04 March 2011

William Shakespeare's Famous Short Speeches

The Bard has left behind his legacy in ways more than one. Most of the non-political famous short speeches have been written by William Shakespeare. While there are many, like Hamlet's "To be or not to be...", and Portia's speech in Merchant of Venice "The quality of mercy is not strain'd..." to name a few, the Bard's most famous speech till date by far is the speech by Jaques in 'As you like it', which goes as...
"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. "
9. Apology – Socrates

4th century B.C. Athens, Ancient Greece

Socrates, a great scholar and teacher in Athens, was facing the charges of corruption and misleading the people. People, especially youngsters were greatly influenced by his words and ideas. The rulers found him threatening to their throne. Socrates was arrested and put on trial. Court was set and he was asked to say something in his defense. ‘The Apology’ is what Socrates said in his defense. Instead of pleading for guilty, he chose to die with dignity.

Notable Excerpt:

Wherefore, O judges, be of good cheer about death, and know this of a truth -- that no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death. He and his are not neglected by the gods; nor has my own approaching end happened by mere chance. But I see clearly that to die and be released was better for me; and therefore the oracle gave no sign. For which reason also, I am not angry with my accusers, or my condemners; they have done me no harm, although neither of them meant to do me any good; and for this I may gently blame them.

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