Shakespeare and billiards

Shakespeare and billiards

I love to read and learn about the history of the game we all love so much. I like to know where it comes from, how the game and its role in society has changed over time, and what events and stories contributed to these changes. When I was reading a few pages in Michael Phelan’s book ‘Billiards without a Master‘, written in 1850, it was the first time I read about billiards being part of the Shakespeare play ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ written in, or around 1606. So, I looked up the play. It goes as follows in Act 2, scene 5:

CLEOPATRA
Give me some music. Music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.

Enter MARDIAN the eunuch

CLEOPATRA
Let it alone. Let’s to billiards. Come, Charmian.

CHARMIAN:
My arm is sore. Best play with Mardian.

CLEOPATRA
As well a woman with an eunuch played
As with a woman. Come, you’ll play with me, sir?

MARDIAN: As well as I can, madam.

CLEOPATRA
And when good will is showed, though ’t come too short. The actor may plead pardon. I’ll none now.
Give me mine angle. We’ll to th’ river. There,
My music playing far off, I will betray
Tawny-finned fishes. My bended hook shall pierce
Their slimy jaws, and as I draw them up
I’ll think them every one an Antony
And say, “Aha! You’re caught.”

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About Pepijn de Wit

An adventurous pool player from the Netherlands who’s a croupier and curious cultural anthropologist in need of knowledge to understand the world around him, goes by the name Pepijn de Wit. He values experiences more than anything and wants to see, and learn as much of the world as possible before leaving it. Hustling, the most charming and dark element of pool, would therefore not be his trade, although it would make it easier for him to stop mind-traveling while surfing the internet. He applauds cultural diversity, the ambitious, the graceful, and the open-minded. His ambitions are big, his dreams even bigger. He’s a One Pocket lover, tournament director of the One Pocket Series, and pushes for One Pocket to take over and electrify Europe!