In "Shakespeare and the Uses of Antiquity, " Charles and Michelle Martindale take issue with the recent academic tendency to exaggerate Shakespeare's expertise in the classics. Instead they show how the playwright used his restricted knowledge of the classics to create a remarkably convincing picture of the classical world. Although almost a third of his plays are set in the ancient world and are rich in allusions to classical mythology, history and ideas, Shakespeare received only grammar school training in this discipline--a far cry from the scholarly knowledge he would 8otherwise seem to possess.
The Martindales discuss the critical implications of this fact and analyze--through careful readings of specific passages--the styles Shakespeare employed under the influence of classical writers--especially Ovid, Seneca and in translation Homer and Plutarch. This critical and comparative account of Shakespeare's classical sources ultimately provides readers with a fresh perspective on his work.