A couple of months back, when we were discussing the sources for Love’s Labor’s Lost, we noted that that play had no literary source, one of the few times this was the case in Shakespeare’s Canon. At that point, we mentioned that The Tempest was another that came to mind.
Well, A Midsummer Night’s Dream appears to be another. It doesn’t have any primary literary source, though it seems that Shakespeare was influenced by a number of secondary ones:
- Greek myth–the depiction of Theseus, Duke of Athens, and his bride Hippolyta
- Mediaeval legend–the depiction of Oberon, Titania, Puck and the woodland fairies
- Ovid’s Metamorphoses–the depiction of the spirit world, plus the story of Pyramus and Thisby
- Apuleius’ Metamorphoses (also know as The Golden Ass)–the story of a man, who after being transformed into an ass has many adventures
- Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales‘ “The Knight’s Tale”–Theseus appears in this tale, but more on this tomorrow…