BULL STREET - The art of the Con

Et Tu Shakespeare

As we see, plagiarism in its darkest form has existed throughout modern history. One of the most egregious attempts at using another’s works and calling them your own was the Great Bard himself. Shakespeare who really didn’t need to have anyone help him write his stuff copied parts of his work, Antony and Cleopatra verbatim from a translated copy of Plutarch’s Life of Mark Antony. Maybe in a sad commentary of the whole affair, T. S. Eliot returned the favor and plagiarized Shakespeare’s exact words from the above work in his famous book, “The Waste Land.” Another cascade of authors copying one another begins with Ovid’s, Pyramus and Thisbe continues with Arthur Booke’s, “The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, then onto Shakespeare’s more Westernized version of Romeo and Juliet and ending more recently with Leonard Bernstein and his musical, West Side Story. However, in each case, the plagiarized version adapted itself to the then current and many respects, spiced up the story.

Then there was Thomas Dangerfield who not only plagiarized other people’s works but he also dabbled counterfeiting coins. Worse yet, it was Dangerfield who attempted to create a non-existent plot by the Presbyterians against King Charles II causing some very anxious moments in Europe. Vrain-Denis Lucas attempted to change the course of history with his forgeries in the creation of pro-French nationalism. Even the Homeric Hymns and Margites, which have been attributed to Homer, have been recently looked at in a deferent light relative to their origin. For whatever it is worth, in the 1st century A.D., Juba II, ruler of Mauritania, is known to have paid a premium for manuscripts of Pythagoras that had been artificially antiqued. In the 6th century B.C., the historian Acusilaus of Argos claimed that he had discovered in his garden ancient bronze plates inscribed with genealogical information and if you believe that one I can also sell you a bridge that goes right to Brooklyn.



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