mostly represented in the popular rituals. Shakespeare has used the “Sacred Numbers” in his works either prose or poetry, and this article is restricted to deal only with three Shakespearean sonnets where I imagine Shakespeare reciting his Latin Rosary in a poetic religious tone and drawing the cross sign on his chest and on the forehead of his sonnets in order to invoke divine protection. It seems that Shakespeare’s date of birth and death (1564 -1616) carries a certain secret of his fondness for sacred numbers; thus: The sum of the date of his birth (1564=16) is doubled in the date of his death (1616).
Barber, Charles. Poetry in English: An Introduction. Macmillan. 1988. (about Shakespeare's Sonnet 94. PP.62-3)
Basavarai, Naikar, ed., (2002). Indian Response to Shakespeare. Atlantic Publishers and Distributors. 2008.
Bhatia, Praveen. Macbeth. UBS Publishers. 1996.
Blick, Fred, academia.edu. Number symbolism in Shakespeare's Sonnets 8 and 128. [online] Available at:
<http://www.academia.edu/888240/Number_symbolism_in_Shakespeares_Sonnets_8_and_128>. [Accessed 22 June 2009].< (2006, P. 11)
Brooks, Cleanth, H. and Warren, Robert Penn. Understanding Poetry. Holt, Rinehart and Winston.1966. 8th. Edition.
Burgess, William. The Bible in Shakespeare: A Study of the Relation of the Works of William Shakespeare to the Bible. Kessinger Publishing, 2007.
Groves, Beatrice. Religion in Shakespeare: 1592 – 1604. Oxford UP, 2007.
Harold Branam: William Shakespeare Age, in The Greenwood Companion: Shakespeare. Ed. Joseph Rosenblum. 2007, V.I.
Helen Hackett, Virgin Mother, Maiden Queen: Elizabeth I and the Cult of the Virgin Mary. Macmillan.1995.
John W. Mahon, in Dahiya B.S., ed., Shakespeare Intellectual Background. Viva Book. 2008.
"Number symbolism". Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: Academic Edition. Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. 2014. Web.27 Feb 2014.
Shakespeare, William. 2012. Love's Labour's Lost. Ed. Ingram, Jill. Newburyport MA, Focus Publishing. 2012.
Sharma, M. K., Study of Shakespeare's Ideology. Alfa Publications, 2010.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2022 The Creative Launcher
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.